Editor’s Note: Chris Manker and Jim Starcey are partners in NEXA Insights, a client experience and survey platform for RIAs founded in 2018.

NEXA Insights aims to help financial advisors know what their clients are thinking. The firm uses an old-fashioned approach to gaining that knowledge—they ask. 

Surveys are frequently used by companies from all industries to improve client engagement. NEXA Insights decided to focus on one particular industry—wealth management—and make surveys that are meaningful and valuable for financial advisors.

The NEXA Insights platform provides clients an environment to offer feedback, while their analytics platform provides advisors with industry-specific data regarding client relationships and engagement.

I had a chance to talk to Chris Manker, founder, and Jim Starcey, partner, of NEXA Insights about why they decided to focus on surveys and what makes their approach work.

Manker got started in wealth management in 2004 when he worked for Etelligent, a back office technology performance analysis and reporting platform co-founded by  Starcey. Manker became the lead developer at Etelligent in 2006 and continued as the lead platform developer after Etelligent’s acquisition by Charles Schwab.

After leaving Schwab, Manker worked as lead developer with a major healthcare survey company, a multi-billion dollar RIA and at AllBackoffice Consulting, an outsourcing provider.

In 2017, Manker founded NEXA Insights based on his experience with both financial services and the science of surveying customers.

Starcey went into wealth management in 1992 as a financial advisor. He also worked on the trade desk and led product management and technology integration for a broker-dealer. Based on a need he observed in the financial advice industry, Starcey co-founded Etelligent in 2000.

“We were a major player in portfolio reporting,” said Starcey. “When Schwab acquired us, we were a bigger solution than Orion or Black Diamond; we helped carve out that space, online portfolio reporting for RIAs

The startup grew to 50 employees by 2008, when it was sold to Charles Schwab.

Starcey took a few years away from the industry, doing some interviews and speaking at conferences. In 2015, Starcey co-founded PerfectCube, the big data analytics platform for retail businesses. When asked by Manker to join NEXA in 2018, Starcey liked the concept of the project and called it “the most intriguing thing to bring me back into the industry.”

NEXA Materialized From An Industry Trend
Starcey says that the industry’s focus has shifted in the last decade. While there was previously a lot of focus on portfolio management, more recently there’s a shift toward services and client experience. According to a J.D. Power study, customers find it crucial that advisors listen to them and pay close attention to details.

As an example, even though robo-advisors can do investment management efficiently people still need personalized attention.

From the advisor’s perspective, firms need some metrics to measure how well they are doing their job, how happy their customers are, and how their workflows affect the retention rate of their current clients as well as the ability to generate referrals and grow their business. This is what NEXA Insights purports to offer.

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