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REVIEW: Financial Planning Software 2011

Financial planning has always been a growth industry, and is no less so today in spite of the economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), based on its most recent data, there are 155,300 financial advisors in the United States, with the greatest number residing in New York, Texas, Florida, Illinois and California. This represents a drop in the number of financial planners since 2008, but the survivors of the economic shakeout are doing better financially, with a mean income of $91,200 per year.

The trend is upward - The BLS projects that the industry will grow by 30 percent annually over the next eight years, with annual salaries also trending upward. However, there will also be keen competition between the various segments of the industry, which could mean both industry consolidation and some level of shakeouts.

One of the keys to personal financial planning is the use of an effective software program. Generally, the value of a software program in this market is based on four factors:

• Breadth and depth. The software needs to cover the widest possible range of client circumstances and goals.
• Scenario Building. Critical to plan development is the ability to create differing scenarios and present them in a side-by-side comparison.
• Presentation capabilities. The generation of a financial plan, and the ability to present that plan in a manner suited to the needs of the client, are both critical requirements.
• Client Communication. Increasingly, the ability to maintain communications with the client over the life of the plan and beyond is a related requirement. In 2011, this means the use of email, mobile communications and a strong web portal for client access and interaction.

In our annual roundup of Personal Financial Planning solutions, we examine seven of the top software and online packages that meet these requirements.


eMoney 360/eMoney 360Pro Version 7.0
eMoney Advisor
Conshohocken, Pa.
(888) 362-4612
Price:  eMoney 360 Pro, $6,000 annual license subscription;  $540 a month for unlimited clients. eMoney 360, a $3,000 annual license subscription is $3,600;  $324 a month for unlimited clients.

eMoney 360/eMoney 360Pro Version 7.0
eMoney offers a suite of two web-based wealth management solutions, each with its own approach to planning and with differing levels of sophistication. Both products provide personalized client websites, financial connections for linking account balances and gaining a comprehensive view, and an online Vault for the safe storage of important financial documents including tax returns, legal documents and more.

eMoney 360Pro, a financial planning and relationship-enhancing system, provides cash flow based advanced planning for financial advisors with more than 200 comparative analysis reports. eMoney 360 offers needs based analysis tools for accumulation analysis, annuity income, asset allocation, asset protection, business insurance, disability, education, long term care, retirement, financial statements and life insurance modules.

The company also offers an Advisor Marketing program that provides videos, presentations, printed materials and other aids in marketing the financial management programs.

In addition, eMoney has partnered with leading CRM, wireless, office and other advisor tools for increased data integration between eMoney 360 and 360 Pro. This year eMoney launched Ask eMoney, an online knowledge community for subscribers accessible via the system's Advisor Dashboard. Ask eMoney is a resource for obtaining industry trends, technology advice and best-practice and system user tips. In 2012, eMoney will introduce a new interface for their client site, providing clients with an easier-to-read design and more client-driven data entry.

MasterPlan Financial Software
Vacaville, Calif.
(707) 451-8985
Fax: (707) 451-8093
Price: $1,245 stand-alone version with 12 months of support.

MasterPlan, a financial planning package aimed at the professional planner, addresses thirteen functional areas of analysis to address everything a client owns, owes, earns, spends and pays in taxes for the current year, for every year until retirement, and to life expectancy.

MasterPlan's areas of analysis include retirement needs analyses; education funding analysis; real estate analysis; cash flow; tax planning; capital needs analysis; disability needs analysis; estate and trust planning; business valuation; asset allocation; budgeting; balance sheet with analysis (financial condition statement) and what-if scenarios. The inclusion of a what-if scenario function easily handles buying, selling and re-financing of assets and liabilities. In addition, the software has strong tax planning capabilities - calculating for each year of a projection whether the tax was Table Tax or AMT. This is helpful in calculating where the unescalated AMT threshold looms, according to the plan's CPI assumptions.

Financial data used for planning purposes can be imported and updated from three different sources - NASDAQ, Yahoo and Albridge Web Services. By connecting to either the NASDAQ or Yahoo sites, the MasterPlan Security Price Update Programs will update prices; record the source of the price; indicate whether or not the litem was listed, and whether the price went up, down or remained the same. Users of the Albridge Web Site can import client and holding data; update prices and other data, and indicate if there is new or deleted information.

MasterPlan has also introduced Report Services, a new back-office system that frees the professional from plan preparation. Used in cases where a firm does not have the manpower or the training to enter the client data and prepare a plan, it acts like a planning service bureau. The accountant sends data "fact sheets" to the client, and then sends the completed data form to MasterPlan for creation of a plan and presentation. The service is paid for by the plan set or by the hour.

MasterPlan offers a good combination of planning, presentation and updating capabilities in a stand-alone package designed to meet the specific needs of accounting firms.

NaviPlan Select
EISI (Emerging Information Systems Inc.)
Winnipeg, Manitoba
(888) 692-3474
Fax: (204) 942-5100
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Price: NaviPlan Select starts at $1,395.

NaviPlan Select
NaviPlan Select, a goals-based planning product, is scalable enough to handle both assessments and plans with varying degrees of complexity, depending on the needs of the client. Nine stand-alone calculators provide the client with quick answers to basic questions. Financial Assessments and Asset Allocation Assessments help to explore client goals and needs. Two Planning levels provide for basic to advanced complexities in the client plan. Additional features are available through optional Presentation Module, Ibbotson Asset Allocation Module, Ibbotson Security Classifier, Ibbotson Mean Variance Optimizer and web hosting services.

Scenario Manager is used to show how an alternative strategy would affect the client's plan, presenting side-by-side comparisons for alternate strategies and their impact. There is also a web-based format that offers enhanced client communication.

