In the following tip we will explain how the planning year is set in Voyant, how to change it, and how to run a general update of a plan when performing an annual client review. We will also demonstrate how updated base plans can be used to track client progress.
Start Dates - Setting the start of the planning year
Let's begin with a brief explanation of start dates and planning years since we will be updating both in just a moment.
When creating a new client file in Voyant, you will first be asked select the plan's start date. The Start date is an important consideration. The client's planning timeline can be set to begin today, applying rules from the current tax year, or an alternative start date, past or future, could be applied together with the tax rules for the selected year.
Voyant performs calculations and displays charts based on an adviser configurable "planning year". A planning year is defined as one calendar year from the start date of the plan. This option gives you the flexibility of selecting a plan start date and tax year that fits your client's needs and your planning process so that you may present your findings and results with clarity and confidence.
Why Update a Plan?
Having created a plan for your client, the time will come eventually to update the items within it, bringing balances and expenses up to their current values.
Plans are updated to:
• Change the start date, to the current calendar year or tax year;
• Review and update balances and expenses;
• Make a former scenario the client's new actionable base plan;
• Chart client progress.
Plan updates can be used to select a new start date for the plan, bringing the plan forward into the current calendar year or into the new tax year. A change in planning year is also an opportunity to review and update the balances of savings and investments, check outstanding debts, and examine current expenses, all to determine whether the original projections in the plan continue to reflect your client's current position.
Plans can also be updated to make a former scenario, once only under consideration, the client's new actionable base plan once the decision has been made to follow that plan's recommended course of action.
When a plan updated, a new base plan will be created. This new base plan can then be used to compare planned progress to actual progress to date.Voyant's plan update wizard is here to guide you through the process.
Step-by-Step - How to Update the Start Date and Create a New Base Plan
1. To update a plan, click the Manage Plans button.
2. Select the plan you want to update or promote.
In most cases the original Base Plan would be selected but you might select a scenario if this is to become the client's new base plan. For example, if my clients were originally only considering downsizing their home and have since decided that this will be their actionable plan, I would select the Downsize Home scenario for promotion.
3. Click the Update button or if you have selected a scenario for promotion, the Update and Promote button.
The Plan Update wizard appear, ready to guide you through the various items that can be added or updated in the new base plan. These will include the plan's Start event.
4. Click Next to begin the update.
5. Enter a name for the new base plan or accept the name suggested by Voyant.
If you are updating a base plan that includes various scenarios, the option is available to move copies of these scenarios (i.e. child plans) into the new base plan. To include these scenarios within your new base plan, tick the Update Child Plans Also checkbox.
6. Select a Start Date for the new plan.
Select either Today as the new start date (the default) or click Set Date and enter the date that will begin the new planning year. This can be any date you like, provided that it falls after the start date of the current plan, which is shown top-left. Plans can be dated forward but cannot be backdated to begin prior to the start of the original plan.
7. Click Next.
8. The wizard will now guide you through a review of the plan's expenses, debts, incomes, savings, investments and pensions.
The timing of these items will be checked for their relevancy in the new plan. If an item no longer falls within the scope of the newly adjusted timeline, it may be slated for removal from the new plan.
Check the Delete column for any items set for removal. If you want to keep an item in the new plan, simply untick the Delete checkbox. However, once the new plan is created, you will need to modify the timing of the item to place it again within the scope of the timeline.
9. The plan update wizard also presents the new balances and amounts of incomes, savings, investments, pensions. These can be updated to their current values or left as is and updated later, after the new plan is created.
Some Items Are Grown Forward, Others Are Not
Voyant will take assumptions, such as growth and inflation rates, from the original plan and use them to grow some items before they are moved into the new plan.
Items that will be grown, based on original projections, before being moved into a new base plan will include:
• Property and Assets,
• Final Salary pensions,
• State Pension benefits.
Other items of a transactional nature will not be grown due to contributions, payments, withdrawals, and investment performance that may or may have materialized over the ensuing years since the plan was first created.
Items that will not be grown when moved into a new base plan include:
• Money Purchases,
• Unsecured Pensions.
These balances are carried forward, unchanged from the original plan, and will likely require a review with your client before you update them. Updates can be made as you create the new plan, using the plan update wizard, or anytime after the new plan has been created.
10. Click Finish.
Congratulations. You have now created a new base plan.
If you chose to include planning scenarios, copies of these will be shown beneath the new base plan. The original base plan and its scenarios also remain available for viewing.
The current and future planning years in this new plan will now begin on the Start date that was selected a few moments ago, in the plan update wizard.
Reviewing the New Base Plan in the Plan Overview
After updating a plan, it's a good practice to visit the Overview, found on the Overview > General screen, to verify that all of the items that were not tagged for deletion in the plan update wizard remain present in the new plan. Review the values and balances of items shown on screen. Ideally, all of these items should be reviewed at some point with your client.
Incomes, Expenses, Property/Assets, Final Salary and State Pension benefits, should be automatically updated to values appropriate for the current year based on growth and inflation rate assumptions taken from the original plan.
Review and update the balances of Debts, Savings, Investments, Money Purchases, and Unsecured Pensions to their present values. All of the items listed in the overview are links. If an item needs to be updated, simply click the link to visit and edit the item.
Charting Client Progress ? Comparing Base Plans
You now have a new base plan that can be compared to the original.
1. To compare your client's projected progress to actual progress at time of review, go to the Let's See charts.
2. Click Compare Plans.
3. Select the type of chart and whether it is to be presented in the basic or detailed view, if available.
4. Select the original Base Plan and the new Base Plan.
The original base plan and the newly updated base plan will be presented for review and comparison.
Note that this comparative view of the charts can be copied and pasted into Word reports and other documents.
5. In the lower of the two panels, click any year (bar) in the chart.
6. Click the Chart Controls link, which activates the chart controls panel.
7. Click the Copy icon. A snapshot of the charts will be captured and saved into your computer's clipboard (in memory) from which they can be pasted into Word reports or other documents.
The chart controls can also be used to zoom in or out on the charts, adjusting their scale, if needed.
Errors Following a Plan Update
After the plan update, you may encounter an error message when viewing the results. These messages will appear either as a large error in the middle of the Let's See chart or plan Overview or in a panel along the bottom of the various data entry screens, such as Expenses or Employment.
Errors that occur after a plan update are usually caused by an item being left in the plan that is no longer logically relevant after the Start event has been moved forward. A common example would be a step entered on one of the Voyant's Step Up / Step Down panels. If an event used to step an expense up, for instance, was originally positioned in the first year of the plan, this step would now fall outside of the range of the plan's now updated timeline.
To correct the issue, go to any of the data entry screens. The errors shown in the panel at the bottom of the screen are links. When clicked, they should take you directly to the source of the problem where the item can be corrected to resolve the error, usually by selecting a new start or step event. A delete button is also adjacent to each error message. You may click this button to delete the item, such as a step, from the plan.
USE CAUTION when deleting items. Steps can usually be deleted but be certain that the item you are deleting is not a debt, asset, or income that you would prefer to correct rather than delete.
Other Considerations - Deleting Older Plans
We generally recommend that you keep the original base plan and scenarios in your client's file, for use in tracking progress. But if you need to delete a plan once an update is complete, go to Manage Plans and click the Delete button next to the plans you want to remove.
And that's all it takes. After a few steps and a little review, you can bring your client's plan up to date and ready for the new year.