GuideVine’s CEO, Raghav Sharma, discusses personal finance, financial experts and GuideVine’s mission to help people find the right financial advisor for them, not to mention the word “fiduciary”, with Broken Eggs’s Sylvia Flores (@) and Andrew Meadows (@ ). This podcast was released on Nov 2nd, 2015. [Transcript follows the link]
Andrew Meadows: OK. See, I don’t know these things. Thank you for educating me. Speaking of education, it is really time to run over to the phone lines and get on our next guest. So we’re going to go ahead and link him into the call.
If you have never heard of GuideVine, I encourage you to go and check it out today. There are all sorts of ways to access it, obviously we will find that a little more about it. It’s being touted as the Tinder of financial advisors. I really can’t wait to talk to Raghav Sharma, who’s going to actually give us a lot more information about what it is, where the inspiration came from. And we’ll see where we’ll go out from there. Sylvia, is he picking up?
Sylvia Flores: I followed your instructions and I added him, where I screened up and I think that he has joined us!
Raghav Sharma, GuideVine CEO: Hey guys.
Raghav: How are you all?
Andrew: We’re doing so, so well. We just got done talking a little about your service, really touting it as the Tinder of financial advisors. Please, Mr. Sharma, tell us what was the inspiration for this incredible new product that is changing the way people learn about financial advisors.
Raghav: It all started with a wedding. Two friends of mine were getting married, both partners at the consulting firm McKinsey, so young successful people. They were combining their finances and they had no idea what to do to find a financial advisor.
They googled it, they looked for referrals, and I had this front row seat to, just their, this disaster of a search.
Raghav: It got me thinking about whether they were particularly challenged or whether this was something that everyone faced. We did a lot of research with consumers, with advisors to figure out how they were meeting each other and we realized that, hey, there is really something here where people don’t understand the options out there to them and how to go about finding them.
Sylvia: I am one of those people. I have no idea. I actually need to find a financial advisor and I have done the same thing. How do I connect with somebody who is going to be representative of me and that I really connect with? So I think that you’ve got a badass service. But please continue.
Raghav: Thank you. [laughs] I know a great place where you can find a financial advisor.
Andrew: Actually, let’s kick that off. Where can people access GuideVine? Is it a website, is it an app? Tell us a little bit more about the access and how are you really able to engage with, how many financial advisors are part of the network? I’m sure it is consistently growing, but tell us a little more detail about where people can find it and a little more info on it.
Raghav: It is a website and it’s GuideVine.com. We have a Twitter account, Facebook pages, all that good stuff where we push out some of our messaging, but for people who are really looking for financial advice, they can come there. Once they are there, there are a couple ways and a couple tools that will help people find financial advisors.
One is a match.com experience, so Andrew, it’s a little more like match.com than Tinder.
Sylvia: That’s so cool! I want it now.
Raghav: I know you guys want it now, but you’ve got to wait. There is a match.com system where we put people through a questionnaire and then the algorithm gives them their matches. It doesn’t give them a list of people, it doesn’t give them profiles, it gives them videos.
You really get a sense of “Who is this person” because it is that advisor talking about themselves and how they do things. We also have consumer concierges if you need a little bit more help and you want a more hands‑on experience on making sense of what we have given you.
And then for the self‑directed folks, they can plow through the profiles, they can filter them, they can do anything they want. And if you’re still not sure what you want, we have YouTube videos. We have a YouTube channel of how‑tos. “How do I roll over a 401k? “if I am 50, is it too late to save for retirement?” something which you guys know quite a lot about…
Sylvia: It’s true.
Raghav: So there are a lot of ways for them to engage.
Andrew: I love it, too, because I do feel like it’s all about DIY these days. There seems to be so much distrust in certain institutions where I think it forces a lot of people to say “I can do this myself, let me just learn a little bit of what I can about what is out there and maybe I can be making an informed enough decision for myself.”
I love that. I love the self‑help stuff, that’s great.
Sylvia: What percentage of your business is actually using the concierge service portion of your offering?
Raghav: So, it is probably about 25 percent or so. There are still a lot of people who go through by themselves and will ask advisors questions or will match to them, and then there are the rest of the people who will come in through the concierge. You asked a question about how many advisors we have and where we are? We started in six cities. We’ve recently gone nationwide.
Raghav: We have about 200 advisors…close to 200 advisors live on the platform. We are working through a backlog of another 50 to bring on. That just keeps accelerating, accelerating and growing and there’s a range of people. We have someone who is a family office, will work with high net worth individuals, do everything for them to people who do hourly financial planning.
If you just need a little help and a little pointing, whether you have, we’ve had people at 75 million and we’ve had people with 10K that they are looking to invest, we have a variety of advisors for them.
Sylvia: Or with $100? What about that?
Raghav: With $100 we may not be the right place, [laughs] but you never know. There might be some advisor out there who will charge you $99.99 for that.
