Financial Engines Reviews | Glassdoor

Financial Engines Reviews

Updated June 23, 2017
119 reviews

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3.1
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Financial Engines President & CEO Larry M. Raffone
Larry M. Raffone
44 Ratings

119 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Company has a good understanding of work/life balance (in 14 reviews)

  • It feels good to build useful applications that help people plan their retirement (in 10 reviews)

Cons
  • I have not seen any good plan for career growth/training as of now, but I believe work is under progress (in 5 reviews)

  • Executives and Senior Management are always trying to find a way to make new money (in 5 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Featured Review

    Helpful (27)

    "20-year-old company with a great mission, a great business...and some legacy issues"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    I joined Financial Engines in 1999. At that time, it was still a startup trying to find its footing. Its product, revolutionary in those days, was an online retirement investing self-help tool powered by algorithms that were pretty sophisticated for the time. That product never really did catch on; however, the company made a very successful pivot in the early 2000s toward 401(k) management and today is the largest independent registered investment adviser in the country.

    Now the 401(k) side of the business manages over $100 billion of assets, with over 900,000 individual customers. Revenue in 2015 was over $300 million.

    We still have the sense of mission that founded the company: use technology to deliver premium-grade financial services to people who otherwise would be unable to afford them. We still have a number of people with 10+ years with the company who were instrumental in building it. We have very solid financials. We value each other's dignity and respect. I've had my own frustrations working here over the years, but the mission and culture of the company are why I still come to work each day energized to do better.

    The acquisition of The Mutual Fund Store adds a network of branch offices and human advisers specialized in face-to-face financial planning. Now we're traditional retail plus 401(k) workplace. It's no sure thing that we'll be able to harmonize the two organizations, but it seems like a bet worth taking. It's not too hard to imagine Financial Engines becoming a household name in a few years.

    Cons

    The downsides of working here are what you should expect at a 20-year-old profitable company: technical debt, disagreements over priorities, and an ongoing tension between trying new things versus investing in what has worked before. And I'll add one more downside, which is why I'm writing this review in the first place: we do not seem to do a good job managing the expectations of new coworkers.

    "Technical debt" sounds like a bad thing and, sure, usually it is a bad thing. However, realize that it's the price you pay afterward for decisions made in the past. We didn't aggressively modernize our tech stack over the years because it wasn't necessary to grow. How we grew was to become the dominant 401(k) managed account provider--that meant making our code base complicated enough to service 600+ different retirement plans. But that code base generated over $300 million in revenue in 2015, so cut our execs some slack when you read complaints about seasoned technologies. As for the criticisms that we have no strategy, I don't quite believe that we got to be the managed account provider for 600 retirement plans by accident.

    Working at a startup can be very exciting and engaging (and stressful). A startup is always trying out new things. There's no existing business to protect, so big risks are justified and there are no legacy systems to trip over. When you move fast and break stuff, there's very little to break so fixing the breakage is easy.

    FE is not a startup. We're regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Breaking stuff can cause real damage that doesn't always fix easily. So, like other 20-year-old companies, there’s a tension here between trying out new things and being careful not to endanger the existing business. There are a lot of people here whose jobs are to make sure the existing business runs smoothly. New ideas that don't accommodate their concerns will fail. And newcomers who can't navigate the organization will fail.

    One of my biggest frustrations is seeing newcomers (from individuals to executives) arrive with big plans to change everything without understanding the business or the organization. They typically flail for a year or two and then flame out. And write critical reviews of us, some of it justified, without ever seeing the big picture.

    Sorry, this is not a “greenfield” place in certain ways—greenfields generally don’t make $300 million in revenue. If you read the most negative reviews, they seem to be written by people who experienced a switcheroo between what they expected their jobs would be and what ended up happening. It seems to me we could do better at setting expectations up front. Especially in Product Management and Engineering, on the front lines of that tension between trying new things and managing the existing business, we need to do better.

    We welcome new energy and ideas. We need people to show us how it’s done in other places. Just be understanding, okay? The mission here is to help regular people manage their investments and plan for retirement, not to prototype some sick new disruptive technology and sell out to Facebook. If the mission doesn’t speak to you, this may not be the best place for you.


  2. Helpful (1)

    "Investment Advisor"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Investment Advisor in Phoenix, AZ
    Current Employee - Investment Advisor in Phoenix, AZ
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Financial Engines full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Growing company but still has a small company feel

    Cons

    Because it is growing it has become a bit more sellsy in nature.

