Media is an increasing part of a financial professional’s job, whether it be contributing blog articles, recording podcasts or maintaining an active social media presence to promote a personal brand.
Advancements in technology may also be creating a shift in the other direction, with media companies becoming increasingly involved in providing financial services. One website, DailyWorth, is preparing to launch a new automated digital advice service called WorthFM.
Like other robos, users will fill out a survey and WorthFM will automatically create analysis, investment recommendations and investment options customized to the user. It’s designed for mass affluent investors with accounts too small for traditional financial advisors.
What sets WorthFM apart is that it is tailored for female investors. The project is the result of a partnership between Amanda Steinberg, who founded DailyWorth in 2009 to help professional women manage money, and Michelle Smith, the CEO of Source Financial Advisors, an independent wealth management firm specializing in high-net-worth women. A female psychologist, Dr. Jennifer Leigh Selig, designed the survey, which WorthFM calls the MoneyType assessment.
And unlike other tech startups, WorthFM already has an engaged audience of 1.2 million people, via DailyWorth’s newsletter, as a pool of prospective users.
Smith said that over the last few years, Source Financial received so many requests from mass affluent women looking for advice that she didn't have time to handle them all. She started looking at how she could use technology to efficiently serve the larger but less profitable mass affluent segment without a drain on her time and resources.
“How do we do this and really amplify it to all women in the country?” Smith said.
The idea grew into a partnership with Steinberg, who has a history in computer programming, and Vanare, a wealth management technology company that will provide the institutional infrastructure and APIs (application-programming interfaces).
“We are offering women an individualized experience designed to increase their knowledge of investing as their portfolio and familiarity grows,” Steinberg said in statement. “To provide that kind of ever-changing and customized client experience, we require a technology partner that can understand our vision and enable us to finally forge a woman’s connection to her investments in a way that resonates with her. Vanare’s robust back end and smart API will help expedite our speed of development without sacrificing any of the structural integrity we need to create a wholly new experience for our growing base of constituents.”
Alexey Sokolin, the COO of Vanare, said this project was different than NestEgg, Vanare’s white-labeled robo advisor for financial advisors looking to add automated advice to their practice. With WorthFM, Vanare provided an infrastructure that let Steinberg and her team build what he calls an entirely new user experience.
“The WorthFM team was really blue-ocean in thinking about what they were doing,” Sokolin said. “In terms of what was possible, it was everything.”
Starting From Scratch
Smith said that in order to create a truly female-focused service, it was important to start from scratch. The focus is less on the investment products, as Smith said WorthFM will stick to ETFs and passive investing like most robos, but about designing a platform that appeals, engages and educates women investors who have long been neglected by the industry.
“It’s not about making it pretty. We’re talking about something way deeper,” Smith said. “Women don’t trust financial services; they don’t talk to us like we’re adults, and it feels inaccessible.”
That lack of clarity leads many women to opt out of financial services. The idea here is that by delivering advice tailored to a user’s unique goals and level of financial sophistication, it will seem less daunting.
“The WorthFM service will provide our client exactly the kind of personalized guidance and advice that my experience has proven women want when they are making decisions about their investments,” Smith said.
As a self-described futurist, Sokolin thinks this trend of media companies reaching into financial services is just beginning. Social media companies like Facebook and Snapchat are already processing payments and helping users move money around. Earlier this week, the online financial encyclopedia Investopedia launched a new question-and-answer hub to connect investors and advisors.
The advantage, Sokolin said, is for media companies to leverage their existing brand recognition and audience base to deliver an extremely targeted product to a very specific market.
“They understand very precisely their audience, how their readers think about money, and give them advice every day,” Sokolin said. "Media, technology and finance are really blending together.”