Datalign Advisory launched in February 2022 with the mission to revolutionize lead generation for advisory firms. In its first year, the startup wealth tech company grew more than 2000 percent in topline revenue and has an average monthly lead growth rate of 30 percent. Datalign has also grown its team from six to 12 staff and currently serves more than 4,000 advisors on the platform.
All told the company has referred more than $9 billion in aum to advisors and $3 billion in assets have converted from leads into advisory clients.
“When we started to develop Datalign we knew weren’t necessarily going to be the first mover, but there was a lot of room for improvement and efficiency to be created in the lead generation process,” Hilary Malecha, Datalign COO and co-founder, told RIA Intel.
She said that while there were a few companies in the space, like SmartAsset, that had grown to a billion-dollar valuation, none of the companies were built with the advisor experience in mind.
“Leads were being sold multiple times and there wasn’t the ability to target and be able to use kind of your budget as efficiently as you could,” said Malecha. “So, we decided to create a product that was really geared at bringing in advisor quality leads at scale.”
Historically advisors have relied on referrals. In recent years, however, larger wealth management firms have developed marketing budgets dedicated to lead generation. The pandemic has also helped change the landscape of in-person, lead generation as people looked for digital ways to connect with potential advisors.
Lead generation is expensive.
An analysis by Kitces.com in 2020 found that the average total cost to acquire a new client for a financial advisor was $3,119 per client, and 83 percent of the total cost of acquisition was purely the ‘time cost’ of the financial advisor (an average of $2,600 worth of time spent to acquire one client).
Datalign believes they offer something different.
The company has partnered with well-known media companies like Forbes and the Wall Street Journal to host ads targeted at investors looking for an advisor on relevant articles, which Malecha said leads to more quality leads.
If a person clicks on the link, they are taken to an 18-question survey that collects demographic information, such as age, location, income time to retirement, as well as other questions about financial preferences. Malecha said they’ve made the questionnaire intentionally long to weed out any potential client who isn’t serious about finding a financial advisor.
Unlike some of the other lead generation companies, which will sell leads to multiple advisors, Datalign only sells the lead a single time through an auction system.
Advisors first search through the database using 10 variables such as retirement timeline, current assets, request for portfolio management, preference for in-person or remote, and current income.
Once an advisor has found a lead that matches their criteria, they can bid whatever amount they want for that lead, which is then compared to bids from other advisors. Datalign said that on average price for a lead can range from $25 to $1000 for a lead.
“The market is really setting the value of the consumer, which in turn, allows that consumer to be able to get to the person who’s going to value them the most,” said Malecha.
According to the company, a $1,000 bid is usually for an investor with over $1 million in assets, that fits a particular RIA’s target criterion. A $50 lead might be someone in their mid-thirties with developing wealth.
About 30 percent to 40 percent of all leads bought on the platform have led to an appointment, and 10 to 20 percent of all leads become clients. The platform also tracks lead appointment rates and client conversion rates which can help advisors better tailor their client search.
“It’s often that an advisor will think that someone with $500,000 and up is the best prospect, but when we actually look at the data, they’re actually converting more people with $350,000 in assets at a better rate that’s actually more efficient,” said Malecha.
The company now serves seven of the top 10 RIAs in the U.S., said Malecha, and they have had zero client attrition up until this point. In fact, Malecha said their clients have on average increased their monthly budget on the platform between 10 to 30 percent month over month.
The company is looking to do its first capital raise in the next few months to support the company’s development of AI tech and increase its client services.