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J&L Financial Planning Software

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"Basic analysis tools cover the gamut of PFP practices", by Steven Levey.
Accounting Today Vol. 17 No. 5 March 17-April 6, 2003

Imagine a $59.95 retirement and financial planning software program that also has calculators for mortgages, refinance analysis, accelerated mortgage payments, inflation, trade-off analysis, required minimum distributions and credit card payoffs -- then add Monte Carlo simulation, ability to import or export tab- or comma-delimited files, and a 64-page PDF instruction manual.

The program is organized with quick tips, as well as clear instructions for events such as withdrawals, deposits, mortgages, credit cards, transfers, and retirement. The Financial Planner is designed to create a financial plan comprised of financial events that take place during the client’s life. It was created to give a "broad brush" overview of your financial future based on actual and proposed financial plans.

It is easy to create a plan by creating accounts that represent current investments, assets, equity and the return rates, and filling out an initial values form, containing the client age at which the plan starts and the client age at which the plan ends (death or retirement). Income tax rates are also entered along with inflation statistics.

A financial scenario consisting of money-related events is applied to the scenario at the event’s start age and continues until the event’s end age. These events represent a deposit to, or a withdrawal from, an account. There is an event available that allows you to change the fundamental rates with which the scenario is calculated. The scenario is run to see how accounts are affected by the events.

Initial significant assumptions by the planner include investment savings, tax-free savings, retirement savings, and assets, not part of the plan liquidation, plus equity and the related outstanding mortgage. The next assumption consists of events that affect the client’s money that are triggered by their age. Another assumption is when an event requires money to be withdrawn from client accounts.

When the program is started, header tabs appear for summary, accounts, scenario, results, net worth, and incoming/outgoing, and then under the Monte Carlo heading various accounts as selected by the planner. Click on accounts, and savings accounts and investments appear. Double click on any of these accounts and then double click on any account and input for account name, initial amount, effective yearly rate, random minimum and maximum rates, annualized standard deviation, access order, account type, assign group, early withdrawals, assign minimum required distributions, and assign asset allocation.

The scenario tab gives a chronological listing from the starting age for inflation, investment rates, and any other changes desired until death. Results show the client age, type of investment, tax-free investments, retirement assets, equity, liabilities, and final net worth per year.

A feature at the bottom of the screen allows you to edit initial values and run them again if you do not like the results. Selecting net worth, incoming/outgoing, and groups presents line graphs. A bonus feature is the Monte Carlo analysis, which can perform up to 200 iterations based upon input from the planner. The planner can also select from over seven reports, including comparisons of various results and scenarios.

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