Andrew: We were talking earlier about financial advisors and basically what is the target market, how do people talk to financial advisors, or how do financial advisors talk to their audience? I also want to hear, based on your experience working with the financial advisors in your network, what is the general vibe about robo advisors?
For some people who maybe want to do it themselves or maybe who trust an algorithm, people who think that something like compound interest is somewhat magical, how do robo advisors fit in and how does it affect your business model? That’s really a hot topic, especially for us in the retirement space we are seeing a lot of robo advisors come up quite a bit lately.
Raghav: I love robo advisors. I have accounts at robo advisors. For people who are looking for ETFs or mutual funds, they are a great low cost alternative to just put money in and kind of fire‑and‑forget.
It takes some discipline. You can’t panic, when the market went down recently, you can’t pull out your money. You have to be thinking about that. Where financial advisors come in is when financial lives get a little more complicated, so you’re not sure what your goals are or what you are aiming for, that’s where a financial planner helps.
Or you’re thinking about generational transfers, so you’re thinking about your kids and how do you get them through college. That is where folks can help you and maybe you want access to things that aren’t ETFs or mutual funds. You want private equity or you’ve got enough to put into a hedge fund but you don’t know how to go doing it, that’s where the financial advisors come in.
Robo advisors are going to be a great addition to the scene. They are going to give you an asset class for cheap, but are they going to address a hundred percent of the population’s needs? Probably not. There is always going to be a need for humans.
Andrew: I agree. There is always going to be a need for humans. What’s that book, Sylvia? Robots are taking our jobs, but that’s completely OK or something like that?
Sylvia: [laughs] Yeah.
Andrew: It is really interesting because they will make our lives better. I do feel like the more and more we go with the use of technology, actually connecting with a live human being I think is going to be even more and more important. I am so glad that these types of business models are out there.
Especially for people who just don’t know anything. Most of the people that listen to our podcast aren’t from our industry, they don’t understand finance. They are looking to learn more. This is such a great service, I am so glad that it’s actually to the forefront. Given that people are going to be looking…
Raghav: I’ll tell you. When one of the robo advisors calls themselves SkyNet, run.
Raghav: That’s when it’s gone too far.
Andrew: The Retire‑nator? That is my Halloween costume.
Raghav: I’m scared to see that. [laughs]
Andrew: Or in awe. So, speaking about financial advisors, at least from your experience, let’s say someone is out there looking for a financial advisor. Let’s say they are on GuideVine and they are looking at the various videos, give us what you would think would be the top three pieces of advice for someone who is looking for a financial advisor. You can like someone’s personality, but what really is going to drive it home?
Raghav: The first is to be prepared. Before you even get on GuideVine, think about what is it that you really want, why are you working with the advisor, is it that you want retirement income and you want to have a comfortable lifestyle, are you thinking about “I just have a little bit of a nest‑egg and I want to diversify it”?
Know what services you want and know what type of personalities work well with you. Then go on GuideVine or go on any other service and check out those personalities. Watch the videos, read the profiles, do due diligence. There are a lot of advisors out there that are great, perfectly clean individuals and then you get the occasional bad apple, which hopefully they are not on GuideVine, but they are out there.
Some of the disclosure histories we have seen will scare you. Criminals with capital Cs. Know who you are dealing with and then go meet multiple people. Don’t just go with the first person because they may not be right for you. Go meet multiple people, get a sense of what you like. Be prepared for those meetings. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, ask for references, get them to do a little bit of work on your behalf so that you understand what you’re getting into.
The last thing is to take your time. You’re going to be fiscally intimate with this person.
Raghav: Do not rush into anything! This is where the Tinder one night stand is not going to do you any good. Take your time, don’t rush it. It’s a big decision.
Sylvia: That is great advice.
Andrew: It’s kind of like finding a doctor, like a physician. Going through the network of trying to find the right physician or the dentist. Who is the dentist that is not going to take pleasure from my pain? Same thing for financial advisors, right?
Raghav: The good thing is if you find someone who is a fiduciary, so works with an RIA, their interest by law and by the oaths and whatever else they do, the secret societies, they are supposed to put your best interests over and above anything else that they do for you.
That is different for someone who is a broker or is working on a commission. They might say, “They should be smart enough to understand what I am doing and they will stop me if they disagree.” You shouldn’t have to worry about that with the fiduciary.
Andrew: Good point. We are actually going to talk about that in a little bit. Sylvia, you have one more question before we wrap up the vibe here?
Sylvia: I do. Since I’m the chick of the show, I read in Forbes that only 30 percent of financial advisors are women and yet 70 percent of women want a female advisor. How are you attracting women on both sides, both advisors and as a client base to GuideVine. What makes you guys attractive?
Raghav: For women advisors it’s a great visibility platform and it’s a way that they let their personalities shine because the use of the videos, it attracts people to understand who they are over and above what a static profile might do. They get it and I think it’s a shame how underrepresented they are in the industry. We are pleased that some of our most successful advisors on the platform are women.
