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PreciseFP review and demo

PreciseFP is an automated data-gathering solution that helps financial advisers engage clients and gather data critical to the quality of their financial plan.

I invited Don Whalen, co-founder of PreciseFP to stop by FPPad HQ to talk about how advisers can be more efficient with data gathering and client correspondence.

Watch this discussion above or on YouTube, which includes a demo of the desktop solution as well as the mobile app that helps streamline client follow up.

If you’re interested in trying the solution, sign up for a 30-day free trial (the standard trial period is seven days) by visiting http://fppad.com/precisefp (not an affiliate link, I receive no compensation if you choose to sign up)

Chapter markers

0:36 What is the PreciseFP solution?
1:26 How is PreciseFP different than SurveyMonkey and Typeform?
3:35 How do the PreciseFP integrations save time?
5:14 What kind of analytics does PreciseFP provide regarding form completion?
7:52 How has recent DOL legislation impacted PreciseFP customers?
12:20 See the demo of PreciseFP
18:12 See the company templates preloaded into PreciseFP
19:31 Can PreciseFP be used for prospecting and capturing leads?
23:53 What kind of client segmenting can PreciseFP support?
25:44 See a demo of the PreciseFP mobile app
29:20 How does PreciseFP facilitate entry-level automation for client correspondence?
32:30 What is like the “undergarments” of the financial planning industry?
35:22 One important takeaway regarding off-the-shelf survey tools and client Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
38:07 Where to sign up for an extended free trial of PreciseFP

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Twenty Over Ten review and demo

Twenty Over Ten is a website and digital marketing platform specializing in the financial industry. I invited Ryan Russell and Samantha Russell of Twenty Over Ten to stop by FPPad HQ to talk about their solution for advisers.

Watch this discussion above or on YouTube, which includes a live demo of some of the most useful features for anyone looking to increase the quality of their online presence.

If you’re interested in trying the platform, sign up for a 45-day free trial (30 days more than the standard trial period!) by visiting http://fppad.twentyoverten.com (not an affiliate link, I receive no compensation if you choose to sign up)

Chapter markers

1:42 Introduction to Twenty Over Ten and how the product supports financial professionals
4:38 What are important trends in websites and online content that can be addressed financial advisers?
7:23 What are examples of Tier 1 and Tier 2 calls to action?
10:40 Are websites still relevant in the age of profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social sites?
12:33 Demo of the TwentyOverTen platform
16:07 How to edit pages to include multimedia and video content
18:24 How to capture contact information without having to purchase a third-party newsletter service
25:20 How to add custom landing pages with TwentyOverTen
30:40 What are the compliance features built in to the platform?
36:16 How to sign up for a free 45-day trial of TwentyOverTen

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Ambush Phishing: Don’t let it happen to you

Inspired by nature, hackers have developed a new stealthy technique to dupe their victims: “Ambush phishing”

Some of the most successful predators in the animal kingdom are not the biggest, strongest, or the fastest. Rather, these predators have evolved techniques to conceal their presence by laying motionless, patiently wait for prey to wander within striking range before launching their attack.

via GIPHY

These predators are known as ambush predators, and online hackers are turning to such techniques to attack their victims.

Phishing Tactics

Phishing techniques are now fairly well-known among the internet community. Attackers attempt to obtain sensitive information such as bank account numbers, credit card information, or online passwords by sending requests disguised as legitimate correspondence from a trusted entity. Attackers then use the information they receive from victims to gain access to email and/or financial accounts to continue their attack, often stealing money from their victims.

To increase the efficacy of phishing techniques, attackers have targeted specific individuals with a practice called spear phishing by leveraging specific details learned about the targeted individual to make the fraudulent request appear to be just as legitimate as standard requests victims typically encounter.

As victims become more aware of phishing and spear phishing techniques, attackers are now implementing techniques I call ambush phishing.

Ambush Phishing

Ambush phishing has rapidly increased in prevalence this year among individuals buying homes in the United States. The majority of home purchases are funded with some kind of cash down payment, and that down payment is frequently sent by a wire transfer between the buyer’s bank and an escrow company.

