Ep. 140: Automating Advisor Workflows with Anand Sheth, Pulse360

Come on in, sit back and relax, you’re listening to episode 140 of the WealthTech Today podcast. I’m your host, Craig Iskowitz, founder of Ezra Group Consulting, and this podcast features interviews, news, and analysis on the trends and best practices all around wealth management technology. Our theme for this month is startups, we went through the Kitces AdvisorTech Map and selected a few category newcomers we thought would be the most interesting to speak to.
Today’s guest is Ananda Seth, founder of Pulse360. Pulse360 is software that automates everything advisors need to do for client meetings. This includes pulling data from multiple applications like Riskalyze, Holistiplan, Snappy Kraken are lots of other ones that advisors like to use, and pushing that data into customizable templates to produce emails, letters and a lot more. Pulse360 also automates the creation of tasks in your CRM, based on decisions made in client meetings, said nothing falls through the cracks. I think you’re really going to enjoy this conversation.
The way data is delivered and consumed in the wealth management industry has changed dramatically over the years. These changes have made it more difficult for enterprise wealth management firms to maintain their data infrastructures. Over time, they have deteriorated and have been duplicated and made obsolete through multiple acquisitions, until no one in the organization is quite sure how all the data pieces fit together.
That’s why Ezra Group launched our Data Assessment Service to conduct in an depth review of data sources, downstream consumers, data utilization analysis for enterprise wealth management firms and deliver a comprehensive strategy and roadmap to get your data architecture under control. For more information on Ezra Group’s Data Assessment Service go to ezragroupllc.com
Be sure to check out our sponsor, the Invest in Others charitable foundation at InvestinOthers.org.

Companies Mentioned

Topics Covered

  • Automating Meeting Follow-Ups
  • Redtail Integration
  • Snappy Kraken Integration
  • Holistiplan Integration
  • Which App Should Advisors Live In?

Episode Transcript

Craig: And my guest on this episode is Anand Sheth, founder and CEO of Pulse360. Anand, welcome to the program.

Anand: Thank you, Craig, I appreciate it.

Craig: Alright, man, so thanks for being here. Where are you calling in from?

Anand: Sunny Southern California.

Craig: That must be nice. I’m here in well sunny here in New Jersey. It’s kind of sunny so I really I really shouldn’t complain. We’re finally getting some decent weather.

Anand: It doesn’t work around summer but around winter works awesome with East Coasters.

Craig: Yeah. We hate that. We hate Florida people and California people. Absolutely. Right. So thanks for being here. Really appreciate it. I want to introduce everyone to you and Pulse360 So if you please give us a 30-second elevator pitch for Pulse360?

Anand: Pulse360 is a framework to help automate financial advisors’ practice. Advisors can automate and streamline the client documentation, everything from an agenda to a meeting, follow up summary and even producing an annual summary. And by connecting with their CRMs we actually automate work for their teams as well. That comes from all the meetings. So this gives advisors the time back really to focus on their practice to scale and grow rather than worrying about a lot of the administrative elements of running a practice in the meetings.

Craig: And full disclosure for everyone listening, I’m an investor in Pulse360 and on the advisory board, and the reason I am is because I was really blown away when I first saw the demo of the product and meeting you and hearing your story and what you’ve built I think is really impressive and is going to be a big, major benefit for a lot of advisors who sign up for this because, in my opinion, there really isn’t anything out there like this. There’s lots of things that kind of work around the edges or pseudo do some of this but nothing that really does what Pulse360 can do for advisors. What gave you the impetus to start this company?

Anand: I was in the industry myself for two decades. And I like to, anybody that’s done any demos with me will have heard me say, I’ve done every role from serving coffee to clients to compliance. And when you have that level of experience, even running thousands of plans portfolios of hundreds of millions of dollars, you start to recognize that us as advisors, we don’t have tools to run our practices the way we want. So we all end up reinventing the wheel. Every advisor does this across the country across the world, putting a hodgepodge duct tape of tech and process together to run their practice.

Anand: Now of course, there are CRMs and other elements, but at the very basic level where you’re having meetings, and when I’m prepping an agenda, you want to do a follow up. That all comes back down to the basics that we all have been using with Microsoft Word, Evernote, your own email. I wanted to give back time and give back scale to advisors.

Anand: Ultimately, what’s driving me is advisors, because I was in the field myself, I know how much value is being generated and you can’t deliver as much value if you’re just always busy with your own practice with running all of this stuff. And so by creating that extra time, my hope is you serve more clients, give more value out to a lot of the folks that really need our help.

