Financial Planning During a Pandemic
by A. Scott White, CFP® , ChFC® , CLU®
President, Scott White Advisors
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused changes in our day-to-day lives. Many people say that since they have been staying home more, their lives have been simpler. With more time to reflect on what’s truly important, some people are seeking guidance on updating their financial plans.
When potential new clients meet with me, we focus on their unique situation and needs. We discuss their investment goals, lifestyle priorities, and charitable objectives. They tell me about their legacy desires and their wishes to support their heirs after they are gone.
Over the years I’ve had many conversations like this. Each meeting is different; each conversation gives me a glimpse into the lives and futures of the people I’m meeting with. The questions I ask are tailored to the needs of the individual or couple. But one message I deliver in each of these meetings is constant: The importance of a written Investment Policy Statement (IPS). An IPS is a clear, written document articulating the investment objectives and policies applicable to the individual investor and their investment portfolio.
Investments are only part of the services offered by Scott White Advisors. Comprehensive wealth management includes financial planning; estate planning; retirement planning; philanthropic planning; trust planning; tax planning; IRA distribution planning; asset diversification planning; insurance planning; and long-term care planning. Investment planning is a vital component of our services, since a thriving portfolio generates the cash flow that enables people to live the lifestyle they desire—today and in the future.
A comprehensive Investment Policy Statement summarizes an individual’s or couple’s investment philosophy and reflects their unique situations, creating a framework from which to make decisions. When a new client joins our firm, we utilize a comprehensive process for developing their IPS that includes assessing financial condition; setting goals; developing a strategy to meet those goals; implementing the strategy; and regularly reviewing the results and adjusting as needed.
The IPS exists as a guide to remind people not to make unplanned and impulsive revisions of a sound long-term policy. With an IPS in place, people are more likely to approach investments in a more disciplined and systemic fashion—and increase the probability of meeting their financial goals.
The past few months have been an unusual time in our lives. We all hope that the COVID-19 virus abates soon, but no one knows for certain what the future path of the pandemic will look like. This time in our history—like all historic challenges we have faced—is a reminder of the importance of making sure we are all prepared for unexpected changes. A well-considered financial plan that includes a written Investment Policy Statement can help us all navigate the future more peacefully.