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Fidelity Investments acquires eMoney Advisor

Fidelity Investment acquires eMoney Advisor

Fidelity Investments’ acquisition of eMoney Advisor makes the custodian invested in financial planning software.

Updated 7:54 AM ET, February 3, 2015 with valuation information

Fidelity Investments today announced the acquisition of eMoney Advisor, the Conshohocken, Pennsylvania-based provided of popular financial planning and adviser marketing solutions.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed by Fidelity Investments.

“North of $250 million”

Some sources cited a purchase price “north of $250 million” and a valuation of four times eMoney’s annual revenue in this Philly.com article.

Sources not authorized to speak publicly on the matter told me the valuation was closer to eight times eMoney’s annual revenue for a purchase price between $250 and $300 million. (Note: we’ll never know the true terms as both companies are privately held and not required to disclose the terms.)

The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America® will retain a minority interest in eMoney Advisor and will continue to use the solution as one of eMoney’s largest clients.

Independent Planning

Today’s acquisition marks the first time I can recall an institutional custodian has taken majority ownership of a financial planning software provider.

I’ve taken the liberty of listing many of the other popular financial planning solutions along with their respective parent company affiliation(s) where applicable.

  • MoneyGuidePro, owned by PIETech, Inc., Private
  • FinanceLogix, owned by OLTIS Software, LLC., Private
  • inStream Solutions, Inc., Private, unknown private equity affiliation
  • Advicent Solutions (provider of NaviPlan® and Profiles™), Vista Equity Partners, a U.S.-based private equity firm
  • Guide Financial, Private
  • MoneyTree Software, Private
  • Advizr, Private
  • SunGard, operating under SunGard Financial Systems, a subsidiary of SunGard Data Systems Inc., Private under ownership of Bain Capital LLC, Blackstone Group LP, Goldman Sachs Capital Partners LP, KKR & Co LP, Providence Equity Partners Inc, Silver Lake and TPG Capital LP
  • WealthTec, Private
  • GoalGamiPro, Advisor Software, Inc., Private

If you have more details regarding the providers listed or wish to add any solutions to the list, please contact me.

Accelerating Integrations

Several questions come to my mind once Fidelity Investments finishes its eMoney acquisition.

Will eMoney continue to support integrations with competing institutional custodians, or is a walled garden strategy coming for the popular planning software? Will the new ownership expand integrations and custodial support, restrict them, or simply maintain today’s status quo?

Ed O’Brien, senior vice president of Technology Platforms for Fidelity Institutional, and Edmund Walters, eMoney Advisor Founder and CEO, graciously carved out a few minutes to converse by phone regarding my questions.

“Our vision at eMoney is not just about delivering financial planning, but making the adviser’s life easier through technology,” said Walters. “Developing integrations with leading technology providers allows us to do that, and now with Fidelity behind us, we will accelerate it.”

O’Brien added by saying, “We want eMoney to continue to accelerate their role in the marketplace to deliver the best advisor experience possible, and that helps make what Fidelity does better.”

In addition, eMoney publicly assured others with similar questions that the company will “continue to operate independently as a standalone entity” in an update on the company Twitter feed this morning.

How Will Custodians Respond?

Consider, however, the perspective of other custodians serving independent financial advisers. How eager will they be to integrate and pass data to eMoney Advisor once it falls under ownership of a competing custodian?

For example, TD Ameritrade Institutional just announced at its conference last week that the new Veo One™ platform will soon integrate data from eMoney Advisor (watch Veo One preview from the National LINC 2015 Conference).

With eMoney falling under Fidelity Investments’ ownership, what’s in the future for eMoney integrations supported by competing custodians?

The question is not specific to TD Ameritrade Institutional. eMoney Advisor is used by over 25,000 financial professionals, who collectively use the institutional custody and broker-dealer services from a variety of providers, including Schwab Advisor Services, TD Ameritrade Institutional, LPL Financial, and Pershing, LLC (under The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation).