Automating Meeting Follow-Ups

Craig: It’s very true and that’s what I saw when I saw a couple of demos and when I’ve done my deep dive on the product, that there really is nothing out there doing this. And because of this, so many meetings involved being an advisor, you’re constantly in and out of meetings with clients, at least the advisors, I think are the most client centric. There’s some that spend too much time on admin operations, investment research, when they really should be focusing on clients. Being able to automate all the tasks around a meeting, feeding that did the CRM cleanly, simply, you’re like a gigantic easy button for advisors, in my opinion. But let’s talk a little bit more detail. Let’s talk about use cases that advisors can really work on with Pulse360. Can you give us one that will really resonate with advisors?automating advisor workflows

Anand: Yeah, absolutely. And it comes from my own background, which is why I actually even solved this challenge for advisors is writing follow ups to clients. So if you meet with a client, clients forget in an hour half the things you have just told them. You don’t need any research even though there’s research there, you don’t need any research advisors know this inherently that clients don’t remember everything we’ve said. So we starting sending out a summary after the after the meeting, just so it helps them understand the value we’re providing understands them or they can understand what it is that we’re doing for them as well as what their expectations are. It kind of aligns all of that. And then of course there’s a another angle because I was in compliance. It always helps to kind of have some documentation around that. So the meeting follow ups is the number one use case for advisors today, and then automating the tasks and workflows. Back in their CRM from it.

Craig: What about he talked about how the the tasks are sent to the CRM and why that’s so important and how easy it is to do that?

Anand: Every meeting an advisor has they can be talking about 2, 3, 4, 5 different areas of a client’s life. Let’s say it’s insurance, investments, tax planning, estate planning. Well, each one independently has to have some sort of a follow up from the team. If for example, you’re talking about an insurance and you’re saying you should get a life policy well, somebody needs to take that on as a task to make sure it’s being done. Illustrations are being run quotes are being generated, and clients are engaged in that process. Or if you’re talking about investments, if you’re making a model change, well, somebody needs to go and do those things.

Anand: So that normally what happens is the advisor will give that off to the team and now the team has to dissect that and separately create tasks in the CRM to assign to whoever’s responsible. What we did is we looked at that and said, Look, it should just start at that recommendation level. If you’re making a model recommendation, you can email that to the client. At the same time from there itself in our application, you can create a task automatically back in Redtail, Wealthbox, or Salesforce those are the three CRMs work today connected with so it just eliminates double work instantly. Right and it’s instantly sent back into into those CRMs.

Redtail Integration

Craig: Can you guys integrate with Redtail which was just acquired by Orion, right?automating advisor workflows

Anand: That’s correct. That’s correct. Yeah. News came out yesterday.

Craig: One of your biggest integrations, most popular integrations, would you say so?

Anand: Yes, absolutely. So Redtail and Wealthbox both are super critical and important for us.

Craig: They’re in the top, they’re right up there in terms of number of users. I did a podcast just last night and emergency news breaking news podcast on the Orion Redtail news. And we throw out the stats I think, according to Kitces’ survey, Redtail is at 36% and Wealthbox is at 23%. So they’re getting pretty close there.

Anand: Obviously, those two have been there as well as Salesforce. And then there’s, of course others, Junxure, and others, we don’t connect with them just yet, but our goal is to connect with all the different CRMs that are popular, and help automate work for financial advisors.

Craig: There’s no reason why you shouldn’t connect to every CRM, and they’re all equally good in your eyes. Great. So meeting follow ups, big use case. Let’s talk about how you complement some of the major applications that advisors use, for example, you have a use case around Riskalyze. Can you talk about that?

Anand: That’s correct. So there’s an interesting use case here with David we did a webinar actually, end of last year with him. And a full disclosure on that David, was also one of our first primary investors. But he came up with a use case, which is very interesting.

Anand: As advisors, we always have a certain number of clients that for whatever reason, you’re not able to schedule a review with, right? They’re busy, they don’t want to see you yet. It could become a liability for you as a practice, if you’re not delivering the service to them of reviewing their accounts and whatnot. And if it’s hard for you to meet with them, well, that’s kind of hard. So David wanted to solve that and what he did was using Riskalyze as well as Pulse360, put together a documentation system using us as the documentation and creation process, to send out an email to the client saying, Hey, your risk numbers are here. Your portfolio numbers are x, they’re not aligned. We’re going to move you, he has discretionary authority, I believe, we’re gonna move you in 30 days. From there, he actually creates a task in the CRM from Pulse360 automatically to check back in 30 days, and it used to take an hour or so and now he’s doing this in less than six minutes to prep that, using Pulse360 as well as Riskalyze.

