financial planning software

#ItzOnWealthTech Ep. 82: Can eMoney’s Mobile App Deliver an Incentive for Clients?

“There’s a large percentage of American households that are not being served by financial advisors. That’s where this concept of financial wellness comes into play, in helping individuals in need of advice who don’t know where to turn. Helping them to lay the foundations for a healthy financial life by understanding the key tenants and starting to build a path that’s guide them from where they are today towards where they want to be in the future.”

–Jessica Liberi, Head of Product, eMoney Advisor

When Jessica Liberi joined eMoney Advisor as an analyst 7 years ago, she took a risk and approached her boss with a business case to build out the project management group to better support the company’s long-term vision. She got the green light for that project and the team grew from 10 to 36 people in just 2 years, and Jessica was appointed Head of Product a few years after that. She has been a key member of the eMoney executive team that has expanded their product suite into marketing lead generation as well as practice management services.

I spoke to Jessica about how Covid has increased interest in financial planning, a recent survey they conducted on advisor experiences with Covid, their new app called Incentive, and more on this episode of the WealthTech Today podcast.

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Companies Mentioned:

Topics Mentioned:

  • Trends in Financial Planning
  • How Financial Plans Make Clients Healthier
  • Foundational Planning Tools
  • Will the New Mobile App be an Incentive?

Complete Episode Transcript:

Craig: And I’m happy to introduce on this episode of the Wealth Management Today podcast, Jess Liberi, Head of Product for eMoney Advisor. Hey Jess.

Jess: Hey Craig, how are you?

Craig: Jess I’m doing very well, all things considered, is what you have to add to every statement.

Jess: Yeah, exactly. Thanks for having me.

Craig: You’re welcome. I’m so glad you’re here. We’re here to talk about what else, eMoney. And as Head of Product, who better to talk to than you. So I’m very glad you made the time for us and we’re available to talk. And as we were just saying before we started recording, time flies. I think you said it was two years ago already, and it seems like just yesterday, when we were going to conferences, and now here we are stuck at home. And I’m in my office at least, you’re in your nine-year-olds bedroom.

Jess: Yes, I’ve really got some nice surroundings here. The Eagles logo behind us, and I promised him I wouldn’t move any of his decor if I took over his bedroom. So I’m holding up my end of the bargain here.

Craig: That’s right. You should get hazard pay for that. Yeah. So not that anyone listening to this podcast doesn’t know what eMoney is, but give us the 30 second elevator pitch for eMoney.

Jess: Absolutely. So Craig eMoney, we provide financial planning software for financial advisors. That’s really how we’re known in the industry today. But our mission is more broad and I think we’ll talk a little bit more about this today and what’s kind of guiding our path forward. Our mission is to help people talk about money. So a bit more general, a bit more broad, and our vision is really centered around financial peace of mind for all. So we’ve really focused our efforts on helping advisors deliver more plans to more people with a more diverse set of needs than ever before. So how can we help advisors scale the delivery of advice to more and more people who are quite frankly in need of it.

Trends in Financial Planning

Craig: That is a great overview. One of the things I wanted to touch on was trends impacting the financial advice industry. And you guys have been, what I believe is one of the top two financial planning vendors in the market, although market share, as we were talking earlier is hard to come by. I think the top two market share, so you’d know a lot about what’s going on in the industry. You’re getting a lot of data from your clients who are both large and small. Can you talk a bit about some trends that you are seeing?financial planning software

Jess: 2020 has been a year to really test some of those trends and some of those hypotheses and just with everything going on in 2020, specifically the pandemic and lots of in the economic landscape, in addition to eMoney celebrating our 20 year anniversary. So to your point, we’ve been around a while. We’ve seen a lot and we’re seeing some changes and some trends, specifically now. I think first off market volatility has been a trend that we’ve been seeing and it’s really led to this increase in financial planning and the desire to really make sure that I’m feeling comfortable about where I am when it comes to my financial future. As we’ve done some surveys among the advisors that work with us, we’ve seen 64% of advisors say that they’ve seen an increased need to connect with their clients during this time. Again, probably not surprising to too many people. Advisors want to stay top of mind when it comes to clients who are kind of riding the waves of market volatility throughout this year. However, it’s also really cemented the importance of financial planning during that time in that period of market volatility and uncertainty.

