yet the reality is that it’s incredibly difficult to determine what is the best financial planning software… in part because advisors vary in how they use financial planning software in the first place, which means what is the “best” software for one advisor may be a terrible match for another. by contrast, cash-flow-based financial planning software typically aims to account for every dollar in the household – combining all the total inflows from various sources (income from wages and self-employment, portfolio income, etc. in today’s environment, most financial planning software is still capable of providing printed report outputs, but as financial planning software increasingly shifts from just being a “calculator” tool for the advisor to a collaborative tool to be used with the client, there is an increasing focus on whether and how the software can be used “interactively” with clients as well. and not all financial planning software is built to accommodate such a process of changing the inputs on the fly to see the impact on the outcomes. as financial planning software continues its transition from being an “advisor calculator” into a holistic “financial planning experience” for clients, an increasingly important aspect of financial planning software is the “portal” or personal financial management (pfm) dashboard provided to clients. notably, while advisors often ask for “all software to be integrated to other software”, in practice financial planning software often is not integrated to anything besides one of the aforementioned account aggregation tools to feed in account data, or perhaps a data input tool like precisefp.
the financial planning software itself has more of a cash-flow-based orientation than moneyguidepro, though not as “extreme” in its cash flow focus as some others, reducing the time for input and working with the software to analyze a client plan (though on the street, emoney still has a reputation for being somewhat complex and time-consuming to use). for those who just want the emoney client portal (and intend to pair the portal together with another financial planning software solution like mgp), the portal is available on a standalone basis for $1,944/year (paid as $162/month). one of the longest-standing financial planning software platforms around, moneytree originated in 1981 and has a strong industry reputation for not only the accuracy of its calculation engine but the fact that the software output includes an audit trail to allow every number in the planning output to be reconstructed. while the software is reasonable for this purpose, and some financial planners who don’t want to go that in depth may find the software of interest for “smaller” clients, experienced advisors who like to go in-depth will likely prefer other solutions that can do expedited planning as necessary, but that also have the capabilities to go deeper if necessary for a particular client situation. figlo is a financial planning software company based in the netherlands, with a strong presence in the advisor marketplace throughout europe. founded in 2013 by former financial planner hussain zaidi and his partners, advizr is one of the newest financial planning software companies, trying to make its mark in a crowded marketplace. overall, the “center of gravity” for financial planning software is dictated by market leader moneyguidepro, which prices at $1,295/year, and most other financial planning software companies are priced in a manner to compete or contrast with mgp.
and the opportunities that remain for the next generation of financial planning software providers that can figure out how to compete for the next generation of advisors and clients. while financial advisors have long had to live with the volatility of markets – both in counseling clients through bear markets and dealing with the impact on their own advisory firms when investors potentially panic-sell or at least hide their heads in the sand when markets swing wildly – the reality is that the ongoing industry-wide shift to the aum model, coupled with a decade-long bull market, means the aum of the average advisory firm has never been higher… and the consequences of a market pullback have never been more dangerous for the average advisory firm. from the perspective of envestnet’s broader business model, though, the reality is that it was just last month that envestnet announced the launch of its new trust services exchange, which will allow rias and broker-dealers to gain access to a marketplace of trust services providers for their hnw clients (for which envestnet will earn a small scrape as the distributor in a classic ‘platform’ model). at the base level, apprise has built a core piece of estate planning infrastructure for that vision of tomorrow, as estate planning is and will always be a critical piece of the wealth puzzle for ultra-hnw clients.
all of which means the bluff point acquisition of true north is not likely the end of consolidation of msps for rias… and a potential sign of a broader growing trend as pe firms seek out more other ways to participate in the ongoing growth of the ria channel than ‘just’ trying to find the few independent rias remaining that haven’t already been sold but might be in the coming years. notably, though, the significance of solutions like skience’s new data consolidation tool is not merely the potential for more ‘usable’ data by having a central platform through which it can be scrubbed and standardized for an advisory firm (and then passed into the tools that it uses), but also that when advisors have more control of their data, they become more independent from existing advisor platforms that in practice often retain advisors in part because the advisory firm doesn’t want to face the data loss (or cumbersome data migration) that would occur by switching platforms… all of which is solved with the rise of advisors more independently warehousing their own data. and so it’s notable that this month, advicepay announced the rollout of a new mobile check deposit capability for hybrid broker-dealer enterprises, allowing checks to be immediately deposited (and thus “promptly transmitted”) but without the cost of overnight mailing expenses (especially in what is still a work-from-home environment where handling checks by the individual advisor can otherwise be even more of a hassle). though with fp alpha’s goal of analyzing far more than ‘just’ tax returns, including insurance and estate documents as well, this is likely only the beginning of a new intersection between what the technology alone will increasingly automate in the financial planning process and a new layer of value-adds that (human) financial advisors will need to provide (and have the time to do with the efficiencies that technology can bring!). all of which emphasizes that even though financial planning has been around for decades, there remains room for more competition and innovation around the next wave of software solutions that support not the ‘core’ financial planning process itself, but the ancillary steps at the beginning (data gathering) and end (payments) process, as well as the areas into which advisors are delving even further to add value in an increasingly competitive environment (e.g., tax planning).
a financial advisor’s guide to choosing the best financial planning software, including software reviews and pricing information. michael kitces is head of planning strategy at buckingham wealth partners, a turnkey wealth management services provider supporting thousands of michael kitces is head of planning strategy at buckingham wealth partners, a turnkey wealth management services provider supporting thousands of, free financial planning software for advisors, best financial planning software for advisors 2021, right capital financial planning software, right capital financial planning software, best financial planning software for advisors 2020.
in a crowded financial planning software marketplace, rightcapital jp morgan acquires 55ip’s rebalancing and model management software, fmg suite acquires twenty over ten, massmutual acquires flourish cash, however, even amongst advisors who do actively use financial planning software, our kitces research study doesn’t show that advisors are any, financial planning software for personal use, best retirement planning software 2020 for individuals. what kind of software do financial advisors use? what is fp&a software? what is kitces? how much does emoney cost?
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