Financial planning platform eMoney Advisor will have a new integration partner with BlackRock’s iRetire platform, starting tomorrow, the two companies confirmed. Users of eMoney will be able to access iRetire via a single sign-in on the financial planning platform’s Application page.
Addressing the elephant in the room, both parties stated that the integration was not influenced by BlackRock’s recent $122.8 million, 4.9 percent equity stake in wealthtech firm Envestnet. “The Envestnet partnership doesn’t affect the eMoney integration. For us, they’re two totally different topics altogether” said Jess Liberi, head of product for eMoney. A BlackRock spokesperson confirmed that the eMoney integration is a “continuation of the effort” of helping advisors grow their businesses and that it’s a move that will fit into its retail-focused digital wealth unit.
Advisors may view the announcement in light of BlackRock’s recent investment and strategic partnership, which was announced less than two weeks ago. But there is still enough differentiation in the way the tools are used, and in new ideas around them, that competitors like Envestnet and eMoney shouldn’t have to worry about having a common business partner in BlackRock, said Joel Bruckenstein, a technology consultant and organizer of the T3 conference series. iRetire was launched in 2015 with the idea of focusing on savers’ attention on retirement income, instead of hitting a particular asset value.
“In the short- to mid-term it’s a win-win,” said Bruckenstein of the partnership between BlackRock and eMoney. BlackRock has good technology, but it has a distribution problem. eMoney can meet those distribution needs and its advisors benefit from more efficient portfolios and the asset manager’s data analysis, he said.
Companies like eMoney and MoneyGuidePro have a higher profile in financial planning than Envestnet’s offering, despite its 2015 purchase of planning platform Finance Logix—a company that was named “Most Innovative Product of the Year” by organizers of a broker/dealer technology conference in 2013. Envestnet’s relationship with BlackRock should be seen more as an analytics play, Bruckenstein added, so that Envestnet can lower its own costs by working with BlackRock.
Ultimately, advisors should benefit. “Even if you believe asset management’s become more of a commodity,” noted Bruckenstein, “you still need to do it. And if you can do it faster and more efficiently, it frees up more time for advisors to go out and bring in new business.”
While eMoney’s Liberi implied the integration would be a boost to advisors who are already using both platforms, BlackRock indicated that the benefit for the asset manager was getting access to more financial advisors. “We are thrilled advisors in the eMoney network will now have access to iRetire as a powerful and actionable compliment [sic] to their planning tools,” noted Frank Porcelli, chairman of BlackRock’s U.S. wealth advisory business, in a statement.