Press Coverage

The Toronto Star

"Slick financial planning software ... goes well beyond the capability of other consumer software and some pro brands used by planners" — James Daw, The Toronto Star


Retirement Planner Wins Top Award

Sun Life Financial won the Insurance and Financial Communicators Association (IFCA) award for best online tool. This tool was developed by Apeiron Software (now part of Equisoft Inc.) along with several other online tools available to nearly one million participants of group retirement plans.

The award received is for "Best of Show - Benefits and Pensions, Electronic Materials" category. This awards program is open to all North American insurance and financial services companies.


What is RetireWare?

A Web-based risk management and retirement planning collaborative software for advisors designed to build referral networks using social media. Leverage technology to enrich relationships with clients and prospects.

Managing Risk

When it comes to planning retirement, managing risk is paramount, as earning income ceases and the livelihood comes from pensions and invested assets. A sound plan must examine each of the potential risks that can occur: market, longevity, inflation, health care costs, early death and many others.

Investment Executive

"RetireWare takes a personal approach ... the software considers all the variables to create retirement projections" — Dwarka Lakhan, Investment Executive


Gail Vaz-Oxlade

"RetireWare Offers Excellent Value"
"RetireWare works for you before and after you retire. It'll help you to see how much you must save--and the rates of return you'll need to earn--to get to your retirement goal. It will also calculate your RRSP contribution room, RRIF and LIF distributions and, taking into account all forms of retirement income, tell you how much you owe the taxman."
— Gail Vaz-Oxlade, Journalist, Host of "Till Debt Do Us Part"

Other Mentions

"Of all the Web calculators we tested, we thought one of the best was www.retireware.com" — Toronto Star article "Pension Calculator Shootout", review of 14 Web-based calculators.

RetireWare's web site is worth the trip even if you don't buy the software." — Ellen Roseman, The Toronto Star

"RetireWare is an excellent product and I highly recommend it to all my listeners." — Richard Infantino, Prime Time Money, weekly radio show on Toronto's AM 740

How Do I Use RetireWare?

RetireWare helps users understand how investments and future income can create the lifestyle they want for the rest of their life.

Is it User-Friendly?

It's easy-to-use, full of rich visuals such as dashboards and charts and has comprehensive analysis, incuding a risk assessment and Monte Carlo simulations that determines the odds of success of the user's financial plan.






"Slick financial planning software"

We helped thousands of Canadians with our software products. The Toronto Star said of RetireWare:
"Slick financial planning software ... goes well beyond the capability of
other consumer software and some pro brands used by planners".







Planning your Future

"Slick financial planning software … The new version goes well beyond the capability of other consumer software and some pro brands used by planners"

— James Daw, The Toronto Star

Full Review

It's complicated to calculate how much extra money you will need in retirement to supplement government and private pension plans.

You may have to consider price inflation, which spouse should access which type of savings, when to minimize total taxes, the future sale of a business or home, the timing of major expenditures, income from part-time work and possibly the cost of long-term care.

Meanwhile, your plan could be influenced by fluctuating stock and bond markets that could force you to dip into your capital faster than you had expected.

"If you want a proper plan, you need a lot of information," says consulting actuary Marc Des Rosiers, founder of Apeiron Software Limited. "If you cut corners and make too many simplifying assumptions, you lose a lot of value in the projection."

In what can only be described as a labour of love — because he has yet to find capital to support his venture — Des Rosiers has launched a second edition of his slick financial planning software, RetireWare.

The new version goes well beyond the capability of other consumer software and some pro brands used by planners yet is available to download at retireware.com for $39.95, or for $59.95 plus delivery for a disc version. Existing users get to download the upgrade for free.

A more sophisticated version that will do Monte Carlo simulations of potential patterns of investment returns will be available in December at $79.95 as a download, or $99.95 on a disc.

"RetireWare Version 2.0 is all about financial integration," boasts Des Rosier's website. "From integration of your retirement plan with that of your spouse, to integration of your financial objectives with the investment risk of your portfolio, to integration of monitoring your asset allocation within the framework of your long-term objectives."

I was suitably impressed by a demonstration provided by Des Rosiers. Now I just have to persuade my wife we should spend some time planning our future.

James Daw writes a daily column on personal finance and investing in the National Edition of The Toronto Star.

© Copyright Toronto Star Newspapers Limited. All rights reserved.


RetireWare takes a personal approach

"Software considers all the variables to create retirement projections"

— Dwarka Lakhan, Investment Executive, Canada's Newspaper for Financial Advisors

Full Review

As retirement planning becomes more complex, many advisors and clients are seeking tools to simplify the process without cutting corners. RetireWare is sophisticated but easy-to-use software that offers an analysis of a client’s potential to achieve his or her desired retirement lifestyles.

Created by Toronto-based Apeiron Software Limited, RetireWare determines whether your client’s income, savings and other assets will be sufficient to provide the desired retirement lifestyle or whether the client runs the risk of outliving his or her money, says Marc Des Rosiers, president of Apeiron.

