Yet another startup of proactive predictive technology tools has been quietly talked about since its creation in 2021.
This one, called Bento Motorhowever, has already built up an impressive list of well-known industry leaders as initial investors and advisors.
The bulleted list is in Announcement on Wednesday of a first round of funding of approximately $1 million, and includes a roster of RIA, technology and advisory industry personalities – from Marty Bicknell and Shannon Eusey, CEO of Mariner Wealth and Beacon Pointe Advisors, to Anton Honikman, CEO of MyVest, and Kelly Waltrich, former CMO of Orion Advisor Solutions.
Bento is intended to provide advisors with proactive advice and in turn generate client-specific, pre-approved content for advice-focused RIA businesses. While various advisor CRM and marketing vendors have attempted to generate predictive action guidance for advisors over the past decade, most have met with limited success at best.
Among Bento’s list of investors is Greg Friedman, a longtime financial advisor and serial advisory tech entrepreneur, who co-founded CRM Software, the creator of Junxure (acquired by AdvisorEngine in 2018). Friedman is currently Chief Strategy Officer of Wealthspire Advisors, as his own company, Private Ocean, was acquired in November 2021.
“A million people are talking about it and claiming to do it, but none of them are doing it – I’m not even talking about the predictive aspect,” Friedman said, referring to the slew of technology providers he has tried over the years and failed to provide on advance warning of advisors of upcoming client-specific milestones that could serve as touchpoints for communication or planning opportunities.
“Yes, they are [version] 1.0 right now, but even as it is, the many age-based financial planning opportunities they’ve built into the platform are much better than I imagined for Junxure,” he said of Bento Engine.
Simply put, Bento’s technology already integrates with the industry’s most common CRM applications and platforms used by advisors, including Microsoft Dynamics, Practifi, Redtail, Salesforce (and the Salesforce XLR8 overlay) and Wealthbox.
Once configured with an advisor’s particular CRM, the Bento engine searches for upcoming counseling opportunities for clients (for example, a teenager who is celebrating his birthday in his state when he can apply for a credit card or a client who has reached the age of 50 and can allocate assets in a retirement plan).
The technology then matches these planning milestones or opportunities with a set of relevant communication assets as an actionable CRM task.
“The biggest problem this solves for me is helping create a consistent customer experience for all of our advisers,” said Friedman, who noted that Wealthspire has grown to 140 advisers in many offices and remote locations.
Jen Goldman, a longtime industry consultant who currently runs her own eponymous company specializing in helping advisors better manage and scale their businesses, is also an investor and advisor for the startup.
She asked several of her client advisors using three different CRM applications to join the Bento development pilot.
“From where I’m sitting, there’s nothing else like it because it’s so centered around planning,” said Goldman, who is also a CFP.
“And selfishly, we have such a shortage of talent [in the industry]so it can be extremely helpful to pass that knowledge on to a junior counselor, much like in-box training,” she said. She also noted the company’s attention to covering and updating regulatory aspects of multiple states, which is often overlooked in technology for junior counselors or state-regulated independent practitioners.
Gavin Spitzner, president of Wealth Consulting Partners, who also works with many growth-focused RIAs, outlined his own reasons for investing.
“Despite all the talk about personalization at scale, it’s just not happening at scale in the industry – too few customers are getting proactive advice – and that’s despite the inherent power of resident data in CRM systems” , he said, adding that too few firms and their advisers are able to leverage these capabilities in-house on their own.
“Bento provides, even at this early stage, a turnkey way to leverage this data and trigger personalized, compliant “Next Best Action” communications for prospects and customers, and there is a mountain of research that shows that advisers who do this increase wallet share and generate quality referrals,” Spitzner said.
Fellow Bento investors Doug and Liz Fritz, co-founders of technology consultancy F2 Strategy, said their own work evaluating customer experience and customer satisfaction in conjunction with consulting firms showed a clear trend.
“We found that the most correlated attribute of a wealth management relationship is communication,” Doug Fritz said.
“What Bento does, and we haven’t seen this in any other tool designed specifically for wealth management, is a mechanism to take known client data, such as date of birth and financial planning data, and to create automated, quality communications that are client-specific,” he said.