How To Choose Financial Planning Software – Forbes Advisor

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The days of crunching numbers with a pencil, paper and a clunky calculator are long gone. Financial planning software makes it possible for anyone—from individuals to advisors at large firms—to make tailored recommendations to their clients.

The right software can overcome common obstacles to creating and updating client plans as well as streamline the entire experience. In a digital world, it’s more important than ever for professionals and clients to have easy—and secure—access to information.

Though cost is a factor, it’s not the only one to consider when choosing financial planning software for your business.

Consider Your Clients’ Needs—and Your Own

Like most things in life, financial planning software isn’t one size fits all. Here are four factors to think about before you look at specific options:

1. Who Are Your Clients?

Do you work with individual millennial and Gen Z clients who are just starting their financial journey? Or do you work with large families who have multiple homes or a family business?

Not every client needs every bell and whistle a particular software might offer. But on the other hand, as your clients’ situations get more complex, you’ll want software that can accommodate their needs.

2. How Do You Communicate?

Do your clients need a hands-on, in-person approach? Or are they comfortable with digital tools?

You’ll want to ensure that any software you choose will fit how your clients prefer to communicate and share information. A client-facing portal or document vault can give them a greater sense of control of the process, but it only works if they’re willing to use it.

3. Is Your Practice Goals Based or Cash Flow Based?

Your software is no good if it doesn’t align with your planning method. Some options operate solely on goal-based planning, in which you determine major financial objectives and make decisions based on them. Others focus on cash flow planning, which looks at money coming in and out and evaluates how to reach potential goals.

Some software options allow for either method of planning, but if you’re committed to one or the other, make sure the software you choose is compatible.

4. Is It Secure?

As cyberattacks increase in frequency and complexity, it’s imperative to keep your clients’ personal details secure.

Beyond practicing healthy email, document and password hygiene, look for a software option that has strong, frequently updated security policies. Two-factor authentication for user access, data backups and encryption are helpful keywords to keep an eye out for in a company’s listed security features.

Popular Financial Planning Software Options

These eight options are popular solutions in the financial planning community:

1. Advisor360

Advisor360 offers three options: Essentials, Extended and Enterprise. Essentials is the most basic, but its advisor portal provides a dashboard with real-time information. The Extended version allows advisors to create proposals and view analytics and also adds a client portal with account aggregation. Enterprise is the most robust offering, with digital onboarding tools and billing for advisors. Pricing is not publicly available.

2. eMoney Advisor

eMoney Advisor offers both foundational and advanced planning tools with a client portal that updates in real-time. Pricing isn’t public, but it has four package levels to fit your needs: Plus, Pro, Premier and Growth.

3. in-stream

inStream offers a variety of tools, including a nine-scenario matrix and a Safe Saving rate analysis geared at younger clients. An individual advisor can sign up for $149 per month ($1,499 per year).

4. Envestnet MoneyGuide

Envestnet’s platforms include MoneyGuideOne, MoneyGuidePro and MoneyGuideElite. The most basic version, MoneyGuideOne, offers variable testing, goal setting and risk tolerance, but MoneyGuidePro and MoneyGuideElite are more robust.

For an individual advisor, MoneyGuideOne costs $50 per month, MoneyGuidePro costs $125 per month and MoneyGuideElite costs $175 per month, each of which require an annual commitment.

5. MoneyTree

Moneytree offers two options: Moneytree Plan and Moneytree Advise. Moneytree Advise caters to advisors who work with clients who are just starting to build wealth or preparing to retire. Moneytree Plan, on the other hand, offers in-depth planning for complex financial situations as well as access to estate planning, tax planning and real estate planning.

Moneytree Advise costs $695 per year. Moneytree Plan costs $1,495 per year.

6. NaviPlan

NaviPlan software provides standard planning tools plus features like equity compensation, estate and insurance planning, and guided retirement planning. Pricing is not available on NaviPlan’s website.

7. Orion

Orion offers both goal-based and cash-flow planning and promises robust simulations. Pricing isn’t available up front online, but retail pricing starts at $12,000, according to the XY Planning Network.

8. Right Capital

RightCapital offers three versions—Basic, Premium and Platinum. The Basic edition includes investment, retirement, college planning features and a student loan management module, along with a secure document vault and tax planning tools. The Premium version includes account aggregation, smart categorization of transactions and business intelligence analytics.

For an individual advisor, the Basic version costs $124.95 per month, while the Premium plan costs $149.95 per month.

You must call RightCapital to get information about its Platinum service.

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