The Evolution of the Financial Plan

By Michael J. Searcy

My company’s slogan in the 90’s promised, “Mike Searcy will put your life in a 3 ring binder.” The financial planning industry was just starting to become popular, and for many households who were used to stuffing receipts into shoeboxes, the idea of having someone organize their finances into a binder sounded promising. However, I found many were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of paperwork they had built up through the years, paralyzing them from taking action. Others who took action would receive their financial plan and then never look at it again. My company is now celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and I find that many people today are still overwhelmed with getting their finances in order and adjusting their plan along the way – are you one of them? If you are, and you haven’t taken a look at how the industry has evolved to help you with this process, keep reading.

Years ago, most financial planners were focused on the outcome of financial planning rather than the process of financial planning. They let you wade through piles of statements to get them the information they needed, they plugged it into a template, and called it a day. Over the past 40 years that I’ve been working with clients, I have worked on turning that painful process into an easier experience, with strategies to ease the burden of gathering, organizing, and updating the information. And really, who wants their plan in a 3 ring binder anymore? By utilizing technology and software, we have moved from paper statements and stagnant budgets to financial plans that are digital, living, breathing plans that can be updated, adjusted or adapted to the situations that occur in life.

One great benefit to having an interactive financial plan is the freedom it gives you to test different scenarios without having to pick up the phone and wait for an advisor to plug something into a spreadsheet for you, and then schedule a meeting to show you the results. By giving clients access to view and test scenarios in their plan through interactive software, they can quickly see how changing variables modifies their outcomes. Want to see how buying a new home, retiring earlier, or saving more or less money affects your goals? An interactive plan lets you do so at your convenience. If clients test different scenarios and decide they want to change their goals or inputs, we can make the changes an ongoing part of their plan. Developing a financial plan is not a set-it-and-forget-it process. With an interactive plan, you can make adjustments with your advisor or from the privacy of your own home. The plan can grow and adjust to your life so that it helps keep you on track to meet your goals.

Are you looking for a financial plan that makes sense for your life, but you’re overwhelmed with taking the first step? Chances are you’ve seamlessly embraced technology in many other areas of your life. Don’t let fear hold you back from doing so with your financial plan. You may be surprised at just how easy it is!

Please remember that different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product made reference to directly or indirectly in this content, will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), or be suitable for you or your portfolio. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this newsletter (article) serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Searcy Financial Services, Inc.

The content of this letter does not constitute a tax or legal opinion. Always consult with a competent professional service provider for advice on tax or legal matters specific to your situation. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed in this content, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing.  

Published for the blog on January 22, 2016 by Searcy Financial Services, your Overland Park, Kansas Fee-Only Financial Planner and Investment Manager.