Fidelity's eMoney Advisor partners with Schwab

Tech vendor says, professional rivalry aside, integration with Schwab's OpenView Gateway upholds its commitment to support advisers regardless of where they custody assets

Nov 15, 2017 @ 2:22 pm

By Ryan W. Neal

Financial planning technology firm eMoney Advisor plans to integrate with Schwab Advisor Services' OpenView Gateway, eMoney announced today at the annual Charles Schwab IMPACT conference in Chicago.

The move is interesting given the competitive history between Schwab and eMoney's parent company, Fidelity, but not necessarily surprising. Since Fidelity acquired eMoney in February 2015 for an estimated $250 million, both companies have assured advisers that eMoney would operate as an independent technology company that supports advisers regardless of where they custody assets.

Last week, eMoney's head of business development, Stephen Langlois, announced two new executive hires – Jeffery Schwantz as senior vice president and head of enterprise sales, and Shannon Porro as vice president of strategic partnerships – as part of a new commitment to expand eMoney's presence with banks, insurance, large broker-dealers and, apparently, custodians.

The technology firm from Radnor, Pa., has traditionally focused on independent advisers. Sixty percent of eMoney's 50,000 users are affiliated with individual advisers, while the other 40% are with firms, larger financial institutions and enterprises.

ACQUISITION STRATEGY

Mr. Langlois, who came to eMoney in May from Fidelity Wealth Technologies, said part of the strategy behind the eMoney acquisition was to provide advisers affiliated with Fidelity access to leading financial planning tools. The other side of the equation was a belief that the future of advice is planning-led, and eMoney could apply broadly across the industry.

"If you want to have a dominant market share or be a market leader, you have to support not only advisers and institutions that work with Fidelity, but also work with Fidelity's competitors. People who custody with Schwab; people who clear with Pershing," Mr. Langlois told InvestmentNews, comparing it to the way investment products are distributed among businesses that traditionally competed for assets. "We operate in an open-architecture world."

Mr. Langlois said partnering with financial institutions is proof that eMoney won't bias future development and innovation towards Fidelity advisers, leaving other users with second-class technology.

Schwab was unavailable to comment, but John Connor, vice president of Schwab Advisor Services technology solutions, said in a statement that the integration with eMoney would, "provide our mutual clients with an efficient, integrated experience."

POTENTIAL DOWNSIDE

Mike Byrnes, president of Byrnes Consulting, said that while the integrations are a testament to eMoney as a tool for advisers, being available to multiple advisers at multiple custodians could have a downside.

"As custodians choose to offer the same tools to their RIA clients, they will continue to have to look for new ways to differentiate themselves from one another," Mr. Byrnes said.

At the IMPACT conference, eMoney also revealed additional details about its 2018 product roadmap, including an integration with Envestnet's updated Tamarac software for bi-directional data flow and single sign-on access, and cloud content management firm Box to let users access content from the eMoney Vault. The company also has plans to integrate CapitalRock's RightBRIDGE product recommendation software.

(More: A sneak peek at eMoney's product roadmap.)

After implementation, eMoney will count 20 integration partners on its financial planning system.

In a statement, Jessica Liberi, eMoney's senior vice president of product management, said, "the number of potential integration partners in the marketplace today reflects the growing complexities of an adviser's practice."

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