Financial planning is a process, not an event. The Certified Financial Planner® Board of Standards defines financial planning as “the process of determining whether and how an individual can meet life goals through the proper management of financial resources.” We have found that life goals can change over time and certainly financial resources change in value every day. With changing goals and resources, the best path is to make a plan and then update and adjust the plan as needed. Here is an idea of the process we follow:
Discovery Meeting. This is our first meeting. At this meeting we want you to determine whether you feel comfortable working with us on your financial matters. We’ll also determine whether we feel that we can help. We’ll tell you everything you want to know about our firm and how we do things. We’d like you to share with us your financial goals and resources, how they relate to your values and what you would like to accomplish through the rest of your life with your resources.
While we probably won’t spend a lot of time reviewing them at this meeting, we would like to have you bring the following documents:
- Estate documents (wills, durable power of attorneys, etc.)
- Investment statements
- Last three years tax returns, (including any business, estate, trust, partnership, or other returns that affect your finances.)
- Insurance policies
- Risk Questionnaire
- Financial Data Questionnaire
By the conclusion of this meeting, we’ll agree on nature of our relationship, what work you’d like us to perform, the timetable for completing it, and our fee arrangements.
Planning Meeting. This meeting typically takes place about a week or two after the Discovery Meeting. In preparation for this meeting, we will have reviewed the documents you’ve given us, and prepared a preliminary plan. At this meeting, our objective will be to validate the data and determine whether we have considered it properly in our preliminary analysis. We’ll also discuss possible strategies you might want to consider.
At this meeting we won’t tell you what to do, but we’ll show you possible outcomes from different strategies and help you identify which approach gets you closest to your financial lifestyle objectives. At this meeting, we’ll spend a lot of time running different scenarios through our software to determine what actions are going to fit you the best. The action items that become the basis for your plan are determined at this meeting.
At this point, if you choose to work with us on an ongoing basis, we will prepare the paperwork to implement the plan and set up a schedule to meet regularly to update the plan with new goals, resources, and other information. Each year will bring new changes, challenges, and decisions that we give ongoing advice on.