There are very many resources used to manage personal finances, and the internet has enabled anyone to put information out there; however, most of these resources and content are veiled attempts at selling products. The need for accurate, actionable, and vetted information is quite large, especially for people who wish to navigate the sea of information that will help them in working towards achieving their financial obligations.
SmartAsset has developed a good number of world-class tools and resources that are focused at different fields of personal finance management like – taxes, purchasing real estate property, banking, retirement, and credit cards. These resources, which are currently reaching over 45 million people every month, are embedded in the largest digital publishers. Additionally, the resources and tools are also hosted on the SmartAsset official website. At the core of the firm is its financial modeling technology that enables users to key in information about their unique circumstances and find out what finance options will affect their position in a holistic and personalized way.
Michael Carvin started the company after he decided to purchase a home in New York. He thus developed a model to analyze what his budget should entail. When he got to the closing stages, he realized that he had been blindsided by a mortgage tax that he had not factored in his analysis all this while. He consequently saw a problem that he hopes to solve through SmartAsset technologies. SmartAsset tools do not have such problems. Not only are all taxes and related fees included in the analysis, but the precise amount of funding required is based on the property’s geo-location. For instance, in Pennsylvania, which has been divided into two thousand townships, SmartAsset tools calculate the cost of every minute expense in every jurisdiction.
The company launched its first online resource in 2012. The company’s primary aim was to help consumers in making significant financial choices. According to the firm’s CEO, Michael Carvin, the organization was launched due to the inadequacy of online tools. The CEO, while speaking to the media, stated that he chose to develop a financial model that had the capability to analyze the impacts that the purchase of a new house could have on his financial wellbeing. Through SmartAsset, he was able to help many other people to analyze their financial positions in a manner similar to the one which he had initially adopted.
How It Works
The SmartAsset tool carries out a detailed analysis and discloses the maximum budget that the consumer can afford to spend while purchasing a new home. The tool works by requesting the user to enter necessary financial details such as savings, total debt, and income. The tool will also use graphs to show the difference between the buy versus rent decisions based on the time period within which the user hopes to occupy the home. Moreover, the platform will also recommend other ways through which the user can save money by considering a wide array of factors such as tax implications, time value for money, and interest rates in the case of debt financing.
In a nutshell, the tool helps to provide free personalized services that are aimed at assisting users to make smart and informed decisions on important matters such as purchasing a new house, taxes, retirement, among other financial issues. The platform is based on an unbiased and objective analysis of information provided, and the firm has developed and integrated an Automated Financial Modeling system to analyze the data. It is clear that the company has experienced incredible growth since it was launched a few years ago; its audience has, over the past year, increased by over ninety percent.
$28 Million in Funding: How has the Company Fared?
While speaking to the media, Michael Carvin SmartAsset CEO, said that the firm’s main strategy concerning how it offers its services to its consumers has not changed over the years. According to the CEO, the main goal of the company remains the provision of guidance and assistance to users to ensure that they make healthy financial decisions. Moreover, the company hopes to be the first point of call on the internet for any person who wants to make a serious financial step.However, specific aspects of the platform’s operations have gone through significant alterations. For example, the tool now has sophisticated functions such as calculators that offer more insight into many other circumstances other than just home buying to include taxes, retirement, and banking.
SmartAsset recently announced that it had raised about $28 million in Series C funding: thus bringing the total amount of money it had raised to over $51 million. According to different media outlets, the new round of funds came from TTV Capital, Javelin Venture Partners, Contour Capital, IA Capital, Focus Financial Partners, Fabrice Grinda, among others. Moreover, after the funding, SmartAsset was able to generate traffic of more than 45 million people in one month, and that sum was close to double its traffic every year. The CEO also noted that a quarter of the total traffic was generated by return clients.
Captivate and SmartAdvisor Platform
Michael Carvin, while explaining how the platform converts its traffic into income, explained that earnings were achieved by the advertisement of financial products to the site’s users. Additionally, he noted that an even bigger portion of the company’s earnings was realized from the SmartAdvisor platform that linked potential investors with financial experts. According to the CEO, SmartAsset is the first online platform that assists financial advisors to generate leads. Carvin also tried to compare the business models adopted by Zillow and SmartAsset by claiming that both firms have a relatively large audience that can easily be matched up with the associated professionals.
On the SmartAdvisor platform, the users are asked to fill relevant details in a questionnaire. The SmartAsset concierge then assists them to find a perfect financial advisor given their unique needs. All financial advisors are screened and the firm also ensures that none of them has ever been involved in criminal undertakings before. Moreover, none of the advisors have any complaints laid against them by the SEC in the past ten years.
