What does it look like to build a retirement-focused financial plan? What are all the steps? What do you have to do? What information do you have to provide? In today's episode, we are going to lay it all out, super simple, for you. And our goal is, by the time you get through this particular episode, you're going to have a clear picture. You're going to understand what it takes so that you can have a secure, safe, retirement, peace of mind to and through retirement. We hope you enjoy this episode. To learn more about how to secure your retirement and all the different elements you need to know, please subscribe to our channel and hit the bell so you'll be notified when we release episodes every Monday. We have helped hundreds of our clients gain clarity and get on the path to a great retirement. Now it's your turn.
Let's dive in. Welcome, everyone, to our Secure Your Retirement podcast. Today is a very special episode. We're going to kind of take you through our financial planning process really from an A to Z. And we get the question all the time, how does this look? Does it work? To be able to really help us to do that, we have special guests with us. We have Nick, who is here in our office; and we have Taylor, who works with all of our clients as well, but she does that all the way from Salt Lake City, Utah, but she drove…
Nah, she flew here. She came on all the way for this episode and to be able to spend some time with us. So thank you, Taylor, for coming all the way out just for this special episode. Yeah, of course. But she did pick pretty good weather. She did, she did. All right. So, here's kind of the premise of this particular episode. What we get a lot of times is somebody who maybe has worked with a financial planner, financial advisor sometime in the past, maybe they never have, and they go, "What does this look like? What's that process look like?" So we have Morgan with us on this episode, and Morgan's going to really be our moderator and kind of interview us as to how this whole thing works. So that's kind of the setup for today so that you can understand from A to Z how this all works.
So, Morgan, get us started. So let's assume someone has learned about us via the website. They've seen our book. They, somehow, have learned about us and they're ready to be introduced. And how would they go about then, Taylor, getting ready to do that? How would they prepare for a personalized introduction meeting? Yeah. So first thing that we'll have someone do is fill out what we call our financial snapshot, and we send that over as a questionnaire through email. And it has a bunch of information and questions about things like if you're currently working, what your level of income is? And if you're going to take Social Security in the future, what your estimated benefit's going to be? Or if you're taking Social Security now, what your pension is all throughout your current financial situation? That will help us get to know you a little bit better and figure out where we can help you with our services.
What if somebody's not quite ready to share all of their information with us? How does that work? Yeah. So, Murs, I'll let you handle that one since you have been around for a long time. So, when it comes to someone that is… And we understand, right, it's your money that you've taken time to build up over 30-some-odd years and to go into a meeting with usually a complete stranger and be able to give them everything, we understand the apprehension around that.
But on the flip side of the coin, you got to understand that as a financial planner and the way that our firm operates, we have to know quite a bit to be able to make a decent recommendation. So we do operate… I'm a CFP, Radon's a CFP, Nick's a CFP. Taylor is one, too. And so as CFPs, we have to operate under this fiduciary standard. Fiduciary, by the way, pretty much means that we are going to put our client's interest ahead of our own. And the only way to do that, the only way to make a decent recommendation, the only way to give guidance going forward is we need all the information really that is pertinent to the conversation.
So if someone is not willing to share account values with us, or if they don't want to discuss some property that they have or something like that, well I'll tell you, it starts to raise a little bit of a red flag for us because there's a lot of things that go into all of these elements of financial planning. And it's one of those things where obviously, yeah, we need to take time to build up the trust to understand each other.
But on our side of the table, if we can't get the data, at the end of the day, the data is what is going to help us make the best recommendation possible. Then there there's holes in that data, then we start to have issues on making projections, understanding your risk levels, being able to make a proper recommendation as far as what investment strategy do we want to be utilizing. So if we don't know all the chips on the table, then it makes it very difficult. Ultimately, that ends up being a separate conversation of, "Hey, Mr. And Mrs. Client, where do we want this engagement to really go?" Yeah.
