The Six Step Process of Financial Planning
Personal financial planning focuses on the individual. In order to best serve an individual’s needs, the professional financial planning practitioner employs The Total Financial Planning Process comprising these six distinct steps:
Step 1 – Clarify Your Present Situation
The financial planner clarifies your present situation by collecting and assessing all relevant financial data such as lists of assets and liabilities, tax returns, records of securities transactions, insurance policies, will, pension plans, etc.
Step 2 – Identify Goals and Objectives
The financial planner helps you identify both financial and personal goals and objectives as well as clarify your financial and personal values and attitudes. These may include providing for children’s education, supporting elderly parents or relieving immediate financial pressures, which would help maintain your current lifestyle and provide for retirement.
Step 3 – Identify Financial Problems
The financial planner identifies financial problems that create barriers to achieving financial independence. Problem areas can include too little or too much insurance coverage, or a high tax burden. Your cash flow may be inadequate, or the current investments may not be winning the battle with changing economic times. These possible problem areas must be identified before solutions can be found.
Step 4 – Recommendations
The financial planner provides written recommendations and alternative solutions. The length of the recommendations will vary with the complexity of your situation, but they should always be structured to meet the your needs without undue emphasis on purchasing certain investment products.
Step 5 – Implement Strategies
A financial plan is only helpful if the recommendations are put into action. Implementing the right strategy will help you reach the desired goals and objectives. The financial planner should assist you in either actually executing the recommendations, or in coordinating their execution with other knowledgeable professionals.
Step 6 – Monitor and Review
The financial planner provides periodic review and revision your financial plan to assure that the goals are achieved. Your financial situation should be re-assessed at least once a year to account for changes in your life and current economic conditions.