Building A Financial Planning Company With Spencer Barclay

Building A Financial Planning Company With Spencer Barclay

Last Updated on January 7, 2021

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About Spencer Barclay

I like to consider myself to be an entrepreneur at heart. My personal and professional mission is to improve the financial security of the digital generations. Each step in my life and career brings me closer to fulfilling that mission.

Over the last 10 years, I have built and helped build startup ventures covering several areas of personal finance and financial services, such as credit, estate planning, investing, financial wellness, and retirement planning. My last venture was as the COO at BenefitGuard, a venture-backed 401(k) provider for small businesses, where I helped develop and sell the company in a multi-million dollar deal to HealthEquity. Now, I’m the Founder and CEO of Savology.

I earned my MBA from Westminster College where I also completed a bachelor’s degree in economics. I met my wife there and now we live in Lehi, Utah with our three children. I am passionate about personal finance, economics, politics, and football.

About Savology

Savology is a venture-backed startup that is on a mission to improve the financial well-being of millions of American households by making financial planning more accessible, actionable, and effective than ever before.

After observing a recurring theme across previous financial related ventures, I decided to address head on the financial struggles that many American households. I completed thousands of surveys, hundreds of one-on-one interviews, and a few focus groups to determine how we should solve that. I was surprised that the market research pointed us in the direction of financial planning.

We found that financial planning has a more significant impact on financial outcomes than budgeting or financial literacy, yet it is virtually inaccessible to the majority of Americans. So, we began our mission to democratize financial planning.

Now, Savology does modern financial planning, blending technology and access to professionals to create personalized roadmaps to financial success. We provide this service directly to consumers as well as through employers as a financial wellness benefit for their workforce.

How Did You Get Your First Several Customers Or Users? How Many Users Or Customers Do You Have Now?

We have built 50,000 financial plans over the last 18 months for our 25,000 customers. Business, however, was not always booming. It took months to build the solution and acquire our first customers.

To test the idea, I built a minimum viable product that didn’t require advanced programming. I created a form to collect the information needed and then exported it to Excel to run all the calculations and create basic financial recommendations. I then sent this to a few dozen people to see if they would use it, how they would interact with it, and how if they liked it. The reception was positive from the first batch, which led us to create some partnerships to monetize and to seek investors so that we could create the full version.

How Does Your Company Grow And Acquire New Customers?

We have two primary channels for growth. For the first 12 months, we focused on distribution directly to consumers. The consumer channel continues to grow through a combination of SEO, performance-based advertising, affiliate relationships, and user referrals.

Over time, we had enough employers inquire that we decided to create a financial wellness benefit out of the core platform. The employer benefit requires a small direct sales team for acquiring new customers.

What Actionable Tips And Tricks Do You Have For New Founders Who Are Looking To Get Their First Thousand Users Or Dollars?

Even before getting to that stage, the first actionable tip would be to validate a business concept as much as possible. Of course, there is still a chance that it won’t work out in the long run, but put in the effort to demonstrate that there is a market need for it or that customers will pay. You can do this without significant expense in most business models.

After you have proven the concept, then you can seek after your first customers or users. It is helpful to turn to your friends, family, and network, but don’t rely on them exclusively for feedback or traction validation because they are inherently biased and may not be forthright.

Greater validation comes when you get someone that you don’t know to buy. Since you have to prove out distribution anyway, test a few different channels. In most cases, you can start with performance-based advertising to serve as a baseline measurement.

What Is Something You’ve Learned That Would Not Be Obvious To Somebody Who Hasn’t Worked In Your Space Before?

Financial technology and financial services both have their challenges, but I think there is a broader lesson to be learned in general entrepreneurship.

Being a founder & CEO isn’t all glory, fame, or wealth. It can be lonely. Building a successful business requires true dedication, commitment, and grit. You work endlessly, making impossible decisions all along the way. Without the proper acknowledgment and support, it can put a strain on your relationships, your mental state, and even your physical health.

So, I’ve learned to build a support system of advisors, colleagues, and family members. The most supportive and helpful are those who have been on that journey before. Find those people who can be a support system and then rely on them when you inevitably stumble.

What’s The Craziest Thing That’s Happened To You (Good Or Bad) On Your Founder Journey?

It would be difficult to build a business through a pandemic without any chaos. We closed a seed round of fundraising just a few weeks after the pandemic first struck the American economy.

This fundraising round was months in the making and came down to the wire. In mid-February 2020, the stock market took a beating and uncertainty skyrocketed. Several of our committed investors faltered on the same day. We needed all of them to close the round on time, and for us, that was make or break.

It took a herculean effort and several days of non-stop work, but we were able to secure the core investors and land a couple more with just hours to spare. And because of that, we are alive and well today!

What Are Your Favorite Books?

I believe that reading has largely made me who I am today. I read dozens of books every year, looking for ways to improve myself, my relationships, and my business. Yet, I have very few books that I consider to be favorites.

Instead, I rank books based on how impactful they have been to me. The general books that are most significant to me are: Mindset by Carol Dweck, Outliers by Malcom Gladwell, Good to Great by Jim Collins, and High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard.

Anything You’d Like To Plug?

If you are reading this then you need a financial plan. The true importance of a financial plan has been overshadowed by budgeting, investing, and credit scores. You may not need traditional, expensive financial planning, but simple plan that tells you how much you should be saving, what insurances you need, and how to reach your goals. You can get this with Savology. Go to https://savology.com to build a free plan today.

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