Vorton Financial Tools

by Rick James

Financial wizardry at
a realistic price...

Everybody needs one
What's a Vorton?
Calcs, tools and links...
Quiz the Wiz
The major calcs
The minor calcs
Internet Options
Overall...
Product information

Everybody needs one...

Vorton Financial Tools (VFT) is a suite of personal financial tools designed to help the average person untangle the intrinsic difficulties of money matters ranging from compound interest calculations to mortgage and retirement scenarios spanning decades.

While it's obvious that virtually anyone in today's modern world can benefit from such a package, allow me a moment, before we dive into the deep end, to explain why I'm the perfect reviewer for this product.

First, as resident Windows hack , Windows product reviews are naturally a part of my job. However, it's generally agreed that I'm also the most math-challenged member of the  staff and a notorious non-balancer at bank statement reconciliation time. I'm the guy who literally got down on bended knee and begged for a passing mark in Grade 13 math so I could avoid the horror of the final exam. (Mr. Smith -- who, I understand, retired as principal -- exercised the broadest possible discretion in my case, after being reassured that I would major in the Arts at university.)

Bottom line: If I can do it, you can do it -- and we all have to do it, sooner or later.

o

What is a Vorton ?

Actually, one might more properly ask, 'who are' Vorton? Vorton Technologies is a relatively recent Nepean-based start-up spearheaded by a team of former Corel employees including Vorton President and CEO Trevor McGuire (former Corel General Manager), Executive VP and Chief Technical Officer Tony Davidson (former Executive Director of Corel's Multimedia Division) and VP of Sales Michael Vlugt (former Corel North American Distribution Manager).

Vorton officially opened its doors last year and launched Financial Tools (VFT), its first retail product, this past June 5. With a suggested retail price of just (US)$29.95, this Windows  package deserves serious consideration by anyone who needs to 'extend' their pocket calculator.

o

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Program - "Vorton Financial Tools".

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Calcs, tools and links...

VFT is actually a software platform which houses a collection of five major and ten minor calculator modules along with their respective supporting utilities and extensive online help. A central 'Profile' module shares basic information about you (such as age, salary, assets and debts) with the various modules, as required. You can update your 'Profile' information interactively from within most of the major modules.

The Help system is well organized by button bar 'categories', menus and a conventional Windows Help index. It appears to be well cross-referenced, too. But the most valuable feature that the VFT help resource offers (for non-financial types like me, at any rate) is the comprehensive glossary, listing hundreds of terms and providing simple, comprehensible definitions.

Another thing about the Help system -- it's available at all times, via a distinctive 'Question Mark' button, in all 'live' calculator working windows as well as from the main-screen button bar. The Glossary has its own direct access button on the main screen bar, but you're never more than a couple of clicks away from an explanation wherever you run across an unfamiliar word or phrase. Very comforting.

The other omnipresent aid, available in all live windows, is a calculator button. Nothing fancy, here -- it simply pops up the Windows Calculator on top of your current working window -- but it's indispensible for side calculations when figuring out overall values for insertion in the VFT modules.

Some of the major modules offer sophisticated financial graphing tools which can provide visual representations of the process and final outcomes of various scenarios. The Mortgage Calculator, for instance, produces full-colour bar charts clearly showing how much interest you'll pay under different repayment schemes.

Most charts and tables can be printed out for hard-copy reference and conventional filing.

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Quiz the Wiz

Like many 'native' Windows  applications, VFT features a Wizard designed to walk you through the more complex functions of the five major calculator modules (Loan, Savings, Bonds, Mortgage and Retirement Planning).

The Wizard helps to familiarize the new user with VFT's many functions and acts as a tutorial guide. After a while, when you're more comfortable with VFT, you'll bypass the Wiz and go directly to the module you need.

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The major calcs

The five major (detailed) 'calculator' modules provided in VFT cover the five most common types of transactions and financial planning functions most individuals face.

Every-day calculations such as loan repayments, bond interest and savings accrual are available directly from the main screen button bar, as are more complex functions (equations requiring more input from you and involve many more variables) which model mortgage amortization and retirement savings scenarios.

In each module, you can change values and recalculate at any time and, as I mentioned earlier, you can even access (and monkey with) the 'set' information in your personal 'Profile' if you wish.

Each major calculator module can save the set-up and results of a given scenario for future reference. In fact, each module actually has its own data-file format and file extension, so all your VFT working files can be conveniently stored in the same directory.

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The minor calcs

Along with the major calculator modules, VFT provides a collection of ten minor calculators, 'hard wired' to provide quick answers to basic financial questions with just a few variables.

Available from a floating tool box that's 'always on top' of the VFT main screen, these pop-ups include present and future value of sums and annuities, after-tax yield (with and without inflation), dividend yield and -- perhaps the most interesting and, yet, least encouraging of the functions -- real rate of return on investments (calculating the effect of inflation on interest rates).

You'll probably find yourself popping into VFT frequently to perform quick present/future value and after-tax checks on various financial options that come your way. These minor functions will also support your more-detailed work in some of the major calculator modules.

o

Internet options...

VFT's main-screen button bar also contains an 'Internet' selection which launches the Windows Internet Explorer browser and loads a page of selected financial links. Most of the major banks and financial institutions are represented, along with other relevant resources. When you end your Net session, you go right back to the point where you left off in VFT, which has been running in the background all the while.

Just remember, Explorer will boot and the links page will display anytime you hit the VFT 'Internet' button -- but you're not going any place without a live connection to your ISP!

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Overall...

Vorton describes VFT as 'intuitive' and 'easy to use'. I know, I know -- most other Windows application developers also use those same market-worn expressions to describe their wares, regardless of their actual functionality and 'friendliness'. But in this case, it's true. The well-designed main screen and the largely self-explanatory calculator working windows give VFT a simple, straightforward look and feel and invite the user to jump in and ex-plore its functions. The Wizard makes getting started and learning new modules a breeze.

At (US)$29.95 (probably under (C)$40.00) suggested retail, it's a bargain. The money you could save simply by knowing the true cost impact of various mortgage offerings at your next renewal will probably repay the cost of the VFT package many times over.

Aside from the cold, hard cash advantages, there are also emotional benefits, a certain comfort level, that a package like VFT can provide. If you're at all like me, it's not making the decisions that generates fear and loathing when it comes to dealing with money matters -- it's having confidence in those decisions. Using VFT is like having your own personal financial analyst -- a knowledgeable, objective third party with no agenda of their own that might colour their advice -- to confirm your routine financial decisions.

In fact, in my very first VFT session, I actually worked out a retirement plan. I now have every assurance that, at my present rate of savings, I will finally be able to stop working at the age of 116 (123, adjusted for inflation).

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Product information

Vorton Financial Tools
  • Downloadable file
  • SRP: (US)$29.95
  • Minimum system requirements:
    • 'IBM' ('Wintel') or compatible 486DX2/66 or 'better' PC
    • ANY Windows  operating system 95 or later
    • 8 MB of RAM

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