This spring, Wells Fargo rolled out LifeSync, a mobile-first long-term financial planning interface. LifeSync features goals, a financial overview and educational content to Wealth & Investment Management (WIM) clients. The tool is in partnership with eMoney Advisor, Fidelity’s financial planning software.

While clients can create goals and add relationships via the app, LifeSync encourages clients to collaborate with their advisors to fully set up their accounts and see their goal’s likelihood of success. Wells Fargo’s LifeSync has the potential to revolutionize the digital experience for fully-managed account clients, but the firm will have to find the right balance between self-servicing and advisor input on the backend. LifeSync is designed for collaborative long-term money management, but it remains to be seen whether the feature will stand the test of time.

LifeSync has the potential to revolutionize the digital experience for fully-managed account clients, but the firm will have to find the right balance between self-servicing and advisor input on the backend

The app interface lets clients set up one-time and repeating goals on a yearly basis, add relationships like individuals, pets and institutions and integrates other data—estimated net worth, portfolio performance and credit score—as well as news and financial wellness articles.

These screenshots show the three main screens on the new LifeSync app from Wells Fargo

Setup requires two sessions with the advisor. In the first call, the advisor introduces the planning strategy to the client and requested the client’s annual income, annual spending and a 401K statement, which will need to be updated on a yearly basis.

In the second call, the advisor presents the client’s goals, lays out the likelihood of success—determined using a Monte Carlo simulation—and demonstrates ways the client can improve their odds. For example, the likelihood of successfully saving enough for early retirement increases if the client makes maximum contributions to a 401K. At the end of the call, the advisor shares the plan, which appears on the client’s LifeSync interface in the Wells Fargo app.

After sharing the plan, the app interface displays the likelihood of success for the full plan in a tile at the top with a tooltip explaining the breakdown. The goals the advisor had input also display their likelihood of success individually. The advisor can either add new goals or merge existing goals. Clients cannot alter advisor goals, but can still add, edit and delete other goals manually. If a client wishes to change a goal, the advisor will make these alterations on the separate eMoney interface to update the probability of success.

These screenshots from the LifeSync app show user and advisor created goals

The process of getting set up with LifeSync can seem tedious, and the advisor interface and what the client sees are not integrated, requiring advisors to enter client goals in separate software. The current LifeSync interface does not include advisor contact resources, though the firm stated they plan to integrate advisor contact details into the app in 2023. The tool’s success as it stands, therefore, seems predicated on advisors engaging with their clients, not vice versa, and may not lead to the client initiative Wells Fargo is seeking yet.

Wells Fargo may be seeking to keep pace with robo interfaces

Wells Fargo may be looking to keep up with robo interfaces—which tend to offer a comprehensive digital planning experience not always available to wealth management clients—by allowing clients to visualize long term goals. As self-service money management tools, like Bank of America’s My Financial Picture or Chase’s Wealth Plan, require clients do the heavy lifting to set up, LifeSync not just encourages, but demands, engagement.

Wells Fargo seeks to keep human advisors relevant amidst a flurry of digital advice and hybrid restructuring:

  • In March, Wealthfront launched a new Stock Investing Account option, allowing investors to purchase individual stocks and fractional shares, and in 2021, Wealthfront began allowing robo clients to customize their portfolios by selecting from a list of individual holdings
  • In February, Vanguard rebranded and restructured its hybrid robo product to include service tiers for higher net worth clients; these tiers allow existing clients to automatically become eligible for different levels of service as they grow their worth, enhancing overall client retention
  • In November, JPMorgan Chase launched its hybrid robo advice offering—JPMorgan Personal Advisors—which predominantly provides human led investing with some robo capabilities, such as automatic rebalancing, for clients with balances over $25,000
  • In September, Fidelity officially merged its two robo offerings—Fidelity Go and Fidelity Personalized Planning and Advice—into one consolidated offering under the Fidelity Go name, providing planning and coaching to clients with balances over $25,000
  • In September, concerns from shareholders toppled the $1.4 billion deal for UBS to acquire Wealthfront, one of the last major standalone digital advice firms
  • In May, Wells Fargo relaunched its robo product and slashed the account minimum from $5,000 to $500

LifeSync could be used to build relationships with or cross-sell to existing clients

LifeSync‘s rollout to advised clients suggests Wells Fargo is leaning into human relationships amid nearly a decade of legal turmoil. The recent relaunch of its robo—Intuitive Investor—may signal future product changes mirroring Fidelity, JPMC and most recently Vanguard, which have all launched or restructured their digital advice offerings around balance tiers, allowing clients to automatically become eligible for different levels of service as they grow their wealth. It is unclear how, or if, the LifeSync feature will be used to transition clients to fully managed accounts.

For more on the latest trends across financial services and healthcare, check out our Insights section. And learn more about CI’s subscription research services here.