Altruist’s founder and CEO Jason Wenk is putting the firm’s $50 million Series B funding to work. The software developer hired Grace Mellis, a former JPMorgan Chase managing director with experience scaling software firms, as the company’s first chief financial officer. It also hired Adam Grealish, the ex-director of investing at robo advisor Betterment, as the firm’s first head of investments, according to an announcement.
As CFO, Mellis will be charged with scaling Altruist, which currently serves less than 1,000 RIAs. She’ll be applying techniques honed as chairman of the board of directors at HyreCar, where she helped the car rental startup rapidly scale and eventually list publicly. She’s worked with HyreCar for nearly four years.
"Altruist has a significant, rare opportunity in a well-established industry," said Mellis in a statement. "Altruist identified a clear, yet widely ignored, problem, then built sophisticated technology to address that need.”
To accomplish that, executives need to get “everyone to be firing on all cylinders at all times,” she said. “Culture is No. 1 and one of the key reasons I joined. It is core, actually, to helping a company scale fast.”
Meanwhile, Grealish said leadership at Altruist is overseeing “even deeper investments into the investing and financial planning space.” He declined to confirm whether the software developer will be building a financial planning engine, but noted that the firm is “very focused on making financial advisors the best they can possibly be across the financial planning and investing dimensions.” Earlier this year, Wenk committed to adding integrations with financial planning and CRM providers.
“I’m not putting up a smoke screen here. We really are figuring this out and really focused on solving advisors needs,” Grealish explained. Prior to moving to Altruist, he co-founded job recommendation engine Roletroll and spent five years at Betterment starting in 2016.
Both Betterment and Altruist are known for serving advisors that aren’t afraid to voice their enthusiasm for—or criticism of—the products they use in their businesses. Grealish can’t wait to work with those advisors, he said.
“I love those advisers. They're thoughtful about what they're doing. They care about it a lot, and if they're holding [Altruist] and everyone else to a high standard, that's something that I personally love,” he said. “I love engaging with advisors with strong opinions, who care a lot about what they're doing and what they're doing for their clients.”
Wenk expects that combining Mellis’ background “from the world of traditional custodians” and Grealish’s familiarity with robo advice will produce a powerful combination of familiar and avant-garde that will entice advisors to the platform and satisfy the ones already there. The addition of the firm’s first CFO and head of investments is another sign that Wenk is continuing to develop and mature the nascent advisor software developer.