PlanPlus: Goal-based Financial Planning with Ease

Website http://www.planplus.com/
Established 1988
Value Proposition Financial planning tools, advisor training, research and contribution to financial planning profession, and cash-flow and goal-based planning
Senior Management: Shawn Brayman, CEO
Alan Brousseau, President
Paul Resnik, Director of Global Marketing

This time we spoke with the CEO of another Canadian company that has made a valuable impact on financial planning both in North America and all around the globe. PlanPlus has recently acquired FinaMetrica to create even more cutting-edge solutions for its customers. Our article below gives details behind the success story of the Ontario-based financial services provider.

The man behind PlanPlus

Shawn BraymanShawn Brayman, CEO of PlanPlus Global Inc., has always had a keen eye on artificial intelligence (AI). His fascination with the subject dates back to the early 1980s, when he started working for a large IT firm that focused on financial planning software. Shawn began to touch on knowledge engineering later on and took this to the next level in 1986, and has been running PlanPlus ever since.

He has a postgrad degree in AI and is certified in financial planning, as well as having been on the board of the world’s largest professional body representing financial planners. As a domain expert with years of experience, Shawn writes peer-reviewed research articles covering the algorithms and the reasoning behind financial systems. During his career, Shawn has won multiple global awards for his research in the field of financial planning and investment.

When PlanPlus and FinaMetrica United

In the summer of 2017, PlanPlus merged with FinaMetrica. Both companies had very strong cultural similarities, so joining forces was a logical step. Fundamentally, both PlanPlus and FinaMetrica were early adopters of what we know today as FinTech. The companies had global clients in more than 30 countries and offered their first SaaS more than a decade ago.

FinaMetrica

The initial Web-based offering was released 15 years ago, followed by the SaaS five years later. Today, what differentiates both FinaMetrica and PlanPlus from competitors is a proven domain expertise: the companies are known not just for their technical offering, but for their inventions. For example, FinaMetrica was the pioneer that delivered psychometric risk-tolerance testing to the world.

Long before their competitors, the two companies were offering robo-type solutions within an advice channel and supporting traditional advisors in providing high-value services—not just simple analytics, but high net worth or family office style services. Today, PlanPlus boasts a fully scalable global solution in production that the service provider is able to scale out at any level, from iPhones to massive traditional advisors or sales force user device channels.

Partnerships and financial planning associations

PlanPlus has developed strong ties with several companies in addition to FinaMetrica. The firm is a member of The Canadian Institute of Financial Planners and the Financial Planning Association. PlanPlus has strategic partnerships with Morningstar, CaptusPress, and Harvest Global.

To offer more flexibility to its end user, PlanPlus integrates with a number of wealth management systems, such as NDex, Croesus, ADP Dataphile, National Bank Correspondent Network, Univeris, and Novinsoft, among others.

Corporate social responsibility: Planning for the future

PlanPlus is a reliable service provider that helps clients “visualize” their future. The company has a commitment to sustainability when delivering quality financial planning and training services. Alongside its projects that support children in emerging economies, PlanPlus has a number of initiatives on financial literacy, including:

  • Financial planning wiki Planipedia.org: PlanPlus is a founder and continuing supporter of Planipedia, the world’s first global financial planning wiki, which is an open source project supported by associations from around the world that provides access to objective financial planning information.
  • Free financial calculator and tools within its community edition.
  • PlanPlus for Students, which is a project that offers students from numerous educational institutes access to its professional financial planning software free of charge.

Other research projects are underway in cooperation with multiple universities, where the partners will explore correlations and relationships of big data with behavior that is measured in psychometric risk testing.

Historically, PlanPlus was an IBM business partner. The SaaS of PlanPlus is delivered in Java using and WebSphere, as well as DB2. The platform migrated to AWS and cloud-based delivery with MySQL as the data layer. Within the engine itself is a series of scalable APIs that expose the business logic and a number of capabilities, such as:

  • Risk-tolerance testing and risk profiling;
  • Risk capacity and professional judgment;
  • Goal-based planning;
  • Income tax planning in Canada, the US, the UK, Russia, Bulgaria, and 50 other countries.
  • Scaling up to high net worth cash flow-based planning, estate planning, etc.

PlanPlus and FinaMetrica have about 12,000 advisors using their SaaS in many different parts of the world and in over a dozen languages. The companies have an SaaS environment for banks and for large financial institutions. To comply with ISO 27001, they have to meet a number of security requirements.

PlanPlus places particular emphasis on knowledge transfer, since the company provides a training platform for thousands of advisors with almost 70 hours of prerecorded videos. Along with these sessions, weekly webinars are delivered by the staff, and sometimes even customers.

Product management: Software development processes

Brayman and Resnik are frequent speakers at well-known annual conferences all over the world, where they share insights on financial planning, risk profiling and Fintech trends like Robo-advising. After trotting the globe, Shawn and Paul Resnik, Co-Founder of acquired FinaMetrica bring back important pieces of the roadmap.

In addition, PlanPlus is in constant dialogue with clients in order to maintain a robust product development methodology. To start with, the company listens to the primary requirements to see how these can be integrated into the overall architecture, and to understand the way in which to proceed through development and testing. This is necessary to segregate product management from the tech side, to go through a quality control layer with the technology team, and then quality assurance and validation that actually meet the business requirements at every level.

Team structure

PlanPlus has several teams that contribute to the company’s overall success. The first works closely with the services group and is responsible for implementations and tactical aspects, such as bug fixes in production, real-time fixes, etc. A second team is a project group, which builds new components with a business analyst and a project manager coordinating the process. A third group, located in India, is more involved in report and screen development, without getting too deep into the actual business logic and APIs. Within these three groups is a team of QAs that is in charge of all of the test script methodologies.

WealthTech Club takeaway

PlanPlus has become a reliable partner for thousands of clients around the globe, supporting wealth managers in more than 30 countries. The company reached its heights in goal-based financial planning due to its high-quality multilingual software, which matches the requirements of every sales channel of corporate clients.

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