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XYPN to Launch Virtual Assistant Program for Advisor Members

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What You Need to Know

  • XY Planning Network intends to launch a pilot for its new virtual assistant program in the second quarter of 2022.
  • It could take up to three years before any XYPN member who wants to sign up for the VA program will be able to.
  • XYPN has added 390 advisor members year-to-date.

XY Planning Network’s plans for 2022 include the introduction of an improved technology stack for its more than 1,550 member advisors that will include a virtual assistant program that Alan Moore, XYPN CEO and co-founder, said will launch as a pilot for a small number of members in the second quarter.

The team-based approach will provide year-round coverage, including client meeting support, email management, administrative marketing support, investment operations, data entry and other options, XYPN said on Tuesday, the second day of its XYPN Live 2021 conference in Denver. Other new technology solutions are also planned, it said.

“We have a lot of members that have expressed an interest” in the virtual assistant pilot, Moore said in an online briefing with reporters, in response to a ThinkAdvisor question. “We’re going to narrow the list down” to members that have the same overall tech stack, he said. Otherwise, it would be “just too complicated for a beta,” he explained.

Based on the size of the XYPN network, “our fear is not, will anyone show up for the VA business; the fear is they’ll all show up for the VA business and … I can’t hire 200 VAs overnight. … It’s going to take time to build,” he said. “Realistically, it could take up to three years before we’re at a point where any XYPN member who just wants to come sign up can just sign up.”

XYPN “would like to be [at] what we would call full launch by the conference next year, which [means] we will be accepting advisors, but that’s on a rolling waitlisted-type basis,” he explained. “We want to be sure we do it right” and make sure advisors don’t have a bad experience.

XYPN realizes, however, that technology is not the answer to all advisor needs. “There’s an immense amount of focus right now on technology and technology driving efficiency — and obviously, we’re getting involved in that space as well with our particular contribution of where we see gaps around advice-centric firms,” according to Michael Kitces, XYPN co-founder and executive chairman.

“But we are not in a business where technology is going to solve everything,” Kitces said. Clients have unique issues that are best served by advisors and not self-service technology, he told reporters. As a result, “there will always be a services component” that advisors provide to clients, he predicted.

More on this topic

Responding to Member Feedback

Via advisor surveys, XYPN identified ways to improve technology services and extend new offerings to its member advisors, it said. “Member feedback consistently shows advisors are looking for ways to run their firms more efficiently, maximize productivity, and simplify their day-to-day operations,” it said in a news release.

Last year, XYPN launched a custom-built member dashboard that streamlined and optimized the advisor experience. Now, its tech team is “working to further connect and streamline efficiencies, with the goal of building the ‘power strip’ that allows advisors to plug in and centralize their many services and software applications,” XYPN said.

To that end, XYPN said its member dashboard now has single sign-on with four key tech partners: RightCapital, SmartRIA, AdvicePay and Wealthbox. There are “more in the works,” it said.

RIA Sector ‘Exploding’

“The landscape of financial services is evolving, and we continue to see the RIA space exploding,” Moore also told reporters. On the other hand, the “broker-dealer space continues to struggle to retain advisors,” he said, noting that XYPN added 390 advisor members in 2021 as of Tuesday.

Forty percent of new members cited existing XYPN members as the main reason they wanted to join, Moore went on to say. They come mainly from either RIA firms, where “they were promised equity” in their firms and realized they would never get it or were “tired of waiting” for it, or from broker-dealers they decided to break away from, he pointed out.

“In an industry where a lot of folks are clamoring that you have to merge and consolidate in order to be competitive, what we’re seeing in practice is solo and boutique firms are flourishing in this environment, built around niches and focused clientele, with frankly better [results],” Kitces told reporters.

(Pictured: Michael Kitces, XYPN co-founder and executive chairman)