New to version 12.1.2 are a re-designed Presentation Module, enhanced estate planning features and support for Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs).

Designed to manage clients with $500,000 AUM to ultra-high net worth, EISI's NaviPlan Select offers a full range of financial planning capabilities that include interactive tools for the evaluation of multiple scenarios.

PFP Notebook
Brentmark Software
Orlando, Fla.
(800) 879-6665
(407) 306-6107 fax
Price: $595. Initial licensing includes six full months of maintenance coverage. Optional annual maintenance, $199.

PFP Notebook
PFP Notebook uses a step-by-step modular notebook approach that incorporates the philosophy of Jim Wilson, a pioneer in the field of personal financial planning.

PFP Notebook consists of a number of modular areas including a client section, financial data, risk management, investments, retirement planning, estate planning, education funding and income tax. In addition, the program offers optional links between modular areas so that you can use them all as part of one seamless whole or use them separately, choosing only what's appropriate for an individual client. PFP Notebook generates calculation reports and 3-D color graphs with customizable explanatory text. Over 800 inputs and calculation variables are available to merge into the text. The Retirement section of PFP Notebook demonstrates the effects of volatility on the life of assets with a Monte Carlo analysis.

Profiles Forecaster
Winnipeg, Manitoba
(888) 692-3474
Fax: (204) 942-5100
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Price: Starts at $595; web-based version $795.

Profiles Forecaster
Profiles Forecaster offers a goal-based application that can start a client with a basic plan in 25 minutes or less. Designed for the needs of clients with investable assets under management of $500,000 or less, its strength lies in its reporting capabilities and the ability to perform an insurance analysis.

Profiles Forecaster offers planning modules for retirement accumulation, education goals, survivor needs, long-term care needs and disability needs, with financial statements that cover net worth and budgeting. Budgeting features in Profiles Forecaster v5.0 help advisors track clients' living expenses to identify cash surpluses or deficits and make having an in-depth cash flow discussion with clients easier and more effective.

The upcoming release, version 5.5 (scheduled for next month), will include performance and design enhancements for improved speed, navigation and look and feel, as well as enhancements to the retirement and survivor modules.

Profiles Forecaster delivers a good base plan that can be upgraded to Profiles Professional when the clients' needs demand. It is augmented with additional modules for Ibbotson Asset Allocation (including Ibbotson Security Classifier, Forefield content and web hosting services).

Profiles Professional
Winnipeg, Manitoba
(888) 692-3474
Fax: (204) 942-5100
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Pricing: Starts at $1,045; $1,245 for the web-based version.

Profiles Professional
Profiles Professional offers a modular approach to planning with an emphasis on retirement considerations such as retirement fund acquisition and disbursement, asset allocation planning, disability, long-term care and death. The focus is on enhanced scenario presentation, as well as on streamlined client data entry and management; easier navigation via the left-side navigation system; and a Retirement Asset Results Timeline to track contributions, withdrawals, growth and account balance over the life of the plan.

The most recent release, version 10, features a new Presentation Module with four templates: Planning to Protect, The Road to Retirement, Planning for your Family's Education and Cash Flow Planning. Enterprise clients can request their own custom slide presentations. Other enhancements include data integration with Redtail CRM, enabling users of the web version of Profiles Professional to import demographic data, policy information and portfolio data. And a new case review feature allows advisors to generate pre-populated client review worksheets and update existing plans for annual or periodic review and analysis.

The upcoming release, version 10.5 (scheduled for next month), will include a new Progress Reporting process for monitoring clients progress toward their goals, performance and design enhancements, as well as improvements to long-term care and Monte Carlo capabilities.

Available in both desktop and web formats, Profiles Professional v10.0 offers a strong blend of planning and presentation tools aimed at users with $100,000 or greater in assets under management.

PFP Relief
Hauppauge, N.Y.
(888) 999-1366
Fax: (800) 927-1283
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Price: $395 yearly fee for unlimited use.

PFP Relief
PFP Relief continues to be among the strongest online applications for personal financial planning, with capabilities that includes budget/cash flow, net worth, retirement planning, Roth IRA conversion, goal funding, education funding, mortgage amortization, investment planning and asset allocation.

One of the eight modules included in the AccountantsWorld Power Practice platform, PFP Relief offers professionally-designed reports and graphs that give an instant snapshot of the client's financial health and progress toward goals, but also make available the detail behind the charts for step-by-step review with the client. Standard reports include Net Worth, Budget, Retirement, Education, Estate Planning, Roth IRA Conversion, Investment Planning, Loan Amortization and Other goals. The report modules can be customized to include, exclude or edit any of the information in the overview, summary, details, graphs or recommendations.

PFP Relief's Web 2.0 online application, a strong and consistent planning system, has proven popular with accountants for its rich reporting capabilities, modular planning approach and very economical pricing structure. One of the market leaders in web-based planning, it is also one of the most economical planning systems for accountants.


Dave McClure

David P. McClure is a technologist and business consultant whose career has included eight years with the NASA Space Shuttle Program and assignments in marketing, environmental services, software publishing and broadband.  He founded the US Internet Industry Association, the nation's primary trade association for Internet and broadband companies.  In 2004 he was awarded a Cornerstone Award for leadership in the broadband industry.  In the same year, he was named to the Board of Directors of the Universal Service Administrative Corporation, the non-profit corporation that oversees the nation's $8 billion universal service telecommunications fund.  His areas of expertise include software management, strategic and market planning, global technology policy and technology audits.  He is the author of more than 100 white papers on business management, technology, customer service and strategic planning.

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