eMoney by Fidelity to gain new competitor from its original founder

Edmond Walters announcing at T3 conference his collaboration with Envestnet and MoneyGuide

Jan 30, 2019 @ 3:00 pm

By Ryan W. Neal

eMoney Advisor founder Edmond Walters is teaming with Envestnet and PieTech's MoneyGuide to introduce financial planning software for advisers that will compete head on with his initial brainchild, which he sold to Fidelity four years ago.

Multiple professionals familiar with the arrangement said Mr. Walters, MoneyGuide CEO Bob Curtis and Envestnet CEO Jud Bergman will announce the financial planning collaboration tomorrow at the T3 Advisor Conference in Dallas, and give specifics about the tool. MoneyGuide is one of the biggest competitors of e-Money, arguably the most popular planning tool among financial advisers.

The companies declined to comment to InvestmentNews before that appearance.

The last time Edmond Walters spoke at the T3 Adviser Conference was in Feburary 2015, just weeks after Fidelity Investments acquired eMoney, the financial planning software company he founded. Seven months later, Mr. Walters resigned from eMoney.

Conditions of Mr. Walters' non-compete agreement with eMoney were satisfied recently. EMoney declined to comment.

According to multiple sources familiar with the companies, the software is built on Finance Logix, a financial planning software Envestnet acquired in 2015 for $30 million.

The user interface and features of the software were designed by Mr. Walters. It will be a more advanced and sophisticated tool than current iterations of Finance Logix, offering features like tax management and estate planning, fintech sources said.

MoneyGuide, which will partner with the companies on distributing it, recently announced an advanced financial planning software of its own called MoneyGuide Elite, but sources said that product is not connected with this tool.

(More: MoneyGuide launches two new financial planning products)

Though many T3 attendees heard rumors Envestnet would be acquiring MoneyGuide, sources said that is not happening.

With both MoneyGuide and Envestnet backing the tool, Mr. Walters hopes to present a serious challenge to Fidelity's eMoney.

Whether the tool will have enough to convince advisers to switch software tools remains to be seen. According to Dennis Gallant, a senior analyst at Aite Group's wealth management practice, advisers are very entrenched in the technology tools they use.

"To get existing eMoney users to switch, especially heavy users, it really has to be a superior software," Mr. Gallant said.

But many advisers aren't married to their current tools, and Envestnet could offer compelling integration opportunities in its tech stack that aren't available elsewhere. Envestnet also has struggled to get advisers to adopt Finance Logix, and president Oleg Tishkevich recently left Envestnet to launch a new company, Invent.us, to help financial institutions develop technology.

(More: Envestnet Yodlee executive Anil Arora steps down)

The combination of Mr. Walters' unique touch and Mr. Curtis' expertise could make financial planning another arrow in Envestnet's technology quiver.

"Advisers may like their planning software, but wish it was more integrated with reporting, for example," Mr. Gallant said. "Envestnet has the opportunity to create a more integrated planning tool that moves into the adviser's workflow. One of the criticisms of financial planning is that it's a step outside of the investment process."

T3 producer Joel Bruckenstein said he is thrilled to have Mr. Walters returning to his conference joined by two other industry leaders.

(More:T3 fintech conference opens with blast of Orion news)

"Jud Bergman runs one of the largest and most respected companies in our industry and he's been a visionary for years," Mr. Bruckenstein said. "Bob Curtis is one of the most visionary and creative guys I know, and I think it's fair to say that Edmond is an outside-the-box thinker who is a very well-respected thinker in this industry."

Since leaving eMoney, Mr. Walters has joined the board at Aretec, the former parent company of Cetera Financial Group, to bring his technology expertise. He was removed in 2018 as part of a corporate overhaul following Cetera's sale to Genstar Capital.

He also was named a 2017 InvestmentNews Icons & Innovator for his eMoney success.


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