Adam Holt is the CEO and Founder of Asset-Map, an award-winning software platform that combines design thinking and personal finance to help advisors display their clients’ complete financial picture. In this episode of Power Your Advice, Doug Heikkinen and Adam discuss how Asset-Map came to be, and how they strive to help advisors deliver exactly what their clients want: clarity and simplicity.
- How Asset-Map allows advisors to better mine their clients’ data to provide more in-depth analysis
- Why “simple elegance” is at the foundation of everything Asset-Map builds
- How Asset-Map can help advisors drive engagement and make their clients feel more involved with their decisions
- Where Adam sees technology & advice converging over the next few years
Douglas Heikkinen, Adam Holt
Adam Holt 00:02
Hello, and welcome to the power your advice podcast. The power advice podcast is designed to bring financial advisors new ideas, why those ideas should be considered and how to implement them into your business. This podcast is brought to you by advisor pedia the best place for advisors to grow their minds in business. This is your host, Doug Heikkinen. . .
Douglas Heikkinen 01:01
Congratulations on that ranking. My goodness.
Adam Holt 01:04
Thank you. Well, I guess it's what the advisors said was, I mean, we've been saying it for we're just glad everybody heard us. Now we've been really blessed. It's been exciting to be in this business and get the kind of accolade from our, our customers and advisors. So thank you for pointing it out. Yeah, so
Douglas Heikkinen 01:20
So tell us about asset map, when did you start this journey? And what was the goal when you started?
Adam Holt 01:27
Well, you know, it's interesting, I think, like most solutions that come together today, it wasn't really intended to be a company. for other people. It's amazing to see how many people we've touched. But, you know, I think like most innovations, this started my own practice. I've been a financial practitioner for, I guess, about 23 years now. CFP, by trade, focused on wealth management, asset management, insurance placement, was part of a firm that grew to about 25 people, about a billion and a half of a US still did a good amount of life production. But we found the challenge was consistently, the advisors had a hard time communicating the technical details of a household to them. All right, most most families, when you think about it, haven't had the knowledge or haven't been given the educational opportunity to understand how legal and tax insurance investment these things work together. So I started actually drawing out what was going on in people's lives as best I could understand it. As you probably know, most financial professionals have a fact finding requirement, not just from a suitability standpoint, but to give good advice, we have to start with the facts. So I would take those facts from our early interviews of clients, and I would draw a diagram of what was going on. And over the time, this became such a prolific part of my own practice that we needed to standardize it. And so what I did is I got a software program that did some engineering work and start joining us. And years later, I was in a meeting, I remember this distinctly, I was in a meeting with a client, I was at their house. I'd done about three, four hours of prep time just to do the analysis. And I walked into his house, I brought up my analysis, and he saw my asset map. That's the drawing I did. He said, Forget all that stuff. I want your drawing. I don't want your 30 pages of stuff. Like, I can't explain that to my spouse. I said, what you want, do you want the drawings is Yeah, give me that. And I started providing it to clients, and literally, our revenue production tripled that year. And then it tripled again, and it tripled again, I'm thinking, my goodness, what is this saying to us? People want simplicity, duck, they, they they they recognize that as technicians, we need to bring competent advice, right. And advisors need to do that work, excuse me. On the back end, advisors need to do it. But the clients want clarity and simplicity. So we've built a program around it so that those are the route. So we're talking all the way back to 2006. It's amazing how far it's come. Yeah. So that was a big aha seen your your friend say Just give me the one pager. What are some of the other houses along the way that you've picked up? and implemented? Yeah, that's a good question. You know, when we built, you know, kind of taking that fast forward. When I built the software, I realized I didn't know what I was doing. Thankfully, I had enough money to burn as a young guy in his early 30s without a family yet. And I said, we're just gonna invest in our own business, right? We're gonna build technology, right? Everybody's got an app, we're gonna build one. And I wasted an extraordinary money, amount of money. Learning how not to build a business. I didn't have advocacy. I didn't have a technology background. I had division. I had the ability to communicate, but I spent a lot of money I learned, Doug, that you really want to surround yourself with the right people. You don't want to just go at it and start deciding you're going to build a skyscraper with you know, the only background I had was building sandcastles on the beach. So so I think that's an interesting analogy, actually. So I think for technology, putting the right people in place was really critical and it took me a few years before I got Right consultants and then partners who said, Wait a minute, this thing could be big 2012 we actually showed it at a conference to several other top producers in the financial space. They said they had the same exact problem. Could they use the system? I said, Alright, fine. So we'll let those first 20 people in, it literally went viral. You look at where we are today. There's several 1000 advisors using asset map. We have over a million people in it. There's we just catalogued over $1.4 trillion in we've mapped that for people. It's a thing, right? And so that Where did that come from? Well, it came from an idea to solve a problem of just trying to communicate complexity. And I think I think that's the takeaway for most of us is one of the most, one of the best tools in financial advice is a yellow pad and a pen, right? Because we have to educate our clients. And we do it all the time been doing it for 100 years. I don't think that's going away. The challenge today is of course, we don't necessarily get together in person, we got to meet digitally. And how do you still engage somebody and educate them? And so we're really big on still drawing on the screen, right, whiteboarding. So 1.4 million people are using asset map. So it's for investors, but also for advisors. While our tools is actually our customers, if you will, our advisors. And those advisors have mapped over a million people and $1.4 trillion in real in assets, and liabilities, and so forth. So just to give you a scale, that's hard to understand kind of how much value that is, imagine a treasure map for a million people where all of their finances, assets, liabilities, insurance policies, people and income sources are literally drawn out and you know where they are on one page, it's, it's super powerful. When you think about the data understanding, there's this really quite amazing.
