8 MIN READ
As you’re getting your firm off the ground, you may feel overwhelmed by the number of technology choices available. Whether you plan on sticking to the basic necessities or whether your firm will rely on the most cutting-edge technology, you may feel like the number of options out there makes it nearly impossible to get started in selecting your tech. Which offerings are really worth the investment? What tools will be fundamental to running your business? And how do all these tools work together?
XYPN’s core tech stack has been designed to take the guesswork out of this process. In this post, I outline some of the tech partners XYPN works with directly, along with some other options you might want to consider. This will help you ensure you have all your needs covered and have a good handle on considerations such as integrations, pricing, and the basic features of the software you’ll need right away.
1. CRM Software
Let’s start with your CRM, a tool that is not only fundamental to running your practice once it’s off the ground, but also a way for you to track prospects even before you sign your first client. Select this software sooner rather than later, so you can start tracking interactions and follow ups with leads and referrals right away.
The majority of XYPN members use Wealthbox CRM, which is included with XYPN membership. Wealthbox offers an easy way to track client data and interactions, and includes automated workflows that ensure you are effectively following up with prospects and clients in a timely manner. Wealthbox also offers manyintegrations with other software you’re likely to use. Most users find the interface to be intuitive and simple to use, with an internal activity stream you can use to track other team members’ tasks and interactions with clients and easy-to-navigate contact management.
- Included in XYPN membership $0/month vs. retail of $35/month
- Each additional user license is $30/month vs. retail of $35/month
- $11.90/month vs $49/month retail
Redtail: Like Wealthbox, this cloud-based CRM is designed specifically for the financial advisory space. For an additional charge, you can also opt to use RedtailSpeak, a compliant communication platform embedded into the Redtail CRM platform.
Redtail Pricing: Starts at $99/month
Advyzon: More than just a CRM, this is an integrated platform that includes performance reporting, billing, configurable client web portals, and document storage.
Advyzon Pricing: Single advisor base price is $6000 for all features
Junxure: Junxure is another popular CRM for financial advisors; in addition to client relationship management, they offer a client portal called ClientView that you can use forbclient reporting, document storage, and content management.
Junxure Pricing: $44 per user per month
2. Financial Planning Software
With an increasing number of financial planning software options, we’d like to help you narrow down your options based on your firm’s specific needs. In selecting all different types of software, this is always the place to start. You should be choosing tools that best fit the type of service you’d like to offer your clients.
RightCapital is one of the options we’ve included with XYPN membership; their software provides a good balance between being an easy-to-use, intuitive tool, and also offering a good range of features that should support most firms. RightCapital also offers a large number of integrations with other software. It includes retirement, education, tax, insurance, social security, and budgeting tools and is a good way to facilitate interaction between advisors and clients.
- Basic: Included in XYPN membership $0/month vs $124.95/month retail
- Premium: $25/month
Orion/Advizr: With Orion having acquired the Advizr platform in the summer of 2019, this platform has expanded its offerings to provide a more comprehensive solution for advisors. Orion offers portfolio accounting and performance reporting along with this new financial planning software solution.
Orion Pricing: Contact Orion for a full pricing schedule
eMoney: XYPN members receive a $100 monthly discount on eMoney accounts. Benefits include increased reporting capabilities including cash flow reporting, increased aggregation, and tools for working with clients who may have more complicated situations or portfolios.
emX Pro account: $225/month vs $324/month retail
- Planner license: $91.67/month
- Marketing add-on: $60/month
MoneyGuidePro: MoneyGuide offers several tools to help you run your firm, including MoneyGuideOne, a basic financial planning software option, MoneyGuidePro, which offers sophisticated financial planning solutions for more complex scenarios, and MoneyGuideElite, the company’s most advanced solution, which includes all the features of the previously listed software in addition to total income modeling, secure income modeling, and advanced lifetime protection for your clients.
MoneyGuidePro Pricing: With XYPN membership, $80/month vs. annual retail license of $1,500/year.
3. Client Portal Software
This is a decision you’ll likely want to make in tandem with selecting your financial planning software, as many systems pair these tools together. It’s convenient for both you and your clients to be able to log in to just one system, so consider this as you’re deciding on which tool will work best.