This is a developing story. Instead of email you can message me on Cyber Dust at billwinterberg 

Riskalyze announces Compliance Cloud to pinpoint risky portfolios

Riskalyze announces the launch of Compliance Cloud for broker-dealers and large RIAs

Riskalyze announces the launch of Compliance Cloud for broker-dealers and large RIAs

Riskalyze Compliance Cloud aims to single out portfolios that drift outside a client’s risk tolerance

In a press release today, Riskalyze, the provider of client risk tolerance quantification tools, announced the anticipated launch of Compliance Cloud, a utility that identifies portfolios that are outside their risk tolerance ranges established for individual investors.

Compliance Cloud was first announced by Riskalyze CEO Aaron Klein at the Laser App 2014 conference last month in San Diego. Today’s press release sheds additional light on the benefits Compliance Cloud offers to its institutional users.

Pinpoint Risk

Compliance Cloud aims to reduce the number of unsuitable portfolio allocations applied to client accounts by automatically screening allocations advisors establish for clients and compares the amount of risk in each portfolio with each client’s risk score (likely the Risk Number™ generated by a Riskalyze assessment).

“Fortunately, with Compliance Cloud, the era of the ‘random account spot-check’ is officially over.” Aaron Klein, Riskalyze CEO

“Fortunately, with Compliance Cloud, the era of the ‘random account spot-check’ is officially over.” Aaron Klein, Riskalyze CEO

Any portfolios found to significantly exceed the client’s risk tolerance (or be significantly below) will be flagged by Compliance Cloud for further review. Not only is this automated risk scanning useful to individual advisers and broker-dealer representatives, Compliance Cloud will be a welcome feature for any institutional compliance officer responsible for oversight on thousands of the institution’s representatives.

‘Big Data’ for broker-dealers and institutions

Compliance Cloud is intended for use by broker-dealers and large registered investment advisory firms. Once again, these institutions typically have oversight over thousands, and potentially millions, of investor accounts, and manually identifying risk characteristics of investor portfolios is costly and inefficient.

Riskalyze takes advantage of the general adoption of “big data,” where useful insight and information is extracted by processing large volumes of disparate data spread across multiple systems. In Compliance Cloud, Riskalyze uses risk analytics obtained from millions of individual client portfolios and compares the data with risk tolerance data identified during the client data gathering and on-boarding process.

Historically, financial institutions and compliance officers lacked the tools to programmatically assess millions of holdings each day. Instead, client portfolios were selected at random and then spot-checked against the client’s (often incomplete or outdated) risk tolerance information.

Orion Advisor Services Integration

According to the Klein, Compliance Cloud has been in beta testing for several months with the general release of the product anticipated in October this year.  In addition, Orion Advisor Services, the nation’s largest privately held portfolio accounting service bureau, was identified by Riskalyze as “the premier launch partner” of the Compliance Cloud solution.

Compliance Cloud will be made available directly to Orion Advisor Services’ RIA clients where advisers can take advantage of the integration of reconciled portfolio accounting data, avoiding duplicate or manual entry of client holding information into Compliance Cloud.

Pricing for Compliance Cloud was not disclosed in the company press release, so check back in here at FPPad for more updates as this product enters the market.

Laser App 2014 Conference highlights: Day Two and recap

Fox Financial Planning Network publishes new “robo shield” white paper, ActiFi’s Spenser Segal on technology adoption, and more

The Laser App 2014 Conference in San Diego wrapped up last week, offering over 200 attendees insights on ways technology can streamline the client service experience. A variety of vendors with CRM, document management, electronic signature, practice management solutions, and more delivered valuable takeaways centered around efficient form creation and processing, which the Laser App platform aims to simplify.

Watch the day two highlight video below, which is followed by a conference recap video with feedback from conference attendees about the benefits of attending the Laser App 2014 conference. (or watch the Laser App 2014 Conference YouTube playlist)

Day two highlights

In the opening session on day two, Deborah Fox, CEO & Founder at Fox Financial Planning Network, unveiled a new white paper fresh off the company’s electronic publishing platform.

