Technology to Help Tame the Complexities of Risk

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Helping clients plan for retirement is a much more sophisticated process than building an appropriate portfolio.

It requires continuing analysis and adjustment as clients’ goals change. It also demands careful monitoring to manage risk against macro trends.

“Risk is not limited just to a client’s portfolio,” says Neal Quon, partner and chief financial officer at QuonWarrene, a financial technology consulting firm in Orange, Calif. “Taking the steps to understand a client’s risk tolerance in the context of their specific situation is critical not only at the outset of an advisor-client relationship but at ongoing regular intervals as well.”

The good news is that there are available tools that can help financial advisors more easily assess a client’s risk tolerance.

But advisors should use caution. Unfortunately, some of these tools get the knock of being little more than vehicles being marketed by their owners using clever sales techniques.

One satisfied user of Riskalyze, Christian R. Cordoba, gives it high marks as a risk management tool, though industry expert Bob Veres, a columnist for Financial Planning, in a Sept. 22, 2014, column, found the performances of both Riskalyze and another tool, FinaMetra, less than optimal in some cases.

Veres pointed out that Riskalyze was launched in 2011 as a consumer site and became a tool for advisors in 2012. It is headquartered in Sacramento, Calif., with offices in Atlanta.

“Riskalyze can provide a good option in my opinion, not merely because it helps score risk but because of how it helps score risk,” says Cordoba, founding partner of California Retirement Advisors, a financial consulting and services firm in El Segundo, Calif. “The workflow style questionnaire morphs into various questions depending on the prior response, as the client completes it, and helps to create a unique experience genuine to each client, providing them their ‘risk number’ ranging from 1 to 99.”

Two other tools include RiXtrema’s Portfolio Crash 2.0 tool and RetireUp. Founded in 2010, the Portfolio Crash 2.0 tool monitors both the risk in portfolios as well as the client’s risk tolerance and will alert the advisor if risk in the account is diverging from the risk tolerance profile.

Created last year, RetireUp is a web-based tool that helps advisors and clients focus on the distribution phase of retirement. Both are able to participate in discussions that center around the full portfolio picture, including defined income (Social Security, variable annuities, fixed-index annuities, pensions) and other assets, according to the Chicago-based company.

“Managing the perspective of what risk means specifically to an investor is critical to setting the proper expectations and sets the stage to keep the advisor and client engaged in the ongoing planning discussion,” Quon says.

Bruce W. Fraser, a New York financial writer, contributes to Financial Planning and On Wall Street.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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