Top 10 financial planning technology platforms By John Sullivan | Published November 1, 2008 From the November/December 2008 Issue No comments Email to a friend Print RSS Feed Subscribe Share If your idea of cutting-edge financial planning software is an Excel spreadsheet with formulas and macros, you probably still have a rotary phone and rabbit ear antennas. Longevity, new products, tax efficiency and a more sophisticated clientele means comprehensive planning software is more critical than ever to a bank advisor 9s success. We partnered with Joel P.
Bruckenstein from Virtual Office News to bring you the top financial planning software platforms. Bruckenstein 9s an internationally recognized expert on applied technology for financial professionals, and he 9s got the insight on the software to help you reach the next level. Some are obvious; others not so much, but an open mind and the correct application of technology will do wonders for the efficiencies in your business.
1. MoneyGuidePro Headquarters: Powhatan, Va. Web site: www.moneyguidepro.com Phone: 800-841-5312 The skinny: MoneyGuidePro takes the top spot, and with the sheer number of advisors using the product, it 9s little wonder.
cTheir new MGP: G2 financial planning application is revolutionary in a number of ways, d says ... more. less.
Bruckenstein. The company hypes the SMART technology imbedded in the platform. Wherever possible, MGP calculates a default value that makes sense and constitutes good planning, according to the company.<br><br> Examples include (for retirement planning goals): automatic determination of planning ages at the 30 percent probability level; automatic calculation of the amount of cash needed to maintain the clients 9 current lifestyle; the Living Expense Ideal Amount is defaulted to 100 percent of the current lifestyle; the Living Expense Acceptable Amount is defaulted to 80 percent of the current lifestyle; automatic calculation of expense amount for the one retired period; and automatic calculation of the expense amount of the one alone period. 2. Fujitsu Headquarters: New York Web site: www.fujitsu.com Phone: 888-385-4878 The skinny: cWhen it comes to workgroup and departmental scanners, they are the ones to beat, d Bruckenstein says.<br><br> cTheir scanners have consistently been at or near the top of our ratings. d Thank goodness he specifically mentioned scanners, because the Japanese electronic behemoth has its hands in just about everything. For more on the benefits of Fujitsu 9s scanning technology for your business (and how it can specifically Page 1 of 4 2/17/2009 http://www.bankadvisormagazine.com/r/baMag/p/mag/magArticlePrint?adcID=c388a9cd9 ... aid in disaster recovery), we refer you to Marc Butler 9s article cFive questions to consider when protecting your business d in our sister publication, Boomer Market Advisor.<br><br> It can be found at www.boomermarketadvisor.com. 3. CRM Software, Inc Headquarters: Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.<br><br> Web site: www.junxure.com Phone: 866-586-9873 The skinny: CRM Software was launched in the late 1990s by two pioneers in personal financial planning and software development. After trying virtually every product available to help handle the effects of growth on his successful financial planning practice, Gregory Friedman, Principal of Friedman & Associates oined Ken Golding of Ken Golding Software to develop a software solution to the firm 9s problems. CRM Software was born.<br><br> Bruckenstein points to Junxure, their best-of- breed CRM program and ClientView as two of the top platforms available. Tailored specifically for financial services professionals, Junxure fuses client management features and workflow automation. As the company notes, cOffice efficiency, here you come. d ClientView enables secure, private Web pages and reporting for clients.<br><br> 4. EISI Headquarters: Carlsbad, Calif. Web site: www.eisi.com Phone: 760-431-9400 The skinny: Founded in 1990, Emerging Information Systems Inc.<br><br> (EISI) claims to be a pioneer in developing productive software solutions for financial advisors and enterprises. Bruckenstein agrees, noting it 9s ca cutting edge firm that leads the market in financial planning software with their two main product lines, Financial Profiles and NaviPlan. d The firm lists a number of cfirsts d as a reason for doing business with them, including first to release Retirement Distribution Planning functionality, first to offer online/offline and data check-in/check-out capabilities, regular software updates address changes in taxation, legislation, and financial planning trends. 5.