In this Swift Chat video conversation, Marie Swift of Impact Communications speaks with John Mackowiak, Chief Business Development Officer, and Dirk Pearson, Chief Product Officer at Advyzon, a comprehensive technology platform and portfolio management solution for financial advisors and investment managers that includes portfolio management, customizable performance reporting, trading and rebalancing, client web portals, client relationship management (CRM), client billing, and document storage. Advyzon helps advisors streamline their operations so they can focus on growing their business.
The trio discusses the growth of the company, Advyzon's new Quantum Rebalancing tool, and a few teasers of upcoming features Advyzon is working on.
For more information on Advyzon, please visit https://www.Advyzon.com
[Video: 14:24 minutes]
Every advisory firm wants to operate their business slightly different. There may be a different structure or operating need, and that flexibility that we've intentionally built in the Advyzon through conversation, or just those insights that we've developed based on those that are using the Advyzon system itself allows us to forecast our changes across our entire user base, not just for one single user. So, I would say that approach has really served us well in the past and certainly as we've kind of gotten into this Quantum initiative."
Transcript of Conversation
Marie Swift: Hey, everybody. Welcome back to Swift Chats and this is about best practices in the financial services industry. Jonny Swift, my co-host, and I, we like to talk to people in the industry who are doing great things to innovate and help advisors and fiduciaries of all sorts -- even independent broker/dealers -- do a better job working with their clients. Today we're going to be talking with Advyzon, and I have Dirk Pearson, who is the Chief Product Officer and John Mackowiak, who is the Chief Business Development Officer. Welcome to the show. I'd like to start with you, John; tell us a little bit about who you are, what you do at Advyzon and what Advyzon is all about.
John Mackowiak: Thanks, Marie. I do a lot of things at Advyzon. I think at the end of the day I oversee sales, I oversee marketing as well as service, so kind of the front end of the house. I've been on board since we launched in 2014 so I've kind of seeing things through from the very beginning when we had no clients. I was quite literally handed a laptop and told to get to work so it has been a fun ride to get to this point and looking forward to the many things we have on the horizon here for everyone. What Advyzon is all about, really, we're a comprehensive technology platform for advisory firms of all sizes. At our core we’re a reporting and billing solution, but a as we launched in 2014, we needed to differentiate.
So, we really looked at adding additional tools that advisors need day in and day out. We started with CRM as part of our platform. We have a full document management system, a white label client portal and mobile app. Right in 2020, we launched what we call the Advyzon Growth Suite kind of moving out of maintaining a business and to helping our users grow and then in the very near future here next couple of weeks we will launch our long awaited Advyzon Quantum Rebalancing Tools. Really, really excited about everything that we've done on that end.
Swift: Wow. So, Dirk, you probably have been involved given that you're the Chief Product Officer. Tell us what you would add to everything that John's just said and be sure to introduce yourself.
Dirk Pearson: Certainly Marie, thank you. So Dirk Pearson here. I joined Advyzon actually right around the same time John did. So we were both part of this effort getting Advyzon off the ground from 2014 onwards. In 2019, I actually moved into the Chief Product Officer role and since then my mission has been to fully capitalize on this all-in-one experience that we're trying to deliver to advisers and really rebalancing has been that missing component to really delivering that front to end full suite solution that we founded Advyzon with that mission. So that's what I would add there, Marie, and excited to talk more about it.
Swift: So, speaking of founding, who is the founder?
Mackowiak: Hailin Li is our founder and CEO. He and I have worked together since 2004. So, I've been building these types of tools for a long time. He was the chief architect of a leading system at a competitor and ultimately decided that things were better doing it for himself and launched Advyzon development in 2012. So, prior to going to market in 2014, which is when Dirk and I started, a solid two years in development and then private beta and then a full decade prior to that working in this space. So, we've all been doing this for quite some time.
Swift: And how has Advyzon grown? I have seen you on a lot of lists. The Kitces Technology lists, the T3/Inside Information survey. You have great rankings. Tell us about the growth at Advyzon.
Mackowiak: We started in 2014 and I call it a soft launch. The reason for that is this is not that big of an industry. So, we didn't do much in terms of marketing. That first year was really people we'd worked with prior or those that were really seeking out a brand-new technology partner. So, we brought on about a dozen firms that first year, and really focused on building a foundation. Dirk was instrumental to that. I remember just talking to him just about every day and he worked over nights a lot in addition to his daytime duties, supporting our growing client base.
Starting small enabled us to build that foundation. We just didn't want to bring on clients that we couldn't support. I think you really do a lot of damage to your reputation if you come out too hot, focus everything on marketing and ultimately the product doesn't live up to it. So again, about a dozen firms that first year. Started hiring for our sales and marketing efforts in 2015. I think we were able to get to about 50 firms by the end of that year with some focus on growth. And then if we fast forward to today, we've got about 1100 individual firms that we work with.
THE QUANTUM REBALANCING TOOL
Swift: So Dirk, jump in and tell us a little bit more about what makes Advyzon cool, and how Quantum adds to that equation.
Pearson: We have a very advisor centric focus when we build our technology. So as John mentioned over time, we've spent a great deal of time making things work, and now we've made it actually fun to use as well. So that comes with a very thoughtful, intentional design with everything that we do. Given that the data is fully integrated from CRM to billing, to portfolio accounting and now we have rebalancing as well. You need to develop things with a real thoughtfulness towards the advisor and the advisory firms that we're servicing.
