Financial Literacy

Subscribing to Advice Simplifying The Financials

The Subscription Economy® is a phrase, coined by analytics platform Zuora, to describe a new era of business models, and it’s growing exponentially. Inspired by companies across diverse sectors, such as Netflix, Peloton, Fitbit, and extending to major carmakers and physicians, the adoption of subscription business models is happening in many industries that might come as a surprise.

Even financial planning. And at Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio-based Impel Wealth Management, a subscription-based service is one of the options it offers, President and CEO Jesse W. Hurst, CFP®, AIF®, told Advisors Magazine in a recent interview.

“We call our subscription-based model ‘Simplifynance,’ and it’s geared to older millennials, or people 30 to 45 years old,” Hurst said. He further described the target market as ‘Henrys’, short for ‘high earner not rich yet,’ a term first used by Fortune Magazine nearly 20 years ago.

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“This might be a client who’s about 30 years old, making $85,000-$90,000 per year and his wife is making around $70,000 per year,” Hurst explained. “Combined, they have very good income. They’re young, but they don’t have significant wealth yet, so they wouldn’t be good candidates for a traditional assets under management model.”

“We build a personal financial website for them, and we help them develop goals.” Hurst said. “We typically connect all of their accounts—bank accounts, benefit accounts, mortgages, anything like that—on their personal financial website, which is updated daily,” he added.

“Our associate wealth manager Nathan Ollish, (CFP®, AIF®) is dedicated to our Simplifynance model,” Hurst noted. Meetings are conducted quarterly to make sure all is on track and still relevant.

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Hurst views Simplifynance as an on-ramp to more rigorous financial planning. And for that, Impel Wealth Management has its more traditional service: SAIL, an acronym for Sound Advice…Inspired Life, a customized planning process that connects a client’s financial reality with their vision for the rest of their life.

For this service, Impel Wealth Management is usually looking for a minimum of $500,000 of investable assets from individuals who are still working, still saving and preparing for retirement. There’s no minimum for Simplifynance – it’s just a matter of being willing to pay the appropriate subscription fee and then following the guidelines and the goal planning.

Hurst’s niche has been retirement planning for more than 30 years now. He chuckles today when he recalls a favorite TV show, Family Ties, as early inspiration. “I kind of identified with a character on that show, Alex P. Keaton, who had many of the same interests as I did—the economy, wealth and finance.”

Not long after starting his career in 1987 with John Hancock’s financial planning unit, Hurst realized he wanted to consult and help people more than he wanted to just sell product-centric solutions. In 1990 he joined an independent financial planning firm where he and a colleague developed a niche doing retirement planning—workshops and individual consultations—for corporate executives.

He very much enjoyed that business and became quite proficient. In 1997, he and two partners formed Millennial Group. But by 2016, with the oldest partner retiring, Hurst and his other partner decided to separate, and Hurst formed Impel Wealth Management. “We’re about four years old now, but it’s largely all of my staff that I’ve worked with for 25 years at the other firms,” he said.

balance 300xToday, Impel Wealth Management remains focused on retirement issues and helping people get there.

“We help them manage their investments—build the resources they need to help them transition successfully,” Hurst said, “and once they’ve made that transition, we help them manage their assets to maintain a certain standard of living.”

The company now manages about $250 million in assets for 160 client families. And for each of those families, there is a unique financial strategy.

“While not every client has a customized portfolio, every client does have a custom-tailored financial strategy that is unique to them, their family, and their objectives,” Hurst said. “So, if I run into any one of those 160 clients at the grocery store, I would know their name and what they did for a living; I would probably know their kids’ names; I would know where they lived; I would know what their resources are; I would know where they like to travel and their hobbies.”

That personal approach extends to his role as an accredited investment fiduciary. “In my opinion, fiduciary is more about what you are inside than with what you’re wearing,” Hurst said.

Financial education is a big deal to Hurst. In fact, the company name reflects its significance. “The definition of impel means to impart motion towards a future goal or a future destination, or to give someone the confidence to move forward,” he explained. “And that’s really why we chose the name. It’s congruent with who we are and what we do, and a lot of that is the education-based approach that we take with our clients.”

Pre-pandemic, the education process may have taken the form of an in-person Town Hall—especially during times of market volatility. But like other financial advisory firms, Impel Wealth Management used Zoom videoconferencing and built an extensive YouTube library, as well as made personal phone calls to keep clients informed.

Such virtual experiences, Hurst said, will continue even after the pandemic because they’re highly effective and efficient. They can also be innovative and fun.

“My wife and I love to cook,” Hurst noted. “In February, for Valentine’s Day, we’ve scheduled a virtual online cooking class for clients and we’ll share recipes. So, we’re going to try some new stuff on Zoom.”

Still, all the while, Impel Wealth Management will be serving up helpings for transitioning from work life to retirement.

For more information on Impel Wealth Management, visit: impelwealth.com



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