Douglas Heikkinen 06:47
You call it a simple elegance, paint a picture
Adam Holt 06:50
for us. paint a picture in audio, I love it. Well, if you can imagine most people, it, the best way to describe an asset map is to say that, that almost hopefully all of us have a financial closet, we got a bunch of stuff that we've collected over the years, and some of it fits some of it, we don't even know if it fit some of it's got holes in it. Some of its leaking, you know, some of its, some of its great, we're also missing things in that closet, right? nobody's really inspected the closet, right? Perfect example is if we were to do a little field trip and go to each other's closet and pull it all out and throw it on the bed. And I think there's some things in there that probably don't fit or don't deserve to be there. And that's the that's the resounding implication, Doug is when you think about your own financial closet, who else has inspected it? So financial advisors, first job is really to make sure what you have actually fits and meets what you're trying to do right aligns with your objectives and goals. And that's why the fact finding process is so important. But there's something interesting happens when you put somebody's own life in front of them visually, you actually get permission to inspect and say, Wait, why are we doing this? Have you thought about this? I see this as missing What? And the this and that represents investment instruments? It's insurance policies. It's trust as legal documents, I noticed you have a lot of money in this. Why What are you concerned about the tax? Well, nobody asked me that question before. So I think the key is to really promote a conversation. And in that conversation reveal the bigger pain points and areas where advisors can bring, bring their value, that the picture itself is a imagine to one or two or three people or a whole household in the center of your picture, surrounded by their income sources, their assets, their liabilities, and their insurance policies represented by containers or boxes all color coded for what they are. And also tell me the highest level information that I need to know which is what is it? It's an IRA? Where is it? Okay, it's infidelity. How much is worth? It's $10,000, who controls it, Bob controls it. And what's the tax wrapper, oh, this is an IRA get certain tax treatment. That's about the extent of most humans capacity to really, I think frame a financial instrument without getting so far in the details that you lose them. So I'm the biggest proponent on one pagers for everything. He can't put it on one page. I don't want to see it as phenomenal but there has to be so much more behind it. Can you dig a little deeper and tell us more? Yeah, sure. Well, I think that we tend to focus on and I tend to be a bit of a zealot about I don't want to build another financial planning tool. There's some great tools out there. Many of us use them still use them for our highest end clients that really need robust calculation engines. They need vaults, they need aggregation. The challenge I found actually is that with all these great tools, nobody was really using them. In fact, I the analogy I tend to think about I just thought about this morning is that most financial planning tools, most CRM tools that we tend to acquire, you know, it's like buying a Cadillac Escalades Pick up the groceries, right I, every day I go, I get food, I have to feed my family, but I don't need the full, you know, Humvee or tank to go do something basic. In fact, I don't really use 90% of the functionality. So we said what is the 10% that everybody uses, right? That classic 8020 Pareto principle. And it turns out that almost all financial advisors use you CRM as a Rolodex, right, they put their names and maybe some notes, maybe some important dates, that's about it. They use financial planning for the cash flow modeling, and they put out a presentation, that presentation helps them close the business, right, they make a clear justification of why they know what they're doing and client moves their money to them. Sometimes it's the last time the client will ever see a financial plan again, right? It's almost a closing tool. And so but these tools can do so much. And I find that they're not using it. So asset map really is about Okay, give me only what I need to survive. I mean, you remember that from the Princess Bride, right? He says that they're walking into desert, pulls out this huge hair blowers, as I said, take only what you need to survive, we that's one of those jokes that I remember from my own childhood. But building that is actually a challenge, because you want to make your tool as effective as possible. So we've had to say no, a lot dog, we've had to say, no, we're not