Clients have more cash in banks than advisors may realize, and most of it is earning very low yields, said Ben Cruikshank, president of Flourish, a New York-based investment platform.

But there is a way that advisors can “deliver more value to clients and even win new prospects,” Cruikshank said.

At a webinar called “Follow The Money: How RIAs Can Capture Wallet Share While Helping Clients Earn More On Reserve Savings,” Cruikshank explained how his firm’s flagship product, Flourish Cash, works.

“Think of it as a way for advisors to their clients to easily offer their clients a high-yield savings account,” he said during a webinar moderated by Financial Advisor magazine editor Evan Simonoff.

Flourish Cash partners with a growing roster of banks to provide superior interest rates, he said. “When clients open a Flourish account, they’re actually opening a brokerage account,” he explained.

Launched in 2018, Flourish has been owned by MassMutual since 2021, but it operates independently from MassMutual’s wealth management and insurance businesses.

Today, Flourish manages more than $3 billion in assets for some 650 RIAs nationwide.

Money deposited in Flourish Cash is immediately moved into a partner bank, said Cruikshank. Partner banks include large institutions such as Citibank and HSBC as well as midsize regional players, he said. 

All accounts are FDIC insured through Flourish's program banks. Two-person households can receive $5 million in FDIC insurance, or $2.5 million for individual or business accounts. There are no minimums, no fees (other than a percentage of earnings), and no lock-in periods, he said.

Clients don’t have to interact with the member banks, he said. They only interact with the Flourish platform. “We may look like an online account your clients are used to,” said Cruikshank. “Easy to use. Easy to navigate. Very transparent. … But we actually operate like a cash program at any other broker-dealer.”

Most importantly, he said, Flourish is designed for advisors. The advisor portal is easily integrated with other RIA platforms, and the only way clients can join is through an advisor’s invitation, he said. Advisors can even brand the account with their own logo, he said.

“What makes us special is that we are built for financial advisors,” Cruikshank stressed. “That is where we are radically different.”

Brett Orvieto, managing director and senior wealth advisor at Dakota Wealth Management, a Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.-based independent wealth management firm for high-net-worth clients, concurred.

Many clients don’t want to talk about their excess cash, he said. But offering them an easy way to earn more from their cash opens up a discussion area that can “change the whole estate planning picture,” he said. “It’s a really impactful call when I tell clients about something they can do with almost no risk, just moving money over from an account that’s earning zero to something that’s earning five [percent].”

When equity markets are down, he added, he might call a client who wants to buy on dips. But instead of asking if the client has more funds to invest, he can suggest using some of the extra cash they’ve earned in high-yield savings to take advantage of a market downturn.

“Clients often want to keep their cash secret or private,” he said. “But with Flourish, I know that they have cash. It gives us the ability to see farther and more clearly into clients’ financial lives.”

Simonoff asked how hard it was to learn to use Flourish.

“It’s much easier than people expect,” said Orvieto.

Advisors often think their clients can’t deal with technology, he said, but people have grown more comfortable with the Internet and apps—especially since the Covid pandemic.

“I have never once had a client try Flourish and say ‘I can’t figure it out,’” he said. “It’s easy to navigate. And the advisor dashboard is great, too.”

It provides a transparent window onto every client’s financial activity, he said, and “helps you keep more abreast of what’s going on in your clients lives.”

Cruikshank acknowledged that clients can usually find high-yield savings accounts at local or online banks. Some banks even offer premiums for the first six months after you open a new account. Flourish doesn’t use any such come-ons, he said, and clients don’t have to hunt around to keep chasing yield. Moreover, Flourish returns about 90% of the interest earned directly to clients—unlike many banks that actually give clients only a small percentage of the interest they earn, he said.

Most advisors have ignored the cash that clients have in checking and savings accounts, he said. They are “good at managing the funds that are in the portfolio” but might not even know about clients’ cash. “That’s exactly why we started flourish,” said Cruikshank. “The reality is, every single one of your clients—almost without exception—has money sitting in a checking or savings account.”

He cited surveys that indicate some 10% to 20% of the total wealth owned by high-net-worth investors is in cash that is “often earning virtually nothing,” he said. “Most advisors haven’t had a solution for dealing with that cash. It’s really been outside of their orbit.”