85% of those advisors that we’ve spoken to have said that clients with a financial plan generally are feeling more prepared and have had less stress, discomfort, and anxiety when it comes to their finances. From an individual perspective though, we’re seeing many, many people reporting larger amounts of stress. So as you look at kind of those two factors relative to one another, people with a plan saying, yeah, I am feeling kind of certain about my path forward, I am feeling excited and happy that I’m working with an advisor. But the overwhelming rise in financial stress, which leads to the stress and issues in other parts of our lives as well, I think it’s kind of this nice balance of need to the importance of an advisor and have a financial plan.

Craig: And talking about the percentage of advisors, 64% of advisors say they’ve seen an increase in need to connect with clients about their financial plans. Does that seem low to you? I think with everything going digital now that which should be higher, is that normal? Do you think it’s a good number or is it low? Is it high? Is it just about right?

Jess: So I would say it’s an interesting number, not right or wrong. Interesting. And I would say that probably the remaining, 36% of advisors maybe are not changing how frequently they are reaching out because they’re feeling like clients are in a pretty good state so they’re not necessarily changing anything. I think that the key word there is increased need. So many advisors would just say, you know what, because my clients know that we’re in it for the long run. We’re really working on these long-term financial goals. We’ve stress tested our portfolio against some of these really rough market conditions, market environments. They know that they’re okay and they know that they can call me if they have questions. Other advisors I think are really just saying, you know what, let me get in front of this with all of my clients. And that’s maybe the number that you’re seeing with that 64%, let me do a little bit more to get in front of those clients, communicate with them and make sure that I’m reiterating that value that I’ve kind of tried to hit home over the years that I’ve been working with those individuals.

Craig: Yeah, it’s true. It’s not a measure of whether they communicate or not. It’s whether they see an increased need.

Jess: Yes. Yeah, exactly, exactly. And I think again, going back to the, the satisfaction and stress and anxiety and discomfort, the high percentage of advisors who said that the clients that have a plan are seeing less anxiety, less stress, less concern, I think that that actually tells me that they’re feeling pretty good about how they’ve communicated, how they’ve set up their value proposition, how they’ve almost conditioned clients to prepare for these types of environments which have happened in the past and will certainly happen again.

How Financial Plans Make Clients Healthier

Craig: I’m going to give you a new marketing campaign for eMoney planning software

Jess: What is it, let me jot it down.

Craig: We all know that stress is an indicator of a lot of other issues and stress can cause health problems. You can have a heart attack from too much stress. You can get ulcers from too much stress, other issues can come up from too much stress. So using eMoney and creating financial plans reduces stress, which makes their clients healthier, right? eMoney makes clients healthier.

Jess: eMoney makes clients healthier. I love it.

Craig: And insurance companies should pay advisors to use your product, to reduce healthcare costs.

Jess: You know, that would be an interesting exercise to actually see what the correlation is between clients that have used eMoney because we do have a lot of insurance companies as clients and they could certainly look at the usage of eMoney relative to premiums and healthcare usage and things like that.

Craig: Yeah, that’s right.

Jess: Very interesting Craig, thank you very much.

Craig: You’re welcome. So another question I want to ask as a follow-up to that, have you seen changes in how advisors are using eMoney now during the pandemic. Is it those 64% use it differently or are they using it the same, maybe different parts of the system are being used more?

Jess: Yeah, so it’s such a great question, because honestly, when it came we were in the throws of the pandemic in March, April, May. Come June, I was saying to my team, let’s go look at our usage numbers and see how things have changed over the past three months. And I was really expecting to see big changes and big shifts. And I don’t know if disappointed is the right word, but I was almost disappointed in the fact that not much had changed. Really the biggest change, and this won’t surprise you either, the only thing was screen-sharing. So it was changes in technology and the comfort of advisors leveraging different technology in how they were engaging their clients.

