A Dose of Medicine
After 22 years as a Personal Financial Planner (PFP®) and having completed hundreds of comprehensive financial plans, I recently took the time to reflect on the number of successes and challenges I have encountered over the last 2 decades.
Having helped people from all walks of life, with varying degrees of complexity, it has never been the level of analysis that determined success, but rather the willingness of the individual/couple/family to engage in the process and be open to what would be discovered.
Everyone has a plan to some degree. Those who have worked with a trusted and knowledgeable planner have an in-depth account of their overall financial situation with a multitude of scenarios mapped out and addressed. Others have opted for the do-it-yourself approach, which ranges from a good foundation of financial analysis, to a free for all and just going with the flow, the latter being very troublesome and often leading to situations which are very difficult, if not impossible, to rectify.
It is curious how often we run into people who do not want to share details of their financial status. At Northland, the financial planning process, which we refer to as a Life Plan, is completely unbiased and only driven by a desire to improve each family’s financial position for multiple generations. Furthermore, for our client families the process is included in our management fee. So why not take advantage of the opportunity? It is not the cost of the plan, but the cost of not having a plan. That cost could be the lost opportunity for unsurpassed savings and wealth creation.
If we draw a parallel to visiting your family doctor, or better yet a doctor in the ER, the doctor will ask you how you feel, where does it hurt, have you had the following symptoms? From there the doctor embarks on a process to figure out why you are sick and prescribe the appropriate treatment to ideally heal you and provide you with longevity. Now if you opt to withhold information from the doctor or you don’t visit the hospital in the first place, chances are you are not going to address the issue(s) and potentially pay the ultimate price. Let's take it a step further, if we look at it from a preventative perspective, i.e., an annual physical where the typical issues are checked and are compared to previous results to see if there is a trend developing. At a higher level, there are private medical clinics for corporate executives and professional athletes that do a full day complete head to toe physical assessment. This would be comparable to a Northland Life Plan. The common theme is the disclosure of information and symptoms. The results of the process might suggest a slight change in diet, or a worse diagnosis that we would not wish on anyone and would require a drastic change in lifestyle.
What is worse, going through the planning process to be enlightened, or dealing with the financial repercussions of not having a proper plan? The true challenge is overcoming one’s fear of what may be discovered, the impact it may have on our ego and a feeling of loss of control. Participants must be willing to fully participate in the process, as well as be willing to implement the suggestions and strategies offered as a result of this process.
Those who embark on the financial planning journey will reap the rewards. Those who choose not to, write their own future.
We look forward to continuing to assist our client families with the development of their customized Life Plan and encourage everyone in the Northland family to embark on your own financial planning journey with us.
Jeff Sproul, CIM, PFP