The white paper, titled How To Build A Robo-Shield™ For Your Financial Advisory Firm: 20 Effective Tactics To Marginalize The Rise Of Robo-Advisers, can be downloaded for free from the company’s website. In nearly 40 pages, the Robo-Shield white paper details tactics to differentiate an advisory business from the online-based investment advisor services, including specific niche development, Tier 2 service models, automated workflows, and more.

Laser App 2014 conference recap

As you can see from the video coverage, Laser App hosts one of the hidden gems among industry conferences. Quite a number of influential vendors and product providers attended the event, and many company presidents and CEOs took the stage.

Laser App 2014 conference attendees learned how to leverage their existing Laser App relationship and also identified new solution providers and integrations that can extend the benefits of Laser App into different areas of their business. All in all, I enjoyed my time at the conference, which offered a great combination of education, networking, and socializing, all in sunny San Diego.

WaveHouse networking event

In addition to the education and exhibit hall opportunities, attendees had several opportunities to let loose, kick back, and network with like-minded peers.

So for an added bonus, here is a video from the first networking event held at the WaveHouse San Diego.

Laser App 2014 Conference Badge

Laser App 2014 Conference highlights: Day One

Laser App adds 40 new relationships in 2014, offers over 32,000 forms in its library

I’m attending the Laser App 2014 Conference in San Diego this week, and I’m trying some new things with content distribution. Check out the video below that recaps the company’s announcements about its new relationships in 2014, form library growth, and total number of forms processed by all of its users. (click here to watch on YouTube)

32,000 forms and growing

Ed Beggs, Laser App founder and CEO, told an audience of over 200 advisors, vendors, and other technology players that the company brought on 40 new relationships so far in 2014, which includes 38 broker-dealers and two custodians.

The Laser App form library now offers over 32,000 unique documents to facilitate transactions of all kinds, and now has over 115,000 users worldwide.

45 million served

To date, over 15 million forms have been downloaded through the Laser App platform. The average form gets processed three times by users, meaning over 45 million unique forms have been processed through Laser App software.

Conference preview

To set up the Day One footage, I filmed a shot conference preview with my rig to test the real-time editing and publishing through the conference facility’s Internet connection. This has been a fun learning experience, so look for more same-day coverage of events around the financial services technology landscape. (click to watch on YouTube)

T3 2014: How a $5 billion RIA’s Laserfiche conversion generated time savings of 40%

Jim Anderson of CLS Investments, LLC: "We were living on borrowed time."

Jim Anderson of CLS Investments, LLC: “We were living on borrowed time.”

One $5 billion RIA converted 1.5 million documents to Laserfiche in less than a year, saving the company 40% of its collective time

One of the more practical general sessions at T3 2014 was presented by Jim Anderson, Chief Systems and Project Creator at CLS Investments, LLC.

CLS Investments is a third party investment manager and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of NorthStar Financial Services Group.

You may recognize NorthStar for its Orion Advisor Services, LLC subsidiary, serving advisers’ needs as a portfolio management service bureau for more than a decade.

On the investment side of NorthStar, CLS Investments is an SEC-registered investment adviser and maintained more than $5.6 billion in assets under management as of mid-2013.

“Living on Borrowed Time”

So what was the most appealing part of Anderson’s general session presentation? He detailed the process of transitioning out of an aging IBM FileNet enterprise content management system to a more robust platform powered by Laserfiche (see How Laserfiche is used in the family office environment).

“We were living on borrowed time,” Anderson said to a room full of T3 Conference attendees.

What frustrated employees of CLS Investments the most was the fact that documents could only be retrieved based on their metadata, or document descriptions, added Anderson.

Should a document get misfiled or labeled incorrectly, it was as if the document had been permanently deleted with no possibility of retrieval.

