You’ve decided it’s time to start working with us. Yay! Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work. Here’s what Tree Fort Financial’s financial planning process typically looks like.
Getting Started with Tree Fort Financial
Congratulations! You’ve taken the first step in reaching out to an advisor to get help with your financial situation. Now, what should you expect? Below I’ve outlined some steps I typically go through with new clients as we start to work on a financial plan. Of course, every individual situation is different, so your experience might vary from this.
Step 1: Introductory Conversation.
When someone reaches out to me initially, it’s typically through a personal email/phone call, email referral from a client or business associate, or using the Contact Us message through my website. I typically respond with a request for a short, informal introductory conversation. I’d like to see if we may be a fit for working together. I believe this is part of my fiduciary responsibility towards my clients. I will be honest if I feel that I can – or can’t – help with an individual situation. This conversation typically takes 30 minutes.
During this conversation, be prepared for me to ask lots of questions like:
- What prompted you to reach out to a financial advisor at this point?
- What do you hope to accomplish through working together?
The more you can share about your situation, the better assessment I can offer about whether we would be a good fit for working together.
Step 2: Data Collection.
The next step is data collection. You’ll receive access to an online planning software tool. Upon login to the secure platform, you will complete a family profile, and provide information about income, expenses, savings, and assets. You will link your bank, credit card, and investment accounts to provide additional details I use to develop planning recommendations.
In addition, you provide a set of documents for context to your financial situation. The requested materials include: mortgage statements; bank, credit card and investment account statements; retirement plan and pension statements; life insurance details; student loan and credit card debt details; tax returns; estate planning documents; and anything else that will help me get a picture of your financial situation. If you own a business, there are a variety of business documents I will need. I provide a secure place to upload all the information.
Step 3: Kickoff Meeting.
Next, we have a meeting to discuss your financial goals and dreams, future plans, and current situation (including a review of the documents and data provided via the online planning software). The meeting typically takes about 2 hours and can be conducted in person or remotely via Zoom. If the clients are a couple, both partners should attend the meeting because many times they each have differing perspectives about these subjects. Read more about making finances a team sport.
I have a set of questions that I go through with clients, and I bring a “no judgement” attitude of curiosity to the meeting. Every situation is unique, and I’m not here to judge past choices, but rather to provide my professional expertise and education about personal finances, and generally act as your guide to all things personal finance. More information about the financial planning process can be found here.
Clients often tell me that they were nervous going into the meeting, but afterwards they felt a sense of relief and confidence that they were taking actions to help their financial situation. Sometimes they are surprised by the depth of emotion and conversation that occurs.
Step 4: Build & Implement your Financial Plan.
Together we conduct a detailed analysis of your financial situation. The outcome will be a customized financial plan that directly addresses your specific financial concerns, goals and situation.
Typically, this step includes multiple meetings over several months, usually filled with deep and productive conversation. It makes sense – we’re discussing practical financial tools to help you get closer to your dreams – how incredible is that!
During this step, we’ll start with any pressing question you have. Often, this is the question that brought you to reach out to a financial advisor in the first place.
But no matter what initially prompted you to reach out, rest assured, we’ll cover the following topics over a series of meetings:
- Cashflow, budgeting, liquidity and debt management
- Retirement scenario planning
- Tax planning
- Insurance Needs
- Estate Planning
After each meeting, you’ll receive detailed tasks to complete in order to get on track towards your financial goals. We’ll work to get alignment on putting your money towards what’s important to you. This can involve a lot of work on your end, but trust me, it’s worth it!
Step 6: Ongoing Engagement.
Once we’ve completed the initial financial plan and process outlined in step 5, we’ll move on to ongoing engagement. This means I’ll be available to act as your Financial Planning Thinking Partner whenever you need me.
Think back to 1, 3 or 5 years ago. Think about what your life looked like then, and how it’s changed since then. I’m here to help as your life happens and your finances change along the way.
If you have investable assets that I will be managing, we’ll set up accounts and start transitioning assets into the investment portfolios established for you.
You’ll receive regular communications from me sharing education and tips on personal financial topics.
You’ll have unlimited access via email, phone, in person or virtual meeting to me, your financial planning thinking partner. And you will have access to continuous ongoing planning when it comes to life change updates like marriage, transitions, births, job changes, etc.
You’ll also participate in annual essential meetings according to the Tree Fort Financial Annual Service Calendar.
If you have questions about this process or would like to learn more, reach out. I’d be happy to chat!