Personal Financial Planning (PFP)
Fundamentally importantly, from our perspective, the core noun in the three word term "Personal Financial Planning" is planning. Personal and financial are “merely” adjective modifiers intended to focus in on or narrow down what type of planning is being addressed. We say this clearly and right up front because to us, planning, and the goal setting and strategy inherent in it, is really what this is all about. We are planners and strategists at heart and we think and act accordingly.
PFP is generally considered to have about six important and thus fairly commonly recognized subsets, facets, or aspects, that we as trained professionals will help you focus in on as indicated in your situation, and ultimately tie or integrate together towards your desired ends as follows:
- Financial management
- Risk management
- Estate planning
- Retirement/benefits planning
- Investment planning
- Tax planning
To paint a hopefully useful picture here, consider, in your mind’s eye, an umbrella, a PFP umbrella with an array of metal tines, each of which bears the name of one of those six personal financial planning subsets enumerated above. To carry the metaphor further, consider that the metal tines are covered by, and thus integrally connected by a fabric, such that any outside forces effecting any of them moves, or otherwise impacts on, to one degree or another, all of them. To complete this mental picture based metaphor, consider that the fabric covered tines are based upon and connected to a handle, with the handle representing what matters most to you,… your purpose or raison d'etre, as fleshed out by your articulation of your vision, your mission, your goals and objectives.
We bring all our resources, human and otherwise, including training, process, technology, and experience to bear as indicated in every single case to help our clients with every salient part of that “PFP umbrella”. Our planning support services include help in clarifying and articulating, in writing, what matters most to you and why, and addressing and integrating each of the above listed subsets of PFP in such a manner as to improve the alignment of your unique resources, including both your material and financial capital, as well as your human capital, with what you have clarified and articulated holds value to you. Thus, we think of ourselves not just as planners, but as Resource Alignment Specialists whose job it is to help you align all your resources in such a manner as to either accelerate the accomplishment of your goals and thus expedite the realization of your vision, or to improve the overall likelihood of the goals ultimately being realized, or, as we observe most commonly in practice, some combination of both of the above. In other words, we strive to help you, as indicated, with tightening up both the timing and the certainty of realizing your vision and thus living your life on purpose.
Real, professionally facilitated personal financial planning is pretty much of a lifelong journey, and one on which it is seldom too early or too late to embark. As facilitators along this lifelong path of conversation, discovery, conscious intent, and thoughtful actions, we will serve variously as your guides, your advisors, your sounding board, your coach, your information resource, your implementation support, and very importantly, your advocate. We are our clients “go to” place for information, and decision support in myriad aspects of life.
Our planning clients typically put us on their “payroll” for a modest monthly paid annual fee that positions our planning perspective and support literally just an email, phone call, or visit away. The first year or two of a new engagement is what we term the organizational stage wherein we help clients clarify and articulate goals in writing and make a first cut through on the various tines of the financial planning umbrella referenced above. After that, the labor intensity often subsides and periodic reviews and planner access for questions, guidance, coaching, and technical support become most important. In the post-organizational stage, where the bulk of the upfront discovery and organizational work, i.e., our baseline "getting to know you", has already been substantially accomplished, our monthly fee commonly reduces materially, by perhaps as much as 25%.
This deep planning support is surprisingly affordable to most people. If you’ve read this far, you are very likely a good candidate for our PFP services. Importantly, the nominal fee cost for our services is inherently only a true net cost to our clients to the extent they perceive no offsetting value-add in return for payment of those fees. In our experience that latter occurrence is very rarely the case. Rather, it is not uncommon for us to provide, in the regular course of planning conversation and casework, small, individual pieces of planning guidance that, on their own, wind up saving clients several years of planning fee costs. Real planning pays, it doesn’t cost,...otherwise, it is wholly nonsensical and not something we, as professional fiduciaries, care to be a part of. Ultimately, you of course, are the judge of this. Or, perhaps your very grateful children or grandchildren might be.
Lemon Theory, an economist's look at asymmetry of information between the buyer and the seller of a good or a service, may be most illustrative and instructive here. In economics terms, George Akerloff's Nobel Prize winning work in Lemon Theory would characterize PFP as being either an "experience" service, or in some instances, perhaps more of a "credence" service. In Lemon Theory, experience goods and/or services are those that, as the name implies, must actually be experienced, like a movie, or a restaurant meal, or a used car (thus the name of Akerloff's theory), in order for the buyer to know anywhere near as much about the good or the service and in particular, its true value, as does the seller. With "credence" goods and services on the other hand, even considerable experience may not tell the buyer of the good or the service anywhere near the whole story of value. As referenced above, it may be one or two generations later when the real value of one's planning becomes most clear. In the instance of a credence good or service, such as PFP, where the purchaser not only does not and definitionally can not know as much about real value as does the seller (the case of very asymmetrical information), the purchaser themselves may actually never fully know the value,...it may be their children or grandchildren that are best positioned to most clearly recognize the value proposition the planning service offered. Because PFP, as with medical services, can, in some situations, be as much of a credence service as it is an experience service, planner selection ultimately may involve a very considerable leap of faith, which implies that a high level of due diligence is called for. The moral of this story is that one needs to be very discerning when selecting their personal financial planners, because mere consumption of or (even years of) experience with the service doesn't necessarily readily render clarity around its actual value.
Beyond the planning casework itself, we can also help you with implementation, either directly, in areas such as investments and certain insurances wherein we are duly qualified and licensed, or otherwise indirectly via referral, and/or liasoning as indicated per the situation.
Who are our clients? We are an eclectic, three decades old referral based planning firm serving a geographically and demographically pretty widely ranging variety of clients. Because of that, our clientele includes young, future oriented people just starting out in life and seeking to do things right starting early, to highly accomplished and exceedingly actualized and successful mature adults, and of course a very wide swath of many individuals and families in between.
Please contact us to find out how we may be able to help you with professional planning support and at what fee level. You may rest assured that no one will take your business more seriously, nor treat it more confidentially than we will. And, we fully understand and appreciate the leap of faith one makes in hiring a personal financial planner. We will endeavor from the outset to earn any trust you place in us.