We’ve offered screen-sharing capabilities for years and years and years, some advisors had taken advantage of it, others it wasn’t really their thing because clients were coming into the office for those meetings. We did see a major increase in the usage of that functionality over that time. But we had looked at the usage of different planning techniques whether people were stress testing portfolios more, if they were adding things like emergency savings fund goals, all sorts of different metrics. Logging into the client portal was another one that I was really expecting to see a large increase in. It wasn’t meaningful. So I don’t know that I was disappointed. I sound disappointed. I was it was interesting that there really wasn’t a big change. It goes back to again, I think advisors have done a pretty good job among their clients who are using our platform, really positioning this for the longterm and keeping them focused on their goals and the things that matter versus the markets, which will go up and down over time. So kudos to those advisors. We take credit, it’s the advisors.

Craig: Yes. The markets change, but advice does not.

Jess: Right.

Foundational Planning Tools

Craig: So what other, I know you were talking about a tracking poll that you were going to discuss. Can you talk about some of the stats you found from that?financial planning software

Jess: Yeah, and I think that will really help us to lead into some of our new focus on more financial wellness capabilities, which I know is such a buzzword in the industry right now, but our upcoming release of Incentive, which I’m excited to talk about. We had looked at some data from the KFF tracking poll and it was really around how the pandemic had impacted American households. So again, I don’t think surprising to anyone, 43% of US adults said that they or someone they know had either lost a job or taken a pay cut during the pandemic as a result of the pandemic.

But at the same time, over 50% of Americans said that they didn’t have access to funds to cover even three months worth of expenses. So it didn’t matter what their economic situations, whether they were high earners, lower earners, etc. There were many Americans who just didn’t have access because they hadn’t prioritized saving for situations like this, which would cause them to really tap into some liquid funds because of an emergency losing a job, taking a pay cut. And I think that that’s a really interesting statistic, and as we think about incentive, and we think about the importance of just these tenants of financial wellness, that is really one stat that always sticks with me is that so many Americans haven’t even prioritized this concept of an emergency savings fund. We’ve been kind of taught and trained to invest, to save for retirement, perhaps even save for our kids’ education, but this concept of having liquidity, having access to funds in the event that my husband and I both lose our jobs, we both take a paycut, the worst case scenario happens. Many Americans didn’t have access to those funds. So not surprising that there has been this increase of stress and their increase in just the negative impacts from a financial perspective from the pandemic.

Craig: I want to jump ahead a bit, I know we had been talking about your foundational planning tools, we weren’t supposed to talk about it yet, but I want to lead into that because you mentioned Americans don’t have access to three months of expenses. That could be a goal in financial planning. Would you expect more advisors who are using the foundational planning tools to add three months of expenses as a goal?

Jess: So it’s an interesting question. And I think where your head is at is that we’re thinking that these foundational planning advisors are using that with clients that have less complex needs, less complex planning scenarios, and we’re really just focused on the basics. So I would say, yeah, the logic there makes sense that that very well could be a goal there. But I would say even in the advanced planning category, I think we just kind of overlook some of these things and don’t really think about three to six months worth of expenses. And just these financial rules of thumb is what we call them. But I think the other aspect of it is among clients who work with advisors, it’s very likely that the advisor has ensured that they have that emergency savings fund available. Again, these are pretty simple financial rules of thumb.

But there’s a large percentage of American households that are not being served by financial advisors today. And that’s really where this concept of financial wellness comes into play, helping those individuals that quite frankly are in need of advice, demand advice, but perhaps don’t know where to turn to get it, to start to lay the foundations for a healthy financial life and financial picture by really just understanding some of these key tenants and starting to build a path towards where I am today and where I want to be in the future. So I’d like to think that among those working with advisors, whether using foundational for those clients with less complex needs, or maybe who are just starting out on the planning journey who want to start small and simple with more episodic or focused goals, or using advanced for a more comprehensive view of their financial plan. I think that they’re probably covered there. It’s the larger percentage of Americans who aren’t working with financial advisors today, either because they haven’t accumulated assets or because they just are not necessarily sure where to look for that advice, that really do need help kind of figuring out where do I start. And that’s where Incentive comes in so we’re really excited about that.

