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Startup Monday: Advisor Portable Aims to Help Financial Advisors Gain New Clients

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

In the financial advisory industry, the old-school referral model is no longer cutting it. So Arlington’s Advisor Portable is bringing the industry and its clients into the 21st century.

Advisor Portable's Garari Mikel (right) with clients (courtesy photo)“The client experience is archaic and consequently how financial advisors grow their business through referrals is broken,” said Garari Mikel, co-founder of Advisor Portable.

“You can order a pizza and track its progress digitally, but with most financial advisors you can not do the same with your money,” Mikel said, adding, “As a result, the amount of discussions clients engage in about achieving money milestones is muted and resulting referrals, limited.”

Mikel saw a problem that needed solving. And as the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention.

At first, Mikel and his partner, Aaron St. Germain, met daily to discuss the issue from every angle and find the best way to boost financial advisors’ business growth while improving clients’ experience. It wasn’t an easy task.

“We are at the nascent stage of a seismic shift within the financial advice industry. Digital-only platforms have begun to arise that offer investment management to consumers, without the ability to talk to a human, all online, at a significantly reduced price,” Mikel said. “However, financial advice is complex and individually dynamic and I’m not sure if the majority of consumers are ready to hand that process entirely to a computer.

“In our view, financial advisors will either transcend the client experience to match their digital-only competitors, or they will be displaced by financial advisors who do.”

Hailed as “Uber for financial advisors,” Advisor Portable is a mobile application branded for clients that uses a proprietary system to automate marketing. The creators then take a percent share of new business brought in through the app.

Security is also a major concern for the company. Encryption scrambles messages sent through the app to ensure no data is compromised – a level of protection that the company says is “equal to or better than the level of encryption used by most major financial institutions for their online and mobile banking services.”

“While there are other technology firms that will offer to upgrade a financial advisory firm’s digital experience, Advisor Portable is the only one that focuses on client specific-goals and educating the client on their money, encouraging money discussions and ultimately, more referrals,” Mikel said.

Mikel — who also is the CEO and co-founder of SAM Phinancial, another Arlington business — said he was excited to bring another business to the Arlington area.

“I love the people and the culture that makes this city unique, characteristics that I wanted to be a part of the culture here at Advisor Portable.”

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