Attackers exploit this known process of wiring funds to an escrow company by targeting individuals involved in the home buying process, specifically the real estate agent representing the buyer and/or the escrow company involved in supervising the transaction. Ambush phishing is the second step of the attack, as hackers first need to compromise communication channels by gaining access to the buyer’s agent’s email account or that of the escrow company.

Ambush phishers monitor correspondence in the compromised email accounts and wait until the day the down payment is expected to be wired. Typically, the escrow company sends its wire instructions and account information to the buyer, who then instructs his/her bank to wire money to a specific destination, but real estate agents can also provide the information as a courtesy to their clients.

Shortly after seeing the legitimate wire instruction correspondence sent to the buyer, attackers will send a new message to the buyer masquerading as a follow up message. In the forged follow up message, attackers apologize for originally sending incorrect wire instructions for the transfer, and instead offer new wire instructions that are the ones to be used.

To increase the efficacy of the ambush phishing, attackers will often add language about the time sensitive nature of the wire transfer and that the transfer needs to be completed immediately or the entire home transaction may be jeopardized, resulting in the buyer losing the home of his/her dreams.

Due to the time-sensitive nature of the email communication, victims often do not think to verify the wire instructions by first contacting the escrow company or real estate agent by phone or in person. In addition, attackers will likely wait until a few minutes before the cutoff times for wire transfers for the day (information that is generally available on most major bank websites). If wire transfer cutoff times coincide with the closing business hours of the escrow company, buyers may not successfully reach an employee of the escrow company to authenticate the instructions they receive even if they do try and contact someone at the company!

The odds of recovering funds wired to the attacker’s bank significantly decrease as time goes by, and the options to interrupt or reverse wire transfers vary widely across financial institutions. Ideally, the best odds against an ambush phishing attack are to identify and thwart the attack before a wire transfer is submitted.

I found several examples of ambush phishing exploits covered in recent publications:

Defending Against Ambush Phishing

I see two main methods to defend against ambush phishing: Two-factor/multi-factor authentication (2FA or MFA) and outbound verification.

Generally, ambush phishing is carried out by first exploiting the email accounts of real estate agents or escrow companies. One of the better defenses for email accounts is to enable two-factor authentication. Not only do the login credentials need to be correct to access the account, users also need to enter a one-time code obtained through a second method, typically a mobile device. A popular two-factor authentication solution is Google Authenticator app for iOS and Android.

Google Authenticator is arguably a better verification solution than codes delivered via SMS, as attackers have reportedly been successful in gaining control of mobile phone numbers by tricking cellular carriers to port phone service to another SIM card. Google Authenticator is a software-based token app that, while it runs on a mobile device, does not verify a user’s identification using SMS communication. So wherever possible, enable two-factor authentication using a software token app such as Google Authenticator for your accounts that contain sensitive information.

The second method to defend against ambush phishing is developing a habit of making outbound verification. In the home buyer example cited above, customers who make an outbound phone call to the real estate agent or escrow company involved in the transaction should be able to verify wire instructions verbally over the phone.

A problem with inbound phone calls for verification is that attackers, once again, can spoof the caller ID displayed on the incoming call and pretend to be an employee of the real estate agency or the escrow company. Here, too, information about company employees is often accessible through the company’s website or by conducting a quick LinkedIn search. Note that inbound calls are also used by attackers that claim to be representing Microsoft or other computer companies to get victims to install malware on their computer.

Be Prepared

Now that you are familiar with the technique of ambush phishing, you are better prepared to resist becoming a victim of these clever attacks.

Have you encountered an ambush phishing attack in your work? Also, what other ways do you recommend protecting accounts from ambush phishing? Share your insights in the comments below or reach out to me on Twitter, I’m @billwinterberg.

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FinaMetrica merges with PlanPlus: Fintech updates for August 8, 2017

Here is your FPPad Bits and Bytes update for August 8, 2017.

