A Sneak Peak at Envestnet’s Upgraded iPad App

This is an overview of Envestnet’s updated iPad app that was demoed at the Tools and Technology Today (T3) Conference that was held from February 11-13, 2013 in Miami, FL.

The presenters were Marion Asnes, Managing Director, Chief Marketing Officer and Blake Wood, Vice President, Product Management.

Wood explained some of the drivers behind the development of Envestnet’s mobile strategy. One driver was the explosion of online technology becoming available to the end investor. Clients now have the ability to self-aggregate their portfolios and run analytics using free websites such as Personal Capital or Mint.com. These and other self-directed tools from custodians like TD Ameritrade and Fidelity are making it easier for investors to manage their own portfolios, he said.Envestnet Advisor Desktop

Another driver was the need to provide a consistent user experience across all platforms, Wood reported. To achieve this, Envestnet re-designed their interfaces using HTML5, so that there would be exactly the same user experience no matter if you were on a desktop PC or an iPad. The only difference being that users on an iPad can swipe to change screens, he noted.

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Financial Advisor Technology: 9 Apps to Improve Your Practice

This is a summary of panel discussion from the Tools and Technology Today (T3) Conference that took place February 11-13, 2013 in Miami, FL.

Moderator: Joel Bruckenstein, T3


This was probably one of the most popular sessions at T3. Unfortunately, the room was half the size it needed to be. People were standing and sitting all around and every seat was full of enthusiastic attendees. I wouldn’t have been surprised to hear that people were scalping tickets outside the door!

While it was crowded and started to get hot and stuffy towards the end, we certainly weren’t disappointed. Bill, Joel and Davis provided a smorgasbord of useful tech ideas that can improve efficiency and add value to many aspects of an advisors’ practice.

What tools can help improve client presentations?

idea FlightWinterberg and Janowski had a number of interesting suggestions in this area that would work both when your client is in your office and also when they are remote. There was also some discussion about whether to buy a large, flat panel monitor and hang it in the conference room or buy a bunch of iPads (or other tablets) instead.

Due to the explosion of tablets on the market, half of your clients under 50 probably have one already. So having meeting presentation software that supports mobile devices is not a bad idea. The many small screens option also frees you from conference room gridlock. You can hold presentations anywhere you like. Even outside, if it’s a nice day and your office has good WiFi range. These suggestions will work no matter which method you prefer.ideaFlight logo

Winterberg started off by recommending an app for sharing presentations on your iPad called Idea Flight. It uses aspects of an airline metaphor (i.e. pilot and passengers instead of presenter and audience) in their user interface. The “pilot” controls the presentation and up to 15 other iPads can be “passengers” and watch. The advantage of this form of presentation is that each participant has a high resolution, color screen only a few inches away. No straining to see the monitor or problem with viewing angles. The downside is that you need to have an iPad for everyone attending the meeting and your office needs to have wifi. With the price of technology dropping, this is probably not much of an obstacle. Second generation wifi-only iPads are available from Apple for only $399.

While their design is pleasant to look at and the app appears easy to use, there are some limitations. The biggest one is that it only supports sharing of PDF files. If all you need to do is walk clients through their performance reports or financial plans, then you probably won’t be bothered by this. However, if you would like to share your entire screen, other applications or video, then you should look at alternatives like join.me or Fuze Meeting (described below).

Idea Flight is a bargain at only $8 for the presenter and free for viewers.

You may want to wait before downloading this app since the most recent version appears to have introduced a number of bugs, which users are complaining about in the Review Section of the App Store.

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NorthWestern Mutual to Roll Out LifeYield iPad App to Advisors

NorthWestern Mutual rolled out a new investment platform for advisors that integrates technology and services from a number of different vendors to provide and end-to-end wealth management experience. A big part of this platform is retirement planning and the core of this is provided by LifeYield, which will soon include an iPad app for advisors. Details about the new platform were presented by Erin Ennis, Senior Investment Consultant, Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company and Jack Sharry, EVP, Strategic Development, LifeYield in a session at the Money Management Institute’s 2012 Tech & Ops Conference, which was held in Jersey City, NJ.

Sharry observed that a typical investor in the mass affluent segment and above has 2-3 advisor relationships at different firms along with five or six accounts at each. Most of these investors are open to the idea of consolidation, but need a good reason to do so, he said. NorthWest Mutual’s platform conforms to a new approach to retirement planning recently developed by the MMI Retirement Solution Committee, of which Jack Sharry is chairman. The approach is called Personal Retirement Income Solution Management (PRISM) and is explained in a white paper entitled An Emerging Category: Personal Retirement Income Solution Management.

