Mostly Money

93: Obolx - A visual timeline of your family's life planning

March 29, 2021 Preet Banerjee
Mostly Money
93: Obolx - A visual timeline of your family's life planning
Chapters
Mostly Money
93: Obolx - A visual timeline of your family's life planning
Mar 29, 2021
Preet Banerjee

Michael Meyer is the founder of Obolx.com - an app that helps you visualize your personal goals alongside your financial and health milestones for your entire family. Powered by AI, and using a stacked timeline visualization, it promises to help you conceptualize your life and your most valuable asset: time.

Website: https://www.obolx.com/

Show Notes Transcript

Michael Meyer is the founder of Obolx.com - an app that helps you visualize your personal goals alongside your financial and health milestones for your entire family. Powered by AI, and using a stacked timeline visualization, it promises to help you conceptualize your life and your most valuable asset: time.

Website: https://www.obolx.com/

Michael Meyer:

You probably know your parents you've seen or your parents friends, where one of them is going through a very different kind of health cycle at retirement than the other one. And it creates issues with housing, it creates issues with planning in terms of financial planning, travel, because a lot of people want to do a lot of traveling at that time. And then one partner is in this different thing. And, and it's really is fascinating, because you can see these things, you can see them you can project them out from now.

Preet Banerjee:

Do you have trouble conceptualizing what your finances look like over your lifetime? For many people and acid accumulation and decumulation graph might just be too abstract. And for most people, money is a tool that helps us tell us what is possible in our lives. And our lives are certainly about more than just money. On today's show, I'm going to be speaking with the founder of a new service that tries to visualize your whole life, and not just your life, but your kids lives. And your parents lives too, all in one place. But we think about planning differently, or with more conviction. If we can see what year we might be expected to have kids. Or if we're going to retire while we still have a mortgage and those kids are still in school. What might our help feeling? Well, this new startup is trying to help visualize those considerations, and more. This is mostly money. And I'm your host Preet Banerjee, and on the show today I'll be speaking with Michael Meyer, he's the founder of a company called oplex, which is a cloud based life planning app. It visualizes not only your financial milestones in life, but also your health, major life events and your personal goals. using artificial intelligence, it will help you visually map out and predict things like when you will have kids, when your kids will have kids, when you when your kids will graduate, if they'll be in post secondary school while you still have a mortgage. And we're hoping to retire and more Michael, welcome to the show. Hello, thanks

Michael Meyer:

for having me.

Preet Banerjee:

Very interesting piece of software. And this was brought to my attention by my friend Bruce salary, because I think you were a guest on his Sirius XM Satellite Radio Show. And he said you need to talk to Michael Meyer, about this app that he's brought out. And so when Bruce asks, I listen. So it's a pleasure to have you here, and is wondering if we can get right down to brass tacks Give me the elevator pitch on what oplex is? Well, I

Michael Meyer:

think you actually did a great job in the intro. So thank you, thank you so much. That That really is is what we do, we take your basic demographic data of yourself and your family members. And we create what is a stack timeline. And on that timeline, we we project all of the kind of data points that we have general population data, and we kind of create a view of the future for you, then we allow you to, to fill in the blanks as it were, and add in your own goals or things that you'd like to achieve. And then we start to overlay on top of that some of your financial information, health data, and what we start to quickly see is we get these interesting intersections, now when these overlaps happen, you kind of can come away with some, some, some learning and some, some some ideas of what's going to happen, what's coming down the pipe for you. And and it kind of gives you both a way to visualize it and kind of take control of the future. And it really makes planning, you know, it takes it out of a, you know, a sheet and a simple, you know, growth chart, which is, you know, we've all seen those and it's kind of how do we personalize data, that's a big part of it, you know, how do we kind of make this a little bit more relevant to ourselves, and also our family members. Because, you know, as people, we are able to have a, you know, we're kind of, we've evolved to, to, to, to be in the here and now and to survive, and, you know, these immediate needs, make sure those are taken care of. And as, as we get forward into the future, we have some trouble even visualizing our own future. But when you ask us to, okay, let's overlay your partner and overlay your, your kids and even your parents, you know, plotting my parents health in there is is helpful. It really it becomes something that's very hard for us to do without some assistance. And so I think that's what we try to do and it's and really a computer that it's, you know, technology is good for some things and not it's technology is really great at taking a ton of data and making it user friendly. And I think that's what we're really trying to achieve and then at the end users is somebody who can now walk away without and kind of say okay here's what it looks like and here's what i can do about it if i want to

