What do you use in your practice? I’ve been using a program for a few months now — it reaches out to investment companies, banks and even credit card companies, and pulls back information as to the value (or amount owed, in the case of creditors) every 24 hours for every customer. This work is automatic and done each day online by robotic savant computers.

Before what we use now, we looked at the Office Edition of Morningstar’s Advisor Workstation, but found that it required laborious data entry and still didn’t provide much in the way of living benefit reporting, and the results were hypothetical, not actual. (I still use Advisor Workstation, but not the Office Edition. Any edition of AW is superb for portfolio work.)

This new aggregator we’ve begun using helps us to update customer spreadsheets, where we add information about returns and living benefits. We send these out monthly by e-mail. For years, we had no aggregator and simply did our own spreadsheets by gathering data online. The new system is faster — we have all the values, or most of them, each day, but we still must add information on living benefits for annuities and plug-in the average returns.