What is the financial planning process?

There are five steps:

  1. Data-gathering, including gathering information from tax returns, estate plan documents, investment and bank statements, insurance policies, etc., plus gathering extensive information about your attitudes, money personality, assumptions about the world and economy, and your goals regarding lifestyle, estate distribution and more…This meeting is one appointment that will usually occur in your home because you're forever running to the filing cabinet.

  2. Plan Preparation – This is where we come back to our office and we do our diagnostic work and analysis, resulting in a written document that discusses our observations, findings and recommendations. Because we cannot make decisions in a vacuum, we must include a discussion and analysis of the mega-trends in the socio-economic environment within which we must make decisions.

  3. Plan Presentation – Initially we will provide a cursory overview and invite you to go home, read it, mark it up, and return with questions. Then we will answer those questions and develop a prioritized “To Do” list, an implementation checklist.

  4. Implementation – One month we might have a couple of sessions on tax planning strategies, the next month a couple of meetings on estate plan update, the next month on repositioning assets, etc. Step-by-step, slowly, prudently, methodically we will meet a couple of times a month over several months to compare alternatives thoroughly and implement those recommendations that make the most sense to you. We do not believe there is ever a “hot special of the week” – everything must pass the sleep test.

  5. On-going Monitoring, Surveillance, and Annual Reviews – After the above is completed, you might say, “This is great…I’ve got a track to run on…I’ll call you when I need you,” or you might have asked us to help you implement various strategies. Typically there might be beginning-of-year and end-of-year tax planning sessions, maybe quarterly or semi-annual investment or economic reviews, estate plan updates as well as ad-hoc questions such as, "How should I structure the sale of my property?" or "Should I buy or lease this car." Regardless, we recommend period reviews, at least annually.