How Technology, COVID-19 Are Changing Financial Planning

The coronavirus pandemic has ratcheted up the importance of financial planning around stock options, equity options and equity compensation, Secfi CEO Wouter Witvoet said at the Benzinga Global Fintech Awards.

Coronavirus Spotlights Employee Options: The dynamics surrounding company ownership are convoluted and difficult to understand, and the onset of COVID-19 brought more attention to the issue of early exercise leading to substantial equity losses, Witvoet told attendees at Benzinga's virtual event Tuesday. 

In fact, it's possible for some employees to lose up to 50% of their rewards upon exercise, the CEO said. 

His solution to helping startup employees and shareholders understand and unlock the value of their equity is built on innovation — the use of tech to maximize equity compensation.

Secfi’s proprietary tax optimization tools and exercise planning solutions help users tap into their hard earned equity, as well as diversify portfolios with investments in managed funds, Witvoet said. 

The Digital Shift In Financial Planning: The onset of the coronavirus was a boon for ForwardLane, which offers an artificial intelligence-powered platform to automate and scale personalized client engagement, said CEO Nathan Stevenson. 

“The world’s gone totally digital,” he said. “There’s been a big change in how financial planning is done, and how people are reaching out and engaging with their clients.”

The transition to online and digital forums has created an issue around relevance, Stevenson said, adding that technology for reach and engagement allows for increased differentiation.

“It now comes down to the offering and what kind of advice you can provide, and how you differentiate and stay in touch with the new generation,” the CEO said. 

ForwardLane automates analysis using natural language processing, he said. 

“Advisors spent about 23 days a quarter just doing data analysis, and we got that down to two days, and we provide insights and ways to personalize that client engagement and drive growth.”

The Last Word: The financial planning space must avoid stagnation, said Secfi's Witvoet.

 “The typical decision people make is to do nothing, but there is a risk and reward there,” he told the Fintech Awards attendees. 

“You need to start thinking about this early in order to maximize your gains.”

To learn more, visit Complete results for the Benzinga Fintech Awards, including company profiles and an interactive database, can be found here.

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Posted In: FintechNewsEventsPersonal FinanceBenzinga Fintech AwardsBenzinga Global Fintech AwardsForwardLaneNathan StevensonSecFiWouter Witvoet
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