Define What Matters Through Seasonal Planning

Bonnie Tucker, AAMS®, MBA, Associate RIA Compliance Consultant
February 26, 2019

How can your clients achieve a financial goal without funding it? The answer is: they can’t. A new year provides an excellent opportunity to look back at the progress made in one’s financial life – not always an easy task – and look ahead to one’s future financial goals. Now is the perfect time to work with your clients on how to learn from their past, prepare for their future and establish a process for how you can do both going forward.

There are a multitude of financial planning topics for clients to consider – specifically, financial position, asset allocation, risk management, estate planning, retirement planning and tax planning. Because of the complexity of just one of those topics, let alone all six of them, 1st Global recommends a Seasonal Planning program that calls for each quarter of the year, or season, to focus on different topics.

  • The first quarter of the year appropriately focuses on goal setting, as the first of the year is a common time to make resolutions and reassess goals.
  • The second quarter of the year focuses on asset allocation and making sure portfolios are weighted appropriately between cash, fixed income and equity based on a client’s risk tolerance, time frame and goals.
  • The third quarter focuses on cash flow, insurance and estate planning and on answering the question of what kind of life a client wants to live and what kind of legacy that client wants to leave behind.
  • Lastly, the fourth quarter of the year dives into tax planning to prepare clients for the upcoming tax season.

Don’t overlook or undervalue the goal tracking season for the more technical quarters and topics. Each of the topics covered in each quarter are based on goals, and the plan itself creates a road map for clients. If goals are not clearly defined, where will the road map lead? Will clients be confident, happy, and comfortable where they end up by following the map, or will they not recognize where they are once they have arrived?

In one of his many works, Francis Chan writes “Our greatest fear should not be of failure … but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter.” The goal tracking season of financial planning is the clients best opportunity, and perhaps only opportunity for an entire year, to focus on defining what truly matters so that he or she does not spend a life succeeding at something that they realize too late did not really matter.

As for what does really matter, every client’s answer will differ, and they should, as every person has unique preferences and tendencies. It does not matter if the endgame is a business empire, a child, significant charitable donations, a college tuition, helping one person or helping one million. What does matter is that the client, and advisor both take the time to look inward and recognize what clearly matters, define it by giving it a name and, with the advisor’s help, plan for it. Not to be dramatic, but the client’s life—or rather, how it is spent and where it leads—depends on it!

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