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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 http://visualcalc.com/products/retirement-calculator.html.

VisualCalc has introduced a new, updated version of its VisualCalc Retirement Planning Tool. The VisualCalc Retirement Planning Tool is a web-based calculator that banks and other financial institutions, such as financial planning and investment advisory firms, can offer their clients to help them better prepare for their retirement. This customer self-service tool can be deployed on an financial institution’s website to help its clients 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

VisualCalc launched the initial version of its Retirement Planning Tool in 2012. This newly updated version includes a number of new features that address the specific requirements of banks and other financial institutions. Two of the key features incorporated in this updated version are: 1) support for both qualified and non-qualified retirement plans, and 2) the ability to deploy the tool in either a turn-key, non-authenticated mode (“Public Mode”), or a fully integrated, authenticated mode (“Private Mode”).

Both the Public and Private mode versions of the VisualCalc Retirement Planning Tool are interactive, graphical, web-based calculators that enable users to quickly and easily assess whether or not they are on track to meet their retirement needs, and, if not, what changes are required to achieve their retirement objectives. This is facilitated by the tool’s “what-if” analyses capabilities. Users 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, and expected retirement age. The impact of these changes, and their effect on the user’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 meet their retirement objectives.

Both the Public Mode and Private Mode versions of the new VisualCalc Retirement Planning Tool are built on a platform featuring an embedded calculation engine that supports state-of-the-art computational algorithms and simulation techniques, such as Monte Carlo methods. This advanced pre-configured calculation engine drives the results of the user’s analysis. On top of this analysis engine, the tool’s user interface can be easily customized to incorporate the financial institution’s branding and graphical standards, so that the calculator has a consistent “look and feel” with the institution’s website and other marketing properties and collateral.

 

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The Public Mode version of the VisualCalc Retirement Planning Tool can be quickly and easily deployed on a financial institution’s website in turn-key fashion, with a minimal set of changes required to adapt it to the institution’s graphic standards.

The Private Mode version of the VisualCalc Retirement Planning Tool offers an additional level of customization and integration. The tool’s functionality can be customized to incorporate a given financial institution’s specific needs, including account types and names, defined benefit plans, interest rates, and business rules. The tool can also be can be integrated with the institution’s internal databases, so their client’s account information and the institution’s business rules can be automatically loaded into each user’s session. The calculator is also able to bring in external data, such as social security balances and account balances at other financial institutions, so that users 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 financial institutions work with their clients to optimize the overall allocation of their retirement fund balances, including the consolidation of multiple accounts into a single integrated account.

Customized Example A

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Customized Example B

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The VisualCalc Retirement Planning Tool addresses the growing need for consumers to take a more active role in constructing and managing a personalized retirement plan that is optimal for their needs. This generally involves increasing the amount of their contributions, and reallocating funds to an investment mix that best meets their retirement goals. Data from general industry-wide use of retirement planning calculators, as well as specific results from existing VisualCalc customers, validate this benefit:

  • One financial institution that has deployed the VisualCalc Retirement Planning Tool has found that their clients who use the tool have grown their account balances 40% more than those who do not. These clients have increased their contributions to their plans, access their accounts 25% more often, and perform nearly twice as many transactions on their website.
  • Another institution that deployed the VisualCalc Retirement Planning Tool one year ago has found almost a 10% increase in the number of participants to its elective deferred compensation plan. In addition, participants have increased their contribution rates and replacement ratios.
  • An independent study found that workers who have performed a retirement needs calculation are more than twice as likely than those who have not to expect they will need to accumulate at least $1 million before retiring.
  • Another independent study revealed that 77% of retirement plan participants would increase their retirement savings if they knew how much they needed to save.

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.

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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 introduced the Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Dashboard, a new free dashboard deployed on VisualCalc’s public dashboard website www.publicdashboards.com. The AFV dashboard enables graphical, easy-to-interpret analysis of AFV adoption, alternative fuel consumption, and AFV sales by model.

