Yellow Brick Road (YBR) executive chairman Mark Bouris wants to give the 80% of Australians he says are intimidated by financial planning an opportunity to contemplate their fiscal future, with the launch of new tech platform Guru.
With Guru, customers enter their personal information into the system, generating potential future financial scenarios based on key indicators which can be tweaked and recalibrated to achieve the outcomes desired. The initial consultation is fee-free and then it costs $900 to implement the plan, plus an annual fee of $600.
“We’re nakedly taking aim at the financial planning industry,” Bouris told Business Insider.
“Some parts of the industry have a bad reputation, other parts good… but irrespective of its reputation, the financial planning industry only serves part of the total marketplace and those people who it doesn’t service — people who feel they’re unprivileged, don’t have enough money, aren’t well enough educated or simply don’t trust financial planners — we see as them as our audience.
“I’ve heard people refer to these people as the unwashed. I’d prefer to refer to them as the greater number, the one’s who deserve the most or more importantly, the rivers of gold.”
Bouris says Guru is the perfect fit for millions of Australians, regardless of their income or financial situation.
“The first thing that usually happens when you visit a financial planner is a chequebook has to come out. We’re not in that business,” he says.
“Our platform can be applied to someone that’s 20 years of age to someone that’s 50 years of age.
“There’s plenty of people in their 50s who’ve only got $60,000 or $70,000 worth of superannuation. They don’t go and see a financial planner. Why? Because they don’t have enough investable assets. The industry doesn’t deal with them.”
Guru gives you the ability to adjust your investment portfolio, cash flow mix, implement disaster planning initiatives, and obtain loan comparisons to explore hundreds of projections and outcomes.
While the tool seems easy enough to use, Bouris says you still need to take a hands-on approach.
“You’ve got to have somewhere to go. You can’t just do this all online. They talk about ‘robo-advice’ and that concept will evolve and our business will evolve into that but right now you still need a money coach,” he says.
Bouris says he’s not concerned about how the financial planning industry and the banks are going to respond because “they’re not going to chase us”.
“We’re running a low-cost, efficient system chasing those people, who generally speaking, don’t make a lot of money — but we’ve done it in such a way that we can make money out of it,” he says.
YBR spent the last 18 months investing, testing and building out the product which is available in 15-20 branches from today, with plans to expand to more than 100 branches down the track.
Grant Pearson, YBR group executive, says one thing Guru can’t do is read body language and consider the emotional impact important financial decisions can have on individuals, couples and families.
“It’s not always logic,” he says.
“The bottom line is we put you in the driver’s seat, you have the control to determine how you want your future to play out.
“We’re here to implement that plan and help you see it through.”