Six Steps in the Financial Planning Process

The following steps make up the financial planning:

  1. Establishing and defining the client-planner relationship - The financial planner explains or documents the services to be provided and defines his or her responsibilities along with the responsibilities of the client. The planner explains how he or she will be paid and by whom. The planner and client should agree on how long the relationship will last and on how decisions will be made.
  2. Gathering client data and determining goals and expectations - The financial planner asks about the client's financial situation, personal and financial goals and attitude about risk. The planner gathers all necessary documents at this stage before giving advice.
  3. Analyzing and evaluating the client's financial status - The financial planner analyzes client information to assess his or her current situation and determine what must be done to achieve the client's goals. Depending on the services requested, this assessment could include analyzing the client's assets, liabilities and cash flow, current insurance coverage, investments or tax strategies.
  4. Developing and presenting the financial planning recommendations and/or alternatives - The financial planner offers financial planning recommendations that address the client's goals, based on the information the client provided. The planner reviews the recommendations with the client to allow the client to make informed decisions. The planner listens to client concerns and revises recommendations as appropriate.
  5. Implementing the financial planning recommendations - The financial planner and client agree on how recommendations will be carried out. The planner may carry out the recommendations for the client or serve as a "coach, " coordinating the process with the client and other professionals such as attorneys or stockbrokers.
  6. Monitoring the financial planning recommendations - The client and financial planner agree upon who will monitor the client's progress toward goals. If the planner is involved, he or she should report to the client periodically to review the situation and adjust recommendations as needed.

Exam Tips and Tricks
You should be well versed in the six steps of the financial planning process. Questions about where certain actions fit within the process are likely.

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