Again, RightCapital is included with your XYPN membership, and can be a great way to not only create and deliver financial plans for your clients, but also to allow clients to login and view account balances, budget and more.
- Basic: Included in XYPN membership: $0/month vs $124.95/month retail
- Premium: $25/month
Orion: Orion is an extremely comprehensive tool, so if you’re using this software for portfolio accounting, performance reporting, billing, and aggregation, you’ll probably also want to use their client portal. Their portal includes options for custom branding, cobrowsing and screensharing, and a customizable mobile app.
Orion Pricing: XYPN offers discounted options for Orion; since Orion offers a wide array of tools beyond just the client portal, including portfolio accounting and performance reporting, we recommend you factor this in when assessing price.
We’ve received a lot of positive feedback regarding eMoney’s client portal, so if this is especially important to you, you may want to consider this software as an option. The portal is a great way to collaborate with clients on their plans and allow them to organize and monitor data.
emX Pro account: $225/month vs $324/month retail
- Planner license: $91.67/month
- Marketing add-on: $60/month
4. Secure File Transfer Software
Dropbox can be a good tool for file sharing and transfer, but may not be the best option overall for file storage (with increased storage space, and easy, inexpensive upgrades Google Drive wins out here). We’ve received good feedback from advisors using Dropbox’s file request tool, which doesn’t require the client have a Dropbox account.
- Standard business plan, starting at 3 users: $12.50/user/month
- Advanced business plan, starting at 3 users: $20.00/user/month
Google Drive is a great option for a number of reasons. It provides a lot of storage space for the money (2TB for $100 annually), it has good upgrade options if you end up needing more space or functionality, and has access to file creation tools (Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, and Google Forms). It’s a great cloud-based collaboration tool that’s easy to use.
Google Drive Pricing: Starts at $8 per month per active user
Sharefile is designed for file sharing, team collaboration, and file syncing. It gets points for allowing unlimited client users, high security, and integrations with other software, including Office 360.
Sharefile Pricing: A team plan starts at $60 per year, and the business plan starts at $100 per year
5. Performance Reporting Software
There are many options to choose from here, and I am highlighting just a few of the tools that XYPN members often rely on. Again, a reminder to think about what kind of business you are building. Do you need a tool with all the bells and whistles or would a simpler option make your life easier? Consider the needs or your firm as you review the options available to you.
As mentioned previously, Orion just about does it all in the financial planning software space. So if you’re looking for a comprehensive tool, it’s a good option. In terms of performance reporting specifically, Orion offers up customizable reports for your firm and for your clients. This will allow you to analyze firm metrics, create composite firm reports, provide alternative investment reporting, monitor and report on RMDs, perform quarter-end audits and reporting, and easily distribute reports to stakeholders and clients.
Orion Pricing: Contact Orion for full pricing
Capitect is a portfolio management system you can use for portfolio construction and rebalancing, as well as for performance reporting. Highlights of the software beyond performance reporting include a client and advisor portal, document sharing capabilities, flexible rebalancing, client fee billing, account aggregation, goal tracking, personalized portfolios, and block trading.
- Starting at $100/month - free for XYPN members
- Up to 20 households (10 for non-XYPN members)
- Performance reporting daily (IRR & TWR), auto feeds from custodians (TDA, Schwab) + asset allocation reporting
- Personal branding and document sharing
- Standard $175/month - $75/month for XYPN members
- Same as above + up to 50 households
- Client fee billing
- Cost basis reporting
- Premium $300/month - $200/month for XYPN members
- Same as above + unlimited households
- Performance benchmarks
- Multi-generational reporting
- Account aggregation is a $50/user/month add-on
We’ve received some feedback that Blueleaf is primarily focused on data aggregation and performance reporting, so if this is critical to you, the software may be a good option to consider. In addition, this software offers billing automation and communications tools such as a client portal, monitoring and alerting, batch reporting and delivery, invoice delivery, customizable client updates, and data flows.
