Judging by the number of comments and their intensity (see below), members of Advisors4Advisors who attended Friday’s webinar connected with ideas about retirement income planning from David Zolt.
A math whiz, who spent 25 years as an actuary consulting to many of the world’s largest defined benefit and other retirement plans, Zolt captured the interest of advisors with his simple but powerful new spreadsheet app for finding safe retirement withdrawal rates.
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Zolt’s software represents a trend unfolding in advisor technology toward more specialized apps. I call them “crack apps” because they fill in the cracks in an advisory practice.
Crack apps are causing leading-edge advisors (i.e., A4A members) to redesign their desktops and add new tools to their existing toolset. Crack apps do one thing great, which differs from the current tools advisors use for financial planning. In contrast to the comprehensive apps for solving financial planning problems that require much more data input, crack apps give you an answer to a very specific problem and require much less data input.
Zolt’s safe withdrawal calculator is a really simple spreadsheet that Zolt’s designed to solve a complicated retirement income problem quickly. You can use it in front of clients and print out the graphical reports. Though you don’t input as much data as you would using a planning program, you get a very good solution to retirement income questions all clients must answer in minutes for $49 annually (after a $99 first-time fee).
Retirement income planning over the past decade has been greatly influenced by the research of a small group of thought leaders, including William Bengen, Jon Guyton, Michael Kitces, Wade Pfau, and Manish Malhotra. Reaction to Zolt’s webinar indicates he may be a join that group of thought leaders.
- I will look at this software more closely. It looks like a good tool.
- Confusing presentation. More clarity by the presenter is needed.
- Very interesting
- Good. Software not detailed enough for me. Taxes can be a large future expense.
- Good stuff. Considering purchasing the software.
- Very glad I was able to attend today...Great tool
- Looks like a simple way to illustrate the pros and cons of different retirement income withdrawal levels, but it won't replace more robust financial planning systems for most clients
- Our firm uses Monte Carlo software and produces an understandable report from the calculations for the client as a takeaway. While we may not be interested in acquiring the software at this time, we will definitely be following David's work.
- This was a very good demonstration of an apparently simple-to-use software program. It seems that even a non-techie could probably master this in no time. My concern would be clearly stating the assumptions involved to one's client--as with any other Monte Carlo type simulation software. Andy asked several times what might differentiate this program from all the other financial planning software out there but I didn't get a sense of a really solid answer. That being said, I will try and free trial.
- Good stuff
- Very relevant topic
- David did a nice job.
- Great presentation. Quite thought provoking. Could have used more time for questions but Andy did a great job facilitating with the time allotted.
- Outstanding! I intend to incorporate this tool into my practice immediately.
- It was of some use but not really that much of a revelation. I don't think that, for our clients at least, the method of limiting budgets as discussed would be helpful.
- I liked the case studies.
- Given the time David had, I think he did a good job and is helping us with younger clients. He glosses over some of the trade offs with using a simple approach. In bad periods, clients could go years with no inflation increase which would have a major impact on their lifestyle. Not having the flexibility or knowledge to change the probabilities to a 25 or 35 year retirement period is a real issue. Not being able to adjust spending over time is also a big deal for some clients.
- The software is a little simplistic and "linear", I prefer the Monte Carlo approach, but certainly a useful estimate of retirement withdrawal success.
- Thanks Andy!
- Excellent tool for what it is designed to do
- Very good
- Very interesting approach to retirement planning.
- Different way of thinking. Challenging conventional rules of thumb.
- Good topic, very timely--thanks
- Interesting need more detail
- Superb. Extremely useful information!
- Presenter seemed impatient with some of the professionals on the call--I empathize.
- His credibility went into the toilet when he said Pfau's articles were meant to gain headlines. It appears a lot of his assumptions are based on the history of US market returns....very dangerous.
- Not a great presenter, went through the examples too quickly, hard to see the program screen
- Too basic. I think you need better tools to model retirement. Also, the main issue is that it is hard to control clients' spending in retirement (just like before retirement.) A better webinar would be to help with the behavioral issues with regard to overspending. We can tell our clients how much to spend, but it doesn't mean they are going to adhere to the rule---especially in early retirement.
- Interesting concepts.
- I liked the perspective on 'how to communicate this to clients'.
- Difficult to read spreadsheets online
- An excellent new voice in retirement planning.
- Very useful information, but not enough time allotted to complete it.