Retirement Income Planning Software For Advisors – A former consulting CFP who taught himself programming, his new software is simple, effective and adds a new twist to finding a safe retirement withdrawal rate.
Zolt turned retirement income planning on its head to come up with a new way to solve the math problem of finding a safe retirement withdrawal rate. “It’s a paradigm shift,” says Salt, 58.
Retirement Income Planning Software For Advisors
Zolt says traditional financial planning software applications approach retirement income planning by starting with an assumed retirement age and then telling you whether you’ll spend more or less. Retirement age is a fixed goal in traditional retirement planning software.
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Zolt’s software solves the math problem that is retirement income in a different way. By settling on a safe retirement withdrawal rate rather than starting with a specific target withdrawal rate, Zolt has done something simple that adds an important twist to the retirement planning process.
“Retirement planning is an equation with about seven variables: portfolio size, portfolio returns, savings, living expenses including taxes, years to retirement and withdrawal rate,” says Zolt. “To solve a problem, you need to fix or assume certain variables to solve other variables.”
“This is where science becomes art, and where my approach is new and innovative,” adds Zolt. “I chose to assign the number of years to retirement to the variable and solve for the withdrawal rate. The result is a simple performance that clients can easily follow and, in turn, a buy-in that is a key part of client relationships.”
Above is a screenshot of Retirement Planner’s more complex spreadsheet. By changing one variable in the retirement income planning equation, advisors can instantly change the “what if” scenarios. It’s dead simple. Zolt did all the math and programmed the spreadsheet himself. He locked it so you can’t see the code without hacking it hard.
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Watch the 7½ minute video demo Zolt gave me of the app and tell me what you think. This turns out to be a really easy, low-cost way for advisors to take retirement opportunities on the fly with clients.
Zolt will talk in detail about his new approach on Friday, Feb. 7 at 4 p.m. A4A members are eligible for professional education credit on the webinar, which is free ($60).
Zolt is just the person you need to calculate safe withdrawal rates for retirees. He is an Associate of the Society of Actuaries, a Fellow of the American Academy of Actuaries and an Enrolled Representative. For 25 years she worked as a consultant at Coopers & Lybrand, Foster Higgins and Buck Consultants, rising to a team leader managing a small team of retirement planning consultants billing $600 an hour.
In 2004, he downsized and retired as a consulting operator to open a financial planning practice in Westlake, Ohio. He may be retired, but he thinks retirement math is fun and enjoys dabbling in financial planning.
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Salt says he works on a retainer basis for 18 clients and does on-demand projects for another 12. Zolt says he hasn’t taken on a new client in over a year. Because he is busy working on the software.
In January 2013, Zolt wrote an article published in The Journal of Financial Planning about how the 4% safe withdrawal rate as a rule of thumb for many professionals can actually stretch to 6%. with money He later gave several public talks explaining the article, and practitioners asked him how to put his ideas into practice. This got him thinking and led him to his inverse approach to solving the safe withdrawal rate problem.
With only 12 official office hours per week, Zolt spent the summer of 2013 learning Visual Basic (VB) for applications. While Zolt previously wrote Excel macros with 10 or 15 lines of code, the VB code that powers his spreadsheets is about 1,000 lines of code, he says. He hired a consultant to show him how to lock the code, so he would pay him $99 a year and $79 annually if no one saw it.
Late last summer, Zolt released The Retirement Planner App to members of the Alliance of Cambridge Advisors (ACA), a group of fee-only financial planners who share best practices and other ideas, a group Zolt is very fond of. Several ACA advisors became beta testers, and 25 are now using the spreadsheet up to version 1.2.
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According to an ACA consultant’s testimony on RetireSoft’s website, “I recently had another retirement planning meeting with a client. “In the first meeting, we looked at their retirement picture using (ACA Retirement Analyst) and MoneyGuidePro. This time I used your retirement planner, and they loved it!!! They raved about how user-friendly it was and how clear the results were. thank you so much!!”
Salt says he’s “exploding.” That’s because it’s a math killer. It kills these things. He says that when he was four, his parents would play a game with him where they would give him a date in history and he would tell them what day of the week it was. “For me, I’m a financial planner and I come home from my job and play with spreadsheets,” Salt says. “I’m doing this to relax.”
Software for financial advisory professionals can now be coded by people who are not professional programmers but who learn some programming to do it themselves or learn enough about how to code to not be taken aback by hired programmers. It generates new professional applications that are simple and inexpensive and designed to do one thing well.
What Manish Malhotra is doing with Income Discovery, what David Zolt is doing with RetireSoft, and others doing it elsewhere with big ideas could disrupt big software vendors and change technology choices for financial planning professionals. It has become very easy for a one-person operation to build software for a small group of targeted financial advisors and sell it for a fraction of the cost of applications from traditional professional software companies with 10, 20 or 30 or more employees. It will continue to provide financial planning and investment advice to a highly fragmented field and allow advisors to differentiate themselves in how they practice.
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