Q&A, Q&A- Startups

Q&A with Mark Whitcroft of PlannerPal: AI Assistant for Financial Advisor Productivity

1. Tell us a bit about yourself / your co-founder

I’m Mark Whitcroft, the Co-founder and CEO of PlannerPal, an AI assistant transforming financial planning. With over 20 years in finance, I’ve funded and helped scale more than 50 fintech and data management startups, including early investments in wealthtech leaders like Nutmeg. I was also a Founding Partner of the fintech venture firm Illuminate Financial and currently serve on the advisory board of an innovative wealth management firm. I’m passionate about enhancing adviser productivity and broadening access to financial advice through advanced AI.

My co-founder, Shoomon Perry, leads our product and technology efforts. He has built digital financial guidance tools used by 10 million customers and has managed digital banking and wealth management products at three major UK banks.

2. The Thesis/ Big Idea 

PlannerPal aims to revolutionise the productivity of financial advisers through advanced AI technology. The platform addresses the significant operational inefficiencies within financial advice firms, where advisers spend 70% of their time on non-advisory tasks and up to 40% on client administration. Outdated legacy systems, heavy compliance burdens, and manual processes exacerbate this problem, stifling growth.

3. What problem or opportunity do you address, and for which target customers?

PlannerPal addresses the inefficiencies that create scalability barriers for financial advisers. Typically, an adviser can handle a maximum of 100 clients and requires 2-3 support staff, leading to inflated operational costs and capping growth and reach. Only 8% of the UK population currently receives financial advice, leaving 29 million adults desiring advice but unable to access it due to high costs. Our target customers are financial advisory and wealth management firms looking to enhance productivity and serve more clients efficiently.

4. Who are your competitors and what is your USP?

PlannerPal’s main competitors are Aveni and Saturn. Our unique selling points include:

  • Product Led Growth: We deliver a product that drives organic growth, enabling efficient and rapid scaling. This data-led product flywheel ensures faster feedback loops, leading to better product decisions, more users, and consequently, more feedback.
  • Voice First: Our platform prioritises voice integration, enhancing the user experience through seamless voice-to-text capabilities for client conversations. This approach serves as the single source of truth for client data, significantly improving data quality.
  • Productivity Led: PlannerPal is designed to significantly boost productivity for financial advisers by reducing administrative tasks, allowing them to focus more on client engagement.
  • Prosumer Tech Design: Our platform is both powerful and user-friendly, meeting the high standards expected by both professionals and tech-savvy users.

5. What is your current stage and traction?

PlannerPal made its debut at the ‘Empowering Advice Through Technology’ (EATT) conference in mid-January and won a ‘Best in Show’ award at the Tech Battle.

Key milestones include:

  • Onboarding over 300 financial advisory firms within 23 weeks since launch.
  • These firms have generated more than 3,000 documents, with document creation growing at an impressive 110% month on month rate.
  • Achieving these milestones with only £175k spent and no marketing.

6. What are your plans for the next 6-18 months and how can our network help?

Over the next 6-18 months, PlannerPal plans to:

  • Expand its market presence by onboarding more financial advisory firms.
  • Explore international expansion, focusing on the US and Europe, particularly Germany.
  • Explore adjacent adviser opportunities to broaden our service offerings.
  • Release enhanced product offerings, moving us deeper into the adviser workflow.

We seek support from your network in strategic partnerships around the German and US market opportunities, introductions to potential clients, and interest from angels, family offices, and venture firms in our next funding round to further accelerate our growth and development.

7. What’s on your bookshelf or podcast app? Your favourite place for a coffee or a drink?

BookChip War by Chris Miller. This insightful book explores how modern power – military, economic, and geopolitical – is built on the foundation of computer chips.

Coffee Spot: Coffee Island in Covent Garden, London. They serve an excellent double espresso!