This week, I wanted to take a step back and write a bit more broadly about the work that we do at our firm. I’ve learned that many of my longtime friends, Analysts and even some clients don’t fully understand the scope of our work and how it has evolved over the last three decades.
The direction our firm has taken has really shifted to where we are now; a comprehensive financial planning firm. We have expanded our team over the years and have credentialed experts in every area who collaborate on customized, comprehensive, and holistic strategies that ensure everything happens the way you envision.
Why is this different than how we worked together in the past?
If you’ve ever worked with me, you’ve probably heard what we call my Five Circle Talk. The Five Circles (Emergency/ Opportunity Fund, Replacement Dollars, Saving, Investing and Tax Deferral) are my way of framing the various components of a balanced financial plan. It’s a simple way to ensure you are checking off all the main boxes when it comes to your personal financial journey. And of course, “planning” was always underlying everything we did with our clients; if we were talking about life insurance, we were talking about planning for the unexpected or the inevitable. If we were talking about investments, we needed to understand your goals and objectives for your various accounts.
We have pivoted, in a great way!
The Five Circles are still the backbone of our strategy, but we have significantly expanded the scope and breadth of the financial planning work we do. The shift came about when we realized our clients needed more help with integrating the variety of disconnected professionals with whom they were working.
It is our experience that most people receive excellent advice, but the various advisors with whom they work are not talking to one another. This typically results in gaps and incompletions for the overall financial plan as individual strategies fail to align with one another. Our role is to supplement this advice and resolve any incompletions. To act as Integrator.
We realized we needed a way to bring it all together, to provide clarity and purpose, and above all, peace of mind in knowing there is a central vision to your financial planning. As this wouldn’t be effective as just a series of conversations or emails, we developed a way to bring it all together into a concise document.
We call it your Playbook
Which brings us to the point of this blog. The Playbook. I started calling it The Playbook for lack of a better name! Now, I love the name because it’s such an apt descriptor. You’ve likely heard the term before, probably in connection to sports. We call our client’s customized financial plans their Playbook because they are exactly that; clear and concise direction as to the steps needed to reach their desired outcomes. But how do we get there?
The process is personal to you.
Building a comprehensive financial plan means we need to get to know you. We need to know your objective and goals, but also your concerns and passions. The process of planning is not just black and white words and numbers on a page. We have to dig deep.
When we’re working with our clients, we understand that we are helping to shape their lives, especially as it pertains to their future and legacy. This means a lot of heart-to-heart conversations about what really matters most to them. And most of the time your family is involved, along with our team of experts and your other professional advisors.
Risk management is central to our work with you.
But, the backbone of everything we do is ensuring we manage risk. When you hear ‘risk management,’ you may think we’re talking about placing insurance policies. Sure, insurance often plays a key role. But it goes much further than this. Risk management underscores our approach to every element of your Playbook.
For investment planning, a huge part of determining the best strategy and products for you involves assessing your ability to take on risk. Not just in the way your heart and stomach can handle, but from a more technical perspective; what can your financial portfolio withstand, when we account for your debt load, time horizon and financial goals.
When it comes to will and estate planning, proper estate planning is a process, not an event, and it requires customized solutions. Again, the key here is in the planning; completing the proper diagnostics before developing appropriate solutions to meet your family and legacy needs. Again, we are seeking to reduce or eliminate the risk to your family, such as not having sufficient liquid funds available to pay any debts or capital gains taxes that may become due.
While these are just a couple examples, they illustrate our approach to every one of the many facets of the Playbook. Understanding the exact details of your situation is essential. When it comes to your finances, what you don’t know, and not having a clear plan, creates an unnecessary risk for you, your family and your business. Our goal is to mitigate or remove the risk of the unknown.
Finding clarity and purpose
And lastly, I say it all the time: Why are we doing this? I believe a financial plan lacks meaning and depth if you don’t first have clarity as to what matters most to you, and if you haven’t defined the purpose of the plan. When it comes to building a client’s Playbook, it’s about transparency, balance and collaboration. These words have a lot of meaning at Ciccone McKay, and they are our key values in the work we do with our clients.
Peace of mind, and the attention you and your family deserve
When I talk to my clients as we wrap up their plans, and everything is in order, the biggest feeling they have is one of relief; that they have established a plan for what matters most. Yet most people spend more time in the barber’s chair over their lifetime than they spend in developing, implementing, and managing their financial plan. Given how important this is, isn’t it worth devoting the proper level of care and attention? The peace of mind you will gain, and the amount you will potentially save financially speaking make it worth the time and effort in developing your own Playbook. So, if we haven’t talked about this with you and your family, it’s time we did.
In developing a comprehensive financial plan, Ciccone McKay Financial Group works on a fee for service basis. Fees range based on the scope and complexity of the work involved. Subsequent to discovery meetings, we will define and agree upon our respective responsibilities in a personalized Engagement Letter. To discuss in more detail, please contact us.
Anthony Ciccone has been in the financial services industry for over three decades. He is the founder of Ciccone McKay Financial Group and The Immix Group: An Employee Benefits Company Ltd. Anthony is the creator of The Playbook, a financial planning strategy which provides clarity and purpose to personal and business planning.