NorthWestern Mutual’s platform was designed to provide advisors with a set of compelling argument for clients to consolidate assets with them. it provides advisors with powerful tools to assist clients in planning for and optimizing cash flow during their retirement, Sharry said.

LifeYield iPad App Retire 2012

The LifeYield iPad app will enable NorthWestern Mutual’s advisors to demonstrate to clients how they are progressing towards their retirement goals quickly and easily, according to Ennis. They can click one button and change the inputs and the app will instantly show the effects on their future savings. The app, which is called LifeYield Illustrator, speeds up processing by using default mortality tables, running scholastically, with an inherent level of success in meeting minimum level of thresholds, driven by NorthWest Mutual’s capital assumptions, he said.

For example, say a client wants to have $1 million in income starting the first year of retirement. After entering their current state into the system, it will promptly generate a display as shown on the right. In this case, the system projects that the client will only have $710K in income, even with tax optimization. To try and rectify this, the advisor can quickly push the retirement date out five years and recalculate. As you can see in the next screen, the result of the change is that their projected income is now $995K, which is just about at their goal.

Ennis explained that advisors can run alternative scenarios in a matter of minutes. The LifeYield system is efficient, accurate and consistent and ensures that the advice being provided is directionally correct. This helps to establish a sound, proven judicious planning process, he said.

Increasing Wallet Share

LifeYield has a history of working with managed accounts, according to Martin Cowley, LifeYield’s EVP of Product Development. The system helps clients to methodically Retire 2017generate the most retirement income possible from a preexisting set of investments. But it isn’t a simple process, he said. There are many inputs required in order to generate a retirement income stream including withdrawal sequencing, tax optimization, and the firm’s capital markets assumptions, to name just a few.

Some recent research done by Ernst & Young and commission by LifeYield discovered large benefits when properly locating assets before retirement, Cowley reported. This minimizes the future tax footprint across the same set of assets. A high level display of simple asset locations on the future iPad app is shown on the right. It shows bonds located mainly in the IRAs and equities located mainly in the taxable accounts, in a simplistic format that can be shown to clients.

In order to allow advisors to demonstrate these benefits to their clients, LifeYield took their trading algorithm and baked it into a Monte Carlo Simulation and played it out over time, which is then represented graphically, he said.

If the advisor has access to a list of the client’s outside assets (those that are managed by other institutions), LifeYield can evaluate them and generate a report showing the potential increases in assets and retirement cash that the system could generate when compared to where they are managed now. This type of report can be extremely helpful to advisors in order to increase their client wallet share and encourage them to consolidate assets, Cowley proposed.

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iPad App Review: goalGetter

This is a review of the goalGetter iPad app from ASI Advisor Software.

goalGetter is a personal financial planning app targeted at the end investor.  It is a very simple tool designed to help plan for large financial events.  It’s easy to use with a clean, intuitive layout that allows you to drag and drop to create goals.

The available goals include Retirement, Home & Property, Education, Big Toys (cars, boats, etc.), Life’s Milestones (weddings, babies, etc.), Vacations, Charity and Medical Bills.  You can set an unlimited number of goals, but the interface gets cluttered when you have more than a ten or so.

The app’s single screen consists of a bar graph with dollars on the vertical axis and time on the horizontal. To create a goal, just select an icon from the list at the bottom and drag it onto the graph.  Dragging the icon up down changes the estimate cost and left and right changes the year the goal needs to be funded by.  This function is quite simple to use.

There is an icon of a piggy bank that is stuck on the first year of the graph.  You can drag this icon up and down to change the amount of money you current have in savings.  The bar chart instantly changes to show how much you will have saved going forward (green bars) and whether you will have a funding deficit (red bars) when it comes time to pay for your goals.

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Merrill Tailors Mobile Tools to Advisor Demand

From an article published on March 22, 2012 by Tom Stabile

Merrill Lynch has shaped a rolling development strategy to consistently upgrade functionality on mobile devices for its advisors and wealth management clients – an approach that eventually should lead to the ability to construct portfolios and execute trades on tablet computers.

The focus on keeping an active and evolving pipeline of new tools has already led to a wave of features that came online in the past year, most of them in response to advisor demand, says Grande Bucca, managing director for business infrastructure and controls for the wirehouse. Some of the new features for smartphones or tablet computers, such as the iPad, include access to e-mail, research content, client financial data and performance reporting tools.

“We still think we’re at the very beginning here,” Bucca says. “Our people essentially want to be on the [main] platform itself. The tablet especially gives us more real estate and enables us to deliver more tools to the advisor.”

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