Benjamin Franklin once said: If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. Inversely to succeed, a proper plan dramatically increases the probability of your success. Many think investing is simply about making smart investments and getting good returns, but it is critical to have a comprehensive financial strategy in place beforehand to ensure that you know WHY you are investing. This overall strategy plan, created in collaboration with financial experts such as investment advisor, CPA, estate attorney, insurance agent, etc. should reflect what is most important to you — your values, needs, concerns and hopes.
It is similar to building a new house. Initially you meet with an expert (an architect) to share what you are looking for. Your architect will ask a lot of questions to make sure they understand your preferences and have a good feel for your vision. With this information, the architect can put together plans for your project. Then, you and your contractor can start construction to make your dream house a reality. There will be some changes along the way and with detailed plans, it will be much easier for the contractor to construct your vision.
The financial strategy works the same way. Your financial team will help clarify your goals and dreams for the future, focusing on key life areas such as helping and protecting your family and building a legacy. Then putting that strategy in writing so it is specific to your situation and can be easily followed for your financial team to construct. Similar to your house, your finances will need to be maintained over time to ensure it continues to meet your needs and desires.
There are 5 essential steps in a financial strategy:
- Determine what is most important to you — your values, needs, concerns and hopes.
- Calculate where you are with your assets ,accounts, savings, debts, loans, credit cards, insurance, estate plan, etc.
- Set goals to see what needs to be done to move from your reality to your vision.
- Implement strategy. The most effective and efficient way to do this is to automate the financial systems of your life so you can focus your time on living life to the fullest and know you have systems in place to give you as many options as possible.
- Regularly review your progress along the way, maintain your financial systems and adjust as needed.
Just like sailing or flying from here to Europe for a summer vacation, you (or your pilot) need a detailed map to know where you are going and to track your progress along the way. Then you know where you’re going and your ETA. Because to give you the greatest probability of achieving your goals, having this detailed information of where you are and when you are expected to get there will help you adjust your strategy as needed when inevitably the winds change, clouds form, rain falls, The same is true for financial planning. And this is what we individuals do. Design their dream vacation for life and give them the greatest probability of making it a reality. Thank you for asking.