Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Create HTML forms from JavaScript objects: Metawidget 4.2

Version 4.2 of Metawidget, the library for creating HTML forms from JavaScript objects is now available!

This release was focused on:
  • Improved PrimeFaces support
  • HeadingTagLayoutDecorator supports starting level
  • DivLayoutDecorator supports styleClass
  • Improved AngularJS support
  • prepend/append InspectionResultProcessors/WidgetProcessors can now be done without an array (JavaScript Metawidget)
  • Bug fixes, documentation and unit tests
As always, the best place to start is the Reference Documentation:


Your continued feedback is invaluable to us. Please download it and let us know what you think.

Monday, November 16, 2015

I've Written A Children's Book!

In a move inspired by...

  • having read hundreds of bedtime stories to my kids over the years
  • wanting to teach them about the exciting new world of self-publishing
  • because I love hobbies

...I've written a children's book!

This is not, as you'll be able to tell from the title, a serious treatise on anything. But it's been beautifully illustrated by Gaspar Sabater and is exactly the kind of increasingly silly story that my kids love.

Both print and Kindle versions are available on Amazon, just in time for Christmas! So if you have little people in your life and are looking for something different, please check it out. Here are some sample images from inside the book. You can preview the story itself using Amazon's Look Inside feature:

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Wealth Projector Licensee Wins NSW Adviser of the Year

Congratulations to Wealth Projector licensee Announcer Financial Planning, winner of the Association of Financial Advisers NSW Practice of the Year. Great job guys!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Citi Mobile Challenge Asia Pacific 2015

We had a great time presenting Wealth Projector at the Citi Mobile Challenge Asia Pacific 2015 in Sydney.

Wealth Projector was selected to be among the top 75 finalists from more than 2,000 entrants. Final judging will be in December.

Our thanks to the judges, Citi, and the FinTech community for hosting such an awesome event!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Wealth Projector: Finalist for Citi Mobile Challenge Asia Pacific

Wealth Projector has been selected as a finalist for Citi Mobile Challenge Asia Pacific 2015.

Citi Mobile Challenge is a next-generation accelerator that combines a virtual hackathon with an incubator, a worldwide network of FinTech experts and Citi's unparalleled global sponsors and clients to discover solutions across more than 100 markets.

The inaugural Asia Pacific Challenge has received record-breaking participations with 1,900 registrations from 376 cities. As a finalist, Wealth Projector is among the top submissions out of the hundreds that Citi reviewed.

"We're excited to have been selected as a finalist at this global competition, and humbled to be joining Citi's ecosystem of innovative FinTech developers and leading technology sponsors" said Tim Woodhouse, CEO of Wealth Projector.

Wealth Projector will now join Citi and FinTech thought leaders at the Demo Day event in Sydney on November 10th.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Wealth Projector: Focus Group

We recently showed Wealth Projector to a select group of finance enthusiasts, and wanted to share some of the feedback we received:

We asked: what was great?

  • "The nuggets of insight are fantastic! (e.g. based on your weekly rent, that's the equivalent of a $430K mortgage). They seem to straddle the line nicely between personalised information and insight, but without offering recommendations, advice or flogging a product"
  • "Great fun - easy to use"
  • "Fun"
  • "Friendly user interface processing speed of inputs and the depth of information provided was really good"
  • "It is interactive and fun"
  • "Simplicity"
  • "Looks great. Still going through the actual data and information. The family timeline and important dates section is a great idea"
  • "It was intuitive and fun. Plenty of visual feedback"
  • "With a few clicks of a button you get a whole bunch of fairly relevant information in regard to a lot of different areas of your life that you may not generally comprehend or overlook when assessing your financial stability in both short and long-term"
  • "Easy to use, helpful to see if I was on the right track"
  • "Quality and icons"
  • "Really detailed and provides a great consolidated picture of where you're at financially. Pulling in data from ABS, property industry etc is also a great feature"

We asked: what needs improvement?

