Our financial planning process goes beyond basic dollars and cents to focus on your overall financial health. Through a careful exploration of your unique needs and desires, lifestyle, and personal preferences, we develop a comprehensive evaluation of your current financial situation and your future financial goals.
We begin with a personal interview to understand more about you and your financial goals. We carefully review information such as your current income and expenses, assets and liabilities, tax situation, and attitudes toward investment returns and risks. Using your financial goals, we estimate future cash-flow needs and the assets required to meet these needs. We work with you to identify the risks that may impact your ability to meet your goals. We then combine all of this information to develop a comprehensive plan to get you from where you are now to where you want to be with confidence and peace of mind.
The result is a long-term plan that is customized to address your specific goals.
Focusing on your goals, we produce a multifaceted, comprehensive financial plan that may contain any or all the following sections:
- Cash flow and net worth – First, we work with you to develop an effective cash flow that reflects your goals. We also review your net-worth statement for effective use of debt.
- Investment planning and asset allocation – We work with you to evaluate your needs for investment returns and your tolerance for investment volatility. Using this information, we develop an asset allocation for your investment plan. We also review the range of retirement accounts and taxable accounts that can be used for investments. We look at your investments as a whole and place specific investments in various accounts to balance tax consequences against investment limitations on individual accounts (e.g., retirement accounts).
- Income tax planning – We review your current income tax situation to identify potential steps for you to reduce current income taxes. Since we only provide general advice on income tax issues and we do not prepare tax returns, we are happy to work with your tax accountant. If needed, we can recommend tax accountants for you to consider.
- College Planning – We work with you to identify the potential costs for educating your children. We review with you the range of current college costs, the potential inflation of college costs, and the potential for financial aid. From these analytical inputs, we help you structure a plan for funding your children’s education in conjunction with your other financial goals.
- Financial independence – We work with you to ensure your financial independence when you want to walk away from your paycheck. This may require trade-offs between current life style and future life style, between risk aversion and the need for higher investment return, and between working longer and the security of not running out of money. In the financial independence analysis, we factor in (actually factor out) the assets needed for other key goals.
- Risk management – We believe that an effective financial plan should be self-fulfilling and not based on the rosiest scenarios. We consider what might happen if you become disabled or incapacitated. We also review other risk factors and what can be done to minimize their impact on your goals and dreams.
- Estate planning – Although current estate-tax laws allow a couple to avoid estate tax on assets up to $10,000,000, as indexed, a comprehensive estate plan is still important for many reasons. In even simple situations, a thorough estate plan will ease the financial transition after the loss of a loved one. In more complex cases (e.g., children from previous marriages or special needs children), a well-structured estate plan is essential to ensure that the estate assets go where you want them to go. We work with you to identify the general steps that need to be taken. We then work with you and your estate attorney to develop the estate plan more fully. If needed, we can recommend attorneys that specialize in estate planning. Finally, we work with you to ensure that all of the steps of the estate plan are carried out properly.
There is no requirement for you to work with us to implement your financial plan, but we are ready and willing to help you with the implementation. We do work with many clients and their other advisors (e.g., accountants and attorneys) to implement and monitor each client’s financial plan in a long-term business relationship as a trusted advisor.