Financial Planning

Financial Health

Written by: Clinton Brown CFP®, ChFC, CLU, CASL®, CAP®

Most people use financial planners very much like they use doctors – it takes some sort of a serious event to prompt a visit to the office. Patients typically visit a doctor when they are ill or sick. As a financial planner, I usually see clients who are triggered by some sort of major life experience.

For example, just in the past month I was visited by someone whose retirement plan was closed down; another client who was diagnosed with cancer; and also by a small-business owner whose revenues jumped from $800,000 a year to $7 million a year.   Each of these clients experienced a “life event” that propelled them to pick up the phone and give me a call.

Some life events are positive, while others are negative.  Regardless of the type of event, they can form thoughts and questions having to do with finances.  Other potential life events could be:

  • When nearing retirement
  • Getting married
  • Having children
  • Receiving major inheritance
  • New Employment
  • Disability or Death

Examples like these can create a need for a financial check-up.

These are all excellent reasons for someone to seek the advice of a CFP®. Much like a patient should schedule preventative visits to the doctor, one should also consider scheduling a routine assessment of their financial health with a professional.

A good CFP ®, much like the head coach of a football team, will take a holistic approach in helping you prioritize your goals and establish a strategy to reach them. Among other things, a planner can help you select investments for your retirement accounts, understand tax laws, as well as assess your current insurance needs and estate planning exposure. The idea is to have a grasp on your financial goals, and how you are going to achieve them.

After you talk with a financial planner, even if you decide not to make any changes, you will have gained peace of mind that your current approach is sound. However, if the advisor is able to find and correct even one weakness in your financial approach, the planner’s fee could pay for itself over and over again.

I recently had a client visit me who was very good at numbers and calculations. She thoroughly researched and decided on her investment vehicles. She also had determined when she should take Social Security. Despite her preparedness, she decided to talk with me in order to verify and validate her work.

While she entered the office as skeptic, she left comforted because we had found solutions that were more in line with her goals.

One common thread that I’ve found is that many people are doing excellent with their long-term planning, staying on track with their retirement goals and strategies. However, they’re not doing enough with their short-term emergency savings or with their intermediate-term goals. These would include preparing for the purchase of a home or planning for their children’s college expenses.

Another area that I’ve found where many people could be doing more is with insurance planning. In my latest book, “Financially Sound,” I have an entire chapter dedicated to the “Insurance Poor.” This chapter discusses how most people have insurance for their homes, cars and health, yet they fail to protect one of their most valuable assets: their income and their life.

I truly believe that the base of any sound financial plan is insurance, and having your finances assessed by a financial planner can help you determine what you can afford in disability, life, and long-term care insurance, and how to prioritize them.

One misconception that many people have about meeting with a financial planner is that they’re going to be required to do something – invest in something or purchase insurance. In reality, the goal of those initial meetings is to discuss your unique priorities and generate a financial plan – a plan that I hope will give you confidence and peace in where you are today and where you need to be to achieve your goals for tomorrow.


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The 4 Gears of Ramping up for College Prep (this means you mom and dad) Information presented is for educational purposes only. It should not be considered specific investment advice, does not take into consideration your specific situation, and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any securities or investment strategies. Investments involve risk and are not guaranteed. Be sure to consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. Trek FG 17-523

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