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 *****
TOTAL Planning Suite from Money Tree Software is designed for sophisticated financial and retirement planning. It allows you to enter data once and use three different planning modules depending on your client’s planning needs. TOTAL Planning Suite includes the goal-based Easy Money report module; the cash-flow-based Golden Years report module; and the specialized Strategic Solutions module. Each module provides detailed analyses of the client’s financial position and the client’s goals.
Easy Money provides comprehensive financial planning reports. Easy Money covers all areas of a financial plan by constructing retirement planning methods, analyzing client asset holdings, computing net worth and available cash flows, addressing optimal asset allocations and tracking client portfolios.
The Golden Years reports address questions related to post-retirement years such as cash needs, income taxes, expenses, life insurance planning, home sales and inflation. The Golden Years covers retirement in detail and provides annual tax analysis. The reports model regular and irregular cash flows and expenses, compute minimum distribution requirements and allow adjustments for life events. The Golden Years reports also include Monte Carlo simulations.
The Strategic Solutions reports address specific planning issues. It presents individual calculations and solutions for early IRA withdrawals, taxes during retirement and the costs of delaying a savings strategy. With Strategic Solutions you can compare taxable accounts to deductible retirement plans. You can also evaluate lump sum distributions and five-year distributions from IRAs, and single life or joint pension distributions.
The Money Tree Software website includes a product comparison chart showing the calculations and reports done by each of the TOTAL Planning Suite modules.
Other programs offer many of the same features as TOTAL Planning Suite.
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.
RetirementWorks II assesses future retirement income needs. It optimizes retirement plan contributions to determine plan distribution and withdrawal levels.
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.
How Does It Work?
The TOTAL Planning Suite is a database that creates complex reports. Data entry and decision making develop comprehensive details about the client’s finances, goals, tax situation and family. The analyses in the program’s reports are developed from the information gathered through the data screens.
TOTAL Planning Suite’s home screen features a narrow navigation pane on the left side; data entry screens on the right side; a top bar with buttons for new contacts, scenarios within a contact and generation of reports; and drop down menus at the top for file operations, tools and help.
Operation of the program begins with the creation of a new contact. The Total Contact Questionnaire wizard walks you through screens for the entry of contact information, personal assets, household savings and investments, retirement accounts, liabilities, dependents, earned income, tax information/itemized deductions, life insurance, other insurance, disability coverage, personal expenses and other income/expenses.
You may also create an empty contact from the navigation pane and enter client data and information one by one. A Financial Planning Questionnaire may be printed out for the client to gather client information.
Assets and liabilities are entered in detail, but are reported by categories rather than by individual items. You may enter information on rates of return, additions, earned income, life insurance, pensions and other topics on various data entry screens. This process may include future changes in rates of return, tax rates, itemized deductions, etc.
From the Tools menu you may add or edit account types, asset classes, information for scenarios, report titles, details, sorts and other directions for new scenarios.
Upon opening the program, click on Open Contact List and select a contact from the list presented on the screen. When a contact is opened, data headings appear in the navigation pane. You may select a data heading from the following to enter, view or edit the information presented:
Assumptions: Data for pre- and post-retirement projected earnings rates; required minimum distribution start ages; tax favored investment rates of return; accumulation rates; details of reporting net worth; Monte Carlo distribution options and asset sorting.
Assets: Summary of assets, additions and earnings rates. Assets allows for adding asset categories. Enter data for asset details such as securities account information; monthly additions; characterization of risk tolerance and financial attitudes; qualified plan additions; projected asset rate changes for future ages (including option for cash earnings withdrawal) by category.
Dependent Children: Entry of data and college cost information for dependent children. This includes a College Cost Estimator with the selection of detailed costs for listed colleges.
Estate: Identify estate documents already in place. Assumptions may be entered as to estate costs and credit shelter trust options. Enter the client’s age for estate illustrations and gifts to family and charities.
Income: Data for salaries, wages and self-employment income.
Income Tax Data: Data and itemized deductions for income tax computation.
Liabilities: Entry of itemized liabilities.
Insurance: Entry of itemized life, disability and miscellaneous insurance.
Expenses: Current and retirement living expenses.
Real Estate: Itemized real estate holdings, mortgages, expenses and improvements.
Monte Carlo: Data for Monte Carlo modeling, including Fat Tail Distribution.
Financial Goals: Modeling of funds to be accumulated for special purposes.
Stock Options: Stock option details, tax rates and grants.
Survivor: Survivor’s cash needs and tax rates.
TOTAL Planning Suite includes a facility for the pricing of individual securities. Data can be imported from other Money Tree products and can be exported in various formats.
How Are Reports Furnished?
You may instruct the program to generate report screens in Easy Money, Golden Years or Strategic Solutions based on the data and choices entered on the data entry. The reports appear on a preview pane from which they may be printed. You may print the full report or selections from the report or copy portions of the reports for editing in your word processor. The reports are well organized and clearly written with informative tabulations and graphics.
Express Reports gives a quick report on assets by account, class, owner or type; summary of all expenses; summary of personal expenses and a net worth report.
All the reports include tabulations and graphic illustrations. Sample reports may be viewed on the publisher’s website at See Sample Reports.
What About Help and Support?
A comprehensive help file is furnished with the program and covers its scope and operation. Each screen of the program has context sensitive information. The help screens also include advice about various financial and retirement topics, such as investments and taxes. Quick Start user’s tutorials for program settings, data management and reports are available for viewing or printing from the Help Menu.
A detailed PowerPoint tutorial of TOTAL Planning Suite is available from the Money Tree website along with a video tutorial explaining its Basic Navigation.
Where Do You Get This Product?
The TOTAL Planning Suite is $1,495 with an annual renewal fee of $700. The TOTAL platform with either the Easy Money or Golden Years report is $850 with an annual renewal fee of $350. Discounts are available for broker/dealers or for multi-user packs. A 90-day trial of the full-featured evaluation version of the TOTAL Planning Suite is available.
The TOTAL Planning Suite is available from:
Money Tree Software
Order Line Phone: 877-421-9815
The TOTAL Planning Suite is a tool for professionals dealing with the financial planning and retirement planning needs of major clients. It permits a high degree of in depth exploration of the client’s financial, retirement and tax situation and planning for various scenarios and alternate strategies. The reports provide excellent means of client communication for both overall details and specific data organization and planning development.
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.