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What is Financial Planning?

A Process, Not a Product
Financial planning is the process of realizing your life goals through a "big picture" approach to managing your money. This process will help you to see how each decision you make relates to your overall financial picture; it requires commitment of your time and energy.

The first step in the process is defining your short and long-term life goals; after all, it's hard to get from here to there when you don't know where there is! Once a financial planner knows where you want to go it's time to figure out where you are right now and how your current actions are moving you towards, or away from your goals.

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What does a Financial Planner Do?

Fee-Only Financial Planning
If financial planning begins with here and there a financial planner is your guide along the way. A financial planner's goal is to help you protect and get more out of the money you have. The approach that each financial planner takes to financial planning depends on the planners fee structure, education, credentials, experience and areas of expertise.

Primary Financial Care Giver
After learning about your current circumstances and where you want to go a financial planner will identify strategies to help you get there through a sensible plan for managing your money, helping you make informed decisions along the way.

Financial planning encompasses so many fields, many financial professionals appear to be a financial planner. Accountants, stockbrokers, insurance agents, and lawyers are specialists that focus on specific needs or products. These services are all part of the financial planning process, but that doesn't make a stockbroker a financial planner. A true financial planner is client focused rather then product focused; tends to be a generalist, starting with you and your goals then working out to the products and services that meet your needs, referring you to specialist when required.

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How can a Financial Planner Help?

The Big Picture
A financial planner should be able to discuss all aspects of your finances including:
  • Financial management from basic budgeting and debt reduction to complex portfolios.
  • Investment strategies including recommending an allocation between asset types and specific investment products.
  • Retirement planning for people who are retiring soon or many years from now.
  • Insurance planning to make sure you adequately protect what you have achieved so far.
  • Tax planning to help you keep more of what you earn.
  • Estate planning to help prevent an unnecessary burden on your family.

If a financial planner provides more then general advice about taxes, estate planning or insurance they must have advanced training and hold additional registration, certification or licenses.

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Are We a Good Fit?

Choosing an Advisor
Choosing an advisor can be a difficult task. It's important to work with someone who has experience with situations similar to yours, someone with an approach to financial matters that match your beliefs and attitudes and someone you trust and get along with.

Not every prospective financial or tax client can be served by Applied Advisor. Sometimes this is because client needs fall outside the scope of the practice, sometimes this is because of a mismatch in the expectations of what it is a financial planner or tax preparer does. Please use the appropriate link to learn more about what it means to work with Kathy Hentges, CFP® and Applied Advisor.

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What is a Financial Plan?

A Work in Progress
A financial plan should:
  • Summarize your current financial position
  • List your goals
  • Explain how you will reach those goals
  • An investment plan should show how investments work together as part of your overall financial strategy
  • Disclose and explain the risks and how to overcome them
  • Recommend investment products that meet your needs

Financial planning is not a one time event or a printed report. Financial planning is not something you hire someone to do for you, it requires your active participation in the process. The planning part of financial planning is only the beginning. The next stage of the process involves taking the plan and putting it into action. Periodic reviews of your plan are required to gauge how well certain strategies are working. Your plan will periodically need to be adjusted in response to whatever life throws your way.

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When Can a Financial Planner Help?

Life Stages, Life Changes
One by one, big events change lives and financial priorities. Suddenly you're no longer single, or you're single again. You've become a parent or are ready to leave or join the workforce. These are all life events where a financial planner may be able to provide assistance:
  • Retiring - now, soon or in the future
  • Starting out in the workforce
  • Becoming a parent
  • Educating the kids
  • Getting married/partnered
  • Getting divorced/separated
  • An unexpected windfall
  • Buying your first home
  • Buying an investment property
  • Providing for future generations

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Disclosures
Advisor is a California Registered Investment Adviser. Financial planning, tax preparation, and primary client contact is provided by Kathy Hentges, CFP®, founder and principal of Applied Advisor LLC (dba Applied Advisor). All written content on this site is for informational purposes only. Material presented is believed to be from reliable sources and no representations are made as to its accuracy or completeness. All information and ideas should be discussed in detail with your individual advisor prior to implementation. Sample reports are for illustration only and do not represent actual plans or recommendations. Fee-only financial planning and investment advisory services are offered through Applied Advisor, a registered investment advisory firm. The presence of this Website on the Internet shall in no direct or indirect way be construed or interpreted as a solicitation to sell or offer to sell investment advisory services to any residents of any state other than the state(s) in which Applied Advisor is registered (Registered Investment Advisors are legally empowered to provide investment advisory services only to residents of the states in which they are registered). The purpose of this website is for information distribution of our services. Kathleen Hentges, CFP® is a California Registered Tax Preparer, C.T.E.C. Number A103130. A surety bond is maintained with State Farm Insurance.