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Wells Fargo Advisors Get 'What If' Tool for Clients

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As it prepares to announce its quarterly earnings later this week, Wells Fargo has rolled out an online tool to let its investor clients work more with its 15,000-plus advisors online.

The tool, Envision Scenarios, gives clients the ability to see how their portfolios would change in certain “what if” scenarios, such as retiring early. By adjusting their retirement age, for instance, investors can then see how it would affect their savings progress, goals, priorities and portfolio allocations.

The program also aims to get advisors and clients to collaborate more online, according to executives.

“If a couple wants to move up their retirement by three years, they can see how it would impact their plans,” said Paresh Mutha, head of product development for Wells Fargo Advisors, in an interview.

The results of the scenario are scored from 0 to 100. A score of 74 or below means some adjustments should be discussed by the clients and their advisor.

“By making changes with the advisor, the modified scenario can help them get a score of 80 or higher,” explained Andy Gloege, product manager for the innovation and strategy unit. This might involve, say, adjusting a portfolio allocation from growth/income into the aggressive growth category or boosting the level of regular contributions to a 401(k) plan.

For these Monte Carlo scenarios, a target score of 75 to 90 is acceptable, while scores of 90-plus are most desirable, as they represent a high level of confidence that the goal will be achieved, says Cem Hocaoglu, manager of planning applications for innovation and strategy.

“But we also want to look at issues, such as are [the clients] taking too much risk or sacrificing other goals?” he explained.

Clients and advisors can work on these plans together in real time. “This is a way to expand engagement, as clients work on their retirement plans in the comfort of their home, for example,” Hocaoglu said. “This type of [program] is beneficial to both the client and advisor. We’re excited about its potential to start more conversations.”

A soft launch of the program began in June with the full introduction taking place in late September. It is available to the 850,000 households with Envision plans.

If a client tries the “what if” program at night, for instance, their advisor will get a notification in the morning about the investor’s score and proposed scenario.

“The idea is to take this client engagement and drive outcomes after they’ve used Envision Scenarios,” said Mutha. “The technology is there to help with collaboration and result in value-added conversations.”

In addition to “what if” scenarios involving retirement, plans tied to education expenses, home buying and future travel can be analyzed using the new tool, according to Hocaoglu. “It’s holistic,” he said.


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