WEALTHTECH 3.0: Going Beyond the Tech

Why Branding, Integrity, and Strong Leadership Are Key Ingredients to Success in WealthTech


In our recent interview with Pamela Cytron, President of The Founders Arena, we discussed building trust and credibility as the main ingredients for a startup’s success. Her insights on going beyond the tech to leave a lasting positive impression and stand out to potential customers and VCs are invaluable.

Building a brand

When building a positive brand, startups must factor in three variables: the founder, the team, and the company. While traditional ‘branding’ is a familiar concept for a company, building a personal brand for the founder and key team members is a distinct endeavor. Personal branding extends beyond the company and the logo, beginning with integrity.

She underscores the significance of startups consistently practicing honesty, transparency, and ethical conduct. Founders and team members should position themselves as reliable and respectful individuals, the foundation of a solid personal brand.

“It’s crucial that founders and their team be evaluated based on their actions, not just their identities or technology. The key to success in business lies in building and earning trust and credibility,” emphasizes Cytron.

A robust personal brand built on integrity can open doors to new opportunities, foster valuable connections, and distinguish one in a competitive business landscape. She further explains that when The Founder’s Arena evaluates startups for their cohort, they consider the technology and the startup’s potential for a personal brand with these attributes.

Let’s draw inspiration from some of The Founder’s Arena WealthTech Accelerator’s latest  cohort participants who have successfully built personal branding rooted in integrity:

Caribou: Caribou is a non-commissioned healthcare planning company that works exclusively with financial advisors and their clients to plan for current and future healthcare costs, creating holistic and accurate financial plans. Caribou     is based in San Francisco, California.

Trustate: Trustate is the world’s first estate operations platform that automates the tedious tasks associated with trust funding and estate/trust administrations. Trustate’s solution saves professionals countless hours of non-billable time, enabling them to focus on what matters most—their clients. Trustate is based in Tampa, Florida.

Earning respect and influence

By upholding integrity and maintaining a positive reputation, startups can gain respect and influence within their peer groups, among colleagues, and within the industry. Demonstrating integrity in actions and decisions fosters trust and confidence, increasing their influence and effectiveness in professional circles.

“There should be rules to earning respect, such as being authentic, consistent, prioritizing relationships, and owning mistakes, plus learning from them. When founders and their team practice these rules, they are well on their way to earning the respect of their prospects, customers, and industry,” adds Cytron.

The leaders at the helm of these companies must demonstrate an openness to collaboration, a dedication to enriching their careers and products, and a desire to advance themselves and their company in the fintech industry.

Bento Engine: Bento Engine is focused on the intersection of technology and impactful wealth management advice. Bento combines a powerful Advice Engine, a Proprietary Content Library and timing expertise to make Financial Advisors more impactful and more efficient. Bento Engine is based in Westport, Connecticut.

Responsive AI: Responsive is a hybrid wealth advisor solution for banks and private managers. Responsive specializes in building software that enhances advisors’ productivity and engagement. Their behavioral data analysis enables advisors to identify and act on client opportunities and risks. Responsive AI is based in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Navigating ethical dilemmas and challenges

Cytron says that integrity is a guiding compass when dealing with ethical dilemmas and challenges in business. Adhering to ethical standards and moral principles helps founders and team members navigate tough decisions, even amid conflicting interests or pressures.

“Startups should demonstrate pay transparency, how they address inequality, and have gender-neutral hiring practices. It shouldn’t matter if you’re male or female or binary,” Cytron adds, “everyone who works their tail off should be able to reap the rewards when the startup succeeds.”

By valuing integrity over immediate gains or convenience, everyone on the team can uphold their credibility, self-respect, and peace of mind. Prospects, customers, and the industry will watch how a startup navigates dilemmas and challenges when they arise.

One way to build a team with integrity is to prioritize diversity and inclusion. Navigating ethical dilemmas and challenges will be easier when teams are balanced because they can understand different perspectives. Understanding leads to communication, conflict resolution, and the ability to weather difficult times and survive.

The Founders Arena examines the team’s makeup and performance when a startup applies to the cohort. Cytron says she always looks for      diversity, transparency, and balance among team members when meeting with a startup.

Testimonial IQ: Testimonial IQ is a fully compliant marketing validation platform tailored for financial advisors, enabling them to generate client testimonials, enhance their digital presence, and effectively accelerate growth. The platform streamlines the process, from gathering reviews to sharing them publicly on sites like Google Reviews, with built-in disclosures and compliance oversight. Testimonial IQ is based in Denver, Colorado.

upSWOT: upSWOT is a white-label embedded finance and business management platform designed to uncover key data driven insights for relationship managers. The data insights platform allows small and mid-size businesses to connect their accounting, ERP, payroll, eCommerce, marketing, CRM, and other apps to get accurate cash flow forecasts, credit score boosts, business valuation tools, and actionable insights for advisors to enhance their digital wealth offerings to their clients. UpSWOT is based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In closing, Cytron adds that prospects will always conduct due diligence before doing business with a company. Implementing the      attributes and values discussed in this article can help balance the startup and be a segway to their future success.

Schedule Your Personalized Visit to Meet the Second Cohort of The Founders Arena Wealthtech Accelerator