Aaron is an accomplished fintech entrepreneur with a proven record. He is the Founder and CEO of Vestwell. I asked him what the one best piece of business advice he has ever received. His response: he truly believes in what you are doing he never looked at himself as an entrepreneur but someone who was passionate about a few things and wanting to solve a problem he is passionate about.
Designing technology used by advisors trust side transferred to tech side turnkey solutions to better serve their clients 401k 403b defined benefit contributions remove barriers when small to medium offering to their employees make it easier for advisor to do so offer a plan a remove all friction points turnkey touch point financial advisor owner and employee flows quick and eloquent so it's not confusing reduced cost name you as entity responsible for doing all this help from a fiduciary point of view they are comfortable an architect what it looks like and good for all of them owners employee plan sponsors there is a need
How he provides financial advisors with a modern platform which reduces fees, increases transparency and ensures compliance in a quickly shifting regulatory landscape.
believe in what you are doing never looked at myself as an entrepreneur passionate about a few things look at it as a person who wants to solve a problem I am passion about
Startup sponsor Hostgator
So what contributes most to his success:
refusal to fail highly competitive side that drives him if I didn’t have to sleep with wife and a newborn so driven business is a success that it benefits every person it touches
Aaron’s new company Vestwell is all about knowing which part of the market is underserved
Aaron discusses the key challenges that he faces market as whole advisory world two bucks financial advisor understand retirement advisors to company owners other side don’t service them but company owner has a relationship with advisor vestwell comes in advisor want s to service but not always easy for them so remove options to just walk away or just take something off self like John Hancock risky for company owner high cost employer doesn’t like or can find components recordkeeping admin custody broker investment and piece together solutions but can be laborious and expense advisors want to service their client but not that easy so we will put it together to better serve the customer
Prior to Vestwell, you Founded, FolioDynamix.
FolioDynamix was sold for $199 million sold to Actua who had a market value of $600 million back in 2014( ACTA)
Aaron’s payday? It was Ok still wants a few more dollars in the bank before he retires
People are interested in what the entrepreneur does but reasons to go into business goes to his personal story
Prior to joining FolioDynamix, he was vice president at Citigroup focused on global asset manager solutions.
how it made the shift
Checkfree/FISERV early 2000 he ran product MSP multi-strategy portfolios then unified managed account he ran product side moved to new york on trust side ERISA and moved to NY to be investment manager had no APL program cumbersome platform dos company who build it hired him thinking he would be investment person but started in tech side he is some developers UMA world his boss ran all different product segment his last day quit Fiserv two hours a night of sleep for a few years last day having a drink with his boss last day at Fiserv was in grad school wrote it out on a bar napkin concept draw up concept
Few months later he was moving to London to launch mutual fund wrap program boss called do you want to do this he was ready to leave pulled him in Bisys this company could help us sandbox wealth management solution outsource to wealth side it became his sandbox for folio dynamic have autonomy it was sold to Citi they slid out did it on their own.
Other past positions include the head of wealth solutions products at BISYS (now part of Citigroup) and product manager at CheckFree Investment Services (now part of Fiserv).
Amazing story what do you tell people with fear on last day want to go forward
You have to have a stomach for it it’s a roller coaster ride those early days at folio we struggled couldn’t make payroll been in very dark days could pay employees couldn’t pay rent and said I don’t think we can do this and you have to pay employees and they need money for their family nothing sexy glorious about it boots on the ground spend time doing things you didn’t want to do at a bigger company you would delegate you must be pushed in the pool and find a way out roller coaster we good days it’s a rush and bad days while someone just kicked you down make sure you spouse understands they are in it as well because their in it as well
When he ran out of cash in early days of folio wasn’t married it is a timing thing - had a successful exit and learn a lot what to do what not now with Vestwell he says I must do this create this and wife now knows if I don’t do it I would be miserable in corporate knowing I could make an impact she said I will give it one year if not she said you are getting something more stable
Not sexy in the investment world everyone wants to do investments your niche don’t know it don’t want to do
Jazy idea maybe idea is not so sexy ideas can come from anywhere he was interviewing someone for a position why retiring side what drives you why w0nt it be boring - he says distinct knowledge giving them an advantage all the moving parts you can dig in but you can take the time little nuisance in seeing it knowing war stories to piece it together
Department of Labor / Securities Exchange Commission: Investment advisor fiduciary
balance it all on boards he says it's exhausting just from reading it how is he doing it married new born big interest both he and his wife high energy sleeps well in small spurts
Companies he is passionate about Board member advisor helps out Quova account aggregation performance analytics dashboards out to advisors - full wallet they have as an investor he is passionate about met founders before they launched met and someone introduced them and help them is important to
Vestorly - content marketing financial services industry cool articfillial intelleige platform content market to communicate dialogues more receptive to investor
One wish in this world extend the days 36 hours days time and maturity figure out whats important and balance that the important things you are there for - thought leader - other companies are leveraging
Larger clients he is focusing on 3-7 years out - target work through financial advisory firms we give them tools for their client plan sponsors and end user employee but work through Trust Company broker-dealers RIA firms want to retain independent do what's right to clients fiduciary oversight cost not robo advisor automated technology with a human touch people phone number to chat through platform take it step further robo offerings great market for that service people that need it but new plans they are working with those who have existing plans scale from legal 1-20 million plan size different
Q: Causes Aaron cares about: passionate about other things growing up loving family brought into parents were very different adopted at birth build my own path learn a lot of my own fall down get up on my own mistakes along the way teach so not a lot of time for charity but buddy started
stoked.org inner city children to fail and get up and become mature to become adults snowboard in winter and skateboarding in summer have confidence to be knocked down and get up and they have been excepted to college and not make
Arts and Culture
Disaster and Humanitarian Relief
Audible sponsors the Fast Pitch Mitchell’s Book Club
Business / Family or Inspirational book - Brief History of Time loves physics aspect loves political books money power politics Bloomberg, not an inspirational book reader likes nonfiction take information and see how it applies in my life and relate it to me
Quote - “Always put yourself in the other person shoes” “things can always be worse” “you are where you are because you need to be there right now”
Impactful purposeful under 100 bucks laptop charger -
Fun fact : He was adopted at birth and so was his sister but not his brother and that has really shaped him and raised by great parents, CEO, Co-Founder, Writer/Producer
Red Flavored Records DJ passion became a record label music but he didn't like the industry so he gave up the business to his partner and the record label still exists today.
Startup but actually thinking about good to great how to build a scalable business over multi channels - wisdom - it's very easy to be distracted there's a lot you can we can do so much stay focus myopia other things will come over time but be strategic know several steps ahead be impactful out don’t be reactive think how this will impact other aspects and this will take you to scale inner section points don’t have to do them now but down the road
Snappa sponsors the Wrapup
3 main Takeaways
1) Be thoughtful in what you do and make sure it impacts people in a positive way and how that plays out in the world how it impacts other people in a positive way because there is a lot of noise out there so leave it a little better
2) Be passionate: if your thoughtful and passionate then you have something
3) Work hard to get it done, your going to fail and make mistake but just pick yourself up, so if you thoughtful passionate and work hard you will be successful
Aaron on Twitter
Aaron on LinkedIn