Money Tree Moves Ahead Even As Its Leader Steps Back

Thursday, August 27, 2009 09:20
Money Tree Moves Ahead Even As Its Leader Steps Back
Mike Vikauskas, who quit being a financial planning in 1981 to start a financial planning software company, is taking Money Tree Software forward even as he plans his exit.
Vitkausas is stepping down from day to day activities to spend more time on volunteer activities in his church. It’s part of a succession plan that Vitkauskas has envisioned for years. 

But even as he leaves, Money Tree is moving forward on the path set by Vitkausas over the past three decades by launching a new advisor application, Distribution Solution, which helps advisors create retirement plans for baby boomers. 

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The new program is vintage Vitkauskas. While all other financial planning applications in recent years have grown more comprehensive and more complicated, Money Tree has remained focused on creating simple software that solves the problems most often confronting advisor clients.  
Distribution Solutions helps you advise a client who is retiring or who has been laid off about a range of issues, including:
·         whether to leave a 401(k) with an employer or go to a self-directed IRA
·         how much income can be taken from an IRA or Qualified Plan without triggering early-distribution penalty tax
·         the tradeoff on a single life versus joint and survivor payouts
·         the financial impact of converting to a Roth IRA—in light of a one-time tax deferral in 2010
·         using the annuity or amortized option on required minimum distributions when taking a 72(t) pre‐59½ distribution
·         choosing to roll a lump-sum distribution into an IRA or take it out in cash
·         taking a lump sum from a pension plan versus monthly pension payments
Distribution Solutions costs $269. An annual maintenance and support fee of $100 beginning 12 months after you sign up gets you any upgrades to new versions. It was released in late April for beta testing and has been available for purchase since June. You can learn more about the program by viewing a video of my interview with Vitkauskas.
Vitkauskas has played an influential role in shaping technology used by financial planners. Money Tree software is licensed by 8,000 firms, each of which typically has one to four users.  
A CFP® licensee, Vitkauskas has been planning his exit for years. Vitkauskas hired Mark Snodgrass eight years ago and named him President two years ago, when Vitkauskas took the Chairman’s position at his Corvallis, Oregon-based company. Vitkauskas will continue to work on development and new products and Snodgrass will continue running day to day operations.
To assume many of Vitkauskas’ marketing and product development responsibilities, Money Tree recently hired 28 year-old Donnie Carpenter. Carpenter received a Masters Degree in financial planning as well as a BBA in finance and economics from Texas Tech University before working for a couple of years at two small independent advisory firms. Carpenter was hired by Snodgrass and seems likely to bring new ideas and energy to Money Tree as Vitkauskas steps back.
The new team has a lot of work to do. Distribution Solutions is built on a new calculation engine that will be used for upgrading Total Planning System, Money Tree’s most comprehensive application. The company simple, focused, and practical planning tools have served it will but it is likely to move toward development of a more comprehensive planning platform that can compete directly with EISI’s Naviplan Extended, PIEtech’s MoneyGuide Pro, and SunGard’s WealthStation.


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