Young planning software firm Advizr has managed to sustain itself and find a footing in a market long dominated by eMoney Advisor and MoneyGuidePro.

Now its fourth year and closing in on another round of funding, the firm has attracted over 400 planning firms whose clients have $10 billion in assets, riding the trend of how essential planning software has become for advisers in their work.

Still, Advizr CEO and co-founder Hussain Zaidi likes to use the scrappy dialect of fintech startups.

"We have a completely unfair advantage compared to incumbents," Zaidi says. "For them, coming to the internet in the '90s and 2000s was their objective. We started with the online user experience, and are quickly working to get to the same level of sophistication."

That spirit offered a sense of nostalgia for Chad Blythe, former head of sales at Money GuidePro, and ultimately convinced him to join Advizr as president and chief revenue officer.

"I was impressed at how the team was culturally and passionate for innovation," Blythe says. "That culture made me want to join the team."

Another veteran recently joining Advizr is Rachel Sanborn, formerly head of user acceptance testing and subject matter expert at LearnVest, now director of financial planning at the software provider.

"There is a lot of great talent out there right now not at these incumbent companies anymore, looking for a place to park their talent," Zaidi says. "We're providing a place for them, not only to be part of that next generation for financial planning, but to actually have ownership too."

Financial planning software development is "about ease of use and getting a lot more client engagement," says Chad Blythe, Advizr's new president and chief revenue officer.
Financial planning software development is "about ease of use and getting a lot more client engagement," says Chad Blythe, Advizr's new president and chief revenue officer.

The CEO did not disclose the compensation his firm was offering to attract experienced talent, but noted it was "competitive ... commensurate with what an executive would get."

Blythe and Zaidi agree that much has changed in a short span of time within planning software development.

"My first time around, it was a very simple concept — what do planners need to do," Blythe says. "The scope has changed so much just over the last five years. Now, it's about ease of use and getting a lot more client engagement."

Zaidi says the next step is building more intelligent software for advisers and their clients.

"The analogy is how we used to drive — you'd have a big map, drive for 20 minutes, stop, check the map and start again. That changed with the GPS, which gave us continuous guidance. And now we've gone from basic GPS to apps like Waze, which tells you not just where to go, but the optimal route.

"Financial planning is not even at the GPS stage, it is at the map stage," Zaidi declares.

"Over the next 18 months, we want to give end consumers through advisers the ability to dynamically get guidance from a tech sense, and enable an industry level of service hasn't been afforded up till now."

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Suleman Din

Suleman Din

Suleman Din is technology editor of American Banker and Financial Planning. Follow him on Twitter at @sulemandn.