eMoney Advisor unveils Project Avocado for mobile budgeting

Fidelity-owned fintech also overhauls planning features for wealthiest clients and unveils new API store for developers

Oct 17, 2019 @ 10:54 am

By Ryan W. Neal

Offering a playful nod to millennial fondness of a certain green vegetable, eMoney Advisor showed off its new mobile budgeting app called Project Avocado at its annual conference for advisers.

The financial planning technology vendor, which is owned by Fidelity Investments, also revealed enhancements to its Advanced Planning tool for complex financial planning and introduced a digital storefront for developers to more easily build integrations with the financial planning vendor, during its annual eMoney Summit, which wrapped up Wednesday in Austin, Texas.

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Project Avocado, designed to help consumers track spending habits and make improvements in saving, was originally conceived as a tool to help connect with millennials, said Jess Liberi, eMoney head of product. However, she said the company is really designing the app to be useful for retirement plan participants of all ages.

The tool will identify the user's spending challenges, help them act with education and nudges about how behavior changes — such as a spending less at restaurants or paying more to student loans — can improve long-term financial health.

"Make those small behavioral changes today and show them the impact that they can have on their finances in the future," Ms. Liberi said.

Eventually Project Avocado will include financial planning goals beyond retirement, such as building an emergency fund, being properly insured or paying down student loans. While eMoney intended the tool primarily for retirement plan advisers to offer plan participants, the firm is getting interest from advisers interested in offering it to traditional brokerage clients or even using it as a prospecting tool.

The idea is to make it easier for investors to do self-guided planning, similar to the goal behind Envestnet MoneyGuide's MyBlocks interface.

[More: MoneyGuide, eMoney battle for financial planning software crown]

While Project Avocado is aimed at lowering the threshold of planning for the simplest of goals, eMoney also introduced the next generation of its Advanced Planning feature for advisers building complex financial plans for wealthy clients.

Taking some lessons eMoney learned from Foundational Planning, a platform launched last year to help create simpler goals-based financial plans, the new Advanced Planning is more interactive and features more streamlined workflows.

Advanced Planning now features a modern, cleaner aesthetic and allows advisers to edit or add client data on the spot, instead of having to open another tool. Advisers also can view multiple financial plans side-by-side to demonstrate multiple scenarios for clients.

Advanced Planning will also automatically give advisers insights to how they can help clients achieve their financial plan, such as encouraging a client to wait a few more years to retire or save a little bit more each month.

eMoney is updating its progress-to-goals tracker to to help advisers demonstrate how much their advice is worth to clients. Now the tool will show clients exactly when an adviser made a recommendation, such as saving more into a retirement account, and then quantify how much value that advice added, Ms. Liberi said.

Finally, eMoney launched eMoney Access, a digital marketplace of application programming interfaces (APIs) that developers can use to access individual features on the eMoney platform, such as planning, client data or document storage.

With that marketplace, developers at financial institutions or third-party technology vendors can embed individual elements of eMoney into their existing technology.

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"No two firms are the same, and we realize they rely on multiple technology systems to operate their businesses and serve their clients," Ms. Liberi said in a statement. "By utilizing eMoney Access, users can create unique internal workflows and differentiated client experiences."

United Capital, which was recently acquired by Goldman Sachs, is the first firm to use the marketplace, using eMoney's APIs to give advisers the ability to transfer financial planning goals, the details behind those goals, the account values and the funded status of that particular financial plan to other tools in United Capital's FinLife CX platform.


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