NEW ORLEANS — Envestnet is getting into the insurance business.

The technology and platform giant will begin offering insurance products on its platform later this year, Envestnet President Bill Crager said at the company's annual conference.

"We're going to fully integrate insurance into the life cycle of advice on the Envestnet platform," Crager said, while addressing the conference's opening general session.

Annuities from various insurance companies will be on the platform, Crager said, but he didn't provide more details. Instead, he and Envestnet CEO Jud Bergman spent most of their opening presentations describing the company's vision of enabling advisors to help clients achieve "financial wellness" as a key strategic goal.

Envision will aggregate data within Envestnet and Open ENV APIs,  says Envestnet CEO Jud Bergman.
Envision will aggregate data within Envestnet and Open ENV APIs, says Envestnet CEO Jud Bergman.

Envestnet sees planning, budgeting, investing, managing credit and protection through insurance as the cornerstones of financial wellness, Bergman said. "We want to continue to find ways to expand what advice means," he stressed.

Getting into insurance is "a great move for Envestnet," says consultant Craig Iskowitz, principal of the Ezra Group. "This sets them apart from their platform competitors. Insurance is something no one else has. It's one less reason for an advisor to get off the Envestnet platform."

Envestnet's primary market will be insurance broker-dealers, Iskowitz says. While most RIAs don't offer insurance, having the products on Envestnet's platform will make it easier if they choose to do so, he adds.

Bergman also unveiled Envestnet Envision, a new enterprise data-management product that combines data aggregation, machine learning, and performance reporting and advanced analytics.

Envision will aggregate data within Envestnet and Open ENV APIs, Bergman said. Advisors will be able to gather data from various systems, import market and competitor data into internal reports, and adapt conventional systems such as books and records data, he added.

Envestnet will also focus more on predictive analytics in the coming year, Crager said.

For example, data and "forensic analytics" will allow advisors to see what types of funds and product assets are flowing in now and in the future, Crager said. Predictive analytics can also be used to let advisors know what issues their clients can expect to face and will want to talk about — and can also predict which clients are most likely to leave.

Technology rollouts notwithstanding, Crager told advisors that emotion and storytelling were key to an advisors' success.

"The human mind is hard-wired to hear stories," he said, "The human element is what will help drive better outcomes."

Craig described what he called "the life cycle of advice" as aggregating data, having a goals-based plan, making recommendations and overseeing and monitoring the ways to achieve the plan.

Artificial intelligence and better data will continue to improve, he said, but advisors will remain essential to "helping clients navigate the path to reach their financial goals," Craig says.

Charles Paikert

Charles Paikert

Charles Paikert is a senior editor at Financial Planning. Follow him on Twitter at @paikert.