Craig: So in that hour, how many times did he spend an hour?

Anand: Oh, one of the Fridays I was talking with them, and he was doing six of them. Right? So it’s like, okay, that just saved you. Basically, instead of spending six hours you spent 30 minutes or 36 minutes or whatever it is.

Craig: And that’s huge. We were talking, we do a traveling show with a lot of the biggest fintechs and biggest broker dealers, they want us to come in my company, Ezra Group, and talk strategy, what’s the trends we’re seeing? And we talk about advisors scalability, and it’s not so much the number of clients you have because there’s a limit to how many clients one person can have a relationship with but it’s more scalable in terms of you only have 24 hours in a day, 365 days in a year. And how do you give more time back to the advisor to focus on clients and take it away from operations and admin and manual tests. That’s what we consider a form of scalability, and products like yours do exactly that.

Anand: Absolutely. We’ve had advisors, we had a recent article on horse’s mouth that you tweeted about as well, Jonathan, he’s mentioned in there, he’s saving at least 70% of his time. I mean, and I’ve had another advisor saying he’s got his weekends back. So with the automation we’re bringing, this is all a reality today versus a future dream now for advisors.

Craig: Exactly. And this is being shown today with real advisors using hundreds of advisors using the platform now and seeing real results. This reminds me of is a little bit of like Zapier and some of these other tools, which are great if you’ve got a technical background, and really great if you’ve got the time to program them but you’ve kind of built all that in the background and becomes just drag and drop. How did you do that?

Anand: What’s interesting is I have combined several ideas. There’s Zapier idea. There’s the If This Then That type of an idea. And then if you look at Microsoft Word, as the mail merge capability, and all of that, so basically our innovation is to say let’s just combine all of that, specifically for advisors and how they operate and make it connected with their own existing CRMs or Riskalyze we connect with as well. It just then becomes seamless for them to use rather than having to jump across and try and build this on their own basically. So our vision is to sort of build this automation platform for advisors, using their meeting notes and their communication.

Snappy Kraken Integration

Craig: Another use case you’ve got Anand, is Pulse360 working with Snappy Kraken, the marketing automation platform, how does that work? What’s the benefit to advisors? And has it helped them close more business?automating advisor workflows

Anand: So this was an interesting webinar we did with them as well, last year. The idea is, I see all of these marketing agencies that help advisors market and kind of bring them to prospects booking appointments like that. Well, from there onwards, the advisors have to fend for themselves on how they can put themselves as professionals to these prospects who have just booked a meeting with them. And so with Pulse360, what we did was we can show you with the framework we have, you can instantly send out an agenda that’s very specific to the client, not a generic agenda, or to the prospect, not generic but if they’re interested in education or Roth conversion, you can email out in two minutes an email to the prospect saying, hey, great, looking forward to you will speak with you about education and Roth conversion, let’s say.

Anand: Now, that’s at the front, and obviously when a prospect gets that and it’s tied to them, that’s a huge benefit in the prospects mind, this is very professional. And then, after the meeting, what the adviser can do is actually send out a follow up email, even if they did not get hired on the spot. They can send an email out to the prospect saying, We talked and here’s a couple of points that I think we can definitely help you with. Let us know if you have any questions type of an email.

Anand: It doesn’t put a burden on the advisor to sit there or the team to sit there to say I’m gonna spend 20 minutes doing that or 30 minutes doing it. It’s two minutes. Once it’s set up, just send it out. And then from there, we tie in with the CRMs because you can have a follow up call. I know somebody we recently read that there’s a lot of prospects being lost in the pipeline. So you can actually create a task back in your CRM from Pulse to say follow up with this prospect in two weeks or one week., or what have you. So it’s a complete sales enablement kind of platform from that perspective.

Holistiplan Integration

Craig: So it works great with Snappy Kraken, or any other automation marketing automation platform to fill that gap between filling the pipeline and getting those meetings scheduled and getting the documentation out to them. Yeah. That’s awesome. So let’s go to the next use case, which I’m really interested in how do you coordinate and complement advisors who are working with Holistiplan?

