Two longtime rivals have partnered to fill a gap in Envestnet’s MoneyGuide, one of the most popular financial planning software programs, and the company can’t wait to sell it after feedback from early users.
Envestnet announced Tuesday that it had purchased technology from financial planning software company Apprise Labs, with plans to add much-wanted estate planning tools to MoneyGuide and improve its client portal. Specific terms of the team were not disclosed.
“Apprise Labs has developed a groundbreaking digital experience for advisors to engage and collaborate with their clients. This access and engagement completely transform the way clients view and interact with their finances. It becomes a true superpower for the advisor — helping their clients intelligently connect their financial lives,” Bill Crager, co-founder and CEO at Envestnet said in a statement about the purchase.
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Since its founding more than 25 years ago, MoneyGuide has never offered the sophisticated estate planning tools desired by some wealth managers, who instead opted for additional software outside Envestnet’s universe of solutions. But that will change with the addition of the new technology by Apprise Labs, Tony Leal, president of MoneyGuide, told RIA Intel.
Called Wealth Studios, the cash flow and advanced estate planning solution also helps plan for legacy issues, like trust modeling and inheritance fairness. It will be offered exclusively through MoneyGuide for an additional charge. Features aside, advisors who use Wealth Studios will save themselves the time of establishing another third-party relationship and inputting information twice (in MoneyGuide and then somewhere else).
Reviews from beta users, which included large wealth managers and small RIAs, have been “incredibly positive” and they say Wealth Studios fills MoneyGuide’s gap in advanced estate planning, according to Leal.
“The opportunity is huge, that’s the reason we were so focused on doing it,” he said. “I want to go sell it.”
Apprise Labs partnered with Envestnet and MoneyGuide more than two years ago and began building the technology for them. It wholly met expectations and so the sale was recently announced.
Edmond Walters, the founder and CEO of Apprise Labs, previously founded and led eMoney, another popular financial planning software that was eventually acquired by Fidelity Investments in 2014. “He was my frenemy,” said Leal, who has spent 26 years working for MoneyGuide. “We enjoyed competing against each other for many years.”
Walters will continue to work at Apprise Labs, but Leal is looking forward to their companies continuing to collaborate and working closely with him. “We’re so incredibly excited about what we’ve already reviewed and incredibly excited about what he’s going to be creating in the future,” Leal said about Walters.
“Envestnet truly understands the value of financial advice, and the advisor-client relationship. I'm excited that they continue to take client engagement to the next level—now with more interactive experiences as well as deeper income and legacy planning capabilities. I look forward to continuing our collaboration to provide new ways for advisors to improve the way they connect with their clients," Walters said in a statement about the sale.
The technology purchase from Apprise Labs is the latest development at MoneyGuide, which has announced other changes in recent weeks.
In February, the company revealed that it had begun selling access to the proprietary algorithms that power its own tools — a difficult strategic decision but the best one for the company’s future, Leal said. It also announced a new, first-of-its-kind connection with MaxMyInterest, a cash management solution for advisors.
Michael Thrasher (@Mike_Thrasher) is a reporter at RIA Intel based in New York City.