At the core of comprehensive financial planning, is the “Six-Step Process”:
1. Clarifying your present situation
The professional financial planner will gather all relevant financial information from you, such as details of assets and liabilities, income and expenses, tax returns, insurance policies, employment benefit and pension details and estate planning documents.
2. Identifying personal and financial goals and objectives
In order to provide appropriate recommendations to you, the planner must help you clarify your specific goals and objectives. Such goals may include retiring at age 55, buying a house, ensuring that your children’s education funding needs are met, or even taking that once in a lifetime trip.
3. Identifying financial problems and opportunities
With knowledge of both your personal goals and your current financial position, a professional financial planner can determine whether there are any impediments to reaching your goals. They will also identify opportunities that will allow you to meet your goals. For example, you may not be taking advantage of all the income tax deductions and credits available, or may have too much or too little insurance.
4. Providing written recommendations and alternative solutions, where appropriate;
The recommendations provided will be specific to your goals and will vary with the complexity of your individual circumstances. In some cases, alternative solutions may be included. The professional financial planner will meet with you to determine which recommendations you are comfortable implementing and who will be responsible for implementation.
This is a key step to ensure that you reach your goals and objectives. Your financial planner may assist you with implementation, or refer you to other appropriate professionals.
6. Periodic review
Last but not least, your financial plan needs to be reviewed and revised periodically, in order to take into account changes in your personal circumstances or the economy. For most individuals, an annual review is appropriate.