There are many different situations and events that can effect our financial lives. The most common events are the small financial decisions that we make everyday. In addition, these small financial decisions that have the greatest impact on our financial future.
In order to achieve financial freedom or at least financial security many of us should have a comprehensive financial plan. Comprehensive financial plans seek to “cover all of the bases”; meaning a good majority of financial planning factors have been considered. Absent of any special needs or situations a financial plan should include an analysis and recommendations concerning your current financial position, risk management/ insurance, investments, tax planning, retirement and estate planning.
Current Financial Position
The first element of a comprehensive financial plan is the analysis that determines your current financial situation. This step involves gathering a bunch of data consisting of bank account statements, insurance policies, brokerage account statements, estate planning documents, tax returns and any additional financial data you might have available. The information found in these documents will be used to create a income statement and the statement of net worth or statement of financial position.
In addition a Financial Planner should also prepare a “status quo” retirement outlook and conduct a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis or SWOT analysis. This objective of this study is to determine the gaps between your goals and objectives and current financial situation.
Risk Management and Insurance
One of the most common gaps uncovered in the financial planning process is a lack of adequate insurance coverage. This is to be expected due to the fact that nobody likes to pay for insurance. Regardless, insurance is one of the most important elements of an comprehensive financial plan. A rational person could save up a few million dollars and think they have achieved financial freedom, when an event that no one expected occurs.
There are many examples of incidents that could easily wipe out millions of dollars worth of savings. This is why its so important to protect the assets you have and ensure they are protected from life’s negative and unpredictable events.
Investments are by far everyone’s favorite financial planning element. I personally believe this is due to the fact that investing is much more exciting than insurance and tax planning. A Financial Advisor will review a portfolio’s allocation and assess its theoretical ability to reach a client’s financial planning goals and objectives. This includes determining if there is proper diversification among assets.
In addition the analysis will seek to determine the right investment approach for the client’s financial situation and what levels of future investment is needed in order to fund the desired way of life during retirement.
I hope this article helps you understand the elements of a comprehensive financial plan. In my next post (Elements of a Financial Plan - Part 2) I will provide a quick overview of the last three elements of a financial plan. As you can see the financial planning process can be intense. True Financial Planning seeks to provide a robust financial plan that will enable you to reach your life’s goals and objectives.