3 Questions with Michael Carvin of SmartAsset

Michael Carvin

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 Michael Carvin, CEO & Founder of SmartAsset, a patent pending software platform that provides automated advice on investing, wealth management, home buying, taxes, retirement planning, life insurance, personal loans and credit cards, among many other topics.

NAME:  Michael Carvin
TITLE: CEO & Founder
COMPANY: SmartAsset
WEB ADDRESS: https://smartasset.com/

What does your firm do/offer within the fintech sector?

SmartAsset is a financial technology company helping people make smarter financial decisions. Our core, proprietary Automated Financial Modeling technology simulates the effect of different decisions on a consumer’s personal finances. This enables us to deliver highly accurate, highly individualized information on every aspect of a consumer’s personal finances – home buying, taxes, finding financial advisors, retirement planning, life insurance, personal loans, student loans, credit cards, loan refinance, taxes, investing and more. We combine this technology with the dissemination of data-driven studies and educational articles produced by our in-house editorial team which deliver information and get people talking about important financial decisions.

Two years ago, we launched a brand-new tool that also is powered by proprietary technology – Captivate. Captivate extends the reach of SmartAsset’s tools and calculators across the web, appearing on partner websites like AOL, MarketWatch, Yahoo! Finance and more than a hundred other top-tier digital publishers. The technology automatically places specific tools within relevant articles. For instance, Captivate will embed a retirement readiness calculator within an article about retirement savings. This empowers consumers to act instantly on topics they’ve indicated interest in. Captivate is so effective that it reaches more than 35 million consumers each month. Combined with SmartAsset.com’s own web traffic, this has elevated SmartAsset’s offerings to become the most widely viewed personal financial resource on the internet, with a total of 45 million unique monthly viewers.

Recently, the company launched SmartAdvisor, the first digital platform connecting financial advisors with investors. This latest funding round will drive further expansion of this service, which already funnels billions in AUM to financial advisors through its platform each month.

What do you believe the next major innovation in financial technology will be and why?

We believe the expansion of consumers seeking financial information on the internet will drive forward the process of making financial professionals more accessible, more researchable and more selectable. With our SmartAdvisor service, not only can consumers identify financial advisors who have areas of expertise in those consumers’ specific needs, but also financial advisors can identify and connect with consumers who are great prospects for the advisors’ specific criteria.

How did you personally become involved in fintech?

Back when I was working in private equity, I was trying to decide whether to buy a home or continue renting. So I went online to gather information about mortgages and rates in order to make the smartest decision about this major financial move. However, I found it difficult to get trustworthy information online that was useful and didn’t cost a lot of money. I felt that everything I read was misleading, inaccurate and essentially useless – and I worked in finance! I could only imagine how people who were unfamiliar with financial jargon felt while navigating big decisions.

So drawing on my private equity career experience using financial models to help big companies make big decisions, I created my own financial model to figure out how a home purchase would affect my finances over time, compared with renting. After crunching the numbers, I determined that as long as I stayed in the home for at least a few years, buying was the better move.

Inspired by my experience, I teamed up with financial technology expert Philip Camilleri to create the proprietary Automated Financial Modeling technology that powered a calculator that enabled consumers to conduct the same analysis I did, for free.

The two of us co-founded SmartAsset, and were accepted into the Y Combinator startup incubator. The rest is history.

In the pre-SmartAsset days, Michael Carvin worked in private equity and spent his time using financial models to help companies understand how to make better decisions. Michael believed the same models could help people improve their personal finance decision making, so he developed the patent-pending system that serves as the foundation for SmartAsset. Michael is a graduate of Princeton University.