- Up to 5 clients and 500 accounts: free
- Up to 10 households: $165 (per month/billed annually)
- Up to 20 households: $245 (per month/billed annually)
- Up to 50 households: $330 (per month/billed annually)
- Up to 100 households: $415 (per month/billed annually)
- Up to 500 households: $3.75 (per household/per month/billed annually)
- Up to 1000 households: $3.40 (per household/per month/billed annually)
Bridge FT offers automation-driven portfolio management software that gets good feedback from many small firms while providing tools to help you grow and scale. Features include billing and reporting tools, a client portal, and trading and rebalancing tools. While they don’t offer pricing info directly on their website, we hear from members that Bridge is priced competitively as compared with other offerings.
Bridge FT Pricing: Contact Bridge directly for pricing.
6. Trading and Rebalancing Software
Like most great software tools, trading and rebalancing software can make your business more efficient and scalable. Look for a tool with the features outlined in this great post by Craig Iskowitz and featured on Michael Kitces’s blog: Advisor’s Guide To Choosing The Best Portfolio Rebalancing Software
- Automated portfolio rebalancing
- Security or asset allocation model management
- Tax management
- Flexible user interface
Many XYPN members opt for using iRebal, as the TD Ameritrade platform is included with membership. It includes tax-efficient rebalancing, tax loss harvesting, and dynamic cash management and is designed to streamline investment operations and provide opportunities to respond to markets in real-time. Read more here.
iRebal Pricing: included free with XYPN membership; contact TD for additional info on their transaction-based pricing.
Total Rebalance Expert (owned by Morningstar) gets good reviews for simplifying portfolio and account management, its cash management capabilities, and for workflow management.
tRx Pricing: Contact tRx for a quote.
Rebalancing through TAMPs
7. Investment Management Software
Pros of using TDA to manage your clients’ investments include the option to use the fully automated “Essential Portfolios” or “Selective Portfolios” (a hybrid of automated and manual investment management), tax loss harvesting, and both passive and active investment management options.
TD Ameritrade Pricing: Included free with XYPN membership; contact TD for additional pricing info.
Betterment is currently the largest independent online financial advisor. Investing with Betterment means you are invested into a globally diversified portfolio of index-tracking exchange traded funds (ETFs).
Betterment will recommend an optimized portfolio and manage buying and selling the funds in that portfolio. Betterment also provides advice based on specific goals and individual timelines. Betterment also offers strategies for those interested in socially responsible investing.
- Management fee: 0.25% to 0.40%
- Account minimum: $0
XYIS is an automated investment management solution that’s great for all types of clients because there are no transaction fees and no minimums. XYIS also offers DFA funds on its platform. Through its integration with TD, an advisor can view all of their information on investments for clients in one place, even if they don’t have some of their clients’ assets invested with XYIS. There are portfolios (CORE, CAUSE, CRAFT) that cater to different advisors’ needs without causing overwhelm. ESG and SRI are also both portfolios that members can offer to their clients as an option. (Full disclosure: XYIS is a service line of XY Planning Network.)
XY Investment Solutions Pricing:
- $0 - $5M AUM: 35 BASIS POINTS
- $5M - $25M AUM: 30 BASIS POINTS
- $25M+:25 BASIS POINTS
8. Risk Tolerance Software
There are a lot of risk tolerance tools out there, including a variety of surveys, assessments, and questionnaires. These tools can be a good way to increase client awareness around the topic of risk while helping you evaluate the level of portfolio risk that is appropriate for each client. Look for a tool that integrates an analysis of client risk tolerance with the amount of risk that is appropriate for that client’s specific financial situation.
Finametrica gets good feedback on its risk tolerance survey, which you can use to help clients make appropriate investment decisions. Finametrica’s risk profiling tools measure and compare risk tolerance, “the level of financial risk the client is emotionally comfortable with” and risk required, “the risk associated with the return required to achieve the client's goals from the financial resources available,” as well as risk capacity, “the level of financial risk the client can afford to take.” This approach can help identify any potential misalignment in this area and correct it so that your clients are comfortable with the amount of investment risk they are taking while maximizing returns.
Finametrica Pricing: $50/month through XYPN vs. $990/annual retail pricing
DataPoints take a behavioral approach to analyzing your clients’ financial attitudes and actions, which can help you gain a deeper understanding of what’s driving your clients’ decision making.DataPoints’ Investor Profile can help you identify and guide better investor behaviors. More than a risk tolerance questionnaire, the Investor Profile gives you insights into your clients’ financial behaviors and how they can be improved over time.
