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Advisors discussing clients financial plan
Josh Orton, CFP®3 min read

What is a financial plan? Do I need one?

What is a Financial Plan?

The CFP Board (Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards) defines Financial Planning as:

“A collaborative process that helps maximize a client’s potential for meeting life goals through Financial Advice that integrates relevant elements of the client’s personal and financial circumstances.”

That’s certainly a mouthful, so let’s look at what that means in plain English.

One might typically seek out a financial advisor and expect to receive a laundry list of steps they need to take to get their financial house in order. This implies that the financial advisor is the one driving the conversation, and that their purpose is to tell their client what to do. This method of 1-way communication is outdated and simply cannot survive in today’s environment.

Instead, any good financial advisor will spend just as much time, if not more time, listening to their clients as they do speaking to their clients. This reinforces the collaborative nature of a financial plan. If a financial advisor is not aligned with the goals of their client, they will have friction in their professional relationship and risk having the client seek advice elsewhere.

Also, pay attention to the part of the Financial Planning definition above that talks about a financial advisor helping to maximize the client’s potential for meeting their life goals through financial advice. Often, younger people will seek us out to help them accumulate as much wealth as possible. That’s not a bad goal... but what if you are someone who wants to give more to charities, to volunteer more, to take care of elderly parents, or to actually spend all that money that you accumulated? You see, a financial plan is not just about having the most amount of assets; it’s about putting a plan in place to have the assets you need to live the life that you want to live. Notice we’re talking about life goals, not financial goals. Your personal finances are too important to leave out the things that will help you live your best life.


The last part of the Financial Planning definition should be obvious. We, as financial advisors, must integrate the parts of your personal and financial circumstances to help you decide on goals that are relevant and realistic. I like to say that everyone is climbing a mountain, but no one’s mountain is the same size or difficulty as anyone else’s. When you get harmony between your finances and your life goals, we feel very optimistic that you will be financially successful no matter what that looks like to you individually.

Do you need a financial plan?

Everyone needs a financial plan. Whether you receive that plan from a financial advisor, a friend, a family member, or you do it yourself, you cannot hope to be successful in life without a plan. It’s awfully hard to “luck” yourself into retiring early or to have the right buyer “magically” find your business and offer to buy it at a great valuation. Our job is to take luck and magic out of your finances and replace it with math and scientific processes.

A good financial advisor doesn’t bog you down with the art and science of creating a financial plan. Rather, our job is to instill the confidence in you to take the appropriate steps and make the right decisions to help you meet your goals.

Also keep in mind that a financial plan is not simply an asset accumulation plan. A comprehensive financial plan likely includes retirement planning, investment management, cash flow analysis, estate planning, insurance needs analysis, education funding, tax planning, and likely more. If you aren’t receiving this all from your current advisor (or your know-it-all brother-in-law) you are not receiving the services that you need and deserve. For those of us who are DIY’ers, if you aren’t taking this all into account when planning your own future, you owe it to yourself to do more. We like to say that financial planning is a 3-legged stool; you must have the skill, the will, and the time to plan for your own financial future. If any of those 3 legs are missing you risk not being on track to meet your goals. This is the value that a professional Financial Advisor brings. Of course, we here at LGT Financial Advisors do this all for our clients and we are happy to do this for you too.


Contact me if you’d like to learn more about financial planning and have a Happy National Financial Planning Month!


Josh Orton, CFP®

Josh joins LGT Financial Advisors with over 13 years of experience in the wealth management industry. He holds his CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certificate in addition to his Series 65 and Insurance licenses. Prior to LGT, Josh held positions as a planner and advisor at TD Ameritrade and other boutique Registered Investment Advisor firms in DFW. As a Senior Financial Advisor, Josh focuses on helping clients develop comprehensive financial plans and coaching them through the wealth management process. Josh obtained a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Finance from the University of North Texas. When he is not busy helping his clients navigate the complex world of money management, Josh enjoys coaching his kids’ soccer and tee-ball teams, grilling, watching football, and home improvement projects.