The Evolution of Timelineapp

When we created the very first version of Timelineapp, the idea was to have a piece of technology that helps advisers apply extensive data and research on the sustainable withdrawal framework to their client’s decumulation journey.

And that was what we did. However, we soon realised that to make the technology more useful to financial planners and their clients, we needed to do a lot more. So here are a couple of features and functionalities that we’ve added ever since.

Tax Modelling

The very first one was automating the tax calculations. What we’ve done here is enable advisers to add different tax wrappers and multiple sources of income, including Defined Benefit pensions, the State Pension, annuities and rental income. Financial Planners can bring all of these income sources into Timeline, and it automatically calculates the income requirement with the option to show this in either gross or net terms, taking into account the annual allowance and marginal rates. Capital Gains Tax (CGT) is also modelled in the system.

Livetrack

Livetrack is unique as it is truly remarkable. Whilst the sustainability of every plan is essential, the ability to monitor this plan in real-time on an ongoing basis and make changes where necessary is exceptional. The capital markets are volatile. By definition, that is how they work.

How do you capture the impact of this volatility on the sustainability of your client’s plan? Timeline lets you set up your client’s plan - taking into account their income needs, investment strategy and other factors specific to the client, sends you weekly alerts based on the portfolio’s current performance and its impact on the plan. Then you can have that conversation with the client and tweak the plan accordingly (if necessary). Ongoing monitoring of the plan in real-time automates the process for financial advisers, and that’s why we created Livetrack. The whole idea is to receive weekly alerts from your CRM system or wealth platform and import the latest valuation and asset allocation of the plan.

The success rate is also recalculated to determine if the plan is on track. We like to think of Timeline as the copilot for the client’s retirement journey.

Oversight Dashboard

The oversight dashboard was developed after conversations and feedback from financial advisers, especially multi-adviser practices and senior managers within medium to large advisory businesses. These firms need data and insight into what goes on across the entire client portfolio of the firm. They need to access such data without having to go through every single client of each adviser within that firm.

That’s why we built the oversight dashboard; to give them an overview of the sustainability of their client plans. They can view, amongst others, client demographics, investment recommendations, withdrawal strategies, the proportion of clients on track or off track.

This gives them access to compelling insights for their business and useful Management Information (MI). The idea of sustainability of income in retirement can be viewed as a challenge, not just for clients and advice firms, but also from a regulatory standpoint. It’s a challenge businesses are facing because if you have a sizeable number of clients who are running out of money, that creates sustainability issues for the company. This is why we built oversight, to provide the powerful insights enterprise firms need.

Model Portfolio Centre

This is also known as the Real Holdings feature. Previously advisers could build their client’s investment strategy using Timeline’s asset classes which are then used to run scenarios and simulations to calculate the sustainability of that plan. Having been asked by advisers why they couldn’t just use actual portfolios, we decided to introduce the ability to develop an investment strategy using real funds.

This feature allows advisers to create their clients’ portfolio and input this into Timeline, using real funds, and the system automatically maps the funds to our existing asset classes. Financial advisers very well received the ability of Timeline to identify the asset class for the portfolio and run the simulations because it made their lives incredibly easier.

Integrations

As part of listening to adviser feedback, we spent time working on our integration capabilities. What we set out to do was to build a micro integration service as a way to enable financial advisers to import client data into Timeline through the microservice connecting to CRM and custodial platforms. The objective was to reduce the time advisers spend migrating data from one platform to another.

Some of our integrations include Intelliflo, Iress Xplan, Time4Advice, Nucleus in the UK. We also built an integration with Nucleus, Transact, 7IM, and there is more of this coming in the US as we have integrated with a couple of CRM systems and we continue to work on our integration platform.

The idea is that through the microservice, advisers on our platform can seamlessly import data into Timeline’s environment from these third parties. My biggest mission and vision will be to eliminate data re-keying, but this takes a tremendous amount of work. In an ideal world, I would like to get to a point where there is two-way information flow between Timeline and the platform.

This is not something that we can do entirely on our own. We need platforms and CRM systems to step up as well.

Client Dashboard

Lastly, I want to focus on Timeline’s client dashboard that we’ve been working on for months. What we’ve done with the client dashboard is to allow advisers to share financial information with their clients. Share the result of the financial plan that they have built with a client. I’ve been surprised by this trend in the industry where the adviser reports the investments and financial planning separately. The two are not quite the same, and so we wanted to close this gap by creating the client dashboard that enables the client to see first and foremost their retirement plan. Therefore the question that is then answered for them is, ‘is my retirement plan on track?’.

The client dashboard allows the client to see their investments and asset allocation. Then we asked if the client can also share information with their adviser through the client dashboard? We then introduced an account aggregation or open banking / open finance capability into Timeline, which enables the client to be able to share other assets (credit card information, current accounts, etc.), other investment accounts that they have elsewhere. For example, their bank or bank cash deposits as assets that they have. This gives the adviser the ability to import income and expenditure of the client into their retirement platform. They can then share as much of this information as they want with their client.

Timeline will then be able to track the client’s expenditure and where the client is spending surplus income. So if they’re spending too much, Timeline can send notifications to the adviser that suggests they have a conversation with the client because they’re spending way more than what’s in their plan or they could be spending too little.

It then creates a different conversation between the adviser and their client. Do they need to withdraw that amount of money from their portfolio if they’re not spending it, or is there something else going on there? I have always thought that technology should enable planners to have more robust conversations with their clients.

This journey for us started from a simple idea to where we are right now. We’re building a full set of APIs and capabilities to enhance the work that financial advisers do, but we’re also at the point right now where our technology is available, and we’re working with more significant enterprise firms on the direct to the consumer (D2C) journey. We’ve got sets of APIs that can be used to support the D2C proposition. The team are excited about the journey so far and watch this space, as there’s a lot more to come.

Abraham is the Founder and CEO of Timelineapp. He has authored the Beyond the 4% rule book, written several industry papers and delivered many talks. He holds a master’s degree from Coventry University and an alphabet soup of designations, including the Investment Management Certificate, Chartered Financial Planner and Chartered Wealth Manager.

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