<br><br> Fidelity Headquarters: Boston, Mass. Web site: www.fidelity.com Phone: 800-FIDELITY The skinny: cI included Fidelity because they are about to launch a totally new Wealth Central platform, d Bruckenstein says. cAlso, they are doing some good work with e-signatures. d Not necessarily a technology company, but honestly, is there anything the Boston-based mutual fund behemoth doesn 9t have its hands in at the moment?<br><br> It 9s the name everyone knows, thanks in part to Peter Lynch 9s storied run in the 1980s. The company managaes close to $2 trillion in its 300 mutual funds. Surprisingly, the company came at No.9 of the top 10 mutual fund companies in the bank channel in our March/April issue.<br><br> But their convenient and user-friendly Web tools means they won 9t rate at the bottom of the channel or long. For the complete Top 10 mutual fund provider list, visit www.bankadvisormagazine.com. 6.<br><br> TD Ameritrade Page 2 of 4 2/17/2009 http://www.bankadvisormagazine.com/r/baMag/p/mag/magArticlePrint?adcID=c388a9cd9 ... Headquarters: Omaha, Neb. Web site: www.tdameritrade.com Phone: 800-454-9272 The skinny: How 9s this for an endorsement?<br><br> According to Bruckenstein, cTheir iRebal application is the Rolls Royce among rebalancing programs. d TD Ameritrade announced it 9s acquisition of iRebal (stands for intelligent rebalancer) in January 2007; a smart move, given Bruckenstein 9s praise. iRebal, is a rule- based application that automatically generates trade recommendations for multiple-account level rebalancing and cash management. It was the first in the industry to provide a solution for family level rebalancing and has attracted more than $15 billion in assets.<br><br> iRebal allows advisors to reduce operational costs and grow their practices without adding additional staff; bring consistency and operational efficiency across the firm; and potentially increase investment returns using its location and rebalancing research. 7. Morningstar Headquarters: Chicago Web site: www.morningstar.com Phone: 312 384-4000 The skinny: cAdvisor Workstation is constantly improving and the Ibbotson acquisitions bearing fruit, d Bruckenstein says.<br><br> Advisor Workstation is a Web-based software platform that integrates client and portfolio data with other desktop systems. Features include in-depth research and real-time delivery, robust and flexible client reports, portfolio management, goal-based planning, and asset allocation tools. According to the company, it creates an efficient working platform that supports an advisor 9s practice.<br><br> The Workstation platform is broken out into two products: Advisor Workstation Enterprise Edition, which is a modular, custom-configured platform for brokerage or clearing firms, and their affiliated advisors. Advisor Workstation Office Edition is an all-inclusive practice system for independent advisors. 8.<br><br> Adobe Headquarters: San Jose, Calif. Web site: www.adobe.com Phone: 800-585-0774 The skinny: cAdobe Acrobat 9 Pro Extended opens up a new, enhanced world of communication, d Bruckenstein loftily says. Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro Extended software now includes Adobe Presenter, Adobe LiveCycle Designer ES, and Adobe 3D Reviewer software.<br><br> The extended version allows users to create interactive on-demand presentations, easily share video in PDF, insert video in PDF, create PDF maps and work with Acrobat.com. 9. Google Headquarters: Mountain View, Calif.<br><br> Web site: www.google.com Phone: 650-253-0000 The skinny: If you 9re wondering why Google made the list, see that rotary phone thing we mentioned in the introduction. It 9s the biggest cwell, duh & d item we 9ve included in the magazine in awhile. But leave it to Bruckenstein to get specific: cChrome, their new Web browser, may eventually extend the Page 3 of 4 2/17/2009 http://www.bankadvisormagazine.com/r/baMag/p/mag/magArticlePrint?adcID=c388a9cd9 ...<br><br> functionality of all Web applications by encouraging a more robust online platform upon which to build Web apps. Android, the new phone O/S is the software that could give the iPhone some real competition. d The Google boys need another 747, so look for continued innovation from a company that continues to amaze. 10.<br><br> Apple Headquarters: Cupertino, CA Web site: www.apple.com Phone: 800-676-2775 The skinny: Bruckenstein believes Apple might be gaining the edge in the Mac/PC wars 3 at least in the financial advisor space (must be the hip commercials). cThe company is increasing laptop market share among advisors, d he says. cWeb applications and virtualization programs make Apple computers a real option for the first time. d With more options than an advisor could possibly want 3 or need 3 Mac continues it 9s string of innovation.<br><br> Heart attack rumors aside (and much to the frustration of our friends at Microsoft) users are making the migration. Page 4 of 4 2/17/2009 http://www.bankadvisormagazine.com/r/baMag/p/mag/magArticlePrint?adcID=c388a9cd9 ... <br><br>