Anand: Yeah, it’s actually interesting, another advisor of ours, Michael, we did a webinar with him in January. And it’s actually a very, very interesting use case. That even I did not see. He created a tax planning deliverable using Pulse360, and then using data from Holistiplan to populate into the documentation. So for example, he would run the taxes through Holistiplan, and it tells you the numbers, what’s your AGI? What’s your tax bracket, what the opportunities may be for IRA contributions or what have you not, and then he uses those to actually document in Pulse and created a full document that he can email out. He also was spending 40-50 minutes putting this together before and now he’s doing it in less than 10 minutes. And in fact, if I heard him correctly, he’s actually going to take this as a service offering for the clients who want maybe modular planning. Like if you just want us to review your tax planning review, here’s a service that he can charge for and easily produce using Holistiplan and Pulse360. He’s also doing another use case, which is I believe, employer benefits review. So same situation there. So it’s a very interesting use case where advisors are basically like Michael creating a different deliverable that they can whip up really fast. It’s highly customized, highly personalized to the clients, but it didn’t take them 40 minutes or 50 minutes to do.

Craig: Exactly. That’s another great example. Let’s take the lower number 40 minutes, now down to 10 minutes. That’s a half hour savings every time you do that, and he’s running Holistiplan, I’m sure with every client, so you’re talking about 100 times 30 minutes, which that’s a lot of savings in a year.

Craig: What I really like about Pulse360 Is that everyone’s got to do this whenever you run any tool, whether it’s Riskalyze, or Holistiplan, or any of the hundreds of other one off tools that do different things, whether it’s estate planning or other types of planning, or finances or taxes or income generation or whatever it is you’re working on. You need to send that information to the client somehow. Send them an email, send them a letter. It’s got to be put into a format and why do it manually ever so many advisors just type this stuff over and over copy paste, copy paste, and as you say it takes 40 minutes an hour to do it. Why don’t automate it, build into your practice, and spend the time somewhere else?

Anand: I used to do this manually myself, and this is why I solved it. I actually solved it back in 2012 where I was working and I actually built it out of Excel. So Pulse the baby version was in Excel before. But what we hear from our existing users now is that consistency, they know they can go in and just generate this and send out but then they’re expanding that to the rest of the team. If they’re multiple advisors. Now all of a sudden, this is a tool that as a firm you can deploy for other advisors and it’s just as easy. It’s collectively you can brainstorm what are you doing for deliverables, but it together and now there you go. It’s simply clicking buttons afterwards to generate this highly personalized, highly customized deliverables.

Craig: Exactly. Another thing I like about it now I’ve been using similar tools for decades. It’s kind of like a mail merge in some respect, right? And I used to do mail merges, 30 years ago, in WordPerfect. And you had to put in all these codes to represent the different fields, whether it’s the name, the address, the zip code, you had to build these little fields with with codes in HTML at the time but was the WordPerfect version of that. And you still have to do that with some tools. You still have to put in codes in places to generate letters. But what I love about what you do with Pulse360 is as you’re typing you can put in, well I want to do Riskalyze, and it knows, it reads while you’re typing and drops down a list of fields for you. How did you do that?

Anand: Oh, that actually what you have seen is something we’re going to be releasing later part of the year. It is literally just understanding how advisors are using we were looking at adding an AI for it. We have not yet. But this is definitely something where we’re going to be adding some AI at some point in the future. So it is right now just recognition of those key words basically and that’s, again, that’s something what you have seen as something that we were building out for the future here.

Craig: Excellent. So no one gets that yet. But you if you sign up now for Pulse360, you’ll get it when it comes up.

Anand: That’s right.

Which App Should Advisors Live In?

Craig: Another thing I like about how you’ve designed the product is it creates a separation between the different roles at an RIA. So the advisors tend to spend more time and Pulse360 where their staff wants them spending more time in the CRM. How does that improve efficiency?

Anand: So when I was in the field, and we used to use the CRM to put everything in, it made it harder for the advisors to get mentally prepared for a client meeting, let’s say it’s coming up, because now they’re jumping into the CRM and reading perhaps some operational notes that really doesn’t have an impact on what they need to be looking for. Now advisors have a separate method of using Pulse to email out the clients and it’s actual advice that they’re delivering to the client. So it’s very, very relevant. It’s not necessarily operational things. Let’s say an ACAT failed and we’re resubmitting the paperwork. That’s not as critical as this client has a goal or wants money for vacations or what have you, right. So advisors ended up using Pulse because of that reason, but because of our integration, we send all the notes back into the CRM. So CRM still hold all of that data. So the operational team, they’re processing tasks, calendaring, workflows, all of that they can have a full context still, because they can read all the notes that are generated in Pulse.

