We often think of financial planning as a set of distinct practices – including those such as estate planning, investment planning, retirement planning, etc.
But what events typically lead you to reach out to a financial advisor (or, if you are an advisor, when do your clients reach out to you)? A job or career change, marriage, the birth of a child, death, divorce, disability, or other huge life changes. Not many people seek out an advisor because they simply woke up one morning and realized that their asset allocation could be better.
It’s almost always life that leads to any interest in financial planning. Maybe a better way to think of the purpose of financial planning is this:
Help anticipate or prepare for, enjoy or endure, and reflect on or recover from life’s hoped for joys and inevitable struggles.
This lens might even change the way we think of and categorize the work done in financial planning. Instead of “portfolio review” or “document analysis,” this work could instead have life events as its focus, like “retirement readiness,” “starting/building a family,” or “education steps.” This shift in thinking and naming could help us (or our clients) focus on optimizing anticipation, joy, and reflection more than just focusing on just the documents or portfolio.
As essential and beneficial as financial planning is, it’s important to recognize the things in life that financial planning can’t prepare you for.
While estate planning prevents a lot of excess suffering following one’s death, it can’t save anyone from the intense pain resulting from the loss of that loved one. And while financially planning for education or a wedding can take away the financial burdens associated with these life steps, it cannot compare to the incredible joy of these events themselves.
Financial planning simply can’t prepare anyone for the magnitude of these moments. While doing the work of financial planning as clients or advisors, may we also employ tools of our humanity: humility, awe, empathy, appreciation, presence, congratulation.
For help with your estate plan, contact us at Wilson and Wilson Estate Planning and Elder Law, LLC at 708 482 7090 for our main office in LaGrange, Illinois or at 847 656 8958 for our Northbrook, Illinois office.