How to Choose a Financial Planning Software?

Developing financial plans allows financial advisors to have a comprehensive understanding of their clients. This understanding is not limited to just their financial needs but also their family and social beliefs and what money really means to them. This understanding empowers to effectively manage the money for their clients and to guide them with the financial discipline. However, creating a comprehensive and meaningful financial plan requires a good financial planning software.

Some common challenges that advisors typically face with different financial planning software include:

  • Lack of intuitive user interface for data entry
  • Time consuming data entry
  • Cumbersome reports and unclear recommendations
  • Lack of flexibility in the software

Obviously, in choosing a financial planning software you need to look for a software that addresses these challenges. Let’s understand what these challenges mean.

Intuitive User Interface
For the user interface of a software to be intuitive, it has to pass the test in multiple facets. If I’m creating just a retirement plan, why not have all the data entry on one screen so I don’t have to go back and forth to check what was entered. As a financial advisor when I’m evaluating a financial planning software, the software design should allow me to pre-populate meaningful default values to quickly evaluate the software. While there can be a long list of requirements for an intuitive user interface, I will expect the software designer to have the thought leadership for an intuitive user interface.

Data Entry
The data entry should not be spread across more than a few screens. The labels for different data entries need to be obvious and have helpful information displayed right there, no clicking away to a different screen. In fact, there shouldn’t be any click at all.

Reports and Recommendations
Some financial planning software companies measure the sophistication of their software based on the number and length of the reports. Some reports can run hundreds of pages. Unless an advisor is getting compensated based on the weight of the report, they aren’t really worth the effort. If an advisor is having a tough time to understand these reports, how do you expect a client to understand? Simplicity and straightforward recommendation is really important to make the report actionable.

Flexibility of the Software
An advisor deals with clients belonging to different age groups, income and wealth levels, their knowledge of financial services, and their current and future needs. So, if the software requires the same monolith time consuming path regardless of a client profile, it’s not an efficient use of a financial advisor’s time. Some clients have complex financial needs and a cash flow based financial plan may be appropriate for them. Conversely, some clients may have simple financial needs and simplified financial plans. For them a goals based financial plan may be more appropriate. In some cases, a client ‘s needs may evolve from a goals based plan to a cash flow based plan. That doesn’t mean an advisor should change the software or re-enter the data all over again. So, a flexible financial planning software needs to adapt to an advisor’s needs, not the other way around.

The GoWealthPro software was designed to address these challenges. With one simple selection, it automatically adapts to a client’s situation and advisor needs. If you need to address some specific areas of planning e.g. when and how to take Social Security benefits, you can generate a plan that maximizes the Social Security benefits within 10 minutes. The software offers both goals and cash flow based financial planning. It covers most commonly used financial planning modules: Retirement, Social Security, College Education, Insurance, Investment Risk Profiling and Asset Allocation, and Estate & Taxes. Furthermore, the software free, secured, and privacy protected. The software works on computers and hand-held devices.

Wife on husband’s Social Security switching to her own and more

I have a 77 year old client who has a 66 year old wife who is not working. They are before the 1954 cut off for SS. They are currently receiving his $2800 per month and she is getting half $1380 per month and still working. They want to know what happens when she retires. Does she continue to get his half? Or does she just get her full? Will he ever get her half? They think they are grandfathered in due to date of birth.

Social Security Maximizer – use of client’s maximum benefits at FRA

I ran a plan for a couple which recommends the lower earner (male) take benefits at 70, and the higher earner (female) take benefits at 69yrs, 2mos. (He’s 10 months older than her.) I don’t have a problem with that, but when I go to Benefits By Start Age, it shows the higher earner taking spousal benefits at FRA. If it’s recommending she take spousal at FRA, then her own at 69, why doesn’t it say that in the Action Plan?

Wealth Planner

Just signed up for the free trial of your Wealth Planner software. Overall good impression; good to see that you guys don’t ask for the credit card info upfront. Quick question, I would like to spend some more time exploring the free trial but I’m taking a few weeks off. Is there a time limit on trial period?

Maximum Social Security Benefit Comparison with the ones at full retirement age

Hi. When I look at the chart comparing maximized benefits with those at full retirement income, the total benefits for spouse appear to be higher than what she will collect on her own record? If I look at her benefits schedule for full retirement age, her total lifetime benefits add up to about $781,000.  But in the comparison with maximized scenario, I see the amount to be about $856,000. Can someone tell me why it’s about $75,000 more?