The Academics of Planning
In order to engage in comprehensive financial planning, at minimum the planner needs a working knowledge of the basic elements found in the key segments of a financial plan.
APEG supports planners by making available a 24-hour curriculum, made up of eight 3-hour courses designed to cover the key elements in each of the topic areas found in a financial plan.
This curriculum is taught by subject matter experts that have both professional expertise developed through decades of practicing in their field of study which is coupled with an academic background to ensure their content is delivered professionally and efficiently. Most of the instructors are current or past instructors in the CFP(R) curriculum at Oakland University in Michigan.
In addition to covering the academics, these instructors colorize their content with real-life examples and share best-practice communication techniques helping to make this course useful to planners regardless of their tenure in the financial services industry.
The curriculum is designed so that the participant can choose their level of engagement by either taking all eight segments in order or piecing out the sections that will help to round-out their existing knowledge.
The curriculum is support with knowledge check quizzes and a comprehensive final examination. We have also partnered with Money Education to feature elements of their textbook, Fundamentals of Financial Planning, as an additional resource for this curriculum.
This content is also available from APEG through a stand-alone course entitled Foundations of Financial Planning which can be used to help train new people in the industry or to educate a firm's non-client facing support staff.
APEG's proprietary Goal Oriented Actively Linked Segments (G.O.A.L.S.) approach to planning makes Comprehensive Financial Planning approachable without sacrificing thoroughness for both professionals and the clients they serve. It follows a disciplined order of addressing the segments of planning so that information gathered, and goals addressed in one segment are used to support the segments that follow. The approach recognizes that a single decision made in any one of the segments of a family’s comprehensive plan will have a consequence in the other four segments thus demonstrating the linked nature of decision making.
APEG supports the proprietary approach with planning tools to help explain the process to consumers and efficiently gather information to establish agreed upon planning goals.
Most clients operate with five distinct plans established by several professionals. The estate plan is usually developed by the attorney. The income taxes are prepared by a tax professional. The insurance plan is developed by one or more insurance agents. The income plan is developed by either the investment advisor or the insurance agent. The investment plan is established and monitored by the investment advisor.
Unfortunately, these five individual plans are rarely connected. The attorney may provide Durable Power of Attorney documents to address an incapacity but usually doesn't discuss the way in which an incapacity would be funded. The investment advisor might select great investments but not be aware of the totality of the income tax repercussions.
A Comprehensive Financial Planner is the solution to linking together the five disconnected segments of the client's plan. This planning professional helps to thoroughly understand the client's situation, isolate specific goals and desired outcomes and coordinate with the various professionals needed to help the client accomplish their goals.
APEG's proprietary client engagement process is called G.O.A.L.S. With G.O.A.LS., the planner focuses on Goal Orientated Actively Linked Segments to assemble a Comprehensive Financial Plan. This engagement process is founded on optimizing the five segments of financial planning to form one complete financial plan.
Under the G.O.A.L.S. approach, the five segments are presented in a specific order to gather information and recognize goals so that each segment builds on the prior segments.
APEG recognizes that when a planner is with clients', the planner is focused on listening to the clients story. Unfortunately, this focus often conflicts with gathering useful information in a disciplined manner. We make it easier for professionals to help clients define and plan to achieve their goals. To aid our members in the planning process, we provide client-friendly Planning Support Tools that help build trust and provide clarity:
- First Meeting Booklet: “An Overview of Goal-Based Financial Planning”
- Initial Interview : “Planning to Your Goals”
- Annual Review: “Updating Your Goals"
Goal Identifier: "A Roadmap to our Relationship"
First Meeting Customized* Brochure
This document is customized* to match your firm's color scheme, include your logo, individual name, photo, address, phone number, email address and required disclosures. This piece opens up to a "spread" as seen below and allows you to effectively describe the order in which you will be addressing the five key planning segments and conduct the planning process. This will provide your clients with a take-away from your first meeting which reaffirms your commitment to Comprehensive Financial Planning long after your meeting has ended.
Customized* Interview Form
A major difference between financial planners and investment advisors is how they onboard clients into the dedicated financial planning relationship.
Once it has been determined that a financial planner will engage the client in planning relationship, the initial interview will become a driving influence in identifying the scope of the relationship. Although it may be convenient to provide the client with an intake form, either on a clipboard in the office or via a web portal, this approach doesn't support the personal relationship development phase which is crucial to a collaborative client/planner relationship.
APEG promotes that a planner should conduct a thorough initial planning interview through an interactive approach. By gathering information in an organized way, pausing to observe non-verbal cues and following up with additional questions, the planner will demonstrate their high degree of professionalism.
In addition to providing an interview document to support the gathering of the right information, APEG provides over 5 hours of instructional videos to help a planner identify possible planning opportunities that can be communicated throughout the interview through the use of an Island of Education.
As the client shares relevant information, the planner will be prepared to pause and share a nugget of wisdom through an Island of Education demonstrating the importance of the information being shared.
By asking the right questions in a thorough manner coupled with demonstration of professional competence through an island of education, the planner can showcase their competitive advantage.
This Interview packet follows the same order of planning as identified in the First Meeting Brochure and has descriptions before each section to help explain why the information is being gathered and how it is relevant to the Comprehensive Planning process.
Customized* Annual Review Form
A key to maintaining your client relationship is to keep your information current. Many planners will have a paraplanner complete this packet in advance of an Annual Review.
The Annual Review is a questionnaire is organized to align with the initial interview process and requests only necessary information to align with the G.O.A.L.S. process.
Like the Interview Form, the Annual Review packet has descriptions before each section to help explain why the information is being gathered and how it is relevant to updating the Comprehensive Planning process.
Customized* Goal Identifier
After the client has been informed as to your planning process through the First Meeting Brochure, and the thorough yet efficient interview or annual review has been completed, the client's goals and desired outcomes will become apparent.
In order to begin the formalization of the client/planner relationship, the planner must first identify the issues that they recognized through their experience and education, coupled with the information obtained during the interview / annual review phase.
The planner can then use the Goal Identifier to "check-off" the issues they spotted through the interview phase. The client can review the planner's suggested issues and then prioritize the issues so the Roadmap to the Relationship can be established.
The goal identifier allows the planner and the client to agree in writing as to the scope of the relationship.
Customized For Your Situation and Licensed for Public Display
In recognition of the uniqueness of your practice and the clients you serve, the APEG Planning Disk representing the planner and clients can be further customized to display a male or female planner, a male and female set of clients or same gender clients. We respect and support an inclusive planning community.
Additionally, as a Licensee of the APEG G.O.A.L.S. approach to planning, you may utilize the APEG Planning Disk in your marketing material and seminar slide decks to further demonstrate your competitive advantage. (Certain restrictions may apply)