Sometimes financial adviser clients become intimidated by the process of assessing their life’s goals and aligning them with their investment strategies.
So, Advisor Software, based in Lafayette, Calif., launched an online personal finance tool to help make the job easier for clients and advisers.
On Monday, the company announced the widespread launch of goalgami, an online personal finance diagnostic tool. The free, interactive website allows individuals and families to assess their financial health and find out whether they are on track to meet major financial obligations.
The site uses Advisor Software’s existing ASI Wealth Manager application, an investment planning and management tool. Neal Ringquist, the chief operating officer of Advisor Software, said it has no plans to make goalgami a commercial, for-profit website. For now, the company aims use it to promote goals-based planning.
A user begins by creating a persona based on characteristics like household income, assets, debt, gender, family and marital status. Using icons that represent major events, like financing a child’s college education or retirement, the investor can create a timeline that incorporates the goals they have for their lives and when they want to achieve them. After that, goalgami generates a household balance sheet, which estimates whether or not the client can afford those goals.
Ringquist said goalgami is a diagnostic tool that is not designed to replace the adviser. In fact, investors can print out the goalgami report and bring it to an adviser to take the process a step further.
“Investors like to talk over their circumstances with an adviser, but this is a way for them to explore their own goals,” he said. “It is a better way for them to prepare for the appointment, rather than them sitting down completely unprepared and risk being intimidated.”
Financial planners whose clients have done their homework before the initial consultation end up having richer conversations, Ringquist said. “They are talking about things that are important to the client, as opposed to whether the investments are beating the S&P 500,” he said.
With a name that combines the Japanese paper art form origami with goals, goalgami joins a growing list of web-based programs designed to help consumers track their finances. San Francisco-based Mint.com, which is owned by Intuit, allows consumers to budget and track accounts. Financial Engines, based in Palo Alto, Calif., helps individuals with retirement planning.
Goalgami aims to stand out in a crowded field by giving consumers a holistic view of their finances through retirement.
Advisor Software is planning to add an interactive discussion board later this year, Ringquist said.