There are countless benefits when it comes to having a solid financial plan for your future. At Financial Sense Wealth Management, we believe one of the best ways to make your goals a reality is to work with an advisor to create a financial plan. Financial Sense Newshour sat down with its Lead Wealth Advisors Becki Sutton , CFA, CFP ® and Aaron Wiegman, CFP ® to learn about the financial planning process and what it can do for you.
For audio, see Here’s Why You Need a Financial Plan.
There Isn’t a ‘One Size Fits All’ Financial Plan
Financial plans are inherently based on the individual. What works for one person isn’t going to work or be the same for the next person. That’s why our financial plans start with a conversation. You’ll meet with an advisor to discuss your goals and where you are now.
“These conversations are about knowing what makes you tick, what's important to you and what your values regarding money are,” Wiegman said. He and Sutton both agree having a conversation with your advisor to determine your money values, current situation and future goals is a key element in the planning process. These conversations allow your financial planner to develop your plan with recommendations and options best suited for you so that you can successfully achieve the goals you’ve outlined together.
When it comes to planning for retirement, questions like at what age you want to retire and where you’ll retire are crucial in creating the right plan for you. “Because I’m asking questions,” Sutton explained, “things come out that maybe you hadn’t thought of before which can make a big difference for how you plan for the future.”
Sutton also said for couples getting a plan, it’s crucial that both parties are equally involved in the conversation and planning process. Wiegman added, “Typically two spouses are coming from different angles and ways of dealing with money. It’s really important for us to get input from both of them because they’re going to have different needs and we want to make sure we have an agreement on what it is we’re trying to accomplish. If we don’t have that, it’s going to be really hard to implement a plan.”
A Roadmap to Your Financial Success
Getting a financial plan shouldn’t be a ‘one and done’ sort of deal. It’s an ongoing process and plans need to be fluid to account for changes in circumstances, the economy and all the twists and turns life throws our way. Sutton equated a financial plan as a “roadmap to your financial success.”
At first, she said, all these recommendations can feel overwhelming but it’s important to tackle them in small steps to get started off on the right path. She added, “we’ll work together throughout the process and understand, this isn’t something you have to do all at once.”
You can think about getting a financial plan like a getting a workout schedule from a trainer, Wiegman said. “If I give you a workout plan and a diet plan and we don’t put any of that in place, it’s not going to help.” Sutton agreed, “You can get a financial plan but unless you at least start moving toward implementing the recommendations it’s not going to help you. Getting a financial plan gives you that discipline so you know what you need to be doing and saving each month and you set it up so that it happens. And it becomes automatic.”
Is There a Right Time to Get a Financial Plan?
It’s never too early to start thinking about your financial future. “The sooner you begin, the more options you’re likely to have,” Sutton said. This doesn’t mean if you’re a few years out from retirement or from your kids going to college that it’s too late, but the earlier you begin, the more open doors you’ll have.
People tend to think about getting a financial plan when they’re close to reaching big milestones, but it can make just as much sense to get a financial plan well before those happen. Other catalysts for getting a plan include starting a family, preparing to purchase a home, or even starting your own business. Sutton explained that getting a financial plan “opens your eyes to what you’ve been doing and where you could be."
Wiegman pointed out that plans don’t only cover retirement or mortgages, but that financial plans are a holistic process. “We look at where you are today, what your cash flow looks like, your investments and how you should be appropriately allocated. We include retirement and tax planning, protection and insurance planning, estate and college planning all while knowing these things can change as you move through life.” He added that your planner should be ready to help you adjust your plan when things do inevitably change.
That’s what's special about financial plans and working with a planner whom you trust; you’re getting a tailor-made roadmap to help you reach your goals. Advice from friends and peers and articles online can only get you so far, and more importantly, they’re not taking your specific situation into account.
Financial planning is all about building a framework so that you can make the smartest decisions when it comes to achieving your goals. To listen to the full podcast with Sutton and Wiegman click here. If you’d like to learn more about financial planning click here.