The Conshohocken, Pa.-based eMoney Advisor LLC, which develops and distributes Web-based wealth planning tools, recently announced the launch of their latest versions: eMoney 360 and eMoney 360 Pro. Both versions offer an aggregated, comprehensive view of a client's portfolio, as well as tools that enable advisors to better serve their clients.
eMoney 360 Pro is designed for sophisticated advisors who are fee-based or fee-only and deliver comprehensive financial planning to high-net-worth clients. eMoney 360 is built for more sales-oriented organizations or those that are primarily product-oriented and commission-based. Both products offer an advisor portal and a client portal. While this upgrade impacts both the advisor and the client portals, the more dramatic changes this time around are on the client portal side, so we'll begin our discussion there.
The client Web site portal has been completely redesigned from the ground up. Even though the new site is a significant upgrade over the earlier version, eMoney will maintain the older "classic" version for existing clients for a period of time so that advisors can familiarize themselves and their clients with the new version before making the switch. New clients added to the system will begin with the upgraded version.
According to Jon Wagner, senior vice president and chief architect at eMoney, the firm had some specific goals in mind when they undertook this upgrade. "Clients now have access to an unlimited amount of information on the Internet," he says, "so our goal was not to provide more information; we wanted to provide a great user experience." Clients expect to get current information, but they also want the process of accessing the information to be easy, and they want to be able to access the data on the device of their choice. That's the sort of experience eMoney is trying to provide.
eMoney also wanted the client portal to be something that clients would use every day. Their research showed that the most heavily used features on the client side were budgeting, tracking spending, tracking investments and investment research, so a heavy emphasis was placed on these aspects of the portal. As we shall see, many of the goals and points of emphasis have been addressed in this new version.
When a client logs on to the home page of the new site, the look and feel is modern and clean. It is also iPad- and iPhone-friendly. In the upper left corner, there is a box that contains the advisor's firm name, the name of the advisor and the advisor's contact information with hotlinks. If there are multiple advisors associated with a client relationship, the primary one is displayed in the box. The others will be displayed if the client clicks on the other advisor link.
Below the advisor box is a list of account types (cash, credit cards, investments, etc.) with a consolidated total for each account grouping. Clicking the arrow beside a category displays the individual accounts and balances. To the right of the accounts list are tiles of widgets. In my sample, the tiles were: Net Worth, Spending, Investments, Protection (insurance), Investments, Budget and Reports. According to Wagner, eMoney had a bit of a dilemma here: "Everyone says that they want to see something different here, but when you make the page highly configurable, nobody customizes it."
eMoney went for the middle ground here. Where appropriate, they created two or three standard views per tile. Clients can scroll from view to view with a mouse click. When users finds a favorite, they simply leave that one displayed, and the application will remember it on future visits. Each tile displays high-level information. For example, the Spending tile only displays a pie chart of spending categories for the month and lists the top three. By clicking "more," however, you can reveal the total list of categories as well as the spending within each category. The details link, available on each tile, displays further details. Within the details page, you can filter by spending category, time period and account. You can also view budgets and transactions and filter them too.
The accounts section is much improved, making it easier to manage aggregated connections. In one change, eMoney streamlined the identification of institutions. Now when a client types in a common name that returns a lot of hits (Fidelity, for example), the system will automatically display the 20 most popular results.
In the spending and budgeting area, the system will now automatically categorize transactions that clients can see if their spending targets are being met. According to eMoney, more than 90% of transactions are categorized correctly.
For those that are not, or those that the system can't categorize, clients can categorize the transaction manually and, if necessary, add a rule so that similar transactions are categorized properly in the future. For example, if the client pays $800 each month on around the 25th for rent, the bank may list the transaction without a category. The client can set up a rule saying any check for $800 drawn on this bank account between the 25th and the 30th of the month should be categorized as rent, and all subsequent payments will be categorized properly.
On the investment side, there are three important upgrades. One is intraday pricing (with a 20-minute delay). The second is integrated research. What this means is if a client clicks on a holding, they can see the research available for that holding. The third is the move from static investment views to dynamic ones, allowing the client to view data in a way that is individualized to their liking.
