The Financial Planning Process is… a process.

It is not a product, not a package solution, but a process. A process which can lead to the accomplishment of financial and life goals.

At its core is the idea that you should begin by determining what is important to you. You will be in a position to make the best use of your assets only after you have come to understand what your priorities are.

Financial planning is specific to you.

The Financial Planning Process can result in the identification of specific steps to accomplish the specific, prioritized goals of a specific individual or couple.  This contrasts with the approach often used by insurance agents, investment consultants, brokers, accountants, lawyers, magazine and newspaper columnists, and some “financial planners” who seem to believe that a particular “solution” – a life insurance policy, a trust, certain stock research, a deductible transaction, etc., is the best solution to any and every need for any and every individual or couple.  

The issue here is one of individualized problem solving vs. package marketing. The purchase of a life insurance policy or the implementation of a recommendation made by a journalist may, indeed be an appropriate solution to one person’s financial problem. But for the next person, this same “solution” would be a waste of resources, jeopardizing the accomplishment of important goals. 

So, we are left with the need for a means to judge the advisability of one recommendation vs. another, or a method to generate recommendations based solely upon specific individual, prioritized needs with an understanding of the universe of choices and their results. 

The use of The Financial Planning Process, and the counsel of an experienced Certified Financial Planner practitioner can help to provide the best solutions for individuals and couples.

Among the potential benefits of utilizing the financial planning process is the avoidance of asset waste due to misappropriation, and increased likelihood that higher priority goals will not be compromised in favor of lower priority ones.  The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards has published a web page entitled What To Expect, which describes what you should expect from your plan.  It also identifies the various types of financial advisers who may work with you, and common mistakes consumers make in their financial planning.

The Financial Planning Process is a potentially advantageous approach to making financial decisions, responding to needs, and identifying opportunities.  It can be a method for getting better answers to some of life’s questions.

Choices require decisions.  Decisions have consequences.

The quality of life, for you and those you love most, is affected by how well you answer questions like the following:

  • “What is the best strategy for investing my money?”
  • “Do I have the right kinds of insurance?”
  • “Will I be able to retire when I want to?”
  • “Should I purchase a rental property?”
  • “Do I need a will or a trust?”
  • “Should I prepay my home mortgage?”
  • “Could I reduce my tax liability?”
  • “What about municipal bonds?”
  • “Should I invest in my company’s 401(k) plan?”
  • “How much should I pay for disability insurance?”
  • “What about long-term care insurance?”
  • “Are US Government bonds the safest investment?”
  • “Should I invest in foreign securities?”
  • “Do I have too much debt?”

Of course, most people do not possess a thorough knowledge and understanding of the multitude of matters related to personal finance. So they look for advice. And there is plenty of advice available, from insurance salesmen, stockbrokers, bankers, accountants, even newspaper reporters.

The problem is not a lack of advisers. The problem is that some advice-givers aren’t really interested in your success, only theirs. Others simply aren’t qualified. And, while good advice can be worth a fortune to you, bad advice can cost you a fortune.

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