Josh and Sarah Ackerman decided it was time to get proactive about their financial planning. One of Josh’s OD friends brought up NewLeaf Financial Guidance as a solution because of our experience working with ODs and their families. They book an initial consultation, which I view as an opportunity for us to get to know one another and determine whether we’re a good fit. My goal for this initial meeting is to cover a few key questions that will help Josh and Sarah understand who I am, and what NewLeaf Financial Guidance is all about.
Note: If you’re just now joining us on our case study journey, I suggest you start from the top – Meeting Josh and Sarah Ackerman.
Question #1: Why Do I Work With Young Medical Professionals?
First, I think it’s important for Josh and Sarah to understand why I want to work with young medical professionals. It’s not because I think you’ll make a pile of cash and I can get a piece of it. I have medical professionals in my family. I’ve seen some of the “advice” that other “financial planners” give them – it’s typically terrible, and fairly sales-pitch based. The clear majority of these “financial planners” work for XYZ Mutual or ABC Insurance, and they all try to sell my family and friends an insurance policy that they may or may not need.
I’m not knocking insurance. There’s a place for insurance in your financial plan, but it’s not where you should begin your financial planning journey. These sales tactics bum me out. I believe that medical professionals are hard workers, and they deserve someone who respects their intelligence enough to stop trying to sell them something from the moment they start working together.
Question #2: What is a Financial Plan?
Second, I want Josh and Sarah to understand that I won’t be building them a traditional “financial plan.” When people think about a financial plan, they often envision a big binder full of charts, statistics, and projections. I’m not interested in that – and I don’t think it benefits my clients. Nobody is going to change their financial behaviors because a binder full of charts tells them to do so.
Instead, I view our ongoing relationship as a financial plan. We’ll discuss their ever-changing financial lives and goals and adjust their plan over time. A financial plan isn’t a one-and-done deal. It’s a living, breathing concept that needs to grow with us. Numbers are important, but what’s infinitely more important is the ability to remain flexible and to adjust when needed.
Ultimately, your financial plan is just that – yours. If it’s not always serving you, it doesn’t have a purpose. My goal is to create a financial plan with my clients and collaborate in an ongoing capacity to ensure their plan is always serving them.
Question #3: Why Hire a Financial Planner?
Josh and Sarah may be interested, but also mildly confused at this point in our conversation.
Josh asks, “If you’re not going to develop a hard-copy financial plan, what’s the point of a financial planner?”
That’s a fair question – and one that I receive often. A financial planner is valuable because of the relationship they have with you. They’re the one person – aside from your spouse or partner – who knows the total picture of your financial life. They understand your short and long-term goals, your fears, and what makes you happy. They’re with you for the big life moments from getting married to welcoming your kids into the world. They’re with you through good times and bad and are helping you make the best financial decisions for you and your family through it all.
It sounds cheesy, but it’s true: your financial planner is one of the only constants through your life.
Having a fee-only, fiduciary financial planner in your corner to offer you unbiased financial advice is invaluable. They help you to free up time and mental energy to focus on things that make you happy – not your finances.
Question #4: Where Do We Start?
The next question I want to answer for Josh and Sarah on our initial consultation call is where we can start working together. Many financial planners will dive right in to shop talk. They’ll start your retirement planning and setting savings goals ASAP. I prefer to take a different route.
I think it’s important for clients to understand my why. It’s equally important for me to understand their why. In our first meeting after Josh and Sarah Ackerman sign on to become clients, we’ll be talking about their values and their goals. I believe it’s critical for me as their financial planner to understand what drives them toward financial success, and what we can do to ensure their goals (financial and otherwise) line up with their values.
Welcome to the NewLeaf family, Josh and Sarah!