Preet Banerjee:

you were kind of to give me a demo a couple of weeks ago and it's sort of hard in in an audio format to really describe the visualization of the data and i think that is kind of where it'll make a lot more sense some of the things that we talk about because it is if i recall correctly it was a couple of weeks ago it's kind of like a giant timeline and overlaid on this timeline there are different phases of life not only your own life other members of your family as well will be put onto this time it's not just one line as a couple of lines but and you can very quickly see the overlaps in different people's different phases of life and it's just a different way to sort of have this holistic big picture view of kind of like your family and not just an individual but to your point right you have the accumulation phase you retire and then you've got the d cumulation phase and as they say you know you you accumulate till you get to zero you write your last check it bounces and then you die right it's very easy

Michael Meyer:

if you do it right yes

Preet Banerjee:

depending on your goal right there's some people say i don't want to leave anything to anyone right other people want to leave a legacy but but that's essentially what it looks like and this is quite different so okay let's let's go through some some basics now is it is this live now

Michael Meyer:

yes it is absolutely you go in and you the onboarding process is essentially what asks you the questions in terms of your you know the year you are born the sex and the country you come from and it does that for yourself and your partner and your children and your parents you know you can add them in and the reason those things matter is because you know just even within canada males and females have different life expectancies and different healthy life expectancies and we use that then we stack those those timelines together to create what you see when you when you when you get into the app and then similar to you know it's often been described as kind of editing software so when you see visual editing software for songs or for for video editing software so you see these kind of these lines at the bottom and you can kind of then add to them so you can simply add notes you can add milestones and you can start creating things like you know education goals family planning goals fitness goals and then layer that data over over this so so i think i think you made an interesting point earlier where you're talking about the traditional line of you know here's my retirement savings going up and then it comes down we do that so that's projected but it's actually overlaid over your family so you can see okay at this timeline when i reached my peak what's happening with with my partner what's happening with my kids what's happened to my parents at that point and for me that was really interesting you know i'll my partner's a little bit younger than myself but also women aged differently than men so so we right away when i did this for myself and this is just using general publish i immediately thought you know what i'm going to i'm going to to have my healthy lifespan i'm going to hit that before her retirement age and this has really made me think okay we've got to have a conversation about this and then i think i think you know you probably know your parents you've seen or your parents friends where one of them is going through a very different kind of health cycle at retirement than the other one and it creates issues with housing it creates issues with planning in terms of financial planning travel because a lot of people want to do a lot of traveling at that time and then one partner is in this different thing and and it's really is fascinating because you can see these things you can see them you can project them out from now you know it's really is and those those overlays i think are what's revealing beyond just okay if you you know you save this much per month and then you withdraw this much per month you don't have a frame of reference for that and i think what we do is we try to give you that and so it's a much richer plan a much richer view that you can take away

Preet Banerjee:

what i want to sort of like draw a comparison to and get your perspective on this is to traditional sort of financial planning projections and software so we've heard this phrase that you know time is money and i would say that financial planning software is money centric but your planning perspective seems to be more time centric in a way in other words like while money is a factor that impacts life enjoyment or misery, you know, when we retire, what retirement looks like based on how much it will cost and so on. It's all very sort of money centric in the way that traditional planning software takes a look at it. But looking at it through a lens of time centricity and having everything sorted based on time, you are essentially saying, Listen, time is an asset that needs to be sort of allocated over a lifetime. And qualitatively, just spending 20 years in retirement isn't really deep enough, you need to think about, what does that time look like in retirement? Is it going to be? Am I going to be healthy, but my partner is not or vice versa? So and I think I saw this on the website, you say that, you know, time is our single biggest asset? So is it fair to say that this is not necessarily something that should necessarily replace, you know, a traditional financial plan, but it is maybe a more palatable perspective for people to take a look at all those factors that, you know, I think a really good financial planner takes into account like your health, and what do you want to do? And what are your goals? What is your perspective on how this compares to traditional financial planning software?