  • "The UI seemed a little 'mickey mouse' and childish given that you're entering financial data and talking about 'heavy' topics like retirement etc. Nonetheless, this was a nice improvement on swathes of open text form fields"
  • "Couldn't work out how to adjust my retirement income - I won't need as much then as I do now..."
  • "HECs debt with CPI calculator in loan section"
  • "The Excel spreadsheet lacks the polish the rest of it has"
  • "Graphics are great but the animation could be slicker. Some elements seemed a bit stiff, like dropping an item"
  • "A little harder on a mobile but still good"
  • "Transition to start using icons needs to be a little more obvious. Also preview wealth report drops in a little too early"
  • "Some user experience issues. Anytime I slid the indicator across to complete a section, a login box came up. This is a turn off. Ideally you should only force a login at the end. Allowing people to Preview their report before completing everything is a distraction. Once I did, I lost where I was at in the process. When you drag and drop items, you should group them in the centre circle in various categories (eg My Liabilities, etc). You should also label them - eg Parramatta home, City investment property, etc. Currently there's just a lot of icons all over the place"

Thanks to everyone who took part. We're delighted with the answers to 'what was great', and rest assured we'll be working on 'what needs improvement' over the coming weeks!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Wealth Projector: Gamified and Holistic

We can sum up Wealth Projector's unique selling point in three words: Wealth Projector is gamified and holistic:

1. Gamified

We've gamified the Fact Find! We've applied many of the core tenets of games and gamification to the traditional financial services process of information gathering. Specifically:

  • Fun: our User Interface (UI) is heavy on cartoons, graphics and colours, and low on text
  • Self-expression: our drag-and-drop UI allows users to layout a picture of their family, arranging aspects of their lives in a way that resonates with them. The visual motif they create is used throughout the game and the Wealth Report to create an emotive connection
  • Nonlinearity: the user is guided, but not forced, into the order they complete the game. They can take their own path, focusing on their own priorities
  • Rewards: the user is prompted only for small, manageable pieces of information at a time, then continually rewarded by unlocking extra pages of their Wealth Report
  • Achievement: the user is encouraged to reach 100% completion, and rewarded with a final PDF of their work and additional bonus spreadsheet of their projections

2. Holistic

We've overturned the traditional separation of financial services calculators! In fact, the user isn't even aware they're using a calculator at all. We take as much or as little information as the user has entered so far (remember, the user gets to preview their growing report at any time) and automatically apply thousands of calculations. Often, these calculations interact in subtle ways that traditional approaches fail at. For example:

  • Combine home equity redraw with mortgage rates: we'll automatically determine the equity in the user's home, allow them to redraw it, and automatically project how that increases their mortgage repayments
  • Combine super projections with TTR: we'll automatically begin Transition to Retirement (TTR) at 55, and project how that impacts the user's superannuation
  • Combine income with negative gearing: we'll automatically apply any negatively-geared tax rebates
  • Combine savings with Age Pension: we'll automatically apply the Age Pension Income and Asset Test, and project the user's Age Pension each year
  • Interleave family ages: we'll automatically consider the difference in the user's age, their partner and their children. We'll project how this affects the different years in which their super's mature, life expectancy, school fees, and more
  • Project the variables: we let the user explore variations involving parental leave, casual jobs in retirement, mortgage rate increases, inheritance, and many more!
Together, Wealth Projector's gamified and holistic approach delivers a unique, game-changing product that makes a real difference to the financial literacy of everyday Australians.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Wealth Projector: Death by Assumptions

The financial services industry is big on listing assumptions. Take, for example, a simple Income Tax Calculator. This calculator calculates income tax, given employment income and other taxable income. It explictly ignores several factors, which it lists at the bottom under Assumptions.

There are several good reasons for listing assumptions: it avoids misleading the client; it makes the calculations reproducible; and it disclaims liability. However such refrains miss a very important point. Take, for example, this assumption from the calculator above:

"The calculations do not include rebates and tax offsets that may lower the tax you pay"

This is the typical formulation. A less charitable way of writing the same statement would be:

"If your income includes any rebates or tax offsets, this calculator is not meaningful for you"

For example, if some portion of a person's income comes from a negatively-geared investment property, this calculator is simply no good to them. We tend to treat assumptions as disclaimers, but assumptions are weaknesses: every assumption a calculator makes is effectively saying 'this calculator is not useful for anybody that doesn't fit this assumption'. And given how many assumptions are often listed, this can exclude a lot of people.

As an industry, we should strive to minimise the amount we assume. In doing so, we maximise our usefulness. This requires a holistic approach to financial calculations, considering as many diverse aspects of a person's life as possible, in order to be truly meaningful.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Wealth Projector: Holistic Financial Education

Young Australians looking to map their financial future face a serious gap in financial education. To illustrate, consider the following scenario:

"Tim is renting a unit with girlfriend Jane. They are looking to buy their first home, and start a family. Can they afford it?"

