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Financial Planning

It has been said that if you aim at nothing then you are likely to succeed.

If you like Thanksgiving turkey stuffing, pumpkin pie and Christmas cookies as much as members of the Gaskin family then you may relate to the phrase of “getting back on track” each January. In the modern, developed world, one of the easiest things to do is to put on weight and one of the hardest things to do is to lose it. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle requires a great amount of motivation, discipline and often a very specific written plan to achieve both short and long term goals. Health and fitness plans take into consideration allergies, previous physical injuries, work environment, sleep, and possibly an emotional relationship with food. They are customized and can often be very complex. Those that do not adhere to a health plan can easily slip back into unhealthy habits and ultimately experience adverse health conditions as a result.

The same principles apply to financial planning.

 

At Gaskin Management, we practice goals based planning. Comprehensive, goals-based financial planning looks at where you are today, what short-term objectives and long-term goals you are trying to achieve and analyzes the expected success rate based upon current and proposed recommendations. This type of planning requires that we accurately clarify and quantify all financial objectives and goals before engagement and throughout our relationship with our clients. We define the engagement with our clients; and the scope of our work is mutually agreed upon by all parties. Data gathering can be a very personal process, as financial data and goals are intimate subject matter, and we request that our planning clients be prepared to have these types of conversations. We believe in the adage, “garbage in, garbage out” so the analysis we prepare and the recommendations that we are able to construct are highly dependent on the quality of the quantitative and qualitative data that we gather during the planning process.

Because life is constantly changing and little is certain, a financial plan is a living document. It must be reviewed and adjusted on a regular, systematic basis. We monitor and review our clients’ success and make adjustments accordingly because the achievement of our clients’ goals is the ultimate result that we pursue.

A Case Study

Bill and Judy were referred to our team by clients that we had been serving for years. We conducted an initial face-to-face meeting with Bill and Judy at our office. During that introductory visit, we that they were feeling some financial unease about sending their daughter to college while also trying to paying off their mortgage and simultaneously save for retirement. In addition to gaining a feel for their current situation and plans, we spent some time explaining our business structure and how we work with our clients to include the scope of our work and fee structure. We explained our financial planning process, what it would require of their family and how we would implement recommendations and monitor success. They felt that this process would be valuable to their family and they fully engaged with our team. We worked with them to develop a timeline by clarifying their short term objectives and long term goals related to education, debt repayment and retirement. We explained to them the importance of the data gathering process to ensure accuracy in their plan output.

Over a period of approximately two weeks, we proceeded by gathering their relevant financial data such as bank, brokerage and insurance statements, debt summary, tax returns, social security income estimations, employer retirement plan statements and current estate planning documents.

After careful analysis, we developed an actionable, goals-based financial plan and investment strategy to address their concerns, by order of priority, that will be reviewed on a regular, systematic basis. We presented the plan and strategy during a second meeting. After answering questions and making adjustments for new information that was revealed during the second meeting, we mutually agreed to move forward with the plan following several minor adjustments.

This is a hypothetical example for illustration purpose only and does not represent an actual client experience.

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