Michael Meyer:

Well, well, I think I, first of all, I do agree that that is on this site, and that is my kind of core philosophy, in terms of that time is your most valuable asset. And I would say that, you know, if you look at, fortunately, the people who have a house and have a retirement savings account, generally are the people who have enough money to get through this and do what they want, and you spoke about it, it's more, it becomes more an issue of what your goals are. Because for the majority of those people they have enough, you know, we're essentially preaching to the choir, they have enough money to to to, to achieve these things. And it's just termination, do you want to spend it all? Or do you want to give some of it away. So I think if you think of this kind of fire movement, which is really the, you know, I think almost if you if you take out retire earlier with you could be a better name, it's financial independence. And that really means to me, and it has been my philosophy through my life is control of my time. So if I have enough money to really be able to control that, that time and do the things that I want to do, I don't, I don't, it's not that I don't want to work, but it's just, I want to be able to have control over my time. I think that's where we see that, that prioritization of time. And I think it's going to change for many people, you know, the idea of working from home, many of these things are just going away from just a simple accumulation of a number two, having control over your time. And the idea of of retirement coming earlier, is something that I think we'll we'll kind of keep working with. And yes, I believe that, you know, traditional, and I'm not, I don't want to be disparaging towards a traditional financial plan, its focus, because it is singular, focused on a person, and it has to be to some extent, on that individual to be effective. And I think I think we can coexist with that, because I think, you know, within this software, we're able to accumulate different, you know, you can plug in your, your mortgage, if it's at a different institution, you can you can, you can kind of bring in your different financial information. But I think you're able to, to take a larger view of it than something that's just individual, what's at this, what's at this institution, that that is generally limited to a way that that, as you said, is entirely financial. But I think I think there is, you know, we know, there are different levels of that planning, you can go somewhere and you can get a more sophisticated plan, you can pay for a an advice, only life plan, which I think is is a is a valuable, something going to go and do. So I think we can coexist with with with these these different types of financial planning. And I think I think it's something that is portable. And what I like about it is that it's dynamic, it can kind of keep being updated with with different information. You know, when we have some of your health information here, let's say that's something that financial institutions don't want to essentially keep. And, and I see it as more of a, you know, a way to funnel and kind of keep these different pools of information and get them in a way that that creates a forecast, forecast becomes better with more data. And so I think that the more places that we can take data from that are you that's your data that you can control, we can create a richer forecast for you. And part of the other part of our goal is to not take any data from you that we can't use to generate a valuable forecast. So if I say to you, you know, Do this quiz or or enter this information. It's only so that we can give you a projection. It's not just simply to collect the information. And I think

Preet Banerjee:

you're not going to ask my my doctor's office for my blood work, or you

Michael Meyer:

know, no. And I mean, in terms in terms of in terms of the quiz, one of the things that we generate, as we go through and we do a health quiz, you're able to calculate your biological age, you're able to calculate your, your actual, we start with general population data, and then we get down to individual data, which is your, what is actually your life expectancy. And then we Furthermore, we go into something called the Sphinx score, which gives you your survivable sort of probability of survival into the future. So it's taking an actuarial table and saying, you know, based on your answers to the to the health quiz, as we scroll through, and as we look through into your future, this is actually what it what it's what it looks like, for you. So so we can get very specific, but we don't ask you questions unless we can give you a forecast from them. Right?

Preet Banerjee:

Yeah. So let's, let's talk about so now we're opening up Pandora's box a little bit when it comes to the question of data. And so, you know, I was joking about, you know, contacting my doctor's office to get certain data, but you're not pulling health records from anywhere you're ascertaining health information through basically surveys that people can't even put answers, yes,

Michael Meyer:

in the same way that you would do a life insurance quiz to go through and kind of get an idea of what's my, you know, how healthy Am I it's really focused on your BMI, your habits, your dietary habits, your health habits, and then we can get a projection for you of what your what your health looks like. And and for some people, that's valuable. If you don't want that you can just use the general population data. So it's still it still shows you, you know, what I was saying before with me and myself and my partner, wow, just, I'm retiring it x age, because as a woman she's going to be has a longer life expectancy, a longer sorry, healthy life expectancy, and she's younger than me, it really kind of throws this this last decade off, you know. So it's up to you, I think it's still valuable in a general population sense. But if you want to get kind of deeper into it, you can. Same thing with the financial information as much financial information as you want to put in there, you get a better projection from

