Planning Process

Step 1

CONCEPT INTERVIEW:

The first step is to get together and discuss your situation and our services in detail to help ensure that your financial profile fits what we do best. There is no financial obligation at this meeting, which will take about one hour. Information to have on hand for this meeting includes a net-worth statement or balance sheet and two years' worth of tax returns. We quote a fee to work with our clients on an annual basis, instead of hourly, so that they know up-front what the total cost will be and so that there is freedom for us to work through the planning process and for our clients to contact and meet with us. Our fee is based upon the time and complexity anticipated with each client and is quoted in either the first or second step.

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Step 2

ENGAGEMENT PROPOSAL/FACT-FINDING:

In this second meeting, we review the Engagement Proposal, which outlines the work we will do together over the next 12 months. And, most important, we gather the necessary data to help ensure a thorough understanding of your situation. Our goal in this meeting is to step into your financial shoes, so we can begin to understand your thought processes. This becomes the basis for the creation of a financial model, which is used to evaluate your current financial situation. It will show your current asset allocation; net worth; the direction and rate of its change; your cash flow, income, and estate tax liability; and other items. In addition, we review your wills, trusts, life and disability insurance, investments and, tax returns. We also discuss your goals, views, attitudes, and concerns. We do not offer legal or tax advice.

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Step 3

PLAN DESIGN:

Step 3 consists of identifying problems that are present in your current planning. This is basically a process of reconciling the likely outcome, based upon your current arrangements, with your desired outcome (i.e., objectives) that we summarized in Step 2. It is in this third step that the full benefit of the planning process begins to become apparent. Issues that you never thought of and problems that you never realized existed will be identified, simply because your financial picture was never so completely developed and your objectives never so clearly and completely stated.

Step 4

PRESENTATION:

Step 4 entails the development of recommendations—specific strategies for implementation. Equipped with the pros and cons of each alternative, as well as an economic model to determine their impact, you will be in the best position to determine which strategies are right for you. The key is to objectively allow "no stone to remain unturned," so that you know you are arriving at the best possible solution for your situation. All of our recommendations are made in writing in logical progression: objectives, observations, recommendations.

Step 5

IMPLEMENTATION:

The fifth step is implementation. This is where the team aspect of the planning process is fully realized, as we work with your other advisors to help ensure the strategies you decided to move ahead with are implemented. Then, in addition, if you choose, we will work on your behalf to evaluate various investment options and products to help ensure they are right for each of your plan strategies. We are continually acting on your behalf as a "key to the marketplace"—whether it is through coordinating tax and estate strategies or evaluating specific financial products to help minimize costs and maximize value. We feel that it is only through this "maximization of value" that we can expect you to speak highly of our firm and confidently recommend our services to others.

Step 6

REVIEW AND SERVICE:

Step 6 is the ongoing review process. At the end of each year, we will review where we have come to date and what needs to be done on an ongoing basis. The majority of our clients retain us annually because planning is a process that always changes. Our renewal fee is typically 50 percent to 75 percentof our then-current planning fee.

Financial Planning Process Diagram