I just wanted to piggyback on a little bit about how Taylor opened it up because she talked about all these different pieces that we need. And if you think about our process, we get some basic information. Obviously, we want to know who you are, your date of birth, some just basic information. But then we get right into this idea of, well, give us an idea of where your accounts are and what type of accounts. So I just thought I'd ask Nick, if you could take us through this, because you've worked a lot with us as well around this data gathering. Could you tell us… Maybe describe what are the different types of accounts that people would be submitting and why it's important to know what those different kind of accounts are? Yeah.
So, some of the more common accounts are IRA accounts and Roth IRAs. You have 401(k)s that you might have built up for decades in the past. Those are probably the most common ones, but you can have brokerage accounts, whether that's an individual brokerage or a joint account. And then you also may have different annuity accounts. So, those can be at different insurance companies in the form of an IRA or a Roth IRA or a non-qualified account as well. So, there's a whole bunch of different accounts that you can have. Some are more common than others, but at the end of the day it's important to get the specific type of account so that we know how to build our recommendation, what to build our recommendation off of, and how to help going forward. Yeah.
And I think on top of that, it's also just a good exercise for the person that is trying to get some advice because I'll tell you, Radon and I, we've seen so many times where a person doesn't know what the balance of that one account was, where they worked for that company 10 or 15 years ago, and so an old 401(k), or they haven't really looked at how an account is allocated as far as from an investment perspective. So I think it's a good exercise not just to get all the data to us and the information to us, but also just to take a step back and look at what you have done so far to get to where you are and the different pieces of the puzzle that have come together over time. Usually, that's a pretty remarkable thing that you can look back and say, "Wow, I did all this." Yeah.
And I think, Morgan, you set this up and said, "Okay, I'm thinking about meeting with you." So, just to kind of clarify, we really work off of what we call a three-appointment process. And so, what we're describing right now is kind of getting ready for that first appointment. And so I think you asked the question, "What if I don't want to share some things" or that's not… so for the initial conversation, if we've got… I always say, "Give me the basics of your picture." Meaning I don't need to know it to the penny, but we need to have an idea of about what those accounts are or the different types of accounts Nick just talked about, and we need to know their tax classification just so we can have a basic conversation. And we're going to go through this worksheet.
Now, if you don't have this available ready when you come in, we can do this together. So don't worry about that. But now, I just wanted to set the basis in that initial conversation that we have. It's really kind of this idea of are we a good fit for each other? So, yes, this is important information. We're going to either ask you to have it for us ahead of time or we're going to do it while you're here with us. So we've kind of covered the accounts.
And again, I'm working off this first appointment because we're going to come back to those accounts for the second appointment. But for right now, we're just trying to get our baselines. So I think the next area that we start to go into is our income part of the snapshot. So, Taylor, would you mind breaking down the different types of incomes somebody might be telling us about on this? Just so we've got an idea. So if you are still working and you haven't retired yet, then we're going to want to know what your current salary is at your job.
And if you have retired and if you're taking Social Security, then we're going to ask about what your current Social Security benefits are. Or if you have not started Social Security yet, then there is a way to find out what that future benefit is going to be, so we can help you answer questions about when the optimal time to begin Social Security might be depending on your unique situation. So your current income from your salary, if you're working. Social Security, if you also have a pension, or are planning to start a pension in the future, then we'll want to find out what that amount looks like. So that that can be considered as part of your income available to you to cover your expenses in retirement. And then any other type of income that you have from maybe the sale of a business, if that's part of your plan, or from rental properties that you have.
Then we'll also consider any rental income that you have. So we know what we have saved so far and we know what we have coming in. I'm assuming there's also going to be some information about what we have going out, what we're spending, right? Yeah, exactly. We'll also want to get an idea of what your current living expenses are, if you have any debt obligations, if you're still paying a mortgage or an auto loan or things like that. If you have kids going to college or grandkids that you want to pay for their college expenses, then we want to know about those types of things. And then also we can have a conversation with you about your goals in retirement. If you want to travel or do other things with your retirement savings, donate to charity, whatever that looks like for you, or have home renovations, redo your kitchen or your bathroom, whatever. Then we also plan those so that we also get an idea of what your future expenses might be if they're not regular and consistent right now.
