The Planning Process Series – The Discovery Meeting

A logo with mature oak tree and watering wellThe process of financial planning is not as complicated as one might think, but for many the process is intimidating.  But what is the process? The thought of sitting down and discussing your finances is difficult for most of us, but the planning process is so much more than your finances.

It is all-encompassing, meaning that not only are you discussing investments and money, but you are divulging you thoughts and sometimes your fears about what money means to you.  The discussion will lead you to become more aware of what you and your partner’s goals and dreams are for the future.

I wanted to write about the process in order to take the fear of the unknown out of how we begin to work with our clients.  The process will be broken into four posts over the next four weeks and will hopefully illustrate the ease of taking the first step towards relating your life to money.

At Crimmins Wealth Management, the process of working together with our clients starts with a frank discussion about where you are currently and what you hope to achieve for your future.  The data gathering form which is sent to a prospective client allows us to get the basic information on you, your family and your current financial picture.  This form is the beginning of clarifying your current situation and can be classified as a snapshot of your financial life.  This form is completed before the first appointment which we call the discovery meeting.

The Discovery Meeting:   The discovery meeting is the initial point of reviewing your current situation while discussing what your goals for the current time frame and into the future. This allows us to help you clarify what you are trying to achieve and review what you currently have in place.   These issues deal with your needs, wants and your concerns.  For example, as far as retirement, what income will you need to support your lifestyle?  what will you do in retirement?  Where will you live?

A number of other topics are raised such as: do you have estate documents (a will, power of attorney and medical directive), whether you are adequately insured, and what debt you currently carrying (mortgage, credit cards, college tuition, etc.).

There are a number of topics that will be discussed that many people may be unaware of, such as long term care insurance,  how to plan for elderly parents, or the financial concerns for special needs children. Each situation and discovery meeting varies and the meeting is the first step in learning about your unique lives.

This meeting helps individuals evaluate what is important to them and their families.  Once your goals have been clarified, a plan can be established to help achieve your personal goals.  If this is done early, then you are able to make corrections that will have long reaching impact on the lives of you and your family.

Once the discovery meeting is completed, the next step (or second meeting) is to discuss the financial plan to determine the steps that you can take to allow you to achieve your goals.  This is where we add our insights on achieving success.

The next post will discuss the second meeting and how a financial plan is established that is specific to your personal situation.

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About Maureen Crimmins

Maureen Crimmins is co-founder of Crimmins Wealth Management and a fee-only independent financial advisor. Have a financial question? ASK MAUREEN

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