Bill Hortz's picture

"It takes passionate, like-minded people working together to make technology and operational solutions work." - Sean Brown, YCharts

[The Institute for Innovation Development recently talked with both Sean Brown, CEO of YCharts, and Ed Swenson, COO of Dynasty Financial Partners to discuss their recent announcement of a strategic partnership between the web-based investment research platform and a leading nationwide RIA advisor network. Here at the Institute, we stress to advisors to think about technology strategically, not tactically, and emphasize that technology should not be thought of as coming out of a box with instructions, so you need to learn how to partner with technologists. To those points, we asked Sean and Ed to share with us their journey that has led to a long-term strategic working relationship. We wanted to explore the steps and evolution of the business relationship, as well as the mindset and strategic purpose that drove their decision to become strategic partners.]

Hortz: How did the two firms originally find each other? 

Sean Brown: We met at an industry event in late 2013, which led to additional discussions in early 2014. Dynasty was in the process of evaluating which technology and research tools to offer their clients, and YCharts was hitting its stride with an attractive product that fit very well with the needs and budgets of independent advisors.

Hortz: What original criteria did Dynasty have in exploring a working relationship with a FinTech company?

Ed Swenson: Dynasty needs numerous front-and back-office applications to empower our Network advisors with vital functionality to operate their businesses. One of the key needs on the research side, was for a robust, market-leading investment research and visualization tool that was available and cost effective. We were in the market for a product that met our advisor’s needs, and this led us to YCharts.  

Hortz: What further process did Dynasty follow to finalize a go-ahead in building a working relationship?

Ed Swenson: On behalf of our Network Partners, Dynasty performs an annual due diligence for all of our technology and research partners. YCharts was no different. After a time working together and further due diligence, it was clear that the product had the compelling functionality that our Network Partners wanted and I was impressed with the operating team leading the company.

Hortz: What stood out about YCharts to make them the investment research tool that you would provide to your advisory network?

Ed Swenson: Besides all the key functionality that our advisory network is looking for relating to data and analytics, YCharts is also intuitive and easy to use. I believe it helps our Network Teams make smarter investment decisions and have better and deeper conversations with their end clients. Additionally, YCharts was like-minded in their dedication to constant innovation. YCharts continues to enable our Network Partners to stay abreast of market data and news while providing strong screening and scoring tools, deep-dive fundamental and technical research and quick and compelling visuals (charts, graphs, etc.) that can be used to derive or communicate investment trends, insights, or recommendations.

Hortz: What analysis and process was used by YCharts on their end to ensure the viability and desirability of building a long-term business relationship with Dynasty Financial Partners?

Sean Brown: Like with any relationship, we felt that there were several keys to ensuring the long-term success of the partnership: 1) have a shared vision of the future and compatible corporate values, 2) find win-wins that best leverage each party’s strengths, 3) have regular and honest communications, 4) make it a priority to succeed together, 5) have some fun. 

With Dynasty, we found that we share a vision and a commitment to success, and that working together is easy and fun, as we are each, individually and together, disrupting the status quo in our industry.

Hortz: Can you characterize the working relationship between the firms in the early days and how it was developed and built upon?

Sean Brown: In the early days of the relationship, Dynasty introduced YCharts as part of its technology and research stack for all new Network Advisor Teams joining their platform. As these advisors began to consistently adopt YCharts as their investment research tool, and as Dynasty’s Network base grew, the relationship evolved into Enterprise access. Building on the trust and success that had been established between Dynasty and YCharts, it was agreed that a long-term partnership made the most sense for both firms. We are excited to be a long term partner to the Dynasty Platform.

Hortz: How and why did you come to the conclusion of formalizing a long-term strategic partnership?

Sean Brown: We collectively built trust over time, which made us both more comfortable stepping up our commitment to each other. When you know you are committed over the long term, it makes it easy to identify short- and medium-term investments (economic, training, co-marketing, etc.) to continue improving the partnership.

Hortz: What can you share with other advisors and financial services firms about what you learned about how financial firms can best work with FinTech companies and vice versa?

Sean Brown: High tech needs to be paired with high touch. It takes passionate, like-minded people working together to make technology and operational solutions work. Also, clearly map out your joint value proposition and how you can reinforce and complement each other’s visions from the beginning. Finally, focus on what you do best. In YCharts’ case, we provide great data and create really intuitive software that serves a specific set of use cases around enabling smarter investment decisions. We also provide amazing customer support. Dynasty excels at offering independent advisors an innovative platform on which to operate their business in the industry coupled with operational support and ongoing in-house expertise. Together, Dynasty and YCharts enhance each other’s core businesses, and have from the start partnered on identifying the mutual benefits that have yielded a rewarding, and now longer-term, partnership.

Previously posted on Financial Advisor Magazine Online.

The Institute for Innovation Development is an educational and business development catalyst for growth-oriented financial advisors and financial services firms determined to lead their businesses in an operating environment of accelerating business and cultural change. We position our members with the necessary ongoing innovation resources and best practices to drive and facilitate their next-generation growth, differentiation and unique community engagement strategies. The institute was launched with the support and foresight of our founding sponsors - Pershing, Voya Financial, Ultimus Fund Solutions, Fidelity, and Charter Financial Publishing (publisher of Financial Advisor and Private Wealth magazines). For more information click here.


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