According to Anderson, FileNet was that much of a black hole that employees didn’t have any confidence in the system.

Laserfiche Rises to the Top

As Anderson and other project leaders surveyed the content management marketplace, Laserfiche was the one solution that consistently offered answers to CLS Investment’s many requirements.

CLS Investments wanted a platform that could push the administration and management of documents back to each business unit in the organization. Roles-based workflow, integrated compliance functions, and full-text search capabilities were also must-have requirements.

Accelerated Information Systems was the Laserfiche value-added reseller selected by CLS Investments

Accelerated Information Systems was the Laserfiche value-added reseller selected by CLS Investments

While the product was promising, Laserfiche is primarily sold through a network of value-added resellers, or VARs. Anderson knew that the success of the pending project would largely be determined by the quality of the Laserfiche VAR.

“We wanted to work with a partner who thinks like we do and speaks our language,” said Anderson.

And in its search for a Laserfiche VAR, CLS Investments selected Accelerated Information Systems based in the New York City metro area.

Doubling Licenses Twice in One Year

As CLS Investments was just beginning its due diligence on Laserfiche, Zaheer Master, founder of Accelerated Information Systems, invited Anderson and his colleagues to attend Laserfiche Empower, the content management provider’s annual conference (watch Laserfiche Unveils Product Roadmap at Empower 2014).

Zaheer Master

Accelerated Information Systems founder Zaheer Master: “It’s not what you don’t know that can hurt you; it’s what you can’t find.”

Anderson commented that after seeing the size of the worldwide Laserfiche community as well as the network of add ons, plugins, and third party developers, he and his team had much more confidence that Laserfiche could be the best fit for CLS Investments.

Anderson originally planned to start with 25 licenses for the pilot phase of Laserfiche implementation, but based on his conference experience, he doubled the pilot size to 50 licenses.

Nine months into the implementation, CLS Investments once again doubled its number of licenses to 100.

“The growth of Laserfiche at CLS is a result of the successful change management process applied by the CLS project team and Accelerated Information Systems,” said Master.

“By addressing the most visible pain points early on in the project, we gained momentum for bringing the benefits of Laserfiche to more departments,” he added.

“Everyone’s Hair Was On Fire”

Nevertheless, not all employees of CLS Investments were completely sold on Laserfiche. Any change can be challenging, said Anderson, but changes that affect everyday workflow and habits are especially hard to embrace.

But one scenario in the middle of implementation acted as the pivot for Laserfiche adoption.

Anderson described that one day, accounting had an urgent need for a fee schedule, but was unable to find any trace of the document in its legacy systems.

“You’ve all seen it before. It was as if everyone’s hair was on fire in a mad scramble to find the missing fee schedule,” Anderson said.

But during the conversion of more than 1.5 million records from FileNet to Laserfiche, Accelerated Information Systems applied optical character recognition, or OCR, to every single record.

“With full-text search, we found the fee schedule and everyone calmed down. It was then that our managers knew that we had the right tool,” he said.

The scenario is not too uncommon among Accelerated Information Systems’ clients, says Master, adding, “It’s not what you don’t know that can hurt you; it’s what you can’t find. CLS now knows they can find every document, every single time, even if it’s filed in the wrong folder.”

A 40% Time Savings

Throughout the implementation process, Anderson described how CLS Investments was able to create workflows to compliment and streamline existing processes, not interrupt them.

Also, as an enterprise user of Salesforce, CLS Investments is able to leverage the Laserfiche integration that allows users to view their Laserfiche repository directly from Salesforce.

Anderson closed with an impressive statistic about the return on investment CLS Investments has realized in the year since its initial Laserfiche implementation.

“By leveraging the workflow rules to structure processes and validate steps along the way, we estimate that we’ve saved roughly 40% of our time by switching to Laserfiche,” said Anderson.

inStream abandons free plan, introduces subscription pricing

Financial planning software startup inStream Solutions drops its free pricing plan, switches to annual subscription model

inStream Solutions made a splash in late 2011 with the introduction of its free financial planning software tool for financial advisers (watch Video Spotlight: inStream Solutions CEO Alex Murguia on achieving proactive financial planning).

