Strange Bedfellow?

Quite a few people at the recently concluded eMoney Summit were surprised to hear that eMoney and PIEtech, Inc., the developer of MoneyGuidePro had agreed to integrate MoneyGuidePro’s financial engine within the eMoney Select system. I must confess that I was surprised that they were surprised. Many industry insiders have been aware for that eMoney and MoneyGuidePro produced a similar integration for SunTrust some time ago. Figuring out how to integrate the two platforms was most likely the difficult part. Figuring out that many others would like a similar combination should have been the easy part. The devil, of course, is in the details, so bringing the joint offering to market for a wide audience took longer than one would have expected.

For those of you unfamiliar with the details, the full text of the press release is provided below:
eMoney Advisor (“eMoney”), a leading provider of advanced wealth-planning solutions for financial advisors, today launched the integration of MoneyGuidePro’s goal-based financial planning engine into eMoney’s emX Select platform. The integration provides financial advisors the flexibility to meet their clients’ full range of interactive goal- and cash flow-based planning needs, while leveraging the power of eMoney’s comprehensive wealth-management platform, from one tool.

“We want emX to become a true platform of choice,” said Drew DiMarino, Senior Vice President, Head of Sales. “That means giving advisors the freedom to access a variety of technology applications that best meet their needs— including CRM, performance reporting, risk tolerance and financial planning solutions—in combination with our unmatched advisor and client experience.”
The integration offers eMoney Advisors access to MoneyGuidePro’s intuitive retirement, health care, Social Security, estate, and college planning functions, as well as its asset allocation and insurance needs analysis features. And with seamless, single sign-on functionality from several places within emX, including the Plans overview page, access to both eMoney’s interactive cash flow-based and MoneyGuidePro’s engaging goal-based planning methods allows advisors to meet their clients’ unique planning needs from within a single platform.

“We realize there are a lot of advisors that see the value of having access to eMoney’s platform and cash flow-based planning capabilities, and MoneyGuidePro’s goal-based planning tools,” he continued. “Why should they have to choose either or? Now, they can have both.”
MoneyGuidePro President, Kevin Knull, echoed that sentiment. “Finally, I expect the industry will understand we are both dedicated to helping advisors deliver a better experience to their clients. While emX establishes itself as the ‘platform of choice’, the singular focus of MoneyGuidePro is to provide an even better and more engaging goal-based financial planning experience.”
The integration, which was announced at eMoney’s Advisor Summit in Orlando, Florida, will be available to non-enterprise subscribers within the next few weeks.

“Financial advisors now have a tremendous opportunity in front of them,” said DiMarino. “The progression of advisor technology over the past 10-15 years has been pretty amazing. From a handful of start-ups working separately to improve individual aspects of an advisor’s business, to the focused and collective effort we’re seeing today—just imagine what the future holds if we as an industry continue to move together at this pace.”

Kevin Knull added, “As the industry continues the race to commoditize asset management, our integration will further help move financial planning to the center of the client/advisor relationship. Firms are recognizing they no longer have time to slowly increase the adoption of financial planning. If our joint efforts result in advisors being able to deliver a larger number of quality financial plans, then we will have succeeded in achieving our objective.”
Other integrations available in eMoney’s emX Select platform include, Albridge, AdvisoryWorld, BizEquity, Digital Fortress, Dropbox, Envestnet, HiddenLevers, Morningstar, Orion, Redtail and Riskalyze, as part of eMoney’s goal to build a single wealth management portal that streamlines the way advisors manage their businesses.

My take is that the decision to go forward with the integration was a gutsy call by both firms. While there are obvious risks, the potential rewards for both firms are potentially much larger. I would argue that the typical financial advisory firm needs both a cash flow based planning tool and a goals based one. MoneyGuidePro is the clear leader in the goal based planning arena, and eMoney offers an excellent cash flow based solution. The ability to access these two financial planning tools in one platform is argument enough to own both in my opinion, but there is more. eMoney provides an excellent account aggregation solution combined with an industry leading client portal. They also excel in providing marketing support to their advisor clients. With the introduction ofmyMoneyGuide, MoneyGuidePro users have a new, and what we believe will be a highly effective additional client acquisition tool. When you look at the incremental additional cost of owning both products as opposed to just one, and you look at the potential ROI, it seems obvious to me that anyone who uses either eMoney or MoneyGuidePro today should own the other as well. In addition, as the press release above states, when you combine these two products, you get the potential to integrate with all of the other partners in the eMoney Select ecosystem. Granted, MoneyGuidePro users can also avail themselves of many integrations without Select, but this expands the list, and over time it may increase the utility of some integrations.

The fact that there was some negativity expressed about the deal in some circles was not a surprise, there are always naysayers. The surprise was that anybody assigned even a shred of credibility to the negativity.

I firmly believe that this integration is a great opportunity for advisors. It has the potential to benefit both firms as well. I hope it does, because they are trying to do the right thing for their customers, and they deserve to be recognized for that.

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