Our initial meeting is mostly conducted over two appointments. The first is really a 'getting to know you' meeting, where both adviser and client confirm we would like to work with each other, whilst then we outline the process described below in some detail. We will gather basic information, but will send you away to gather all the information that is required for us to prepare the right advice for you.
Having a clear understanding of your real financial position is vital. Many clients financial situation is complicated and confusing and the process of gathering all your financial details into one location allows both you and us to see the true picture. This is what we call the 'ground zero' of your financial plan.
During this meeting we will review and discuss your current financial position including:
Probably the most important part of what a financial planner does is to establish what is important to clients regarding both the life and their finances. To ensure that any recommendations we make are aligned with your needs, we go through a detailed process of goal-setting. Our experience is that clients initially think that they have simple goals, but this is because they are suffering from a little financial myopia - what is right in front of me is what is most important!
To ensure we capture all client goals, we have developed a unique seven-stage process where we look at your financial life.
are those actions that you have firm plans to undertake within the next 0-3 years. They will not generally require investment decisions to be made, but rather will have a cash flow impact or will utilise existing savings. For example, buying a new car or taking an overseas holiday.
Are financial events that are likely to occur within 4-10 years. Unlike short-term goals, there is likely to be an investment or savings component to their achievement. Examples of these might include education funding or significant home improvements.
are plans you would like to achieve in a time frame longer than 10 years. These goals require significant planning, but the time frame will mean different things to different people. Typically this might include mortgage repayment, university education or for those a little older - funding aged care needs.
Your financial security, or more particularly, your ability to financially withstand catastrophic personal events, is a vital part of your financial plan. We discuss the different scenarios that may lead to this situation and strategies to overcome their financial consequences.
Understanding what will happen if you die or lose the ability to make decisions is something that none of us like to think about let alone discuss. However, as superannuation balances grow and family life becomes more complicated than ever it is a very important part of the advice we provide. Many clients are surprised to learn that superannuation and life insurance fall outside the scope of many wills and ensuring that these proceeds are paid to the person you want them to are part of our advice and strategies.
Your retirement goal consists of identifying what income will be required to provide for your living costs, and providing a lump sum for special purchases you plan to make at or around retirement. Specific lump sum costs at retirement might include purchase of a caravan, new car, or one-off significant trip.
The reality check of the above goals occurs when we look at the relationship between your income and your expenses. We all know that completing and sticking to a budget is difficult but it is the cornerstone of a successful plan. There is no point allocating money that doesn't exist, or conversely, spending in an inefficient manner. We will help you to complete an honest review of your spending and then develop strategies to make you stick to it.
OK, so you have established a list of goals and objectives. Now the hard questions start - what have you previously put in place to achieve these goals. Most clients have made a bit of a start on their finances, but often in an unco-ordinated or inefficient manner. Here we begin our analysis.
We will be looking at your current mortgage repayment schedule, your salary sacrifice, your current will, the structure of your banking and your investment portfolio if you have one to see how closely aligned to your goals these things are.
This is where we really earn our money. We complete a detailed asset and cash flow model to allow us to analyse and identify any shortfalls in your existing strategies. This allows us to consider 'what-if' scenarios that eventually lead us to be able to make the best possible recommendations to you.
At this point you may need to re-assess your priorities as it will become apparent which goals are achievable and which might be a struggle. We will certainly help you to avoid the traditional psychological bias that exists where clients want to focus on what is the 'next' goal rather than what is really important in the longer term.
Having completed our detailed analysis of your current situation, we will identify the most appropriate strategies and then research and complete the projections required to confirm these strategies. Our recommendations will be made in a document called a Statement of Advice - or more commonly called a Financial Plan.
This document (generally 25-40 pages) will be completed and delivered to you in a meeting that will cover all of the key actions and strategies. Importantly, our statements of advice are written in a style that encourages you to actually read and understand them. We try to build a story for you of what your financial future might look like.
As some of these concepts can be quite complicated, we will take some time to explain these in a meeting that often lasts around 60 minutes. Realising that there can be a tendency for information overload, we will then send you away to read the document thoroughly, and make any comments for us to review.
You will not be asked to sign anything or commit to any action at this point. It is very important that you take the time to fully understand our proposals and have the opportunity to ask further questions. We will provide an invoice for the preparation of the document at this point.
Once you have really read and understood your financial planning recommendations, at another appointment, we will ask you to agree to the recommendations (modified if required during the previous consultation period). You will sign any documentation required (Account opening forms, rollover forms, authorities, change of Adviser forms, etc) and we will commence the implementation process. Depending on the complexity, this can take some months to complete.
After this, you will be scheduled to meet with us at least twice yearly for a portfolio review and discussion. These meetings generally last one hour and allow us to informally touch base to see if any changes are necessary to either the portfolio or the underlying strategy. We will provide you with a portfolio update and any specific shanges to our recommendations.
We find it really important that these meetings occur regularly - even if you don't think there is anything to discuss. It is our job to prompt you to think about things with as broad a pespective as possible and many times these informal discussions lead us to identify significant latent issues that could become a problem if not recitified early.
Naturally, personal circumstances change over time - and life produces the unexpected from time to time - and so it is important that we are both kept informed of any issues that might impact on your finances.
We will also discuss and legislation or investment changes to keep you up to date.
As clients, you are welcome to make additional appointments (within reason) to discuss any other issues that arise from time to time. You can also phone directly or email whenever you need to.