WEALTH ACCESS LLC, the 11-month-old Nashville wealth-management software and services startup, is likely to bootstrap several years, before considering taking outside capital, said founder-CEO David Benskin.
Benskin told VNC during a 4 Feb. interview that his founder-funded service allows wealthy individuals with complex asset holdings -- and, soon, their advisors -- to compile, manage and understand multi-class ingredients of their portfolios via a "plain-English" performance dashboard. The company, itself, provides no financial advice, he noted.
Twenty individual investor-clients with $85MM in aggregate assets and liabilities among them are currently using Wealth Access in beta, said 35-year-old Benskin.
To begin scaling-up Wealth Access, Benskin will soon hire a software engineer/developer to handle data, mobile applications and other tech requirements; and, he's begun scouting for someone to "onboard" new subscribers, the latter also a pivotal role requiring a wide range of skills, he noted. Based on his prior experience, Benskin said he is likely to need soon to recruit additional wealth-management associates for the growing business. His tech requirements are currently satisfied by locally-based Atiba, he noted.
Benskin, who left a successful career in wealth management, told VNC he plans to bootstrap his firm for the foreseeable future, and has not yet seriously scrutinized such matters as raising outside capital or exit scenarios, though he acknowledged he regularly faces questions about those. For now, he said, he's entirely absorbed by the challenge of building the business, adding with a laugh at one point, "Right now, it's about me wanting to figure this thing out!"
Wealth-owners who use the Cloud-based, private secure service pay a $100 per-month fee for access. Advisors will soon be offered an application that, when their clients permit, affords them real-time access to client data; the advisor version of the dashboard helps streamline advisors' data-management chores (they do a lot of manual data-entry) and improves performance for clients, according to the company's website.
The Wealth Access platform, "provides access to over 12,000 different financial institutions, through [the company's data] partnership with Thomson Reuters" and Reuters-linked Lipper; and, it classifies all asset types, including hedge funds, private equity, derivatives and real estate, according to its website.
The startup's competitors arguably include Mint.com and Advent Software, said Benskin. A VNC scan of the sector suggests that most SaaS providers in the space, as generally defined, concentrate more heavily on the advisor segment than on the investor market; few speak of dashboards; few stress that they support investor-advisor communications; and, fewer still stress the intelligibility of their reports to consumers.
The company's advisory board includes these members, listed alphabetically: Sid Chambless, Nashville Capital Network (NCN); Bruce Meyers, AlixPartners; JJ Rosen, Atiba; Ron Samuels, Avenue Bank; Rob Seichter, Systems Evolution; Paul Spence, CapGemini; and, Jay E. Toole, Dearborn Advisors.
Benskin is an investor in the NCN Angel Fund, but he is not currently a direct Angel investor, he said. Prior to founding Wealth Access, Benskin spent more than 12 years as first vice president-investments and as a financial advisor and private-wealth manager within Merrill Lynch, he confirmed.
Benskin earned his bachelor's degree in economics at the University of Tennessee. Wealth Access is currently a tenant of E-Spaces (Harding Road, Nashville). VNC