In the next several weeks Raymond James is setting its sights on rolling out a revamped suite of “longevity” planning tools. The updated software comes with the kinds of bells and whistles that advisors might expect from a nearly five-year-old package – a “new look and feel” as well as a “more conversational design,” as company execs put it.

But take a deeper look under the hood of the newest edition of the independent broker-dealer’s Goal Planning & Monitoring suite, which FA-IQ previewed earlier this week. As pointed out by Raymond James advisors who’ve been monitoring progress on the enhancements, the new GPM is set to put greater emphasis on incorporating cash reserves into the planning equation.

Other notable enhancements, they say, include more flexibility for analyzing portfolio return patterns and capabilities allowing real-time updates as clients’ household budgets and retirement goals change over time.

“This is the fourth generation of our software platform we’ve developed to help get people to think in more detail about their everyday needs in retirement,” says Frank McAleer, Raymond James’ vice president of retirement solutions.

As in its three previous iterations, GPM starts with a “core” estate and investment planning chassis fueled by the popular MoneyGuidePro software. But it builds on such a foundation by incorporating four main “longevity” retirement planning categories: healthcare needs; caregiving requirements; transportation concerns and housing issues.

“We’re trying to give advisors more comprehensive tools to design appropriate retirement income plans for each individual,” McAleer says, “after they’ve had a chance to sit down with clients to understand their basic retirement dreams and goals.”

A new feature in GPM 4.0 is to create more room in allocation plans to help investors plan ahead for specific philanthropic or lifestyle needs later in life. The system will now let advisors set a certain amount of money aside and keep it separate from clients’ investment portfolios, says Nathan Puckett, a Raymond James software analyst.

“It allows advisors to develop a different sort of unique cash reserve strategy for clients who might benefit from such flexibility in the planning process,” he says. For more conservative investors, Puckett adds, separating such liquid assets from more fixed holdings should also help FAs build “a greater cushion” against market volatility.

Advisors will also now be able to discuss in more detail Monte Carlo simulations projecting portfolio returns, according to retirement exec McAleer. As with previous versions, GPM will be able to compare allocation results with a system that uses some 1,000 different scenarios. In this fourth generation suite, though, FAs can go into the system and isolate specific scenarios. “So they can do things like break out the top five return patterns over a specific period or take a deeper look at the five worst performing allocations,” he says.

Laura Steckler

Another notable “tweak” in GPM is to give clients greater abilities to go in and access more of their longevity plans on their own, according to McAleer. For example, investors will now be able to independently review and isolate different Monte Carlo simulations one at a time.

Advisors can also use the software to let clients remotely suggest changes to everything from retirement age targets to spending and saving goals. Any such requests to reset information, however, can’t be finalized without an FA’s approval. “We wanted to give people a chance to explore at their leisure any part of a retirement plan,” McAleer says. “It’s a more fluid way to create a flexible and ongoing stress-testing process for clients.”

The bottom line for Miami-based advisor Laura Steckler is that GPM 4.0 is going to help her to use more interactive goal-setting and portfolio review technologies to update and easily explain to clients even the most sophisticated of financial plans.

This week her staff has been helping her prepare a comprehensive plan for a new client with a seven-digit portfolio.

“With GPM’s increased functionality, I just feel much more confidence in using the latest technologies to help develop a living and breathing financial plan,” says Steckler, whose practice manages $170 million. “It’s going to help us to deepen our relationships with families and build a stronger sense of trust with our clients.”