going to build that because that now you're making this into a Swiss Army knife. Where I think where I think advisors and all of us have had a lot of aggravation is give me something that is just awesome, and makes me look good. And so there's really three things that we've been focusing on. That's it. One is how do I actually collect data from a client really fast, like 15 minutes on their iPhone if I need to, and build a map from what they know, in their head? Okay, cool. That's our asset map, make that interactive, move it around, allow me to draw over it just like that one pager, but but make it useful and intelligent. That's that simple elegance. The second thing you have to be able to do is you have to tell people, whether they're on track for major goals. Okay, remember, most people that comes to a financial professional, they're asking, Are we okay? And if we're not, okay, what do we have to do about it? That's really what they're asking. And that's what I asked my CPA, I never really get a good straight answer. So I think that what we've done is we've basically done financial planning in 30 seconds, press a button, and it runs retirement education, long term care, life insurance, disability analysis, and tells you how funded you are. And if you're not funded, what do you got to do right now? Right? That's what people want to know, what are you gonna do right now? And the third thing is all about data, do you realize how much data advisors have and don't know how to use? They have a lot. And so we basically have enabled them to do data mining right out of the box, tell me all my clients that have this, but don't have this and are probably at risk for that. And base, basically create customize data analysis so that you can find out who needs attention so I can proactively reach out. That's a big deal. That's a big deal.
Douglas Heikkinen 13:02
It is. So the industry has noticed you. And for all the right reasons, because of user rating, and not just having gargantuan booths at conferences. What's the feedback you're getting from advisors?
Adam Holt 13:19
There's one we have, we've been very lucky, in the sense that I say this lucky because maybe we're at the right place the right time. Although this idea is 10 years old already. And everyone's like, wow, where have you been? Well, we didn't market we didn't have a budget for marketing, all of our growth was grassroots, came from advisor to advisor to advisor. And that allowed us to really build for the adviser problem and not have another enterprise telling us what they wanted us to build. You know, I commonly joke that most of America's designed by bankers, right? Because the financier said no, I love your design. But I really would like that a pillar in the middle of this modern building. What are you talking about? Well, I'm not giving you the money. If I do. The same things happen. I think what software is that? Is that, you know, enterprises have, I think, over, over built the products that it needs to do these 10 things, but they've never actually been in the field before. So I we stayed really, really true. And we'll continue to stay true to the adviser problem and the journey of that interaction between the client and advisor. What that means is that we've been really graced with an unbelievable net promoter score at over 6465. I think just recently, that's unheard of in our industry, it's 32. On average, we have a great gt rating, which is industry, we're letting the community of people say whether they like us or not in an open forum where we can't restrict it. That is a huge difference between I think the past where you were kind of told here's the tool to use and you had no choices today, people have choice. So that means that we're more incumbent upon our success is more incumbent upon making sure the customers seriously happy. And my favorite quote, Doug, and I just This is the one that just gets me all the time is we get it comes in different forms. But a client told, an end investor told, told an advisor said, This is what I've always wanted from you. But I didn't know how to ask for it by name. When you think about that, it's this kind of testimony about, clients don't know how to ask for more from their financial professional. They want clarity, they want simplicity. They want to be engaged, they want to be part of this win. And they want to know when they're doing well, but they don't they get, you know, 500 statements they don't read. So they don't read, they're not getting what they really need. They're just getting what they've always gotten. And that's where we have to change as an industry.
Douglas Heikkinen 15:46
Very much. So it seems like this is a tool that can increase the value proposition advisors bring to their clients, a lot.
