Some of life’s financial events are planned. Some are surprises. No matter the event, you may not have the time, desire, or expertise to bring all of the pieces of your financial life together. Instead, you may benefit from the objective, third-party perspective of a financial advisor on what are often emotional, difficult decisions.
But not all advisors are created equal. A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional has met rigorous educational and experience requirements, and is held to high ethical standards. Consequently, only 17% of all financial advisors hold the CFP ® mark of distinction.
Financial planning typically focuses on these major areas:
- Cash flow analysis & budget planning
- Insurance planning
- Employee benefits planning
- Investment planning
- Income tax planning
- Retirement planning
- Estate planning
In six steps, we address these topics to help you stay focused and follow through on improving your life. Here’s how we do it.
- 1. Form the Foundation
The purpose of setting goals is to form the foundation of planning itself–to begin the life journey with the clarification of a destination. But too many people begin with no specific goals in mind, or instead, their goals are whatever so-called conventional wisdom has taught them. Your life goals might be different. The purpose of money must follow the purpose of your life.
- 2. Gather the Facts
How you answer questions related to your goals, time horizon, attitude toward risk, and other questions about your life, your values, your money, and your family, helps VanTrust recommend sensible solutions and personalized strategies. The data gathered can change from event to event. Retirement, marriage, and college, for example, may require different questions and different data.
- 3. Study Your Status
The data we gather helps us to arrive at some basic assumptions. These may include personal assumptions such as retirement age, projected life expectancy, income requirements, risk tolerance and time horizon. We also consider financial assumptions such as inflation, taxes, and expected investment returns. As we evaluate your situation, these assumptions help us determine what must be done to achieve your goals.
- 4. Present our Recommendations
After gathering your data, VanTrust develops and presents our financial planning recommendations that meet your objectives in a way that is easy for you to understand. We help you make sense of our recommendations and allow you to make informed decisions now, and in the future should changes occur. We’re also not afraid to tell you when the best recommendation is to do nothing at all.
- 5. Set Your Course
Put your plan to work! As simple as this sounds, it’s not. Many people find that implementing a plan is the most difficult step in financial planning. It takes discipline and desire to put into action. Getting started is the most important aspect of success. Perhaps instead of jumping into something too challenging, too fast, your strategy should first be slow and achievable. We can help you with this.
- 6. Stay on Track
Life evolves and changes. Before you know it there is a marriage, a birth of a child, college, career changes and more. Once a plan is created, it’s history. This is why the plan needs to be monitored and adjusted from time to time. Then there are financial events beyond your control like tax law changes, increased inflation, stock market losses and economic recessions. A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional can offer support and a fresh perspective on how to react to these events.