Focus Financial invests $28M in fintech startup, ahead of prospective IPO
The New York-based startup specializes in providing personal finance information and tools to over 45 million users per month, according to the firm. Known as the “most-viewed financial technology company” on the internet, the six-year-old company plans to use the new influx of cash to expand its SmartAdvisor platform, which matches consumers to financial advisors.
“This investment will accelerate our mission of becoming the web’s premier resource for personal finance tools and content,” said Michael Carvin, CEO and co-founder of SmartAsset. “In doing so, SmartAsset will become the largest marketplace for investors trying to find financial advisors and advisors trying to meet new prospective clients.”
Client assets at Focus Financial have skyrocketed in recent years at a compounded annual growth rate of 22% from 2011 to 2016, according to research from Cerulli Associates. The 12-year old RIA aggregator landed a blockbuster $16.5 billion megadeal with Boston-based SCS Capital Management last May — touted as its biggest deal to date — and snapped up a $1.5 billion partnership Eton Advisors in September.
Focus has also taken the first step in an initial public offering, which would be a landmark for the financial advisory business. The firm, which controls more than 50 advisory firms around the country, sold a majority stake to private equity firms Stone Point Capital and KKR in a deal valued at $2 billion.
Over the past year, SmartAsset has increased its audience by 90% while racking up several industry recognitions. Most recently, the company was named a six-time honoree of the Webby Awards and a finalist for the Benzinga Fintech Awards. Its vice president of content and financial education, AJ Smith, was named one of Folio’s Top Women in Media.
Rajini Kodialam, co-founder of Focus Financial Partners, expressed her enthusiasm for the SmartAsset investment, saying that financial advisors lack reliable, easy-to-use digital channels to grow their businesses.
“We see a tremendous opportunity ... to create the web’s first digital platform to help advisors add new clients in a profitable and scalable fashion,” said Kodialam.