Preet Banerjee:

the conversation with Michael Meyer from mobile x continues in just a minute. But first, a few thank yous to listeners who left comments on Apple podcasts, Maxie from the Maritimes, who was a longtime listener, and I am the real Jenny, thank you both for taking the time to leave a comment and reading, taking just 30 seconds out of your day. And leaving a rating and or a review on Apple podcasts is much appreciated. And thank you, as always, to everyone who has already left ratings and reviews, I do read them all. ever even more content on my main YouTube channel, I just put up a deep dive into all those buy now pay later apps you're starting to see on e commerce websites, apps like klarna, afterpay, quadpay, paybright, and others are pre the option of splitting your purchases into four equal installments with no interest. But they do come with a cost over and above getting you to spend more than you otherwise would. And if you want to learn more, you can check out that video on my YouTube channel. And now back to the conversation with Michael Meyer from mobile x.com. You talked about different measures of age, you talked about a biological age and life expectancy. And then there's the concept of your chronological age, which is how will you actually are and that differs from your biological age. So can you can you tell me how those would differ and give me an example? Sure.

Michael Meyer:

Well, so you know, if you were born 20 say 20 years not gonna have 30 years ago, you're 30 in chronological age. Now if you go through and you you you answer these questions, in terms of what is your your BMI when I say your BMI, that's your your height and your weight, the relationship to that. What you eat, how how healthy your diet is, how much exercise you do kind of low, medium, high intensity exercise a week, to smoke, you know, the factors that are and the factors that mattered in terms of life insurance, we ask those questions, and let's say those are the things that matter. And the other interesting part about this is those are the things that you can actually control many of them. So it's something that you could kind of come back to in a little while and see, you know, how am I doing with this? Am I getting the output that I want? Can I can I do something to change that? Well,

Preet Banerjee:

this is interesting, because you mentioned that some of the goals that you can put into your, your life plan, like what do you call the progress of the life plan or

Michael Meyer:

your timeline timeline. So,

Preet Banerjee:

one of the goals you mentioned that you could factor into your timeline is health goal. So, so give me an example. So let's say that I fill this, this survey out, and it says, alright, well, your chronological age is 43, your biological age is 50. Because you drink your smoke, you're a couch potato, whatever, then can I go on and say, all right, well, I've got a health goal to you know, get my BMI down to x or whatever. And then I go back, and I say, All right here, here's my updated information. Now is my biological age, you know, creeping down towards my chronological age and hopefully getting younger, is that something that that people would, is that a use case for this? Absolutely.

Michael Meyer:

I mean, so what we would do, I would suggest that you do is, is go through it, you know, in another six months and say, you know, you can see as you go through this quiz, and to be honest, this, this was one of the, you know, we're jumping out of it. But this was one of the things that happened to me why I decided to do this. I went and got life insurance when my when my son was born, and then when he turned 10, I had to renew it. Okay, so I had to go through this whole thing again, I had to go through a quiz. And then, you know, they do the quiz. And then they verify it. So they come out and they take your blood work actually measured my height, and then they get you on a scale. So you know, you can you can write that whatever you want on a piece of paper, but they'll come and verify it. So I when I did that, something went off in my head, while I think you know, my wife is actually an actuary as well. So I have an idea of what's what the calculation I know, I picked, you

Preet Banerjee:

know why she picked? You mentioned the age gap. She's an actuary. Smart.

Michael Meyer:

She Yeah. So, so so i think i think i want to say, you know, what, I they're essentially pricing me and I want to understand that right? I want to understand I want that information. And I think I think that goes for many things. There's many ways our data is collected projections are done on us by companies. And we don't necessarily get the benefit of that projection. Right? So I'd like to turn that around. I like to say, Okay, I'm interested in forecasting, I studied commerce, I, you know, I studied to be an analyst, I really am interested in the future What, what, what the data tells us what, what can we project from that? And so that's why I thought, okay, they know now a whole bunch of things about my future, because I've gone through this quite extensive quiz. And they did do blood work if you know, insurance, right. So so you know that we're not going to that stage or that level of it. But we can tell you a whole bunch of things about your future, just from these algorithms. Right. And to me, that's, I want to know that, you know, I think it's I think it's useful. And it's helpful to me, you know, in terms of understanding what are my constraints, again, time, we talked about timeslot? It's a constraint. But it's a valuable constraint. Because if I didn't understand this, I would, I would kind of assume you, you touched on appreciate earlier, this just linear projection of the next 20 years. Well, the next 20 years, every year is not as valuable, they're not equally valuable, you know, to me, right, some of them are going to be much better. And so understanding that and prioritizing those effectively, I think is really important and is a useful exercise. Right?

