Figlo Swings for the Fences Against Financial Planning Software Heavyweights
Earlier this year, we held a financial planning software throwdown here at Wealth Management Today between eMoney Advisor and MoneyGuidePro—two of the most popular financial planning applications on the market. We scored both packages on a five-point scale in seven categories: user experience, client portal, planning, analytics and reporting, integrations, security and cost. Both tools scored well, but eMoneyAdvisor came out ahead as a solution for upper-level wealth managers.
A new product is ready to join the fray—Figlo from Milwaukee-based Advicent Solutions. Figlo provides modern design elements that advisors have come to expect from their online experiences. While their product is not as robust as either eMoney Advisor or MoneyGuide Pro, Figlo’s client-centric and interactive capabilities make the tool a strong contender to challenge the market leaders for advisors that feel threatened by robo-advisors and their all digital offerings.
Advicent is swinging for the fences with their acquisition of Figlo. But, how do Figlo’s features and benefits add up against its heavyweight rivals? Can they help Advicent emerge from the pack? Let’s find out if they hit a home run or not.
Financial Planning Software Shootout, Continued
Two years ago, Figlo was a Dutch fintech firm specializing in financial planning software for advisors in European and Asian markets. Advicent purchased Figlo in 2014, bringing its user-centric and interactive approaches to Advicent’s own suite of solutions. Profiles, a similar goals-based product in the Advicent lineup, covers much the same ground and has a fervent user community. With Figlo, Advicent is positioning it as their global solution for goals-based planning and a complement to NaviPlan, Advicent’s premier solution for advanced financial planning.
Among advisors that offer financial planning, eMoney Advisor and MoneyGuidePro dominate with nearly half of the market according to Financial Planning magazine’s 2015 tech survey. Advicent’s current solutions are mired in a crowded field with MoneyTree, SunGard, Advizr and others, all with single-digit usage rates.
Figlo has had strong sales outside of the US, with over 750 clients and two million active users.
One of the main reasons for Advicent’s purchase was to acquire the Dutch firm’s interactive platform for simplifying the financial planning process. Collaboration is a key aspect of the Figlo user experience. An advisor and client can meet with the Figlo dashboard in front of them and review the client’s complete financial picture, constructed from real and granular data. Working together on the dashboard, the advisor and client can make changes on the fly, testing a plan under different variables or assumptions and trying out different solutions to correct shortfalls or budget deficits.
Figlo needs to expand this feature to allow remote screen sharing, similar to what is offered by eMoney Advisor. This gives clients the option to review their financial plan without having to come into the office.
An advisor can show a client in real time where the potential gaps are in their plan and how changes can impact the likelihood of success. That kind of user experience sets the stage for engaging client interactions and conversations that lead to planning opportunities.
Navigation on the Figlo dashboard is simple. Large icons across the top of the dashboard allow an advisor to jump between the three primary functions of the tool; Assess, Solve, and Achieve.
Figlo does not offer an app for smartphone or tablet access, which research shows most users prefer. This is due to an app’s ability to take advantage of the phone or tablet hardware to offer additional usability features as well as their better performance over web versions.
Most of the activity on the Figlo dashboard happens on the “lifeline”. An advisor or a client can use the lifeline to add major events that require substantial financial resources—the goals of goals-based planning. Red and green bars on this lifetime help a client quickly grasp whether their goals are currently funded or will need to be addressed in the planning process.
The advisor can easily switch the lifeline from a goals-based view to a cash flow view and show clients where they have an income surplus (yellow bars instead of green in this view) or a cash flow shortfall (red bars). Plus, the advisor can drill down to show the numbers behind the visualizations on a year-by-year basis, for any client who wants to see the details.
The “lifeline” format does not visualize where each client goal fits in or how changing one goal can affect the others as well as either eMoney Advisor or MoneyGuide Pro. The screen appears a bit cluttered when you have a lot of goals and assets floating around the lifeline. This could be confusing to some clients.
While Figlo uses a visual orientation to illustrate a client’s financial plan, it does not provide the same robust functionality as either eMoney Advisor or MoneyGuide Pro. However, this may not be an issue for advisors that do not need to create very complex financial plans.
The “hub” of the client experience that Figlo promises comes to life in the client portal. This is where Figlo’s potential for solidifying long-term “sticky” client relationships gains strength.
Through the Figlo client portal, the advisor can offer a client one place to view their complete financial picture through a web browser. Data is updated each day at midnight and pulled not only from the advisor’s portfolio management system but also from the client’s outside banking and other financial relationships through their partnership with Quovo. Figlo’s client portal can help an advisor entrench their position with clients as the “go-to person” for any financial-oriented activity online and form the foundation for a long-term, lucrative relationship.
Figlo includes built-in themes for the advisor to choose from to create the visual experience for the client portal. The basic Figlo package includes just five themes, although this selection is expected to grow in the early 2016 release. Beyond a name and logo, there’s not much customization an advisor can do with the basic package. Advicent says they can incorporate style sheets from an advisor’s web site to replicate a familiar look and feel, but that level of customization comes with an additional fee for the advisor.
