“The majority of client problems I have seen over my long tenure in the business, are due to personal differences”, one financial advisor told me in the fall of 2012. Just a few weeks before, my brother who is a young financial advisor in long beach California, Colgate Class of ’10, called me to say he tried some online lead generation services and saw much room in the market for improvement. He was interested in meeting new clients and was looking for innovative tools to do so. He said that existing techniques like cold calling were barely helpful at all.
I had interest and success in entrepreneurship prior to coming to Colgate, so it didn’t take long for me to decide that this market opportunity was worth pursuing. I recruited my roommate, Daniel Swiecki, to bring on his computer science knowledge and his own entrepreneurial experience. We proceeded to analyze the marketplace and talk to as many financial advisors as we could. It was through these conversations that we learned that professional compatibility and personal compatibility are intertwined. We learned that we needed to build a service that didn’t just provide names and phone numbers to financial advisors, but also provided value to the clients that signed up: a service that could help financial advisors get leads of interested and compatible prospective clients, while simultaneously offering a free concierge-like service that can find someone a professionally competent and personally compatible financial advisor matched with their goals and expectations. I am proud to say that while we still have a long way to go, we have built that service.
Our business, Sapling Advisory Inc., is like eHarmony for financial advisors and prospective clients. We match financial advisors to clients, not just based on the services they offer, but also based on a large variety of personal attributes proven to lead to a more trusting relationship. Trust is important in all relationships, but it is especially important when it comes to someone’s financial future.
Sapling makes it easy for the nearly 300k financial advisors in the US to find leads of interested, and compatible clients quicker and easier than ever before, and it allows clients to find an advisor that is more suitable to fulfill their individual goals than one that was recommended by a friend or had a smooth cold call pitch. We are simultaneously revolutionizing both the way America finds financial consultation and the way financial advisors find new clients.
The Thought Into Action Student Incubator has played a critical role providing us with mentorship on how to best take our product to market. We needed the expertise of professionals to guide our efforts. TIA is an incredible educational experience – the perfect complement to the traditional liberal arts education. Our lessons in coached experimentation and risk-elimination will continue to serve us as we embark on our journey after Colgate. This complement to the traditional liberal arts is what the liberal arts of tomorrow should look like across America. Truly, Colgate is leading the way.
Sapling Advisory Inc. is now fully functional, and wading into the marketplace as we speak. We have half a dozen financial advisors signed up as we run a beta test, and are currently focusing on learning about our prospective clients and how we can best reach them. Besides TIA helping to get us to where we are today, we have been overwhelmed by the warmth and generosity Colgate alumni have offered, as we research how to improve our product.
We are incredibly grateful for all of our partnerships Colgate has brought about and are really excited to build Sapling into the leader of the lead-gen market. Please contact me if you are interested in learning more, and in the mean time, I invite you to find your compatible advisor at saplingadvisory.com.
Josh Lasker ’14 is a senior Geology major with a minor in ALST Caribbean Studies which he declared after studying abroad in Kingston, Jamaica. At Colgate, he has served on the Budget Allocations Committee since 2nd semester of his freshmen year and now oversees the committee and the allocation of over $900,000 as Treasurer of the Student Government Association. He has also held leadership roles in Finance Club, Aviation Club, the Benton Scholars, is involved with Sidekicks (young child mentorship program) and occasionally engages with the Colgate Speaking Union through which he is the two time winner of the Kingsford Speaking Competition. He has accepted employment with Proctor & Gamble post graduation in the San FranciscoBay area.
Daniel Swiecki ’14 is a Computer Science and Mathematical Economics double major at Colgate. He is president of the Colgate Computer Science Club and is a former president of the Colgate Finance Club. He hates writing bios and sometimes likes to think he has a sense of humor. He is an editor for Colgate’s satirical newspaper, The Monthly Rag. Prior to coming to Colgate, Daniel had started a web design and development business and created online presences for a dozen local businesses. He has accepted employment with JP Morgan in the Corporate Investment Bank, in the Research & Development group in New York City post graduation.
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