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Navigating the Financial Planning Process: A Comprehensive Three-Meeting Approach

February 27, 2019

Financial planning is a critical aspect of securing one’s financial future, especially when approaching retirement. An effective strategy often involves a detailed, client-focused process, typically structured into three key meetings. This approach is designed to be deeply personalized, reflecting the unique financial circumstances and goals of each individual.

  1. The Initial Rapport Meeting

The journey begins with an initial meeting, where the primary objective is to establish a personal connection. This stage is crucial for:

  • Understanding the Client: The advisor dedicates most of the time to listening, gaining insight into the client's perspective on money and their financial aspirations.
  • Discussing Financial Relationships: This involves exploring the client’s feelings and attitudes towards money, whether it concerns wealth distribution, lifestyle goals, or legacy planning.
  • Duration and Focus: Lasting approximately 90 minutes, this meeting is less about financial specifics and more about understanding the client's overall life situation.
  1. The Detailed Review Meeting

The second meeting delves into the specifics of the client’s financial situation. This includes:

  • Assessing the Current Portfolio: A thorough review of the client’s financial statements, tax returns, and other relevant documents to assess risk and potential vulnerabilities.
  • Fee Analysis and Alternatives: A critical look at investment fees, especially in mutual funds, and exploration of cost-effective alternatives like ETFs.
  • Preliminary Planning: Based on the gathered information, a preliminary retirement plan is drafted, tailored to the client's specific financial goals.
  1. The Retirement Plan Meeting

In the final meeting, the focus shifts to comprehensive retirement planning:

  • Reverse Engineering the Strategy: Starting with the client's end goals, the plan is developed backward to ensure the most secure path to achieving those objectives without risking financial stability.
  • Tailored Investment Strategies: The creation of a customized investment plan that aligns with the client's income needs and risk tolerance.
  • Diverse Investment Options: The advisor should provide unbiased advice, having no vested interest in any specific investment type, ensuring the client receives a wide range of investment options.

The Significance of a Personalized Approach

A personalized financial plan is imperative because of the unique nature of each individual's financial situation. The key elements of this approach include:

  • Individual Needs and Goals: Understanding the client's unique financial narrative and objectives.
  • Risk and Cost Management: Aligning the investment risk with the client's tolerance and seeking cost-effective investment methods.
  • Holistic Financial View: Considering all aspects of the client’s financial life for a comprehensive strategy.

Role of the Financial Advisor

A skilled financial advisor plays several critical roles in this process:

  • Active Listening and Empathy: Prioritizing the understanding of the client's unique situation and aspirations.
  • Providing Diverse Investment Solutions: Offering a range of investment choices without bias towards any specific type.
  • Strategy Tailored to Client Goals: Aligning investment strategies with the client's specific objectives and risk preferences.
  • Educating and Guiding: Assisting clients in understanding their investments and the associated risks.


The three-meeting financial planning process is a testament to the importance of a tailored, client-centric approach. It emphasizes the need to understand each client's unique financial narrative, align investment strategies with individual goals, and prioritize educating clients for informed decision-making. This process not only helps in building a robust financial plan but also fosters a deeper understanding and trust between the advisor and the client, paving the way for financial security and a successful retirement.


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investments may be appropriate for you, consult with your financial advisor.
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