Despite its early and pioneering entry into the world of AI-driven technology for RIA firms, Benjamin, an automated business support system for advisory shops, will cease operations at the end of day Friday, according to its founder and CEO, Matt Reiner.
“After having gone through a process to identify potential alternatives for the business, we have decided to cease operations at the close of business today,” Reiner wrote in an email to WealthManagement.com.
Reiner, in addition to being a technology entrepreneur, has been an advisor for more than a decade at Capital Investment Advisors and Wela Strategies.
“Although it's not the conclusion we desired, we hope that we pushed the industry forward a small bit and in a positive way—hopefully we initiated some differentiated perspectives with firms’ views of workflows, automation and efficiency,” he wrote.
He said in addition to challenges growing the startup’s customer base, shifting market dynamics and difficulty around finding capital contributed to the decision.
Launched in 2019 as a tool meant to streamline back-office workflows for financial advisors, the startup pivoted in late 2020 to become an artificial intelligence–-driven end-to-end business support system for RIA firms—or as the company described it on its website: “The world’s first A.I. assistant created for advisors by advisors.”
“My dream for Benjamin is to scale the advisor’s ability to be the quarterback for everything, the central connective tissue of all those parties that would make up an advisory firm’s holistic practice,” he said.
That would go beyond the core activities of financial planning, CRM and portfolio management to include accounting, estate planning and everything else, he said.
In early 2021, the startup received an initial round of $750,000 in funding led by industry veteran Bob Conchiglia, who also joined Benjamin’s executive advisory board.
In September 2021, the platform won a Wealth Management Industry Award in the category of Business Support Systems | Workflow Automation.
Reiner himself was named one of WealthManagement.com's Ten to Watch in 2022.
And while it remains unclear how much additional funding Benjamin finally received, the startup announced that two judges in the April 2022 fourth season of the ScratchWorks fintech accelerator competition had agreed to invest.
Marty Bicknell of Mariner Wealth Advisors and Michael Nathanson of The Colony Group both agreed to become investors in Benjamin on the spot for a negotiated equity investment, subject to final terms and agreements. In past seasons that investment ranged from $250,000 to upwards of $5 million.