Will the New Mobile App be an Incentive?

Craig: You took the words right out of my mouth, Incentive. So let’s talk about incentive and and mobile has not really been a part of many advisors’ quivers, what arrows they have in their quiver. We’re seeing more of it now. Can you talk about that a little bit? What’s behind the Incentive mobile app, why you built it and how you see it fitting into the advisor’s overall workflow?financial planning software

Jess: Yeah, absolutely. So I’ll take a step back and then I’ll get to your exact questions. You brought up mobile and it’s a really good point. But as I mentioned before as we’ve kind of taken a step back and even prior to the pandemic, thinking about this need for financial wellness, more broadly across working Americans. And with Incentive, I think you might remember it was called Project Avocado. We had started with a smaller, what we believe to be our target group, which is really millennials because millennials love avocado toast. So we had dubbed the project Project Avocado and over the few years that we were doing research and testing different concepts and prototypes among different groups, what we found was that this application had a much more far reaching use. It wasn’t just for millennials. And I think largely we felt, well, most of the older Americans are already working with advisors so they’re kind of covered. Millennials, advisors have been talking about going to the next generation of clients for some time, let’s focus on how we can help them extend their services there. But like I said, what we found is that it wasn’t necessary just to extend to the next generation. It was necessary to kind of look at all working Americans. We would say the target demographic is ages 21-64 who were not recipients of traditional financial advice today. And that group was rather large. And all of them were excited and all of them showed a need for some of what we saw with Incentive. So with that said, I think as we think about this more “consumer first” type of application right now, we are thinking about how do we help get to those individuals, working Americans. And right now we have focused our efforts with Incentive on advisors who work with retirement plans or plan sponsors.

So there’s a large percentage of advisors that have really focused efforts in their business on working with small to midsize retirement plans. And the employers that they’re working with, those plan sponsors, are demanding more. They’re not just satisfied with better fees, better fund lineups when they’re talking about the benefits that they’re going to offer to their plan participants. They do want more in terms of wellness and in terms of better applications to really help those employees self-serve. So what we focused on was building a mobile application, as you mentioned, that any individual who is part of that firm can download from the Apple or Android store. However, in order to get access too, I can download it. You could go onto the app store today and download it, Craig, but it will require a code that’s given to you by your employer, by that retirement plan advisor, through your employer to access the application. And that code then will start to pull in information from your employer.

And really we’ve just focused on two high-level data points. Obviously we have your name, we have your email, but beyond that, it’s really just age and income. And those two data points allow us to at least start to build out some high level estimates of where you should be based on your age and based on your income level, relative to those rules of thumb that I mentioned. And the rules of thumb that we’re focused on are, like I said, emergency savings, retirement budgeting, protection, and what am I missing? Oh, debt management, a big one. Of course. So those are the rules of thumb that we’re focused on.

And then of course, throughout the application, we’re trying to learn more. So we’ll tell you here’s where you should be relative to your retirement. And we know how much is in your company sponsored 401k plan. That’s great. Do you have other retirement assets that you want to aggregate here? And so we’re trying to engage with that client by showing them here’s what we know about you, tell us more and then we’ll get better projections as to where you are. But I’d say, how does it help advisors? I think that that was your last question, Craig, and then I’ll pause. But what we’re really to do is focus on, and I’ve mentioned this probably for years now, as we talk about eMoney’s path forward is this full spectrum of planning. So we want to help advisors meet clients wherever they are in their financial journey. And I don’t think it’s news to anyone that their employer tends to be the first place that they’re interacting with finances. It’s the first place that you’ve had this, it’s the source of my income. It’s where I’m getting my benefits and that’s a large portion of the financial picture for so many people out there, and it’s also where I’m saving for retirement. And that’s one of the things that, again, I mentioned that before that we’ve been conditioned to really think about.

