David Miller was recently interviewed by Disruptor Daily as part of their new Future of Finance series which interviews the leading founders and executives who are on the front lines of the industry to get a better understanding of what problems the industry is facing, what trends are taking place, and what the future looks like. The interview is as follows:
Q: What's the history of PeachCap? How and where did you begin?
PeachCap is an amalgam of uniquely aligned companies that all have unique stories. Some of the companies started in the 80’s when I was in diapers and some are less than 1 year old. I started the mother company in 2008 during the heart of the Financial Crisis on a fold out table after being fired from corporate America. Voicing my opinion on behalf of the people and as a leader in the organization was one of my bestworst decisions.
Q: What specific problem does PeachCap solve? Who do you solve it for?
The financial services industry does not have tools so Main Street Americans and Main Street financial advisors can access high end wealth services that have been utilized for decades by the ultra-wealthy. An easier way to put it: PeachCap is the next Uber in the financial services and accounting industry. Uber has been around for decades, but only for the ultra-wealthy. The ultra-wealthy have always had access to their Lincoln Town Car Drivers taking them to work, running errands, driving them to lunch, etc. Uber removed the surly taxi cab driver and dirty taxi by using intuitive and relevant technology to help Main Street do what the wealthy have been doing since automobiles were mass produced… have their very own personal driver across the world at almost any given moment. We utilize technology and data science to provide Ultra-Wealthy Services to Main Street (both Main Street Financial Advisors and Main Street Americans) until we go global.
Q: What is your solution to their problem?
Democratizing the Family Office Model (Ultra-Wealthy Model) through utilizing the proper balance of digital and human touch.
Why would the super rich want most Americans to gain access to “their” high quality investment model and process when it reduces availability of product and inventory from their selection pool? Think about that statement relative to how fast or slow you feel our industry has evolved over the past 10 years and relative to the modern advancement of technology across almost any other industry. The time is ripe for disruption… and it’s disruption for the people of Main Street.
How are we tackling this problem? It costs 7 figures plus to run a “Family Office” (Ultra-Wealthy Model). This involves tax generalists, tax specialists, equity and real estate operators, estate specialists, investment analysts, asset managers, psychological and generational family planning experts, etc. Even if you are worth $50 million or more, the fixed cost barrier paralyzes an individual or family. This is due to the economic feasibility of being able to hire a competent and experienced staff of professionals that are justly compensated to effectively collaborate and execute on your specific situation year in and year out. The answer is utilizing technology and applying data science through scaling old time-tested wealth systems that work and are then funneled through an agile organization with acute domain experience.
Q: What are the top 3 tech trends you're seeing in the financial services industry?
Trend #1: Too Much Posturing, Not Enough Doing…
We all know it’s needed, so yes, financial firms invest quite a bit of money into technology. But simply spending money on technology doesn’t do much if one doesn’t understand or apply it. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are largely buzzwords in our industry today. Understandably so, because to see a clear timeline to achieve an ROI in these areas can be difficult. I’ve recently noticed that using terms like AI and machine learning has a resemblance to how people are talking about cryptocurrency. It sounds cool to talk about after you’ve Googled some details, but what's under the hood seems to be too complicated for most people to express further interest by actually doing research and applying that knowledge. I recently conversed (mostly listened) with some highly experienced and intellectual data scientists from Fortune 500 companies. The progress these individuals in outside industries have made thus far in AI and machine learning have a long way to go, but it’s exponentially greater than where our industry falls today. Almost every executive I’ve spoken to from both small and large financial firms… well, it’s like asking Jamie Dimon his position on Bitcoin. When I look at meaningful ways firms could apply Predictive Analytics divisions with Business Intelligence divisions to find real solutions using neural networks, it’s obvious that our industry just has to do better. And by that, I mean they need to genuinely try.
Trend #2: Superfluous technology
I attended one of the largest financial conferences last month in Orlando (TD LINC) and there were around 3,000 people there. I couldn't tell you exactly how many software vendors attended, but is was around 35. All great ideas and cool looking technology with purpose, but none of them had real solutions to efficiently service a client base or operate an effective financial planning practice. Technology for technology’s sake seems to be the trend; however, relevant technology that actually changes people's lives is the solution.
Trend #3: Proper Use of Social Media
Social Media is an integral and necessary component for most all of us to effectively run and manage a business today. Some don't use it at all and will become irrelevant while some are addicted to their news feeds and they can’t get out of their smartphone vigil to transact business in front of their face. There is a lot of garbage on social media that wastes time, but there is also excellent content coming from various and random sources. I feel it is important to filter and bank this relevant information so you can apply all the impactful data and information being distributed daily. Doing this without being a social media snob is not easy.
Q: What's the future of wealth management?
I believe the future is brighter than ever before. Who will experience and benefit from this wonderful change our industry is undergoing is a different question. Those who can figure out how to apply love and gamification will change our industry. I say this because I believe it all starts with younger generations and their wide eyes.. Free to Learn by Peter Gray expresses this, while opening the door to see how I (we) can make a musty, boring industry, not only fun, but lively and creative while one learns about money. Most people at the top are suppressing change in exchange for maintenance of their revenue streams and this may be their definition of survival, but it is still sad. I have generally noticed the willingness for financial professionals to embrace change is unreasonably and selfishly low, even when it involves their role being eradicated. The wealth management industry has slowly commoditized over the past 15 years (both in asset management and customer service fees) and this trend (especially on the service side) will continue to compress until change is ever present. The future in wealth management will bring substantial wealth to both the end retail client and the financial advisor that chooses to embrace this change.