The CFP® Board of Standards defines financial planning as "the process of determining whether and how an individual can meet life goals through the proper management of financial resources." The Board goes on to lay out seven steps to the financial planning process:
We need to understand you goals and your personal financial circumstances. We'll be requesting various documents from you (investment statements, tax returns, insurance policies, etc.) toward that end.
What are your goals for this year? Where do you want to be in 10 years? When can you retire? We will discuss your short and long-term goals as well as your financial concerns.
We evaluate potential courses of action for you. For example: Can you afford to retire now? Is it best to wait to take social Security?
We get to work! We analyze and evaluate your financial status and work on your behalf to prepare answers to the questions you’ve asked. We may be back to you for more information during the process.
We will use the data you have provided to discuss our recommendations for you, particularly addressing your concerns. We want to be sure we’ve addressed all your financial priorities and that you feel confident that you are making wise, informed decisions.
This is where you start taking control of your financial life. We will give you a specific list of implementation steps. We will coordinate with related professionals as appropriate.
This meeting takes place roughly 6 months after your Financial Plan has been delivered to you. We monitor progress in achieving your financial goals and make adjustments to the recommendations as needed.