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Financial Engines feedback
Old 08-14-2006, 04:30 PM   #1
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Financial Engines feedback

After my recent kvetching about customer service I thought it'd only be fair to supply a positive story to try to balance the scales.

We recently made a change to our retirement portfolio (dumping most of Tweedy, Browne for PowerShares' International Dividend ETF) so I finally got around to entering our new numbers in Financial Engines' website.

Whoops... PID is not in their database. Gosh, it's only been around for 10 months!

Here's what FE says:
"The Personal Online Advisor models most retail mutual funds and individual stocks (our database includes over 11,000 mutual funds and over 7,000 domestic equities). However, not all Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), iShares and Unit Investment Trusts (UITs) are currently tracked by our data sources. We try to model as many retail mutual funds (including ETFs) as we can, and hope to track and model more of these types of investments in the near future. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
In the meantime, to account for funds not yet modeled, please try to do a search to find an iShare/ETF/UIT or retail mutual fund that has similar characteristics (investment style, expense ratio and turnover) to the fund you cannot find within the Personal Online Advisor. Your prospectus or financial advisor should be able to provide you with your fund's characteristics so that you can choose a proxy fund or a similar retail fund. If you wish, you may send us a list of the funds you own but cannot find so we can forward the list to the Investments Group for consideration.
Sincerely,
Sophia
Financial Engines Customer Support"

I doubt that I'm going to have a lot of success finding a large-cap dividend-paying international value proxy. Or maybe they track all the Mergent indexes.

But hey, at least they offered to get it on their priority list and they'll probably add it to their database in 3-6 months.

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Re: Financial Engines feedback
Old 08-14-2006, 04:33 PM   #2
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Re: Financial Engines feedback

Is EFV close enough?
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Re: Financial Engines feedback
Old 08-14-2006, 05:34 PM   #3
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Re: Financial Engines feedback

Not to worry because Vanguard doesn't know about PID or FSCOX or .... either and classifies them all as "Other" in the portfolio analysis asset allocation breakdown.

The e-mail response from Vanguard was less helpful than the one you got from FE.
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Re: Financial Engines feedback
Old 08-14-2006, 05:42 PM   #4
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Re: Financial Engines feedback

I've been trying to get Financial Engines to add GLD for the past year. At first it didn't have a long enough track record, now that it has been trading for over 18 months I don't know what their excuse is.

Anybody have a proxy for the movement of gold bullion? I only have 3% of my portfolio in this asset class, but it would be nice to have it modeled properly.
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Re: Financial Engines feedback
Old 08-14-2006, 05:42 PM   #5
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Re: Financial Engines feedback

Quote:
Originally Posted by astromeria
Is EFV close enough?
No, 'fraid not. *http://www.powershares.com/images/pdf/PIDfund.pdf

There's not much correlation between Mergent's International Dividend Achievers Index and the EAFE, and PID tries to do it all with dividend-paying ADRs. *Their sector holdings are about the same percentage as EAFE (or probably even the S&P500, for that matter) but their top 10 holdings are totally different.

PID hits its anniversary next month and I bet FE will "discover" that they can add it to their database by then. *I remember they had the same problem with iShares small-cap ETFs (IJS & IJT) a number of years ago and I think they added them when they reached their birthdays.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Red-y
Anybody have a proxy for the movement of gold bullion? I only have 3% of my portfolio in this asset class, but it would be nice to have it modeled properly.
You could try CEF, but I don't know if FE tracks that either... plus it also holds a good bit of silver.
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Re: Financial Engines feedback
Old 08-15-2006, 06:23 AM   #6
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Re: Financial Engines feedback

Under FE, you can set up an account for a "user defined" basis.* Giving the current investment $$'s, along with an annual % increase, you can get an approximation of "future value" over the long term.

Yes, it is treated as a "cash account" and will not be useful in the full portfolio analysis (if you use FE for that), but at least you can get an approximation of future value for retirement forecasts, and see how close you are to your target.

That may be a temporary solution to your situation - at least until they add your necessary holding info.* I use it for an old 403B account for my DW, in which the sub-holdings are within an insurance product.

- Ron
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Re: Financial Engines feedback
Old 08-15-2006, 06:49 AM   #7
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Re: Financial Engines feedback

Quote:
Originally Posted by LOL!
Not to worry because Vanguard doesn't know about PID or FSCOX or .... either and classifies them all as "Other" in the portfolio analysis asset allocation breakdown.

The e-mail response from Vanguard was less helpful than the one you got from FE.
An astonishingly large percentage of my portfolio was called "other" by Schwab in my ;ast useless quarterly portfolio thingy. Who cares?
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Re: Financial Engines feedback
Old 08-15-2006, 08:10 AM   #8
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Re: Financial Engines feedback

I used financial engines for a while because we get it free with our 401k plan. I have the same problem. Too many asset in the "other" category. I did what Ron did to make an estimate of their future return.
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Re: Financial Engines feedback
Old 11-09-2006, 11:45 AM   #9
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Re: Financial Engines feedback

They do not have data for Fidelity Muni - Minnesota fund. It appears that the engine does not like REIT, commodity, Small International, and EM bond funds. It always make a recommendation to remove them from my portfolio.
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Re: Financial Engines feedback
Old 11-09-2006, 12:30 PM   #10
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Re: Financial Engines feedback


Ditto on the lack of complete fund listings in the Financial Engines database. The same is true for Vanguard's analysis tools. I understand that there are a million funds out there, but these tools are basically useless if 20-30% of the portfolio is uncharacterized.

