Financial Planning in Houston
Essentially, financial planning consists of gathering information about an individual’s financial goals and resources and designing a plan to allocate those resources that maximizes the probabilities of reaching specific financial goals. At Linscomb & Williams, we believe that a financial advisor should analyze the information he or she collects from you and compare it with your financial objectives to identify any changes that may need to be made in financial behavior to close any gaps in funding your goals. If no changes are needed, the process can serve to validate the financial path you are on.
If you are looking for financial planning assistance in the Houston area, there are a variety of criteria to keep in mind when selecting a financial advisor, such as the extent of the services they provide and their responsiveness to client requests. Whatever criteria you find most important, choosing a financial advisor is not a task that should be taken lightly. A good first step is to determine what you expect to achieve from the financial planning process before deciding on an advisor.
Whatever your financial circumstances, whether you are just starting to set aside money for retirement, are saving for a major purchase, such as a child’s college education or buying a home, or are just entering retirement, a financial advisor can provide you with valuable information that you can use to help improve your financial situation.
Today’s financial landscape has become so complex that it can be difficult for someone who does not follow the financial industry closely to be aware of the benefits and drawbacks of various financial products, changes to tax laws and all the latest market trends. While it may be easy to access information about a wide range of financial products, whether online or elsewhere, relating this data to your unique financial system is another matter altogether.
Advice that might be appropriate for one person could very well be unsuitable for another individual. For example, radio, TV and Internet ads commonly proclaim that this or that investment is what you need, but many people lack the time to sort through all these claims. Helping you make sense of all this information in the context of achieving your financial goals is the role of a financial advisor.
By helping you determine what steps need to be taken to put yourself on a path to reaching your financial goals, a financial advisor can offer you the peace of mind of knowing that you are doing everything you can to attain these objectives. A financial advisor can assist you with a number of tasks that are important to improving your financial situation in both the short- and long-term, including selecting investment vehicles, choosing retirement plan options and helping create an estate plan, among other things.
One of the most significant benefits of working with a financial advisor is the assistance he or she can provide in designing a well-thought-out, comprehensive financial plan and helping you implement this plan and monitor your progress on an ongoing basis. Following such a plan can put you in a position to achieve financial independence earlier than if you didn’t have a plan.
Given the complexity of the modern financial environment, if your financial plan doesn’t take into account the multitude of variables facing individuals looking to comprehensively plan for their financial future, you run the risk of being blindsided by events not anticipated in the planning process.
What does a comprehensive financial planning process look like? While everyone’s individual situation will differ, there are a variety of steps that should occur during the financial planning process to enable an advisor to gather relevant information, provide you with appropriate advice and help guide you on the path toward reaching your financial goals. These include:
- Understanding client objectives and risk tolerance: Individuals who are aiming at the same financial goals (retirement, purchasing a home, leaving a financial legacy, etc.) may not share risk profiles. Determining both your objectives and the level of risk you are willing to accept when selecting investments to reach those objectives is a crucial part of a comprehensive planning process.
- Developing appropriate asset allocation: Once your risk profile and investment objectives have been determined, the next step is to allocate your investment assets correspondingly. Your financial advisor should be able to show you a variety of hypothetical performance scenarios based on the past performance of multiple investment asset classes. While past performance is never a guarantee about the future, this type of analysis nonetheless provides a framework that an advisor can use in conjunction with your financial goals and risk tolerance to construct a portfolio that is appropriate for you.
- Regular review and monitoring of client portfolios: Volatility in financial markets means that regular monitoring and review of your investment portfolio’s performance and how it impacts your plans is essential. As market conditions change, there may be times when it is desirable to adjust your asset allocation. Regular review of client portfolios enables an advisor to advise clients on the progress they are making toward their financial objectives.
- Providing regular and comprehensive reports: Offering insight into market performance is an important part of a financial advisor’s role. In many cases, bad financial decisions stem from a lack of knowledge or understanding of market dynamics. By offering context on market moves, your advisor can keep you up-to-date on the latest market developments and how they may impact the planning process. Additionally, by providing comprehensive reports on a regular basis, an advisor ensures that their clients are kept up-to-date on the performance of their portfolios and progress toward their financial goals.
- Attentive servicing of each client’s needs: Some clients like to meet with their financial advisors on a regular basis, while others prefer to interact via phone or email correspondence. In either case, a diligent financial advisor will put in the time and effort needed to provide the level of service that best meets a client’s needs. This also applies to the types of financial services provided to a client. Some are looking for comprehensive planning advice, while others may be looking mainly for specialized services such as advice related to estate planning or saving for a child’s college education.
Working with a financial advisor can be especially beneficial if you find yourself in a unique situation. While there are many plans online that claim to be one-size-fits-all, most people’s situations are not one size.
For example, how does a divorce impact your financial plan? What about a second marriage and a new, blended family? Where you live also changes your needs – what natural disasters do you need to protect yourself from? What are taxes like in your state? There are also different investment strategies that work for different phases in life when it comes to charitable giving, caring for dependents (be it your adult children or aging parents) and income. And not all retirement plans are offered to everyone, making each situation unique.