Your coach for life Featured

7:00am EDT November 29, 2005
If you’ve followed professional football the past few years, you will certainly recognize the name of Bill Belichick, coach of the New England Patriots. The Patriots have won three out of the last four world championships and are easily the most dominant team of this decade.

Many experts believe that this success is due primarily to Belichick’s coaching genius: assembling the best coaching staff and players possible, designing the game plan and seeing that it is properly executed, and making the necessary adjustments during changing game-time situations.

During our lifetimes, we encounter numerous game-time situations, whether they be organizing and managing our finances, planning for college and retirement, running a business, receiving a financial windfall, estate planning or varied others. In preparing for these game-time situations, it would be wise to hire a coach — to seek the services of a qualified financial planner.

Like a coach, the financial planner designs your personal game plan and sees that it is properly executed, often with the help of specialists such as attorneys, investment managers, insurance agents and CPAs. An experienced financial planner is also able to make necessary adjustments during changing times in your life. Selecting a financial planner may be one of the most important decisions you make for yourself and your loved ones.

A certified financial planner (CFP) professional can be a great asset to you in reaching your personal goals. CFP practitioners have taken the extra step to demonstrate their professionalism by voluntarily submitting to the rigorous CFP certification process.

CFP practitioners complete a comprehensive course of study and pass a two-day, 10-hour CFP certification examination that covers the financial planning process, tax planning, employee benefits and retirement planning, estate planning, investment management and insurance.

In addition, a CFP practitioner must have a minimum of three years of experience in the financial planning process and abide by a strict code of professional conduct, known as the CFP board’s code of ethics. This code sets forth their ethical responsibilities to the public, to clients and to employers.

When you share your goals with your financial planner, they can help you stay focused to achieve them. CFP practitioners will:

  • Review your relevant financial information, including tax returns, investment statements, retirement programs, your will and other legal documents, and your insurance policies.

  • Develop your net worth statement <\m> a balance sheet that examines your assets and debt load.

  • Develop your cash flow statement. This is a great way to identify what income comes in and what expenses go out of the family budget.

  • Help you determine your personal investment risk tolerance. Your planner can then help develop a plan for investing in accordance with your goals without you losing sleep at night.

  • Provide a written financial plan <\m> the road map to success.

  • Help implement your financial plan, including advising you about investments and referring you to specialists.

  • Review your situation and financial plan annually and suggest options to modify the plan when needed.

  • Provide updates to track your progress on goals that might include investment growth or debt reduction.

In the world of sports, behind every successful team is a competent coach. Likewise, a financial planner — your coach for life — who is qualified and trustworthy, can play a central role in helping you meet your life goals and achieve financial wellbeing.

Gary A. Storie is a wealth adviser with NexTier Wealth Management, part of NexTier Bank.