Technology Update

Teaching financial skills to clients' kids

These tech tools are designed to familiarize young people with the concepts of money management

Jan 8, 2012 @ 12:01 am

Welcome to the New Year.

The annual surge in gift giving and receiving — and returning — is behind us, which means that many of the children and grandchildren of your clients are sitting with more money than they had a month ago.

Now it is your turn to give a gift.

Here are some new websites and tools you can introduce to your clients which should help reinforce your value. They are designed to help young people get a better handle on spending, saving and investing.

Kidworth.com — Version 1.0 of Kidworth was launched a few weeks ago and is ready for financial advisers to start sharing with their clients.

The free application helps teach kids the concepts of setting financial goals.

“Money has fallen into one of those categories today of things we don't talk about within the family,” said founder and chief executive Rudy DeFelice.

“There are really sophisticated industries out there teaching your kids to spend through lots of advertising and messages about consumption, but not how to save or plan for their future,” he said.

At a birthday party for a 5-year-old a few years ago, Mr. DeFelice, a father of three, noted the excitement with which presents were opened and then tossed into a pile, probably destined for oblivion in short order.

It inspired him to create an application that, in his words, could serve not only as “an online ledger of gifts or wishes” but also as a communication and notification tool. That idea became Kidworth.

The site lets users post desired gifts or how gifted money would be spent for a particular item or purpose, and serves up invitations to birthday parties as well as suggestions about meaningful uses such as charitable giving.

The site is integrated with the major social-media sites, and additional modules are in development, including one for allowances.

“Saving has always been seen as the poor cousin to spending in our culture, probably because we associate saving with sacrifice,” Mr. DeFelice said.

Highscorehouse.com is another free site with lots of potential.

In beta, this site turns household routines into a game in which parents and kids deal with money matters that come up at home. Parents enter a PIN to manage and edit chores, goals and a rewards system, and kids win points toward things they want.

The game seems to appeal to a young crowd. For instance, my 6-year-old daughter liked it, and I guess children up to 10 or so would be interested.

The site also offers a neat blog and forum for parents about dealing with child-related chore issues. I set up tasks like “feed the dog,” “feed the turtles,” “brush teeth,” “put away clothes,” “read a book” and “clean room” that my daughter can redeem toward points for things like “30 minutes of TV time,” “a day with no chores,” “a trip to the movies.”

The site keeps track of everything that is scheduled, and kids can check off chores or tasks as they do them — to which the site replies, “checking with your parents.”

Allowance Manager. I wrote about AllowanceManager.com last February.

It is a free online tool to help kids and parents begin the lifetime wrestling match with managing finances. It was developed by former software engineers and managers from Adobe Systems Inc. and Apple Inc.

The two main parts for now are an allowance tracker, which is kind of an online spreadsheet, and printable chore charts.

HelloWallet. An inexpensive online tool that provides individualized financial guidance to consumers, HelloWallet (InvestmentNews, Oct. 30) has been up and running since May. It applies proprietary analytics and behavioral research to help users boost savings and build wealth.

There is also now a HelloWallet application for iPhones, to which the younger crowd will probably be more likely to use.

Financial advisers should welcome this solution, not only because it may encourage your clients' kids to stay with you but because HelloWallet urges consumers to consult their advisers when it comes to making an investment or reviewing a financial product.

This isn't a bad place to start teenagers down the road toward knowing what they are doing when it comes to finances, budgeting and investments.

Pricing for individuals is $8.95 a month, which comes out to a little over $100 a year.

Advisers may decide to purchase this service as a gift for valued clients or their children as a way to show that they care. At the very least, they might suggest it as something that clients could buy for their kids.

One clever adviser-related aspect of HelloWallet is that when users ask sophisticated or advanced investment-related questions, the site sends them to an adviser who doesn't contradict any recommendations or suggestions made by the client's current adviser.

Another favorite site of mine, Mint.com, provides valuable record-keeping services, but advisers may find it problematic because Mint earns considerable revenue from financial services companies' wooing users from their providers.

djanowski@investmentnews.com

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