Smarter, Faster, More Strategic Operations: Cross State Financial’s Story
Everyone deserves an equal opportunity to build wealth over their lifetime.
This philosophy is the driving force behind Cross State Financial Group LLC, an Albuquerque based financial advisory firm dedicated to serving people of all financial backgrounds and ensuring a high level of service at every touchpoint.
“We are willing to work with anyone who needs our help,” explains Dani Mutz, one of the firm’s two co-founders. “What we require is a minimum attitude. It’s about helping people plan for their future, as well as future generations of their family.”
With this perspective, Mutz and her co-founder Steve Iversen have committed to ensuring a high level of attention and care to every client.
“I’m a believer that if you do good business, good business comes back to you,” Mutz says. “If you work with good people, good people continue to find you. Honestly caring about the people with whom we work is what our firm comes down to.”
Technology is what ultimately enables Mutz and Iversen to deliver on this commitment to helping people build a better future. Here’s a look into their practice behind the scenes.
Introducing Cross State Financial
In Mutz’s rise to leadership, she never imagined that today, she would be running an independent advisory practice with more than $120M under management and five independent contractors. In 2000, when she first stepped into the industry, she worked for the front office of another firm as an employee, answering phone calls. As her career progressed, she met Iversen, who was 24 years her senior and running his own independent practice. He ended up hiring her.
“I started out as an office manager, stepped into the role of operations manager, and became a registered sales assistant,” says Mutz. “After 10 years of working for him, he made the decision that I needed to become an advisor even though I didn’t really see myself that way. He had already begun training me without me realizing it.”
In 2015, the duo established Cross State Financial as co-founders. One of the strongest value propositions of the firm is deep experience. Iversen has been a financial advisor since 1976, with a focus on building customized strategies for clients ranging from individuals, trust companies, small businesses, and nonprofit entity clients to plan for their financial futures and unexpected events. Cross State Financial serves clients across the United States.
“This is ultimately a relationship business,” explains Mutz. “It’s not just about choosing a retirement account or knowing which investments to select. It’s about making a plan, sticking to the plan, and sleeping easier at night.”
With a strong operations background, Mutz is hands-on in the continual evaluation of the firm’s software technology stack. In 2021 she was looking for a solution to support client communications, particularly during volatile times in the market. She learned about CircleBlack at a tradeshow.
“CircleBlack gives us a one-stop login to a holistic system that integrates with our customer relationship management (CRM) solution,” she says. “It is a much more complete technology package than what we had been using previously.”
Mutz and Iversen had tried other software packages over the years but struggled to find the right option to meet their firm’s needs.
“We found that some were not advanced enough while others were overly complicated,” says Mutz. “CircleBlack has been a nice blend of the two. It provides us with reporting capabilities, interfacing access to planning software, and risk analysis tools without needing independent selling agreements. It’s a more complete technology package than what we had been using in the previous six years.”
It’s software that enables the Cross State Financial team to live its values every day.
At Cross State Financial, every workflow is intentionally planned, with Mutz ensuring a high-level of integrity across the entire operation.
“As business owners, we are tasked to reassess ourselves on a regular basis,” says Mutz. “My biggest goal in 2020 and 2021 was to assess our technology stack and to ensure that we were using the best possible solutions for our needs.”
One of her goals was to create a more intuitive interface for the firm’s clients and extended team of contractors. With this context in mind, Mutz shares three workflow enhancements that CircleBlack has helped her achieve:
For Mutz and Iversen, getting clients on the same page is a must. But this goal was tough to achieve with the prior software solution that Cross State Financial was using.
“For true financial planning, you need to have software that is user friendly to both the advisor and the client,” says Mutz. “Before CircleBlack, we didn’t have that — our team was using a different interface than our clients. It was during the COVID-19 lockdowns that our business continuity plans became tested. On top of that, our independent contractors had trouble running our prior solution on their laptops due to memory issues.”
With CircleBlack, Mutz and Iversen are able to standardize their operations across their team of contractors. At any given time, clients have a direct line of sight, with the highest possible level of transparency, into their investments.
Aligning Contractor Support
Prior to implementing CircleBlack, Cross State Financial struggled to build an intuitive experience across its base of independent contractors. Mutz’s team was running into friction points with their technology, requiring research assistance from Cross State Financial’s operations team.
“It took away from other things that my operations team could be doing for their clients,” Mutz says. “That’s what led me to make a change to my technology.”
CircleBlack introduced near-instantaneous efficiencies to Cross State Financial’s business. Adoption of the software among contractors reached 100% within a short period of time, with usage continuing to increase. Following this implementation, hours that staff committed to billing were reduced by half.
Improving Client Experiences
At the end of the day, client success is the focal point of Cross State Financial’s business. CircleBlack has helped Mutz and Iversen optimize their workflows to better support their clients.
“With a single sign-on experience, our clients can easily access their custodial statements, performance reports, and commentary in one place,” says Mutz. “It has improved the entire experience that we offer to our clients. They can easily access the app and use the same interface for the vault to access their documents. The reports are very easy to interpret.”
With a streamlined user interface, Cross State Financial is able to consistently deliver a higher level of service.
“Over the last few years, CircleBlack has continued to make upgrades to its interface,” Mutz says. “We expect the platform to keep getting better.”
As a rising CEO with more than two decades of experience in financial planning, one of Mutz’s goals is to make a contribution to the industry as a whole. In general, her aspiration is to position Cross State Financial as a positive role model from which fellow financial advisors can learn.
“Combined, our team has more than 170 years of experience in the industry,” says Mutz. “It takes people like us who are out in the field, working hand-in-hand with the end client to go back to boards of directors and leaders at firms where we are affiliated to make sure they can fully see the consequences of their decisions.”
With this mindset, Mutz believes that CircleBlack will continue to strengthen Cross State Financial’s strength as a business.
“I think it’s important for the future for us to step up,” she says.
Learn more about CircleBlack
CircleBlack is an all in one management platform for the wealth management industry. You can think of it as an operational dashboard to better connect financial advisors and their clients around a shared perspective. The outcome is better collaboration.
To learn how our software can help you build, manage, and grow your wealth management practice, get in touch.
This material has been prepared for educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, investment, accounting, legal, or tax advice.