The 6 step financial planning process

1. Establishing and defining a professional relationship 

Your financial planner will clearly explain or document the services to be provided to you and define both his/her and your responsibilities. The planner will explain fully how he/she will be paid and by whom. You and the planner should agree on how long the professional relationship should last and on how decisions will be made.

2. Gathering data, including goals

Your financial planner will ask for information about your financial situation. You and the planner should mutually define your personal and financial goals, understand your time frame for results and discuss, if relevant, how you feel about risk. Your financial planner will gather all the necessary documents before giving you the advice you need.

3. Analysing and evaluating your financial status

Your financial planner will analyse your information to assess your current situation and determine what you must do to meet your goals. Depending on what services you have asked for, this could include analysing your assets, liabilities and cash flow, current insurance coverage, investments or tax strategies.

4. Developing and presenting financial planning recommendations and alternatives

Your financial planner will offer financial planning recommendations that address your goals, based on the information you provide. Your planner will go over the recommendations with you to help you understand them so that you can make informed decisions. Your planner will also listen to your concerns and revise the recommendations as appropriate.

5. Implementing the financial planning recommendations

You and the planner will agree on how the recommendations will be carried out. Your planner may carry out the recommendations or serve as your "coach," co-ordinating the whole process with you and other professionals such as accountants, attorneys or stockbrokers.

6. Monitoring the financial planning recommendations

You and your planner will agree on who will monitor your progress towards your goals. If the planner is in  charge of the process, he/she should report to you periodically to review your situation and adjust the recommendations, if needed, as your life changes.