As a firm, we utilize our clients’ financial plan as a diagnostic tool that enables us to provide ongoing guidance as financial markets, tax laws and personal circumstances change.  Beacon’s ongoing financial planning engagements provide clients with a sense of confidence and empowerment. Beacon professionals help clients prioritize and stay focused on those financial planning elements that are most important and provide the largest impact on their long term financial health.

At Beacon Financial Strategies, we believe that all financial decisions should be made within the context of a financial plan. We find it hard to imagine how some advisors can make investment recommendations without understanding a client’s tax, insurance, estate, or other relevant financial-related issues.

Here is how we approach a financial plan:

  1. Gather and Organize Client Data: We gather all importance financial documents via our data gathering questionnaire. The purpose of this step is to understand the current financial position of a client when the gaps may. During this process, we also gain an understanding of the client’s financial goals and priorities.
  2. Analyze a Client’s Financial Position: Analysis is critical to the financial planning process. We look for strengths and weaknesses in a client’s financial situation. Rather than offering advice in one specific area, we feel it is necessary to understand all the different and interrelated aspects of the financial plan. For that reason, we feel it is necessary to understand and analyze all of the following:
    • Budget and Cash flow
    • Debt
    • Life Insurance
    • Disability Insurance
    • Long Term Care Insurance
    • Income Taxes
    • Investment Allocation
    • Children’s Education
    • Pension Decisions
    • Investment Property
    • Estate Plan
    • Retirement Feasibility
  3. Develop and Present Financial Planning Recommendations: Once we have developed recommendations on areas of improvement, we will present these findings to a client. Many times, this is a conversation about the pros and cons with each strategic decision. We look for ways to improve the financial plan as well as ways to reduce risks.
  4. Implement the Financial Plan: Once a course of action has been decided upon, Beacon professionals helps implement all areas of the financial plan. We identify and implement all the various pieces and parts of the strategic plan. We help each client focus their efforts on achieving their financial goals. We may also introduce other professionals who specialize in certain areas such as insurance agents and attorneys. Our job is to “quarterback” and coordinate with the other professionals to bring the plan to fruition.
  5. Monitor the Financial Plan: We consider financial planning is fluid and dynamic process. It is important to adapt and monitor the plan as financial markets, tax laws and personal circumstances change. Once we have completed a financial plan, we are in a perfect position to proactively offer advice and make recommendations given changing circumstances.

The following are common financial planning issues that we address with our clients:

Am I saving enough for retirement? Should I fund an IRA or a Roth IRA? How much should I contribute to my employer retirement plan? Can I afford my current lifestyle in retirement? At what age can I retire?

You can find more information related to this service in our video “What is A Retirement Feasibility Analysis?”

Will my portfolio achieve my investment objectives? Am I taking too much risk in my portfolio? Is my portfolio adequately diversified?
Do I need to withhold more taxes on my paycheck? Should I contribute more to my 401(k) plan? Are there any opportunities to reduce my income taxes?

This video discusses in more detail the benefits our clients derive through the extensive use of tax planning in our practice.

Do I have an adequate emergency fund? Can I afford to save more or should I redirect my savings to more efficient savings alternatives? What debts should I pay down first? Should I refinance my mortgage?
How much do I need to save for my children’s college education? Should I invest in a 529 Plan? What types of college savings plans are available to me? Once my kids are in college, what types of tax benefits will I receive?
How long will my portfolio last? Does my investment objective fit my income needs? Can I increase portfolio withdrawals? What is a safe withdrawal rate?
Which account should I take distributions from first? How can I minimize the tax impact when retirement distributions begin? Should I consider a Roth conversion?
Do I have enough life insurance and what type is best for me? Is my disability income insurance adequate? Is it time to consider long term care insurance?
What is the tax and investment impact of the exercise of incentive and non-qualified stocks options? Should I think about selling stock in my employer stock purchase plan? What is the tax impact of my restricted stock units?
Is my estate plan still viable? Should I make changes to my estate documents? Are my beneficiary designations appropriate, given my estate planning objectives? What is the best way to make charitable bequests?
Can I afford to move into an assisted living facility? Which of the financing or buy-in options are most appropriate?
Which pension alternative should I choose? Should I begin taking my Social Security retirement benefit now or at a later date?