The AFV Dashboard includes four graphical indicators, each of which is focused on a different aspect of the deployment and adoption of AFVs in the U.S.:

  • Year-by-year AFVs in use, broken out by fuel type.
  • Alternative fuel consumption by year.
  • Annual hybrid electric fuel vehicle sales by model.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions by fuel type.

The AFV Dashboard highlights some important trends and developments in the adoption of AFVs in the U.S., including:

  • The number of AFVs in use increased from 394,000 in 2000 to 776,000 in 2008. The primary alternative fuel type in use if 85% Ethanol (E85), which powered 58% of the AFVs in use in 2009.
  • After steady year-by-year increases up to 2004, alternative fuel consumption has remained fairly constant in the ensuing years. The mix of alternative fuels is shifting away from liquefied petroleum gas towards compressed natural gas and 85% Ethanol.
  • For the last 10 years, the Toyota Prius has been the top selling hybrid electric vehicle. Approximately 139,682 Prius’ were sold in 2009, representing 48% of the market. The hybrid Toyota Camry was second on the list, with 22,887 sold, while the hybrid Ford Fusion was third on the list, with sales of 15,554.

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This new dashboard will be incorporated into VisualCalc’s public dashboard website: PublicDashboards.com. PublicDashboards.com contains a set of interactive dashboards covering a variety of topical issues, including housing, the economy, the environment, education statistics, employment trends, and health-related data.

VisualCalc has introduced the VisualCalc Deposit Allocation Tool, a new, web-based sales tool that helps banks determine a customer’s optimal deposit allocation across a variety of their deposit products. The tool can be used internally by a bank’s associates to help establish and cultivate relationships with customers and prospects. The Deposit Allocation Tool can also be deployed on a bank’s website for direct us by their end customers and prospects.

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The Deposit Allocation Tool is an interactive, graphical web-based tool that can be used by the bank’s associates as a “guided selling solution and relationship builder”.  The Deposit Allocation Tool establishes a standardized, pro-active sales process for all associates to follow. The tool guides associates through their interaction with bank customers and prospects, helping them make the best possible recommendation regarding the allocation of the customer’s deposits across the bank’s deposit products. This, in turn, can help the bank improve customer satisfaction and retention, increase overall deposits, and gain market share.

The Deposit Allocation Tool takes a series of inputs, including data about the customer’s financial objectives and deposit balances, and then processes this through an allocation analysis engine that contains bank-specific information regarding their deposit products. This deposit product information includes account types, interest rates, and business rules (e.g., minimum deposit amounts). Based on this analysis, a customer’s deposit balances are automatically allocated across the bank’s deposit products to maximize the customer’s return. The recommended allocation is visually displayed in a set of easy-to-interpret charts and graphs.

In addition to the recommended allocation, The Deposit Allocation Tool also enable associates or customers to perform interactive “what if” analyses by varying some of the inputs and dimensions on the tool. The results of these “what if” analyses are displayed in an “alternative solution” section of the tool.

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

The VisualCalc Deposit Allocation 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

Spotlight ImageDuring this current economic crisis, our solutions can help you grow revenues and maximize profits. Our Management Dashboards help you monitor key performance metrics that are critical to the success of your business, ensuring that you are operating at maximum efficiency.

In addition, our easy, web-based dashboard software automates this process, saving valuable resources and labor costs. Finally, our intuitive dashboard reports help improve the overall governance of your organization, which has become a critical hot-button over the last few years.

Our Website Calculators help your customers sort through the financial complexity and choices that have been created by this crisis. These website calculators serve as guided selling solutions, helping steer your customers towards the products and services that are most beneficial for their specific situation. This, in turn, can improve both your sales and customer satisfaction. Studies have shown that these types of interactive tools can double your conversion rates versus other types of website lead generation vehicles, such as simple forms.

Companies across the country are now recognizing the benefits that management dashboards can provide in these tough economic times. In a recent Aberdeen Research study completed in June 2009, 58% of the “Best in Class” companies they surveyed have already adopted management dashboards, and another 27% plan to adopt them within the next year. In addition, the survey, which included 283 companies, found a direct correlation between company performance and the use of management dashboard software.

