Financial advisor Alex Chalekian and his family launch Futurvest to improve financial literacy
A financial adviser seeking to expand access to literacy and wealth-building tools has launched a new subscription-based education service run outside of his firm by him and his family.
Futurvest – a training and coaching website created by Alex and Rosa Chalekian, and their sons Ara, Julian and Jeremiah – targets a problem that studies show is getting worse over time. a relatively small proportion of Americans demonstrate basic financial literacy. Priced at $8 per month for the “basic” version and $30 for the “pro” subscription, Futurvest offers an online course library, office hours with experts, events, an online community other learners and software to track personal budgets against long-term goals. With every subscription purchased, Futurvest will offer free membership.
The fact that many Americans grow without means or any training on financial topics has become a stumbling block for wealth managers who want to engage with historically excluded groups as clients and the next generation of talented advisors. Futurvest joins a handful of technological innovations designed to increase the level of basic knowledge in a way that leads more Americans to tap into investment and generational wealth. Alex Chalekian spent about a year creating Futurvest before it launched on February 22, he said in an interview.
“It’s totally mission-driven. This is my 25th year in the industry, and part of what I want to do is give back and be able to serve as many people and help as much as possible,” said Chalekian said “Part of the process will just be to get this into the hands of the right people and try to give it away.”
Chalekian, his family, and some outside developers and designers designed Futurvest as a method to give people a new source of advice and education without sales pitches, account minimums, and complicated terminology. Each of the family members contributes to the website, and other advisors and coaches will participate in office hours and classes for new and aspiring investors. The website’s software allows “pro” users to link their financial accounts to track their net worth and receive scores evaluating their progress against other members.
With the strong retail account growth During the pandemic for the past two years, new investors “hope they got good advice, or you went to Instagram or TikTok” for instructions, Chalekian said.
“The whole point of this is to simplify financial well-being. In our industry, we use a lot of jargon. Sometimes you talk over people, unfortunately, and you have to go back to basics,” he said. “It would be a great platform for people to learn. It will be a safe place where they won’t feel intimidated.
Other new programs
A few other innovators have launched educational services leveraging technology to help people learn about money, in some cases from an early age. Tanya Van Court, former Nickelodeon executive Guardian helps parents teach their children about personal finance issues such as savings and debit cards. After its launch in 2016, in recent years it has received investments from American bank, Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures, NBA Basketball Stars Kevin Durant and Chris Paul, and Robert F. Smith of Vista Equity Partners.
This month Mac Gardner’s FinLit Tech, which is backed by Fidelity Investments’ eMoney Advisor, launched the demo version of a new app based game for kids called Berryville based on Gardner’s first financial education book, The four cubs. From the age of 5, kids can start running their own virtual berry farm and compete with other kids in a way that teaches entrepreneurship, math skills and money fundamentals . The technology has the potential for the industry to reach “a hugely underserved population,” Gardner said.
“There’s been a ton of fintech on the product side,” Gardner said. “What the industry really hasn’t focused enough on is fintech to help you learn.”
Gardner said Futurvest’s website and technology “can help meet people where they are.” He and advisor André Jean-Pierre of Aces Advisors hailed Chalekian’s new service as a way for more people to learn about wealth and investing.
Jean-Pierre spends a lot of time correcting the “avalanche of misinformation” about online investing through regular sessions on the Clubhouse and Twitter spaces. Raising the level of financial literacy presents challenges, according to Jean-Pierre, who points out that the industry could simply send manuals to parents on the subject if it were easy to teach.
“I know Alex is very passionate about educating people,” he said. “It’s really that human element of being able to explain concepts to them and making the information understandable and relevant, but above all, digestible.”
Applause from the industry
As part of the launch of Futurvest, Chalekian created a new, fully independent RIA for his Pasadena, Calif.-based firm called Wealthtech Partners. The practice uses LPL Financial as its primary custodian, although Chalekian has dropped its FINRA registration and exited its former hybrid RIA and supervisory jurisdiction office, Integrated Partners.
“Even if he were a valued member of our advisor community, we would be the last company to try to hinder an advisor’s entrepreneurial vision,” Embedded Chairman Paul Saganey said in a statement. “We wish him enormous success in his new endeavors and are certain that Futurvest will be well received.”
Other members of the wealth management community added their voices to the applause for the new service. Affordability and accessibility are “so crucial and mission-critical” at wealth management software company Altruist, founder Jason Wenk said in an emailed statement.
“It’s inspiring to see what Alex, his family and his team have created in Futurvest. Financial literacy is one of the biggest issues facing communities today, especially those that are underserved,” Wenk said. “Futurvest will be a massive game-changer in financial services by providing the tools and technology to help more people thrive.”
Without revealing names, Chalekian hinted that some upcoming collaborations will allow Futurvest to grow over time. He, Rosa and their 15, 19 and 20-year-old sons want the website to have a capacity of 100 members or 10,000 members, or any number above that, he said.
“We’re building this from day one to be scalable,” Chalekian said. “So the more the merrier.”