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Making Yourself Indispensable to Your Most Entrepreneurial Clients

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Want to grab the attention — and loyalty — of your most entrepreneurial clients?

Take every chance to show that you’re up to date with high-tech advancements. Becoming known as a resource for the latest-and-greatest digital innovations helps advisors solidify their ties to small-business owners and even other potential clients.  

Of course, not all developments are equal. Some new products look glitzy but soon fizzle. Others aren’t really applicable to small-business owners. But it’s worth it to stay abreast. After all, advisors can help clients while also uncovering solutions for operating their own firms, which, of course, are entrepreneurial too.

“The benefits of helping our entrepreneurial clients far outweigh the risks,” says Ray Padrón, president of Brightworth, an Atlanta firm with $1.3 billion in assets. “Entrepreneurs, by their nature, are idea people. They love to see ideas both from within and outside their industry that they can apply.”

Sharing tech news has never backfired on Padrón. Instead, it’s helped him generate ideas for running his own firm.

“What is fun in that is the exchange of ideas and technologies that we bring to each other,” Padrón explains.

At the Finovate conference held in London in February, developers presented many new products that merit a look for advisors and their business-owning clients.

Discounted due diligence: When clients consider far-flung acquisitions or joint ventures for their small businesses, the costs of executing cross-border due diligence could douse the proposed deal. OutsideIQ has developed a cheaper alternative — software capable of sussing out and evaluating a potential acquisition target, for example, by finding international corporate registration and regulatory information, available on the web, but not easy to find or analyze. For the user, the software does the finding, deciphering and analyzing and produces a due diligence report. 

A subscription is $6,000 per year; the company charges less for one-time searchers. Those costs represent a fraction of the expense of conducting a due-diligence exercise that includes on-site high-priced lawyers and investigators.

Most recently, OutsideIQ is offering a version of its software which can be integrated with existing systems that financial advisory firms use when establishing initial relationships with clients—or what’s referred to as onboarding clients. The software allows firms to identify and evaluate sources of risk related to their prospects before they become clients formally.

“We don’t eliminate all the due-diligence costs, but we provide what is publicly available, although not necessarily easily publicly available,” says COO Joe Oswald.

The art of persuasion meets big data: What specific words in an email will make a prospective client open it to learn more? Solving the dilemma just got easier, claims Lawrence Whittle, the chief revenue officer of New York-based Persado, which has backing from Citi Ventures, American Express and Bain Capital Ventures.

Persado’s platform allows users to generate multiple alternative persuasive messages to use for emails, landing pages, push notifications or other social network communications. The system relies on semantic algorithms and a vast amount of constantly updated performance data. In a matter of seconds, users can see, test and identify the most persuasive missives.

On a small scale, Persado’s pricing is high; for five to 10 messages, a company may be spending $3,000 to $4,000 a month. But as customers reap the benefits of Persado’s platform, they use it more and costs per message shrink, Whittle says. For the advisor, a feature that allows them to remove language that would draw unwanted regulators’ attention — makes the possibilities even more interesting.

“We’re in trial with a very big advisory firm now,” says Whittle. In 2015, he estimates, the firm generated $1 billion in incremental revenues for its customers. He expects more than that this year.

Seamless invoicing: InvoiceSharing, a Netherlands-based company, has partnered with KPMG to develop a real-time invoice distribution and accounting system. The InvoiceSharing platform connects the accounting systems of companies and their vendors, and sends invoices to an accounting robot programmed to identify the relevant industry standards and apply that sector’s best accounting practices.

Through the InvoiceSharing networks, companies may send invoices to clients and customers for free. InvoiceSharing generates its revenues by selling other accounting robot services to the companies that already use its free services, explains Vincent Prooj, a co-founder and its CTO.

The price of the robot services amounts to about 50 cents for each shared invoice, he says. “Our goal is to help with the accounting,” Prooj says.

Expense account hell: How annoying are those stacks of receipts that procrastinating employees messily staple to their perennially tardy expense reports? Small-business owners may wave goodbye to such irritations if a product introduced by Belgium-based Xpenditure delivers as promised.

Xpenditure already counts Deloitte, SAS Software and Miele among its customers. Alan Gleeson, a digital-marketing strategist for Xpenditure, says the product costs about $7 a month for each user. For that, customers get a fully digitized and integrated expense-management system. The user takes a picture of a receipt and, after it’s downloaded, it is automatically sorted and managed though cloud functions that allow integration and reconciliation of the expense with company bank account records.

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