  3. Helpful (4)

    "If you accept an offer from this company"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Boston, MA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Boston, MA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Financial Engines full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    A handful of good decent people
    Class A Buildings
    Free EV Charging in Sunnyvale

    Cons

    When considering employment at Financial Engines a few Latin phrases come to mind 'Caveat Emptor' and Et tu, Brute. If you accept an offer from this company it will be a bumpy ride. If you hang on through the countless reorg’s, buyouts, failed technology upgrades don’t expect to be rewarded for your loyalty, Some get Goodbye cakes and memory books, others get ushered into rooms under false pretense and eliminated, it’s anybody’s guess what makes you fall into one category and not the other.

    The in-Human Resources in this company roll out things like the High 5’s program so you can give your fellow colleague a ‘Shake Weight’ kudos (g$$le it) Instead of actually repairing a management force that is grossly inept. Newsflash if people feel underappreciated its not because they want a high 5 from Someone in accounting…they want better management. Endless employee engagement surveys that lead to flaccid attempts to empower employees. Expect to be lied to by nearly everyone in Human Resources, they hide poison in their smiles they have to be ex-politicians the lying is done so well.

    Advice to Management

    The VP’s in this place are just atrocious (Personality anyone, anyone at all? middle-managers have no idea how to guide and grow a team. Forget about the endless training to strengthen management. It never gets any better NEVER!!

    Weekly meetings with underqualified demoted managers will be “tell me what you’re doing”…and nothing else. The custodial staff have more management and leadership ability in their left thumbs. The values of this company mean nothing, remember ENRON, they also had values.


  4. Helpful (10)

    "Far cry from an actual financial advisor role"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Financial Advisor in Phoenix, AZ
    Former Employee - Financial Advisor in Phoenix, AZ
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Financial Engines full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    The company has a noble mission in helping all clients retire well, regardless of the size of their portfolio. Generally great people to work with. Stock options potentially, depending on hire time frame and exercise price.

    Cons

    I was hired into Financial Engines for a "Financial Advisor" role and came in as a reasonably experienced advisor. The experience may be drastically different for someone who has very little to no industry or financial advisor experience. Additionally, the environment and culture changed drastically in my relatively short time with the company.

    While I agree with the company mission of providing unbiased advice, the focus of the advisor role has deteriorated in the last year and can be boiled down to nothing more than a lead feeder for formerly Mutual Fund Store branch advisors (who charge 2-3 times as much) and a loss prevention rep to try and psychoanalyze client personality types to best tailor your conversation and talk them out of cancelling FE professional management.

    Sales consultants now run rampant in the FE office in an effort to help advisors get a lead out of every call. That eventually became the ultimate goal and it was very disheartening. I never received any type of feedback related to developing my investment knowledge/acumen or what I would consider truly developing myself as a financial advisor. Feedback was centered around how I could have gotten a lead out of a call or talked someone who may be a terrible fit for the managed service out of cancelling.

    There is an abhorrent lack of expectation setting for clients. Many clients have gross misconceptions about what the FE managed service actually is because they enroll online and never speak to anyone, without reading through the details. Moreover, a shocking amount of clients are not even aware that they have even enrolled in the service (accidental enrollments). Despite myself and many peers providing a multitude of client feedback that the enrollment process was intentionally vague and misleading, nothing was changed and the message was that the accidental enrollments and revenues were built into the business model and therefore acceptable. I found this extremely disappointing, especially considering how FE touts their fiduciary status. In my opinion, that includes doing what is in a client's best interest even prior to enrollment in management and presenting a clear indication of what they are signing up for, even if it means a decrease in enrollments.

    The PTO process is very rigid and I found it increasingly difficult to get time off approved. Weeks and weeks at a time were blocked out for any PTO requests, regardless of advanced notice.

    This is a call center environment. Your day will be driven by call volumes, market events and your lunches (which are only 30 minutes) as well as your breaks will be scheduled for you, so hopefully your stomach and bladder can align to this. You will receive chats, emails and in person questioning about whether or not you need help with anything if you take too long on a call or documenting (or even submitting the leads that are so desperately desired) after a call.

    Advice to Management

    Be more clear about the roles you are hiring for. The financial advisor role description and interview process should make it clear that your main responsibility is submitting leads to the branches and talking people out of cancelling the service. Providing true financial, investment or financial planning advice was the smallest part of my role. You would be best served hiring people with a sales focus and no preliminary basis of what a true financial advisor and planner is, as this would probably minimize turnover and lower costs overall.


  5. Helpful (3)

    "Imperfect"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Advisor Center in Phoenix, AZ
    Former Employee - Advisor Center in Phoenix, AZ
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Financial Engines full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    State of the art technology. Very employee centric. Industry leader. Work/life balance

    Cons

    Group-think. Weak middle mgmt. Robotic practices.Using the right process is more important than the right outcome.

    Advice to Management

    It's hard to understand why so many managers are hypersensitive to risk even on minor issues. Compensation levels are not bad but not off the charts such that managers are so fearful of losing their jobs? Mgmt could encourage and support a more entrepreneurial spirit particularly given FNGN limited product menu.


