Creating a comprehensive financial plan is crucial to achieving financial security, yet it’s something that many Americans have ignored either due to economic conditions or their own circumstances. According to a survey conducted by TD Ameritrade in 2019, nearly two-thirds of individuals in their 40s had less than $100,000 saved for retirement. Even more alarming, 28 percent of respondents in their 60s had less than $50,000. Moreover, 66 percent of millennials lacked confidence in their ability to appropriately save for retirement due to the high cost of living, particularly as it relates to housing costs.
Fortunately, it’s never too late to start saving and thinking about the future. To this end, there are several types of software available that can help people to budget and manage their investments. An alternative option is to seek out a Certified Financial Planner. These professionals use software programs to develop retirement and investment plans designed to help clients achieve financial security. Here are five popular financial planning software programs:
Created by PIETech in 2001, MoneyGuidePro was cited as the most-used software program by professional advisors in a 2018 survey conducted by T3, Inside Information, and Advisor Perspectives. More than 36 percent of the 1,000 advisors surveyed used the program, which includes features such as Social Security optimization, a detailed plan summary, custom report templates, and the ability to customize asset classes and portfolios.
MoneyGuidePro stands out in part due to its user-friendly presentation. One of its flagship features is the Play Zone®, through which financial advisors can use interactive sliders to demonstrate the impact of various factors such as retirement goals, savings, and age. Moreover, advisors can present a visually engaging portrait of what their clients’ financial situation could look like by taking into account prospective challenges outside of their control, such as inflation, a reduction in Social Security, and higher-than-expected long-term care costs.
Another popular program among financial advisors is eMoney Advisor, which was used by nearly 30 percent of respondents in the aforementioned survey. Although it ranked second to MoneyGuidePro in terms of usage, it averaged the highest user rating (8.0) among all financial planning tools included in the survey. In addition, it led all of the software programs that advisors considered adding to their list of resources.
The user-friendly tool presents real-time data and alerts so that advisors can easily stay abreast of relevant client and market matters. It also has a client portal through which individuals can check out their financial situation at any time. eMoney Advisor boasts an in-depth and detailed cash flow analysis system.
RightCapital was the third most-used software program among the advisors surveyed, and it had the largest share of the market for firms with annual revenue of less than $100,000. It also edged out eMoney Advisor and MoneyGuidePro as the most-used program among firms that had been in business for less than five years.
The relatively new program, which was designed with millennial clients in mind, places an emphasis on budgeting, as opposed to investment management. In addition, it allows advisors to create client-friendly models and illustrations of their financial situation that can be accessed through the RightCapital mobile app. The app facilitates communication between advisors and clients. In addition, it allows advisors to assign specific tasks to clients as part of a comprehensive plan to achieve their financial goals.
“We designed the RightCapital App with state-of-the-art features aimed to help advisors better engage with their clients and provide real-time financial reports—giving both advisors and clients alike more peace of mind over financial planning goals,” said RightCapital founder and CEO Shuang Chen.
It’s generally recommended that you employ a CFP® to manage your finances and investments. These professionals have a passion for managing money, as well as access to relevant information, critical resources, and like-minded professionals with whom they can share ideas and pertinent market information. However, there are software programs available for those who have the necessary time and resources and feel comfortable with managing their own finances. One of those programs is Personal Capital.
A free program designed for both beginners and more experienced money managers, Personal Capital allows individuals to track their net worth and to link all of their financial accounts. In addition, it includes tools to manage cash flow and to forecast college and retirement savings outcomes. One of the biggest selling points for those inexperienced in investment management is the ability to employ a robo-advisor to oversee trading and other portfolio activity.
Intuit Mint is another free financial planning tool that prioritizes basic budgeting over investment activity. Like other popular programs, it has a user-friendly interface and can be accessed on either on your desktop or a mobile device. The program’s features include the ability to track your bank and credit card accounts, set up and manage your monthly budget, monitor your credit score, and create reminders for bill payments. Other popular financial planning programs include WealthTrace and Quicken, both of which are available for a fee.