FinaMetrica merges with PlanPlus

FinaMetrica announced its merger with PlanPlus, a Toronto-based financial planning software provider. Founded in 1998, FinaMetrica is one of the first companies to gain significant traction for its risk tolerance assessment software, though the company has seen its market share decline over the last few years due to increased competition from Riskalyze, Pocket Risk, RiXtrema, and others.

The combined company will be called PlanPlus Global, and will offer solutions for comprehensive financial planning, goals-based automated investing, and psychometric risk profiling to its 12,000 current users in over 30 countries worldwide. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Advicent adds integration with Envestnet

Advicent announced a new integration this week with Envestnet, which allows advisors to extract client demographic, investment account, and investment portfolio data from Envestnet and populate the data into the company’s NaviPlan financial planning software.

Advicent is a leading provider of financial planning software in the enterprise space, with over 100,000 financial professionals across 4,000 clients worldwide using at least one of the company’s solutions. The integration also demonstrates Envestnet’s continued expansion of its Open ENV initiative announced last year.

Here’s Envestnet President Bill Crager with more information:

So as the platform began to take on a bit of a one-size-fits-all, we realized we had to open that up. So the core engine will fire into these user interfaces that will really speak to the adviser, will speak to the home office. And not only that, we’re building APIs to integrate with the full ecosystem of an adviser’s practice, whether that’s CRM or other applications that they’re using. How do you get information into the system to, again, provide really profound and comprehensive advice for that client that is not a moment in time, but is ongoing. And that’s really our goal, and Open ENV, I think, is a strategic breakthrough and I’m very excited about it.

PreciseFP adds iOS and Android Mobile Apps

For your client data gathering needs, PreciseFP announced new mobile apps for iOS and Android, giving advisors more convenient access to client information. The new app lets advisors add new information about prospect to their PreciseFP database, send data gathering forms to clients and prospects on the spot, and review any existing client data or forms right from their phone.

And finally, if you’re looking for ways you can leverage technology to enhance your client engagement, save the date for Wednesday, August 16 at 4pm Eastern, 1pm Pacific, as I’m hosting a webinar with two advisors who’ve doubled down on technology and seen a huge increase in their client satisfaction. Head over to fppad.com/webinar to register today, that’s FPPad.com/webinar to secure your spot

Those are the headlines for today, I’m Bill Winterberg, be sure check back in for more FPPad Bits and Bytes Updates.

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July 20, 2017 Update

July 20: 2 minute read

I haven’t published new content to FPPad since March 2017, so here’s some quick insight on things behind the scenes.

I’ve published several videos to the FPPad YouTube channel, including longer discussions with RIA in a Box and Snappy Kraken that include product walkthroughs. Subscribe to the FPPad YouTube channel AND click the bell icon to receive notifications when new videos are posted. Arguably that’s the easiest way to see what gets published, as I don’t always follow up with an update via email or even a new post to the FPPad blog.

Generally, I’ve been posting regularly to Twitter, including links to insightful interviews, previews of the #FuseUtah hackathon coming in September, and a new savings account startup that might, just might, pay 2-4% interest on your cash (pending a planned release in October, which you should know, is more like a guideline than a definitive date).

But in case you’re wondering, the answer is yes, I’m still focused on covering companies, trends, and issues in financial adviser technology, but the volume and frequency of my content has trailed off over the last six months.

Here are three main reasons why.

First, I took on several retainer engagements in H1 2017 to create marketing materials for social media channels for several companies including Morningstar and Redtail Technologies. Here’s some Morningstar promotional material we produced and here’s what we’re working on with Redtail: http://www.wheredoyouredtail.com/ (and when I write we, I mean Steve Biermann and I). As I created more video content personally and for FPPad (I have something like 400 videos on that channel), I discovered that 1) I liked the creative process, and 2) I’m actually pretty good at creating compelling videos, and 3) more companies want to increase their footprint in the online and social content marketplace to promote their brand and communicate their story.

Second, I took all of June and half of July off to go on a 32-day trip to Yellowstone and back with my family, and I decided to make a daily vlog of the trip. In my 39 years I’ve never been to that part of the country, and I’m so blessed to have the opportunity to take it all in for a month and at the same time capture each day’s moments in a permanent family movie.

