The freefincal robo advisory software template released on Sep. 7th has had an enthusiastic response from readers. Thank you for your support. As always I look forward to your feedback and feature enhancement suggestions. In this post, I discuss some of the key features of the robo template.
These features are hidden in the free version of the template (download link below). Those interested in getting full access (to present and future versions) can do so for a nominal* one-time fee by writing to freefincal [at] gmail.com. Details below.
Equity asset allocation before and after retirement
Regardless of when a person wishes to retire, the robo template calculates the equity allocation from the current age to age 90 of the older spouse (if married). If retirement is not immediate, the post retirement equity allocation is not output.
There is no point in a 30-year-old taking the suggested equity allocation at 60 seriously. That can be done after crossing 50.
This is the equity exposure after retirement
Notice that even early retirees are not suggested an equity exposure of more than ~ 30% – 40%. This might come as a surprise and would not be acceptable to the many fiery young financial independent seekers who are not old enough to understand that wanting to be frugal is quite different from actually being frugal. These guys are banking on their ability to beat inflation by 2-4% (thanks to reading irrelevant US based blogs which got popular after the 2008 layoffs) and talk about “safe withdrawal rates” without understanding that they are variable. Well, good luck to them. They are going to find the robo template unpalatable.
I have a simple definition of financial independence:
Divide the retirement years in two: A +B (where possible)
A = first 15 years
B = rest of the years
1) A person can be financially independent in retirement if she can generate an inflation protected income for A + B years (entire retired life)
In this case, the robo template will provide a detailed investment bucket strategy
2) if a person can only be financially independent for the first 15 years (A, not B), then depending on the inadequacy, the template will tell you the shortfall and if it is too much, a possible annuity purchase. This is a bit of grey area so in the advanced version the user can try a DIY bucket management solution.
3) If a person cannot be financially independent for even the first 15 years, (not even A), the recommendation is to not take any risk and buy a pension plan.
This logic is applied to early retirees also. They must have enough fixed income assets to generate an inflation protected income for first 15 years and then rest can be market linked.
If you disagree, you have two choices: don’t use the robo template or buy the open source version and modify it at will (see below).
This is the suggested equity exposure for a 30-year old wanting to retire by 55.
The user need not follow these suggestions to a tee. The idea is to factor in some kind of variable asset allocation from day one. Portfolio management in real time is almost always playing it by the ear. Robotic solutions may work, but as the user becomes experienced in market linked product, her experience may change for the better or worse. This is the reason why the robo template calculations must be redone at least once a year.
Equity return expectation = 10%
This is a good 8% to 2% lower than what financial advisors use. They cannot afford to use 10% because their clients will run away. A 10% return is what I use and going forward will be more and more likely. It keeps me calm and I tend to tinker with my portfolio less. Since expectations are low, I am easily pleased. An 11% XIRR makes me feel my one-star and two -rated funds are doing well. I invest more and focus on other hobbies (like making calculators)
Fixed income is set at 7% post-tax. Sooner than later this may need a downward revision!!
Flexible vs inflexible Financial Goals
The template makes a small distinction bet goals that are flexible (spending can be delayed or hastened) and inflexible goals in terms of the variable asset allocation model used
Features to be incorporated
1). Current investments for other financial goals are prescribed an asset allocation along with future investments and factored into the calcualtion. In the case of retirement, current investment are not prescribed an asset allocation, other than a verbal suggestion to gradually move towards what is prescribed. I am thinking of ways to handle this better.
2) Many users want assets that do not produce income (real estate in most cases) but can be sold for handling retirement expenses. It would be hard to handle this years before retirement. At or after retirement, one can enter a nominal value for the holding in step 2; cell b18 – Any other amount you will get upon retirement (after tax)
3) Pension or income that starts a few years after retirement. At present only income that will start from day one of retirement can be factored in.
Warning: Do not enter income that you receive years from now! Life is not that predictable!
Robo Advisory Software: Presentation
Free version (proprietary and closed-source): This can be used for personal and commercial use, but the user cannot modify the internal settings that decide the asset allocation based on risk-reward balance. Available only in Exe format that will work on Windows Excel 2007 and upwards.
If you are an investor, the free version is fully featured and should suffice. The only downside is that you cannot change assumptions, check the math and need to wait for bug updates. If you an advisor, the free version is pretty realistic and your clients would run away if you assume only 10% return from equity. You could consider buying the open-source version so that you can change equity returns as 18% and inflation as 3%.
Mac users will have to either use the free version on a Windows machine or get the full version.
Paid version (proprietary and open-source) All settings can be freely changed. Can be used commercially proper credits. Those who have purchased the paid version will get all future updates (including this one) as well. This is an Excel file that will work on Windows and Mac.
Paid Version: Get the paid version by paying Rs. 5160. I shall send you the file after payment confirmation.
Please note: Freefincal is a non-profit operation. You can support the websites and its future plans (eg. setting up the robo template online or as an app) by spreading word about the website; disabling ad-blockers while you are here or buying one of the versions below.
A robo template, by definition and design, should not be freely modified. Else it will reduce to a calculator. Hence the need to prevent access.
You can download it as a .exe file from this google drive link (no need to sign into Google)
Download the Freefincal Robo Advisory Template (Version 4 June 20th, 2018)
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