Word of the Week 'Financial Plan'

What is a Financial Plan

A financial plan is a comprehensive evaluation of an investor's current and future financial state by using currently known variables to predict future cash flows, asset values and withdrawal plans. Most individuals work in conjunction with a financial planner and use current net worth, tax liabilities, asset allocation, and future retirement and estate plans in developing financial plans. These metrics are used along with estimates of asset growth to determine if a person's financial goals can be met in the future, or what steps need to be taken to ensure that they are.

The Fundamentals of Financial Plans
BREAKING DOWN Financial Plan

Financial plans don't have a specific template, though most licensed professionals include knowledge and considerations of the client's future life goals, future wealth transfer plans and future expense levels. Extrapolated asset values determine whether the client has sufficient funds to meet future needs. A good financial plan can alert an investor to changes that must be made to ensure a smooth transition through life's financial phases, such as decreasing spending or changing asset allocation. Financial plans should also be fluid, with occasional updates when financial changes occur.

Elements of a Financial Plan

• Financial goals: A financial plan is based on an individual's or a family's clearly defined financial goals, including funding a college education for the children, buying a larger home, starting a business, retiring on time or leaving a legacy. Financial goals should be quantified and set to milestones for tracking.

• Personal net worth statement: A snapshot of assets and liabilities serves as a benchmark for measuring progress towards financial goals.

• Cash flow analysis:</