Independent financial advisers have a lot on their plates. In addition to the primary work of analyzing client finances, selecting appropriate investments and actively managing portfolios, financial advisers also have to dedicate time to developing new client relationships, pursuing ongoing professional training and managing the office. Not surprisingly, it can be a real challenge to manage and grow an independent advisory business in the modern competitive marketplace.

Fortunately, the latest generation of Web-based platforms for financial advisers delivers the tools required to work and communicate more efficiently and produce better results for clients. By investing in a comprehensive platform similar to those described below, independent advisers can put themselves in position for success.

Morningstar Office

Morningstar Office is a comprehensive operations management platform designed specifically for independent financial advisers. It was developed by Morningstar Inc. (Nasdaq: MORN), the widely respected investment research firm. In addition to practice-management tools focused on office productivity, Morningstar Office also provides a full selection of investment research, financial planning, client management and portfolio management tools.

Morningstar Office users enjoy real-time access to Morningstar's proprietary analytics tools and data, including direct access to research on more than 325,000 different securities. Morningstar Office also includes a secure Web portal for clients to access account information, investment reports and other documents.


MoneyGuidePro is a full-featured financial planning solution designed for both independent advisers and larger advisory firms. The MoneyGuidePro planning system delivers all the tools a financial adviser needs to create goal-oriented financial plans, lifetime income plans and asset allocation plans.

The platform includes an online client portal, enabling instant access to plan information, results summaries and reports, and a variety of interactive tools to help clients learn about, explore and test different planning scenarios on their own. This software ranks as the most-used platform on the market for 2014, according to two surveys of professional financial advisers carried out by industry publications Financial Planning and InvestmentNews, respectively.

EMoney Advisor emX Pro

EMoney Advisor emX Pro is a close competitor to the MoneyGuidePro platform. It delivers a full range of planning and analysis tools to create goal-based plans, as well as investment, estate and cash-flow plans. Integrated analytical tools help advisers target plans to client needs efficiently, while reporting and presentation modules make it easy to share plan information with clients. The eMoney Advisor platform also provides clients online access to a personalized wealth management portal, including a variety of interactive spending and budgeting tools, real-time investment tracking and educational content.

Finance Logix

The Finance Logix platform, an Envestnet Inc (ENV) product, is another full-featured solution for independent financial advisers and larger advisory firms. The Finance Logix framework delivers the tools advisers need to carry out in-depth investment research and create financial plans to match client needs. This software utilizes Morningstar Data in its planning and asset allocation modules, making it a good alternative to the Morningstar Office platform.

Finance Logix provides secure online account access for clients, including an interactive financial-health dashboard and an appointment and task calendar to help advisers and clients stay on schedule. An online document vault provides secure access to investment reports and other important documents.

Redtail CRM

Redtail CRM is a customer relationship management (CRM) platform built from the ground up for financial advisers. While most Web-based financial planning platforms include some client-relationship and communication tracking tools, Redtail CRM delivers a complete client management system. It ranks among the most-used financial adviser software platforms available.

Automated workflow templates speed up communications, enabling busy advisers to stay in touch with clients efficiently. With client tracking enabled, the software automatically generates a contact timeline so the adviser can review a client's history in seconds. Communications can even be scheduled in advance. Redtail CRM is designed to integrate with many of the best financial planning platforms, including all those listed above.