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The Importance of Developing a Financial Plan

Margaret Meyer
Margaret M. Whelehan, CFP®, CDFA®
Vice President, Financial Advisor
[email protected]
(585) 394-4260 x42129

Is your portfolio pieced together by the favorite products sold by multiple financial advisors over the years? Do you own mutual funds, annuities, or even both that seem to be invested in the same segment of the market? Even if your advisor is disciplined enough to review your investment portfolio frequently (hopefully, at least annually), when is the last time that you (and/or your family) reviewed your insurance coverage, estate or retirement plans, and discussed income tax planning strategies? It might be time for you to consider guidance from a financial planner.

What is in it for you?

Working with a financial planner provides you and your family peace of mind knowing that you will have access to valuable education and advice around your overall financial health and wellness. While all of the pieces may seem overwhelming to discuss, you can work with your planner to execute on all guidance and action items at your own pace. Many times it may take a year or greater to implement the beginning pieces of an overall financial strategy. Financial planning, when done well, becomes a life-long process working with a trusted advisor, not a single event.

What can be expected?

Financial planners are uniquely qualified to ensure that:

  • you and your household are adequately protected from undo risk, particularly catastrophic financial impacts resulting from potential long-term care costs, income loss, and/or a disability
  • you are taking advantage of available income tax deductions and credits
  • you are aware of tax-advantaged ways to help with college costs and are setting money aside at a rate that will meet your funding goals
  • your investments are adequately diversified within an asset allocation consistent with your risk tolerance, time horizon, and financial goals
  • you are taking distributions from your nest egg at a rate that will meet your retirement income goals but not so great that you risk outliving your nest egg
  • your estate plan is consistent with your charitable and family-related legacy interests, asset titling, and life-insurance/retirement-plan beneficiary designations
  • you are properly planning for Medicare
  • you are learning how to maximize social security benefits for you and/or your spouse

When searching for a financial planner, be sure to talk with several. Learn about their qualifications and experience, find out how they are paid (fee only vs. commission), and determine if they are selling product. You likely will be happier working with a “pure” planner vs. one who may use the plan as a way to sell you a product.