The Financial Planning Process

When working with Austin Creek Capital, we have a series of meetings that are designed to get you to your financial plan in the most efficient manner.  The speed at which we move largely depends on how fast you, the client, would like to proceed. 

At the very beginning of the process, we have a 30 minute call where I share some detail about the firm, pricing, and ensure that our services match your needs.  If we are a match, we sign an advisor agreement and proceed to the Discovery Meeting.

The Discovery Meeting is typically an hour long meeting.  This is a deep dive into your unique circumstances.  The aim of this meeting is to truly understand challenges, needs and objectives.  This meeting provides the foundation of the planning process.  Discussions about retirement objectives, college funding, major purchases, etc. are all part of this meeting.  This is also where specific challenges are shared – these could either be wonderful challenges (windfall from an IPO, sale of a business, large bonus), or difficult challenges (divorce, job loss, illness).  The purpose of the meeting is to ensure that everyone is in alignment on the circumstances to be addressed by the financial planning process.

Next, we move to the Get Organized meeting.  This meeting is typically longer – approximately 90 minutes, but it depends on what the client has readily available.  We provide a list of documents that are needed for planning, and also request that clients gather all of their usernames and passwords to setup the financial planning software.  During the meeting, the client connects bank accounts, credit cards, mortgages, brokerage accounts, etc. to the financial planning software.  We also take a tour of the software, and demonstrate how to share documents.

Now that all the data gathering has been completed, the heavy lifting shifts from the client to the planner.  We review and analyze the documents that you have shared and combine that with the context provided by the Discovery Meeting.  We then gather to Explore Possibilities – this meeting is typically an hour, and provides a couple of scenarios to solve for any challenges or objectives that were covered in the Discovery Meeting.  This meeting is an opportunity for you to provide valuable feedback on what I have presented.  As an example, a client may come in with an objective to retire at 55.  After reviewing all of her data, I may present a scenario where we can meet her retirement objective, but she will have to dramatically cut current spending.  I would then provide another scenario, where perhaps she retires at 58, but with a smaller cut to her current budget.  The objective of the meeting is to show the client a variety of ways to get to the desired end-state.  Once we review the scenarios, we will either pick one, or more likely a combination of a couple of scenarios.

This leads us to the Plan Delivery meeting.  At this point in the process, we are documenting our decisions.  We finalize the changes that we made during the “Explore Possibilities” meeting, and create a list of action items.  During this plan delivery meeting, we may have many items on a list.  We will leave the meeting with a commitment to implement the top 1 or 2 recommendations.  This ensures that the focus remains on the most pressing needs. 

As we move from the planning to the execution phase, we will check in quarterly to ensure progress.  As items are completed from the plan, we will prioritize the remaining action items.  Financial Planning shouldn’t be a box to check and then you’re done.  We want to make sure that your plan grows and changes with your career, family, and different needs.  The beauty of financial planning is adapting it to the ever-changing needs of the client.