Fail to Plan? Plan to Fail

Corliss V. Garner

August is the month we celebrate Goat Cheese, Catfish, Chocolate Chip Cookies and Left-Handers Awareness.  We also celebrate National Lemon Meringue Pie Day, National Thrift Shop Day, National Rum Day (coconut, please and thank you!)  and National Girlfriends Day.
It appears to be entirely possible to celebrate absolutely anything on any day you like.  With that, I hereby declare today National Review My New Year’s Resolutions For The First Time This Year Day!  Because let’s keep it real – we all created these amazing life changing goals on January 1st and haven’t thought about them since January 15th.  And for sure our financial lives should be back on track by now, right?  #SideEye
We are more than halfway through 2018 and now is a good time to review your finances and any goals you set at the beginning of the year.  Did you start your savings or emergency fund program?  Have you been consistently paying down debt? Did you increase your 401k or deferred compensation funding? How are you going to stay on track for the rest of the year? What will you do differently?  How will you plan to achieve your goals?
Do You Need A Financial Advisor?
Short answer.  Likely.
A friend recently told me “Chile, I don’t have the kind of money that requires a financial advisor!”  We went back and forth a bit, but I finally convinced her that you don’t have to be wealthy to work with an advisor.  In fact, those who are wealthy started working with an advisor long before attaining baller status.
A good and reputable financial advisor will assess your goals, inventory your current financial status and develop an action plan in your best interest to meet your goals. While the process is much more extensive, simply stated: an advisor will help you identify where you are today and lead you to where you want to be tomorrow.  The Standards of Professional Conduct for Certified Financial PlannersTM define the financial planning process as follows.
Establish and define the client/advisor relationship

  • What is the scope of the relationship? Take the time to agree on how you and the advisor will work together.  Are you simply looking for advice or do you want a full financial plan?

Gather client data including goals

  • Be prepared to share as much information as possible to help the advisor understand your current financial position. Also talk about what goals you’d like to accomplish.  Buy a house in 5 years? Save for college expenses? Retire comfortably by age 60?

Analyze and evaluate the client’s current financial status

  • The advisor will review your financial and non-financial information to identify your financial trends, any barriers to achieving goals and lift up your financial success thus far.

Develop and present recommendations and alternatives

  • Your advisor will come to you with a financial roadmap based on the information provided. Recommendations may include funding a Roth IRA, shifting from tax deferred investments to taxable investments and/or reducing spending to boost retirement savings.

Implement the recommendations

  • Your advisor can assist with implementing the recommendations. He/she may be authorized to sell investment or insurance products.  Be sure to understand the compensation structure and call out any potential conflicts of interest.  Work with an advisor who serves as a fiduciary and will act in your best interest as the client.  Other recommendations could include drafting estate planning documents or implementing certain tax strategies.  Your advisor can make recommendations to those professionals as well.

Monitor the recommendations

  • You and your advisor will work together to monitor progress at least annually. Adjust as necessary.

P.S. All advisors are not created equal.  Check credentials carefully and understand how he/she is compensated.
P.P.S.  Yes, planners are compensated for their work, either by flat fee or percent of assets under management. Choose an arrangement that works best for you and your needs.  If you simply need clarity on goals and a roadmap with no ongoing implementation, a flat fee arrangement may work best.
Corliss is a lifelong Chicagoan from the West Side who has a thing for money and has learned from a few mistakes over the years.  She is a fierce auntie, passionate about improving community and educating our babies.  She happens to be a Certified Financial Planner TM, has worked a few decades in many areas of banking and views financial literacy as a personal ministry.  Join her Facebook page Got My Mind on My Money and My Money on My Mind.   Contact her at with comments or questions.
The topics discussed and opinions given are not intended to address the specific needs of any reader. They are for informational purposes only and are not to be construed or relied upon as pro-bono, paid or any other advice.  The information herein does not offer legal, tax or other advice, and readers are encouraged to discuss their individual financial needs with the appropriate professional advisors.  The opinions and thoughts expressed herein are solely those of the Writer and not those of the Writer’s employer(s) or any other affiliations.   Writer assumes no liability for any loss or damage resulting from errors or omissions or reliance on or use of the material herein.

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