6 Simple Steps to Having a Great Financial Plan
March 22, 2017 | Posted by: Calum Ross
Everyone knows what a wealth advisor does, but do they really? Of course a wealth advisor helps you with financial planning and to meet your wealth objectives but we’ll cover in this article the actual process of how that’s done. At the end you’ll understand what your advisor actually does (or should be doing) and be more comfortable if you’ve never worked with an advisor and are wondering what to expect.
The process can be divided into 6 steps:
1. Establishing the initial relationship
2. Collecting data and information
3. Analyzing data and information
4.Recommending strategies to meet goals
5. Implementing recommendations
6. Conducting a periodic review or follow-up
Below we break down the 6 steps and their importance in reaching your personal wealth goals.
Step 1 – Establishing the Initial Relationship
The first step in the financial planning process is to establish a relationship with the advisor – most often done through an initial interview or consultation. This will be a time to cover what you’re looking for with the advisor and determine whether there is a good fit. They should make you aware of the services they offer and explain their process so you can determine a fit.
Following the initial meeting you may need to sign an agreement to continue working together which will normally outline the method of compensation for the advisor and other professionals.
Step 2 – Collecting Data and Information
Once you have decided to work with an advisor, the next step will involve collecting data and information. Similar to a legal discovery, the advisor needs to get a clear picture in order to proceed. They will need to fully understand your current situation, the various moving parts, and your goals so they can help you plan effectively.
You can expect some sort of survey or questionnaire to gather this information, as well as some basic requests for supporting documentation that will help the advisor confirm key details and serve you best.
Step 3 – Analyzing Data and Information
With the upfront data and information collected and ready to go, the advisor will then analyze this info… but what do they do with it?
The advisor will first be looking to determine if your stated objectives are reasonable based on your start and desired end point. They may prepare net worth, income and expense statements, a preliminary budget, a life insurance needs analysis a retirement needs analysis, an investment portfolio analysis, a disability analysis, an employee benefits analysis and/or tax projections to assist with formulating recommendations. They’ll look to identify special needs you may have or be anticipating and look for ways to plan for those.
After the initial analysis they may contact you to clarify and make adjustments before recommending strategies.
Step 4 – Recommending Strategies to Meet Goals
Only after a thorough analysis will the advisor be able to create a plan and recommend proper strategies to meet your goals. The initial analysis will allow the advisor to create recommendations, but your buy-in is required to make the plan work. Remember to speak up if something doesn’t make sense or work for you – a good advisor can help you adjust the plan or your expectations and provide alternatives for you to consider. Expect a plan to include:
– A summary of goals and objectives
– Various pieces of analysis (outlined in step 3 above)
– Summary of recommendations
– An implementation and action plan
Step 5 – Implementing Recommendations
It cannot be emphasized enough that this is the most important step. A plan sitting on your bookshelf has no value… it’s only through taking action and implementing the plan that you will benefit.
A good advisor will make implementation easy for you by providing clear instructions or steps, and connecting you with the resources you need to implement your plan. At this stage, you will need to put in some effort but a good advisor will make it as easy as possible for you.
Step 6 – Conducting Periodic Reviews
Finally, the process continues with periodic reviews. Just as a single workout with a personal trainer will not produce impressive results, a single meeting with a wealth advisor won’t make you wealthy. It takes consistency and time to see results in either of these fields, and a good advisor will conduct periodic reviews to monitor and adjust course as required.
There is an old proverb “Man plans, God laughs” – a poignant reminder that life rarely goes as planned. In the case of wealth planning, adjustments are needed as life takes its inevitable twists and turns. Keep your advisor informed, embrace the process, and help them help you stay on track.
Embrace the Process
Realize that the process may seem annoying and invasive at first. Forms to fill out, so many personal questions, etc. The process may even ask you questions you cannot or are not fully prepared to answer, but if you do your best to be transparent with your advisor you’ll gain a new level of self-awareness as you go. Embrace the opportunity to learn.
Later, it may seem daunting when you get to the implementation phase if you’re doing things you have never done before. Realize a good advisor will guide you, and embrace the opportunity to take new actions that will make a difference in your own life.
Lastly, life will throw you some curveballs and spoil your perfect plans. So, participate in your periodic updates with your advisor and embrace the opportunity to adjust as you go. If you find these regular reviews are not happening or that your plan is no longer serving you, do something about it. Don’t make knee-jerk reactions based on short term results, but realize that in the long-term you’re still the boss. Hire the best advisors to work for you and make sure they perform to your standards!
No mortgage or financial planning team in this country does more borrowing to invest or borrowing for wealth creation than our team. We have the business track record and formal education to support your plan and to help you achieve your financial goals. Volatile markets create opportunities and we would love the opportunity to help you capitalize. Call our office today to discuss how we can help at 1-855-410-9905 or email ClientCare@MortgageManagement.ca