Aiming to Drive Fee-for-Service Models, AdvicePay Optimizes Workflows
The AdvicePay paid payment platform is improving its workflow support for corporate customers in a move that continues to blur the lines between payment provider and compliance support.
The cash-flow-positive startup (according to founders Alan Moore and Michael Kitces), adds a “Commitments” feature to its business platform, according to a press release and preview offered at WealthManagement.com. The feature is designed to make it easier to standardize custom workflows across businesses, as they track deliverables and provide support to advisors who offer fee-for-service offerings, such as financial planning.
The new Commitments feature allows companies to add document templates, such as financial planning agreements, and configure workflows so that advisors using the service can automate their invoicing. For their part, home offices can ensure that services billed by advisers are services provided. For example, by tracking the deliverables provided to clients, or indicating that a necessary client signature has been obtained by the advisor and, in turn, compensation owned by the head office is remitted to an advisor.
Businesses can customize workflows to reflect their own billing practices, automating when an advisor receives compensation for services rendered.
As simple as standardizing workflows may seem, the features that AdvicePay offers often replace time-consuming manual processes, such as filling out dreaded spreadsheets, Kitces said. As one-time or recurring charges gain popularity among business advisers, these organizations have seen an increase in the need to adapt their workflows. Engagements is designed to meet these demands for the 62 companies and more than 4,500 advisors who now use the service. Early adopters of the new functionality include Cetera Financial Group, Financial Services Network and Thrivent Advisor Network. Cetera is AdvicePay’s first corporate customer.
In fact, AdvicePay has seen the sometimes unenthusiastic reception of past fee-for-service offers evolve into something more positive among some large companies, Kitces said.
“Historically, businesses have been a barrier to fee-for-service planning for consumers; not because of anything negative about financial planning, but simply because they couldn’t expand it enough to be profitable for the business. They tended to prevent their advisors from doing in-depth financial planning and trying to steer them to other solutions available off the broker’s product shelf, ”he said. “This deployment is primarily aimed at solving the problems encountered by companies. “
“We are seeing companies making big changes,” he added, supported by the technology solutions offered by AdvicePay.
Now that AdvicePay is making workflows easier, it also collects data on fees charged, how they’re billed, and how companies handle fee-for-service offers. AdvicePay is starting to turn that data into advice opportunities, helping companies new to fee-for-service transactions better launch an offer, Kitces explained. “It’s just about helping to train and teach [enterprises]. “
In addition to establishing best practices for firm-level fee-for-service offerings, AdvicePay is able to leverage the data to provide advisors with better insight into how their peers are performing. Advisors who give fee-for-service advice, like financial planning, tend to be “some of the best advisers in the firm,” Kitces said. Companies want to train more of their advisors to replicate the success of these “planning-centric” advisers.
“We’re now getting more requests from companies to work with them – not just consulting with headquarters on how to deploy and scale this – but actually doing consultant level training,” he said. AdvicePay can provide “hard data” on the average fees charged by company advisers and compare them to other factors, such as customer retention.
By the end of the year, AdvicePay plans to release some of this anonymized data to the public, highlighting how fee-for-service has changed the wealth management industry, Kitces concluded. What started as a tool for individual advisors to automate billing and payment processing for hourly, subscription and compensation models has evolved as businesses have turned more and more to planning. fee-for-service to supplement the traditional services offered by their advisers.