When most people think of financial planning they are usually only thinking of retirement planning or investing. It’s true that those are pieces of the overall puzzle, but financial planning entails much more than that. Holistic financial planning looks at the big picture, the client’s entire financial situation, which includes their income, taxes, insurance, estate planning, debt elimination, cash flow, and asset building. The purpose of financial planning is not to try to predict the future for the client, but to help position a client so that they have the greatest chance of success. The purpose of financial planning is to create a plan that works under the most circumstances, not just the ideal circumstances. This means that protection has to be a major priority. We know that life has a tendency to throw us curveballs, and we want our clients to be as prepared for those things as possible.
Principles-Based Planning is different than what most financial planners offer. Most planners use a method of planning called Financial Needs Analysis (FNA). While FNA may be better than not planning at all, it usually leads to minimization of protection, minimization of wealth creation, and oftentimes leads to financial dependence. With our principles-based approach, our focus is on maximum wealth creation, maximum protection, and maximum efficiency. We teach that people should save based on principle, not based on account balances. We teach that a person should have the kind of protection that they would want if they knew the event they are protecting against was going to happen. Our focus is on reducing and recapturing financial costs, not introducing new ones such as fees for our advice.
We believe that while we benefit from the products and services financial institutions create, we don’t have to, nor should we, play the financial game the way they want us to. It is absolutely true that financial institutions teach and promote ideas and strategies that they themselves would never do. Can you imagine a financial institution investing their money into something that they couldn’t touch for long periods of time, maybe even decades? Can you imagine them investing in something that by design would not produce any cash flow back to them? Can you imagine them investing into something where they had no expertise and no control? I can’t either! Yet, that is exactly what is being promoted to the general public by financial institutions. We teach the opposite. We teach that people should invest their own expertise, in things that they can control, and things that produce cash flow by design. As such, we encourage our clients to save money into the most tax-advantaged places where they retain access and control of their money throughout their lifetimes. Our goal for our clients is cash flow when it comes to investing, cash flow that meets their desired lifestyle. We don’t like the word “retirement”, because that insinuates a person stops being productive. We like the words “financial freedom”, and that is our goal for all of our clients.
That’s what principles-based planning looks like.
Our Planning Process
Our process is Unique. We take a comprehensive and holistic approach to our planning. Most people that I meet with have never been asked to gather as much information as they do in order to meet with us. What I require of my clients is to complete the Comprehensive Questionnaire, and gather all of the financial documents that pertain to their situation. The planning process begins with a step I call “Elements”. I call it “Elements” because during this meeting we discover the client’s existing financial elements we have to work with. The next step in the process is called “Strategic Evaluation”. During this meeting we evaluate a person’s saving, protection, and debt elimination strategies. We look at what the client is doing currently, and compare that to what they could be doing. In many cases we can improve a person’s plan significantly without increasing their overall expenses. However, we don’t limit our advice to what we think our clients will purchase. We help them know and understand their options and then let them decide what they’re willing to do. The next step in the process is called “Coordination”. During this meeting we evaluate a person’s current life insurance and liquidity strategies. We compare their current strategies with strategies that improve efficiency and effectiveness. The last step in the process is called “Discovery”. It is in this meeting that we evaluate the client’s current wealth-building strategies and discover other potential strategies that are specific to each individual, and in line with our wealth-building philosophy. Once the initial planning phase is over, we continue to meet at least once per year, to make sure things are going the way the client wants them to go. Adjustments have to be made, because life happens, everybody’s situation changes, their abilities to save and protect change over time, their health and their income changes over time. What they feel is important changes over time. Because of these changes, their plans need to change as well. Great planning is not done by setting a product or strategy in motion, and then leaving it alone for the next twenty to thirty years. In fact, that’s a recipe for guaranteed failure. Finances require much more attention in order to succeed. Like everything in life that is worthwhile, success in finances requires effort, and nothing is for free.