We see far too many financial plans that have not survived the test of time. The clients met with their previous ‘planner’ for an hour or two and then a week later received their ‘plan’. Usually a beautiful document, full of tables, charts, and graphs. It is artfully bound, with a customized cover, and presented with great care. Somehow they always remind us of this classic:
These ‘plans’ are designed to look professional so you feel comfortable and confident with the recommendations you are being given. By design, this document looks like something you will keep and use for the rest of your life.
The problem with this type of ‘plan’ is that it is supposed to cover a lifetime of earning, spending, saving, investing, and insuring, but it is based on a snapshot in time. Someone has essentially taken a still photo of you and your family and made the movie of your lives. The implication is they can predict the future because they know what is happening today.
Real financial planning does not work that way.
There is a military expression that “no plan survives first contact with the enemy”. It means no matter how diligently you plan, no matter how many different possibilities you conceive, unexpected things will happen. In other words, if life is what happens while we’re making other plans, it’s nearly inevitable that reality is going to veer from the forecast inside that shiny binder. No matter how many different possibilities you plan for, unexpected situations will arise. It’s called ‘life’.
This begs the question: are we wasting our time by planning? If your planning assumptions become obsolete as soon as you write them down, is it even worth engaging in the planning process at all?
Our answer: Absolutely.
The military expression about the plan not surviving is somewhat tongue-in-cheek. “The” plan might not survive, but A plan will certainly emerge from the wreckage after we orient ourselves to the changes. This can only happen because a plan existed in the first place. As President Eisenhower said, “I have found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” The true value of making a plan lies in the clear articulation of the objectives and milestones. There is significant merit in having everyone on the same page with respect to what you’re trying to achieve.
Let’s get back to that professionally bound and confidence-inspiring book you were told is your financial plan. How flexible is that plan? How adaptable is that plan when you have another child? Or you lose your job? Or if you experience catastrophic success? Or when you have an epiphany and your goals change? Are those charts and graphs still going to get you where you want to go? How willing are you to stake your family’s future on it?
That’s why we do things differently. Financial planning at Redeployment Wealth Strategies is a process, not an event. We work together as a team to achieve your goals. We can’t possibly get to know your goals, your values, your concerns, the areas where you’re strong, the areas where you need the most help – in a single meeting. We accomplish this by discussing your financial situation with you, devising some scenarios, gauging your response, educating you on possibilities, and helping you articulate your specific objectives. This takes a little time, usually several meetings. Between those planning meetings we both have homework. You need to uncover documents and data. We need to research your situation so we can make the best recommendations.
An adviser who doesn’t know his client gives generic advice. You can get generic advice from a website. Or from a professionally bound document with a customized cover. You get personal advice from a person. A person who knows you. A person who has spent time with you in order to understand your goals, values, concerns, strengths, and weaknesses.
Once we know who you are and what you want, we build your plan together. We are partners in this process. RWS provides the knowledge and technical expertise. You provide the direction. We establish the objectives, we build the base, and then we prioritize the actions to get you where you want to go. We plan for foreseeable challenges, and we build flexibility into the plan for the unforeseeable challenges.
Then we execute the plan. We take the necessary steps to achieve the objectives. At this point we meet as often as you want. Our fee structure is a subscription. You are retaining our services for whenever they are needed. You can contact us whenever you need to in order to ask questions or solicit advice.
And when the unforeseen happens we sit down again and figure out how to flex the plan. Together we determine how to work that unforeseen event into your plan and get you back on track to your financial goals. This process never stops until you no longer need money and the plan ends.
Documents, charts, and graphs can be useful. They have their place, but they are NOT a plan. Do not mistake them as a substitute for genuine advice. When they are professionally bound and presented they are often nothing more than a sales tool to help close the deal. They are provided to make you sufficiently comfortable to move to the next phase – purchasing the financial products recommended in your document. It’s not a plan. It’s a brochure.
At Redeployment Wealth Strategies we don’t sell financial products. We sell financial planning. We may put together a binder of information for you to reference in the future, but that isn’t your financial plan. Your financial plan is a living, changing, growing entity we develop, nurture, and modify over a lifetime.
If you are ready for a new experience in financial planning, give us a call at (757) 752-8055 or schedule your free consultation.