More annoying still is that Financial Engines (when accessed through Vanguard) only simulates market returns until retirement. After that they use fixed returns. According to the docs (at Vanguard), the financial engines tool is designed for people more than 5 yrs away from retirement.

Have others run into this, or is this just a limitation when using the site through Vanguard?

Jim
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Re: Financial Engines feedback
Old 11-09-2006, 12:49 PM   #11
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Re: Financial Engines feedback

Several years ago, when they were starting their website, I had a discussion with Financial Engines. Their staff confirmed that the analysis is designed for the accumulation phase of retirement investing.

IMHO it would be used for designing 'buckets' 2 and 3 with a 7 and 14 year horizons respectively.

The only work-around on the uncharacterized investment problem is to plug in a fund that has the same or similar characteristics that they do include.
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Re: Financial Engines feedback
Old 11-09-2006, 01:26 PM   #12
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Re: Financial Engines feedback

Mommy, she said 'buckets"!

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Re: Financial Engines feedback
Old 11-09-2006, 03:59 PM   #13
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Re: Financial Engines feedback

Wow...

This thread popped up after being "dormant" for quite awhile. Anyway, here's my "opinion" on FE.

Does it have problems? Of course.

Does it add value (to the total retirement "picture")? Of course.

It should be used along with other "tools" (such as Fidelity's retirement planner, Quicken's retirement planner, FIRECalc, etc, etc, etc) to take a "retirement temperature".

If you get all tools to "sort of" tell you the same story, you probably are on track. Due to the underlying "method of calculation", if they don't, you need to further identify the "problem".

I'm using the various tools to tell me I can retire (and will do so on 1-May-07). Unfortunately, the one "tool" that is validating my departure is my DW, who said "I can go" on that date

I guess that's the final "measurement tool". I'll be retired, but with a working wife (until 1-Dec-07). That's probably the best "solution"... 8) : 8) ...

- Ron...
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Re: Financial Engines feedback
Old 11-09-2006, 05:21 PM   #14
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Re: Financial Engines feedback

I have been using FE for a couple of years now. It recognizes all of my investments since that they are mostly Fidelity funds.

I am subscribed to the cheaper version of FE that only advises on the tax deferred accounts. I can't see myself paying $300 a year for the full version. My question is do they take into account my investments in the taxable accounts into consideration when they advise on the tax deferred accounts?
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Re: Financial Engines feedback
Old 11-10-2006, 09:16 PM   #15
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Re: Financial Engines feedback

FE is great for "most folks", but just aint sophisticated enough for this crowd other than getting a ballpark estimate. We get it free with our Fidelity 401k also and the bit about it that bugged me was that it told me to lump sum divesify into bond funds while interest rates were at 30 year lows.
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Re: Financial Engines feedback
Old 11-11-2006, 09:26 AM   #16
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Re: Financial Engines feedback

We get it free through Vanguard. I just use it as a way to track my portfolio in one place and to make a rough projection about our future portfolio size. I have never asked for the advice.
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Re: Financial Engines feedback
Old 11-11-2006, 11:24 AM   #17
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Re: Financial Engines feedback

Quote:
Originally Posted by jazz4cash
FE is great for "most folks", but just aint sophisticated enough for this crowd other than getting a ballpark estimate. We get it free with our Fidelity 401k also and the bit about it that bugged me was that it told me to lump sum divesify into bond funds while interest rates were at 30 year lows.
For $10.99 a quarter........ it's worth it for me to get another tool
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Re: Financial Engines feedback
Old 11-11-2006, 10:35 PM   #18
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Re: Financial Engines feedback

Quote:
Originally Posted by Corporateburnout
For $10.99 a quarter........ it's worth it for me to get another tool
Which plan is 10.99 per qtr? I peeked at thier website and I saw $39.xx /qtr for individual user retirement advice or 300/yr for total portfolio. I also saw Fed TSP option, but no pricing for that one.
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Re: Financial Engines feedback
Old 11-12-2006, 07:03 AM   #19
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Re: Financial Engines feedback

Quote:
Originally Posted by jazz4cash
Which plan is 10.99 per qtr? I peeked at thier website and I saw $39.xx /qtr for individual user retirement advice or 300/yr for total portfolio. I also saw Fed TSP option, but no pricing for that one.
Apparently I am grandfathered into an old plan that they no longer offer. I have been using FE basic for a few years now.

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Re: Financial Engines feedback
Old 11-12-2006, 07:12 AM   #20
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Re: Financial Engines feedback

Financial Engine $14.95 a quarter.

Site: https://www.financialengines.com/FeC...&act=abtprsr12
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