The fintech world saw a major shakeup this week when it was announced that FMG Suite had acquired Twenty Over Ten.
I was shocked to hear about this acquisition, primarily because I think Twenty Over Ten has made itself into the premier marketing automation solution for financial advisors since its inception in 2016.
It not only built sleek, modern websites from templates but it also provided advisors with a way to manage all their marketing distribution through their new technology called Lead Pilot.
If you can’t tell, I’m a pretty big fan of Twenty Over Ten even though I’m not typically in favor of canned content and websites made from templates.
Twenty Over Ten really set itself apart from other firms with similar solutions, though, because of the incredible amount of educational content they published—most of it coming from their gifted CMO, Samantha Russell.
A lot of advisors have come to rely on Samantha’s content to guide their own DIY efforts, in addition to relying on Twenty Over Ten for websites and a content library.
So naturally, FMG Suite’s acquisition has a lot of financial advisors asking: What does this mean for me?
Here are a couple quick thoughts that came to mind as I reflected on the news this week.
The first takeaway is the simplest: Advisors now have fewer choices for a marketing partner than they did a week ago.
When firms merge or get acquired, they always talk about the move as a benefit for advisors because it puts more resources together in one place, which (as the press releases always say) means that advisors will get more out of their software or chosen partner.
But in reality, that’s not always the case. I used my Twitter account to ask advisors what they thought about the acquisition and the results weren’t glowing.
I’ll also point out that these results are basically the same no matter who’s getting acquired. I ask this question every time something of significance happens, and “undecided” and “negative” always win out. It’s as if humans are conditioned to expect things to get worse.
For example, I also asked how people felt about Salesforce buying Slack. Predictably, the opinions also weren’t very positive.
The real benefit of consolidation is that it always leads to new solutions popping up.
Rather than creating a hole and then patching over it with the newly formed larger firm, the hole created by a merger/acquisition simply stays there, waiting to be filled by a new company.
So I’m expecting some new players to emerge in the marketing automation camp.
The opportunity that this acquisition creates for others is, in my opinion, tremendous.
Who might step into that gap? For now I’ll just say I’ve got some ideas. 😉
This acquisition puts a checkmark in the column of something I’ve long known—giving advisors marketing support is the next frontier we’re going to see among vendors who support advisors.
You can see this most clearly with Orion and their Market*r program released earlier this year, but fintech companies have been providing marketing support at some level for years. It goes way back to eMoney’s Advisor Branded Marketing, and even Asset-Map and Riskalyze provide marketing kits.
I’m looking for 2021 to be the year when marketing automation/support becomes the next big thing that the all-in-one players push as they look for continued ways to increase their hold on their advisors’ entire workday.
For a long time, tech companies cared about being the “advisor dashboard” or the “client portal” of choice but we’ve moved beyond that stage.
The tech solutions that will win the most over the next several years are building out solutions that own every point along the advisor-client journey—and that has to start with marketing.
Twenty Over Ten’s platform is leaps and bounds better than what FMG advisors have—and FMG Suite would be wise to just slap their logo on everything Twenty Over Ten built.
Speaking purely from conversations with advisors over the years, I’ve never heard a bad review of Twenty Over Ten.
Some have been lukewarm, sure, but the consensus was that they were easy to work with, offered good support, and even better design.
FMG on the other hand? Let’s just say the reviews have been less than stellar.
In fact, the main reason advisors may feel “undecided” about this acquisition could be largely because they don’t trust FMG Suite with the legacy of Twenty Over Ten.
It’s not my place to get into making predictions about how the acquisition will ultimately go—either from a technology-building standpoint or how the cultures of the two companies will fit together.
I will say, though, that as a general rule, acquisitions are never as easy as they look from the outside—and never as good as the glowing quotes in a press release make it seem.
I’ve been involved in and adjacent to a number of acquisitions, and while the results may look good in the end, the process is arduous.
So I’d tell advisors to be cautious about expecting too much too soon, and also to expect some things that they like right now to go away at some point in the future.
Hopefully, this move really does lead to bigger and better things for advisors working with FMG Suite and Twenty Over Ten.
Based on everything I know about the team leading Twenty Over Ten, I’m personally optimistic about the direction things will take.
But only time will tell.
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