Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pension & Investment Calculators

I have been flirting with the idea of providing Pension & Investment Calculators on my websites for a while and I have come to the conclusion that they may not be as reliable as some may believe them to be.

The natural tendency for an individual would be to rely on the information generated as absolute. However, I feel that the following points are worth bearing in mind should you decide to use them.

# The information generated can be based on multiple assumptions. The results are therefore obsolete when one of these assumptions changes and you need to recalculate on a regular basis.
# The assumptions used vary; depending on the calculator provider.
# The 'result' generated may deter an individual from making savings/pension provisions as they may deem the result to be impractical or unaffordable.
# Not all investment calculators are equal. The assumptions and results can vary depending on what Country the investment company is Regulated in.
# Variables, such as Taxation, are constantly changing.
# Calculators do not pay too much attention to Investment Strategy.
# Estimators of levels of Life Insurance cover are generic. Every ones circumstances and requirements are not the same.
# Calculators are generally provided by product providers that can weigh the premium/contribution in their favour ie. quoting an unrealistically high level of benefit.

In isolation, calculators/quotes/estimators are no better than the general rules of thumb that are put forward by product providers or intermediaries. They may be a required starting point for some, but I would not bet the house on them fulfilling reasonable lifetime expectations for the average saver/investor. They are not a substitute for specific advice; that incorporates a common sense approach, from Financial Advisors.

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