eMoney and MoneyGuidePro take a second stab at an integration

The financial planning software providers say they aren't competitors; will open up portals for paying advisers

Oct 21, 2015 @ 10:30 am

By Alessandra Malito

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The two powerhouses of financial planning software providers, MoneyGuidePro and eMoney, announced Wednesday they are integrating with one another.

Though the two are considered competitors, they say they'll work better together to offer a full financial picture advisers can share with their clients.

"We decided to come together because we have the same goals — we want to give advisers the best," said Kelly Waltrich, eMoney's spokeswoman. "Whatever makes the most sense for businesses — if they want to use our platform and vice versa — we want to make that readily available through integrations."

With this partnership, MoneyGuidePro clients will have access to eMoney's emX Select platform and its current list of integrated services. At the same time, eMoney clients will have access to MoneyGuidePro's goals-based financial planning services, like retirement, health care, Social Security and estate and college planning.

Users will only be able to take advantage of the integrations if they are using, and paying for, both software providers' services. The integration will be available immediately after eMoney's annual conference, which ends on Wednesday.

The two working within each others' systems might seem peculiar to the rest of the industry, who view them as competitors, but Bill Butterfield, a senior analyst at Aite Group, said it expands the companies' reach for clients.

"At the end of the day, the goal is to get as many subscribers as possible," he said. "It is a way for MoneyGuidePro to reach eMoney users and vice versa."

He said it is too early to tell what sort of impact such a partnership might have on other providers in the financial planning market.

MoneyGuidePro was the most used financial planning tool, according to InvestmentNews' 2015 Most Popular Tech study. Of the 80% of advisers who said they use financial planning software, 25.5% said they use MoneyGuidePro, followed by 23.6% who said they use eMoney.

There are other contenders in the category as well who offer similar features.

MoneyGuidePro and eMoney have tried this integration before, after eMoney's founder and former chief executive Edmond Walters announced in February the company would be integrating with 28 other vendors. In June, it had offered advisers access to a partnership but pulled it a few weeks later. Matt Cosgriff, a financial adviser at Lifewise powered by BerganKDV in Minneapolis, Minn., said he was happy to be able to move client data between the two programs until they shut it down.

"That's been frustrating," he said.

eMoney's Ms. Waltrich said the companies realized they opened up the integration prematurely.

"We flipped the switch briefly, but in reality we had a little more work to do," she said. Spending more time on it has led to a better integration.

eMoney has made headlines this year. In February, Fidelity announced it was acquiring the financial planning tool, and last month the founder and former chief executive Edmond Walters announced he was stepping down. Fidelity Wealth Technologies president Michael Durbin has stepped in as interim CEO.

Although the company is working on a deep relationship with eMoney, Kevin Knull, president of MoneyGuidePro, said his company will remain independent.

"We are very happy being privately held and will remain so," he said.

Eric Clarke, chief executive of Orion Advisor Services, which is integrated with both platforms, said a partnership between the two makes a lot of sense.

"Both eMoney and MoneyGuidePro are leaders in the financial planning application space and have been innovators in building leading edge integrations with Orion over the years," he said in an email.

eMoney also announced at its conference that it was integrating with other vendors, including BizEquity and Ebix SmartOffice.

"The way we look at ourselves, we want to be the ultimate adviser platform," Ms. Waltrich said.

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