Have you ever considered working with a financial advisor? If not, you should, as money and financial planning can be contentious subjects, and separating your emotions from your finances is easier said than done. Along with creating an investment portfolio, other topics such as estate planning, evaluating and obtaining insurance, financing or re-financing a home purchase, succession planning, changing careers, and many others are all part of a comprehensive financial plan and should be thoughtfully addressed. The sheer thought of many of these topics can be paralyzing, which inevitably leads to them being ignored. Engaging an advisor can help you navigate these subjects, which will alleviate the associated anxiety and pressures, empowering you to focus on your overall objectives.

Markets move in cycles, and everyone has an opinion on where markets are going at a given time. With information available at our fingertips, it is easy to see red and get scared or to seek data to foster a confirmation bias. The benefits of working with an advisor span well beyond creating an investment portfolio. Case in point: while asset allocation is a critical element, your financial plan is the foundation upon which investment and risk management strategies are built upon. A financial advisor should help you create a financial plan that can withstand both good times and bad, and your advisor should also be willing to address difficult conversations as they arise. At Cerity Partners, we take our clients through a five-step process that involves: 

Listening and Learning

In every new client relationship, the first step is to listen to your needs to define goals and objectives, which leads to a financial plan tailored uniquely to you. This will include analyzing and evaluating your current financial situation by reviewing existing planning documents, asset statements and any outstanding liabilities.     

Goals and Objectives

Defining your goals and objectives, both in the short- and long-term. We will discuss your concerns and highlight your priorities, but most importantly we assess if your goals are realistic and achievable. These conversations can be difficult, but it is critical to set the proper expectations from the beginning. This is not to say that you need to limit yourself, but you do not want to set yourself up for disappointment.

Strategic Planning

Designing a plan and strategy that is unique and tailored to you and that will help you achieve your mission. Educating our clients is the primary component of this part of the process. It is important to understand the risk characteristics of each recommendation and identify how future decisions may impact the outcome of your planning strategy.     


Implementing the recommendations and executing on your plan. This step can take time depending on the situation, but eventually your planning will become a reality.

Periodic Review

Monitoring and periodically reviewing your plan to ensure your risk appetite remains in-line with your return expectations. Plans need to be flexible and adaptable to changes in your life. There will inevitably be points when changes should be considered and other times in which inaction is the right approach. You should meet with your advisor at least twice a year to ensure your plan matches your evolving circumstances.

At Cerity Partners, we work with a wide variety of clients over long periods of time. As our relationship grows, we are afforded the opportunity to not only build trust but also really know our clients, learning about the things—both big and small—that matter most to them. By knowing our clients, we can readily adapt their plan to any life changes that arise. Ultimately, financial success should not be measured by “beating the markets,” but rather by creating and adhering to a financial plan that supports the journey to achieving your financial goals.

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