Invested in a military approach to wealth management
Special to Stars and Stripes May 3, 2022
We moved through complete darkness toward the compound. A bystander would never know we were there because night-vision goggles gave us the superhuman ability to see everything in the dark. I signaled my soldiers, and we burst into the compound. After the initial chaos of the breach, I quickly searched the database we were building about our area of operation to determine who lived there. There were two men registered, but three in front of me — bingo, an extra man in the house. A quick biometric scan of the people inside confirmed that he was our target. The mission was a success, and the best kind: everyone was safe and going home, no one on either side was killed or wounded, no unnecessary property damage, and another violent extremist was off the street.
This world was the one I lived in before starting my finance career. A world in which a nearly perfect melding of technology and people existed, in a constantly changing environment with a massive volume of information. A world where lives were always on the line. There is a reason why people use “battle-tested” as a superlative.
When I entered the financial world, I realized that there was an opportunity to apply these lessons in my own chosen industry: wealth management. The industry wasn’t yet marrying technology and human expertise to its fullest potential.
The default in wealth management has been to rely almost exclusively on people for every task — and, as an afterthought, use bolted-on technology solutions. The result: a static, incoherent experience for the few who can afford wealth management services; dissatisfied advisers who spend most of their time just trying to figure out what’s going on; and the vast majority of individuals and families with no solution to maximize their wealth.
The only real alternative to this wealth management model was newer, pure technology plays — such as robo-advisers — which did little to change the status quo, because they couldn’t handle the more human parts of wealth.
Change was needed. Why couldn’t savers and investors seize the benefits of both technology and the human expertise of seasoned wealth managers?
At Farther, a company I co-founded, our mission is to dramatically increase the world’s wealth. Achieving such a lofty goal requires us to form and execute flawless wealth management plans at scale. We follow the military’s lead on how to solve such a complex problem: blend experts with scalable data and decision technologies.
We have built systems where advisers and technology augment each other. We are not a technology platform with advisers bolted on as an afterthought, nor are we advisers with technology bolted on later. We are something altogether new to the civilian world and wealth management, but something that has thrived in the military arena.
The result is a better experience. Advisers can dedicate more time to building wealth for their clients because less time is required for mundane, yet time-consuming paperwork. And clients can access a complete view of their entire financial picture from anywhere with Wi-Fi, as well as enjoy real-time access to their financial adviser.
This is the future of wealth management. And capital clearly supports this theory. According to KPMG’s 2021 Pulse of Fintech report, by the midpoint of 2021 alone, $98 billion was invested in fintech operations and start-ups, and more money is expected to flow into the space in the years to come.
We must embrace the pull of new technologies, while also acknowledging that the power of these advancements can only be harnessed by the right individuals with the right training. This is the battle-tested formula for success.
Brad Genser, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and an Iraq War combat veteran, is the co-founder and chief technology officer of Farther.