Happy National Financial Planning Month! As your resident millennial CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, I’m more than happy to bring the hype to this month. Have you thought about a financial plan recently? Do you have one or are you perplexed by even the thought of a plan for your financial well-being? If you are feeling a little confused as to the hype of a setting up a financial plan, you are not alone! According to a March survey put out by Intelliflo—a cloud-based technology platform for financial advisors, “72% of Millennials (ages 26-41) strongly or somewhat agree that there are financial topics they want advice on but aren’t sure how to get it.” If you are not sure where to start, then you have come to the right blog. Let’s talk about what steps you can take to get your financial plan up and running!
What is a financial plan, and why is it important?
Nerdwallet defines a financial plan as “A comprehensive picture of your current finances, your financial goals and any strategies you’ve set to achieve those goals. Good financial planning should include details about your cash flow, savings, debt, investments, insurance and any other elements of your financial life.” Financial planning is a continuous pursuit. You would want to review and update as life throws new changes at you. I like to remind my clients that retirement is not the only part of your financial plan. So much life happens between now and retirement; maybe you want to plan for a new home or car purchase in 5 years, or you want to know what insurance needs you may have to protect your loved ones if something were to happen to you. Those scenarios are all important to your overall financial goals. Our job is to help you find the most suitable and prudent ways to achieve them.
Who should I talk to about my personal finances and goals?
One of the biggest roadblocks in the hunt for financial advice is knowing where to go. A place to start would be searching for a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional in your community. You are not limited to your community, thanks to technology capabilities today, but you may find it more comfortable to have someone close by for in-person meetings or understanding your local needs. The CFP® Board website states, “CFP® professionals must successfully complete a multi-year, multi-step process to obtain the skills and real-life experience they need to serve your best interests, no matter what your financial goals are.” CFP® professionals like me have completed a rigorous process to help our clients prudently invest and move forward with their goals. Having someone in your corner like this can be a great resource when you need help adding intention and direction to your financial goals.
What happens after I reach out to a financial advisor?
Once you’ve reached out to your new financial professional, they may follow up with you to conduct a 5 to 15-minute “discovery call.” This call is a preliminary call to prepare for your meeting. They will ask some clarifying questions regarding your goals and needs. What are you looking to achieve in this first meeting? Anything we should know about prior to the introductory meeting? For instance, maybe you and your spouse like to keep your finances completely separate. You would prefer to meet individually. Or maybe you have a child with special needs, and you would like to account for their care in your financial plan. That is hugely helpful information for me, as the financial advisor who will be leading those meetings. Also, in this call, we may give an overview of how we operate and what your process would look like if you chose to use our services. In the discovery call, we will remind you to bring statements or a checklist of relevant materials to the initial meeting so we can have the most up-to-date and accurate information available.
What will my first meeting look like?
This initial meeting can be in-person or virtually, thanks to the technology options available. You could have your first meeting over the phone, but I recommend the introductory meeting should have a visual aspect to it, if possible. You and the advisor will be discussing potentially complex ideas, and having a visual to go with your conversation can help in your understanding. We will use the information you gave us in your initial call and review any materials you brought to discuss. Your financial advisor may ask questions about your current income, monthly expenses, employment, employer benefits like a 401k, current assets and liabilities. We will work with you to set up a few key goals and a course of action based on the information you have provided. What do you want your life to look like in the next five to ten years? What steps can you take right now to get you there? An open and honest conversation is the key ingredient to building a financial plan that works for you.
Your financial plan is very personal. Maybe it will take you meeting with a few different financial advisors to find the one that you feel most comfortable sharing this part of your life. Whether you are just starting out or catching up, building a plan with a professional can help clarify your goals and set a course of action to make them come to life!