Figlo also offers prospecting capabilities for an advisor, something not found in competitive products. Wherever an advisor can share a link—on social media, through email, or on their own web site—they can ask clients to complete the Figlo assessment in an estimated 3-5 minutes. The assessment queries a client about their goals, risk tolerance and any held-away assets that are not under the advisor’s management. The information clients self-report through the assessment feeds directly into Figlo, where the advisor can review and qualify prospects for new client relationships.
Of course, it’s up to an advisor to implement and promote these prospecting features. The advisor can put the Figlo assessment out there, but unless the tool becomes part of their prospecting efforts these capabilities won’t add much value to the advisor’s business. Advicent did not share statistics on advisor usage of Figlo’s capabilities. The potential is there, but the proof will be in the pudding on how well advisors use the assessment to build business.
As we stated earlier, Figlo does not offer an app for smartphone or tablet access. This is an even bigger gap on the client side, since consumers are more likely to be turned off by a poor mobile experience, especially Millennials and tech-savvy Boomers.
Figlo’s client portal appears to be on par with MoneyGuidePro’s SMART Portal but not as well-designed as eMoney’s Client Site.
Analytics and Reporting
We were told that Figlo has an education cost database, variable annuity functionality, Roth 401(k) and long-term-care insurance analysis tools. However, none of these options were made available in our demo since they are still being worked on. These are the kind of in-depth analytics that advisors need to help cover a broad swath of the average client’s financial life.
They are missing a social security optimizer tool so their score was dinged for that. Also unavailable is a basic stress testing tool like the the ‘What are you afraid of’ tab on MoneyGuide Pro.
Third Party Integration
As of this writing, Figlo integrates with just two applications, Orion Advisor Services and Redtail CRM. They do integrate account-level data as well as more granular information on individual portfolio holdings such as cost basis, standard deviations, real rate of return and more. This provides a robust data at the advisor’s fingertips when a client calls and needs information on their financial status. The advisor never has to leave their CRM to find relevant data.
Integration is an area where Figlo will have to catch up to compete with the big boys. Advicent’s other products integrate with additional platforms, so future Figlo releases should be able to expand on their supported integrations.
Figlo is used by 750 clients in Europe and Asia, including some very large banks and advisory firms, so we would expect their security to have to pass some rigorous corporate requirements. According to their online security white paper, they are ISO 27001 certified, which is the highest level for data encryption.
The Figlo platform uses a multi-level architecture that is designed to secure the application and its database from external threats. Figlo is hosted by RackSpace using Microsoft Azure cloud infrastructure so their servers are maintained in a high availability and secure environment with all server software kept up to date.
They also contract with a third party security firm to perform penetration testing and code review. This means they are constantly probing the system for security breaches the way a hacker would and hopefully, finds any security holes and closes them before the bad guys can take advantage.
All of this adds up to robust security measures, which would stand up to those provided by any of the market leading applications.
For independent advisors, current per-seat license pricing for Figlo is $1,800 per year for the planning package and $600 per year for the client portal. Subscription terms are available between one and seven years. Advicent has said Figlo pricing will increase for future releases as they add more features to the tool. But advisors who purchase the current release will be able to lock-in pricing.
The separate pricing for the planning and portal packages gives advisors flexibility to choose just the planning component if that’s what works with their technology budget. But the portal tool is too impressive to leave out of the equation. At a total annual fee of $2,400 for the complete package, Figlo sits between eMoney Advisor and MoneyGuidePro in terms of cost—a stretch for a smaller advisor but worthwhile investment for someone looking to ramp up their presence and impact in their local market.
Figlo is a mixed bag. Their user experience is good with its visual presentation and interactive planning capabilities. Data aggregation that includes clients’ liabilities provides advisors with a holistic picture of their clients’ financial lives. Security is top notch. The client portal comes out strong, but their lack of analytics and third party integrations push them down a few pegs.
While Figlo swung for the fences, they didn’t knock it out of the park. This is a good solution for advisors that like the way Figlo presents planning data and their user interface. We wouldn’t expect any MoneyGuide Pro or eMoney users to switch to Figlo, since it is missing key functionality. However, if Advicent lowered the price, they could attract breakaway advisors or startup RIAs who were looking for a low cost solution.
The Bottom Line
Advicent believes advisors can become “hubs” for their clients’ financial lives, much in the same way people gravitate toward other online “hubs”. Think Google for search, Facebook for friends, and Amazon for shopping. Whether Figlo can help advisors do the same with clients for financial information remains to be seen.
We think Figlo makes tremendous strides in visualizing and simplifying the financial planning process, which will appeal strongly to clients. The client portal “hub” also gives an advisor a powerful tool for building long-lasting and sticky relationships. Both are great advantages Figlo offers that can help advisors to stand out in a crowded market and connect with clients in a way they are accustomed to in other aspects of their digital lives.