Kelley Rating (one asterisk = lowest, five asterisks = highest):
- Ease of navigation, design of interface and learning curve ****
- Instructional documentation and help system ****
- Carries out the goal of the product as advertised ****
- Overall usefulness ****
BNA Wealth Manager is designed to address planning and analysis for retirement, insurance and disability needs, education funding, individual retirement account distribution, long-term care and gifts and estate arrangements. As stated by the publisher, this product is intended for accountants, but it should also prove useful for attorneys and financial planners by addressing the various financial planning needs of their clients. BNA Wealth Manager is essentially an integrated suite of planning modules. The IRA distribution-planning module includes Internal Revenue Code Sections 401(a)(9) and 72(t) calculations and evaluations while the trust-planning module includes grantor retained annuity trusts, grantor retained unitrusts, charitable trusts, intentionally defective irrevocable trusts and dynasty trusts. Other modules address retirement planning (including distribution planning), education planning, insurance and disability planning, long-term care analysis, gift planning and estate planning with attention to family limited partnerships, limited liability companies and corporate business entities.
BNA Wealth Manager, published and marketed by BNA, is the joint product of BNA and the Financial Guidance division of Scivantage, which provides financial solutions to the financial services industry.
This product addresses both cash flow and goal based retirement planning, as you select. In the retirement module, you may enter the client’s goals to be applied in the goal-driven analysis. You may switch between these methodologies as you work. This module provides both spreadsheet displays and computations of data and displays elaborate charts and graphs that immediately respond to different entries and client choices. A comprehensive plan may be developed or individual modules applied to particular planning issues.
In the education module, basic student data is entered and whether a specific college offers tuition and other costs or the average costs by region and type of college. The module displays in-state or out-of-state tuition costs where appropriate. You may enter the amount of an existing fund and annual additions to be made to this fund. The program then computes the projected value of education funds, the funds applied to college costs and any needed amounts, displaying these computations as both a spreadsheet and a bar graph.
How Does It Work?
BNA Wealth Manager is easy to navigate with all the basic components presented on a single screen. Accessing the detailed submenus and planning choice selections available in each module, however, has a bit of a learning curve.
When first opened, the program allows you to open a client file, create a new client file or quickly create a simplified “instant client” (basic data that may be amplified by detailed components). When you select a new client file or open an existing client file, a narrow vertical pane appears on the left hand side listing the program components from which you may select, such as client details, client objectives, client assets/liabilities, income/expense and cost of living adjustment/income tax. From this pane, you then select the planning modules you want to apply, including life insurance, disability income insurance, retirement planning, distribution planning, estate/gifts planning, capital needs analysis, disability needs analysis and long-term care analysis.
For each selection made from the left hand pane, a narrow vertical pane (referred to as the data panel) opens next to the left pane and lists the categories of information to be entered or choices to be made. Data to be entered is listed by subcategory with prompts for numerical entry or selection of choices.
The rest of the screen on the right hand side displays a spreadsheet reflecting the data entered and computations made by the program, a graph appropriate to the category you selected on the left hand pane or both, as you choose. Spreadsheet data may be saved to an Excel file.
A simple top menu list lets you select among file and printing operations, the screen view you desire (data, graph, spreadsheet or all), a list of planning modules from which you select the one you want to view an analysis of, "what-if" planning scenarios, planning proposals and tools for management of program results. The tools menu also includes client financial questionnaires for data gathering.
You can select goal-driven or cash flow methodology at client details. In a cash flow-driven analysis, the retirement need responds to the entries in the expense data panel. In a goal-driven analysis, specific goals beginning at the retirement age are entered in the retirement planning data panel.
You select qualified assets and their distributions and enter their value in the distribution planning panel. You may enter either individual assets or a portfolio. You may select the type of qualified plan and the asset class, enter the annual contributions and specify the projected growth rates (either user entered or default rates suggested by the program for the asset class selected). You may choose to enter the total portfolio, rather than individual assets, in which you can create a targeted portfolio by type of asset mix, including a balanced fund with blended asset types. You may select and evaluate various financial strategies for distributions. A basic level Roth IRA conversion is included.
How Are Reports Furnished?
Under the file menu, you may select the printing of a full client report, a shorter graph report or just the graphs and related spreadsheets. From the dialog box that pops up, you may then select the pages to print and the planning sections to print for each type of report. You may instruct the program to preview the report on the screen or to print the report directly. The full report includes comprehensive text explanations of the components of the report, the data entered, computations made by the program and the flow charts and graphs created by the program. You may save the reports as PDF files.
Help and Support
A typical tri-pane help file is furnished with the program with topics including instructions for data entry and planning decisions for each planning component and other topics discussing operation of the program. You may access the help file from each screen of the program. At each input field on the data entry screens, a context-sensitive help screen appears to instruct you on data entry and the function of the field.
A quick start manual is furnished with the shipped product, and technical support is available by phone or email request.
The BNA Wealth Manager is priced at $1,195 annually. A free 30-day trial of the full-featured version of this software is available from the publisher’s website. You may request product information by email.
BNA Wealth Manager can be purchased from:
Order Line Phone: 800-424-2938 (option 3)
The BNA Wealth Manager provides tools for every aspect of financial and retirement planning and integrates them into the production of an overall plan. It’s flexible and responsive in exploring alternative planning paths and creating “what-if” comparisons. The informative reports provide comprehensive client communication and should serve to foster constructive client dialog.
There are other programs that offer many of the same features as BNA Wealth Manager.
TOTAL Planning Suite from Money Tree Software addresses sophisticated financial and retirement planning and supplies both goal-based and cash flow planning modules.
NaviPlan Extended financial planning program addresses retirement, education cost projections, insurance and income tax. The program also performs estate, gift and generation skipping transfer tax calculations.
AdvisorVision is a web-based financial analysis tool. It includes automated strategies to meet client goals, goal analysis, Monte Carlo simulations, portfolio recommendations, estate-planning techniques, income tax planning and life insurance planning.
Trusts & Estates magazine is pleased to present the monthly Technology Review by Donald H. Kelley—a respected connoisseur of the software and Internet resources wealth management advisors use to further their practices.
Kelley is a lawyer living in Highlands Ranch, Colo. and is of counsel to the law firm of Kelley, Scritsmier & Byrne, P.C. of North Platte, Neb. He is the co-author of the Intuitive Estate Planner Software, (Thomson – West 2004). He has served on the governing boards of the American Bar Association Real Property Probate and Trust Section and the American College of Tax Counsel. He is a past regent and past chair of the Committee on Technology in the Practice of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.
Trusts & Estates has asked Kelley to provide his unvarnished opinions on the tech resources available in the practice today. His columns are edited for readability only. Send feedback and suggestions for articles directly to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.