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Industry Spotlight

The Newport Group’s “My Forecast” retirement planning website, which incorporates VisualCalc’s Retirement Planning Calculator technology, was recognized by DALBAR, Inc. as one of two clear leaders in the financial services industry for providing tools that show retirement plan participants their current retirement planning readiness.

DALBAR evaluated 52 retirement plan participant websites in the context of how well they answered the key question of “How Am I Doing” for employees assessing the current state of their retirement plan. These websites were evaluated using DALBAR’s DC WebMonitor program criteria, which factors in criteria grouped into five broad categories: Functions, Usability, Content Currency, Consistency, and Behavior Centric. Out of the 52 websites evaluated, The Newport Group’s “My Forecast” website and Principal Financial were recognized as the two clear industry leaders.

The Newport Group’s “My Forecast” tool incorporates VisualCalc’s Retirement Planning Calculator technology. The core engine for this technology supports state-of-the-art computational algorithms and simulation techniques, such as Monte Carlo methods, that drive highly sophisticated yet elegantly simple “what if” analysis capabilities. On top of this engine, VisualCalc and The Newport Group jointly developed a graphical, interactive user interface that provides participants with a personalized, comprehensive snapshot of their current retirement readiness. Participants can easily manipulate a set of input mechanisms, such as buttons and sliders, to see how potential changes to their current retirement strategy would affect their future retirement health.

The Newport Group’s “My Forecast” website was lauded for its interactivity, ease of use, design aesthetics, and advanced analysis capabilities, all core attributes of the customizable VisualCalc Retirement Planning Calculator platform upon which it is built.

The “My Forecast” website has resulted in a dramatic impact on employees’ retirement account balances, contribution amounts and overall engagement with their plans. Plan participants who use “My Forecast” have seen their account balances grow 40% more than those whose plans don’t yet feature “My Forecast”. These participants have increased their contributions to their plans, access their accounts 25% more often, and perform nearly twice as many transactions on their website.

DALBAR, Inc. is the financial community’s leading independent expert for evaluating, auditing and rating business practices, customer performance, product quality and service.

More information on the VisualCalc Retirement Planning Calculator can be found at

VisualCalc has introduced a new family website calculators that are supported on both desktop and mobile platforms. These new calculators are based on HTML, and do not require Java or any other client plug-in such as Flash. Unlike competing solutions in the marketplace, these new VisualCalc Website Calculators provide the best of both worlds: rich, interactive graphical user interfaces that, until now, have required graphic plug-in technologies, combined with the ability to run on all platforms: desktops, notebooks, and mobile devices such as tablets and smart phones.

Organizations can embed these website calculators on their websites and other electronic media to help their customers and prospects effectively evaluate their products and services, leading them to the best possible purchasing decision. VisualCalc Calculators help these organizations generate leads, close prospects, improve customer satisfaction, and optimize their product sales mix.

This new family of website calculators includes over 40 calculators spread across six suites:

  • The Home Mortgage Suite, which includes calculators such as the Home Loan Calculator and the Refinance Calculator;
  • The Retirement Suite, which includes calculators such as the Retirement Planning Calculator and the IRA Comparison Calculator;
  • The Income and Insurance Suite, which includes calculators such as the Cash Flow Calculator and the Life Insurance Calculator;
  • The Auto Loan and Debt Suite, which includes calculators such as the Auto Loan Calculator and the Debt Consolidation Calculator;
  • The Savings Suite, which includes calculators such as the College Planning Calculator and the HSA Contributions Calculator;
  • The Special Calculators Suite, which includes calculators such as the Auto Loan with Insurance Calculator and the Breakeven Analysis Calculator.

Home Equity CalculatorClick above for a live calculator

In addition to universal platform support, all of these new VisualCalc Calculators feature all of the dynamic, interactive user interface elements the industry has come to expect from VisualCalc. These include user-friendly graphical input mechanisms, real-time “what if” analysis capabilities, and dynamically generated output formats. All of these new HTML calculators will also continue to offer multi-solve functionality, meaning fewer calculators are required to address an organization’s requirements. In addition, these calculators can be fully customized for an organization’s functional requirements and branding standards. Finally, VisualCalc Calculators can also be integrated with 3rd party systems and databases, providing users with a personalized, comprehensive basis for their analysis.

These new VisualCalc Calculators address the explosive growth in mobile Internet use for shopping, product research, and, in particular, personal financial management. Jupiter Research expects that 590 million mobile phone users globally will use their device for banking purposes in 2013. That number is forecasted to exceed 1 billion users by 2017. This growing demand for mobile financial services is particularly strong among younger consumers. In fact, 49% of mobile users in the 26-34 age group would switch banks for a better mobile experience. In response to these trends, banks are expected to spend $118 billion on mobile banking and technology in 2013.

