In our role as our clients' financial planner, we walk through life's journey with them as their coach, guide, advisor, and friend. The relationship is ongoing and ever-developing, and the nature of this role requires us to know our clients well and to understand what is important to them. As with any relationship, this process takes some time and is more intensive in the earlier stages, as there is more to learn. Once a client has engaged our services, the typical process is as follows:
Data gathering/discovery meeting
Usually scheduled within a couple of weeks of engaging our services, this meeting is a time for us to learn more about you. We want to learn about your family, your values, and what motivates you. This meeting allows you to get to know us better as well. It is also a time for us to get a “snapshot” of your current financial situation. We will provide a financial planning organizer in advance of this meeting that will lead you through obtaining all of the documents and information that we will need to begin building your unique financial plan.
Initial plan meeting
After the discovery meeting, we use all of the information we have received from you to build your initial plan. The process may take several weeks and involve a few follow-up conversations to clarify items received in the data gathering meeting. Once the foundation of the initial plan is complete, we meet again to present the plan to you and to discuss the recommendations that we feel are appropriate.
The entire process is very fluid and conversational, and as we learn and grow together, some recommendations will most likely evolve and be modified. A financial plan is not a static document but a foundational guide that facilitates financial confidence and clarity of purpose. It will evolve as your goals and priorities evolve, which is part of the reason we feel so strongly that the relationship with a financial planner is one that is ongoing. The initial plan meeting may be structured over two separate meetings, as there is generally quite a bit to cover.
Once the recommendations from the initial plan are agreed upon, there will most likely be several action items and necessary steps to be taken. We will walk beside you during the implementation of the plan. This will involve areas such as cash flow planning, disability and survivor needs' solutions, education and retirement funding, and investment management, among others. For most of the plan, we will not need to work with additional professionals. We may, however, need to involve attorneys or CPAs in areas that require the unique expertise these professionals would provide (such as establishing wills or trusts or specific tax work). If this step is necessary, we will be happy to attend these meetings with you and the other professionals, if desired.
The implementation phase is perhaps the most time-consuming part of our engagement, but it is also quite possibly the most rewarding, as you begin to see your financial plan come together and start gaining peace and clarity in areas that had always been a mystery to you or you had not even thought of at all. The implementation of the initial plan usually takes several months and, in some ways, continues indefinitely, as we modify and adjust the plan to address your goals and priorities as they develop over time.
Periodic review and revision meetings
Once the initial plan has been established and implemented, we will continue to meet at least once or twice a year, or more often if necessary, to review and revise the plan. These meetings serve as a chance to visit with you, but also to reinforce that our plan is meeting the objectives and goals that have been established. It is also a chance to discuss any changes that need to be made due to new goals or life changes (such as a new child or a new job) or because outside variables have changed (such as tax or investment law changes). We hope our relationship continues throughout each phase of our clients' lives. We are effectively on retainer with your family as its advisor.