The Investor Profile is a measure of psychological risk tolerance that you can use in your practice to both assess this characteristic for purposes of portfolio allocation, but also to identify and guide better investing behaviors in your clients. The reporting breaks out risk tolerance into five behavioral factors that can serve as a framework for discussions and ongoing coaching for your clients: Investor Confidence, Risk Personality, Risk Preference, Volatility Composure, and Investor Judgment.
DataPoints Pricing: $59/month vs. $159/month retail
Riskalyze can help you align client portfolios with their individual needs through a number of different features. The software provides risk assessment questionnaires, assesses how much risk is associated with specific client portfolios, and projects how much risk a client should assume to reach the goals you’ve outlined together. The software then provides each client an individual “risk number” that reflects the risk a client is willing to tolerate and how much is appropriate for that client’s situation. Other features include retirement maps, stress tests, meeting software, check in tools, detailed portfolio stats, individual security analysis, a lead-gen questionnaire, and more.
Riskalyze Pricing: a range of price points depending on your firm’s needs from $250 to $450 monthly
9. Payment Processing Software
When you’re selecting your fee payment processing software, you’ll need to make sure that the tool you use is in compliance with SEC regulations and with the regulatory rules for your state. We don’t recommend using tools like QuickBooks because the ability to edit clients’ subscriptions is considered to trigger custody of assets and is therefore not in compliance. Quickbooks’ Terms of Services agreement also expressly prohibits financial advisors from using an Intuit merchant account.
AdvicePay is the only billing and payment solution specifically designed for fee-for-service financial planning. It allows you to bill your clients on a customizable basis (month-to-month, one-time, etc), and all states accept it as a compliant form of billing. It solves the compliance issues that come along with using software such as QuickBooks or PayPal, and offers a number of features including flexible billing options, eSignature integration, a fee calculator, and a number of integrations, including an accounting software integration. AdvicePay’s automations streamline the billing and payment processes, freeing you up to spend more time with your clients.
100% discount on monthly service fee and reduced transaction fees for XYPN members
- Essential Plan: $10/month
- Professional Plan: $50/month
- Enterprise Plan: $65/month
Additional enterprise services are also available, including API and webhooks, priority support, practice manager, due diligence, custom training and webinars, and custom development work.
We recommend using caution with other payment processing software not specifically designed for the financial industry. Software like PaySimple may work well for other types of businesses, but when it comes to processing payments for your RIA, its functionality may come too close to being considered custody to satisfy regulators.
10. Compliance Archiving Software
For compliance reasons, you’ll want to be sure you’re appropriately managing, monitoring, and storing client communications. This will both mitigate risk for your firm and ensure preparedness in the case of an audit.
MessageWatcher is a comprehensive, SEC-compliant software that provides archiving and supervision tools for email, websites, company Facebook and LinkedIn pages as well as Bloomberg. Through partnerships with RegEd and MobileGuard, MessageWatcher can bring in your social media content and text messages so you have one archive for all of your digital content and communication. With easy-to-use search screens and thorough tracking of activity, you can handle audits, exams, e-discovery requests, and other business issues easily.
Messagewatcher Pricing: Free for XYPN members. $85/month retail price.
SmartRIA is a cloud-based compliance software designed for compliance consultants, compliance officers, operations teams, investment advisors, and wealth and asset managers. It houses all the documents needed for compliance, and makes it easy for you to quickly access that information in the event of an audit. Features include compliance consultant service delivery, compliance calendar and task automation, workflows and reporting, an alert system for common compliance deficiencies, audit preparedness tools, and secure document storage.
SmartRIA Pricing: Free for XYPN members. $100/month retail.
I hope this helps you feel better prepared to start making tech decisions for your firm. There’s a lot to consider, and some great tools out there!
About the Author
Kate Ross has spent the last ten years of her career developing educational materials for financial professionals and brings a passion for instructional design and curriculum development to the XYPN team.
In her free time, Kate can be found front row at a concert, camping in the woods, floating a river, or hiking in the mountains near her home in Montana.