Yeah. And I would say that category of understanding your spending is usually one of the more difficult ones. And I'll paint you a little picture. A lot of people that come to us, they're close to retirement or maybe already retired, but a lot of times they say you're close to retirement, you're making good money, and now you're starting to say, "I need to figure out this whole retirement thing." But you're making good money, you're paying the bills, and you don't really pay all that much attention to, well, what are the dollars that are going out of the door and what categories are they? And it makes you kind of take a step back and you got to understand where you're spending because we see it all the time when someone flips from their accumulation phase of life into retirement and you don't have that employer that's paying your paycheck anymore, and it's really all about what you've done to save and build up for retirement, you start to really think about, "Well, do I need this line item in the budget or can we cut it?" Because the worry, no matter what, no matter if you've got 500,000 saved up for retirement or 10 million saved for retirement, a lot of times the worry is the same that, "Am I going to have enough? Am I going to run out of money?" So I think the earlier someone starts evaluating not just how much they have today, but also what's going to be going out the door when they do fully retire makes the plan so much more well thought out and more precise.
Yeah. So we're almost through it all, your question here, Morgan. You asked a really big question. So as we go through the snapshot, we've kind of gone now through all the financial stuff. Now, we have some other categories that we're going to want to talk through. And one of those is the estate plan. We'll ask people about how much have they done? Have they done a will? Have they done a trust? How old is it? Was it done in a different state? Do you do your own taxes? What are your goals? Do you have any specific goals? Taylor mentioned a couple about redoing a kitchen. Sometimes people say, "I've got this dream vacation we've been waiting for, and this is going to be a big expense for us, but we've been dreaming about it.
And whenever we hit that retirement, we're going to do it. And it's going to be a little bit more on the expensive side because we're going to go a lot of places and be gone for a while. So we need to build that in." So once we have all of that conversation or enough of that information to say, "Hey, here's kind of the conversation," now, we can really start to say, "All right.
What do we want to do with that and how do we want to start putting it together?" And typically, in that first visit, what we're doing is saying, "Here's how we work." And I mean very briefly, this is what we tell people, every person, is that we really kind of work in the very beginning by building a retirement-focused financial plan. That's why we need all this data. Then we're going to say, "Look, once we know that, we'll talk about investments, we'll talk about insurance, we'll talk about income planning, we'll talk about investment planning. We're going to really kind of go all the way through." So now, we got this sheet, so we've kind of got this information.
That's really kind of the first appointment. So, what's your next question? Well, so then I know that it will look like after that as far as we've done our homework, we've got our appointment set, you'll receive a call from our office to confirm for the next day, and then you'll come into the office, and then we'll have that visit, right? That's right. So once we get through with that visit though, at this point, we've got a good picture. And I think at that point is when people say, "Yeah.
You know what? I do like you guys, or I don't," but most of the time we hope you say you do. And we say, "We like you, too." And so we're kind of now moving on to the next date. And that next date is really our second visit. Okay. And what does that look like and what do I need to do to prepare between, or what would a person need to do to prepare for that? Is it- Yeah. So I'm going to say this. The person really doesn't have to do much at all at this point, but there is some key data that, in addition to what we've got already, that we're going to need next. So, we got a lot… We're going to spend with Taylor on as far as building out the plan. But Nick, I just want to have you address real quick, what is some of the information that we need to get so that Taylor is going to have everything she needs to really build out that financial plan? Because right now, we've just kind of got the snapshot, so there's some actual documents that we're going to need.
Could you walk us through what those documents would be? Yeah. Absolutely. So, what really helps us out in creating that financial plan are specific account statements. So, wherever the assets are currently held, whatever custodian that is, that could be Charles Schwab, that could be TD Ameritrade, wherever else that is, it's really helpful to get the most recent statement of the account. And then it's also helpful for us to get most recent tax return as well. So in our preparation for creating the financial plan, doing analysis on your specific tax return and tax situation, and then any other statements, 401(k) statements, that you may have that are recent are also extremely helpful for us creating that plan and beginning to formulate that recommendation throughout our meeting. So, then it gets all turned over to Taylor? Yeah. So now at this point's, whenever Taylor goes to work, in addition to what's already been done. So Taylor, could you just walk us through what you do with all that? Yeah.
