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What Is Comprehensive Financial Planning?

by Matthew E. Hornaday, CPA

In most of our client and prospective client meetings, we reference the term “comprehensive financial planning” as a process that distinguishes us from many of our competitors. Our comprehensive planning approach, the cornerstone of our client relationships, is an ongoing process; it evolves and changes over time as our clients’ goals and needs change over time.

“Comprehensive financial planning” encompasses a review and analysis of financial and non-financial aspects of a client’s affairs including investment/asset management, insurance and risk management, income tax, retirement, and estate planning. While our initial client conversations generally focus on investment/asset management topics, our goal is to understand other areas of the client’s life as well, in an effort to add maximum value to the client relationship. Our discussions with clients, therefore, cover a broad range of topics including:

  • Investment/asset management planning discussions include understanding a client’s risk profile and cash needs, which facilitates establishing an investment objective and asset allocation strategy for underlying assets by account and on a consolidated basis.
  • Insurance and risk management planning discussions include reviewing current life, disability, long-term care, health, and property & casualty insurance policies as well as discerning and analyzing client needs.
  • Income tax planning discussions include reviewing income tax returns, how to best utilize loss carryforwards, and tax planning strategies based on specific client needs.
  • Retirement planning discussions include reviewing the client’s income sources and cash flow, future cash flow scenarios via Monte Carlo simulations, and IRAs including Roth conversions, and the most efficient way to distribute (monthly, annually, or other) based on the client’s unique needs.
  • Estate planning discussions include reviewing estate planning basics, the client’s estate balance sheet, the client’s current estate planning documents including family goals and an estate flowchart, and considerations based on our review of current documents.

The key benefits of comprehensive financial planning are peace of mind, focus to achieve clearly defined financial and non-financial goals, and increased trust between client and advisor. Some individuals, however, may choose not to provide the information necessary for comprehensive financial planning services because either they perceive the information gathering process to be too time consuming or difficult, or they may not want to focus on uncomfortable topics such as death or disability. While these reasons are certainly understandable, we believe the benefits of comprehensive financial planning far outweigh the costs.

At Trust Company of the South, we truly believe the philosophy: wealth management is more than managing money. Providing comprehensive financial planning services is one way we live out this mission on a daily basis.

Matthew is Chief Operating Officer and a Principal in Trust Company’s Greensboro office.  In addition to managing client family relationships and several nonprofit client relationships, Matthew is also responsible for establishing and enhancing Trust Company’s operational controls, procedures and people systems, ensuring the continued financial strength and efficiency of the company.