While inquiring the effect caused by focusing on financial advisors on the firm’s ability to realize its original goal of assisting its users, the CEO said that they always have the consumer’s interests in mind and the company has always held the opinion that improving consumer experience directly affects its business. Moreover, every time the firm develops a new resource, it does it with the client’s interests as a top priority.
In 2017, the company developed and launched a new tool: captivate. Captivate, basically, extends the scope reached by SmartAsset’s tools and calculators across the internet. The tool appears across various websites on the internet such as: AOL, Yahoo, Finance, MarketWatch and many other top-tier digital publishers. The resource tool basically places particular tools within relevant articles. For example, Captivate can embed a retirement readiness calculator within a blog page concerning retirement savings. This enables users to act immediately on topics they have shown interest in. Captivate has been so effective over the years that it has reached over 35 million users every month. Pooled together with SmartAsset’s own organic web traffic, this platform has been effective in elevating SmartAsset’s offerings to become a widely viewed finance resource on the internet with over 45 million return users every month.
The company had not planned on initiating the funding process until much later this year. However, given the ever-growing interest in the company, it seemed viable to proceed. One challenge the firm faced was to ensure that the terms of co-operation with the various partners synced with the organization’s overall vision. The firm hoped to only rope in partners who would provide funding and offer important knowledge into the financial advisor realm as well.
Different investors opted to put in money into the business for different reasons. For example, SmartAsset is the most used source of personal finance guidance on the internet. This means that the firm gives financial advisor partners and financial institutions unprecedented access to specialized and high-intent audience seeking similar services. Just like the Zillow platform influenced the game in the real estate industry, SmartAsset hopes to significantly influence the game for financial guiders by syncing their services with a huge amount of high-intent audience. Secondly, the firm’s vast potential was a huge driving factor in so many investors who wished to align their interests with SmartAsset.
What Next after Funding?
The company’s CEO hopes to see sustainable and continued growth in headcount, users, and revenue. The CEO further notes that the company has doubled compared to where it was last year a time like now. The company, moreover, has started to hire aggressively, beating milestones ahead of time, and investing in important areas. The firm looks to achieve even higher growth in its SmartAdvisor financial advisor service vertical.
SmartAsset has been able to complete more than 50,000 advisor profiles. Moreover, it expects to complete more than 100,000 by next year. This milestone is part of a blitz that aims at owning the Google search online market for financial advisors. Additionally, the New York City-based startup, which incubated from the YCombinator, hopes to complete its profile database by next year. The database will be comprised of data earned from ADVs, SEC, LinkedIn profiles, and Financial Industry Regulation Authority, and advisor firm websites. The 500-word SmartAsset profiles hope to give every investor a sense of the services and the types of consumers served that go beyond the sanitized descriptions and ADvs that advisors might use on their own websites.
Pay for Services
SmartAdvisor RIAs pay about 90 US dollars for affluent leads – 250,000 US dollar to one million dollar leads – and 190 US dollars for investors who have investable assets worth over one million. The platform ensures that most users are self-selecting and serious – this is because the consumers are asked to answer about 20 questions – few people can do this unless they are serious. Other financial advisors ask a maximum of three questions: this does not ascertain the quality of leads thus realized – generating poor leads can be frustrating to both the advisor profiles in the platform and the company.
The company’s business model works because of the huge volume of investors who need the tools and content offered by SmartAsset. Most of the volume is generated from data-driven studies, calculators, and educational content displayed on Yahoo Finance, Barrons, Investopedia, CNN Money, and other big web magnets. The main goal behind the company’s inception is to connect financial advisors to the consumers within driving distance. Consumers who do not live near an advisor are referred to operational call centers staffed by national RIAs. With time, broker-dealers will also buy referrals because clients prefer a wide array of choices.
SmartAsset draws in customers based on life events like inheritance, death, a college-bound kid, marriage, a desire to purchase a new home, and other services tailored to the client’s personal needs. According to the CEO, much of the 28 million US Dollars raised will go into developing a tool that captures personalized events. Indeed no other firm has cracked the code the way SmartAsset has done. There are many other good reasons why the firm is gaining strength while others have failed to successfully penetrate that market. For sure, the company’s in-depth data collection techniques set it apart from most of its competitors. The techniques not only collect consumer information but also take in data about personal financial matters that drive clients to look for more information on the internet.
SmartAsset has developed a digit-to-digit referral program for financial advisors that cannot run dry. There is a great opportunity for the company to create the internet’s first platform to help financial advisors and consumers in a scalable and profitable fashion. Given the firm’s online audience, the platform has the potential to significantly alter how advisors approach business and marketing development in the new age.