While the financial industry has been notoriously slow to employ the full potential of new technologies, new financial technology startups are driving the development of compelling new business models. There’s Venmo for splitting tabs, RobinHood for buying stocks, and Lemonade for buying insurance.
Leading the charge on financial planning is eMoney Advisor, a provider of planning-led wealth management software and solutions for financial advisors, firms, and enterprises. Its tools are used by some of the biggest financial firms around the country and its market share is among the highest in the industry.
In 2015, a very forward-thinking Fidelity Investments acquired eMoney. Since the acquisition, eMoney has expanded its product roadmap, doubled its employee size, and grown its client base. Its aggregate assets are now worth a whopping $2.3T.
A Changing Industry
“The financial advice industry is in the middle of a transformative period. The business models that have underpinned the sector since its inception are being disrupted and reshaped by a number of forces ranging from regulatory pressure to technological change,” says Megan Murray, head of finance at eMoney. “The commission- based model financial advisors have typically seen success from is being challenged as the industry—and perhaps more importantly, its investors—embrace an advice-based approach that provides advisors with the opportunity to charge for their service rather than only for the products they sell.”
The industry also now focuses on comprehensive financial planning— that is, identifying financial goals unique to each investor for different stages in their lives. For example, an investor might want to build college funds for her children, buy a vacation home, or retire at 55. Younger folks may not even have money to invest yet. Instead, they need a financial plan to help them pay off student debt or manage budgeting and spending. Advisors help them develop a wealth management roadmap that forecasts how these goals might be achieved. Naturally, today’s tech-savvy investors demand more visibility in the management of their plans and the flexibility to change them as needed wherever they are, on whatever device they choose.
“We understand that leading with financial planning might be a big change for some of our clients. Whether it’s a technology change, a behavior change, a workflow change, or all three, we strive for seamless implementation and high user adoption. Ultimately, we strive to help our clients work more efficiently to drive business growth and provide better outcomes for their clients,” says Murray.
The “FlexGen” Movement
The advisors who are succeeding in meeting these new customer needs are what eMoney calls “FlexGen Advisors.”
“FlexGen advisors have a fresh mindset and view opportunities where many traditional advisors may see challenges,” explains Murray. They display common traits such as embracing change, a love of learning, challenging conventions, being forward-thinking, focusing on delivering a great client experience, and utilizing technology more often to achieve these goals.
When eMoney surveyed 458 financial advisors in partnership with Fidelity in the 2018 FlexGen Advisor Study1, it found that advisors with these traits reported, on average, a 24% increase in assets under management compared to a 14% increase by their peers. FlexGen Advisors were also found to more often provide clients with an interactive experience (82%) than their peers (47%).
“FlexGen advisors are making waves and doing some really exciting things to transform the industry and how they serve their clients. By applying new technologies and strategies, FlexGen Advisors are improving the way they develop and market their businesses, shape their client experiences, and build their work environments,” says Murray.
Innovating for the Customer
“eMoney adapts a FlexGen mindset to how we operate as well. This is evidenced in the decision to work with partners like Zuora, who helped us transform important parts of our client experience,” says Murray.
A few years ago, eMoney realized it had to revamp its service model. The company was operating offline and knew it wasn’t scalable, and customers wanted a better digital experience. It partnered with Zuora and successfully transformed itself from a traditional service model to a subscription-based business model. One of the key benefits of the change has been the ability to offer an improved customer experience via an extensible self-service platform for customers to view contracts and update payments online.
Delivering innovation to its customers is a core company value. “We’re constantly researching, building, and testing new prototypes and solutions behind the scenes that solve for many of the challenges our clients say they face,” says Murray.
Once the company has a new product or feature to launch, it uses agile methodology to go to market more quickly. Being agile means that eMoney iterates in shorter periods of time to ensure the product or feature is where it needs to be, making adjustments along the way.
Customer feedback is taken very seriously and plays a key role in the innovation process. In fact, the company has an entire platform called UserVoice that’s dedicated to capturing and prioritizing client feedback so it can be incorporated into the company’s roadmap.
It is this focus on continuously evolving the customer experience that has ensured customer satisfaction is at an all-time high. eMoney ranked first in the industry in customer satisfaction (8.05/10) in a recent study by T3 (T3/Inside Information Software Survey, 2019).
With more than 60,000 happy customers, its unbeatable innovation, and, a customer-centric approach, eMoney is redefining financial planning for the financial industry of tomorrow.
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