What is financial planning?

 
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Imagine the scenario: a new prospective client visits our office for an initial consultation, and we ask them what their main objective is for our potential work together. Oftentimes they’ll start by talking about their current advisor or past experience with one. They’ll tell us about the balance of their portfolio and a few even know their asset allocation! But they become really enthusiastic when they move on to what they want to accomplish in their life. They tell us about their family and careers and hobbies and dreams. We love to hear about their biggest accomplishments and what they’re still hoping to achieve. Why does this scenario play out so often? Because planning is so much more than just investing!

 

We believe investment management is a core tool to achieve long term financial goals, and know that the work doesn’t stop there.

 

Can you imagine the amount of stress that would be reduced when you have a workable plan for your money that addresses your current cash flow, your future, and is adapting to your life? We can. We’ve seen the difference it can make!

If your financial advice consists solely of the return on your investments, then you have missed out on the professional guidance and financial peace of mind that a comprehensive financial plan can offer.

A solid comprehensive financial analysis should include at least the following:

Cash Flow Planning:

Do you know how much of a surplus or deficit your household has each month? Do you know the changes you could or should take to meet your and your family’s short and long-term goals? Is inflation factored into these plans?  Good cash flow planning involves not only an emergency fund, but analysis of current and future needs with a solid plan to manage your money in a way that reflects what is important to you.

Cash Flow is the true foundation of any plan. For business owners, income is often inconsistent, so they generally have a good understanding of their expenses but not always on income. For corporate employees, the opposite is often true: they know what they make but can rarely give a detailed record of spending. Either way, without a good understanding of cash flow, it’s impossible to identify how much is available for additional savings, debt reduction, or any other goal you may have.

Retirement Planning:

Everyone’s idea of retirement is unique to them and their family. What do you want retirement to look like and what are you willing to do now in order to make that a reality? A plan is necessary to have a reliable stream of income through retirement assets, maximizing Social Security benefits, and pensions, in addition to knowing what the alternative plan is if one spouses dies or becomes disabled. 

Insurance Planning:

As fee-only financial advisors we do not sell insurance. We evaluate your potential risks and factor them into your financial future. Without considering these risks, your entire plan may collapse with one unexpected event. If you have an agent you work with now, that’s great. If not, we’re happy to recommend one.

Investment Planning:

We believe in keeping emotions in check, good diversification, and low expense ratio investments. Your time horizon and risk tolerance are always considered. We offer a full range of investment solutions and portfolio management services.

Tax Planning:

No comprehensive financial plan is complete without considering the impact taxes will have on various financial scenarios. Which retirement vehicles will place you in the best tax situation now and in the future? Certain investments, cash flow choices, and timing should all be examined for their effect on your overall financial picture. As always, we recommend you consult your CPA.

Employee Benefits/Health Care:

This is often an overlooked aspect of financial planning, but can significantly alter your plans if healthcare costs, employer health coverage, and long-term medical needs are not incorporated in your financial discussions and planning.

Estate Planning

We are firm believers that a good estate plan is a necessity. It’s more than just a will, too! A good plan will include wills, health and financial Powers of Attorney, a health care directive, and potentially trusts.  If your estate plan is in place, we evaluate account titling, beneficiary designations, and other items to make sure your intentions are being taken into consideration with your current situation. If you don’t have an estate plan in place, we’re happy to recommend an estate planning attorney.

And the list goes on! College planning for your kids, student loans, legacy planning –

 

Significant life choices should all be incorporated into

a comprehensive plan that is both practical and actionable.

 

By prioritizing your goals and breaking the plan into manageable pieces, a detailed plan from a Certified Financial Planner professional can assist in mapping out your financial future. Financial planning is an ongoing process that is built around your core values as well as the ever-changing needs and desires for you and your family. This is why we encourage our clients to continue to update us on their changing circumstances.

For the clients that we serve, we are grateful to be part of identifying and implementing planning and asset management strategies that are aligned with your priorities and values. For those of you who have not scheduled a free initial consultation, what are you waiting for? It would be a privilege to help you achieve your desired future. Book an initial consultation here.