And before we do that, also, let me interject and say, let me be the person that Morgan was earlier of, "Well, why do I need to give you these statements? Why do I need to give you my tax return?" That's very personal information. What are you going to get out of this that I don't already see or that is going to become relevant in our next visit together? Yeah. So this is the fun part for me because I get to go through all of the account statements, and we build out two things from those. One, we want to verify the balances of your account so we make sure that we have the right information to base off of what your assets are so that we can make appropriate recommendations to move forward. But we also will go through and look at what the holdings are in each of your account, what exactly you're invested in, what funds or if they're ETFs or mutual funds or a single company stocks.
We want to know what you're invested in because part of what we're preparing on our end is an analysis of those holdings so that we know what your current risk exposure is like because that will be part of our recommendations moving forward, is how to make an investment that's appropriate for the amount of risk that you want to have as part of your retirement plan. So we'll do an analysis on all of the holdings within your investment accounts from the statements that you upload to us as part of our data gathering process, and then also just verify those amounts as part of your retirement-focused financial plan. And for the tax returns as well, we'll take those and do an analysis on your tax returns to look for opportunities for tax planning and observations and looking forward not just for the past years of your tax returns that have already been filed, but for different moves that we could possibly make to help you with your tax situation moving forward as part of our recommendation.
So that's what we're looking for from your account statements and also your tax return so that we can have a conversation on those topics as part of your next meeting. I can't remember if it was mentioned or not, but how do I get these documents to you? Yes. So we'll send an email out. Right now, it's been coming from me. And we have a little portal where you can securely upload all of your statements and just we will be able to access those so it is secure. All right. Nice. All right. So, just to paint a little bit of a picture here, Nick, could you kind of walk us through what's the client going to get when they come in? So now, they come in. And Taylor's been doing all this work to get everything ready and putting it into our financial planning software.
What's that going to look like to a person when they come in? How's that going to feel? What are you going to see? Yeah. So during that second appointment, we will go through your entire financial plan. So, like Radon said, once we've taken all of the data and put that into our financial planning software, we'll go and walk through each and every step of that plan with you; make any tweaks that we need to make; updates that you see, expenses, income; and make any changes that you'd like to see and even different scenarios that you'd like to see. So we'll walk you through each step of that process in the meeting. And then at the end of the meeting, whatever you'd like to take home, you're free to take home.
So whether that's different scenarios, whether that's a printout of the entire financial plan, we can print it out or we can send it straight to you securely. And so we do that a lot of the time. So it's really walking through each and every step of the financial plan, making any adjustments that you'd like to see, and then giving that to you so we can progress and move forward as well. Yeah. And I think I want to add a little bit more power to what that experience is because I mean, you just picture it, right? You've never sat down with a financial planner before, you've never worked with an advisor, and all the questions in your head of "Can I retire at 67?" Or whatever that age you have in your mind, "Do I have enough money? What if there is a long-term care scenario? Are we able to afford it? Do we need to look at insurance?" All of those questions that you've been worried about and really didn't have all the answers to, they start to get answered in that visit. And we're walking you through it.
"Hey, here's the dollars coming in, here's the dollars going out, here's what we've built up to work with." And then we take it to this final spreadsheet that ultimately we start to see a huge sigh of relief from a lot of people that we work with. And it brings it all in on one nice, little sheet that says, "Here's where we are today. Here's the assets that we have, and here's how we progress down in our years." And we like to take it out to age 90, 95, 100, whatever you want to look at. And by the end of that, I would say, part one of the second appointment, you've already got someone who feels that there's been a lot of value that's been delivered because now I've got some answers to the questions that I've had for a long time of, "Hey, can I retire? What's Social Security going to look like for me? How much are we going to be able to spend in retirement?" Things like that.