And finally, I’ve taken advantage of the slow summer to figure out more scalable ways to continue to add value to the thousands of you who have subscribed to FPPad without overwhelming too many of you with a barrage of disparate pseudo-content updates. I don’t quite have the answer of what format(s) that will take in the near future, but I do know that I’m not giving up on fintech or the importance of the financial advice you deliver to clients.

There are still millions of Americans who aren’t getting the financial advice from which they can benefit tremendously, and I firmly believe that the application of financial technology can increase access to financial advice at a price most Americans can afford.

So if you have comments or suggestions on what would benefit you as a subscriber, or if you just want to offer words of support, hit me up on Twitter or email me at bill@fppad.com

Thank you!

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The Financial Advisor Technology Landscape: March 2017

Curious which companies make up the financial advisor technology landscape? Then have I got a chart for you!

Click the image below to view in full high definition!

Want to be among the first to receive information like this?

Then subscribe to my free email list right now.

The Financial Advisor Technology Landscape as of March 2017. Copyright © 2017

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Betterment introduces Plus and Premium hybrid advice plans featuring in-house CFP® professionals

The lede!

  • Betterment adjusts its default fee structure to 25 basis points for accounts of all sizes for what is now called Betterment Digital (the 35bps, 25bps, and 15bps tiers are gone)
  • Betterment customers who formerly qualified for the 15 basis point tier will see their fees increase 67% to 25 basis points. Some customers are not pleased
  • New Plus and Premium plans are offered that introduce hybrid advice engagements from human advisers for an additional fee
  • Betterment Plus includes an annual planning call with the in-house adviser team and support via email. Betterment Plus pricing is 40 basis points and requires a $100,000 account minimum
  • Betterment Premium include unlimited contact with the in-house adviser team via phone and email. Betterment Premium pricing is 50 basis points and requires a $250,000 account minimum
  • All Betterment plan fees are capped, charged only on the first $2 million of a customer’s balance.
  • Betterment is introducing the Betterment Advisor Network™, launching with roughly ten advisers who have complete the Betterment vetting process, all of whom must hold the CFP® certification
  • There is no fee to be included in the adviser referral network
  • Betterment receives no referral fees for directing customers to any specific adviser in the referral network
  • Customers who work with an adviser in the Betterment referral network pay a fee of 25 basis points on their assets in their Betterment account. The adviser can set an additional fee on top of Betterment’s fee for services provided

Betterment introduces hybrid advice plans with access to in-house CFP® professionals

Betterment announced today that the company will introduce hybrid advice offering with access to an in-house team of financial advisers.

For the full details from Betterment, see the post below from the Betterment website:

 

The Best of Both Worlds: Smart Technology + Financial Experts

Fee Fallout

One unfortunate consequence of the new 25 basis point pricing structure is the elimination of the 15 basis point tier that formerly applied to accounts over $100,000.

Reaction on Twitter was swift, as these customers will see their fees increase by roughly 67%.

Fee Parity Between Retail and Advisor Platforms

Despite the frustration of customers who formerly qualified for the 15 basis point tier, Betterment Digital’s pricing establishes parity with the pricing offered in the Betterment for Advisors (formerly Betterment Institutional) service.

Since the Betterment for Advisors introduction, I had been critical of the conflict the different pricing tiers presented for advisors who chose to implement Betterment for Advisors for their clients.

I often questioned how an adviser could meet his or her fiduciary obligation to clients with over $100,000 in assets, as that client would pay fees of 15 basis points using a “retail” Betterment account, where a minimum fee of 25 basis points would be charged on a Betterment for Advisors account, for asset management services that I felt were essentially equivalent.

Today, that fee disparity, and the fiduciary quandary, is eliminated, but at the expense of raising fees for customers who qualified for the former 15 basis point tier.

Betterment undercuts Personal Capital

One other observation is Betterment Premium now enters the competitive hybrid advice market, a space dominated by Vanguard Personal Advisor Services, that is also occupied by Personal Capital and the Schwab Intelligent Advisory offering scheduled to debut sometime in the first half of 2017.