The HTML VisualCalc Calculators are available and in use by customers today. 

VisualCalc has just announced the VisualCalc™ Retirement Planning Tool. The VisualCalc Retirement Planning Tool is a new, web-based customer self-service tool that retirement plan administrators, including third party administrators and plan sponsors, can offer their plan participants to help them properly prepare for their retirement. The tool can be deployed on an administrator’s website to help participants assess their current retirement health, and understand what changes they can make to better align their current financial and investment strategy with their future retirement needs. This generally involves increasing the amount of their contributions, and reallocating funds to an investment mix that best meets their retirement goals. For example, one of the early adopters of this tool has found that participants who use the tool have grown their account balances 40% more than those who do not.

Organizations, both public and private, are facing a new set of challenges as retirement planning behavior and requirements have evolved over the last decade. Unlike previous generations, who had set pensions and very little involvement in creating and managing their retirement plans, employees today are actively involved in managing their own retirement funding. Unfortunately, the general public lacks the financial knowledge necessary to navigate these waters on their own.

In response to this, retirement plan administrators now need to provide their plan participants with sufficient support, education and tools so that they can play an active role in managing their own retirement strategy and funds. While many administrators have instituted general retirement education and outreach programs, these may not be the most effective measures, since every participant’s retirement planning needs are unique. Programs tailored to each participant are ideal, but, in many cases, they are not a practical or affordable option. Web-based self-service tools can help bridge this gap, enabling the participants themselves to actively construct and manage a personalized retirement plan that is optimal for their needs.

The VisualCalc Retirement Planning Tool is an interactive, graphical, web-based tool that provides retirement plan participants with a personalized, comprehensive snapshot of their current retirement strategy (including retirement plan balances, investments, monthly savings targets, etc.), and then shows, in form of easy-to-interpret charts and graphs, whether or not the participant is on track to meet their retirement goals. And deficiencies or gaps are clearly highlighted.

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The VisualCalc Retirement Planning Tool can be integrated with the administrator’s internal databases, so participant account information and the administrator’s business rules can be automatically loaded into each participant’s session. The tool also is able to bring in external data, such as social security balances and account balances at other financial institutions, so that participants are presented with the most complete, accurate and personalized picture of their current retirement plan. This holistic view of both internal and external resources also helps administrators work with participants to optimize the overall allocation of their retirement fund balances, including the consolidation of multiple accounts into a single integrated account.

The VisualCalc Retirement Planning Tool also provides the ability for participants interact with the tool to perform “what-if” analyses. An advanced embedded calculation engine that supports state-of-the-art computational algorithms and simulation techniques such as Monte Carlo methods drives the results of this analysis. Participants can manipulate a set of easy-to-use input mechanisms, such as buttons and sliders, to change a multitude of variables related to their financial strategy and retirement goals, including investment allocations, social security assumptions, projected pre- and post-retirement earnings, expected retirement age, etc. The impact of these changes, and their effect on the participant’s retirement health, are immediately shown in clear, easy-to-understand tables, graphs and charts. This helps participants determine what changes are needed to best support their retirement health.

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The VisualCalc Retirement Planning Tool can also be used for interactive collaboration by an administrator’s associates and their participants, most likely via a web conferencing service, enabling them to jointly review the participant’s current retirement strategy, and explore changes that would improve the participant’s retirement health. 

 The Retirement Planning Tool is a sophisticated, highly configurable tool that can easily be customized for use by any administrator. On top of its pre-configured analysis engine, the tool can quickly and easily be configured to incorporate a given administrator’s specific needs, including account types and names, defined benefit plans, interest rates, and business rules. The tool can also be customized to incorporate the administrator’s branding and graphical standards, so that the tool has a consistent “look and feel” with the administrator’s other marketing properties and collateral.

The VisualCalc Retirement Planning Tool is available and in use by customers today. Pricing varies depending on the number of users and a company’s hosting requirements.

VisualCalc has just released a whitepaper – the VisualCalc Calculator Whitepaper – that explores a variety of topics related to website calculators and online decision support tools.  This free whitepaper outlines the need for, and benefits of, the deployment of website calculators and other customer decision support tools on financial institution websitesThe current economic and technology environment has created both challenges and opportunities for financial institutions. As more of the consumer banking experience moves to the Internet - today there are over 60 million Internet banking users in the U.S., and approximately 60% of adults do some form of online banking - financial institutions are looking for ways to harness this trend in order to improve overall profitability.

Website calculators provide financial institutions with an effective tool for capitalizing on this evolving market environment. Website calculators can provide financial institutions with a number of benefits, including:

  • Improve customer satisfaction
  • Reduce customer churn
  • Minimize cross-institution price shopping
  • Stimulate cross-selling and up-selling
  • Improve lead conversion and custom acquisition
  • Reduce transaction costs