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 they start work with me 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’t help with an individual situation. This conversation typically takes 30 minutes or so, and during this time we decide whether we will proceed with working together.
Step 2: Data Collection.
The next step is data collection. I provide the client a list of documents I need in order to proceed. Sometimes it can take a week or more for the client to assemble the materials. The materials include any documents relevant to a client’s financial situation, such as mortgage statements, bank and investment account statements, retirement plan and pension statements, life insurance details, student loan and credit card debt details, estate planning documents, and anything else that will help me get a picture of their financial situation. If the client owns a business, there are a variety of business documents I will need. I provide a secure place to upload all the information, and the client completes this before we proceed to the next step.
Step 3: Financial Planning Kickoff Meeting.
Next, we have a meeting to discuss financial goals and dreams, future plans, and current situation (including a review of the documents the client uploaded). The meeting typically takes about 2 hours and can be conducted in person or virtually via Zoom/Google Meet. If the clients are a couple, both partners should attend the meeting because many times they each have differing perspectives about these subjects. 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 some education about personal finances. More information about the financial planning process can be found here.
Step 4: Build the Plan.
I take all the information I’ve gathered at the above meeting, and spend a significant amount of time (typically 4-6 weeks) building a customized financial plan that directly addresses the specific financial concerns, goals and situation of my client. The plan will include a full set of detailed next steps/tasks the client should take in order to get on track to accomplish their goals.
Step 5: Plan Review Meeting.
When a draft of the plan is complete, I schedule another meeting with the clients to review and discuss. Often there are decisions the clients need to make as a result of the plan, and plan modifications are sometimes needed. This meeting typically takes about 2 hours and usually a really deep and productive conversation occurs. It makes sense – we’re discussing practical financial tools to get someone closer to their dreams – how incredible is that!
Step 6: Progress Meeting, Follow Up and Investment Account.
Follow up after the plan presentation varies by client. Sometimes, additional changes are needed to the financial plan based on new client decisions or direction. If I will be helping the client get life insurance as part of the plan, we start the process of applying for coverage. If I will be managing the client’s investments, we begin the process of opening accounts at my custodian and set about transferring funds. More information about Tree Fort Financial’s investment management can be found here. We also schedule a “Progress” follow up meeting in about a month. It’s a way to keep the momentum going, and a time to check in with me and confirm we are all on track with our tasks.
Step 7: Ongoing.
If the client chooses to have Tree Fort Financial manage their investment assets, they will receive regular communications regarding topics like asset allocation changes, my perspective on the markets or other financial matters, and performance reviews. Depending on the size of the client’s assets that I manage, clients may also receive a monthly newsletter.
If you have questions about this process or would like to learn more, reach out. I’d be happy to chat!