Preet Banerjee:

I want to ask you about sort of the business model for people who are listening to thinking Alright, I want to take a look at this and kick the tires a little bit. So first off, this is a b2c offering. So this is not necessarily directed at planners to use this with clients, although they could I imagine. But this is primarily a b2c offering. And what is the cost? So if someone wants to go to the website and say, Alright, I'm sold, I want to see what my timeline looks like, with all these different dimensions, what's the cost,

Michael Meyer:

it is free to use. So we are we have launched and, and it is free, free to use. I think, in the in the future, there will be a maybe some recommendations that we could make in terms of financial products or health products or things like that. But we are it's a free planning tool that allows you to kind of get this projection. And then basically, I like, you know, it's one thing to take this and see what this future looks like, but then to help people to actually act towards a better future. And that I think would be the be the next stage of what we can do. How can we make this actually something better for you and that's what i think we will do and i think there are financial products that we could we could bring in and partner partner with in different different areas but that's not what we're not what we're doing at this at this point so

Preet Banerjee:

so i know a lot of people when they when they hear that a product or an offering is free they say all right well that means that i'm the product now when it comes to launching a business sure certainly one of the models is you know to get scale first you make it free to run at a loss until you get to critical mass and then you monetize later because you need a certain number of people using the platform or you need time to develop alright now that we've established that a lot of people are using this this is now more valuable to these partner agreements so if you were to link up with you know an insurance provider or a robo advisor for the investing component or whatever that is another way for for your business to make money so so you're saying that the cost is free to the consumer and down the road you will look to monetize to generate revenue through the promotion of products that i guess are going to be more tailored right out of the bag to the individual because he knows so much about them

Michael Meyer:

right and i think you know i understand this financial and obviously we're here to talk about financing even even the word life plan is a very kind of has a very financial connotation to people within the industry obviously it means something but what we found is that our users to have different interests and there's the there's the user that's interested in kind of family history so genealogy dna now what is my so we've done a lot of research about our family past what is our family future look like you know they may not care about their mortgage or their retirement savings they just are interested in what is the family the future look like so i think that's an area that we have we have longevity longevity is just such an interesting topic you know you touched on it what can i do to change it so i would really like to see that prioritize is something that that we go down and we develop you know we can't go and develop every you know every every feature from from day one but we see when people are interested in something we can kind of go down that path and i think longevity is going to be something that people want to know the good news i would tell you is that from everything that we've done and we've seen it's it is largely within your control it's not as much of a genetic issue that people kind of assume okay am i you know i have some bad genes i inherited this in our family xyz you really through your diet and your exercise are able to do so much and you really have control of that stress sleep now i know these are not easy things to control easy easier said than done but it is within your control so that is good news and then the last part that we have which i think is is also just an interesting group is people who are just are interested in goals life planning you know life coaching without necessarily the financial part of it just how do i achieve the things that i want to achieve so here we're talking about financial planning and that's a that's a component of this but it is it is i would say not the internet it's not the whole picture of what we're talking about here and what people go into and use the software for so i think we'll see how that how that over the next how it plays out in terms of what the users are most keen on i think the other thing that we do have going for us is that when you come in you invite your partner and if you think of a social network you know you know facebook something like that you interact with many people in this you have a it's more like a support network so you interact with your family maybe maybe you interact with an advisor in some capacity but you you and your partner can add to your timeline together so it's something that you can work on independently but you still have your own dashboard that is private in the same way that you know on other social networks i can interact with somebody in this timeline i can drop notes i can create goals i can create events for our family and i can see you know we can look into what our child's education savings looks like our projection savings look like that but i can also still keep some data my own in my own dashboard so that i think is is interesting and we'll see how that plays out as well

