Naviplan, Money Guide Pro and Advisor Vision are the best products in an increasingly crowded financial-planning software market, according to a new analysis by Aite Group in Boston.
Sophie Schmitt, senior analyst at Aite and author of Evaluating Wealth Management Platforms: Financial Planning at the Core, analyzed 13 different planning software packages, which also include Financial Compass, Finantix Components for Financial Planning, Intellect Wealth FNA, Methuselah, Plan Plus Planit, Profiles, TCS Bancs Wealth Management, Thomson Reuters Financial planning, Wealth IQ and Wealth Station.
While she picked three winners, Schmitt says there aren’t any planning software products in the lineup that she wouldn’t recommend. “Firms have to first understand their advisors and their client demographic,” Schmitt says. “Maybe a firm will need to invest in multiple tools,” in order to meet the needs of advisors with different business models.
Best in Show, though, was Naviplan’s new Select product, which beat out competitors for its functionality and breadth, encompassing retirement accumulation and distribution, debt, assets and liabilities. “Naviplan Select is also the most detailed in terms of cash management, and allows for more granular scenario management relative to its peers,” Schmitt says. “You can do side-by-side scenarios on one screen.”
Before Naviplan Select, the firm’s software was seen as too big and complex. This new version is more user friendly. “Firms worried before about advisor adoption should look again,” Schmitt says.
However, firms with advisors looking for a software tool that runs the gamut from customer relationship management tools to wealth management reporting, might be better off with software more suitable for a broader client base. This segment of the market is more awash in choice, but Schmitt likes Money Guide Pro, which beat out competitors as the No. 1 tool for talking to clients about their goals, which is a critical piece of the planning process. Money Guide Pro establishes a range of outcomes, so a client’s dream car might be a Ferrari, but if the market doesn’t cooperate, a Honda will do just fine. “We gave this award for its suitability to planning-driven advisors who work with clients with less than $1 million,” Schmitt says.
For advisors servicing clients below $250,000, Schmitt says just about any product will do, but Advisor Vision won Aite’s accolade for its usefulness to advisors “having trouble adopting planning,” or advisors with large books looking to provide a lighter service to more people. The Naviplan end of the scale is really for advisors who have decided to focus on just a few wealthy clients, for whom they’ll do much deeper plans.
While she doesn’t have the full pricing data, Schmitt says that the software, for which firms usually charge per user, are similar. It’s difficult to say definitively how much these products cost because each firm tends to negotiate its own rate, plus charges for implementation and training.