Recently, I was asked to participate in a blogger round-table/conference call. The call was hosted by ING’s investing and insurance division, and was arranged and moderated by Jennifer Jones of JA Jones Consulting.
As part of the round-table, I and several other bloggers were asked to play with a few new tools/calculators and to give feedback on those. While I did give them some feedback, I have had a bit more time to digest the other blogger’s comments as well as the responses of the reps at ING.
The first tool was a tool called CompareMe (INGCompareMe.com). It’s a fun tool where you give it some anonymous data about your finances and lifestyle and it gives you a report that compares you with people who have similar lifestyles, income and living situations. The downsides to the tool are that there is no way to save your data to go back and edit or tweak it later when your situation changes or you just want to play a game of what if. There is a potential, if the function of the tool were to be combined with the ability to save and some social media functionality (A facebook App “Where I rank” perhaps? Or a twitter account that tweets random stats.) that it could gain traction as much more than a novelty comparison tool. According to the reps at ING, the tool was initially seeded with about 5000 record sets, but has now reached several billion. Although, it would seem that you’re only being compared to the few hundred or thousand that are relatively similar in data sets.
The second tool we were asked to give feedback on was a tool they’ve called “Your Number” (INGYourNumber.com). It begins with a very simple form that asks for some simple info like your age, income, retirement age, and retirement length. The tool takes that information and gives you back “Your Number”. Your number is the amount you need to have in your retirement accounts to live the retirement you indicated you wanted to live in the preceding form.
As a simple tool, this one is sufficient, but has acres and acres of room for improvement. One of the most commented issues was, in fact, the tools simplicity. The input is only 5 or 6 fields. There is room for all kinds of situational changes and variables that make the tool nearly useless for a percentage of the people using it. I also thought that it would be more useful if it gave you, instead of a grand total, a monthly total. In some cases, if a person has a pension or wants to use Social Insecurity for part of retirement, they likely won’t know what the grand total of that benefit is and merely have a monthly number. Having a monthly number in the results of the tool would allow for deducting any money from a pension or from Social Insecurity and give a much more accurate idea of how much really needed to be saved.
I think that most of us agreed that one of the greatest improvements that they could make with either of these tools would be to somehow tie them together so that you could compare the results of the Your Number tool in the CompareMe tool and so that you could also use the information in the CompareMe tool to help calculate the result for Your Number.