So we think that that’s such a great place to get people started in this journey, but the key in that full spectrum of planning is that with just a click of a button, they can then say, you know what? I think I’ve taken this as far as I can on my own. I’d like to connect with someone and I’d like to connect with a person and maybe start to talk in a little bit more depth about a specific need I have, which would make them a great candidate for something like foundational planning, or maybe I’d like to go all in on looking at my full cashflow and comprehensive plan, which would make them a great candidate for advanced planning. So we’re looking to serve all of those clients where they are.

Craig: With Incentive, one of the things I found is one of the benefits of a lot of the newer technology and especially with all the data we’re sitting on and being able to analyze it better with artificial intelligence and machine learning, other tools that have the ability to look for patterns across large segments of data, and eMoney has lots of data from all of your clients. How will Incentive help nudge clients and change their behavior? And will it be able to do it on its own? Is it going to require an advisor to be involved? How much is it a standalone app and how much is it, Hey, we’re just going to point you to the advisor and have him do the work or her to do the work.

Jess: Yep, what we’ve tried to do is make it a true standalone app. So let me explain a big part of any wellness app, be it physical fitness or financial fitness, we’re kind of talking about here, is having the ability to not only show someone here’s what health looks like, and here’s where you are today, but also help them kind of incrementally chart out a path to get to where they should be. So what we’re doing is we’ve incorporated challenges directly into the Incentive app and those challenges are simple things like bringing in or dining out, and we’ve kind of coined them with fun names to help engage individuals. But they’re weekly challenges notifications kind of pop up on your phone to kind of encourage them to keep going, you’re doing great or you’re a little bit off track so maybe think about what you can do over the next couple of days to get back on track.

Break it down into these really small, incremental bite-size pieces so that those small pieces can add really big effects over time. Because of the pandemic we actually had had moved away from just focusing on dining out, so we had started I think we called it supermarket sweep and, the takeout bills and things like that. But so we’re trying to again be pretty nimble with what things people tend to be spending on and what things are discretionary spending versus the non discretionary spending and helping them really have an eye towards budgeting for each of those. I think that’s a key piece of behavioral change people aren’t just going to change behavior because they see this huge gap, here’s where I am and that’s where I should be. I don’t even know how to break that down. We’re trying to help them do that and have these small behavioral changes today add up over time.

Craig: That sounds really useful. How would the advisor be involved? This app, right now it’s only for clients of an advisor, so they’re already connected to an advisor. So is the data going to be flowing to the advisor? Will there be a dashboard saying 33% of your clients have logged into Incentive and here’s what they’ve done. How’s that going to work?

Jess: You got it. So again, I just want to remind you so retirement plan advisors, in that concept of a retirement plan, what we’re doing is showing advisors engagement and adoption metrics across those plans. So who is logged in? What challenges have they completed? What different parts or pieces based on those five rules of thumb, which ones have they gone through and actually looked at content for? Another key piece that I forgot to mention, but it’s really important, is incorporating educational content in there as well. So I think what we’ve seen in a lot of the testing that we’ve done is not specific to any age or income range, people generally want to do it themselves first, educate themselves before reaching out to someone.

There’s still people that are a complete “do it for me”, but there are so many that it’s “do it with me”. And I think that that’s largely due to the prevalence and the amount of information that’s so accessible. We can kind of educate ourselves on retirement savings vehicles. When should I start saving for my kids’ education? How much life insurance should I have, all of these different concepts, but then at a certain point, we’re ready to kind of hand it over and defer to someone else, an expert, right. But I still want to be brought along for the ride. It’s not fully “do it for me”, it’s a “do it with me”. So I think that the educational content is a really key piece of that to help engage through videos and articles and things like that that are relevant to where that person is. But then, like I said, always giving them the lifeline to the financial advisor.

Craig: Yeah. I’d love to see that. That’s, I think that’s something that’s missing from the financial advisor toolbox. Advisors never really do that. They do some education, but it’s more face-to-face and then you’re off on your own. There’s not a lot of, how do I follow along with my clients? How do I see what their progress is in different educational areas? How can I deliver them some software that can help them move along? If you look at other competitors and there’s so many in the FinTech space, I mean, I always point to Acorns Moneylion, Stash, other things that really build more of a community and really have this strong educational content and gamified focus of, like you said, weekly challenges. What have you done now? How much progress have you made? Here’s a badge, you’ve reduced your expenses by X amount. Advisors usually have none of that, and they’re missing out on a whole lot of interaction with clients.

