I believe that financial planning is the key to having peace of mind about your finances.
Having a plan in place helps you stay calmer when markets go haywire. Planning enables you to focus less on what return you’re getting.
Instead, your focus is on your progress towards the goals you set in your plan.
Most people find it refreshing and tell me it helps eliminate worry about what’s happening in the day-to-day ups and downs of the market.
The financial planning process
Every client’s situation is different. Creating a plan is not a one size fits all endeavor. Our first meeting is to take the time to get to know each other and to understand the things that are most important to you.
I want to know what keeps you up at night. Is it worrying about running out of money? Are you strapped with debt (credit card, student loan, cars, etc.) and concerned about how to pay it off? Are you worried about setting up and managing a budget? About how to manage your investments more effectively? Are you afraid you may not have enough money to retire when you want?
We want to clarify and understand all of these things.
It all starts with an introductory call. This is a no obligation 15-minute call to get acquainted. We’ll know at the end of that short time whether it makes sense to go further.
If we mutually decide to do that, we would then start the following process.
See what it’s like to work with me.
Virtual meetings are the most common and most effective way to meet. As such, the discovery meeting is often done on the phone or in an online session.
People often say the discovery meeting is different from anything they’ve done in the past. The time we spend together isn’t about filling out some forms to list your assets and liabilities. It doesn’t involve a 3 to 4 question risk tolerance questionnaire that supposedly determines your capacity for risk.
Here are a few of the things we will discuss.
- Why is money essential to you? That may seem obvious and counterintuitive. You’d be surprised how many people struggle to answer the question.
- What do you want your money to do for you?
- Which relationships in your life are important to you.
- Do you want to leave a legacy? If so, what kind of legacy?
The discovery meeting lasts from sixty to ninety minutes. I’ll create a summary (reasonably detailed) of our discussion to review at our next meeting.
Any investment, to achieve long-term success, must be tied to the goals you are trying to reach. In this planning stage, we begin working on your plan. We analyze whether what you are currently doing will get you to where you want to be. We will identify any gaps that may exist and offer solutions to close those gaps.
I use a sophisticated planning tool to walk us through the numbers. The planning phase is interactive.
We will work on the data together online and link up all your investment accounts. We will also connect your employer retirement plans.
The planning process is just that – a process. It is not a one-time event.
I’ll work with you to map out your goals and give you a choice to implement the recommendations or have me do it for you.
It’s your plan. I want you to have it your way. It’s my job to help you accomplish your goals. There are a lot of ways to do that. We’ll work together to define what that process looks like for you.
You will get a written action plan to help you implement the recommendations we agreed on in your planning. You will have ongoing online access to your plan.
Remember, planning is dynamic. Plans often change based on unexpected things that happen in life. Job change, divorce (hopefully not!), marriage, having children, sending children to college, and many other life events may alter your initial plan.
In my opinion, most people can and should do their own investing. However, I understand that not everyone has the desire to do so. People are busy and don’t want to take the time to learn or manage if they have the knowledge.
That’s why I want you to have options.
I can teach you how to do your own investing. You may also hire me to manage your money for you. Investment management fees are separate from financial planning fees. If you decide to move forward with investment management, you will get a credit to your first-year investment management fee for any financial planning fees paid.
Whether we work together or you implement on your own, it’s important to understand that planning is not a set it and forget it proposition. For the reasons mentioned above, you need to revisit the plan at least annually.
If life changes happen during the year, it may be necessary to review more frequently.
Ongoing monitoring includes reviewing of the plan, your goals, your progress, your investment results, taxes, retirement plans, and all other aspects of your plan.
The financial plan forms the foundation under which all financial decisions should be made. Having your investments tied to specific goals allows you to stay more disciplined to stick with your portfolio during times of market turmoil. Decisions get made not based on what’s going on in the markets. They’re made based on progress toward your goals.