So it's pretty cool feeling being… as an advisor on the other side of the table, being able to deliver that. And we're not even working with the person yet. So it sounds like a lot of information you're taking in from that appointment. How do you move forward from that? Do I need to make a decision at that point? Or what do I need to do after that appointment? So that I go back to, I say, that's part one of the visit. And we spent about 20 to 30 minutes on part one of the visit. Part two now goes into what Taylor was talking about that we have put together as far as a risk analysis. And I'll let Taylor chime in on this, but basically, she's done some work as far as understanding what is in those statements, what investments are we in, and then we also have a risk conversation that says, "Well, forget about how we're invested today. What does our gut tell us about how we feel about risk?" And, Taylor, if you want to talk to the differences that we see sometimes on how someone's invested versus how they feel like they should be invested.
Yeah. So part of what we'll do when we're meeting with you and talking about your current risk exposure and the difference between what you're currently invested in and what maybe you would like to be invested in is we'll go through a questionnaire with you to get an idea of how much risk you want to tolerate in retirement, and then we can kind of compare what you want to where you are currently invested to give us an idea of some of the changes that we might need to make for you as part of your retirement financial plan so that we can better align where you currently are with where you want to be as far as your risk exposure in your investment accounts.
Yeah. I think what we do here that's a little bit different is I always tell people, "If you've ever done this before, a lot of times there's a questionnaire you get" and it's kind of like, "Do you go to Vegas on the weekends and bet everything on one type of gamble that you would take over the weekend?" It's obscure. What we do is actually look at the numbers. So we say, "Hey, if you got $1 million and it were down 10%," somebody might immediately say, "It's not that bad" until we show them it's down $100,000.
And then they go, "Whoa, I don't want to be down $100,000." "Oh, if you're down 20%, that's $200,000." Definitely can't handle that. So we basically walk them through those real numbers. And then somebody comes up with their number and they go, "Look at this point, whatever that might be," so let's say it was 10%, "At 10%, yeah, I'm starting to get nervous, so I don't want to lose more than 10%." Well, then we take them and we show them what their real risk is on their current investments and they go, "Oh, my goodness, I didn't realize I was that risky in my investments." And then we talk about how did it go last year? I mean, "That's an easy one this year because last year the markets were down 20%." So people go, "Yeah, I was down 20%, too.
And I just didn't think about it from the dollar's perspective." And so that is eye opening to a lot of folks when we get to that point. So now, what we've done is we've kind of worked all the way through this information. And at this point is where we say, "All right. We're going to send you the financial plan. We're going to send you the data of what we've put together thus far." And now what we're doing is, is we say, "Look, we want you to take a break at this point, go home, look at what we've going to send you. And then we come back together for a strategy meeting." And the strategy meeting is saying, "How do we start to look at this? How do we that?" And I'm just going to say that we do it in a couple of different ways. One of the things that we do as a bucket sheet. And in that bucket sheet is breaks this into three buckets.
So Nick, could you kind of take us through what that bucket sheet looks like as a part of the strategy? Yeah. So, to start with the bucket sheet, we start with basically three different buckets. And usually we're typically drawing this on the board, so that whoever we're meeting with can see it in person. And visually, it's a lot easier to see. So you start with either a cash…. you start with a cash bucket, a safety bucket and then a growth bucket. And to kind of break those down step by step, the cash bucket is really anything that you feel… or the amount of cash that you feel comfortable holding.
So for everyone, that may be different. Some people like to hold a lot in cash just for emergencies. Some people are typically holding smaller amounts. So that's person to person. That's a completely personal choice. And as long as that doesn't really negatively affect the plan in any way, typically, it won't. And that's just a number that we have as part of the bucket sheet overall. That second bucket is the safety or income bucket, and that's set basically for safety or income in the future. And that's basically a few different products that we recommend as part of the strategy meeting to hold in that bucket and provide safe and reliable income throughout your retirement. And then the third bucket is the growth bucket. And that's really set to grow throughout your retirement.
