eMoney Advisor benefitting from Fidelity acquisition: CEO Ed O'Brien: We're growing and hiring

Tom Paine

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I had a chance to talk with Ed O'Brien, CEO of Radnor-based eMoney Advisor, after it released an unofficial year-end report on Tuesday.

Ed O'Brien
O'Brien, a Boston area native who went to school (MBA from Bentley College) up there, has spent much of his professional career with Fidelity. He joined eMoney as CEO in March of this year, replacing interim CEO Micael Durbin, who has recently taken on a larger role within Fidelity. Durbin had taken over for founder Edmond Walters, who departed in September 2015, months after Fidelity acquired it in February of last year for a reported $250 million.

O'Brien had most recently served as senior vice president and head of platform technology for Fidelity Institutional, having a key role in launching WealthCentral, Fidelity's platform technology to support RIAs and family offices.

O'Brien has relocated and resides in Wayne.

Since the acquisition, a lot has happened in a relatively short time frame.

First, O'Brien made it clear that eMoney continues to be an independent, unique entity within Fidelity. Not autonomous; eMoney is definitely synching up with other parts of Fidelity on important initiatives. But clearly this has not been a "rip and replace" acquisition, in which the acquirer superimposes its own culture and people on the acquired company. Fidelity likes what it has in eMoney Advisor.

eMoney's core group remains distinctly local, more so than most other large local corporate employers. Among senior management, besides O'Brien the only other Fidelity person to come on is CFO Megan Murray, a Philadelphia area native and Villanova grad.

Secondly, O'Brien wanted to get the message out that eMoney is expanding rapidly and hiring. In 2016, almost 100 employees were hired, and approximately 100 additional employees are expected be hired by the end of 2017. That would put total employment in the 500 range, making eMoney an increasingly important tech and finance employer in the area. eMoney has a notable reputation for how closely it works with local universities in recruiting.

The talent pool represented by eMoney, Vanguard Group, SEI, Susquehanna and Lincoln, among others, should be a good pool for future Philly fintech ventures to arise from.

eMoney's role within Fidelity is to serve the financial advisor community, not the direct-to-consumer segment. But O'Brien points out that eMoney's 43,000 advisor clients serve over 1.7 million end users who can access its system online. And eMoney's clients collectively have over $2.5 trillion under management.

This October Fidelity press release seemed to lay out a roadmap for how Fidelity offerings will intersect with eMoney's.

A major step will be the launch of the Fidelity Automated Managed Platform (AMP), a planning-led digital advice solution co-developed with eMoney Advisor, early next year. This is Fidelity's first entry into the so-called Robo market, although Fidelity prefers the digital advice term.

See this eMoney blog post, which reflects its view on the role of robo advisors.

eMoney launched a deep integration with Fidelity in September. Single sign-on capabilities provide direct access between the eMoney Advisor Site and the Fidelity Wealthscape brokerage platform (formerly Streetscape and Wealth Central).

The deep integration "creates a complete end-to-end experience that taps the best of eMoney’s planning-led advisor and client tools and the excellence of Fidelity’s brokerage platforms." Advisors and end-clients of both Fidelity and eMoney can leverage eMoney’s tools to identify financial goals and put a plan in place, then through brokerage platform integration, execute those goals in their customer’s Fidelity brokerage accounts," the company told me.

Additional capabilities will be added in 2017.

The key takeaway is that the stuff eMoney is doing with Fidelity is a big deal. And there's a competitor up Route 30, among others, that they're after.

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Fidelity's eMoney Advisor growing, hiring in Radnor; Launching 'digital advice platform' in early 2017

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