Preet Banerjee:

now let's say i was younger let's say i was 20 years old and i come across the website i start to you know build out my my life plan is it going to because i noticed it says it uses artificial intelligence is it going to tell me hey listen you're going to have a child Rather than eight years or statistically, you know, based on your cohorts your age, where you live, I'm going to tell you, you know who your partner is going to be what your kids name is, like how it is, if

Michael Meyer:

you're if you're a female, yes, I mean, we have, we have mean, mean age of childbirth, for every country in the world. So that when you when you say, you know, this is what we can do about grandchildren, we can give you projections on when you're going to have a grandchild. It's really, it's kind of neat. And, and, you know, just also from your, from your grant from your parents to see those overlays quite interesting, right? Like, what what am I What am I? What are what is my mom going to see? What are my in laws going to see, of the graduations, the high school graduations, the University graduation, the first grandchild? You know, it's, it's, it's powerful information, I think, you know, it's out there. There's a whole bunch of interesting things going on with that right now, if we can just kind of jump into that if you're comfortable jumping into that, you know, if you look in the States right now, that's dropped, life expectancy has dropped a year, in the last. So the opioid crisis had had kind of shaved off some, some, you know, months of the, you know, the average lifespan in the US. since World War Two, it has not dropped a year, like it just did. So it just has gone down one year, in Canada, Quebec has been the hardest. And I think Quebec is between four and six months. This last COVID has shaved off our expected life expectancies. So yes, we will be able to give you an updated version of what is happening as it changes. So you know, your health, and then the population data set, you know, what's happening, right? As that gets richer, as more points get in there, you'll be able to make a more accurate, that is a model that is forecasting, you know, one on one, the more data points you have, the more information you have, the richer it becomes. And I think like I said, for me, I see that as a as a way to to make the hearing now more important, and to help people prioritizing and do things in a way that allows them to actually achieve their goals, you know, so I think there's, that's a real benefit.

Preet Banerjee:

I think one of the things that you just talked about was one of the things that stood out for me when I was going through the demo with you. And that was the overlapping of things like, knowing how will you be when you're when your kids graduate? And I mean, that's something you could you sort of, like, jot down and figure out, but to see it mapped out, especially when you have multiple generations of family, and you see the interaction. So for example, you know, your your parents being able to see their grandkids, go to school or graduate or something like that, seeing that visually, that was pretty cool. So let's, let's tell people where to go. So we talked about the site, but we didn't talk about the spelling. So at the end of every, at the end of every podcast, every guest gets a bit of a commercial now, this entire podcast has just been about your product. But why don't you tell people where they can go if they want to sort of kick the tires and see if they want to fill in their data?

Michael Meyer:

Great, thanks. Okay, so so the site is called opal x, and that is spelled ob o l x.com. The name is actually a plan opalesque, which was the outside the Egyptian monuments, it was actually outside the pyramids, where the pharaohs were buried. And those look like little rays of sunshine from a child's drawing. So we use that those those obelisks were moved eventually. And they were used as milestones. So we use the kind of double meaning that we want to light up the milestones of your life, and illuminate your future. But again, it's ob o l x.com. And you can go and check it out. And let me know what you think I'd love to hear it.

Preet Banerjee:

And in the last point is it's not Canada specific is it this can be used by anyone, because it's not specific to any one country in terms of people's life plans. 100%.

Michael Meyer:

So we are we have users from around the world. And the other thing is that, you know, even as Canadians even if you are Canadian, you may have a partner who's not from Canada or your father in law or mother in law that's not from Canada. So you want their historic data in there. And that's why we that's why we use that term. That's cool, you know, a global perspective. It's always helpful. Very good.

Preet Banerjee:

All right. Michael, thank you so much for coming on the show and explaining globalex to the listeners looks like some interesting software, certainly something interesting to sort of kick around. If you are interested in learning more about creating your own life plan your timeline, you can go to alexa.com michael thank you for being a guest

Michael Meyer:

thank you so much for having me it was a real pleasure

Preet Banerjee:

if you want more personal finance content or you have questions for me or topic suggestions for the podcast you can follow me on twitter or instagram same handle in both cases at Preet Banerjee also have two youtube channels you can subscribe to my main channel which covers personal finance and investing topics that are global in scope and a canadian specific channel as well that's it for this episode thanks for listening