Financial advisor Alex Chalekian and family launch Futurvest to improve financial literacy

A financial advisor seeking to expand access to wealth-building literacy and tools launched a new subscription education service operated outside of his practice by him and his family.

Futurvest — a training and coaching website created by Alex and Rosa Chalekian, as well as their sons Ara, Julian and Jeremiah — is taking aim at a problem that studies have shown is worsening over time as a concerningly low share of Americans demonstrate basic financial literacy. At a price of $8 per month for the “basic” version and $30 for the “pro” subscription, Futurvest offers a library of online courses, office hours with experts, events, an online community of fellow learners and software to track personal budgets against long-term goals. With every subscription purchased, Futurvest will give away a free membership.

The fact that many Americans grow up without the means or any background in financial topics has become a stumbling block for wealth managers who want to engage with historically excluded groups as clients and the next generation of advisor talent. Futurvest joins a handful of technological innovations designed to boost the base level of knowledge in a way that leads more Americans to tap into investing and generational wealth. Alex Chalekian spent about a year creating Futurvest ahead of its Feb. 22 launch, he said in an interview.

“This is totally mission-driven. This is my 25th year in the industry, and part of what I want to do is give back and to be able to serve as many individuals and help as much as possible,” Chalekian said. “Part of the process will be just getting this in the right people’s hands and trying to give it away.”

Chalekian, his family, and some outside developers and designers conceived of Futurvest as a method to give people a new source of advice and education free of any sales pitches, account minimums and complicated terminology. Each of the family members are contributing to the website, and other advisors and coaches will participate in the office hours and courses for beginning and aspiring investors. The website’s software enables “pro” users to link their financial accounts to track their net worth and receive scores assessing their progress compared to other members.

With the sharp growth in retail accounts during the pandemic in the past two years, the new investors “hopefully got good advice, or you were going to Instagram or TikTok” for instruction, Chalekian said.

“The whole point of this is to make financial wellness simple. In our industry, we use a lot of jargon. Sometimes, we talk over people, unfortunately, and we need to come back to the fundamentals,” he said. “This would be a great platform for people to learn from. This is going to be a safe place where they’re not going to feel intimidated.”

Other new programs
A few other innovators have been starting educational services leveraging tech to help people learn about money, in some cases from a very young age. Former Nickelodeon executive Tanya Van Court’s Goalsetter app helps parents teach their kids about personal finance issues such as savings and debit cards. After launching in 2016, it has received investments in recent years from U.S. Bank, Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures, NBA basketball stars Kevin Durant and Chris Paul, and Robert F. Smith of Vista Equity Partners.

This month, Mac Gardner’s FinLit Tech, which is backed by Fidelity Investments’ eMoney Advisor, started the demo version of a new app-based game for kids called Berryville based on Gardner’s early financial education book, The Four Money Bears. At ages as young as 5 years old, kids can begin operating their own virtual berry farm and compete against other children in a way that teaches entrepreneurship, math skills and basic money principles. Tech carries the potential for the industry to reach “a hugely underserved population,” Gardner said.

“There’s been a ton of fintech on the product side,” Gardner said. “What the industry really hasn’t focused on enough is the financial technology to help you learn.”

Gardner said Futurvest’s website and tech “can help to meet people where they are.” He and advisor Andre Jean-Pierre of Aces Advisors praised Chalekian’s new service as a way for more people to get acquainted with wealth and investing.

Jean-Pierre spends a great deal of time correcting the “avalanche of misinformation” about investing online through regular sessions on Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces. Raising the level of financial literacy presents challenges, according to Jean-Pierre, who points out that the industry could simply send out textbooks to parents on the topic if it were easy to teach.

“I know Alex is very passionate about educating people,” he said. “It’s really that human element of being able to explain concepts to them and making the information understandable and relatable, but more importantly, digestible.”

Applause from the industry
As part of launching Futurvest, Chalekian established a new fully independent RIA for his Pasadena, California-based practice called Wealthtech Partners. The practice uses LPL Financial as its primary custodian, although Chalekian has dropped his FINRA registration and left his prior hybrid RIA and office of supervisory jurisdiction, Integrated Partners.

“While he was a valued member of our advisory community, we would be the last firm to try to obstruct an advisor’s entrepreneurial vision,” Integrated President Paul Saganey said in a statement. “We wish him tremendous success in his new endeavors and are certain Futurvest will be well-received.”

Other members of the wealth management community added their voices to the applause for the new service. Affordability and accessibility are “so crucial and core to our mission” at wealth software firm Altruist, founder Jason Wenk said in an emailed statement.

“It’s inspiring to see what Alex, his family and his team have created in Futurvest. Financial literacy is one of the largest issues facing communities today, especially those that are underserved,” Wenk said. “Futurvest is going to contribute massively to changing the game in financial services by providing the tools and tech to help so many more people thrive.”

Without revealing any names, Chalekian provided hints that some upcoming collaborations will allow Futurvest to expand over time. He, Rosa and their 15-, 19- and 20-year-old sons want the website to have capacity for 100 members or 10,000 members, or any number above there, he said.

“We’re building this from day one to be scalable,” Chalekian said. “So the more the merrier.”

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