But like many startups, inStream just made a pivot in its business model that eliminates the free plan altogether for some 2,000 users.

inStream No Longer Free

This week, inStream announced that it is switching to an annual subscription model, with retail pricing set at $2,400 per user.


inStream Solutions CEO Alex Murguia introduces the startup at FinovateSpring 2012 (watch on YouTube)

Volume discounts will be available for large firms, and existing users of the free plan will be offered the chance to subscribe for just $1,000. Also, as an incentive to new users, inStream is offering 50% off the retail subscription fee to any new adviser who signs up prior to June 30, 2014.

Not only that, inStream is also changing its positioning in the market by calling the solution a “wealth management platform” in favor of its former financial planning software heading.

More than Financial Planning Software

inStream replaces the financial planning software terminology in favor of a wealth management tool

inStream replaces the financial planning software terminology in favor of a wealth management tool

In an interview with Financial Advisor magazine tech editor Joel Bruckenstein, Alex Murguia, founder and CEO of inStream, said, “We are not trying to create financial planning software; we’re creating a wealth management platform that financial planners can use to run their businesses.”

To its credit, inStream has recently added features that transcend beyond traditional financial planning to increase the value and utility of the solution.

In recent months, inStream brought on Dr. Wade Pfau, Professor of Retirement Income for the American College, to lead its new Financial Planning Research division (watch FPPad Bits and Bytes for August 2nd for more details on Pfau’s involvement).

Out of this partnership, inStream will soon release what it calls the industry’s first “Safe Saving Rate” planning tool developed under the guidance of Pfau.

Existing Updates, Too

inStream is also upgrading many of its existing functions, which include mind map plugins, proactive alerts, and custom reports for financial plans.

For more information on the new pricing plans, as well as feature enhancements, visit inStream online at www.instreamwealth.com

TD Ameritrade Institutional integrates Laser App Anywhere with the Veo® advisor platform

Independent advisers will shuffle less paper with TD Ameritrade Institutional’s latest Laser App integration

In a press release issued today, TD Ameritrade Institutional announced that it integrated Laser App Anywhere, the online document form filling application, to the Veo® advisor platform.

Laser App Anywhere for Independent Advisers

Laser App Anywhere was introduced last year at Laser App’s industry conference, but the solution was targeted to the document processing needs of broker-dealers. Independent advisers who custody with the leading financial institutions still had to use Laser App’s desktop application to streamline form filling.

TD Ameritrade Institutional’s Laser App Anywhere integration changes all that, and now brings Laser App Anywhere to independent advisers.

“Using the valuable integrations TD Ameritrade Institutional has built with Laser App Anywhere and Veo, advisers can spend less time processing paperwork manually and realize cost savings and increased productivity,” said Robert Powell, vice president of sales and marketing at Laser App, in the press release.

End-to-End Paperless Process

TD Ameritrade Institutional’s Veo platform has also supported DocuSign integration for some time, but that offering didn’t solve advisers’ need for true end-to-end paperless processing. Now with the addition of Laser App Anywhere, forms can first be prepopulated online using client data stored in the Veo platform, then routed to clients for electronic signature directly through DocuSign.

“The integration of Laser App Anywhere’s web-based technology with DocuSign further enhances the account opening process and supports TD Ameritrade Institutional’s larger effort to streamline workflows and provide better integrations between the technologies advisors use every day,” said  Jon Patullo, managing director of technology product management, TD Ameritrade Institutional.

For all the details of the integration announcement, read the official press release.

Advisers want help identifying software integration; look for the logo, says TD Ameritrade Institutional

TD Ameritrade Institutional will help advisers identify software integration with a new “Veo Integrated” logo

Financial advisers all want one thing: more integration of the software tools they use.

