Like dating websites, the advisor platforms use an initial questionnaire to gather information about the user. An investor can input the services desired—i.e. investment management, tax planning, estate planning. They can add more specific information, including income, risk tolerance and investment time horizon. Or even more specific sub-categories, like alternative assets, socially responsible investing, an advisor who specializes in small businesses or advising women.
Once the proprietary algorithms match them with a list of advisors, it's up to the investor to make the first move by emailing, calling and, ultimately, if they want, meeting in person—all free of charge to the prospective investor.
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If GuideVine is hoping that an investor and advisor "click" on any one of a number of shared traits and interests, Finom is a matchmaker that wants to get to the heart of the matter quickly. It's designed to screen advisors based solely on their performance history and area of expertise. It requires advisors to provide client level holdings information across all their portfolios so an investor can judge whether they'd be better off breaking up with their current advisor.
"We give them all our data, and they rip through our trades to look at our performance," said John M. Nowicki, president of Chicago-based LCM Capital Management and a Finom user who had tired of endless rounds of cold-calling or buying leads for potential clients from 401(K) plans.
"I've been in this business for over 20 years, and I have never seen anything that gave investors this sort of accessibility in an objective way," said Dan Timotic, an advisor at Naperville, Illinois-based T2 Asset Management.