By GREGORY ZELLER //
An up-and-coming app angling itself as the best friend of the separated co-parent is now offering access to top-shelf Merrill Lynch financial advisors – the first of a series of carefully selected experts familiar with the “unique and complex financial characteristics” of divorced families.
So says Gregory Wagner, founder and CEO of Hauppauge-based Aeonic Ventures, producer of the SmartCoparent app, an all-in-one digital platform designed to simplify the often-chaotic lives of separated co-parents.
This week, SmartCoParent announced it has selected the Merrill Lynch 712 Investment Group – which boasts “the culture of a boutique family office with the backing and resources of a global financial institution” – to help users manage the financial challenges associated with divorce.
The new relationship begins as a “referral program,” SmartCoparent said Monday, with the app and its accompanying website offering “direct links” to the 712 Investment Group. Eventually, the collaboration will “evolve into a more comprehensive service offering for SmartCoparent clients,” according to a company statement.
“This is an important relationship for our clients who are seeking high-touch financial services,” Wagner told Innovate LI, adding the involvement of the New York City-based 712 Investment Group and its affiliates – including Bank of America, insurance specialist Merrill Lynch Life Agency and security brokerage Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith – is a boon for users who “want to engage advisors who already have a head start in understanding their needs.”
It was actually the 712 Investment Group that approached SmartCoparent, according to Wagner, “as some of their clients were seeking a co-parenting solution that could effectively replace the tired and expensive incumbents in this space.”
“The relationship evolved into a reciprocal referral collaboration based on our complementary offerings,” the entrepreneur added.
For starters, users will be able to access the investment group simply by selecting the Wealth Advisors option on the SmartCoparent home page, with Merrill Lynch 712’s experts “thoroughly prepared to take on queries from SmartCoparent clientele,” according to Wagner.
“This is a first step in a number of services we expect Merrill Lynch to be able to provide to our clients and professionals serving our clients,” the CEO noted, with “exclusive seminars, customized thought-leadership articles and connections to experts in tax, legal and other fields” all waiting in the wings.
Basic services offered by the investment group team include education-funding strategies, trust and estate services, checking and savings account management, health savings plans and retirement planning, among others.
The Merrill Lynch collaboration is the second impressive partnership announced by SmartCoparent in as many months. In August, Wagner’s startup announced an alliance with California-based portfolio company Internet Brands, through which SmartCoparent links users directly to products and services offered through Internet Brands’ major-league assortment of national brands – including online legal marketplace Avvo, do-it-yourself legal software maker Nolo and leading law directory Lawyers.com.
The partnerships help transform SmartCoparent into the one-stop resource always intended by Wagner, who got the ball rolling with the 2016 launch of Moiety, a scheduling app that worked for any social group (or “crew”) but was designed especially for separated co-parents, their families and assorted childcare providers.
Moiety has since evolved into SmartCoparent, and SmartCoparent – which is “reviewing additional advisors to ensure a wide range of customers can find solutions that fit their financial profile and lifestyle” – is quickly growing into a must-have tool for the divorced-parent set, according to its creator.
“We have started a complete user-interface overall and are adding Google Calendar synchronization capabilities,” Wagner said. “But our main objective right now is to get SmartCoparent products to be formally recognized as ‘admissible in court.’
“There is absolutely no reason why this would not be achievable, since significantly inferior applications have received this designation,” he added. “We are laser-focused on this result.”