Comprehensive Planning Is Necessary To Best Serve Your Client - Good Planning Requires A Multi-Disciplinary Team
If Mr. Blandish wishes to build his dream house, he must first have a dream. He should list all the features he would like without worrying whether or not it can be done from an engineering, financial or any other point of view. He should then make a preliminary list of feature priorities and then consult an expert house architect. The architect can then draw plans that best match Mr. Blandish’s dreams within current technology and building codes and Mr. Blandish’s present financial ability. The plan should allow for future improvements and additions that could result in the ultimate dream house as Mr. Blandish’s financial situation improves. Mr. Blandish, after getting appropriate financing, should then seek the services of the best general contractor available to oversee and coordinate the job and help select the best foundation company, rough carpenters, finishing carpenters, electricians, plumbers and painters. In the years after completion he will provide for proper maintenance.
Typically, the personal financial and legal structures most people build looks like “the house that Jack built” – a little something here and a little something there, without a clear vision as to what the ultimate goal is or how the parts built will work together to achieve that goal. The goal is NOT money. Money is a means.
No one can know all that must be known to develop, implement and maintain a good plan: it requires a financial advisor, an accountant and one or more attorneys. Because good plans generally call for a significant investment in insurance, an insurance expert will also be needed to make the plan work.
One of the reasons people hesitate to bring an attorney into the picture is the conception that planning done with the assistance of an attorney is estate “death” planning which has little to do with lifetime financial benefits – and this is most often the case.
Plans should emphasize “life” enhancing wealth strategies and asset protection with provisions to protect the client in the event of disability and to protect the client’s family in the event of death.
Anyone who assumes or attains the role of trusted advisor has a moral fiduciary duty to educate the client as to the need for comprehensive planning and, in consultation with the client, bring in (not “give to” or “send to”) competent advisors from other disciplines. The client’s current financial advisor and CPA are pretty much pre-chosen members of the team, but the client’s attorney is not. This is a highly specialized area of the law – a knowledgeable counseling oriented attorney is required.
It is necessary to get to know the client intimately, to help the client define what she or he really most wants out of life, to set priorities and goals and then develop plans that will maximize the chances for achieving those goals. The client’s hopes, fears, dreams, concerns, foibles and idiosyncrasies must be taken into account. This gives the client direction, a better understanding as to what must be done to realize the most important dreams and the comfort of knowing he or she is working with people care – not just transactional commission and fee seekers.
The application of the multidisciplinary team concept to the Blandish Dream House analogy is reasonably obvious. Success requires cooperative efforts of professionals from different disciplines to create, implement and continuously monitor a wealth strategies plan that will provide a client with maximum benefits and directed growth with least overall net costs. The core planning team must work together, as equals, to produce a plan that best meets the client’s needs and is acceptable to the client. Initial up-front planning fees will be quickly recovered by well-directed financial strategies and tax savings.
Copyright 2001 By Philip D. Jackson, JD, Member of the Preferred Advisor Network
This article has been provided by Phil Jackson, JD. Mr. Jackson practice is devoted solely to wealth strategies and estate planning. In addition his office offers credit seminars and workshops for CFPs, and CPAs and educational workshops for clients. Please feel free to call or e-mail him at any time regarding anything related to wealth strategies planning and implementation. Phil Jackson can be reached at telephone: (631) 744-0284, Fax: (631) 744-0286 E-mail: [email protected]. For additional information about the National Network of Accountant’s Preferred Provider Network go to www.nnaplan.com on the Internet or call Bruce Libman at (516) 677-6218.