Many of the best advisors consider themselves not just advice givers, but educators of their clients as well. Educating clients helps them understand, and embrace, the financial plan you’ve built for them, but it also can keep clients invested during volatile markets. Regularly providing education to clients can also provide regular touchpoints with them, helping to illustrate the value you provide.
Enter Clearnomics, a startup founded in 2016 whose stated goal is to “empower financial advisors to help their clients understand markets” through a simple and intuitive market insights website.
The platform provides advisory firms with daily updated charts and graphs that can be created on demand and on the fly by advisors using an easy-to-navigate web-based menu. The white-labeled charts can be downloaded in PDF, PowerPoint or JPG formats so advisors can not only send the charts to clients but include them in broader presentations online or in person.
A CFA who previously was a global market strategist at JPMorgan, James Liu, CEO and founder of Clearnomics, helped develop JPMorgan’s Guide to the Markets print publication. The annual Guide, now available online for free though JPMorgan also issues quarterly and monthly updates, is used by thousands of financial advisors to help explain the markets and economy to end clients.
Sold only to advisors, from whom clients expect more than “basic investment and planning services,” Liu said Clearnomics provides “client-ready market insights” that are “branded with your name” to help advisors “build trust and win business.” The firm’s mission, Liu said, was to “help all advisors discuss the markets with confidence.”
Liu told the Clearnomics story to a receptive audience at Joel Bruckenstein’s T3 Technology Tools for Today conference for advisors in early February; Clearnomics was an exhibitor in the Emerging Technology Area of the T3 exhibit hall.
The service features a question-driven approach that allows advisors to drill down into specific topics from a broad menu to create a “personalized chartbook” along with talking points (that an advisor can edit) to share with one or more clients. The subscription price for individual advisors is $59 a month, though there is separate pricing for larger advisory firms and enterprises.
While advisors might use Clearnomics in their offices to create charts and send them to clients, its cloud-based technology allows those charts to be displayed on mobile devices such as cellphones and iPads, Liu said.
One timely example of how advisors can “tell a simple story using compelling visuals” to explain how the markets work, Liu said, is a chart showing annual returns and pullbacks for the S&P 500. The ‘picture’ shows that while the S&P is in positive territory 70% over time, “there are drawdowns in every positive year,” thus showing how short-term volatility does not presage a longer-term drawdown. Wearing his CFA hat, Liu said another good point to make with clients who may be concerned with the slow growth of the economy is to create another chart showing that over time, the financial markets do track the overall economy, especially when it comes to earnings for the S&P 500.
(Liu is a common guest on financial television shows; he recently discussed the late January-early February market pullback on CNBC.)
During the Q&A portion of Liu’s presentation, an advisor asked whether the charts meet compliance standards for client presentations. Liu said that users can indeed add custom disclosures to the charts they share with clients, though he hastened to add that Clearnomics’ visuals are “not trying to sell a product or predict the future but rather be educational.”
Liu also suggested that for advisors to educate clients most efficiently, they practice “consistency and repetition.”
In an interview after the presentation, Lisa Brignoni, another CFA who is Clearnomics’ director of business strategy, said the use of its personalized chart book helps advisors “sell a confident message to clients” by using simple and concise market insights.
While Brignoni, a former portfolio manager at Pittsburgh-based Fragasso Financial Advisors, said Clearnomics wasn’t targeting breakaway brokers for its service, you could argue that the startup’s offerings would be appealing to employee advisors who have come to rely on using the JPMorgan Guide to the Markets to more fully understand the markets themselves and share those insights with clients.
— Check out Older, Wealthier Investors May Be More Into Digital Advice Than You Think on ThinkAdvisor.