This article was first published in the Winter 2014 issue of OnWindows
Founded in 1996, Figlo is one of the Netherlands’ leading providers of multi-channel, customer-centric software, which simplifies the financial planning process. The software also offers intuitive user interfaces (UI) and facilitates real-time communication and collaboration between financial advisors and their clients.
“A few years ago we developed a client-centric banking platform, which included personal financial management capabilities, and offered it to banks across the Netherlands and some clients in the UK,” explains Jenze Bosma, founder and president of Figlo (pictured). “Not only has our cloud-based global financial planning platform gained wide recognition in the Netherlands, our focus on providing simple, customer-centric software earned us an international reputation.”
Following a demonstration of its financial planning software at a US event in 2011, Figlo caught the attention of Advicent Solutions, which provides software-as-a-service technology solutions for the financial advice and planning industry in the US and Canada.
After identifying several consumer-centric trends in North America’s financial planning marketplace, Advicent wanted to develop more client-facing software that enabled financial advisors to interact with their clients on a more personalised basis.
Impressed by the personal financial management capabilities and customer-centricity of Figlo’s simple-to-use and well-established software and programming interface, Advicent fully acquired the company in September 2014.
“An increasing number of our customers want to gain a fuller picture of their financial situation, so they expect financial advisors to be more interactive and provide them with instant access to information,” says Phil Cunningham, CEO of Advicent. “It would have taken years for Advicent to build the client-facing financial planning software it needed to improve clients interactions, but Figlo’s unique advisor/client technology can be quickly integrated with our core financial planning solutions to create a very attractive solution that addresses the needs of the US market.”
Now it has fully acquired Figlo, Advicent will combine its financial consultancy and planning tools with Figlo’s interactive customer-platform to enhance its existing NaviPlan and Profiles products with client-facing modules. Now Advicent can offer a complete financial planning solution that will transform client/advisor interactions.
“Technology is improving how clients receive financial advice and increasing the value they expect from their advisors,” said Cunningham. “The combination of Advicent and Figlo’s solutions will provide financial advisors with access to comprehensive and persuasive planning software that supports their recommendations, resulting in an entirely new level of instantaneous real-time interaction and communication with their clients.”
Meanwhile, the acquisition has enabled Figlo to achieve its aim of expanding into the US market.
“Figlo wanted to become a market leader for financial planning solutions worldwide, and joining forces with Advicent has given us the opportunity to expand rapidly in the US,” says Bosma. “By combining our organisations’ respective solutions, we can enter new markets and develop state-of-the-art, customer-centric financial planning products on the Microsoft technology stack and ensure we can serve the needs of customers in various markets.
According to Bosma, the acquisition also promises multiples benefits for enterprises in both the US and Europe.
“While US customers are used to taking responsibility for personal financial management plans and pension funds, this has only just started to gather momentum in the European markets,” says Bosma. “Figlo aims to leverage Advicent’s knowledge of investment and wealth management to help European customers understand how to manage their own personal pension investment plans, rather than relying on those provided by their employers.”
Enterprises can also benefit from Figlo’s software platform when building new financial planning solutions or aggregating customer information from various databases.
“Building a new UI or solution can take companies up to two years because they need to get to grips with complex coding and extensive programming,” explains Bosma. “Figlo’s platform will enable them to simply ‘drag and drop’ various widgets into place to create a simple UI in a short timeframe, accelerating speed to market. At the same time, it also provides a single platform to help financial institutions to aggregate customer data from different departments and databases to offer a single source of calculations.”
While Figlo and Advicent are still in the process of consolidating their organisations, both Cunningham and Bosma are confident that the acquisition will lead to rapid growth in multiple markets over the coming years.
“Acquiring Figlo has enabled us to add an excellent technology platform to our existing solutions and build upon our momentum,” says Cunningham. “It represents a true global platform and one that we will leverage as we grow our global footprint over the next few years.”
Bosma agrees. “Initially, Figlo and Advicent will focus on ensuring we continue to grow in our core markets – the US, UK and Netherlands – as well as the other countries we are already active in,” he concludes. “Maybe in the future we will be able to partner with other financial planning organisations – now Advicent and Figlo are working as one company, our potential for future growth is unlimited.”
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