Jess: And it’s such a great point because what we saw was a huge opportunity to empower the advisor to not have those investors or clients kind of start off with some completely disparate tool that they then had to stop using, or at least whittled down the usage of, in order to work with the advisor. But to give them the ability to kind of enable that full spectrum of planning, which would give them access to a tool that could then stay with them through the course of working with that advisor. So one of the firms that we work with have referred to this as the pendulum of planning. People don’t stay in one place forever, their needs change over time. And I might want to get into a very detailed, comprehensive plan at some point, but it doesn’t mean that I want that to be my engagement model forever and ever, amen. I probably want to come back into that self-education at some point as well, there’s this really fluid pendulum and that’s what we want to enable. And I think that that is a key piece of how we differentiate in the market, is helping that advisor meet clients where they are. I know I said it before, but it’s so important to not have them using all of these disparate tools. We know what they’re using today. We know what is resonating, and you mentioned a lot of those applications. How can we help arm the advisor with that same type of experience and technology?

Craig: Because I find advisors really have their whole business model backwards in terms of client engagement, where they’ve always been, well, we’ll talk to you once or twice a year, at most four times a year, that’s it. If you’re calling us too much, that’s a problem. Like with clients are constantly calling or they’re constantly checking their website. What’s wrong, are they upset? You should call them. Which is the opposite, there’s nothing else there. Whereas other apps they want you to log on every day, like Moneylion gives you a dollar if you log on every day.

Jess: They want you to be there.

Craig: They want you to be there, so advisors don’t have that. They’re missing out. They’re going to be left in the dust by these apps that now have, I think between those four apps, Acorns, Moneylion, Stash, I’m missing one other one of these, FinTech apps that are focused on retirement and savings and micro savings. They’ve got like 30 million customers, which is huge. That’s like Vanguard sized, just across these apps.

Jess: It is, it’s a different unit of measures. So they’re looking at customer reach, not necessarily dollars. Right, and I think that that is something that we’re tuned into now, is that just because someone doesn’t have assets today doesn’t mean that they don’t value, demand and desire. And all of that generally will equate to willingness to pay for financial advice. And I just think that, again, the models that we have in place today, which are largely based on fees for assets under management are perhaps not the models that are going to resonate most with people in the future who have again, become accustomed to things like subscription based pricing or to things like this digital first mentality. Let me do it myself before you do it with me or for me. So I think that those are all really interesting trends that are gonna really shift how this industry works with individuals in the future.

Craig: And we’re kind of running out of time, but I wanted to get another question out. eMoney has really expanded since I’ve known you, which is a long time, known the product and it’s really moved into all aspects of planning. You’ve always been cashflow based, so you’ve got that covered. You built out the higher end estate planning trusts. So you’ve got that covered. So you’re moving more into like a NaviPlan when they used to own that higher end. You’ve moved into there. You’ve built out the foundational planning, which is goals-based. So you’re moving into what we might consider MoneyGuidePro’s area. You’ve added insurance, which overlaps with like a RetireUp or Right Capital, they’ve built that out as well. So you’re kind of playing in many different areas. How do you, how do you see yourself differentiating against these other competitors? You don’t have to mention any of them specifically, but generically.

Jess: I think it’s a great question. And I referred to it before, but I’ll go back to it. And it’s really, I think the technology that enables an advisor to meet their clients where they are and to offer them this full spectrum of planning, these experiences that you mentioned, and like you said, we’ve kind of grown and evolved over time. So advanced planning, estate planning, foundational planning, Incentive, those experiences aren’t completely disjointed where you can’t seamlessly move from one experience to the next and have it be really fluid based on the client’s needs. And I think that that’s really important. It’s based on what the client needs and wants at any particular time versus what the advisor or the firm, even eMoney, offers. We want to offer that flexibility and optionality that meets the needs of the individual who’s seeking advice.

