The Version of MoneyGuide Blocks We have All Been Waiting For
By Joel Bruckenstein, CFP
When MoneyGuide Blocks first launched a few years ago, the folks at MoneyGuide had lofty expectations for the product; so did I. To date, the adoption has been OK, but it certainly has not met their expectations; nor mine.
I can’t speak for MoneyGuide, but when I first saw Blocks, I anticipated two primary use cases for it: one, as a prospecting tool, and another as a way to engage with the next generation of clients. What I, and presumably MoneyGuide initially missed was the fact that advisory firms did not have the vision to configure and market Blocks in the way that I envisioned it would be used. That became apparent to me in my conversations with multiple firms that I consult with. They were avid MoneyGuide Pro or Elite users, but they could not figure out why they needed Blocks or how to use it.
The new MoneyGuide Prospecting Center should finally drive the adoption of Blocks to the next level. It provides a turnkey solution that allows advisory firms to target specific demographics with financial planning led marketing campaigns. Previously, MoneyGuide provided one link to Blocks that advisors could embed on their website, but customization was lacking. All that has now changed.
When you enter the Prospecting Center, you have access to a number of different Blocks targeting various demographics. One of the most promising is one that MoneyGuide calls the “Next Best Dollar” Block. This block is appealing because it can be used to market to the children and perhaps grandchildren of existing clients as well as the next generation of prospects. This block looks at a user’s cash flow and helps determine how to allocate their spending to pay down student debt, credit card debt, emergency savings and 401(k) contributions. It optimizes the current cash to start an emergency fund if one does not exist, funnels sufficient fund to the 401(k) to at least maximize the match if possible, etc.
Once you select a Block that you want to use, the Prospecting Center will generate a plain text link, an HTML link, and an HTML button. You can embed the button on the corporate website or a targeted landing page. You can use the plain text or HTML links in email, social media, and other marketing efforts. If you don’t like the default name of a Block, you can easily change it before you finalize your custom buttons and links. So, for example, if you don’t like the term “Next Best Dollar,” you could change it to “Spending Optimizer” or “Cash Flow Optimizer.” Marketing templates will soon be available from MoneyGuide to make it as effortless as possible to start your marketing campaigns. A practice management guide is also in the works to help you optimize the value of Blocks to your firm.
The Prospecting Center contains multiple Blocks, each with their own link generating capabilities, marketing templates, ad copy, etc. This allows advisory firms to target multiple markets simultaneously should they wish to do so. For example, there is a Financial Goal Plan Block that can be used in the employer space to create an abridged plan and help gauge the probability of the plan’s success. There is a long-term care (LTC) analysis for those firms that target LTC needs. There is a retirement focused Block, one that targets the mass affluent, and a Spend vs Borrow Block.
All of the Blocks work in a similar fashion. When a prospect self-registers, their email becomes their username, so you immediately capture at a minimum names and email addresses. Virtually all Blocks have a mini PlayZone so that users can try multiple scenarios and evaluate outcomes. For example, if the Next Best Dollar Block suggests allocating dollars a certain way, the user can try allocating the dollars differently to see the impact; or, if the user expects to get a raise soon, they can see how much faster they might be debt free if they apply additional funds to debt reduction.
All information capture in Blocks resides in the same database as MoneyGuide data resides, so any data entered into a Block also creates a prospect in MoneyGuide Pro/Elite. If a prospect decides to fully engage with an advisor, the data does not have to be re-entered to run a MoneyGuide plan. If you use Redtail CRM, the data entered into Blocks also creates a contact in Redtail CRM. Envestnet/MoneyGuide plans to make this same contact creation capability available in other CRM solutions that advisors use.
Information gleaned from those who engage with a Block feed into the Envestnet/MoneyGuide Analytics tool as well, so you can see, for example, how many prospects in a period are engaged with each Block. The analytics can also help pinpoint which users are the hottest leads and which have specific needs. For example, within the Financial Goal plan, users might be prompted to enter whether or not they have a current will. An advisory firm could then use the analytics to see who does not have a will and send a targeted introduction to estate planning to those prospects.
I have been an enthusiastic fan of Blocks for some time now, but without a dedicated marketing plan and the ability to execute on the plan, firms had difficulty unlocking the full potential of Blocks. Now, with the MoneyGuide Prospecting Center, it is difficult to understand MoneyGuide clients of all sizes would not want incorporate Blocks into their prospecting activities. If you have not checked out Blocks yet, I would suggest you do so right away.