The goal there is basically to have that money so that you don't have to… you can, but you don't need to tap into it throughout your retirement. And typically, that will be liquid if you need it. But really, the goal of that growth bucket is to grow throughout the 20-some-odd years. And then, your safety bucket will take care of your income during retirement. So those are the three different buckets. And we kind of basically form our recommendation around those three. Yeah. Over the years, I've been doing this for 22 years. Murs has been with me now for 11 or 12 years.
How long was it? How many? 11 years. 11 years. So we started using this bucket strategy just to make things simple. So I just want to ask you, Murs, what are you seeing from folks as we started using this as to how they get it and how valuable it is to them? Yeah, I think in one word, it's clarity. Clarity on how things are positioned, and confidence, as well as how this plan can actually function. A lot of times, again, doesn't matter how much money you got, it's one of those things where until you see it on a screen, until you see it mapped out for you, it's hard to imagine that whatever money you've built up is going to last as long as you need it to. So once we show this cash bucket, this safety and income bucket, and then this growth bucket, and help someone understand, again, personalized to them, you may have someone that…
And we see all types of situations. You may have someone that's got all the income that they need, discretionary income that they need is covered through their Social Security or their pension. So they've got a really good situation. So their bucket sheet is going to look a little bit different than someone else who has no pension and just has to rely on Social Security. They're going to need to draw on their assets a little bit more. And so being able to kind of put those three categories together and being able to show someone in a very simplistic manner, this is not… we don't want this to be complicated. Yeah, the investing side of things can be complicated. The income side of things can be complicated. But if the strategy and if the client can understand the why, why do we put money in this bucket versus this bucket, and they can talk about it in conversation to their friends and family, all of a sudden it sits very well. And I think there's a lot of power to that, right? There's some that would use a 20, 30, 40, 50-page financial plan.
And we all know what happens with that plan. You looked at it once or it's presented to you once, and then you never looked at it again because it was just too overwhelming. This bucket sheet that we end up using as a recommendation, and then as a final deliverable, it's a one-page snapshot of what your life is going to look like. And we're updating that year after year after year because in our opinion, at the end of the day, a financial plan, it's moving.
It is not set in stone. It is flexible because we know life happens, we know situations happen. And so we need something that can be nimble with that as well. All right, Morgan, we gave you a lot. Any other questions? Yeah. Well, I feel like these tools, this visualization and all these conversations are going to help you come to a pretty good decision. What do you do after you've taken all this information in? Yeah. We try to keep these episodes at around the 30-minute mark just because we don't want it to be overwhelming, but here's where we are. I mean, at this point, a person has a pretty good idea of how things are, at least, going to get started, but it is just the beginning. It is just the start of where we are in this journey to and through retirement. And so what we're going to do, we're going to come back together because I've got more questions.
I think Morgan's got more questions for all of us around this idea, "Okay, well, I'm here. You've given me all this. So now, what do I do next? And where do I go? And if I become a client, what does it look like then? And how do I take all of this hard work that's been put into building out this plan and building out this whole process? How do I implement it? And what does the implementation look like and how long does it take to implement? And how long am I going to be having this thing monitored? And what does that look like?" So we're going to walk you through that in our next episode when we all get together. Just so you know, if you're looking for that, it'll be the end of the next month, so in a few episodes.
But we're going to walk you back through all of those different aspects. So I just want to say thank you very much, Nick and Taylor, for coming on, the special guests, with us here on this episode. And your insight has been very helpful on making sure we clearly understand what it means to build a financial plan. So, thank you. Thank you, too, Murs, and Morgan, for all the great questions. All right, everybody, have a great week. We will talk to you again next Monday. We hope this video has given you some confidence and clarity as you plan for a worry-free life and retirement. But what else do you need? We have created a complementary video course called Three Keys to Secure Your Retirement. This video walks you through step by step what you need to do to get ready for retirement.
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