Betterment Premium is more expensive than the 30 basis point fee Vanguard Personal Advisor Services and the 28 basis point fee from the upcoming Schwab Intelligent Advisory, but at 50 basis points, the service undercuts Personal Capital’s current 89 basis point pricing.

 

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FPPad Bits and Bytes for January 27, 2017

CFPB Requests for Information: Consumer Access to Financial Records:
https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=CFPB-2016-0048-0001

This week’s update starts with a quiet, yet noteworthy escalation in the battle for access to consumer financial data collected by many of the account aggregation companies, as eight of them announced a new coalition called the Consumer Financial Data Rights industry group.

Who’s part of this group? Names that should be familiar are Envestnet | Yodlee, Betterment, and Personal Capital, with less-familiar B2C startups Affirm, Digit, Kabbage, Ripple, and Varo Money rounding out the list.

See, back in November 2015, large banks like JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America “throttled” access to customer account data by account aggregation services that ultimately ended up on sites like Mint.com, Personal Capital and others, causing users of those services to have inaccurate information on their account transactions and investment holdings.

The banks acknowledged the throttling, saying they did it out of concerns for account security and to protecting customer data. Oh really?

Because by my research, account aggregation has been around for the better part of 28 years. How many known security breaches have been reported by the account aggregators? Zero.

So now all of a sudden the banks are concerned about security?

Obviously, there is some tension here, and I’m sympathetic to both sides.

And the tension is significant enough that even the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has taken interest in the issue.

So here’s what I want you do to. When you’re done listening to, or reading, this week’s update, go to fppad.com/204 where I have links for this week’s stories, and at the top I’m going to link to the CFPB’s request for information about the use of account aggregation services.

If you’re using account aggregation to enhance the advice you give to your clients, or even just to see a comprehensive picture of their net worth, consider adding your comments on the rights you feel consumers should have to give permission to third-party aggregators in order to access their data.

Because if you don’t take the opportunity add your two cents, you can’t complain about what happens with the future of account aggregation.

I’m going to stay on the topic of account aggregation with the next story, because I find it interesting that this week JPMorgan Chase just announced its own agreement with Intuit to offer client account data access through an API.

So what’s different about this API? With most of the existing aggregators, a Chase customer would have to enter their username and password into account aggregation which would then go out and log in to the Chase servers, usually overnight when it’s not very busy, and pull in the account transactions. This new API, however, allows Chase customers to grant access to Intuit right within their Chase account. They don’t need to give their username and password to Intuit.

That’s great if customers who want aggregation operate within the Chase and Intuit ecosystem, but where I live in the real world, accounts are held all over the place.

I’m concerned that Chase will start reducing account access to aggregators like Envestnet|Yodlee, Fiserv’s CashEdge, and maybe even eMoney and force them to program to this new API. Now if the new API doesn’t cost anything, it’s probably a good thing, and certainly helps protect the security of a customer’s username and password, but if Chase starts charging a fee for access to this new API, well, that starts to get a bit political.

And another unknown is how Finicity may or may not be affected by this, because if you recall, Intuit said it was shutting down support for its account aggregation APIs and transitioned sales and support entirely over to Finicity. If a Chase client enables the API for Intuit, does that mean the Chase account data will be available through the Finicity relationship as well?

If *you* happen know the answer, let me know, and I’ll post a follow up and keep you in the loop.

So why spend all this time on account aggregation? I’m glad you asked! It’s because I continue to see strong demand for account aggregation services, with one example just this week where Wealth Access, operating out of Nashville, TN, announced that it now has $41 billion in assets tracked on its platform from 130 wealth management organizations, with both figures up over 50% from this time last year.

And in an email I received from Personal Capital, they’ve now crossed over $300 billion in assets that are tracked with their digital tools, of course, all powered by account aggregation.

And with the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule, even with it’s fate in jeopardy, the momentum is already growing where advisors may need to use account aggregation to get the full picture of how a client’s existing portfolio is allocated BEFORE making a recommendation on how to make changes in a new portfolio.

