Magazine article American Banker

Essex Offering Banks Ernst & Young Software for Financial Planning

Magazine article American Banker

Essex Offering Banks Ernst & Young Software for Financial Planning

Article excerpt

Essex Corp., the New York-based third-party marketer, is getting into the financial planning software business.

After thinking about launching its own product, Essex has licensed a program from one of the Big Five accounting firms, Ernst & Young, also in New York.

Investment Professional, or I-Pro, lets bankers plug in certain variables and create asset allocation plans tailored to individual clients, said Frederick S. Nicholas, an Essex executive vice president.

I-Pro is based on a software package developed in 1995 by Ernst & Young. That product, called Prosper, also let users plan for their future by factoring in several variables, such as retirement and education costs, insurance, a home or car purchase, and income tax. However, Prosper is aimed at individuals and sold off-the-shelf.

Essex paid Ernst & Young a licensing fee to tailor Prosper for financial professionals, and I-Pro was born, said Mr. Nicholas. The terms were not disclosed.

Essex is gearing up to provide the software at cost-about $65-to its 200 bank clients for their brokerage operations. Three or four banks have already expressed interest, Mr. Nicholas said, but he declined to identify them.

Since reaching the agreement with Essex, Ernst & Young has started to

market a revised version of Prosper aimed at financial professionals at 100 of the country's largest banks and brokerages. ProProsper lets account representatives factor in more variables - such as stock options-than the previous model did.

Essex and Ernst & Young executives said that there may be some overlap, but that they do not think they will be fighting for market share.

"We're not really targeting their clients," said Richard F. Hinton, an associate director of Ernst & Young's financial planning division. Ernst & Young is going after the country's 100 largest banks and brokerages, Mr. …

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