Key Takeaways

  • Financial planning looks at the big picture to help you make decisions that will benefit you. 
  • A financial plan covers every area of your financial life. 
  • Your financial planner can help you navigate seemingly conflicting priorities to reach your goals.

Planning for a successful financial future, whatever that looks like for you, requires a comprehensive view. 

Looking Beyond the Details 

If you think a Qualified Associate Financial Planner™ professional  or Certified Financial Planner® professional  only handles your RRSPs and taxes, or that financial planning is the same as investment planning, you’re only seeing part of a much bigger picture. In fact, you may be missing out on many of the benefits that the financial planning process has to offer. 

What Exactly is “Financial Planning?

Financial planning takes your lifestyle, financial needs, and priorities into account. Looking at just one area when assessing your finances is like trying to see out a window with the curtains half closed. You need the full view to understand your financial circumstances and make the right decisions about every aspect of your finances.

What Does a Financial Plan Include?

A complete financial plan covers every area of your financial life, from investments and real estate to insurance and retirement planning. There are a number of financial planning areas that a financial plan may take into account:

Financial Management: Your current and projected future financial position, including cash flow (the balance of what you’re earning, spending and saving), budget and net worth 

Insurance and Risk Management: Strategies to minimize your exposure to unexpected financial loss due to death, health issues, property damage, business and other risks 

Investment Planning: Managing your investments based on past experience, attitudes, objectives, time horizon, risk tolerance and need for income 

Retirement Planning: A plan for your post-employment financial well-being, comparing your desired retirement lifestyle with retirement assets, planned savings, expected sources of income and return on investment 

Tax Planning: Your current and future tax obligations and strategies to minimize or defer taxation on personal and/or business income 

Estate Planning and Legal Aspects: Estate planning includes arranging for payment of expenses and obligations after your death, as well as the transfer of your wealth and other assets to successors as specified in and outside of your will. Legal aspects cover your legal rights and obligations, including spousal and child support obligations or entitlements; third party obligations; shareholder, partner or trust agreements; and powers of attorney or mandates. 

How Can a Financial Planner Help Bring It All Together?

A financial planner will take your full financial picture into account when helping you build a financial plan. They’ll also help you understand how a decision about one aspect of your finances may affect other key areas. For instance, an investment decision could have tax consequences that are harmful to your estate plan, or a choice about saving for a child's education may affect when and how you meet your retirement goals. 

Your financial planner can take many seemingly conflicting priorities into account and help guide you toward the right decisions. The choices you make today matter. They could help you reach your financial and life goals, both now and in the future. 

To find a CFP® professional or QAFP® professional in your area, use our Find Your Planner tool. 

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