The Process of Financial Planning

Moving From Apprehension to Comprehension

Before we can talk about our financial planning process, we first have to overcome the confusion of what financial planning entails.
Confronted with the array of financial decisions individuals and families face throughout their lives, many do not know what to do.

  • Which investments should I select from my employer’s retirement plan?
  • What mortgage choice is beneficial for my situation?
  • What is the best way to save for college?
  • When should I begin to take my Social Security?

Do you have in-depth training in investing, economics, insurance, taxes, or law to make these decisions? Have you ever heard of Harry Markowitz, the efficient frontier, standard deviation, amortization, or the difference between a testamentary trust and a charitable remainder trust? Yet, you are expected to make important and life altering decisions pertaining to these issues. How can you obtain financial security for you and your family?

This is where financial planning comes in. 

Let’s approach financial planning as you would approach a medical examination with your doctor. Generally, you would focus on your symptoms:

  • Where does it hurt?
  • What’s the cause of your concerns?

With this information your doctor will run some tests, evaluate the findings, and prescribe a treatment plan. At the end of the visit you should feel more comfortable about your health care plan. The purpose of a financial plan is no different. Let’s begin the financial planning process from the point of view of control.
And to understand this, we’ll use another metaphor: that of driving a car. When driving, you control the steering wheel, your speed, and where you are going. You cannot control the other drivers, detours, and road conditions.

Now let’s put this into financial terms.
Do you have any control over these outside factors?

Corporate Profitability
World Events
Catastrophic Weather
The Economy
The “Markets”
Interest Rates
Housing Starts
Politics/ Governments
Energy Prices
The Media

Of course not!
But as the driver of your “financial car” you do have 100% control over:

Your Investment Objectives
Your Risk Level / Time Horizon
Asset Allocation / Diversification
Your Attitude and Commitment
Your Choice of Advisor

The Difference Between Being Proactive and Reactive

How does understanding these control / non-control factors empower you to safely navigate today’s complex financial world? Let’s look at this graphically. When you focus on outside factors that you can’t control, all you can do is react to these events … and this can be scary and stressful. At Wealth Bridge Advisory we call this Reactive Investing.

When you concentrate instead on factors that you can control, which is Proactive Investing, you have more influence over the process. At Wealth Bridge Advisory, we focus on proactive investing. (Ask about the Brinson, Hood, Beebower study.)

Let’s return to your “financial car” and begin your trip.

  • 1. Discovery / Determining Your Destination

    In financial terms, this step is about setting goals. It could be as common as ‘retirement’ or as complicated as ‘starting a business’. It all begins with:

    • Opening a map
    • Establishing your beginning point (see step #2 below)
    • Focusing on your ultimate destination or goal
  • 2. Planning / Packing for Your Trip

    To establish your starting point, make an inventory of what you have. You will pack your 401 (k) plan, real estate holdings, life insurance, and more. Our Confidential Financial Questionnaire will guide you to create a complete inventory. Our staff will use this information to help you plan your trip and make your journey easier.

  • 3. Asset Strategy / Mapping Your Route

    You are ready to decide your route. There are highways that will get you to your destination quickly; other roads may take longer but have scenery along the way. Your timeline will impact the investment risk/ speed most comfortable for you to drive your investment portfolio. (Let us show you how we can quantify your existing portfolio’s speed and your personal “comfort” speed.)

  • 4. Implementation / Start Your Engines

    It’s time to start your journey – to turn on your car and move towards your goal at your desired speed. In financial terms, you are ready to invest your portfolio according to your risk factors and goals. (Let us show you how we choose money managers.)

  • 5. Monitoring & Adjusting – Changing Direction

    Financial planning is not an “invest it and leave it” scenario. Inevitably, life will get in the way (a flat tire) and sometimes goal adjustments (detours) will have to be made. Just as a GPS system may redirect your route if there’s a traffic jam,
    Wealth Bridge Advisory will stand ready to redirect your financial route when life changes occur.

This is the financial planning process that Wealth Bridge Advisory adheres to.
Our approach helps to assure that you can live the life you choose while wisely managing your wealth.
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