Tech-first RIA startup Savvy Wealth aims to make financial technology work for humans

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Brad Weber is quick to joke that he may be the least tech savvy guy out there. Now he’s making wealth technology the heart of his business.  

For more than 30 years, Weber has served high net worth clients at large financial institutions including Washington Mutual, Barclays Bank and, most recently, Bank of the West. 

But this year, the veteran advisor swapped the world of  legacy firms for a key role at Savvy Wealth, a young technology-focused RIA that has only been around for a couple of years, with only a handful of advisors.

It’s a big shift that flies in the face of the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” approach that many people with Weber’s years of experience have embraced.

Savvy Wealth Founding Principal Wealth Manager Brad Weber

Savvy Wealth

Counterintuitive though it may seem, Weber says the pivot makes sense. The reason, he said: , Going to a digital-first firm means the ability to once again be a people-first advisor.

“My family thinks it’s hilarious that I work for a fintech company,” Weber said with a laugh. “But really, when I’m looking at this last chapter of my career, I want something that I can be a part of molding and shaping.”

This week, Weber announced he had left his role as a vice president at Bank of the West, where he managed $150 million in client assets, to join a team of founding advisors at Savvy Wealth, a tech-driven wealth management firm that says it wants to “modernize human financial advice.”

Weber is the sixth wealth advisor to join the firm, which now has more than $100 million in assets under management. Savvy’s founding class of five financial advisors bring direct experience managing client assets at BNY Mellon, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, and several registered investment advisory firms.a number of independent RIAs across the country. 

Savvy’s leaders argue that what makes their firm different is a own proprietary software platform from client management to marketing. That means all of the tech provided to in-house Savvy advisors is actually in-house. 

Weber said that being at a startup like Savvy gives him the ability to mold and shape to his heart’s content. The size of the organization makes it more nimble, he added, and as a result, decision-making is quicker than at big legacy institutions.

Weber and a team of other experienced advisors aim to  give the young fintech decades of real world, human experience that can’t be programmed or coded. 

“When I think about working for a fintech, the “fin” of it is us. My business is all about people.”

Founded in July 2021 by technology entrepreneur Ritik Malhotra, New York-based Savvy has raised a total of $18 million in two years, including a Series A-1 funding round of $11 million that closed in November 2022 and was led by California venture capital firm The House Fund. Also taking part in the most recent capital raise were venture capital firms Index Ventures, Thrive Capital, Brewer Lane Ventures and Jordan Park

Founder Malhotra said the firm was designed to be digital-first while  giving advisors the space to run their practices as they see fit. Savvy wants to clear the integration hurdle that exists for both bleeding edge and Luddite advisors while streamlining marketing, compliance and back-office operations.   

The firm’s secret power is its technology software systems, or tech stack, which it built in-house from scratch. The software aims to deliver a unified experience to advisors that keeps them from having to log in and out of dozens of disparate applications each day to do their jobs. 

Malhotra — who believes that the antiquated processes and outdated technology permeating wealth management today ultimately lead to subpar client experiences — said that planners can then use that  streamlined work process to boost services for  clients.

“We don’t think of ourselves as a software company that you click “buy” on and then tomorrow you can turn it off,” Malhotra said. “We’re asking people to make a career decision and a life decision. That’s a very personal thing for me.” He added that Savvy’s growing ranks of advisors are “good validation that we are onto something that is so important and such a burning pain point.”

Savvy Wealth Founder Ritik Malhotra

Savvy Wealth

The tech aside, Malhotra and his team believe that the human touch is what will take them to the next level. Recent research from Vanguard and Escalent revealed that 93% of investors prefer having a human advisor.  And robo-advisors that provide access to a human advisor tend to come out on the top of Condor Capital Wealth Management’s annual robo rankings.

“We took an egoless approach,”Malhotra said.”We know what we’re doing on the technology side; we’re not going to be presumptuous and say that we know everything on the wealth management side.

“Having spent more than two decades in the wealth management industry, I believe technology implementation will be a driver of success for financial advisors in the years to come,” Eric Kirste, one of Savvy’s five founding principal wealth managers, said in a statement shortly after the firm’s last capital raise. “Savvy truly understands the challenges in front of time-constrained advisors, and I’m excited to be a part of the modernization of financial advice.”

The fancy technology aside, Weber said that “ultimately, the best use of my time is in front of clients. And if I’m not in front of the client, I should be doing something to get back in front of another client.Regardless of how much technology is out there, it’s still a people business.