What We Do
By: David Smyth, February 10, 2014
When I talk with someone who is interested in working with our team, one of the first questions they ask is, “How does your office work with families?” In other words, these folks are wondering what they can expect from our office when they form a relationship with us. How often will we meet? Will we be available for phone conversations? What will the client-advisor relationship look like?
The following paragraphs are an attempt to answer these questions simply and truthfully. It’s a look at how we handle our client-families from start to finish, and the processes that we have developed after years of experience. Take a look, and please feel free to pass the following information along to anyone who you think would benefit from knowing us. Our relationship with a family usually begins with an initial phone conversation. During this time, we hope to learn a little about you and your family, your specific situation, and set up a time to meet in-person. Once a meeting is scheduled, phase one of our relationship can begin.
Phase One: Planning & Implementation
Phase one typically includes a series of four meetings that occur in a fairly short amount of time. The first is the Initial Planning Meeting, and is complimentary to all new clients. For this meeting, we will ask that you bring a list of important documents that will help us to learn about and navigate your family’s financial history. During the Initial Planning Meeting, we will ask questions to find out what you have been doing and how you would like your financial future to look. At the end of the meeting, after reviewing your current situation, we will discuss compensation based on the complexity of your financial plan and what services you will need from us. If you decide to move forward with our relationship, we will schedule a Plan Delivery Meeting. During this conversation, we will review a retirement plan we have created specifically for you, and discuss whether you are on track to meet your financial goals. We will discuss this plan with the help of our eMoney account aggregation software, and educate you on any weaknesses we see in your previous plan. We will also provide you with a planning checklist, which will highlight any items that need to be addressed. This checklist will help us hold one another accountable on tasks that must be completed. Finally, we will suggest specific ways to take steps forward. The third meeting in Phase One is the Implementation Meeting. During this time, you will work with our entire team to put the plans that were previously discussed into action. We will provide you with the paperwork and any other bits of information needed to get the ball rolling. Before this meeting, we will work behind the scenes to eliminate as much homework for you as possible. It’s our job to do the research and make the phone calls necessary to implement your plan. Our goal is to make your job simple so that you can focus on the more important things in life. The fourth and final meeting of Phase One is the Review Meeting. At this point, we have come full circle. Implementation of your new plan is finished or well underway, and it’s important for you to see a complete picture of the changes we have made. During this meeting, we will review these changes with you. We will re-educate as questions always arise. Lastly, we will make sure that you feel good about our relationship. It’s very important to us that you feel confident in the decisions we have made together. This meeting completes Phase One and allows us to transition into Phase Two.
Phase Two: Maintenance
Phase Two of our relationship is focused on maintaining the financial plan that was designed especially for you during Phase One. We work hard to make sure your goals continue to be met, and tweak your plan as changes occur in your life, tax laws and the economy. During the beginning of Phase Two, we will have a conversation about how often we should meet moving forward. Based on the complexity of your plan as well as your preference, we will likely meet in person or via conference call 2-4 times each year for a Quarterly Update. When it is time to schedule your Update Meeting, our office will give you a call to set up a time that is convenient for you. We keep track of when it’s time to get in touch so that you don’t have to worry. During this phase, collaboration outside our office is often needed. With your permission, we will (when necessary) work with your CPA, attorney and other professionals to create one cohesive plan and ensure that all parties involved are on the same page. Along these lines, if you are in search of a new CPA or attorney, we can help you find someone who fits your needs by referring you to a professional we trust. The maintenance phase is not just about maintaining your financial plan. It’s also important to us to maintain our relationship. To do this, we host a series of social events throughout the year. These events are just what they seem: social. There are never any boring presentations or sales pitches, and we will not discuss your finances during this time. Our social events are simply opportunities for us to get to know you and your family better, and chances for you to introduce us to others who may benefit from knowing us. You are not just a number to our team, and the intent behind our process of working with you is to make sure you feel valued as a client as we help guide you toward a successful future and financial peace of mind. Where are you when it comes to forming a relationship with our team? We hope that, if you haven’t done so already, you’ll take the steps necessary to move forward in working with us. On behalf of our team, I look forward to helping you feel like part of our family!