Meanwhile, Ernst & Young LLP has been hard at work on the very problem identified by Merrill Lynch. It has developed personal financial counseling software. The firm is offering it to companies as a way of assisting their employees in financial planning.

According to an announcement, the program users simply point-and-click on icons to access up to 26 different module selections. Users can quickly compute a long list of commonly asked financial what-ifs such as mortgage rates, loan comparisons, and buy or lease choices.

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