Financial Planning Process

Woman writing a checklistHave you thought about visiting a financial planner, but are nervous about the process or the outcome? Read this section to become familiar with how many fee-only financial planners work with their clients.

The Certified Financial Planning ™ Board defines the financial planning process in 6 steps. Sullivan Financial Planning, LLC uses these steps as a guide to give clients a consistent experience and a complete plan. The steps are as follows:

Establish the Client Relationship:  I offer a free one-hour consultation to determine if there is a good fit for working together. I will discuss the scope of the work needed as well as the values and attitudes of both client and planner. If it is determined that both parties want to continue the process, Sullivan Financial Planning, LLC will provide an estimate of the cost. One half of the estimate is due prior to the Analysis phase. Payment is welcomed by personal check.

Gather Data:  In this phase, the client is responsible for pulling together the required information to give me a clear picture of his/her current financial state. I provide a Fact Finder, Asset Inventory Sheet, Budget Worksheet, and Risk Tolerance Questionnaire.   Depending on the scope of the work, I may also need copies of the client’s Life insurance, Long Term Care insurance, Disability insurance, and Annuity Policies. After the required information is received by Sullivan Financial Planning, I can proceed to the next step.

Analysis:  Here is where the client relaxes and I get to work. Using various software resources and calling on experience, Sullivan Financial Planning will determine where you have short falls in your plan and outline specific steps to move you closer to your goals.

Deliver the Plan:  In a face to face meeting, I will discuss the analysis of the client’s situation and the options available to improve it, if needed. The client then has the option of continuing to the next steps on his/her own, or engaging Sullivan Financial Planning to help them implement the plan. The remainder of payment for the plan is due at this time.

Implement the Plan:  If the client is confident in his/her abilities and has the time to implement the plan, no further action is needed from Sullivan Financial Planning. If, however, the client would like to outsource the paperwork, investment analysis, or other actions needed to implement the plan, we will discuss how SFP can be of further assistance. Remember, a plan that is not implemented is just a waste of time and money!

Monitor the Plan:  This won’t be a surprise to you – things change! Your needs may change. Your income may change. Your risk tolerance for investments may change. Your family obligations may change. The financial markets are always changing. Any of these are reasons to monitor and adjust your financial plan. This should be done at least once per year. At the time of the client relationship we can discuss the cost and benefits of keeping me on Annual Retainer for ongoing monitoring of your plan.