VisualCalc introduced two new custom web-based consumer tools for health care providers: 1) the VisualCalc Health Plan Comparison Tool; and 2) the VisualCalc Health Treatment Fee Tool. These graphical customer service tools can be deployed on a health care provider’s website for use by its existing and prospective customers.

Both of these tools guide users through an intuitive, step-by-step process to help them make better decisions regarding their health care coverage. These custom tools help health care providers improve customer satisfaction, acquisition and retention, as well as lower their administrative costs.

The VisualCalc Health Plan Comparison Tool helps a health care provider’s existing and prospective customers easily compare different health plans. This comparison can be performed across plans offered by a single health care provider, or across plans offered by a variety of different providers. The tool guides consumers through a series of intuitive web pages to gather information about their family and health care needs, and then provides them with a comparison of the costs and benefits of different plans, along with a recommendation for the best health plan for their needs. The VisualCalc Health Plan Comparison Tool helps consumers make better decisions regarding the best health plans for their specific situation. The tool helps health care providers highlight the features, benefits, and advantages of their health plans, improving their customer relations.

The VisualCalc Health Treatment Fee Tool helps a health care provider’s members estimate the cost of individual treatments before the services are performed. This customer service tool also enables customers to estimate their total health care costs for the upcoming year. Estimates can be developed for both individual and family health plans. The VisualCalc Health Treatment Fee Tool benefits consumers by enabling them to obtain reliable estimates for their health care costs, which, in turn, can help them with their budgeting, tax planning, and HSA account planning. The tool benefits health care providers by enhancing the transparency of their health care fees, a topic that has recently received significant regulatory and industry focus. In addition, because it provides their customers with a valuable source of information, the tool also helps health care providers improve their overall customer satisfaction and retention rates. Finally, as an automated “self service” tool, it also reduces the administrative time and expenses that would normally be required to manually develop these estimates.

Both of these customer service tools are configurable tools that can be easily customized for use by any health care provider. These tools can incorporate a health care provider’s specific information and business rules, including plan types, policy details, fee schedules, etc. The tools can also be customized to incorporate the health care provider’s branding and graphical standards, so that the tools have a consistent “look and feel” with the provider’s website and other marketing properties.

Both of these custom tools also are integrated with interactive, graphical, web-based analytics tool that helps health care providers monitor the effectiveness of these tools across a variety of user segments and usage metrics.

The VisualCalc Health Plan Comparison Tool and VisualCalc Health Treatment Fee Tool are both available and in use by customers today. Pricing varies depending on the number of users and a company’s hosting requirements. 

VisualCalc has released a new public dashboard for monitoring trends associated with the upcoming U.S. 2012 Presidential Election. The Election 2012 Dashboard provides people with intuitive, interactive charts and graphs that enable them to track several important components of this upcoming election, including GOP National Primary projections, GOP delegate counts, and how President Obama would fare against each of the Republican candidates.

This new public dashboard is available for free to anyone, and can be accessed via the following link: Election2012. In addition, organizations are free to add this link to their website free of charge.

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This new dashboard is incorporated into VisualCalc’ public dashboard website: PublicDashboards.com. PublicDashboards.com contains a set of interactive online dashboards covering a variety of topical issues, including housing, the economy, the environment, education statistics, employment trends, and health-related data. PublicDashboards.com organizes detailed, complex data related to these issues into interactive, easy-to-use charts and graphs called indicators. These visual indicators help users identify trends or issues that might otherwise go undetected. In addition, these indicators enable users to perform deeper analysis into the underlying data. With a simple point-and-click, users can filter and drill-down into the indicators to customize their view of the data.

Organizations that track or communicate information related to any of these topics – including public or commercial websites and online or print media – are welcome to include links to these public dashboards on their websites. These links can be found on the PublicDashboards.com website.