So I think that that’s a big piece. I think there will always be more to do when it comes to advanced planning. There will always be more to do when it comes to goals-based planning, but what we want to do, and what we’ve been really successful doing is helping advisors run successful planning-led practices. And for those advisors that have adopted planning, end-to-end we’ve seen some pretty dramatic results in their businesses. I can share some stats with you, Craig, and then this might be one of those things we’ll come back to, but increased revenues among the advisors that are using eMoney’s platform, increased client satisfaction. So the results really do speak for themselves when you’re using a premier technology platform that can really help meet the needs of the individual and seamlessly, so it’s not completely disjointed and you’re not leaving one experience to go to the next.

Craig: I wanted to go back before we wrap up, you mentioned that Incentive is already live with your first beta clients. When is it going to be available to the general advisor public?

Jess: So we are really excited to make it available generally in early 2021. So we’re focused on January 2’1. We’ve already been engaging a number of firms outside of our beta groups and discussions about Incentive, and we will have it live generally available across the advisor base in January.

Craig: Is retirement planning an area that you have been focused on before or is Incentive the first product you have launched for the retirement planning space?

Jess: Incentive is the first product that we’ve launched for advisors that focus in the retirement planning, retirement plan sponsors space. And again, I don’t think it was intentional. We didn’t lead this project by saying let’s build something that would help us go after that space specifically. What we saw was a need among what we call our demographic, the target demographic target being average American workers. And then we said, what would be the best path to reach them, right? Where would they trust this type of advice from and where are we best positioned to help deliver it? And that landed us among advisors that focus in the retirement planning space.

Craig: Interesting because there isn’t a lot there. I mean, there’s some very focused firms like Vestwell and others that are focusing on the retirement plan sponsor space, and not a lot of others. I know Advizr, which was purchased by Orion, they had built out a wellness app for the retirement phase. Is that something you saw that as an option that you could get into because obviously selling to a broker dealer, even the largest broker dealer, the number of advisors is measured in the single digit thousands, unless you go to LPL, which is the biggest. Or you could sell to like one of the largest S&P 500 companies where they have a hundred thousand employees. So you’re talking about orders of magnitude of users differently. It was that something that led you to that space?

Jess: So I think interestingly enough, eMoney’s primary market is financial advisors. Financial advisors, generally who work with individuals. And we could have argued from the beginning let’s just focus on how we help those advisors scale. But again, I think what we’ve seen and what we’ve heard is that it really does take a lot more than just an application, the technology, to think about how an advisor scales the delivery of advice from a hundred people, to perhaps 500 people. They need to think about service support, what will happen if someone calls in, will I answer questions or will all of that be done in the application? So while we’re still going after that market, we want that to be advisors who are interested and really up to the challenge of scaling their firm and their delivery of advice in that way.

Among the retirement plan advisors, they were already working with that large number of people in that way. And they were looking for something more to be able to offer to the plan sponsors in an increasingly competitive market. The plan sponsors themselves also agree, they want increased participation in 401ks. They want increased satisfaction with the plan and the company overall. They want those employees to be engaged and to feel like the company is offering something really compelling to them. And interestingly enough, it goes back to what we talked about at the beginning. They’re not just looking at retirement savings anymore. There’s so many plan sponsors out there that are saying, perhaps we have some responsibility in helping individuals save for an emergency savings fund. Can we do that? And should that be a company benefit as well? So I think that there’s a lot there and we’re really excited to see how it evolves.

Craig: I’m excited to see how it evolves as well. I can’t wait to hear when it gets launched and more input from you guys and more feedback on what you’re finding and more results and more trends.

Jess: We’d be happy to share it with you.

Craig: I’m looking forward to having back in the program, Jess, thanks so much for being here. I really appreciate it.

Jess: Great. Thank you, Craig. It was fun.

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The Wealth Tech Today blog is published by Craig Iskowitz, founder and CEO of Ezra Group, a boutique consulting firm that caters to banks, broker-dealers, RIA’s, asset managers and the leading vendors in the surrounding #fintech space. He can be reached at