Bento Engine, a fintech company that mines CRM data and alerts advisors when it finds potential advice opportunities for their clients, announced Wednesday that it had raised $1.1 million in a seed round of funding from a group of nine high-profile wealth management executives.
The cohort of investors consists of Marty Bicknell, CEO and president of Mariner Wealth Advisors; Shannon Eusey, CEO and co-founder of Beacon Pointe Advisors; Greg Friedman, chief strategy officer of Wealthspire Advisors; Doug Fritz, president and founder of F2 Strategy; Jen Goldman, president of Jen Goldman Consulting; Anton Honikman, CEO of MyVest; Andy Putterman, founder and CEO of 1812 Park; Gavin Spitzner, president of Wealth Consulting Partners; and Kelly Waltrich, CEO and co-founder of Intention.ly. At least one other investor participated in the round but was not named by the company. Honikman will join Bento’s board.
The investment came in the form of a SAFE (simple agreement for future equity). All investors in the seed round have agreed to receive future equity priced at the next round of funding. Philipp Hecker, CEO and co-founder of Bento Engine, told RIA Intel that the company anticipates the next round to start in 12 to 18 months.
Bento Engine was founded in the spring of 2021. The company spent six months developing and testing the product with six advisory firms that ranged from $100 million to $17 billion in AUM. The product was officially launched in 2021 and has grown to serve 31 firms and hundreds of financial advisors. The company’s product enhances the performance of CRMs and integrates with popular brands such as Salesforce, Dynamics, Practifi, XLR8, Redtail, and Wealthbox, representing about 80 percent of the CRM market. In general, wealth manager satisfaction with CRMs is plummeting, with many advisors complaining that CRMs do not deliver on expectations and that they don’t age well.
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Bento Engine plans to use the capital to expand. Approximately half of the $1.1 million raised will go to product development and half to broaden its reach among wealth management firms. The company, which currently has five employees, also plans on hiring four more to support the expansion effort.
Bento’s technology includes an API script that mines CRM data on advisors’ clients to provide actionable insights. In addition, it delivers automated alerts around significant age-related milestones (such as contribution catch-ups that start at age 50) and produces related multi-format content (PowerPoint, pdfs, and e-mails) that is compliance pre-approved and that advisors can white-label and use immediately with clients.
Hecker believes that the firm’s products offer value to CRM providers, too. “[CRM firms] view us as true partners because we increase the productive time spent in the CRM. We increase the ROI that firms get from a meaningful investment into the CRM. We put the CRM on steroids,” he says.
Bento is based on a sliding-scale subscription model, with the price dependent on the size and number of advisors using the software. It starts at $99 per month for one lead advisor.
While the company is relatively young, Hecker says that advisor retention remains high. Since the product debuted, only one advisor out of hundreds has canceled their subscription.
In the coming months, the Bento Engine plans to roll out a variation of its original product that has been adapted to serve retirement plan participants. It also plans to expand the script and alert system to include an additional 30 life events.
Holly Deaton (@HollyLDeaton) is a staff writer at RIA Intel and based in New York City