The software allows you to run a variety of scenarios relevant to a client’s retirement objectives. This helps you ascertain whether the client’s goals are realistic, based on employment and other sources of income such as property, rental income, dividends, private and public pensions, annuities, registered and non-registered investments, insurance, inheritances and business income. The software integrates individual as well as spousal financial information, if necessary, to come up with a plan.

Retirement income objectives can be evaluated in three ways. They can, for example, be based on the amount of specific expenses an individual expects to incur during retirement. In this case, you enter the client’s expected expenses, such as housing, transportation, services, food, insurance, personal, leisure, debt and other payments.

Objectives can also be calculated as a percentage of the client’s earnings in the year immediately before retirement, assuming the client would need less than his or her working income during retirement.

A third calculation method is based on a flat dollar amount, either before or after income taxes, taking into consideration the effect of future inflation and the time value of money for the flat dollar amount.

Once personal financial information is entered, the software analyses whether the client’s objectives are achievable and if adjustments must be made. For instance, if the client’s current savings program is not going to be enough to provide the desired income, the software calculates the amount of saving needed.

For a client who is already retired, the software can determine whether his or her standard of living is sustainable for the duration of retirement and what rates of return are needed to achieve his or her goals based on life expectancy.

RetireWare takes into account the rules of locked-in retirement and registered plans and estimates potential sources of income, such as public pension plans and future property and business values, as well as expenses such as future income taxes. For example, if the client plans to sell his or her house as a source of retirement income, the software will project the price of the property at a defined retirement age using either estimated pricing or forecast criteria built into the program.

From an investment standpoint, RetireWare helps to determine the amount of risk a client should take in order to achieve higher returns. The software places the client in one of five risk categories: security, income, balance, growth and aggressive. You can use different profiles for registered and non-registered assets, and for the period before or after retirement.

You can also select a particular asset allocation and make comparisons among allocations or choose a custom allocation linked to the client’s risk profile. You can customize estimates of rates of return for various asset classes or use the software’s standard forecast, which is based on conservative values and historical relationships between asset classes, or a forecast based on historical returns over the past 40 years.

The software comes in a standard version and one with a Monte Carlo simulation, which lets you compute the probability of a specific retirement outcome by testing a large number of possible results using stock market variations.

RetireWare is very flexible. You can easily update the client’s personal information to account for changing circumstances and monitor long-term financial goals. RetireWare provides detailed results in graph and table formats.

The software is updated annually for changes in tax rates, investment thresholds, registered plan rules and limits.

Although RetireWare is a good tool for individuals, it is also a good tool for advisors. About one-third of its users are advisors. IE

Dwarka Lakhan writes a monthly column on technology and financial planning in the Investment Executive and other publications.

© Transcontinental Media inc. All rights reserved.


Plugged in: Technology essentials to power your practice

Even if your practice is not supported by deep pockets for extensive technology investment, there are a number of solutions available in the market today. RetireWare was one of the financial planning software compiled based on recommendations and mentions from other advisors.

Full Review

"... rules for locked-in retirement plans, other potential income sources, part-time or contractual income during the initial years or retirement, government pensions, future income taxes, ... and cash flow events like property sales."

"... long-term planning considerations like life goals, insurance and education costs. RetireWare also ... runs Monte Carlo simulations ..., and allows planners and users to share files by saving reports in PDF format."

"... also models defined benefit, defined contribution, and group retirement plans, and adjusts RRSP contribution room calculations ... [T]he program also simulates a tax return each year..."

"... helps users determine the amount of risk they should take and whether or not it is a necessary and viable long-term strategy."

RetireWare Review on www.advisor.ca

RetireWare Retirement Planning software was first introduced by Aperion Software Limited in 1999 and sold mainly to consumers. Since then the company has launched an expanded version for financial advisors that determines whether savings, income and other assets will be adequate to enjoy desired standards of living during retirement.

Users can define their retirement income objectives in a number of different ways and the program determines if those are realistic given current savings levels. The program models rules for locked-in retirement plans, other potential income sources, part-time or contractual income during the initial years or retirement, government pensions, future income taxes, unknown investment returns and life expectancy and cash flow events like property sales.

The program uses wizards and user interfaces, integrates financial information from spouses and budgets, considers asset allocation, expected returns, volatility and scenarios where portfolios deviate from target asset allocations, long-term planning considerations like education costs and life goals, insurance and education costs. RetireWare also models province-specific locked-in rules, runs Monte Carlo simulations — where a large number of random scenarios are calculated and taken into consideration, and allows planners and users to share files by saving reports in PDF format.

Along with modelling Canada Pension Plan, Quebec Pension Plan, Old Age Security and OAS clawbacks, Guaranteed Income Supplement, RRSP, locked-in retirement account, RRIFs and province-specific LIF and LRIF rules, the program also models defined benefit, defined contribution, and group retirement plans, and adjusts RRSP contribution room calculations if there are pension adjustments. The program also simulates a tax return each year, incorporating earnings, interest, dividends, capital gains and taxable dispositions. RetireWare calculates interest and dividend income and capital appreciation based on asset allocation specified by the user before and after retirement.

