There are thousands of financial planners you have the choice of doing business with. You should understand their process, how they manage your financial planning needs and what their investing philosophy is before making a final decision. There is a chance, if you choose the right advisor, it could be a relationship that lasts decades. Why not make sure their beliefs align with yours upfront?
We are a planning first firm. Before investing your money, I want to know your goals and priorities. Probably not a surprise, but most people are investing for retirement. That said, it’s very common to have additional goals. I commonly see, planning to buy a first home, a second home, a world where you don’t retire in the traditional sense, charitable giving, legacy planning and starting or selling a business. Each of these goals bring their own unique challenges, so having a plan in place to achieve them is critical.
I want to understand your goals and the time horizon you have for them. Once we are on the same page, this is where the rubber meets the road. Coming from the military, and planning numerous missions, I use the same planning technique I did while on active duty. All military planning happened through backwards planning. If we start with the end in mind and can work our way back to today, we can create a roadmap to achieve all of your goals.
Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst
The military has also taught me having a secondary and tertiary plan is imperative for mission success. This doesn’t mean having multiple financial plans. What it does mean is having a plan in place for when situations don’t go the way they were initially planned. Job changes, business acquisitions, income fluctuations, larger than expected tax bills, premature death of a loved one and the list goes on. Financial planning is more of an art than a science. It’s also a “living breathing document” that is meant to be changed. Because of this, we revisit it often. This gives us the ability to make sure your goals haven’t changed. It also allows us to see if you are on track to achieve them. If we determine you aren’t, we can identify why and set a course of action to get you back on track.
When we first discuss your goals, it may be “I want to retire at X age” or “I want to pay for my child’s education”. The details become more important as you get closer to the goal. What do you want to do in retirement? Where will you live, what will you do, and how much money will you need to live the lifestyle you desire? With college, how much of the tuition do you want to fund? 20 percent or 100 percent? Will your child go to a state school or a private school? Will you pay for undergraduate and graduate school or just undergraduate? All of the answers to these questions will impact how you plan in the years leading up to the the goals.
Last but certainly not least, the biggest ask I have for all of my clients is putting their trust in me. Being as open and honest about all of your financials, goals, wishes and wants is crucial. Usually, the hardest topics to talk to your advisor about are often the most important conversations to have. Divorce, money problems, health issues and family dynamics are some of the problems I’ve help clients work through. I assure you; you are not the first person to bring the problem to me. So, whether it’s updating the plan to address the issue, helping you find a professional if it’s outside of my expertise, or just an extra set of ears to listen, I’m here for you.