Is Your Financial Puzzle Incomplete?

Patricia Filbrandt, CFP®, CLU®, ChFC®
Feb 03, 2020

President's Blog: Comprehensive Planning

Financial Puzzle

Spending time with family is a pleasure that we all share. We recently spent several days with my nephew and his family skiing and hiking. My nephew’s 5-year-old daughter often wanted one of us to work with her to complete a 1000-piece puzzle after our dinner each evening. On one of the evenings that she and I worked away, we tutored each other on the best approach to completing a puzzle; it reminded me of the approach many people utilize with their financial planning. She was getting frustrated at her lack of progress. I suggested we take an organized approach, as 1000 pieces is a large puzzle for a 5-year-old, by building out the border first then working on smaller sections.

We find that our clients may experience a similar feeling of being overwhelmed with financial planning. You work hard at it, but get frustrated when the results are not satisfying. It’s like the puzzle; you keep picking up pieces and trying them, but they don’t seem to quite fit. A lack of good financial planning is like the 1000-piece puzzle many of you have sitting at your table. All of the pieces are there, but nothing is connected. The larger picture remains incomplete, waiting to be assembled. 

A family member will sit down from time to time, study the completed picture of the puzzle on the box, and attempt to piece it together. Maybe they start by connecting one specific area of the puzzle, or perhaps they assemble the frame first. But inevitably, life gets in the way. Dust collects on the half-finished project, and eventually the piles of individual pieces and the completed clusters of a partially finished puzzle make their way back into the box “for another time.”

For many busy faculty members, financial planning is done in small pieces, if at all. In lieu of developing and implementing a comprehensive financial plan, they may simply attempt rebalancing their portfolio, work with their tax preparer to complete taxes, or draw up estate documents with their attorney.  These projects are often done in a very episodic fashion, and only as time allows. Rarely do individuals look at the big picture of how these “completed clusters” of their financial puzzle actually fit together. Larger planning opportunities are often missed with this piecemeal approach.

Sometimes it just takes an outside professional to identify and rectify the gaps in planning.  Much like assembling a more complicated puzzle; you need to divide it into manageable smaller sections that are slowly integrated and then finally it becomes a fully completed puzzle. What satisfaction we feel!

comprehensive planning as puzzle pieces

In 2020 we encourage you to make this the year that you fully complete your financial planning puzzle. Effective financial planning can increase efficiency, reduce risks, and better utilize your time and resources to help you to be more productive.  Simply put, you feel more in control when you plan. Our team is standing by to help you undertake this exciting and fulfilling project.


Patricia Filbrandt, CFP®, CLU®, ChFC®

Co-founder and President Patricia Filbrandt is responsible for the daily leadership and direction that allows Filbrandt & Company to grow, prosper and provide the absolute best overall client experience. She believes that providing a truly exceptional...

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