Alexa Von Tobel out of a snowstorm and office space in Greenwich Village on February 8, made a cup of tea, and recited a list of his appearances in 2013. There was the panel design conference in Munich, a speech to the William Morris Endeavor staff in California, a Today Show in New York, increasingly, spoke on the topic of personal finance. In the past eight days, says Von Tobel, has been in four cities, and after the weekend because she was invited to teach a class at the University of Maryland. “In some ways it’s a typical week in my life, just to give an idea,” she says, shaking the tea bag.
Von Tobel, 29, is the founder and CEO of LearnVest, a startup than four years old, who in September became a registered investment advisor with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the latest personal finance site to go beyond offering simple budgeting tools to directly advise clients on what to do with their money. Services such as Mint.com have become popular shopping features that users of the track and spit on progress pie retirement. LearnVest offers the same features, but now customers who pay a registration fee (up to $ 399) and $ 19 a month you can call or send an email to the team of certified financial planners for custom targeting. The advisers do not recommend specific actions or mutual funds, but they will work with customers to tailor their portfolio balancing strategies, retirement, estate planning, and other topics. The company, which refuses to say how many customers paid already, says the site has a total user base of a few hundred thousand. Consultants earn a fixed salary, with bonuses tied to customer satisfaction.
While banks are rediscovering the wealth management for wealthy clients as a lucrative and low-risk business, a handful of new companies are trying to expand the category to include the not-quite-so-rich, with assets in the six figures or less. Von Tobel firm faces formidable competition, including Personal capital, created by former PayPal (eBay) and Intuit (INTU) CEO Bill Harris, and NestWise, backed by LPL Financial (LPLA), an organization of about 13,000 financial advisors managing $ 373 billion in assets.
In the personal finance category crowded, LearnVest initially struck by Von Tobel astute decision to focus on women. Helped distinguish the site, attracted investors, Von Tobel and became a rising star in the media as an expert on women, budgets and the psychology of spending and saving. As a result, it is sometimes difficult to say which is the most successful product, or Von Tobel LearnVest itself.
A former trader at Morgan Stanley (MS), Von Tobel leave LearnVest Harvard Business School to begin in 2008. Despite the recession, initial financing lined up three top Goldman Sachs Group (GS) veterans who had formed Circle Financial Group, an organization of women investors. One of the founders, Ann Kaplan, had led Goldman Sachs group that focused on clients, she is now president of LearnVest. Subsequent funding came in two rounds from Accel Partners, for a total of just under $ 25 million.
Along the way, Von Tobel has appeared in a flood of TV shows and magazines ready-Inc ‘s. “30 Under 30: Top Young Entrepreneurs of America”, “Next Establishment” rate Vanity Fair, “Marie Claire 18 Women Changing the World.” Random House published his first book, a guide to one’s financial house in order, at the end this year, and a monthly money column starts in the next issue of Cosmopolitan. She met Cosmo Editor in Chief Joanna Coles at an event at Ruth’s Chris Steak House (Ruth) in New York, in response to questions from the audience about the psychology of the expenses. “At the end of it, there was a line down the stairs of the restaurant,” says Coles. “When you talk to her, is a bit like talking to a Roman candle, all alone in the fire, and all sorts of interesting colors are coming out of it.”
For a start even taking off, and now the use of financial planners nationwide, free advertising is invaluable, it is equally true to Von Tobel. If the company goes bankrupt, the business of being she is still well capitalized. “Clearly she should have her own TV show,” says Coles. “And it would be nice advising large financial firms in the form of approaching women.”