XYPN LIVE - The Home of AdviceTech Innovation

6 min read
April 29, 2024

In celebration of our 10th Anniversary, we’re taking time throughout the year to reflect on all things made possible with XYPN—both in the past and future.  

Today we’re excited to recognize the impact XYPN LIVE’s AdviceTech (né FinTech) Competition has had in shaping the face of financial planning. In an ongoing effort to raise the financial planning bar, the competition has provided emerging FinTech companies with a platform to demo their innovative solutions focused on empowering financial advisors and increasing value for their clients through better advice and a better client experience.

In 2016, XYPN LIVE hosted its inaugural XYPN FinTech Competition. It broke ground as the first-ever speed-pitch fintech competition to spotlight innovative new technology companies built specifically for financial planners and to recognize one outstanding solution. It gave relatively unknown (at the time) startups a chance to demo how they were changing the way real planners run their practices and serve their clients.  Most importantly it fell in lock step with XYPN’s mission to make real financial planning accessible and profitable. 

With the application now live for XYPN’s 2024 AdviceTech Competition and an expected 1,000 attendees at XYPN LIVE in Minneapolis this October, let’s take a look back and explore just what this event is all about, and how it’s helped to change financial planning for the better.  

The Why

While the speed-pitch format wasn’t novel in and of itself, XYPN’s FinTech competition was, and still is, unique in that it specifically focuses on the needs of real financial planners. 

XYPN Founders Alan Moore and Michael Kitces recognized early on that the needs and priorities of fee-only comprehensive planners are often completely different than those of traditional financial institutions like banks and wirehouses, or even those of typical wealth managers whose investment management services make up the meat of their value proposition. Simply put, real financial planners have a different set of software needs than those of traditional financial services. 

They wondered what a software competition could look like if the solutions presented were less geared to gathering wallet share and AUM or enterprise-level compliance oversight, and more about helping CFPs grow their planning practices and give better advice.

At the same time, they also recognized that companies developing tech specifically for XYPN’s audience, some even being founded by XYPN members themselves, had their own unique challenges. Often, these “homegrown” technologies built by planners for planners didn’t have the budget or venue to market to their peers compared to the traditional software providers. Without a platform to gain visibility among the right kinds of planners, creating real traction could be tough, and potentially game-changing solutions might simply disappear before reaching critical mass. This is also why XYPN vets every exhibitor application to make sure the vendor is one attendees actually want to engage with, and why our Exhibit Hall isn’t packed full of fund companies and wiz-bang investment solutions. 

Since that first competition on a sunny day in San Diego in 2016, almost 150 companies working to change modern planning practice have applied for a chance to debut their solutions at XYPN LIVE. 

Things have changed over the years, notably the name (from the Fintech Competition to the AdvisorTech Expo). Still, the criteria have remained essentially the same. Eligible techs need to meet one or more of the following requirements to be considered:

  • Have launched in the last 12 months
  • Have less than $1 million in revenue
  • Be an existing company with a new offering, substantively different from its existing solutions, that is independently priced

And so, while the competition may not be the official launch day for all participating companies, for many, it is their first real chance to showcase their work on a big stage. And given the relative newcomer status each company has needed to demonstrate, the list of winners (and even non-winners) and their subsequent progress is impressive. Let’s take a look:

Past Winners:

  • Mineral Interactive (2018) 
    • Acquired by Carson Group in 2018
    • Owner/Founder Jud Mackrill, now the Co-Founder and CMO of Milemarker, a leading provider of RIA data utilization and operations, workflow, and advisor-experience management services.
  • Holisitplan (2019) 
    • Grown from “dozens of users” in 2019 to >28,000 total users today
    • Described as “most dominant” in an individual category with 59% advisor market share among advisors using Tax Planning tools (2023 Kitces AdvisorTech Study)

Note: No competition was held in 2020, In 2021, an Expo-only event was held; no winner was selected. 

Also Notable:

“The impact was immediate,” said Holistiplan Co-Founder, Roger Pine, of the company’s 2019 win. “We were already somewhat known among our former NAPFA colleagues, but the XYPN win gave us a level of legitimacy that would have taken us at least a year, and possibly years to establish. Maybe most importantly, it made us realize and fully understand ourselves that we were for real. If there was ever any question that [Holistiplan] was just a hobby project, that question was firmly answered when we were called up to the stage that evening.”

And fintech companies interested in attracting real financial planners to their platforms have taken notice. “From the get-go, we had our eyes set on the Fintech Competition,” shared IncomeLab Co-Founder and CEO Johnny Poulsen. “It wasn’t about winning a contest. [The XYPN FinTech competition] was the contest. The year after, we tripled our business. We had a storm of XYPN members coming to us afterward and have seen very strong growth since.”

As a former competitor in the competition myself (as a Co-Founder of College Aid Pro - 2019, Honorable Mention), I can relate. I still get chills remembering being called up to the stage to be recognized in front of hundreds of our peers and friends. In an age when companies are constantly vying for our attention, financial planners are particularly sensitive to being marketed and sold to. To have Alan Moore, Michael Kitces, and Maddy Roche publicly congratulate you on what you’ve built for the community is special.

Notably, other past competitors have defined entirely new categories. The “Client Communication” category of the T3 Survey currently includes three companies, all past XYPN FinTech Competition Finalists:

This affirms the event’s original intent. Where the industry at large may focus heavily on business development solutions and new financial products to sell, real financial planners have different needs. They want solutions that help them keep their clients informed and engaged in the ongoing financial planning relationship or dive deep into specialist planning areas to give real, meaningful guidance.

The 2024 XYPN LIVE AdviceTech Competition

This year, we’ve decided to iterate on the event further. We’ll bring back the competition style with a fresh panel of expert judges awarding the “Best in Show” prize. Recognition and facetime with these founders, trendsetters, and investors will bring new visibility and momentum to finalists and especially the judges’ favorite. 

We’ll also keep the attendee voting alive to award an “Advicer’s Choice” - the most impressive finalist as judged by the actual financial “Advicers” in the room (the company’s ideal customers). Those in attendance may also have the chance to gain early discounted access to Finalist technology, only available at XYPN LIVE. 

In addition to these evolutions in the competition, we’re bringing back several initiatives to foster innovation in the AdviceTech space including the Tech Showcase to show how real XYPN members are using a specific tech in their own practices, the discounted Newcomer Exhibitor package, a new scholarship program (by application) for pre-revenue startups serving real planners, and other initiatives to highlight the AdviceTech of tomorrow. 

“Over 25 years, I’ve been to hundreds of conferences across the industry,” says IncomeLab’s Poulsen. “This is my favorite and Income Lab's favorite. There’s something different about the energy of this conference than any other. XYPN has built an environment where people truly value education and knowledge. It’s impressive.”

We hope to see you there!

Is there a new technology you’d like to see recognized as a game changer for real financial planners? Share this application with them and encourage them to compete in this year’s XYPN LIVE AdviceTech Competition for bragging rights and more!

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David Bowman, CFP®, CCFC Headshot

About the Author

Dave Bowman, CFP®, CCFC is Director of Partnerships at XYPN where he helps to curate the technology choices and best practices for our 1,800+ members. He started his career at a large fee-only RIA in 2013, and has since formed multiple companies supporting financial planners including Outsourced Planning and the college planning software College Aid Pro.

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