Blucora, provider of technology financial solutions to consumers, small businesses and tax professionals, announced a partnership with online portfolio advisor Financial Guard to provide Blucora’s TaxAct customers with an integrated, automated advisory platform.
The platform, expected to be rolled out to TaxAct consumers for the upcoming tax season and HD Vest advisors in the near future, features portfolio management for retirement and other investment needs.
Blucora owns digital tax preparation solution TaxAct and HD Vest Financial Services, which supports an independent network of tax professionals who provide financial services. Financial Guard, a subsidiary of Legg Mason, Inc., features investment advice on its interactive website and technology enabling investors to create a unique profile, view all of their investments in one place, assesses their portfolios with a simple grading system, and receive investment guidance.
The partnership was created to bridge the gap between self-directed and advisor-assisted investing, with the offerings including: automated advice technologies with tax-smart investing strategies; integrated tax management and optimization solutions within TaxAct’s DIY tax preparation and filing product suites; and the ability for customers to access the platform on a DIY basis or as part of an advisor-assisted plan through HD Vest-affiliated professionals.
DIY tax filing customers of TaxAct receive a personalized financial assessment based on their tax situation, then have the option to open automated advisory accounts for IRAs and taxable investment accounts utilizing the Financial Guard platform.
"With this agreement, Blucora is uniquely positioned to offer both DIY and advisor assisted tax-advantaged investment options through HD Vest Investment Services," stated John Clendening, president and chief executive officer at Blucora. "Leveraging Financial Guard's technology, TaxAct customers will have the option to receive affordable and objective investment advice to take advantage of the current year's tax benefit of investing in retirement accounts within our filing process, and fund their investments directly with their tax refund. Through this partnership, we are able to offer financial solutions that are most relevant to our customer's needs, at the time when people are most engaged in their finances. No other tax return software provider or automated investment advisor offers a comparable integrated solution.”
Any of the five million customers that use TaxAct every year can also connect to a local HD Vest advisor.
“Looking at this from the point of view of an HD Vest advisor,” Clendening said, “we are connecting individual Americans going through the tax process with a preferred, local expert HD Vest advisor. Prospecting is one of the most difficult things an advisor does. This is not a cold lead, but a qualified connection for whom the established, next logical thing to do with their portfolio is to use this platform in their own practice.”
As the financial situations for consumers in the DIY environment get more complex, Blucora expects those customers to seek the expertise of an HD Vest advisor.
"Innovation in technology is redefining investor expectations, and they want comprehensive, accessible, secure advice solutions at a reasonable cost," said Cary Jenkins, chief innovation officer of Financial Guard, in a statement. "Through its TaxAct brand, Blucora is the champion of the affordable DIY digital tax preparation solution and this partnership underscores both of our commitments to our customers."
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