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Elements of a Financial Plan

A comprehensive financial life plan developed by the experienced advisors at EKS Associates considers your short- and long-term financial and personal goals. To give you the best chance for success, each of the elements below are analyzed and considered. Some may ask why it’s important to include every area below. Consider this analogy: each element of the plan is like a section of a symphony orchestra – brass, woodwinds, strings, and percussion. Individually, they sound nice. But when played all together, under the guidance of an experienced conductor, who is following the composition laid out by the composer, it becomes a beautiful story. Your comprehensive financial life plan is your personal composition, written to help you achieve the beauty of financial independence.

Cash Flow Planning
Understanding your cash inflows (earnings, pension and social security) and cash outflows (living expenses, income taxes and savings) is an important first step in the financial planning process. This report forms the basis from which many other reports and analyses are derived, including your retirement cash flow reports.

Retirement Planning
Financial independence is a common goal; often defined as having the ability to enjoy life and do as you wish without financial concerns. Advances in medical technologies and research have resulted in people living longer; many will spend as many years retired as they spent working. While an active and longer life is desirable, it comes with certain challenges that need to be addressed. Inflation, taxation, and rising health care costs are some of the factors that need to be taken into account when determining how best to achieve financial independence. The EKS approach focuses on developing a strategy to help you get there, assisting with important pre-retirement decisions, such as when to collect Social Security or what pension options to take.

Investment Planning
New clients often come to us with an accumulation of various investments in their portfolios, acquired at different times and over many years, with no rhyme or reason as to why they are there. We believe every investment in your portfolio should have a specific purpose. When developing your personal investment strategy, we evaluate your goals, take time to understand your values, consider your time horizon for needing funds, and recognize your tolerance for risk. Using techniques such as asset allocation, diversification, and creating a bond ladder for your cash needs allows us to help reduce risk. The goal of this structured approach is to reduce risk as well as the impact that the volatility of the market can have on your portfolio (and your emotions). It also intends to provide flexibility and balance within your portfolio. Investment recommendations are customized for each client. Our non-discretionary approach requires client approval of every recommendation prior to being implemented. We offer institutional account benefits through our relationships with Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade.

Insurance Planning
The best of financial plans can fail if exposed to risks such as premature death, disability, or the need for long-term nursing care. Additionally, in this increasingly litigious environment, it is imperative to have adequate personal liability protection. By evaluating and understanding these risks, we develop and implement a strategy to reduce the potentially devastating effects the unexpected can have on your financial wellbeing.

Income Tax Planning
Proactive tax planning is crucial to the long-term success of your financial and retirement plans. By monitoring the ever-changing tax laws we can help you leverage all of the opportunities that are available to you, minimizing your tax obligation and maximizing your savings. Strategies may include: tax-efficient investments, gifting, charitable planning, Roth IRA conversions, and loss (or gain) harvesting.

Education Planning
Investing in your children’s or grandchildren’s education is an investment that can give back for a lifetime. It opens up countless opportunities for your heirs, but with the cost of a college education continuing to increase, many young adults are questioning its value. By saving now, even a little, you can make a big difference in their lives. As part of your comprehensive financial life plan, we can help you determine an appropriate education funding strategy.

Estate Planning
The purpose of estate planning is to ensure that your wishes (as it pertains to prolonged medical care, for example), as well as your assets (who inherits what) are protected when you are no longer in control, either because of illness or death. It also provides comfort to your heirs that they are carrying out your desires the way you intended. Our comprehensive planning approach helps you consider your options and then provides valuable assistance to your estate planning attorney to help draft those documents.