What is your financial GAME PLAN and who is on your team?
Those who know me well know that athletics is a significant part of my life.
Back in the day, I played high school basketball in Waterloo. I played “Six-on-Six” (yes, this dates me) mostly playing in the guard court. I loved it. Little known fact, I hold the school record for most blocked shots in a high school career – 66 total blocked shots! Are you impressed? Ok, so full disclosure...my high school closed 4 years after I graduated…but hey, a record is a record, right?
Then there’s my husband. He played sports since he was a young boy. He played sports all through high school then went on to play basketball for Simpson College. He dreamed of returning one day to be the head coach of his Alma mater. Right out of college he landed a job at Urbandale High School and coached there for over 32 years. In 2015 he pursued his dream and was hired for the head men’s basketball job at Simpson College. He just wrapped up his fourth season with the Storm. In 2017 we celebrated Brad being inducted into the Iowa High School Coaches Hall of Fame for his success at Urbandale.
My oldest son played baseball for Buena Vista University, making it as far as the NCAA Regionals, and my youngest son dabbled in various sports and has now settled on a sports administration degree at Simpson College and serves as a volunteer assistant coach (sitting next to his dad on the bench). Yep, pretty cool.
So it goes on. We are now basking in the success of the Toronto Raptors season….2019 NBA Champions!!! My husband’s nephew, Nate, is head assistant coach for Toronto. He worked his way through the ranks, putting time in with the Iowa Energy, then on to the Golden State Warriors and the Phoenix Suns…now with Toronto. When Nate was in elementary school, he set a goal to coach in the NBA someday, and he made it happen.
Reflecting on all of this, I have made an interesting connection. My role as a financial planner is much like that of the coach. I encourage and inspire people to dream, to set goals. I custom design recommendations and help clients implement a plan. Many times I work with a “financial team” for clients (CPA, attorney, insurance agent) and act as the captain of the team or the quarterback of sorts - strategizing or crafting a game plan to address the goals that have been set.
Customizing a financial plan is truly a process and requires research, fact-gathering, implementation and follow-up to be successful. I trust as you read through the stages of the financial planning process you will make the same connection that I have.
Establish and define the relationship.
One of my favorite things about what I do is meeting new people, establishing relationships and building trust. It is just as crucial for a coach to make a connection with their recruits; to define their relationship, to manage expectations and to build trust in one another.
Gather information needed to fulfill the engagement.
Those who have been through the financial planning process know this is when we talk about dreams. We identify short- and long-term goals and gather information. One of the first things a coach will do pre-season – along with his team – is set goals. They will set personal goals, and more importantly, team goals and determine what needs to be done to be effective and successful.
Analyze and evaluate the current situation.
Here we go a bit deeper. Are there poor financial habits that need to be addressed? Is there debt that needs to be paid down? What good financial decisions have been made? In the life of a coach, this is where they will evaluate the team and their staff. They will determine that they have the right players in the right positions. Strengths and weaknesses are identified.
Developing and communicating the recommendations.
In the world of finances and athletics, this is where the game plan is created. The clipboard comes out and the X’s and O’s are identified. With financial planning it is deciding how much needs to be saved to meet the goals established. In sports, it’s communicating plays…what defense or offense will be deployed? Clear communication is imperative. If the ‘plan’ is not clearly communicated to all team members, the odds of failure are real.
Implementation and monitoring of the recommendations.
Its game time! This is where the rubber meets the road. Time to move forward and implement the plan. Financial professionals will come alongside and help implement recommendations, monitor progress and suggest adjustments as necessary. Coaching a 48 minute 4 quarter NBA basketball game there is no crystal ball. The outcome of the game cannot be predicted. Minute to minute, basket to basket – anything goes. Coaches are there to call the plays, to make adjustments as necessary with the end goal in mind.
The real message here is this, (cheesy ending alert!!!) if you feel you are behind the eight ball when it comes to your financial future, seek the advice of a professional. Put together a game plan and rely on your team of experts. You certainly can punt for a while, but at some point life is going to throw you a curve ball – then the temptation might be to lob a Hail Mary. Then what? With a solid financial plan the goal line is in sight, and with the proper habits and the guidance of professionals, you are ready to pursue a solid financial future.