To attract women to the platform, it’s just like any consumer marketing. You try to get in front of women, so Need 2 Know is one of our biggest sources of traffic, every time we put in a post there.
The other thing is making sure that we have content that helps people think about what are the differences between women’s finances. Things like, if you’re with a male spouse, outliving them, the systemic underpayment and how do you overcome that.
Giving people resources. Our Summer Scoop campaign, which is a financial literacy campaign that reached 1.6 million people over the summer with our videos.
Raghav: Yeah! [laughs] We said “whoa,” too.
Raghav: But our most‑played video was women’s finance, and how it differs from men’s finance, and the different things that you have to do about it. So there’s a need for that education and there’s a need for these advisors and we just hope to be able to help them find each other.
Sylvia: That’s awesome.
Andrew: Fantastic. And we always like to wrap up our calls, our storyteller’s question segment. We want to find out from you, what is your ideal retirement? What does it look like for you when you’ve reached 65 or 67 or whoever the hell knows what retirement age is going to be one day? When you finally retire, what does that look like for you? What’s your ideal situation?
Raghav: I think I still love the idea of just finding a small island that’s warm and being there and doing nothing. I have no desire to have one of these active retirements, or semi‑working retirements. I want to sit there and do nothing on my keister all day.
Andrew: It’s funny, when people talk about that ‑‑ people that we’ve had on the show ‑‑ people who say, “Oh, I want to be really active.” Or “There’s this whole idea of having your retirement that is sitting on the beach, but that gets really boring.” I’m like, “It could get really boring, but I kind of feel like in my final years of life, I want every day to feel like an eternity.”
Andrew: Kind of feel like I will live forever.
Sylvia: Good one.
Raghav: Swimming’s an activity, it’ll keep you busy.
Sylvia: That’s true. Everyone brings up the beach, though, and an island. Isn’t that interesting? Everyone.
Andrew: Yeah, everyone.
Sylvia: Without question, there’s not been a single person on our show that hasn’t said “island” or “beach.”
Raghav: Some people probably want to go to Vladivostok, but you’re probably not having them on the show.
Andrew: Bless you, I don’t know what you said. I don’t know where that is, but sounds remote enough. Thank you so much.
If you have a few seconds, I would love to have you on the game show that is currently sweeping the nation. It’s called “W‑T [electronic bleep].” The [electronic bleep] stands for finance. Are you down for a challenge?
Raghav: Absolutely, and I’m looking forward to failing abysmally.
Sylvia: I don’t think so.
Andrew: I have a feeling that you won’t. Let’s get it going. Let’s cue the live studio audience.
Andrew: Hello, and welcome to WTF. It is the jargon game. I’ve got my two contestants here. Basically, what the whole goal is is we give our two contestants a very financially‑jargony term and we ask them to define it. The term this week ‑‑ and ladies go first ‑‑ Sylvia, the term this week is “fiduciary.”
Sylvia: [laughs] I actually think I might have this one, just based on who we were just talking with. [laughs] I think that fiduciary means it’s the person who has responsibility over your financial situation. They…You know what, I don’t know how to articulate that.
Andrew: You actually articulated it really well. Obviously, we want to find out, is that the correct answer?
Raghav: It is. It’s pretty close. It’s a level of care and it’s a standard of duty, where you’re always supposed to put the best interests of someone else in front of yours. When we talk about financial advisors, it’s doing things that may not be in the advisor’s best interests.
Let’s take a really simple example. Let’s say last year I got an insurance policy on my apartment or on my house or something like that, and something changed next year and I don’t really need that insurance policy. My advisor should say, “Hey, let’s cancel that. Let’s save you some money.” Even if they were getting a commission for that insurance policy.
Andrew: Right. See? Doesn’t that make all the sense in the world?
Sylvia: It really does. I actually appreciate that that oversight exists. That’s the part I didn’t really know, is that they have to do it even if it’s not in their best interest. That they have to do it in the best interest of you. I love that.
Andrew: What a fantastic show. Thank you so much for joining us. Again, GuideVine, where can they find it?
Raghav: www.guidevine.com, or just look for us on social media.
Andrew: Fantastic. Well please keep us updated as that continues. We hope continued success and we would really love it if you would come back and share with us some of the personal successes that you’ve found. When you get to the 500th or 1000th advisor, or you start to find out more numbers around your users. We’d love to get an update at some point in time. But thank you so much for joining us.
Raghav: Thank you, guys. Talk soon.
Sylvia: Thank you! See you soon!
Andrew: See you! Take care! Bye!
Andrew: What a fantastic guy. What a good idea, too.
Sylvia: I love him. It’s brilliant.
Andrew: That’s what we always hear about, “How do I find a financial advisor? It’s crazy.”
Sylvia: It’s brilliant.