The Filbrandt Report: Start with the End in Mind

Filbrandt & Company Reports
Volume 21, Issue 4

Report Summary:

  • Choose the right adviser for your success
  • Address the ends and means to reach your goals
  • Create a plan to make your dreams reality

Where most advisers miss the boat on financial planning is focusing solely on the numbers. Planning for the post-career phase is not about money, but about your life. At Filbrandt & Company, we know effective financial planning involves establishing goals for your life and for your money, whether that means financing a second home, traveling, or creating a lasting legacy with a personalized estate plan.

Having worked specifically with academic professionals for decades, our advisers are experts at getting to the heart of your desires. In some cases, the most important part of the financial planning process has nothing to do with money and everything to do with the kind of life you want to be living. Our CEO Michael Filbrandt shares a client story, touching on the importance of starting with the end in mind—the client’s goal. 

The middle-aged university professor stood to leave as we ended our conversation about his investment strategies. I asked if my advice made sense; he agreed but seemed otherwise preoccupied. Digging deeper, I asked if he had any other concerns he wished to discuss. The words were no sooner out of my mouth when he sat back down and for the next hour recounted his story.

What is Your Driving Force?

His wife and children were the highlights of his life, but the monotony of his daily routine wore on him. He was a tenured professor with a good salary and retirement plan, but he yearned for something different, despite a vague sense of anxiety about life beyond his career. Though he was successful by many people’s standards, he was scared that he was stuck, mired too deeply in the daily grind, and that his life would never improve.

In this case, what should the client expect from a financial adviser and the planning process? In too many instances, the central question that drives the advice and planning process is, “Do you or will you have enough money?” This laser-focus on numbers means advisers spend a lot of their time reviewing asset allocations, retirement income projections, and investment returns. Advisers work hard to demonstrate how they are doing relative to financial indexes and benchmarks, but this is a no-win situation for both the client and the adviser. 

How Can Money Help You Live a Better Life?

More than the plethora of information out there, clients seek wisdom that is tailored to their specific situation. Like the professor, people are increasingly thinking about how their money can help them live a better life, changing the central question driving the planning process. Advisers need to help clients define what “improving their life” might look like in the future, asking questions like: What do you need to feel a sense of well-being? How do you define your progress? How will you know you have achieved the freedom to live the way you want? Progress is personal and best measured against one’s own objectives. When you start with the end in mind, the central focus of the planning process is the quality of the client’s life.

The unhappy professor? More than thirty years later we remain friends and in regular contact. After some discussion and lots of encouragement, he left his tenured professorship and the city where he had lived for several years, started his own business, and built a beautiful log home on a lake.  

While your story may differ from this one, you may be experiencing that vague feeling of dissatisfaction or unease when you think of life beyond your working career. Change is inevitable, but as planners, we recommend asking yourself five questions:

  • What does your life look like now? List daily activities like work, family, and leisure.
  • How will these activities change or be replaced in retirement?
  • Removing any barriers or limitations, what does your desired retirement look like?
  • What results do you want for retirement and for your estate?
  • Are you addressing both the “ends” and the means to reach your retirement goals?

An effective planner aligns with you to communicate with those key professionals essential to your successful retirement and estate planning, resulting in your peace of mind. A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ can make your dreams reality by starting with the end in mind. Call us today for a complimentary discussion about how to plan for and live your best life.

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