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Your first question might be what the heck is client facing planning?  We’ll get to that in a few minutes.  Just be aware it’s something you should be interested in. 

Why you might ask?  Because it puts you at the center of the planning engagement.  Too often people like you might be convinced to do a financial plan, then you turn over your information over to a financial planner and wait for your financial guru to tell you what you need to do. 

The problem with this is you are giving up your power and waiting for an “expert” to tell you what to do.  I don’t want you to do this and here are 6 reasons why. 

First, what is client facing planning?

I thought you would never ask.  Client facing planning means that we develop a planning process where you help us make assumptions and decisions that will affect your financial future.  It’s not only one answer it’s a range of answers that I want you to consider.

For example, you could retire at 60, 65 or 67.235 years old.  There are ramifications in your life that each of these decisions hold.  Doesn’t it make sense that you would want to have a discussion with your planner about what some of those implications might be?

The way I think client facing planning should happen is you provide your planner with the basic financial facts that exist in your life.  Facts like, when you were born, what your assets are, how much money you spend each year and what are the things you want to own and spend money on.  Once we have these facts we can then sit down with you and start looking what the financial outcomes will look like based on different assumptions.

You are key in this process.  Our role is to help you think through various options you want to see.  Our role is to ask you great questions, not tell you what you should do.  How does that sound?

Why you need to be involved and be at the center.

I get really tired of having “experts” tell their clients what they should do.  I would much rather see us in the “expert” business be thinking partners where we help you think through choices you have.  After we’ve explored the why behind various options, we can then provide you with ideas that come from your point of view……not things we think you should do.

When you are the expert on your life, the planning process changes.  Our role becomes one where we help you realize your dreams, not ours. 

It’s not the plan that counts, it’s the planning that does. 

Eventually something needs to be written down on paper.  There’s a false assumption that appears when this happens.  You think that whatever is on paper is the truth. 

The fact is it’s not.  It’s just one of hundreds if not thousands of outcomes that can occur.  Planning is an organic process.  It lives and breathes.  A financial plan isn’t something you do once and it’s over.  The same is true for an estate plan, business plan, tax plan…..you get the idea.  The plan isn’t the goal, it’s just a process to help you think about options you can pursue and potential outcomes that come from those assumptions. 

I hope you like the idea of options more than you want a plan. 

Kick it up a notch and demand your planner helps you with scenario planning.

When you work with scenarios you’re telling yourself you really don’t know what’s going to happen in the future.  That’s a good thing.

You see, once you admit that you don’t know what the future will bring you’re starting to prepare for the unknown.  If you’re like lots of people I work with this is a really uncomfortable place.  It’s also a great place to learn to live.  Knowing what you think is going to happen will be different helps you prepare for the unknown and you’ll start to embrace flexibility.

Scenario planning helps with this.  When you put together three or four different scenarios as part of a planning process you are looking a range of how things can work out.  The truth is the different scenarios you choose are probably wrong.  What the different scenarios will tell you that there is a high probability that your future reality will probably fall someplace in between your most hopeful outcome and one that might cause you some pain.

Once you plan, don’t stop.

Now that you have put together a plan with several outcomes, you can’t stop.  You must update your plan from time to time.

How often you might ask?  That would depend on if and when a major change has happened in your life.  You lost your job, revisit your plan.  You got a new job, same answer.  You’ve been diagnosed with a major health issue, been divorced or lost a loved one…..I hope you know the answer.  It’s time to revisit that plan you did.

If none of those things happen, every three to five years you need to look at what you did.  I’m going to bet that over a five-year period some of your goals for how you want to live your life will have changed.  When that happens, it’s time to revisit what you would like to see happen.

The truth is neither of us know what the future will bring.

This something you need to embrace.  As much as we like to think we know what the future will bring, we don’t.  The future is a great big question mark.

Eight years ago my life was going along just like I planned.  Then, that dreaded phone call came and my life was turned upside down.  I had to completely change my focus to dealing with a major cancer event.  That not only caused me to focus on health, it caused me to look at finances and my business model.

What I learned from that experience is that we all have to be ready for the phone call that changes our life.  What the call comes and it will probably come, you need to be prepared for what that means.  If you’ve been participating in client faced planning, you’ll be ready to respond.  Isn’t that something you want?

Why don’t you tell me what you think about this in the comments below?

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Topics: financial planning, scenario planning, client facing planning

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