How can you do that?

Unless you want to gather reams of paper statements from clients, the answer is account aggregation.

I’ve linked to all of the stories mentioned in this week’s broadcast over on my website, so be sure to check them out over at fppad.com/204

And next week I’ll be attending the TD Ameritrade Institutional National LINC conference along with my executive producer Steve Biermann, so if you’ll be at that event, be sure to stop me in the hallways and say hello.

And that wraps up this week’s broadcast on the best in advisor technology and more. If you have something to say, or have a story you think should be featured in a future episode, please send me a tweet on Twitter, I’m @billwinterberg, or if you’re not already receiving my email newsletter, you can sign up at fppad.com/subscribe

Thank you so much for listening, I’m Bill Winterberg, see you next time.

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FPPad Bits and Bytes for January 20, 2017

In this week’s top advisor technology stories:

  • Starburst Labs, the creators of Wealthbox CRM, raised $6.25 million in new capital
  • The XY Planning Network inks an enterprise pricing deal with eMoney Advisor
  • Morgan Stanley pays a $13 million settlement for billing mistakes across 149,000 customer accounts, and
  • Document management provider Cabinet Paperless gets acquired by PSIGEN Software

Starburst Labs raises $6.25 million in new capital

This week, Starburst Labs, which is the New York City-based company (formerly known as Gotham Tech Labs) that makes Wealthbox CRM, announced it raised $6.25 million in Series A funding. Back in December when the Financial Planning Magazine technology survey came out, Wealthbox CRM was one of the few movers and shakers in that survey who rose up the ranks in overall adoption. Most of the other companies basically stayed in the same positions as in previous surveys.

So Wealthbox CRM basically launched from zero on February 11th 2014 (which I remember because February 11th is my birthday) and in under three years has ascended to the level of industry adoption to compete with well-known CRMs like Redtail, Salesforce, and Junxure.

What’s interesting, though, is that Starburst has three other products in addition to Wealthbox CRM which are InvestorSay, an online community centered around investing ideas, PaperTrade.io, a plugin for simulated stock trading contests, and Wealthbase, a question and answer website that reminds me a lot of Quora.

So the Series A funding won’t exclusively support Wealthbox CRM, because I’m sure it’ll be allocated across all four products, but at least the new investment will do more than just keep the lights on at Starburst’s SoHo offices. Now, they don’t have a personal chef on site, but the offices are more than adequate to support the work the team needs to get done.

And don’t forget, Wealthbox CRM is included in the technology package for anyone who is a member of the XY Planning Network, which is growing at its own eye-opening pace, so I’m not at all concerned that the product might go away anytime soon. An acquisition is a whole other story, but that’s a risk you take with any independent technology provider you use in your business, and isn’t a risk that’s exclusive to Wealthbox CRM.

So with that, let me just say that I believe Wealthbox CRM deserves a little more respect and recognition in the industry for the adoption it has already earned among advisors in just a few years.

The XY Planning Network inks pricing deal with eMoney Advisor

Speaking of XY Planning Network, they’re also in the news this week after announcing a partnership with eMoney Advisor, where members of the network will receive enterprise pricing to emX Pro.

emX pro is the top of the line package that offers planning modules for cash flow, estate, investment, and retirement illustrations above and beyond the client portal and account aggregation in the less expensive tiers.

Retail pricing for emX pro is around $3800 a year, so enterprise pricing probably knocks off 10 to 20 percent, but it doesn’t bring the price down to the $1000 a year range for planning software like MoneyGuidePro and inStream that offer pricing discounts to XYPN members.

Morgan Stanley pays a $13 million settlement for billing mistakes

I have two more quick stories worth mentioning: First, I saw that Morgan Stanley was ordered to pay $13 million to settle civil charges brought by the SEC after the Commission found that more than 149,000 clients were charged excess fees of more than $16 million between 2002 and 2016 as the result of billing errors. The firm also failed to comply with custody rules by not conducting surprise audits on client accounts for which the firm had custody.

