October 17, 2021

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Startup offers online tools for caregivers handling elder finance

Sep. 12—UNOPENED MAIL. Bills not getting paid. A shoebox stuffed with important documents.

It’s a familiar scenario to people caring for aging parents when the time comes to manage their finances.

A New Hampshire startup aims to take some of the pain out of that process. Kincern is launching a subscription service that offers caregivers an online platform to store and manage documents, track data and crunch numbers.

“Family plus concern is what it’s really about. We’re focused on that later stage in life and the challenges that come with taking care of aging parents,” said CEO and co-founder Jody Holt, who is based in Rye. The company also operates an office in Manchester on Elm Street.

Kincern launched in February and is working with early adopters to test the platform. Over the next few weeks, the company plans to add educational content to the kincern.com website, such as steps to take after securing power of attorney. It also will set up a paywall so that consumers can start signing up.

Holt most recently spent eight years with Covenant Living, a Chicago-based continuing care retirement community that has 16 locations in nine states. She served on the nonprofit’s board of directors for five years and worked for three years as chief financial officer.

“That experience gave me a front row seat to see the challenges families have with all of their caregiving but around the finances and admin in particular,” Holt said.

Holt was also inspired by her mother’s experience caring for her ailing stepfather and wheelchair-bound grandfather.

“She was the primary caregiver, and she was also trying to get to her grandkids’ soccer games, school plays and things,” Holt said.

As Holt’s grandfather began having difficulty writing, her mother took over more financial tasks.

“My grandfather’s mind was as sharp as a tack, but he would ask my mom … ‘Could you fill out this form? It’s for a seven-dollar dividend from Coca-Cola.'”

Kincern offers account aggregation and uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to sift through data and spot trends, such as when bills are going unpaid or have been paid more than once.

“Think of all the mail that comes into the house, all the things that need to be done, making sure we’re monitoring bank accounts, credit card activity, identity protection, to make sure mom or dad’s identity is not stolen at this stage in their life or that they’re not making bad decisions financially that will have repercussions,” Holt said.

Getting a handle on what funds are available and how they should be spent are crucial for caregivers, who often spend their own money as well as time. Three-quarters of the 2,400 family caregivers surveyed by AARP reported spending an average of $7,242 annually on out-of-pocket costs related to caregiving, according to a study released in June.

Contributing to housing and health care costs made up most of the expense, the report said.

Kincern has five full-time employees, who are all co-founders, and two interns from the University of New Hampshire. The company has been funded thus far from friends and family.

Holt has been promoting the company at conferences and networking events. The business aims to gain entry to customers through relationships with wealth advisers, senior care advisers and employee benefits programs.

“We’re trying to reach that caregiver that is managing an estate between $50,000 to $2 million — some resources that we need to protect but not enough to hire and pay for an elder attorney that will charge $300 an hour to do a lot of this work,” she said.

Kincern combines cloud storage with financial monitoring — services that are available separately from online vendors but don’t target senior care specifically.

“We’re putting both those features together in one solution,” Holt said.

Mike Cote is senior editor for news and business. Contact him at [email protected] or (603) 206-7724.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not represent the views and opinions of the sponsor, its members and affiliates.

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