Beyond the portfolio:
How Buckingham delivers better financial planning with Flourish Cash
- Buckingham is one of the largest independent RIAs in the country, serving individual clients through Buckingham Strategic Wealth and partner advisory firms through Buckingham Strategic Partners
- As a comprehensive, planning-oriented firm, Buckingham identified a gap in its ability to help clients with held-away cash and began using Flourish Cash1 in 2019, integrating the product into its CRM, financial reporting, and planning tools
- Buckingham has been able to deliver tremendous value to clients with Flourish Cash:
- Thousands of invites sent
- Hundreds of millions of dollars on the platform
- Over 100 partner RIAs onboarded
- Millions in interest paid to clients
Lack of advisor-centric options
Cash is an important part of every family’s financial life, whether to protect against an unexpected expense, to meet a short-term liability, or simply to sleep well at night. As a firm dedicated to delivering holistic financial advice to its clients, Buckingham knew that having a solution for cash was important, but found that the options available to advisors were limited. “There are solutions in the marketplace for individual consumers,” said Aaron Grey, Managing Director of Client & Advisor Experience at Buckingham Strategic Wealth. “But the lack of advisor-centric solutions meant that we didn’t have confidence that clients would find the right product or set it up correctly in order to receive the most benefit.”
In fact, advisors were often unaware if a client even moved forward with opening an account, let alone being able to incorporate the information into a financial plan. “Historically, without a solution like Flourish, you might have mentioned some of the options out there, but you couldn’t be involved in helping a client execute and implement. And usually what you find out is that people don't ever take action,” said Steve Atkinson, Managing Director, Advisor Relations at Buckingham Strategic Partners (BSP). “For BSP, that meant we were unable to help our partner firms help their clients."
Instead of sending clients out to find, set up, and maintain a cash management solution on their own, Buckingham needed an advisor-centric solution that they could confidently recommend to clients — one that met their high standards. “We were looking for a solution that would give clients access to a savings vehicle with insurance, safety, and liquidity, in addition to a competitive rate and great client experience,” said Grey.
On the partner side, the goal was similar: identify areas of opportunity to provide more value to partner firms and, in turn, allow their partner firms to better serve end clients.
As Buckingham explored options back in 2019, they realized that Flourish Cash hit all the marks: a competitive variable rate2 (currently more than 13x the national savings account average3), zero minimums and zero account fees, increased FDIC insurance through Program Banks,4 and easy access to cash.
In addition to delivering on the client benefits, Buckingham saw that Flourish empowered advisors to provide clients a value-add solution while retaining visibility into balances. “What really puts Flourish over the top is the fact that it’s built to work specifically with the advisor community,” said Grey. “We’re able to present clients with a solution with the key attributes we’re looking for out of a savings vehicle, while also integrating with our workflows and maintaining visibility in order to understand what’s in the account.”
Atkinson echoed this: “The fact that Flourish is delivered to RIAs, for RIAs, and we can play a part in helping clients implement and execute is a huge value add. It allows us to lean into the cash conversation instead of avoiding it.”
Integrations and enablement
After selecting Flourish, the next step was to get it running seamlessly within the organization. Buckingham’s technology team worked with Flourish to build an integration directly with their systems. Grey described the process: “When we refer a client to Flourish, our advisors just click a button within Salesforce, our CRM, to initiate an invitation directly to the client. Behind the scenes, Flourish Cash data is automatically pulled into Orion and MoneyGuidePro, our portfolio management and planning systems.”
Following the integration, the next step was to inform and educate advisors through trainings and webinars. Whether newly-hired advisors or those joining via acquisition, training to use Flourish Cash has become part of the Buckingham onboarding process. “It’s a really well executed, simple solution. Flourish is easy to understand once you know what it is and how to interact with it,” said Grey. In parallel, a similar process occurred with Buckingham Strategic Partners, from working through integrations to ensuring their Regional Directors were trained on the solution.
Finally, Buckingham began to roll out Flourish Cash to clients. “For each one of our clients, we have a very customized planning process. The ingredients are all the same, but the ordering and emphasis is going to be unique to that client and their specific set of needs,” said Grey. “Flourish comes up at different stages of different client’s relationships based on their priorities and situation.”
“It’s something that I bring up to almost every client over time, as every client has cash needs” described Erica Bouchard, Wealth Advisor at Buckingham Strategic Wealth. “It’s a standing agenda item. If a client isn't earning a good rate on their savings, I make it a point to tell them about Flourish.”
Expanding conversations and achieving goals
As Buckingham invited clients and saw accounts being funded, the benefits that they were looking for were realized. “We can give even better advice to our clients, while giving them extra confidence because their advisor is experienced with Flourish,” said Grey. “Flourish makes for a better experience and has achieved all of our key high-level objectives.”
In the ensuing years, Buckingham has been able to deliver on its goals, with thousands of clients invited, hundreds of millions of dollars on the platform, and millions in interest paid to clients across both Buckingham Strategic Wealth and Buckingham Strategic Partners, which has more than 100 partner firms using Flourish. Flourish has become one of the most preferred technology tools among advisors at Buckingham Strategic Wealth. “Our advisors have given Flourish one of the highest NPS scores of all technology we use,” said Grey.
Having a solution for cash has allowed Buckingham advisors to make it an even deeper part of the planning process. “Flourish has definitely helped us deliver a robust, more comprehensive solution,” explained Atkinson. “The best advisors do more than just provide investment advice. You’ve got to get outside of the numbers and have a more emotional conversation about life — that’s the chasm you have to jump over. A good advisor, a good fiduciary, is always working to expand the conversation with clients and bringing tools to the table to help them achieve their goals.”
Flourish builds technology that empowers financial advisors, improves financial lives and retirement outcomes, and delivers new and innovative investment options to advisors. Today, the Flourish platform is used by more than 500 wealth management firms representing more than $1.5 trillion in assets under management. Flourish is wholly-owned by MassMutual. For more information, visit www.flourish.com.
About Buckingham Strategic Wealth
Buckingham Strategic Wealth, LLC (“BSW”), a Securities and Exchange Commission registered investment adviser providing an extensive range of fiduciary financial advisory services, supports individuals, families, nonprofits and organizations. With a passion to progress, serve, and do the right thing for clients at all times, Buckingham Strategic Wealth helps to fulfill client’s financial dreams using the organization’s proprietary Design. Build. Protect™ methodology and an array of evidence-driven investment and planning strategies.
Headquartered in St. Louis, MO, Buckingham Strategic Wealth has 48 offices across the country. Buckingham managed $19.99 billion in regulatory assets under management (as of September 30, 2022). For more information, visit www.BuckinghamStrategicWealth.com.
About Buckingham Strategic Partners
Buckingham Strategic Partners (“BSP”) offers a comprehensive wealth management platform and array of services to a nationwide community of independent financial advisors. Leveraging Buckingham’s Design. Build. Protect.® methodology and supported by evidence-driven investment and financial planning strategies, Buckingham Strategic Partners helps independent financial advisors better serve their clients and grow their businesses.
Headquartered in St. Louis, MO, Buckingham Strategic Partners supports more than 1,200 partner advisors. BSP along with Buckingham Strategic Wealth collectively manage or administer more than $54 billion (as of September 30, 2022). For more information, visit www.BuckinghamStrategicPartners.com.
“Buckingham” (Buckingham Strategic Wealth and Buckingham Strategic Partners) and Flourish are separate and unaffiliated firms. The interviews have been edited for length and clarity. This feedback may not be representative of the experience of other customers, and is not a guarantee of future performance or success.