Digital tax return review and planning tool Holistiplan took first place at XY Planning Network’s fintech competition in St. Louis, as company co-founders Roger Pine and Kevin Lozer presented before a panel of three judges and a standing-room-only crowd of conference attendees. XY Planning Network co-founder Michael Kitces, FPPad’s Bill Winterberg and Snappy Kraken co-founder Robert Sofia were judges.
Holistiplan was one of six fintech hopefuls that presented offerings on Tuesday. College tuition forecasting and planning tool College Aid Pro was an honorable mention, showcasing its advisor solution along with task-organization tool Knudge, survey and business feedback tool NEXA Insights, RIA-focused digital custodial platform Altruist and workflow converter Anvil. Broadly speaking, the first four tools fell into the category of “new planning applications,” while the last two were more like “systems infrastructure,” said Kitces.
While most of the presentations had the advisors’ attention, from the outset Holistiplan made a strong case for its service, which Pine characterized as “end-to-end tax planning.” The tool works on the same principles as the comprehensive tax return review checklists that some advisors offer their clients, he said, finding situations like Medicare adjustments and Roth conversions that add value for clients. The tool is also able to model hypothetical scenarios for clients, so they can plan for certain tax situations in the coming year.
While electronic, PDF-based tax returns are easily processed by the tool, handwritten returns and scanned copies, in certain situations, aren’t currently supported.
“We think tax planning ought to be an integral part of any advisor’s tech stack,” Pine said, citing 2019 data compiled by Technology Tools for Today, better known as T3, that showed less than 8% of advisory firms offering the service.
“It seems very efficient. I think it’s a great tool,” said Sunil Harpalani, an advisor and CPA who specializes in tax planning. Harpalani is founder of Holistic View Financial LLC, based in Boston. After watching the presentation, he said the tool has more capabilities than RightCapital, the financial planning software he currently uses and that he’s not aware of any offering that provides the same range of services as Holistiplan. “I’d like to see all of that functionality built into financial planning software,” he said. “There are [tax planning] checklists, but they’re not specific to a return.”
The presentation also caught the attention of Kitces. “I'm fascinated by some of the entrants to the fintech competition that are just showing up in all these new categories,” he said. There’s a chance Holistiplan could work its way into XY Planning Network’s tax preparation service, XY Tax Solutions, or as a member benefit, he said.
Attendees were also dazzled by College Aid Pro, which forecasted financial aid and college costs for clients, by taking the profile of a student applying for college and comparing it against information about postsecondary institutions, like how generous they are with financial aid.
The company is aiming to do what online travel booking service Orbitz did for airline prices in 2001, bring the cost of college down, said Joe Messinger, chief education officer for the firm.
As winner of the competition, Holistiplan will receive promotional opportunities and brand recognition, joining the ranks of previous winners like Jud Mackrill’s Mineral Interactive, since acquired by Carson Group, digital 401(k) platform Vestwell and digital marketing firm Snappy Kraken.