Last month, we took a look at some financial plans. You got to see what a financial plan might look like for a young family and how it is different for a couple nearing retirement. For many people, their financial plan is the first time they’ve ever had a summary of their financial life set before them in a clear and complete way. It’s like turning on the light in a dark room that you’ve been stumbling through.
Our financial plans are written to be a map that our clients can follow on their stewardship journey that will guide them in the direction that they have told us they want to go and help prepare them for any obstacles they are likely to encounter along the way. Yet, sometimes a map isn’t enough. After presenting our financial plan, what most people essentially say is, “The map looks great, but would you be willing to come on the journey with me?”
We enjoy making the maps, but we LOVE going on the journey with our clients. That is what our ongoing financial planning service is.
How We View the Financial Planning Relationship
Before getting into the details of what ongoing financial planning entails, it’s important to take a step back and look at the big picture. The way we view the financial planning relationship is that we believe that God owns everything and has entrusted certain resources to our clients. We are not the stewards of those resources, rather our clients are the stewards. Our job as financial planners is to guide our clients and provide wise counsel so that they can wisely steward those resources that God owns and has entrusted to them.
What Ongoing Financial Planning Includes
The first thing that usually attracts people to our ongoing financial planning is assistance with plan implementation. As you saw in our sample financial plans, they cover a lot of different areas and can generate a lot of different action items. It can feel daunting to try to tackle the whole list on your own. While we try to provide a lot of detail in our plans, it can be helpful to know that the experts are only an email or phone call away when you’re actually implementing the plan.
In addition to plan implementation, a lot of married couples like the idea of having another trusted person involved in their finances. This brings a lot of peace of mind to the spouse who is the primary manager of the family finances, since they know that if something happens to them their spouse will have someone who is familiar with their situation to help them manage their money and make wise decisions instead of being forced to figure things out alone.
What usually brings people back for ongoing planning after initially deciding to implement on their own is accountability. It’s really easy to set your plan aside and get busy and not follow through on our recommendations. Knowing that we will be asking what you’ve gotten done is a great motivator for most people. In fact, we have some ongoing clients who never complete any of their tasks until the week before our review meeting because facing us is the only thing that can motivate them to get it done.
Speaking of review meetings, we do them twice a year in the spring and fall with all of our ongoing clients, either over Zoom or in person at our Shoreview, MN office. In those meetings, we review any tasks from previous meetings, anything that is new in our clients’ lives, and cover a predetermined list of topics that we cycle through (see the calendar below). Most meetings include two of our team members so that one can take notes while the other gives their full attention to the client. After the meeting, we send out an email that summarizes the next steps based on what was discussed in the meeting, as well as a copy of all documents reviewed in the meeting.
We have created a calendar that covers every area of financial planning at least once every three years. There are some things we discuss in every meeting, like the net worth statement, but others don’t change as often so we discuss them less often, like estate planning. This is what our calendar looks like:
In addition to our regularly scheduled meetings, clients have unlimited access to us as needs arise. We are very proactive in our communication regarding the constantly changing financial landscape. For example, if something changes in the tax law, we reach out to our clients and let them know what is happening, how it affects them, and any actions they may need to take as a result. Our ongoing clients also get a personal financial website where they can link their various accounts to see the big picture, set goals, track spending, and keep everything organized and in one place.
We also offer investment management to our ongoing clients as an optional service. We will get into more detail about that next month.
Clients often choose our ongoing services for help implementing their plans or for accountability, but they stay for something even more important. Many of them tell us that the greatest value we provide is the peace of mind knowing that a Certified Financial Planner who shares their Christian values is looking over their situation and helping them make wise decisions and avoid big mistakes.
How We Work
Those are the services we provide to our ongoing financial planning clients, but what about the logistics? In practice, this is what working with us looks like:
- You will have one dedicated financial planner but we work as a team so you will likely be in communication with several people from our firm who are working closely together to provide the best possible experience for you.
- We primarily work from our homes, so unless you have a scheduled meeting you typically will not find us in the office.
- If you pay a monthly fee, it will automatically be deducted on the first of the month from the bank account that you set up in AdvicePay, our payment processing system. You also have the option of mailing a check.
- If we manage investments for you, your fee will be deducted from your investment accounts on a quarterly basis and a detailed invoice will be available in your financial planning website’s secure vault.
- Fees are reassessed at the end of every even year (i.e. 2022, 2024, etc.).
- Our ongoing relationship can be ended at any time without penalty if you ever stop finding value in our services or we feel the relationship is no longer productive.
How to Work With Us
All of our ongoing clients start by having us create a comprehensive financial plan for them, so that’s your first step if the services outlined here sound appealing to you. You can start by scheduling a free introductory call where we can learn more about your situation and how we might be able to help you reach your goals. After that, you decide if you want to move forward and work with us to create a financial plan. You don’t have to decide if you want ongoing financial planning services until after we’ve presented your plan to you so that you can get a feel for how we work together before making any commitment.
About Guide Financial Planning
Guide Financial Planning is led by founder Ben Wacek, who is a Christian fee-only Certified Financial Planner™ and Certified Kingdom Advisor®. He has a passion to help people of all income levels make wise financial decisions and steward their resources from an eternal perspective using Biblical principles. Based in Minneapolis, MN, he works with clients both locally and virtually throughout the country and abroad. You can follow the links to learn more about Guide Financial Planning and our team and the services we offer.