SmartAsset announced that it launched SmartAdvisorMatch.com, an extension of its online advisor-prospect matchmaking service SmartAdvisor that will eventually include free profiles of about 300,000 advisors.
At its launch in late October, the database included 400-word profiles of 50,000 advisors, with plans to increase that number to 100,000 by year-end and to 300,000 by year-end 2019.
The company said in late November that it was ahead of schedule in achieving that 100,000-profile goal by the end of December.
According to the IAA/NRS annual report Evolution Revolution, there were 12,578 RIA firms in the U.S. in 2018; according to FINRA, there were 630,132 registered representatives as of 2017.
However, there are many dual registrants, and many of those registered reps (holding Series 7, for example) are not active brokers providing services to investors, so the 300,000 mark seems accurate in covering the professional advice industry.
SmartAsset said it was using some of its recent $28 million in Series C funding to create those profiles by using natural language processing software to gather information on advisors from publicly available databases from the SEC and FINRA; advisors’ own websites and LinkedIn profiles.
That information is turned into free profiles for investors that advisors can edit through SmartAdvisor and can serve, the company said, “as a source of search engine optimization” for advisors. SmartAsset said that many financial advisors already “can count SmartAdvisorMatch.com as their number-one search engine hit.”
CEO and cofounder Michael Carvin said in a statement that “No one has ever used advanced natural processing software for a project anything like SmartAdvisorMatch.com, much less at the scale we’re achieving. For consumers, that means that they get access to an accurate source of data they’ve never been able to tap into; for advisors, that means that we are creating and optimizing their business for web discovery like never before – for free.
SmartAdvisor efficiently matches prequalified investors with up to three advisors in their geographic area who meet their expressed needs after the investors answer some 20 questions on an online form. Those investors become prequalified by expressing their initial interest on numerous websites populated by SmartAsset’s financial calculators and educational content. For advisors who participate in the program, they gain access to warm, local prospects who they otherwise might not reach in their traditional marketing efforts.
In ThinkAdcvisor’s first report on SmartAsset in March, CEO and cofounder Michael Carvin said “our goal is to build a fund-raising machine for financial advisors; to build the first white glove local marketing service for advisors.” The platform, he says, allows advisors to “tap into all of that content that investors have on the web to work with them.”
Carvin is building that platform with the help of a total of $54 million in venture capital funding. New York-based SmartAsset continues to grow, with 115 employees currently and 200 likely by year-end 2019, and has expanded its office space to accommodate the larger staff (the company currently has 30 openings it is trying to fill). Earlier this month the company was named one of the top 100 startups by Y Combinator, the startup incubator, coming in at No. 72 as measured by valuation.
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