Exclusive: Fidelity to acquire eMoney Advisor in major adviser-tech deal

Analysts say deal is a signature statement about adviser-tech integrations by the Boston investment giant

Feb 2, 2015 @ 7:00 am

By Trevor Hunnicutt

Fidelity Investments will acquire eMoney Advisor, a top financial-planning software manufacturer, in a move that could resonate as one of its most potent adviser-technology deals to date.

Conshohocken, Pa.-based eMoney makes a popular software platform used by 46 of the nation's top 50 broker-dealers and 25,000 employees of banks and registered investment advisory firms, including those affiliated with Fidelity's arch rivals in the custodial business.

Fidelity plans to announce the deal Monday. Terms will not be disclosed.

The acquisition is a milestone investment by Boston-based Fidelity, the nation's No. 2 mutual fund company behind The Vanguard Group Inc. Fidelity also offers brokerage services to advisers and a host of firms offering wealth-management services.

“It's clear that our clients are putting a premium on integration,” said Edward D. O'Brien, head of platform technology for Fidelity Institutional, the unit that caters to advisers. “There's absolutely a movement underway to make those more seamless.”

The deal serves as a reminder of the advantage of being one of few dominant technology platforms, analysts said.

“Well-entrenched RIA technology companies, with broad distribution, are in short supply,” said Zohar Swaine, president of Mink Hollow Advisors, a consultant in the space. “Forward-thinking organizations recognize that.”

(More: What's next in adviser technology?)

Last month, eMoney released a new platform, emX, including features supporting goals-based financial planning. The company says that in all, it tracks more than $1.4 trillion in client assets.

Competitors include MoneyGuidePro, made by PIEtech Inc., and NaviPlan, by Advicent Solutions.

The deal also reflects a push by large firms that work with advisers to acquire and integrate adviser-technology offerings on their platforms.

SS&C Technologies Holdings Inc. is reportedly exploring a bid for Advent Software, maker of widely used portfolio-management software. Morningstar Inc. took control of ByAllAccounts Inc., which aggregates account information from a host of firms, last year. And Envestnet Inc. acquired portfolio management software Tamarac in 2012.

Mr. O'Brien said those deals did not influence Fidelity's strategic plan, including its vision for a “total adviser platform.”

eMoney will continue to operate independently, maintaining integrations with other technology firms and relationships with other custodians, according to Fidelity. eMoney will also keep its founder and chief executive, Edmond J. Walters, as well as senior executives and technology staff.

Mr. Walters, a former adviser, said the firm had more than 40 potential suitors, which he didn't list. None stood a chance, he said.

“Who can compare with Fidelity,” said Mr. Walters. “I didn't tell them at the time, but they were a clear winner.”

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