How do I start incorporating financial planning into my practice?

May 7, 2018 by Patrick Meyer

A financial advisors meeting with two of his financial planning clients nearing retirement

about the author:

Patrick Meyer

Account executive

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Patrick helped individuals with their insurance needs. Now in the FinTech world, Patrick is driven by his desire to help advisors adapt and profit from the ever-changing financial landscape.

Leveraging financial planning in your practice can have a variety of positive benefits, including a unique value proposition, establishing a relationship with clients, cross-selling products, ensuring your advisors are acting in a fiduciary manner, and more; however, how do you go from a firm who historically has not engaged in these conversations to a new age, comprehensive planner?

The answer is actually quite simple: You build a streamlined financial planning process with a few important elements. It needs to be simple or at least simple enough to overcome the initial challenge of change, and it needs to be flexible to accommodate a variety of client needs. If you are not adapting this process to every client, you will miss many of the benefits of financial planning like building a relationship or acting in a fiduciary manner.

While this process requires flexibility, it needs to be repeatable. If you are developing a whole new process for every client, your process by definition is not really a process. Lastly, you need to incorporate your technology into this process — or better yet, have technology that defines the process for you. Let us dive deeper into these elements of a successful financial planning process.

Making your financial planning process simple

“Simple” has no singular definition. It draws to mind a conversation I recently had about a “simple” car. Ask five different people what they think a simple car is, and you will get five different answers, such as:

  • “A sedan because of the simplicity of design.”
  • “An automatic car because it is simple to drive.”
  • “A Tesla because it is easy to use.”
  • “An old-school, muscle car because the engine is simple to work on.”
  • “A [insert brand name here] because that is what I am used to driving.”

My point here is that when you are developing your process, you need it to be simple in variety of ways. Simple workflow, simple output, simple to use with every client. When it comes to simplicity, the best thing I can recommend is making sure your technology facilitates your notion of simple. With a tool like NaviPlan® and its Presentation Module, you can easily set up a simple process with streamlined data entry and easy-to-understand outputs.

Ensuring flexibility for all financial planning clients

Every client has a different need, goal, or set of circumstances, and your planning process must be able to adapt. The biggest reason for this is the most obvious: If your financial plan is not tailored to the client’s set of circumstances, it is not a true financial plan. On the flipside, if you are tailoring a completely new planning process for every client, you are going to waste countless hours and miss keeping it simple.

NaviPlan and its Presentation Module will allow your advisors to adapt to each client’s level of financial complexity. Advisors can easily provide just a few slides and quick projection with ease or 20 slides to cover every aspect of the client’s financial life.

Developing a streamlined, repeatable financial planning process

The whole point of using a process in anything you do is to make it better through small tweaks over time. Think of any sport of competition of which you have ever been part or any new skilled you have learned — the fundamentals are always stressed when practicing. When you lose focus on the fundamentals, your output suffers.

The same goes for financial planning. When you do not have a foundational process, the financial plan and client relationship will suffer. By developing a process that is easily repeated for every client, advisors can ensure they acquire the correct financial information in order to present the highest quality plan and advice.

Leveraging industry-leading financial planning technology

The goal of any technology is to adapt and improve the processes and tasks you may have been completing without it — the same goes for financial planning software.

If you have to use multiple tools and multiple processes for different clients, it will hinder the benefits you receive from implementing financial planning in your practice. Choose the appropriate software while developing your process and you will be able to expand your book of business, increase AUM, and enhance your client relationships.

To learn more about how flexible financial planning technology can improve your firm, click here.