Craig: Exactly. So it gives everyone access to everything, but it’s just so much easier to generate that information in Pulse360 and send it to the CRM rather than vice versa. Another thing I wanted to mention was, you have a content library, a collections library, you call it have all these auto created agendas for meetings. Can you talk about that and how that is going to benefit advisors who are using Pulse360?

Anand: I know advisors, I’ve worked with them for two decades now. I was myself one. We always want to write things our own way. However, when you take a step back and look at the world of financial advice, I like to use the analogy of a soup. The soup can have various different ingredients. But if we’re all making the same thing, we all have the same ingredients right? We can we know about Roth conversions as a recommendations, life insurance model changes, aggressive versus conservative. Our tool set of the ingredients is is the same across all advisors. It’s how we mix it together for every client, that’s where it’s different.

Anand: So that was kind of the idea is like, Look, our advice and recommendations. If we added into the library and bring a content library up, that becomes an asset for the advisor. It can use the advisors own way of saying things and then the rest of the team can now start typing in or using the existing content and just personalizing and customizing where you need to. I mean, let’s you know, looking at an example of a Roth conversion, I always say to advisors, how many different ways can you recommend a Roth conversion? Why are we typing that from scratch every time? That’s just an enormous waste of time and mental energy. That, hey, type it up once, get it just right, get the wording right. Save it for posterity and reuse it across different clients and just change out what needs to change out.

Craig: Which is way better than saving a Word doc because then you’ve got to go and open it up report to a certain replace, make sure you did it all right. Whereas Pulse360 builds it dynamically each time and as always correct.

Anand: And you mentioned scalability, so this is a classic example of scalability right here. So when I was in the field, I would write these follow ups and then my advisor would come in and change it up. That was actually the why the original idea came across of building this is because I spent my time writing it up and then he changed it up because I didn’t say things in his way. Well now, advisors can put their words in and now you get scale because you can now tell your team or junior folks to actually at least draft the first version of your follow up email, and you don’t have to spend time writing that that’s another version of a scale for your practice.

Craig: Absolutely. Okay, so we’re running out of time. I want to get one more question in. Another great use case for Pulse360 is automating the annual client review. Can you talk about how it works and what’s so great about it?

Anand: I understand the value that all the advisors are delivering to the clients, client advisors understand that. But clients, as I mentioned at the beginning of the show, tend to forget what we’re doing. So what we’ve done is to say, look, if you’re able to generate an annual summary for all the work that you’ve done, throughout the year, in less than 10 seconds, that will be hugely valuable for you as well as to your clients that you can send them an email saying, hey, client, great working with you, thanks for your trust. Here’s everything that we’ve worked together to help achieve whatever the different goals may be for them. So it’s, I think, a fundamental and a critical component for financial advisor practice. Naturally, it takes a year’s worth of work that you do within Pulse360 to be able to generate that for you. But you could do it for any timeframe. You can even go back through time if you needed to. That’s how we’ve built the whole platform.

Craig: And that’s the key I wanted to bring out that it’s going to pull all the data you need from many previous meetings into that client annual review automatically. So once you set it up that way, you automatically get the last 3, 4, however many meetings you want to bring in. You don’t have to do it manually. No more copying and pasting and when searching, where’d I put that meeting note? How do I get to it? It just does it automatically?

Anand: Correct.

Craig: Which is going to be another huge time saver, because advisors need to meet with every client every year. At least you got 150 clients, that’s 150 hours or more saved using Pulse360. Awesome, man, I think we’ve run out of time. Anand, tell us where we can find more information about Pulse360.

Anand: Sure, advisors can go to our website, which is pPulse360.com and you can schedule a demo there. There’s a button right there to schedule a demo or sign up for a trial, and we’ll help you get onboarded.

Craig: Excellent. Thanks so much for being on the program.

Anand: Of course. Thank you Craig for the opportunity.

Craig: It was a pleasure as always.

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The Wealth Tech Today blog is published by Craig Iskowitz, founder and CEO of Ezra Group, a boutique consulting firm that caters to banks, broker-dealers, RIA’s, asset managers and the leading vendors in the surrounding #fintech space. He can be reached at craig@ezragroupllc.com