Financial planning is a process, which means it’s continuous. You start by creating your financial plan and then continually monitor your progress and make changes as you go along. This process deals with everything related to your finances:
Your financial plan looks at your current situation and your future goals, then outlines the steps you need to take to get there. There are many reasons for having a financial plan:
- Enables you to afford what you need/want in the future
- Gives you a long term view of opportunities so you don’t make rushed decisions
- Enables you to see the big picture
- Gives you peace of mind about how to best manage your money
Using a Financial Planner
If you are new to money management, you should use a financial planner and not try to do this on your own. The financial world is very complex and new products are constantly being introduced making it hard to keep pace and understand. A qualified financial planner is someone who is trained to help you get started and stay on track. Keep in mind that financial planning is not regulated in most provinces which means that virtually anyone can call themselves a ‘financial planner.’ Before you hire one, check their qualifications. For example, what credentials do they have? Someone with CFP is a Certified Financial Planner and has passed courses and exams to get this designation. There are also others such as Chartered Financial Consultant (CH.F.C.).
Once you have your financial planner in place, he/she will explain various items such as:
- The issues and steps most relevant to your situation
- The services he/she will provide and the planning process
- The documents to be given to you
- Your responsibilities to move the financial plan forward
- Their responsibilities and compensation
Your financial planner will show you how to set realistic goals and the steps needed to achieve them, how to save and plan for retirement, decide the type of insurance you need, build an estate and ways to reduce your taxes. In return, you should be prepared to discuss a broad range of topics:
- Your current personal situation (i.e. job, marital status, dependents, etc.)
- Your goals and timelines to achieve them
- Your current investments
- Your tolerance for investing risk
- Your debts
- Your insurance
- Your taxes
- Your will
- Your estate
The end result is a financial plan with different scenarios and options. And it’s specific to your goals and risk tolerance.
We suggest you visit our Resource library to increase your comfort level in the area of financial planning. There are some useful articles and tools to help you.
And when you’re ready to take on the challenge of creating your financial plan, talk to Jacqui McFarlane, who is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and a Chartered Financial Consultant (CH.F.C.).