The New Ice Age

Kitty McConnell

When they began researching a new emergency document management concept last year, two Central Ohio financial planners were pleasantly surprised to find that nobody else had beat them to the punch.

Craig Sutherland and Jason Gaylor launched ICEbox ("In Case of Emergency"), a virtual and hard copy document management service, to help clients compile crucial personal paperwork for easy access in the event of a death, injury, natural disaster or other emergency.

ICEbox works with clients to gather the basic paperwork (think wills, powers of attorney and the like), identifies pieces that are missing and files the documents in a color-coded ICEbox. To guard against situations where the box is inaccessible or destroyed, everything is scanned to a jump drive and uploaded to a personal online "vault" for mobile access, including a smartphone/tablet app.

Sutherland, president and owner of Money Concepts' Columbus franchise, and Gaylor, an associate at the wealth management firm, conceived of ICEbox while working with clients. "I can't tell you how many times we come across [people who] know they need to do it, but they don't take action," says Sutherland.

More than just a nice file box and a jump drive, the founders say, ICEbox is a service that guides clients through the process and advises them on the specific legal, financial and medical paperwork they should keep updated and handy. The process takes into account each client's family, medical conditions, legal situations and financial obligations. "One of the cornerstones of what we do is say, 'You're not alone, we're here with you and we're here to connect all the pieces, to connect the complete process,' " says Gaylor.

So far, they say, demand has been healthy, though they won't disclose specifics. Customers pay $500 for the first year of a full-service package, including a physical ICEbox, online vault, initial setup, regular document reviews and updates. Those who just want a virtual setup pay $350 for the first year and $30 per month thereafter.

Sutherland sees potential in the business-to-business applications of the service, working with professional service firms whose clients could benefit from ICEbox's personal organizers. "We can do a lot of cross-valuations in creating a value proposition for the accountants, for the attorneys," says Sutherland. "They're not in the business of creating that type of value."