The client vault has been redesigned and enhanced. Drag-and-drop functionality has been added, making it easier to work with files. Multiple file uploads are now possible, and it is not necessary for the user to wait for the upload to complete before accessing other parts of the application. A "download all" function has been added. This creates a giant zip file containing all client documents and then downloads it to the client's computer. Search functionality has been enhanced. It is now possible to tag files and later search for them across multiple folders by tag. In addition, a client private folder has been added for storing birth certificates, passports and other important documents.
Enhancements have been made to the default investment assumptions used throughout the system. This includes an update of the security mapping to take advantage of growth, value and blended asset classes. As part of this upgrade, 11 new asset classes were added to provide increased granularity. In addition, and perhaps more significantly, the firm has provided the ability for the first time for the user to manage Advisor Investment Assumptions (model portfolios, asset classes, market indices and security overrides) globally. Currently, all existing clients have their own individual investment assumptions in the fact finder; however, advisors now have the option of continuing with the current system or to use a set of advisor investment assumptions across all clients. The advantage of the latter system is that it relieves the advisor of the need to update and maintain investment assumptions client by client, which can be cumbersome and time consuming.
A multigenerational reporting capability has been added. This allows the advisors to report on all intergenerational transfers, during life and at death, in one report. In support of this feature, eMoney has added numerous fields to the application, including great-grandchildren and charities. It also allows users to suppress the output of spouse names on reports for family members and individuals. For charitable contributions, you can now run simulations that support all adjusted gross income (AGI) limitations to give a more realistic illustration of any tax impact. In another estate planning upgrade, eMoney now allows you to specify whether income with respect to the decedent (IRD) should be assessed and shown for IRA beneficiaries.
Support of IRAs has been enhanced. The beneficiaries tab now includes an "inherited qualified asset" tab so you can specify whether an IRA is simply inherited, or if stretch IRA provisions apply. You can also specify the RMD factor used to calculate RMD as well as other details that were previously omitted. A new 529 contribution tab is included. Support for contingent and secondary beneficiaries has been added for IRAs, as well as annuities, deferred compensation and life insurance.
Other improvements include support for or additional support for the handling of various trusts; support for qualified education and medical expense gifts; and trust calculators. eMoney offers a number of additional service and features that, while not new, are worthy of mention.
eMoney For Outlook
eMoney for Outlook is an add-in that you can download and install. It is displayed whenever you use MS Outlook. The add-in's features appear in three places within MS Outlook: In a new menu item at the top menu bar labeled eMoney, on the toolbar, you'll see a new eMoney button, and on the right side of MS Outlook you'll see a new eMoney information pane. One feature is the ability to sync Outlook contacts with eMoney clients. This requires a one-time setup, but there is a wizard that guides you through the process. Once your information has been synced, the eMoney information pane allows you to view your clients' most important data from right within Outlook (client rank, personal balance sheet, investment data and insurance data). You can view the data by selecting a contact or by selecting an e-mail from one of your contacts, so each time you receive an e-mail from a client, the eMoney pane will display his or her data. A report icon allows you to access a great deal of information about the client without leaving Outlook. If a deeper dive is required, you can jump to the full eMoney product from within Outlook.
Data Entry Services
If you want to outsource the setup and maintenance of client files, eMoney can help. They will set up client accounts for you, scan paper documents to client vaults, upload electronic documents to client vaults, generate periodic reports for clients, and set up your clients' personal Web sites. Fees vary depending on each advisory firm's needs, but the cost can often be substantially less than performing the tasks in house.
eMoney Advisor Marketing
This includes celebrity-narrated HD video, branded with your logo and contact information. It also includes interactive client presentations, hosted Web links, custom logo animation and professional on-demand printed materials. Prices start at as little as $100 per month.
Overall, there is little in this upgrade to complain about. The client portal is significantly better. The advisor portal adds additional functionality. The advisor portal still has some shortcomings, like the older interface and the fact that it only supports Internet Explorer browsers, but those remaining issues should be addressed soon.
According to eMoney, they plan to perform more frequent, incremental releases instead of their large, annual ones. Improvements on the road map include: applying the new user interface to the advisor portal; a new mobile version of eMoney; budget, transaction and savings alerts; and more collaborative features. eMoney is also developing a separate product that will be able to pull data from multiple platforms (as they currently do) and then deliver it to another platform or platforms for a fee.
Overall, eMoney appears to be upping their game. With a new, more intuitive interface, additional functionality and more upgrades on the way soon, the firm's future looks bright.