Because You Asked: What is Financial Planning?

Welcome to the first “Because you asked…” blog post by The Advisors Group. We thought we would start with a very general question: What is financial planning? The term that we prefer to use is actually financial life planning, because when we work with our clients to do financial planning, we generally want to know about a lot more than just your finances. We believe that money is a tool to fulfill your plan- and that plan incorporates your needs, goals, wants, dreams, values, etc. It is important for us to get a sense of you as an individual, couple, etc. a sense of you as a whole person in order to understand the context of your financial needs and wants.

So financial life planning starts with getting to know you: your family structure, your career, priorities, interests, plans and needs and then move into who needs to be considered in your plan. Do you have children or grandchildren for whom you want to plan? Do you have a child or family member with special needs? Do you have or will you have responsibilities for aging parents or grandparents?

Only then will we begin to talk about money- what you have, what you need now, will need or want in the future- what are the financial building blocks that we have to use for your plan? We work with you to identify some fairly concrete goals and at least some general time frames. We will also dig into details such as risk exposure (insurance needs) and risk tolerance in your investments, as well as talking with you about estate planning, and referring you to experts in these areas. Then we go to work to figure out what it is going to take to fulfill your plans, and always take the tax implications of your plan into account both now and in the future.

So, we hope you begin to understand that this financial life planning is not a one-time event or experience. It is a process that is only the start of the journey that we hope to take with you. In devising your comprehensive plan blueprint with you, we try to remind you that it is never set in stone, but is more like a living plan that changes and adapts with you as circumstances and life itself changes. This is in part why we so enjoy working with our clients over a long period of time, preferably over several generations. We get to grow and change with you, and it is one the most enjoyable aspects of our work with you.

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