What is a financial plan?
A financial plan is a strategy to help you reach your goals. Through data gathering, analysis, and guidance, an advisor creates a road map that helps lead you to financial comfort during your life, while allowing for the efficient transfer of assets to your heirs. Financial planning is an ongoing process driven by your changing needs and goals.
A financial plan includes broad considerations, such as:
- Asset allocation planning: A series of asset classes and allocation strategies that seek to help meet your needs, based on your risk tolerance and investment objectives
- Education planning: College savings and education planning topics, such as student loans and financial aid
- Retirement income planning: The development and refinement of a distribution plan for your nonworking years
- Estate planning: Practical guidance necessary to coordinate your estate planning/wealth transfer needs
- Tax planning: Coordination with you and your tax professional to minimize your tax liability
- Trust planning: Choosing from a range of trust strategies to help meet asset protection and wealth transfer goals
Financial planning is the umbrella under which investment management functions.
What is investment management?
The financial plan is one piece of the puzzle that opens the door to the investment opportunities that help you pursue your goals.
Investment management is typically carved out as a separate service due to its distinct and complex nature. How we ultimately shape your investment portfolio is a collaborative effort, and the result is something we monitor regularly. The investment recommendations and services we provide are designed to support the personal needs and goals outlined in your financial plan.
Considerations for these activities may include, but are not limited to:
- Risk tolerance: What level of risk are you comfortable with?
- Investment monitoring: What type of attention does your investment require?
- Investment selections: Where would you like to invest?
- Contributions: Will you contribute to your plan over time or will you make a single, up-front investment?
- Charitable giving: How might your philanthropic goals affect your investments, especially when considering topics like taxation?
- Advanced insurance planning: What safety nets will your investments require as your assets and responsibilities grow?
With financial planning as the foundation and investment management providing the necessary building blocks, we can work together to help you pursue your short- and long-term goals.
Our team employs a due diligence process when selecting funds, ETFs and alternative products. The process has five steps:
- Screening An initial quantitative screen is used as a starting point for further research. The screening process is used to focus on investment products that meet objective criteria and provide consistent, risk-adjusted returns.
- Evaluation These investment products are then evaluated by applying a risk-adjusted scoring system to the remaining competitors. Ideally, all options are evaluated based upon absolute performance, peer and benchmark-relative performance and style consistency.
- Analysis The objective of this step is to build a solid understanding of how a product operates. This step requires careful attention to the five P’s of manager/fund analysis: philosophy, process, people, price, and performance.
- Portfolio Construction Only a few products make it to this stage. The finalists are reviewed on a quantitative and qualitative basis. Fundamental factors are discussed in greater detail and more quantitative data is examined including upside/downside capture, benchmark tracking, and style analysis.
- Ongoing Monitoring The portfolios are monitored on an ongoing basis to determine if they are meeting their investment objectives. The portfolios are evaluated based on absolute and relative performance, risk tolerances, attribution analysis and style analysis. As portfolio characteristics and asset weightings drift beyond target levels, the portfolios will be rebalanced as necessary to keep asset weighting in-line with objectives.
In addition, the selected finalists are continuously monitored including a monthly performance review, holdings attribution analysis, firm commentary review, and regular conference calls and meetings.
For a long time, in order to receive professional guidance on your investment portfolio, you needed to turn your portfolio management over to a financial professional. While this may make sense for many clients, others may prefer to maintain control of things like final investment selection, trade execution, and custody of assets for personal reasons.
That’s why we’ve added Wealth Management Consulting to our practice. Wealth Management Consulting is a great fit for those who prefer to maintain control over their own portfolios but occasionally would like a professional opinion on investment selection or risk exposure, or for those who would like assistance with financial projects outside of asset management.
Our consulting services may include:
- Financial planning, budgeting, and cash flow analysis
- Income tax analysis
- Education planning
- Retirement planning
- Portfolio analysis
- Estate planning investment analysis
- Business succession planning
- Fringe benefit analysis
- Corporate 401(k) analysis
These services are available at an hourly rate, or we can charge a flat fee for ongoing projects. We’ll do whatever best suits your situation. Through Wealth Management Consulting, we provide you with the same quality service that all of our clients have come to expect, but you remain free to implement any recommended course of action “on your own.”
Whether you choose us to take over your portfolio management, or you hire us to consult on a project, you’ll receive exemplary service from a top-notch firm that will help you grow closer to reaching your financial goals.
© Commonwealth Financial Network 2016