Answering this question is surprisingly difficult. Consider the factors involved:

  1. Once Tim and Jane decide the value of home they wish to buy, they can calculate their mortgage repayments. But this is not simply an additional expense, since they are already renting and can stop rental payments once they move. It is important for Tim and Jane to know, given their current rent, what their equivalent mortgage already is.
  2. Not all property expenses can be borrowed. Tim and Jane will need an upfront deposit, as well as stamp duty costs.
  3. Tim and Jane are at the start of a long financial journey. They can expect many new costs ahead of them: child care, schooling, renovations, and more. All these expenses will come during the life of the mortgage they are about to take on.
  4. Redirecting savings from cash into a home has implications for their pension, since the family home is not considered part of the Asset Test. Given this, how much pension will Tim and Jane receive?

Factor number 3 is particularly important, since by the time Tim and Jane are in their most expensive years, it will be too late to change their mind if they find they cannot keep up with expenses. They need to know now, before they buy their new home, how things may look in 15 or 20 years time.

Unfortunately, existing education tools are not sufficient to help. Existing financial tools are separate, not holistic. It is unrealistic to expect Tim and Jane to combine tools to calculate equivalent mortgage, tools to project how many years to repayment, and tools to estimate pension income, in order to build a meaningful picture for themselves. As Steven Ciobo, Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, observes in the ASIC National Financial Literacy Strategy 2014-17:

"Being able to confidently navigate the financial landscape and make good decisions about money are core life skills every Australian needs. Improved financial literacy can benefit anyone, regardless of age or income. Being able to make the most of your money, manage financial risks and avoid financial pitfalls can have a positive impact on the financial wellbeing of individuals, families and communities."

Australians need holistic financial education that can project their whole wealth picture over the course of their life. Only then can we expect to improve the financial literacy of everyday Australians.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Wealth Projector: The Whole Is (Much) More Than The Sum Of Its Parts

There remains a serious gap in the financial tools available to Australians. To illustrate, consider the following scenario:

"Tim and Jane have a home, mortgage, and growing family. They would like to renovate their home to add room for their new child. They would also like to send their two children to private school one day. Can they afford it?"

This question is remarkably hard to answer. Some of the factors to consider:

  1. Tim and Jane will need to draw into the equity in their home to fund renovations. But how much equity do they have? What year did they buy the home, what is their current mortgage amount, and what is their suburb growth rate?
  2. Drawing into home equity will increase their mortgage repayments. It will push out the age at which they can expect to have paid off their mortage. So what is this new age? And how much are these new repayments?
  3. The lifetime of their new mortgage will encompass their children's schooling. So in the toughest years, when both children are at private school and they are still paying the mortgage, will they be able to keep up with expenses?
  4. If the mortgage repayments extend into their late 50's, will taking advantage of TTR help them?

Factor number 3 is particularly important, because by the time Tim and Jane are in their toughest years it will be too late to change their mind. Tim and Jane need to know now, before they start renovations, how things may look in 5 or 10 years time.

Unfortunately, the existing landscape of financial education tools in Australia does little to help. Yes there are web sites that can look up suburb growth rates, there are sites that can project mortgage repayments, and there are sites that can explore TTR. But it is unrealistic to expect Tim and Jane to combine all these calculations to answer their basic question. Many of the formulas involved interact in subtle ways. And it is easy to posit additional, complicating factors such as: what if Jane wants to stop working for a few years to spend time with her young family? What if Tim wants to pay for professional training courses, and ultimately increase his salary? What if they can expect inheritance one day?

The current gap in financial tools means that many Australians simply have to jump in and hope for the best. As Joshua Corrigan and Wade Matterson, from the Institute of Actuaries of Australia, observe in their paper A Holistic Framework for Lifecycle Financial Planning:

"Current illustration tools are inadequate for helping to make [decisions about the future]... Not only will more sophisticated advisor tools, illustrations, and calculators help to demonstrate value-adding analysis and advice, but the incorporation of such tools within a holistic financial planning framework will help to develop long-term relationships... Technology systems will have a major role to play in helping advisors and consumers to understand and analyse sophisticated [financial] products"

Only by having tools that can consider the whole of a family's wealth and dreams holistically, can we expect to improve the financial literacy of everyday Australians.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Wealth Projector: To TTR Or Not To TTR?

Transition to Retirement (TTR) is a strategy whereby individuals (who meet certain criteria) can draw down portions of their superannuation savings (up to 10% per year) before they reach retirement age.

