In this episode, I had the opportunity to speak with Sean Brown, President and CEO of investment research tool YCharts. Sean and I talked about what YCharts does, the future of fintech, and the importance of communication.
How going with the flow often leads to opportunities
Sean and I began our chat with how he got into finance and his first job in this arena. This was a great place to start because, as you’ll hear in the episode, Sean didn’t know that he was interviewing for a computer programming job — not the financial analyst job that he imagined. When Sean realized he wasn’t going to be applying his finance degree in his first job, he went to his dad for advice. “Well, you are where you are. Make the best of it and see how you do,” his dad said. Sean has used that bit of sage wisdom to guide him through the rest of his career.
Being open to change and being on the lookout for opportunities: Sean and I both agreed that this attitude is essential when starting your career, and especially when getting into the finance space. You may have a plan that doesn’t go the way you expect, but you can still find joy and success along the way. It’s kind of how Sean was able to make his way into finance from tech. Someone noticed his tech skills and background in finance, and made the smart decision to put him into financial services clients. Sean eventually left the sunshine and warmth of San Francisco to begin his startup career in Chicago. And ultimately, he joined the board at YCharts in 2016.
Why it’s crucial for advisors to have good communication skills
One of the YCharts founders said that there’s a real need to turn data into insights in the financial services space, and one of the best ways to do that is through pictures. Though that’s one of the things that YCharts does best, there’s a lot more to the company than visualizing data. As Sean put it, YCharts is a “prospect and client communication company that masks itself as an investment research platform.”
YChart’s tools help people make better investment decisions, yes, but they also empower advisors to communicate with their clients better. And that’s what Sean is exceptionally passionate about: communication and its effects on advisor-client relationship. The old model of sending out quarterly or monthly statements and meeting over dinner once a year isn’t enough to create an adequate relationship, Sean said.
Just like any other relationship, you need to put in the work and time to understand the other person’s needs. YCharts did a survey about client communication (which we linked in the show notes below) and found that clients of wealth advisors felt that communication was insufficient, poor quality, or simply not happening often enough. This is a problem, sure, but it’s also an opportunity for advisors to better themselves.
Before a recession hits, or before technological advancements are able to replicate what human advisors do, we need to step up communications, Sean said. In addition, advisors should know their value, know their niche. Understand what they’re bringing to the profession. When you know your value proposition and you have good communication skills, then you’re ready to work with YCharts and put those skills to good use.
Where the future of fintech is heading
Sean spoke about the future of fintech and what he hopes to see in the years to come. The finance profession is lagging behind when it comes to using tech to solve business problems. It’ll be exciting to see new technology crop up that can make our lives as financial advisors easier, whether that’s through streamlining workflows, tailoring portfolios, communicating with clients efficiently, and so on.
That’s why we need young professionals to go for their dreams, Sean said. If you have a great fintech idea but you’re not sure how to put it into action, or if it’s the right time to do it, just go for it. “There’s no time like the present to make your idea real,” Sean said.
He pointed out that data today is cheap and commoditized. Amazon Web Services ensures that you don’t need to invest in expensive equipment. You don’t even need to start a company or deplete your life’s savings in order to try your idea out. The time is now. And if you need a little guidance on making your idea a reality, hit Sean up on LinkedIn or Twitter.
“I'd love to help you realize your goals because again, especially if it's in the financial services space, we have a long way to go,” Sean said. “it's going to take a lot of bright people with a lot of great ideas for us to get where we need to be in 10 years.”
What You’ll Learn:
- How Sean’s career in software development began (kind of by accident)
- The founding of YCharts
- Why advisors need to step up their communication game
- Three ways advisors can better themselves
- Where YCharts is headed in the next three years
- What Sean wants to see in the fintech space
- Sean’s advice for young professionals
- Who inspires Sean as a CEO
In this episode of YAFPNW, we spoke to Sean Brown, Founder and CEO of YCharts, about:
- YCharts, a powerful investment research tool
- In One Chart: How is Ezekiel Elliott like a Low Vol ETF?
- Corporate Crises and the Impact on Investors
- YCharts Survey: How Can Advisors Better Communicate with Clients?
Want to follow Sean? You can find him on LinkedIn and on Twitter @Sean_YCharts.