But finding out if one software program integrates with another, let alone the quality of the integration, is difficult at best.

The ‘Veo Integrated’ logo recognizes the innovation, collaboration and commitment to RIAs shown by firms that have contributed to the success of the Veo open access initiative.

TD Ameritrade Institutional believes it has an answer to advisers’ integration dilemma: a logo.

Want integration between your software tools? Look for the logo says TD Ameritrade Institutional

Want integration between your software tools? Look for the “Veo Integrated” logo, says TD Ameritrade Institutional

In a press release issued today, TD Ameritrade Institutional is launching a new “Veo Integrated” logo to raise awareness of the company’s relationships with third-party solution providers through the Veo open access initiative.

Recognize Innovation

“TD Ameritrade Institutional is working with a growing network of technology providers to improve the technology experience for RIAs by integrating common advisor applications with our Veo system,” said Jon Patullo, managing director of technology, TD Ameritrade Institutional, in the press release.

“The ‘Veo Integrated’ logo recognizes the innovation, collaboration and commitment to RIAs shown by firms that have contributed to the success of the Veo open access initiative,” added Patullo.

Veo Integration Analyzer

TD Ameritrade Institutional also reiterated the presence of the Veo Integration Analyzer™, a web-based tool available to advisers who custody assets with the company. Veo Integration Analyzer is designed to highlight levels of integration between advisers’ existing applications or applications they may be considering for purchase.

Last year I stopped by TD Ameritrade Institutional’s headquarters in Ft. Worth to get a demo of the Veo Integration Analyzer from Chris Valleley, Director of Technology Solutions for TD Ameritrade Institutional. See the demo below (or click here to watch on YouTube).

The adviser’s answer to Mint.com, Personal Capital, LearnVest, and other PFM apps

Mint.com is part of the explosion of personal financial management applications, or PFM, that are so popular among consumers. What is the financial adviser's answer to PFM apps?

Mint.com is part of the explosion of personal financial management applications, or PFM, that are so popular among consumers. What is the financial adviser’s answer to PFM apps?

Consumers are connected to their finances in ways never before possible.

New and innovative apps like Mint.com, Personal Capital, LearnVest and others can loosely be organized into a group of personal finance management, or PFM, tools.

Why Consumers Love PFM Apps

Mint.com alone has over 10 million registered users of its online and mobile app tools. Users can easily aggregate their checking, savings, credit, and loan accounts from a variety of providers and financial institutions, generating one dashboard to consolidate money management.

So when a user of these PFM apps decides it may be time to seek out services from a professional financial adviser, how will the adviser’s technology stack up to the expectations established by the PFM tools?

The Adviser’s Answer to PFM Apps

Fortunately, financial advisers do have tools at their disposal to give clients the convenience of consolidated account reporting. Clients can use them to view their account details at any time and on any device, be it a desktop, laptop, smartphone, or tablet.

Advisers use the same tools to capture information on all of their clients’ holdings, and can then use the data to drive up-to-date financial plans, net worth statements, cash flow illustrations, and much more.

I covered one solution in this month’s column for Morningstar Advisor.

Read The Advisor’s Answer to Popular Personal Finance Management Tools at Morningstar.com to find out more information.

Office 365 versus Google Apps: Which one is right for financial advisers?

Office 365 and Google Apps deliver your office software through the cloud. But which one is right for financial advisers?

Office 365 and Google Apps deliver your office software through the cloud. But which one is right for financial advisers?

Office 365 and Google Apps give financial advisers the flexibility to use office software on any Internet-connected computer.

But there are substantial differences in the way these applications work compared to their desktop counterparts (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on Windows, Pages, Numbers, and Keynote on Mac).

Still, if the thought of switching to device-agnostic office software that is available anywhere you have Internet access is appealing, read my contribution to the July issue of the Journal of Financial Planning.

Read Your Office Apps in the Cloud at OneFPA.org today (FPA member login required).