There are several reasons a person may want to do this. Firstly, they may want to reduce their working hours in order to enjoy more leisure time. They can use the drawdown from their super to 'top up' the salaried income they lose. Another popular, if counter-intuitive, idea is to take the money drawn down from super and immediately reinvest it back into super. Because of various tax rules, this can actually increase overall income. In a third scenario, a person may elect to take their drawn down superannuation and use it to accelerate their mortgage repayments.

Which of these scenarios is most appropriate for an individual depends on a number of factors. For example, most commenators would recommend against using TTR to repay your mortage if you have other, more pressing, debts such as credit cards:

"if your mortgage interest rate is 6 per cent and your credit card interest rate is 16 per cent, it simply makes sense to pay off the debt with the highest interest rate".

Equally, in some cases having a mortgage can actually be beneficial, such as a negatively-geared investment property. Other commenators point out repaying mortgages using TTR "may mean missing out on potential capital growth and high earnings if markets were to perform strongly". Finally, assuming no health problems, it may make sense to hold off on TTR and wait until you can access all of your superannuation tax-free at retirement.

In many ways, using TTR to pay down a mortgage is the most conservative, risk-adverse choice. Assuming you don't already have worse debts (i.e. credit cards), the other reasons for not paying down a mortgage revolve around trying to make better returns elsewhere. Investing in rental properties, betting on market returns, and betting on medium-term health, are inherently riskier to varying degrees.

Ultimately there's not a clear answer as to whether a person should adopt TTR or not.

Where there is a clear answer, however, is whether a person should be educated about TTR. It's been observed that fewer than 40% of Australians have sought financial advice. This has serious implications for the adoption of TTR, which is not as widespread as it could be. For such an important, and potentially beneficial strategy, TTR is under utilised.

No long-term wealth projection would be complete without considering TTR. For financial planners, having TTR front-and-centre in an educational tool is an excellent conversation starter, whether a person ultimately adopts it or not.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Wealth Projector: The Problem with Retirement Calculators

As the Australian Centre for Financial Studies notes, in their white paper Measuring Retirement Savings Adequacy in Australia, it's an ongoing problem "how to best assess the adequacy of retirement savings during the pre-retirement years". In particular they note the importance of:

"the relative expected contributions of the various pillars of retirement income (compulsory superannuation contributions, voluntary superannuation contributions, the Age Pension and voluntary savings)".

They find that "ignoring the last of these pillars is a significant omission". Put simply, many traditional financial calculators are too simplistic in their approach.

Consider, for example, projecting how much superannuation a client will have at retirement. Many traditional calculators simply take the current balance plus contributions (and less fees), and compound it over the client's working life.

But what if the client has a partner? Clearly their family's 'superannuation at retirement' should include their partner's super. However we cannot just take the client's balance at retirement, and their partner's balance, and add them together. Because what if their partner retires a few years before them, and has therefore drawn into some super by the time the client retires? Or if their partner retires a few years later, such that the partner's portion of super cannot be unlocked at the client's retirement age? Such overlaps quickly complicate the 'balance at retirement' calculation.

Equally, many calculators project 'required superannuation' by simply dividing the balance at retirement over the next 20-25 years, plus a little growth. But this misses the client's other income streams, such as the Age Pension, rental income or income from shares ("a significant omission"). Further complicating the issue is that these income streams may vary over time. For example the Age Pension Asset Test will be affected as the client gradually depletes their super or share portfolio.

One can easily posit further factors which significantly affect wealth projections, such as: adopting a Transition To Retirement strategy; taking up a casual job in retirement; selling existing assets; redrawing into home equity; receiving inheritance income; and many more.

In summary: it is overly simplistic, and potentially misleading, to consider any aspect of a client's wealth in isolation. Only by considering a complete, holistic picture of a client's wealth future can we offer meaningful and long-term assistance.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Wealth Projector: Print Ads

Here's a sneak peek at the Wealth Projector print ads we're going to be running in newspapers soon. Exciting!


Wealth Projector is a fast, fun way to understand your current wealth position and see what your future looks like.

Drag icons into the circle to refect your family situation. The more icons you drag, the more pages appear in your personalised Wealth Report. Preview your report as you go to see how it’s shaping up. When finished, download your report to discuss with your family or take to a financial adviser.

Once you’ve got a handle on your current wealth, drag icons to explore future goals. Can you afford that new home? Willl your income cover those private school fees? Are you on track for retirement?

Wealth Projector makes it easy to find out!


  • A fully personalised Wealth Report based on your family and goals
  • An estimate of the equity available in your home and other assets
  • A breakdown of your income, expenses and cashfow
  • A comparison of your overall net worth to other Australians
  • Future projections showing whether you can afford your goals
  • Calculations on how much pension you will receive
  • And much more...



