Expert Interview with Brian Evans About Financial Planning

Financial Planning

Individuals interested in meeting financial goals can work with iQuantifi to take on a streamlined approach to achieving those goals.

In this interview, iQuantifi's Chief Marketing Officer Brian Evans shares some tips for individuals looking to create a profile and change their financial lives.

How do you help individuals identify and achieve financial goals?

iQuantifi is a virtual financial advisor that provides comprehensive financial planning advice based on the goals and resources of the user. iQuantifi's core planning algorithm calculates how much the user needs to save for each goal and where the money will come from to fund their goals. iQuantifi's software efficiently allocates the user's investable assets and cash flow to determine the best use of their current resources.

By completing a profile, iQuantifi's system automatically creates goals like retirement and cash reserves on behalf of the user and makes recommendations on how they can achieve those goals. If the user has children, life insurance and college savings will be automatically recommended. From there, the user can add additional goals like buying a house, saving for a trip, buying a car and much more. If the user has debts, iQuantifi determines the fastest way to pay off their debts while still funding all their other goals simultaneously.

It is not enough to know how much you need to save for your goals. People also need to use financial products to implement their goals. iQuantifi's product structuring technology recommends the most appropriate financial products users need to achieve their goals. It provides advice on questions such as: should I fund an Education IRA or a 529 Plan for my child's college education? Is it best to fund a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA? When buying a home and applying for a mortgage, can we afford a 15-year mortgage or should we apply for a 30-year mortgage? How much life insurance do I need and what type should I get?

iQuantifi provides specific advice on which products are most appropriate for a user's goals in real time. By having the ability to get personalized advice 24/7, users can make better financial decisions and improve their financial situation. iQuantifi enables the user to take steps toward truly achieving their goals and not just planning for them.

What benefits do you find come from setting a financial goal versus saving blindly?

Just as in life, setting goals for your finances is critical. There are several benefits to setting financial goals. One is that it gives purpose to the financial assets you own and the income you earn. By setting goals such as building up an emergency fund or buying a house, it helps determine how much you need to save, for how long you need to save and where to save your money. Without setting goals, you risk not knowing what the money is for. This leads to using your money arbitrarily for anything at any time.

By setting goals, you are able to accurately track your progress, stay on track and hold yourself accountable to achieving those goals.

What are some small changes individuals can implement to see savings quickly?

The key to any savings strategy is to put certain systems into place. Examples are contributing to your employer's retirement plan through payroll deductions, setting up automatic bill pay, direct depositing your paycheck, setting up ACH bank drafts for contributions into your IRA, etc. Creating these systems saves you time and effort. You don't have to manually do these chores every month and it holds you accountable to placing your money in the appropriate financial vehicle.

College is a major concern for many who want to put their children through school and for individuals who have to pay for it on their own. What are some tips you can offer for those interested in saving enough for college?

It should be a concern. Inflation of college tuition since 1978 is over 1000%. This means that college costs are inflating at more than twice the annual rate of inflation. So, you can not keep up with that by using a cash account for your savings. You have to invest the money to at least meet the inflation rate. However, investment gains are going to be taxed. So a family needs to use an account that is tax deferred, such as a 529 Plan.

Next, be realistic about the college education you want to save up for: public or private? In state or out of state? Knowing this will help you get a more accurate cost. It can also help identify grants and scholarships that may fit your situation to help ease the burden of tuition.

Another tip is to see if grandparents or other relatives may be willing to contribute to the child's college fund. A 529 Plan allows others to contribute up to five year's worth of the annual gifting limit without having to pay the gift tax.

Retirement is another major source of anxiety for those who do not think they will have enough. What advice do you offer these individuals?

Saving for retirement is even more important than saving for college because, unlike college, you can not take out a loan for retirement. When figuring out how much you will need for retirement, focus on your expenses, not on your income. Expenses are what you will absolutely need to cover, while income is more about wanting a certain standard of living. Identify what expenses you currently have that you will still have at retirement. Use this amount to estimate your future expenses at retirement.

Now you need to take some basic steps to ensure that your money will work for you. First, enroll in your employer's retirement plan if there is one available. If they offer a match, be sure to contribute enough to capture the entire match. Next, set up automatic savings into an IRA. Third, for those who are retiring more than ten years from now, it is important to invest in equities (stocks) such as a mutual fund or ETF. Make sure that they are quality investments. This way, you will be able to outpace inflation and be able to take advantage of the time value of money and compound interest.

What level of experience do the financial advisers with iQuantifi possess?

iQuantifi is a virtual financial advisor based on over two decades of experience providing financial planning and investment advice to individuals, families and small business owners to help them achieve their goals.

What trends do you see happening in the economy that could impact those with retirement accounts?

Considering that the market is currently at an all time high, expectations of investment gains should be tempered. Investing for retirement is not about timing the market, but about time in the market. So when the next stock market correction comes, investors should be prepared to continue saving and possibly even buy more stocks to take advantage of lower prices.

Please share an example of how you helped someone achieve a financial goal.

Even though iQuantifi has been available to the public for less than a year, we have thousands of users that on average have 4-5 goals they are working on simultaneously. We've helped with everything from an emergency fund, to buying a car, to saving for college, to retirement and so much more.

A concrete example comes from our founder's experience working with a young couple that wanted to adopt a child. They also needed to plan for retirement, their son's college, buy a house, and increase their insurance coverage. We were able to create a plan and invest based on their goals and timeframes. The money for the adoption was intentionally allocated in bonds and cash, not equities, due to the short timeframe of this goal. This allowed the couple, in the middle of the Great Recession, to fly to China and adopt their baby girl. It is these same planning principles that are coded into iQuantifi's software, enabling our users to achieve their goals.

Please share anything additional you would like readers to know about iQuantifi.

iQuantifi is geared toward young families and Millennials; those who do not qualify or can not afford to work with a traditional financial advisor. iQuantifi is a perfect compliment to Mint; for users who have already established their budget and are now looking to take the next steps toward accomplishing their financial goals.

iQuantifi also allows you to update your plan as changes happen. Users can move goals on their timeline or use our "What If" feature to add goals, edit and compare plans to see what works best, see how changing one goal affects other goals, and more. We even include a Cashfinder feature to help users tackle shortages in their monthly budget and still achieve their goals.

You can give our system a test drive for free at iQuantifi.com

Follow iQuantifi on Facebook and Twitter.