Ask a planner answers: keeping track

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The question, from Arthur, 32 from London

Can you recommend a tool I can use to track all my finances in one place and goals, including my pension, stock and shares and day to day costs?

The answer, from Carolyn Gowen CFPTM, Bloomsbury Wealth - an Accredited Financial Planning FirmTM

Whilst there are many online tools available for tracking the value of shares and funds you own, and such a tool could be used in conjunction with a simple spreadsheet tracking your expenditure, there is no one tool available to the general public which will allow you to track your assets and your expenditure and goals.

The most comprehensive tool available, which it sounds as though you are looking for, is known as a cashflow modelling (or planning) tool.  This type of software holds details of all of your personal data, your assets and liabilities, income and expenses, and any short and long term monetary goals you wish to achieve e.g. 'Buy a place in the sun at age 60, costing £150,000', 'Cease paid work at age 55, with annual expenditure of £25,000'.  Whilst there are a number of cashflow modelling tools in existence, none is freely available to the general public, but instead are used by financial planners who carry out cashflow modelling for their clients.  Many firms will provide access to the tool to their clients once the initial plan has been set up so that they can model different ‘what if’ scenarios for themselves without affecting the ‘base plan’ which will be regularly reviewed with the planner.

If you are concerned about whether you are building up sufficient resources to meet the cost of your goals then I would recommend you consult a CFP professional to go through the process of creating a plan with you.  Once you have ‘a track to run’ on you may be perfectly able to update and manage your plan going forwards, but an awful lot of value can be added by consulting a planner at this stage when you may find it useful to have someone experienced in cashflow planning to help you to interpret the results, and offer some guidance on alternative options if the cost of your goals is not currently achievable.

Here's a few links to free online portfolio tracking and budgeting tools that might be helpful: 

Carolyn Gowen CFPTM
Investment Manager and Branch Principal
Bloomsbury Wealth