  6. Helpful (1)

    "Ambitious goals with genuine concern for their customer (and employees), but lacking long-term follow through"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Phoenix, AZ
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Phoenix, AZ
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Financial Engines full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    The benefits and culture at FE are great - plus, the perks of the headquarters being located in Silicon Valley flows to other offices (e.g. - free snacks!). Fellow employees are kind and hard working, and the customer is truly the #1 focus. I can go to work knowing that I am helping to make a genuine difference in the lives of our clients.

    Cons

    Each department seems to operate in its own "silo" with a lack of information sharing across other parts of the organization, and instances where appropriate team(s) may not be included. (There are even times where teams within the same department don't know what each other are doing.) The lack of follow through on ideas and initiatives is also frustrating.

    Advice to Management

    There are great ideas and initiatives, but there seems to be a lot of talk and not a lot of action at the end of the day. New ideas and goals are quickly forgotten, and those that come to fruition lack any kind of long-term follow through - it's always about the next "big thing" within the company.


  7. Helpful (5)

    "Politics"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Management in Overland Park, KS
    Current Employee - Management in Overland Park, KS
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Financial Engines full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Second to none PTO plan, decent benefits, and some great people are still left.

    Cons

    Major game playing. You will only be promoted if you know the right person, play the right game, and kiss the right butt. They talk the talk, but don't walk it Since Mutual Fund Store was acquired by Financial Engines - it has really been a mess. No structured integration, former Mutual Fund Store employees getting blatantly screwed on salary and bonus, and leadership is not leading. You cannot pay folks 30% more and triple the bonus for the same position in another location!
    It is back biting, competitive, and the only way to be promoted or grow is to be "in" with a very small, select group. I cannot advise enough against this company.

    Advice to Management

    Walk the talk. You talk about values and vision and what we should all be doing but, you don't yourselves do any of those things. Rarely in my career have I seen such nastiness at mid-level management and above. It's like the engagement surveys didn't happen - you didn't do anything with that data! My advice is to listen and at least pretend you care about your people - and not just the Advisors. Without us, you will fail. And so will the Advisors. John and Larry - I hope you realize what you're doing and make some changes.

  8. "Great benefits, not so good management"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Service Delivery Specialist in Phoenix, AZ
    Current Employee - Service Delivery Specialist in Phoenix, AZ
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Financial Engines full-time

    Pros

    Great benefits, pto, personal laptop/station, company gifts, drinks/break room area, great mission

    Cons

    legacy system issues, micromanaging in my department other departments may be different

    Advice to Management

    working from home should not be that big of an issue. in this day with cloud capabilities and the fact that employees are assigned a personal laptop, working from home should not bother anyone. Micro managing is not good for anyone.


  9. Helpful (2)

    "Supportive colleagues and great work/life balance"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Boston, MA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Boston, MA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Great work environment and work life balance/flexibility. I was able to provide feedback to improve processes and take initiative on projects and ideas that were interesting to me. Management listens to employees.

    Cons

    Initiatives often aren't followed through on before management changes direction.


  10. Helpful (3)

    "pros and cons perspective from a non long timer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Software in Sunnyvale, CA
    Former Employee - Senior Software in Sunnyvale, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Financial Engines full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    1) It is a small company where everyone is very approachable - no hiccups, no egos - straight up ask a question and you will be able to resolve any sorts of issues. Felt like a family to be honest :) If pay was not the issue, I would have stayed here and fixed the rest of the cons below myself!
    2) Very nice office space (and gym facility by Moffett)
    3) They switched to Agile - chaotic but technically fun. It pushes you to being a better all rounder developer.
    4) Company's business model is decent - surprised that its not as popular as other financial startups despite its long run and having been a public company for some time.

    Cons

    1) Top Con: The pay was below market for engineers - one of the main reasons I left. This valley is too expensive to handle and an extra cash really helps.
    2) Because of 1), a lot of good talent leaves soon. And a lot of previous veterans left as well (either because of the stock price not having decent swings or just politically ousted).
    3) Tech stack was really inefficient (that's right - stubborn architects - hope you fixed it at some point!) - from release management to the actual software deployed - it was too bulky to manage. One huge eclipse/ant project - divided into packages pertaining to different teams - and then deployed in one shebang - yikes! There was always a lot of issue with performance (inefficient use of db pools, ORM abuse, etc) or regression because some team inadvertently modified an overlapping package. A proper process for code reviews was inexistent - was done unofficially. Maybe it has changed now - but that was how it was when I joined.

    Advice to Management

    Bump up the pay (if you havent done so) for bay area employees. If you cant, then start hiring tech from some place - else attritions the company's overall goal of helping people in their retirement experience (which is a very good cause)


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