A Tool for Retirement Advice

Should you use “Retirement Savings Planner 2009” software? The publisher of Retirement Savings Planner 2009, Professional Edition, suggests that this software is useful for financial advisors, financial planners, insurance agents, CPAs, lawyers, trust departments, pension administrators and human resources personnel

Kelley Rating (one asterisk = lowest, to 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 ****

The publisher of Retirement Savings Planner 2009, Professional Edition, suggests that this software is useful for financial advisors, financial planners, insurance agents, CPAs, lawyers, trust departments, pension administrators and human resources personnel. It is intended for client communication or financial products sales support.

Retirement Savings Planner 2009 computes and projects probable retirement income and expenses for a defined period of years. It is essentially cash flow based, but it also includes a goal solver for retirement savings projections. This program is based on an informative graphical interface with underlying spreadsheets. It integrates detailed data on investments and expenses and reflects straightforward inflation projections.

Specifically, this program assembles data and computes the effect on retirement of long-term care insurance, wealth management services, 401k plans, life insurance, annuities, split annuities, equity indexed annuities, variable annuities, rollovers, reverse mortgages, indexed universal life insurance, and other products and services related to a person's retirement finances.

Torrid Technologies, the publisher of Retirement Savings Planner 2009, Professional Edition, also furnishes less comprehensive Personal and Couples editions with fewer features.

Retirement Savings Planner 2009 is updated a number of times each year. Updates for each version are conveniently furnished by Internet download. The software routinely checks for updates, or you can check for updates manually.

Competitive Products

Programs that offer comparable features to Retirement Savings Planner include:

  • American Dream personal finance software for professional advisors,
  • NaviPlan financial and retirement planning calculations and graphics, and
  • Cygnus IncomeMax financial planning software for financial planners and life insurance agents.

How Does It Work?

The opening screen of Retirement Savings Planner 2009 presents the Retirement Income Graph — a stacked bar graph reflecting the year-by-year results of the client’s income during retirement years. The lower part of the screen is a clearly presented series of data fields for entry of client and spouse ages and income; balances and contributions to tax-deferred, taxable and tax-free investments; and social security benefits and pension/defined benefits annual amounts. The Other Assumptions tab allows entry of the retirement income goal, the projected inflation rate and projected tax rates before and after retirement.

The graph displays bars that reflect year-by-year inflated amounts based on the projected retirement goal and expenses, income and growth from client investments, and the difference between these two values that must be made up from capital withdrawals. The bar graph also shows pension income and social security income. Another set of bars shows other income after retirement. (For instance, salary earned by one spouse after the retirement of the other, cash infusion income items and other annual income after retirement.) The program then computes and displays the critical amount of any shortfall between amounts received and retirement goals.

As you move the mouse pointer into the graph area, a vertically positioned line attaches to the pointer. This line is an automatic graph reader. Boxes at the top of the screen display the dollar amounts corresponding to each set of bars for each year of the designated retirement time spectrum. As you move the line, the values in the boxes change to correspond to the values for that year.

By changing the amounts entered in the data fields, the graph changes and you can instantly see the effect of such changes on the achievement of future projected retirement goals. You may create an unlimited number of retirement plans.

The right hand side of the screen displays several buttons for navigating spreadsheets created by Retirement Savings Planner 2009, including Investments, Special Expenses, Cash Infusions and Spreadsheet (an annual spreadsheet reflecting the calculations of income, adjustments and balances underlying the graph.) Other navigational buttons are Savings (a bar graph showing the value of tax-deferred and taxable investments year-by-year) and the Retirement Income Graph.

  • The Investments spreadsheet provides detailed annual future projections for individual investments, income, expenses and other data entries entered in the Client or Spouse fields at the bottom of the graph screen. Before and after income tax data is color-coded to match the bars on the Retirement Income Graph. The Investments spreadsheet also calculates life expectancies for each year and the required minimum distributions for tax-deferred investments. You may enter an unlimited number of investments.
  • The Special Expenses spreadsheet tracks after-retirement expenses such as long-term care costs or premiums. An inflation factor, start age and duration can be set for each line item and you may enter as many items as desired.
  • The Cash Infusions spreadsheet tracks various cash receipts, not otherwise entered, that come in before or after retirement. Such receipts may be entered as one-time events or as payments received over a given number of years. This allows planners to account for such events as home sales, business or other asset sales, inheritances, and early retirement or severance packages. The tax rate may be separately set for each event you enter.

The Retirement Income Graph reflects the data entered into the spreadsheets in a visually pleasing and compact representation of the total retirement picture on an annual basis.

Free-standing tools are included to project life insurance needs, savings required to eliminate retirement income shortfalls, income taxes saved by annual contributions to tax-deferred retirement plans and savings required to reach a financial goal.

What Reports Are Furnished?

Client reports are created by a facility that allows you to select all or any of the screens presented by the program (including tools) as a combined report according to the age range you select. You may print the Savings Graph or Retirement Income Graph separately. Data appearing on the Spreadsheet may be exported to Microsoft Excel for further manipulation or addition of categories and amounts.

What About Help and Support?

Retirement Savings Planner 2009 includes a well-conceived help system that describes the program settings, screen inputs and program operation in detail. Technical support for this product is provided by email and telephone.

Where Do You Get This Software?

The new user price for an annual subscription to Retirement Savings Planner 2009, Professional Edition is $699. Renewals for prior users are $349. If you would like to try the product before purchasing it, both a free demo version and a free 90 day trial are available from the publisher’s website.

This service is available from:

Torrid Technologies
1860 Sandy Plains Rd.
Suite 204-129
Marietta, GA 30066
Order Line Phone: 770-565-6405
Website: www.torrid-tech.com/

Bottom Line

This program is useful for a quick, visual representation of a client’s financial picture as it relates to retirement 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 [email protected].

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