- Financial planning can be complex because it is designed to maximize financial resources and tie in all aspects of a client’s financial life.
- A process is needed to understand your goals, objectives, current financial position, and the resources that can be deployed to better your financial outlook or keep more of your financial resources for what you want.
- As a client of Blue Bell Wealth Management, the process and the planning should make your life easier. The financial planning will give you the clarity, confidence, and strategies you need to have the financial success you want.
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Financial planning can be complex and data intensive. At Blue Bell Private Wealth Management, our business model is simple. We offer two main services: financial planning and investment management on a fee-only basis. We always act as a fiduciary during when providing either financial planning, investment management or the two combined together for the most effective outcomes. Meaning we have a legal obligation to always act in our client’s best interest.
We use our experience and expertise to do the financial planning work for our clients to improve their financial position. We attempt to make their life easier and simplify the client side of the financial planning experience. We cover many topics including retirement, education, tax, estate, insurance, cash flow planning, among other areas. This comprehensive financial planning view allows us to uncover opportunities, risks and gaps in a client’s financial position.
We work with our clients to build long-term, lasting relationships that adapt with them overtime. We do not sell any products. We put our clients in a position to work collaborative with us to build a financial plan that works toward their personal objectives, and we always act in their best interest when managing their money on a discretionary basis.
We are the “quarterback or center middle fielder” of a client’s complete financial team. We focus our expertise on financial planning and investment management. Sometimes, we need to “pass the ball” to other trusted professionals to act as the other “players” on the team to add their expertise to a client situation. These professionals include accountants, attorneys, insurance brokerages, mortgage professionals, bankers, and others. Since we do not sell products, at the very least we need to help our clients acquire needed insurance coverages, financing, etc.
To tie all these aspects of a client’s financial life together, we need to go through a financial planning process for those clients that choose to engage us for this service. This process is important in all stages/ages of life and should be viewed as an on-going process, not a one-time book.
Financial Planning Process:
The first step in the financial planning process is to determine the relationship the client is looking for and the scope of planning work to be done by the advisor. The complexity of the client’s situation determines the amount of time the advisor will spend on working on the client’s situation over the course of the year. This determines the fair advisor fee for the relationship and sets the stage for working with the client.
As a Certified Financial Planner TM Practitioner (CFP®), the client’s personal goals/objectives is equally important as the “hard” data. The next step the “data gathering” stage is the hurdle the client has to get over to provide information related to income, expenses, investments, insurance, tax returns, retirement plans and anything that applies to their financial situation. Once the client finishes collecting the data, we can take over form there. We try to make this step as easy as possible for our clients.
I use the next step in the financial planning process to go through all the data and begin to better understand the clients overall financial situation and look for opportunities or areas that I can provide an immediate impact. Then I put all the puzzle pieces together to create statements, reports, projections, and multiple scenarios. During this stage options for the client to improve their financial situation materialize and potential risks or gaps in their situation become clearer.
Then recommendations are created, and a presentation of the analysis is built. In financial planning, there are often multiple ways to solve or improve a client’s financial situation. My job is to present the pros/cons and help the client decide the path they feel is best for themselves and their family. Some recommendations relating to risks or gaps in their financial situation that should be address have options also that need to be explained so the client understands any risk they are personally choosing to take.
I help my clients implement all agreed upon recommendations. We will begin to open various investment accounts and develop their investment portfolio. The client can adjust their employer sponsored retirement plans if needed. Since we are fee-only and do not take any commissions of any kind, I connect them with trusted professionals in insurance, lending, estate planning and tax preparation/accounting or we work with the professionals they already have a relationship with. The implementation phase can take time and depends on the scope of recommendations that are being implemented.
I monitor the plan on an on-going basis to make sure we are on-track. The plan needs to be flexible to change with the client’s situation and changes to the financial landscape that is out of our control.
Clarity, Confidence & Strategies:
The outcome of financial planning from the client’s perspective should be clarity as to where they stand in relation to their personal goals, confidence in their personal path forward to reach their objectives and clear strategies that are going to improve their overall situation. What I enjoy most about financial planning is that every client is different and unique. The objectives may to very similar to other clients, however when you put all the pieces of a situation together with the clients’ personal financial goals each situation is unique.
I cannot stress enough that gaining clarity to your financial situation is a vitally important step in taking action to get on the path to achieving your future financial goals. I hear all the time from financial planning clients that they feel much better knowing where they stand currently and are empowered by the knowledge of what they need to do to get what they what for their future or their families future. Overtime, their personal goals become clearer, and they know what they want their financial success to provide for them and their family.
I find that seeing the analysis, scenarios, and projections clearly in charts and graphs gives my clients the confidence to act toward their financial goals. The financial planning is designed to help determine the best use of limited financial resources that we all have, however without action, it means nothing. I believe my clients deserve to be confident in the financial decisions they are making. They work hard, save, invest and they deserve to be able to reach their personal financial goals. They earn their eventual financial independence.
The financial planning strategies in the areas of tax planning and investment management help my clients keep more of the money they make working and investing. Adequate risk management strategies are important in modern society to protect your assets and income. Estate planning is important for every adult regardless of wealth. Everyone should have a Financial Power of Attorney and a Healthcare Directive to assign powers to a trusted person in the event they become incapacitated and cannot make decisions for themselves. Comprehensive strategies go beyond just building wealth. We all know the investments we make for the future are how we get to financial freedom; however, we cannot go through life without addressing risks and filling gaps in our financial situation that could throw everything off-track.
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Mike Weber, CFP®
Blue Bell Private Wealth Management is an independent, fee-only Registered Investment Advisor providing financial planning, investment and wealth management services for all generations.