In order to assist clients in reaching their desired outcomes, we strongly recommend planning that is outlined in the steps below. Note that the first four steps aren’t really planning at all, but rather discovery steps that are necessary before any meaningful planning can take place. Below is a list of steps to take your clients through the planning process:
Identify key goals and issues. Make them specific and start with the nonfinancial ones. One author identified seven factors that included things like family and personal relationships, meaningful work, friends, and values as being key drivers of happiness. Think of those kinds of goals first. What might retirement look like to you? Will you be the kind of person who will always have to work – not for the money but to keep you from going crazy? If maintaining community and personal relationship is important to you, do you really need that second house? Let persona, values-based decisions drive the financial ones.
Complete a personal balance sheet. Having a personal and detailed balance sheet lets clients see at a glance what their total financial picture looks like, including assets that might not otherwise be considered, like life insurance and real estate.
Identify risk sensitivity. We’ve now endured the Great Recession and we know viscerally how that feels. In light of that experience, what is your client’s emotional reaction to risk? This is less about how a financial professional might describe it and more about the client’s reaction to it.
Assemble a list of estate planning documents. Having all key documents such as wills and trust documents will help lay out the current wealth transfer process.
Begin the planning process with all this information at hand. Only after you’ve assembled all the information just described should you start the planning process.
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