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Technology As an Investment – And a Niche

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Clients who are keen to have Kim Gaxiola as their financial advisor better not have reservations about technology.

Gaxiola is the founder of San Jose, California-based TechGirl Financial, and serves as the network coordinator for Women in Technology International’s Silicon Valley regional network.

Prospective clients should be quite fearless vis-a-vis technology and its use in financial planning because, as her firm’s name clearly states, Gaxiola is all about technology. She moved to California from Illinois in 2004 with an eye to start a niche practice. Her husband suggested focusing her business on women in the tech industry — a market segment, Gaxiola said, that is small yet powerful.

TechGirl Financial’s goal is to provide strong support for these women as they go through their lives and progress in their careers by empowering them financially.

“Not all my clients are women working in technology, but when I started in this area, I decided I was going to focus my time and effort on doing things in a tech-savvy and advanced way,” she said. “That means I may happen to lose a couple of [prospects] along the way who are not up to that speed — and I understand that I may filter a lot of people out when they look at my website, when they learn how I do things — but I am willing to take that risk because I have a high lock-down rate for the ones who do filter in and like what they see on my website.”

Gaxiola’s clients are “confident, smart and educated women,” she said; most importantly, “they’re decisive.”

They are the kind of women who have fully embraced technology, and who, like Gaxiola, prefer to operate electronically. Her firm uses Redtail’s CRM portal, and all client information is filed electronically and in such a way that anyone in the firm can see it at any time. Clients can get what they need in the format of their choice: their laptops, their phones or their tablets.

Gaxiola’s clients are the kind of people who like “to see things in one place,” she said.

With the help of technology, TechGirl creates for them a financial dashboard where they can get a clear picture of everything they own and owe, and this in turn helps them make important decisions at different phases of their life. It helps them change or fine tune their goals and objectives, assess alternatives and take action when it needs to be taken.

“When you work in the tech sector, there’s so much going on. You have restricted stock accounts, a 401(k), maybe some stock options; that’s so much more than what you are saving, so to bring it all into one place, with the cash flow and the real estate and everything else in one place, you can really be at peace financially,” Gaxiola said.

TechGirl Financial uses eMoney Advisor, which comes with a dashboard feature. The product is designed in a way that appeals to a new, younger generation of clients. Gaxiola, who is a part of Cambridge Investment Research’s New Century Council, said more and more of those younger clients are seeking out her services. These people are changing the conversation around financial planning, she said, and driving progress in technology.

Most of her clients also prefer electronic interaction to face-to-face meetings.

“My local people love not having to drive to my office. I pretty much use my office only for new prospects and wholesalers,” Gaxiola said. “There’s a lot of traffic in the Bay Area; no one wants to take an hour to get somewhere and back.”

While she does travel to Illinois twice a year to meet her clients there, “those meetings are almost more like social gatherings than anything else,” Gaxiola said. “We do Go-To Meetings online, and do their annual review that way. It’s just so much easier for them to see my screen first, and then for me to send them the documents.”

While she does confess to having a “messy desktop” — one on which multiple tabs are open at once “and I keep going from one program to another” — Gaxiola knows exactly where she is at any given time, and is proud to have an almost paperless office. Over time, she believes that financial planning technology will be able to come up with a better solution to organize simultaneous platforms and programs.

— Read How Advisors Can Best Use Tech For Firm Growth, Profitability on ThinkAdvisor. 


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