I know many people reading this blog post have never engaged a professional financial planner before, and may be a bit anxious about what to expect. So let me tell you all about working with a financial planner at CameronDowning.
You can book an appointment online, or just call in. One of our support staff will ask you several questions to determine if we are equipped to advise you properly. This will involve asking you a series of questions: What is your main concern? What is your current financial status (assets; debts). These aren't to be nosy, but to prepare for your meeting with a financial planner. You'll be given a list of documents to upload to a secure vault in preparation for that meeting.
When you have your first meeting - in person or virtually - it will be with a financial planner. You'll have a deeper discussion then, and share more of your concerns and objectives. We want to know all about you – not just your financial life but about your family, your ultimate goals, to whom do you want to leave money, and whether you have any special needs children who need to be provided for. We want to know how your parents doing. Could you become financially responsible for them at some point in life? Do you have an expectation of a legacy? Do you have any lawsuits pending? We need to know all of these things! Where do you hold your current assets? Are you pleased with your current advisor? If not, why not? How did it happen that you came to us? Can we thank someone for referring us?
The planner will review the documents you've uploaded with you, and give you some initial direction. If you want to go deeper, he will offer you one of our financial planning packages. These are found here on our website.
If you choose to continue, you'll sign a financial planning agreement, and the real work begins. The main points of the agreement:
There will most likely be two meetings beyond this one (more if needed). We will address each one of the bullet points in some depth, and give you advice that is in your best interests, given with a fiduciary standard of care.
We’ll want you to tell us about your insurance policies. Why did you choose these policies? Do you feel they are sufficient for you? What estate planning have you done? Do you have a will in place? Have you done a revocable trust? Do have any charitable inclinations? Is there a church, synagogue, or university to whom you’d like to leave a bequest? How do you feel about your investments? Pleased with the performance? Do you think you might be able to save on taxes? What employee benefits are available to you?
All of these things taken together really give us a picture of you as our client. Once we have all the data, we get to work on answering your questions. These can be as vague as, Am I financially healthy? or as specific as, How much more do I need to save monthly in order to have a $10,000 monthly income in retirement?
Finally we will leave you with an implementation schedule and strategy: who will do what and when. You'll have a step-by step to do list. And we'll schedule a follow-up meeting for several months out, to review how the implementation went, and address any further issues that may have come up.
During all this time you have full access to your planners - by phone or email.
Our job here is to represent your best interests. Our tagline at CameronDowning is: We guide. You decide. In order for us to guide we really need to understand you and we need to understand your priorities. So all the questions aren’t just being nosy here – it’s that we want to do a good job for you!
On the other hand, if you are a do-it-yourself-er who’s already done a lot of research and you would like to have your own planning work validated by a professional, we’re happy to do that for you on an hourly rate.
We will leave you with written financial recommendations as well as a cash flow worksheet. The recommendations are specific to you. They can be as simple as you changing the beneficiary on an insurance policy, or they can involve more complex work, i.e. see an attorney to create an LLC to own your investment property. You should generally expect three meetings with us to complete your financial plan. Given the Miami traffic, we are glad to do virtual appointments with clients, and also make ourselves available for some evening and weekend appointments.
Financial planning is both art and science. We’ve got the science part down – we’re CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals, which means that we have been board-certified in our work. The art part of it is the personal relationship, because when we have you as our client we look forward to serving your best interests for years to come – not just you but your family as well.