Financial planning intimidates people. In its early stages, they don’t know what to expect, what to answer and what they’ll have to divulge to create a realistic plan. In this article on the planning process, let me remove the fear and talk about how we begin work with our clients.
Discussing personal finances challenges most of us. A Principal Financial Group study recently revealed that many Americans still dawdle over planning for retirement. According to a another study by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP) and the Consumer Federation of America, most U.S. families do try “some kind” of financial planning toward savings goals, but relatively few have detailed financial plans. Asked about a plan to save in six specific areas, for example, some two-thirds of household decision‐makers said they follow a plan for at least one savings goal – but a mere 31% had a comprehensive financial plan or had seen a professional planner regarding one.
Clearly others hesitate to sit down with a planner, too. We understand. Nobody wants to lay their soul bare regarding money, but the financial planning process involves much more than your finances, encompassing your thoughts and sometimes fears about what money means to you. The discussion leads you to a greater awareness of nothing less than your goals and dreams for the future.
At Crimmins Wealth Management, a frank discussion about where you are and what you hope for your future starts our process. The data-gathering form we send to prospective clients gives us basic information on you, your family and your current financial snapshot. This form begins clarifying your situation before your first appointment, or the discovery meeting.
The Discovery meeting’s initial review of your current situation covers your goals for the present and future, what you want to achieve, what you have in place and your needs, wants and concerns. As far as retirement, for example: What income will you need? What will you do in retirement? Where will you live?
Other topics include whether you have estate documents such as a will, power of attorney appointing another person to act as your agent on your behalf or a health care advance directive stipulating your wishes about end-of-life care. We also ask whether you carry adequate insurance and about what debt you carry, such as mortgage, credit cards and student loans, among others.
Many people may be unaware of a number of potential topics, which also include long-term care insurance, planning for elderly parents or the financial concerns and distinct trusts for special needs children. Discovery meetings vary as much as each situation and each client’s unique life.
Once this meeting clarifies your goals, we help establish a plan to achieve those goals. Planning early also allows you to make financial corrections with long-reaching improvement of the lives of you and your family.
The second meeting discusses the financial plan to determine what steps help achieve your goals – and when we financial planners add our insights on you achieving your success.
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