As advisors grow more reliant than ever on software to track their clients’ accounts—and as the choice of products grows at a mind-bogglingly fast rate—Aite Group has released an in-depth report that rates 11 major technology players’ financial planning platforms.

The 90-page Aite impact report, “Evaluating Wealth Management Platforms: Financial Planning at the Core,” which costs $4,000 for non-subscribing members, names the most suitable software solutions for five unique segments of financial advisors.

The winners are:

Overall, the report profiles PIEtech MoneyGuidePro, EISI NaviPlan and Profiles, PlanPlus Planit, AdviceAmerica’s AdvisorVision, Finantix Components for Financial Planning, Polaris Intellect Wealth FNA, Tata Consultancy Services TCS Bancs Wealth Management, SunGard WealthStation, Scivantage Financial Compass and Methuselah, Thomson Reuters Financial Planning, and Informa Investment Solutions WealthIQ.

Aite is a Boston-based independent research and advisory firm focused on business, technology, and regulatory issues. The firm’s report comes as the global market for financial planning software has seen a number of new entrants over the last decade from software firms worldwide. Several new solutions were introduced in the United States in the early 2000s to enable the democratization of financial planning driven by Web-based technology.

Planning-focused and planning-selective advisors view financial planning as more important than investment management, according to Aite. “Financial planning functionality and sales process support are likely to be more important requirements than integration with implementation and monitoring solutions for these advisors,” the report notes, adding that MoneyGuidePro leads

the group with its ability to help financial advisors relate to clients and explain complex financial concepts through its extensive goal-setting and presentation capabilities. NaviPlan supports more specialized planning topics, including tax management, estate planning, business planning, and stock option modeling.

Planning-supported advisors are as focused on investment management, in some cases more, as they are on financial planning, providing financial plans to more than 50% of clients, according to the Aite report. “WealthStation is Aite Group’s top choice for North American financial advisors in the planning-supported category,” the report says. “The solution includes all of the wealth management workflow components on one platform, including portfolio management and reporting. In addition, the solution includes comprehensive financial planning capabilities through 60 different modules that range from calculators to integrated, cash-flow-based analyses.”

For planning-challenged advisors, Aite recommends AdviceAmerica’s AdvisorVision. “The solution delivers client-friendly recommendations, graphics, and charts…without requiring advisors to engage in significant manipulation beyond entering their clients’ financial information,” the report says. “In addition, AdvisorVision enables an integrated and efficient workflow that incorporates an advisor dashboard, contact management, financial planning, portfolio construction, and monitoring, all in one solution.”

Investment-focused advisors view financial planning as less important to their business than investment management. “They need a solution that combines the strongest investment management capabilities (portfolio construction, optimization, benchmark selection, portfolio management) with the essential components of a financial planning solution,” the Aite report says. “Thomson Reuters’ Financial Planning solution is currently the strongest offering for investment-focused advisors in North America. The solution integrates with Thomson One’s PropGen and Asset Allocation solutions to include comprehensive security selection and investment proposal generation. In addition, its financial planning application is highly configurable.”

Sophie Schmitt, senior analyst with Aite Group and author of the report, said in a statement: “Financial planning will become a more important part of financial advisors' value proposition as regulators in key financial markets draft legislation that requires financial advisors to act as fiduciaries with all clients, and wealth management firms seek to differentiate financial advisors' offerings from those of online brokerages.”

Read about Fiserv’s acquisition of AdviceAmerica and AdvisorVision at AdvisorOne.com.