We have always been somewhat skeptical of the financial planning process. The planning process taught in the CFP courses takes a capital needs approach which requires one to create a detailed cash flow that extends many years into the future. To do that one must make assumptions about future income, tax rates, rates of return and expenses among other things. About the only thing you can know for sure is that the assumptions are likely to be wrong. The level of detail required to complete that type of analysis is impossible to know with any accuracy. This approach is to us, a recipe for disappointment.
We use MoneyGuidePro® which focuses on the most significant factors in the planning process and minimizes assumptions. The system focuses on current income and savings. If those variables aren’t sufficient to reach the goals we can either adjust the goals or start a conversation about budgeting. Or a conversation about how to earn extra income. The key is to have the conversation based on what you are doing today in reality not what you could do in an ideal world.
Financial planning is an ongoing process. There are a range of possibilities and the plan needs to be updated frequently to see if you are progressing toward your goals.
There are five key elements of the MoneyGuidePro® Planning Philosophy:
- Prior to retirement focus on savings and goals to be funded from the investment portfolio
- During retirement, create many goals, separating necessary expenses from discretionary ones
- During retirement, show a cash flow of income and expenses
- Make valid, supportable assumptions to accomplish the first four