Perhaps most importantly, Aperion Software president, Marc Des Rosiers says the software helps users determine the amount of risk they should take and whether or not it is a necessary and viable long-term strategy. The program does not do complex estate planning, but it will identify funding shortfalls.

Although the program's price and functionality is impressive, the company admits that client reports are less customizable than most. Advisors can pick which sections they would like to include in the report, but not much else. This can be modified for firms interested in purchasing an enterprise version of the software. The program includes an extensive help function, a PDF format manual and unlimited e-mail support, but Aperion does not offer telephone support.

Kate McCaffery writes a monthly column in Advisor's Edge Report and other financial palnning content on www.advisor.ca.

© Copyright Rogers Media Inc. All rights reserved.


Cashing in on Monte Carlo

"... Suppose you have a $500,000 portfolio when you retire. How much can you take out each year?

"... People should consider a full range of possible scenarios for investment returns. Don't rely on a potentially misleading long-term average.

"... What is the last thing you do before you climb on a ladder? You shake it," says Sam Savage, senior research associate at Stanford University. And that is Monte Carlo simulation."

"... Monte Carlo tools can play a powerful role in making retirement planning more realistic and accurate."

— ELLEN ROSEMAN, The Toronto Star

Full Review

Wow. That was some scary week on the stock markets.

Toronto's S&P/TSX composite index had its worst week in two years, falling 4 per cent by the closing bell on Friday. Stocks rallied early in the day yesterday before falling back to a flat finish.

Ups and downs are normal when you invest in securities. You can't avoid them. You have to plan for them.

But you wouldn't know it by reading the stuff churned out by the financial-services industry.

A frightening descent? A roller-coaster ride? Forget it. You're more likely to encounter terms like "volatility" and "standard deviation."

I'm glad to see one mutual fund manager, Fidelity Investments Canada Ltd., taking a different tack, urging financial advisers to stop relying on "the flaw of averages" in retirement planning.

In a research report, Fidelity points a finger at one of the most common and potentially disastrous mistakes advisers make: basing a plan on historical average returns and then projecting those returns out in a linear manner for 20 years.

It's somewhat like deciding to wade across a river based on the average depth.

"The average may be four feet, but that won't help you when you're in the middle of a section that's 12 feet to the bottom," Fidelity says.

So, what's the solution?

You know that markets don't move in a straight line. You know that investment returns occur in a random fashion over time.

The Monte Carlo simulation is a mathematical model for computing the odds or probability of an outcome by testing thousands upon thousands of possible results.

As a forecasting tool, Monte Carlo analysis has been used for years in economics, chemistry, nuclear physics, city planning and the programming of slot machines.

But the tool can also help you figure out how long your retirement nest egg will last, given the inevitability of stock-market ups and downs.

Here's an example from the Fidelity report.

Suppose you have a $500,000 portfolio when you retire. How much can you take out each year?

Your financial adviser may tell you that a conservative portfolio such as this one has earned a hypothetical return of 5.9 per cent a year in the past. You'll be safe withdrawing 5 per cent a year on an inflation-adjusted basis. Your portfolio will deliver a reliable income stream over 30 years or more and you'll be close to your 100th birthday when the money runs out.

That's terrific, you think. You feel secure.

Now, let's look at what happens when you run the same portfolio with the same withdrawal rate through a Monte Carlo simulation model.

The simulation shows a very wide range of possible outcomes.

Instead of a simple straight-line graph, you see an eye-popping array of squiggly lines.

In real market conditions, this portfolio, which looked rock solid based on projecting past averages into the future, actually has only a 73 per cent chance of delivering income for 25 years through age 90; and only a 57 per cent chance of delivering income to age 95.

Perhaps more troubling, the portfolio also has a significant chance of running out in less than 20 years. That's a possibility that an income projection based on averages completely masks.

A Canadian software program called RetireWare has a $79.99 Monte Carlo edition you can download at the Internet website, http://www.retireware.com. The program is updated once a year by Toronto-based Apeiron Software Ltd. [Our emphasis added]

Monte Carlo should not be viewed as a certainty test. It is a probability test, the software maker says.

"Ultimately, there will be only one outcome, but knowing not to take more risk than necessary and finding a safe spending level is invaluable information."

I like the line from a BusinessWeek article posted at the RetireWare website.

"What is the last thing you do before you climb on a ladder? You shake it," says Sam Savage, senior research associate at Stanford University.

"And that is Monte Carlo simulation."

Fidelity plans to create a seminar to help financial advisers talk to clients about retirement-income planning.

People should consider a full range of possible scenarios for investment returns. Don't rely on a potentially misleading long-term average.

Monte Carlo tools can play a powerful role in making retirement planning more realistic and accurate.

So, ask your financial advisers if they can do such an analysis for you.

Ellen Roseman's column appears Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.

© Toronto Star Newspapers Limited. All rights reserved.