Quantum has sort of led the charge with that initiative as well. And that's why we've spent a great deal of time in our beta process, really refining the full integration experience of Quantum within the Advyzon ecosystem, not just within the Quantum application itself.
Swift: John, what would you add?
Mackowiak: I think that what Dirk is saying is we listen and it's very easy to say that and a lot harder to do that because everyone has their own ideas and what's important to them. But at the end of the day most advisory firms have a very similar approach to how they work and then they put their little spin on it, which is great. That's why we all will want to be independent, but being able to listen, whether that is a big-ticket item like Quantum taking and folding it into the rest of the application and having it be that seamless experience where you're not off in left field, doing rebalancing that can be done right from a client record.
There's no button in Advyzon that says CRM for example. CRM features that would traditionally live in a standalone application, they exist throughout Advyzon because where we've placed them is where it's easiest to access them and where it makes most sense from the advisor workflow. So, it really is the same approach we've taken with Quantum, and we'll continue to do so with any new area that we get into.
Pearson: And I jump back in here quickly, that thoughtfulness and that approach that John mentions allows us to also build in the flexibility throughout the application to support all these different firms. Every advisory firm wants to operate their business slightly different. There may be a different structure or operating need, and that flexibility that we've intentionally built in the Advyzon through conversation, or just those insights that we've developed based on those that are using the Advyzon system itself allows us to forecast our changes across our entire user base, not just for one single user. So, I would say that approach has really served us well in the past and certainly as we've kind of gotten into this Quantum initiative."
AN OPERATING SUITE FOR ADVISORS
Swift: So, you have about 1100 subscribers, I guess you call them subscribers. Dirk, tell us a little bit about who the best type of advisory firm is. Are they a certain size? Are they fiduciary RIA? Are they broker dealers? Who is Advyzon for?
Pearson: I think John alluded to it earlier, really firms of any size. While Advyzon is a great solution and a turnkey solution for somebody who's trying to operate their entire business independently. We've really transitioned Advyzon to be an operating suite for large, medium, extra-large size firms through collaboration tools, compliance tools, permission controls, access controls, even segmenting the firms and the branches and the data and the clients, really to meet the needs of growing firms, these already extremely large firms that need that oversight or need the ability to segment their business in certain ways.
CONFERENCE SCHEDULE FOR 2022
Swift: So John, I know that you have a pretty robust travel schedule and you're going to be out on the road. Tell us a little bit about where Advyzon will be as we move into April, May, June and into the fall of 2022.
Mackowiak: Sure. So, I have a list over here if my eyes are darting around, but we'll kick things off with T3 here in in early May. NAPFA is actually that same week. NAPFA is twice a year, so we'll be at spring and then fall we'll be here in Denver. FPA of NorCal. We'll be at the AICPA Engage conference in Las Vegas in June. This will be our first year at Pershing Insite, we're really excited about that one, we launched an integration with them last year. So, it’ll be our first Pershing Insite experience. We've heard nothing but good things about it.
Future-Proof is a new event. I think they're calling it a wealth festival. I don't want to offend anyone by calling it a conference, but we'll be there. That's in Southern California in September. ACP, the Alliance of Comprehensive Planners we will be at. We'll be at XYPN, Riskalyze. I mentioned NAPFA and then all signs point to Schwab IMPACT returning in person, which we are thrilled about me in particular, because that's another one that's here in Denver so I will not have to travel to that one.
I think we have some pretty good coverage and we'll be in most of the major industry events. And we're always open to adding opportunities as they arise.
FEATURES IN THE WORKS
Swift: So Dirk, my last question is for you, what's on the horizon for Advyzon? What are you working on? Can you pull back the curtain or share anything, maybe give us an inside look at what you do every day as the Chief Product Officer.
Pearson: Absolutely. So, we're already building above and beyond Quantum. Like I said earlier, we are trying to take advantage of being that central database hub of any advisory firm business. We're really expanding our ability to automate operations and tasks within a firm. So, a lot of people are familiar with workflows. We're actually taking those and distilling them down into bite sized pieces. Already this year we've dramatically enhanced our alerts and notification capabilities within Advyzon to really expand on all of the different ways that Advyzon is used within a business. And now you can actually take events that occur within Advyzon or track within Advyzon to create secondary actions or steps or events without having to lift a finger. So, this could be creating a task for somebody if we get a birthday alert. It could be creating a task for a compliance person to check on a rebalance session that just ran if advisors cannot approve their own trades and that requires a special trade desk to review approve, and actually then submit the trade.
So, automation is a really exciting and then our advisor mobile app is something we're hoping to release in 2022 as well. This is going to bring all of the data of Advyzon to any of our subscribers’ fingertips which we are super excited about given all of the great and fantastic ways that we store people's data and make it accessible to the entire firm. Those are only a couple of the highlights. I wish we could dive in further on that, but I think that's a pretty solid teaser.
Swift: Indeed it is. So, headquarters is in Chicago but John you're in Denver, right? So, the reference to Denver and the Schwab conference potentially going to that and Dirk you're in Chicago, correct?
Pearson: Correct. I am holding down our headquarters here in Chicago.
Swift: Well, I love Chicago. I love Denver, so I hope we get to see each other in one of those two cities sometime soon and for sure at the T3 conference in Denton, Texas, outside of Dallas of course. Bring your cowboy boots and we'll see you there. Thanks for your time today.