So accurate billing is one of those things than often goes under appreciated inside your advisory business. If you have robust portfolio accounting systems like Orion, Envestnet | Tamarac, Advent, AssetBook, and others, it’s probably built in and pretty seamless. But I know some firms still calculate fees using custom Excel spreadsheets, and if that’s you, this action against Morgan Stanley should be a reminder for you that it’s probably time to replace your Excel spreadsheets with a more robust and less error-prone accounting system.

Cabinet Paperless gets acquired by PSIGEN Software

And to wrap up advisor technology news, I saw that Cabinet Paperless, a document management company based in Huntsville, Alabama, was acquired by PSIGEN Software for an undisclosed amount. PSIGEN offers document scanning and capture technology, and it’s safe to say that once you capture a document electronically, you’ll need a good solution to index, store, and archive all that information, hence the acquisition of Cabinet.

Someone challenged me last week about why I think advisers are behind on technology adoption, and when I think of document management, this one of the solutions where I think I’m correct in that a minority of advisors have purchased and implemented a robust solution here. Your top contenders here are Laserfiche, Cabinet, NetDocuments, and possibly Sharepoint if you can justify the cost and customization required to make it work right in your firm.

Soapbox: Incremental Care > Acute Care

So moving on, I didn’t come across any cool or disconcerting apps this week to share, so i’ll get right to the soapbox to wrap up this week’s update.

Sometime in the next few days, I hope you’ll take about 20 to 25 minutes to read an essay in the New Yorker by Dr. Atul Gawande about incremental care, or primary care, and the differences and tradeoffs of that kind of physician interaction compared to acute care, or the interaction one might receive from a specialist.

Yes, there are some connections with health insurance and health insurance , but this essay helped me set aside my own political believes and consider what I want from my long-term healthcare interactions.

I’m one of the fortunate ones; my wife works for a big employer that offers a high deductible plan with subsidized premiums and very good coverage. I try not to loose sight of how much of a privilege it is not to have to worry each year about our family’s coverage. But that’s not true for millions of americans nationwide. And I’m sure many of your clients, especially your small business owners, spend a lot of time each year evaluating some very difficult choices around the coverage for their employees, as well as coverage for their own household. Many of you, as owners of independent RIAs, are in the same boat.

So that’s why this essay was a compelling read for me. It was worth 25 minutes of my time, and I hope you’ll find it’s worth your time, too.

I’ve linked to all of this week’s featured stories over on my website, so be sure to check them out over at fppad.com/203

And that wraps up this week’s broadcast on the best in advisor technology and more. If you have something to say, or have a story you think should be featured in a future episode, please send me a tweet on Twitter, I’m @billwinterberg, or if you’re not already receiving my email newsletter, you can sign up at fppad.com/subscribe

Thank you so much for *reading*, I’m Bill Winterberg, see you next time.

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Balance Financial to shut down January 31, 2017

In an email to current users, Balance Financial, a personal financial management app acquired by TaxAct in 2013, announced it will shut down operations on January 31, 2017.

See the email announcement below:

Balance Financial shutdown email announcement sent to users

Balance Financial was an alternative to well-known personal financial management apps, or PFM, such as Mint.com and Personal Capital that performed account aggregation to deliver a consolidated dashboard of a user’s financial accounts.

In the wake of Intuit’s decision to discontinue its Financial Data APIs, any PFM apps using Intuit’s aggregation had to migrate to other account aggregation options (See How Intuit’s account aggregation shutdown may impact the fintech solutions you use)

One provider, Guide Financial, shut down as a result of the change combined with other changes in its business model (See Guide Financial to shut down operations on October 11.)

I listed Balance Financial as a potential alternative for Guide Financial users, but quickly removed it since I had no success in connecting with the company for a statement regarding support for the application in the near future.

Alas, it seems that TaxACT is not interested in supporting Balance Financial beyond January 31, 2017.

I suspect that the number of advisors using the Balance Financial app is very low, likely below a dozen, so few are likely to be affected by the shutdown. What’s less clear is how many retail customers Balance has and what alternatives they find offer similar functionality and pricing to that of Balance.

Have any tips? Feel free to contact me.

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