One way to grasp the importance of financial planning is to think about the process of building a home. The construction process requires carefully crafted blueprints and design, professional tradesmen, materials, permits, and lots of time. The backsplash, faucets, knobs, and curtains are not picked out before the foundation is laid and supports are in place. And sometimes, the best laid plans require adjustments due to external factors like the weather or a pandemic.
As financial planners, it is our job to thoroughly understand our clients’ current situation before we can begin to think about recommendations. We can’t provide advice on how much to save, how to invest or what types of accounts to use before we understand you and your goals. At MCA, we follow a three-meeting financial planning process for new clients.
Meeting 1 – Getting Organized
This is where we sit down in person (or virtually) and gather all the necessary information to understand your current situation. It gives us a chance to sit back and listen to your goals, fears, concerns, how you got to where you are today, what you envision retirement looking like, and what you value. The objective of the first meeting is not only to organize your financial life and begin the building phase, but to gain an understanding of what money means to you so we know how to help you leverage it in the best way possible.
Meeting 2 – Interactive Planning Session
The second meeting is our interactive planning session. Between meeting one and two, our client team builds out the framework of your plan. This meeting gives us time to collaborate and finish the building process together. We find giving clients the opportunity to get actively involved in the process and collaborate often leads to a more meaningful conversation; one that helps us really understand them. This often prompts a lot of “ah-ha” moments and helps clients visualize their ideal retirement.
Meeting 3 – Recommendations and Implementation
The last meeting in our process involves providing our specific recommendations. The outcome of this meeting typically answers the following questions for clients:
- How much should I be saving?
- Should I save pre-tax or Roth into my retirement account?
- What account types should I be funding?
- How should each of my accounts be invested?
- When should I file for Social Security?
- What will my income look like in retirement compared to today?
- How do I create income in retirement?
- What account types should I use for income once I am retired?
- How do taxes play a role in all of this?
- How should my beneficiaries be listed on my accounts?
Monitoring and Communication
You now have the blueprints to your new home; the foundation is laid and framing is in place. From here it will be important to make sure the builder stays on track during construction and perform necessary maintenance once the home is finished. This is why we call financial planning a “process” and not a one-time event. Life changes all the time, and we need to make sure to continue and work together to ensure your financial life stays on track.
Life throws a lot of curveballs at all of us; family size grows, income varies, one-off expenses happen (sometimes more often than we hope for). This is precisely why we meet with our clients regularly and maintain consistent communication. Change is inevitable, but we can help you adapt and adjust so that Lake Michigan home you dreamed of doesn’t turn into…. well, use your imagination.
Start Building Your Foundation
Midwest Capital Advisors exists to help people make the right financial decisions to help meet their financial goals. Our team-based approach gives you the flexibility to work with multiple members of our team, so we are available when you need us. Whether you are single, have a family, or own a small to medium-size company, we will use our know-how to help you plan for a more confident financial future. Let us know how we can help!