FintekNews is pleased to offer our weekly feature column 3 Questions. Each week, we feature a thought leader within a unique sector of fintech and ask them to answer just 3 questions for our audience in their vernacular. This week, we’d like to introduce you to Chris Heye, Co-Founder of Whealthcare Planning, a comprehensive cloud-based platform designed to enable individuals and families more effectively plan for the financial challenges associated with aging.
NAME: Chris Heye, PhD
COMPANY: Whealthcare Planning, LLC
WEB ADDRESS: www.whealthcareplan.com
What does your firm do/offer within the fintech sector?
We offer a comprehensive cloud-based platform that enables advisors to help their clients plan more effectively for the financial challenges associated with aging and longevity. Our tools, educational materials, and conversation scripts allow advisors to successfully manage four major life transitions: financial decision-making, healthcare decision-making, living, and driving. The platform incorporates the life planning processes utilized by Whealthcare Planning Co-founder Carolyn McClanahan, MD, CFP, in her own advice practice, and is based in part on a clinical study conducted at the Massachusetts General Hospital investigating the relationships among aging, financial decision-making, and cognitive capacity.
What are the biggest problems facing the fintech industry in the future?
Adults over 50 in the US control an estimated 80% of this country’s wealth. But the frequency of dementia increases dramatically after age 60, doubling every five years, and roughly 80% of Americans over 50 suffer from one or more chronic diseases, e.g., diabetes, heart failure, depression, etc. This means that the majority of older adults in America experience “peak wealth” just when they are the most likely to be physically, behaviorally, or cognitively compromised. In fact, a comprehensive study conducted at Harvard University concluded that financial decision-making capacity for most of us maxes out at around age 53.
Very few advisors are equipped to address these health and longevity-related issues. With roughly 10,000 people in the US turning 65 every day, an ever-growing number of individuals and families are not getting the financial advice they require. This advice deficit exposes a huge segment of the population to, at best, extensive risks associated with poor financial decision-making, and at worst, systematic and widespread financial fraud and abuse. Ensuring the financial safety and well-being of older adults and their families is a major challenge for the industry.
To successfully address the needs of older adults, the role of a “financial advisor” will have to change dramatically. Technological advances and regulatory requirements are already exerting pressure on the existing business model, especially as it pertains to charging (often large) fees for portfolio management. The demands of older adults for guidance around living and driving transitions, help controlling health care costs, support managing cognitive decline, protection from financial fraud, and assistance with (financial) caretaking responsibilities threaten the model even further. Advisors will need to provide their aging clients with much more than monthly performance statements and financial market forecasts if they want to continue to stay in business.
How do you feel advisors & clients are adapting to the facet of fintech that your company operates within?
Not fast enough, but there are encouraging signs. There appears to be a growing awareness in the financial services industry, including within the regulatory bodies, of the importance of identifying and managing health-related factors like dementia. I think the analogy to concussion testing is a meaningful one. Ten or so years ago, very few people saw the need for protecting young athletes from the harmful effects of concussions. Now, concussion testing is a requirement in most high schools, and few question its legitimacy.
Drunk driving is another example of an activity that was once widely ignored, if not condoned, but is now viewed as strictly verboten. My hope is that in 10 years, we will look back and say “How could we have failed so miserably to protect older adults and their families from bad financial decisions?” and have much better tools, policies, and procedures in place.
Chris Heye, PhD is the Co-Founder of Whealthcare Planning LLC and Founder and CEO of Cogniscient, Inc. and has extensive experience starting and running technology companies. After confronting dementia first hand in his own family and witnessing elder financial abuse in friends, he decided not enough was being done to protect the financial well-being of older adults. He helped design and manage the clinical study “Cognitive Function as a Proxy of Financial Decision Making in Older Primary Care Adults” at the Massachusetts General Hospital which investigated the behavioral and cognitive underpinnings of sound financial decision-making.