Many new clients ask how financial planning works. They’re unsure of the differences between the financial advisor they've used in the past and a financial planner. New clients usually want to wrap their arms around their current financial state, and figure out how they’ll get to the future they desire. At CovingtonAlsina, we follow a time-tested process to help our clients.
First, we establish our scope of work. Some clients need a full comprehensive plan: everything from retirement savings and college planning to insurance coverage and estate planning. Some clients have a specific question: When should I draw Social Security? How does this job offer compare to my current salary and benefits? Are my investments diversified? We sit down and determine what questions need to be answered.
From there, we gather data. Some of this is factual and objective: date of birth, investments, insurance policies. Some of this is ephemeral and subjective: what do you envision for your retirement years? What do you want for your family if something should happen to you? Do you want to pay for all of your children’s college, or should they have some skin in the game?
Your planner will take this information and assess all of it, looking for gaps and deficiencies, areas that can be improved, and if you’re on track toward your dreams. Next, we’ll develop a plan to help you address the weak areas, and get you on track towards your goals. This step involves two to three meetings as we refine ideas, methods, and objectives.
Once we’ve agreed on the steps you want to take from your financial plan, your planner will walk you through the implementation phase. We’ll help you take action, from consolidating multiple 401(k) and IRA accounts, to setting up appointments with your home and auto insurance agent or your estate attorney.
The last phase of our process is monitoring. All clients are asked to meet four times a year, twice in person and twice via conference call. Of course, we welcome your calls and emails at any time. The ongoing monitoring helps keep you on track, and helps us adjust things as your life changes.
All told, the initial planning process takes three to five meetings, usually spread over two to three months. If you have any questions about our process, or to schedule a complimentary meeting to see if we’re the right planners for you, please feel free to call us at 410.457.7165, or send an email to email@example.com.