What is Holistic Financial Planning?

How do you feel about money?

The way you feel about money dictates the majority of your day-to-day decisions. In fact, there has been more and more research in recent years on how emotions, personal values, and behaviors affect financial decisions. As a financial planner and investment manager, I choose to get to know each of my clients on a personal level during our initial meeting, which I call "Defining the Experience." This way, I can uncover their feelings towards both life and money, which ultimately helps me determine the most appropriate plan for them to reach their specified goals. As our relationship matures, my understanding of how they interact with and view money becomes invaluable. In short, holistic financial planning goes beyond the numbers and takes the whole person into consideration.

From Miriam-Webster

Holistic: relating to or concerned with complete systems rather than with individual parts

How does it work?

Behavioral finance is a huge part of what we do.  Knowing what drives a person and understanding why they make the decisions they do has a large impact on how a plan is structured.  Each person within a family unit has their own unique beliefs about money. We all use money in a different way because it satisfies different needs and brings out varying emotions. Essentially, though, we all have a final goal in mind. It is Zora Financial's job to recognize your money personality and lead you to a path that satiates both the immediate need for confidence and the ultimate desire to achieve financial freedom.  

The planning process is an involved and freeing experience.  It is a process that includes core concentrations such as retirement planning, estate planning, tax planning, investments, insurance and budgeting. These are just the building blocks that support holistic planning; all clients have their own sub-concerns and individual behaviors that will define their experience at Zora Financial. No one concentration is more important than the other. One aspect seldom changes without affecting the others. This is why we call ourselves a financial planning firm and not wealth managers or investment advisers. As a financial planner, I take all of your planning concerns and put them together in a way that not only makes sense to you but also reflects your financial values and goals. 

The plan looks far into the future to determine the best mix of investments or the type of account that will be used.  It is inappropriate to invest money or buy insurance before you know how it fits into your plan. The plan is a mutually created path that directs our decisions. It is not an afterthought or a value-added service; It is a carefully constructed beginning point. 

Once we have a clear path to where you want to go, we begin to implement one step at a time. We always work with our clients on an on-going basis to ensure that we will be with them when the rubber hits the road. This is why I say you don’t have to have investable assets to have a financial planner.  Ideally, everyone would start at the beginning. (Note: We do not charge by the hour or by the meeting. As a fee-only firm, our compensation comes solely from our clients and not from commissions; this allows us to be objective when formulating recommendations.)

Traditional Financial Firms are beginning to use FINANCIAL PLANNING

The majority of firms have begun to see the value of financial planning and are trying to use it in their existing business structure.  As it stands, their fee/compensation structures are causing them to miss the mark.  Many firms and their financial advisers/consultants use a shortened version of financial planning as a precursor to sell a product (i.e. insurance policies or proprietary investments).  For instance, you might have been to a meeting where someone offers you a free financial plan.  After a couple of meetings, you are shown a plan that includes a few insurance policies or possibly mutual funds—all of which bear the name of the firm the salesperson works for as a solution to accomplish your goals.  In this case, the free financial plan turns into a product sales tool.  Some firms will offer a version of financial planning as a value-added service to their investment or wealth management clients as long as they meet a minimum amount of assets.  Unfortunately, financial planning is not the focus of engagement and possibly even an afterthought

It is not that I believe all of these plans are bad or non-comprehensive; I simply disagree with the focus of the planning process.  All too often, the plan is not objective and is used as a tool to accumulate assets or to sell a product rather than providing a holistic guide for the client.  This leads to a general lack of knowledge of what financial planning is and a widespread misunderstanding of what value it can bring to one's life.  Although I am also an investment manager, I hold myself out as a financial planner first and foremost.  I opened a firm that allows me to give holistic, objective advice without the pressure to sell a product.  This way, Zora Financial can focus on what matters: the client. 

There is no crystal ball that allows me to predict your financial future, but by practicing holistic financial planning, I am able to reduce the uncertainty, provide you with peace of mind, and help you get where you want to go.