Adam Holt 15:58
We think so, you know, what's, what's funny about that? When you have a tool that is stripped down, and you can't hide behind page 83, right, I'm not gonna blow you away my technical brilliance, it really forces the advisor to shine. And that means advisor also is naked. When you have a one page presentation, you can't like make up stuff. There's no place to hide, you got to really talk about it. But where I think it's going to add value, where it does add value, is it's all in the conversation. There's been a lot of conversation, at least recently in our industry about engagement. What does that mean? What does that mean engagement that sounds when we get married? No, it means how do I get my customer my investors actually involved and part of the process to the degree they're willing and interested. I'm not saying go day trade on your own. I'm saying you want to actually help me make decisions, contextually because I'm giving you advice with a couple options. Okay. But I want you to be part of it. This is not me presenting to you anymore. here look at this great pie chart of all this allocation. And here's your modern portfolio theory, you've got a Monte Carlo analysis that says you're going to be at 5%. But what Okay, sure, what what did he say? I don't know, Honey, I'm talking about let's Should we take this money that's here and move it over there? Here's why we would do that we get this tax savings, we have this cost savings, we think we could increase the return? Or we could do something else? Where would you like to do it, we'd like to move it from here to here or from here there to there. That visually, once you can connect that you start doing what I call core education, connecting what you don't know, to what you do know, because that's that is literally the basis of all education, right? And the challenge is we're trying to fill in this gap for it for investors, which is nobody ever told me why I need to structure this insurance and trust or why I'm better off having this amount in a taxable account versus not, or why I got to manage my tax bracket in retirement or right. We don't talk about that. We talked about whether GameStop was a good investment. Right. And that's that's doing a disservice on the planning side. We got it, we got to zoom out.
Douglas Heikkinen 18:10
Where are we going from here? What's on the future runway for us that map? Oh, you want me to tell you that?
Adam Holt 18:16
I do? I do. All right, I'll give you a view. As a map is a in many ways a financial X ray. Right? It's it's a visualization that helps professionals look at it and see distinctions. And then of course, communicate where things are relatively. It also tells you whether you're on track for major goals financially. So it's doing that calculation engine. Well, what I think we've been, we realize that we're missing is the fact that a lot of advisors, that's a free form tool, you can take it wherever direction you want property casualty banking, insurance, investment doesn't matter. What I think we have the capacity to do and we're gonna be rolling out something this summer, called screening. And when you have as much data as we have, all of a sudden you start to see different patterns. So we're going to be rolling out what I call also for the for those that already we're using this educational principle, red light, green light. Remember when we were kids, I know you know what a red light and a green light is. It was this thing called mother Mae eye. My daughter plays it. Red light, green light, right? Can you come closer? I think I'm probably messing up the games, right? Because I'm I'm not nine. But it was something like this. And I and I watched him play this a couple years ago. So that's what advisors need. They need to know when the engine light is on for their clients. Right here. We're getting your car and all sudden the engine light comes on and says okay, go check it out. It doesn't mean that your car's gonna fall apart right now. It might By the way, it means do something about it. And so we're going to be what we're delivering is this concept of red light green light for six major components. I won't say what they are, but essentially there are really awareness keys for Or an advisor to say, Listen, I, my system is coming up as red light on this, let's get let's explore this, let's get under the hood and decide whether a wire is just disconnected, or there's a real issue here. And, and this I think is going to really help because we're not just doing it on a per household basis, we'll be applying it to the entire database, which means every single adviser and their entire book of business, we will know where the red lights are, and the yellow lights are. And I think that's going to be this is going to be really unique, because it's, it's not going to tell you you're sick. It's going to tell you hey, you probably want to check it out.
Douglas Heikkinen 20:34
Yeah, it's like that's the sign. It's like my Tahoe is telling me oil change and OnStar connects my dealership and they send me an email that says, hey, you've been meeting or oil change?
Adam Holt 20:45
Well, that's pretty cool, isn't it? It is it's functionally helpful. It doesn't create an emergency, but it creates a sense of urgency that we are knowledgeably running around with our oil, or maybe something that can break. Right and that's valuable. But we all have way too much to do. Right. Tell me what needs attention right now. And I'll prioritize. Yeah.
Douglas Heikkinen 21:07
Adam, this has been fabulous. How do people find you guys? Well, the
Adam Holt 21:10
easiest way of course, is the web. You can certainly Google asset asset map or asset, hyphen, map calm. That's a dash for those who don't know, and certainly you're welcome to reach out on LinkedIn to follow me there and ah, Adam Holtz. It's always it's always fun to build the community. So looking forward to connecting with anybody who's interested in taking their practice to a whole new level, so we appreciate your time.
Douglas Heikkinen 21:32
Thanks so much for joining us.
Adam Holt 21:34
Thank you. For everybody at advisor pedia our podcast team, our producer jakey beard. This is Doug Heikkinen. Take care
advisors, people, clients, build, asset, tool, map, red light, financial, financial planning, doug, drawing, business, insurance policies, money, software, adam, adviser, green light, page