Friday, May 22, 2015

Wealth Projector

We're exciting to be launching our latest project Wealth Projector this week!

Wealth Projector is an amazing website that helps Australians understand their current finances and project scenarios for their future!

Know where you stand

Wealth Projector is a one-stop shop for understanding your financial situation. We'll crunch the numbers on what your home is worth, how much tax you pay, what your insurance needs are, and more. We'll give you a single, overall picture of your finances.

Project your future

Use Wealth Projector's industry-leading modelling to explore multiple scenarios for your future. Can you afford that new home? Do you have enough for those renovations? Will private school fees push you into the red? Are you ready for retirement? How much pension will you receive?

Let us do the math

Other sites ask you to fill out lots of different calculators: superannuation calculators, mortgage calculators, pension calculators. With Wealth Projector's integrated approach, fill out your information once and we'll apply all appropriate calculators to fit your life.

Secure and private

Wealth Projector is anonymous: enter nicknames instead of real names, suburbs instead of street addresses, ages instead of Dates of Birth. If you do choose to enter personal information, rest assured we'll encrypt it using industry standard security.

Immediate response

Wealth Projector delivers your personalised report immediately. There's no waiting around. In fact, Wealth Projector lets you preview how your report is shaping up before you've finished filling out your information. Watch how your report grows!

Want to take it for a spin? Visit Wealth Projector and use the coupon code LINKEDIN

Monday, March 2, 2015

Metawidget on Air

I was excited to be a guest on the latest episode of the JavaScript Jabber podcast. The panel had a wide-ranging discussion on Object Interface Mapping (OIM) technologies, different implementations and frameworks.

My thanks to the panel, Charles Max Wood and AJ O'Neal, and the other guests, David Luecke and Geraint Luff. You can download the episode here:


Friday, February 20, 2015

Create HTML forms from JavaScript objects: Metawidget 4.1

Version 4.1 of Metawidget, the library for creating HTML forms from JavaScript objects is now available!

This release was focused on:
  • JQuery Mobile layout improvements (suppressDivAroundLabel, suppressDivAroundWidget)
  • Improved support for JQuery Mobile overridden widgets
  • Top-level styleClass (JavaScript Metawidget)
  • Fix recursive save on Web Components
  • Bootstrap improvements (wrapInsideLabels, wrapWithExtraDiv)
  • Support table footers in HtmlWidgetBuilder (JavaScript Metawidget)
  • Windows Mobile Internet Explorer compatibility
  • Bug fixes, documentation and unit tests
As always, the best place to start is the Reference Documentation:


Your continued feedback is invaluable to us. Please download it and let us know what you think.

Friday, February 13, 2015

JavaScript Form Generator: from Java EE to Bootstrap 3 (Part 2)

I was recently asked to extend one of my previous blog posts with the ability to inspect nested, annotation-based, Java EE back-end domain objects using a JavaScript, Bootstrap 3 front-end.

Metawidget generates widgets for domain object properties using a five-stage pipeline, specifically WidgetBuilders. There are WidgetBuilders for creating text boxes for string types, number inputs for number types, and so on. However whenever Metawidget encounters a property that its WidgetBuilders don't have a widget for, it creates a nested Metawidget and starts the pipeline process all over again:

The nested Metawidget shares the same pipeline objects as the outer Metawidget (i.e. same Inspectors, WidgetBuilders, etc). This makes nested Metawidgets very lightweight and performant. However it also means the Inspectors must be aware they can be used in multiple modes: in 'top-level' mode, and in 'nested mode'.

Inspectors can tell the difference because of the names array they're passed. In nested mode, the names array will be populated with a path of sub-properties to traverse. It's important the Inspectors honour this.

Back to our Java EE example. We'll expect two back-end REST schema calls: one for /rest/schema/person and one for /rest/schema/person/address. Clearly the back-end must also be expecting this and return different schemas for each (we recommend using client-side expiry headers on REST-based schemas: schemas don't change very often, and you can increase the performance of your UI by not making calls unnecessarily).

I've put together a complete example you can download here.

Of course, you may find multiple REST calls unacceptable for your use-case. Another approach would be to have your REST service return a JSON schema containing all your nested schemas at once. Then use metawidget.inspector.JsonSchemaInspector to inspect it. JsonSchemaInspector includes the ability to automatically traverse nested schemas, based on the names array.