Financial Planning: An Approach, Not a Product

By Dina Megretskaia, CFP®, EA, JD

Wealth Manager, Principal

September 9, 2019

Perhaps your cousin’s best friend is an insurance agent who provides financial planning. Or maybe your neighbor’s brother-in-law was bending your ear at a recent barbeque about how annuities are key to an effective financial plan. So, you may be wondering, what exactly is a “financial plan”? And when different people use that term, are they all describing the same thing?

The short answer is no.  A ‘financial plan’ is not a specific product or a document – it’s an approach.

At Modera, our financial planning begins with understanding your goals and working closely with you over time to help you achieve them. There’s no single destination or rigid financial roadmap for your family. As your life’s priorities shift over time, so do your financial choices, and we help you navigate through each major financial decision as it unfolds.

One of the things I have learned in working with many diverse families as their trusted financial advisor, is a secret that I’ll share with you. There is no specific dollar income or net worth figure that brings peace of mind or financial Zen. It’s not that clients lack an appreciation for the fruits of their labors or aren’t highly capable in managing their daily affairs.  Rather, financial security requires the ability to understand how changing goals (or new house projects or graduate degrees or grandchildren) may impact your long-term life.  Financial freedom is predicated on being in control of your finances, free from financial stress and worry, so you can focus on creating and living a happier, more inspired, purpose-driven life.

We help you handle the overwhelm.

You may have a five-year plan and a repository of spreadsheets, an abiding desire to have no limits on your personal achievements, a bucket list of travel destinations, and a lot of competing priorities.  Throw in a significant other who has their own pace and approach at going through life, and it’s a lot for any person to handle.

At Modera, we experience this both in our own lives, and in the lives our clients, as we consider not just the monetary impact of financial decisions, but the emotional nuances of them as well. It’s not easy to pinpoint the impact a multi-year expense will have on your ability to retire or on your future spending ability, but we can help to provide clarity there. It’s even harder to weigh the quality-of-life tradeoffs that each financial decision yields, but we can provide partnership and reflection there as well.

Our approach is collaborative, consultative, and personalized.

You may currently rely on a team of professionals composed of an attorney, an accountant, and an insurance agent. While each will guide you through their own area of expertise, at times their advice may overlap or conflict.

At Modera, we also offer a team approach, with financial planning, client service, and investment management professionals all working together to provide advice that is consistent and integrated with your goals. We don’t only collaborate with you, we also consult with the other professionals in your financial life to help you achieve the outcomes you want. By its nature, financial planning is a long-term approach to aligning your resources with your goals, intertwined with decisions regarding tax filing, home and auto coverage limits, family wealth transfer, and charitable giving. Planning areas are addressed within the broader context of achieving your best life, not in isolation.

An oft-repeated refrain in data or statistical analysis is ‘garbage in, garbage out’, meaning that your estimates and projections are only as good as the data used to feed the model or fuel the approach.  At Modera, we view financial planning as an approach that evolves over time. We don’t only focus on a line-by-line reading of your tax return or pore over your retirement account’s Summary Plan Description (though of course we do all of that).

Instead, we take into account your goals, hopes, and dreams, and help you to determine what is possible with the economic resources you have available. We then continue over time, addressing your shifting and solidifying goals – as we strive to provide both the numbers to quantify the impact of decisions or tradeoffs, and the counsel to navigate tricky and emotionally significant life transitions.

Modera Wealth Management, LLC (“Modera”) is an SEC registered investment adviser. SEC registration does not imply any level of skill or training. Modera may only transact business in those states in which it is notice filed or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from notice filing requirements. For information pertaining to Modera’s registration status, its fees and services please contact Modera or refer to the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure Web site ( for a copy of our Disclosure Brochure which appears as Part 2A of Form ADV. Please read the Disclosure Brochure carefully before you invest or send money.

This article is limited to the dissemination of general information about Modera’s investment advisory and financial planning services that is not suitable for everyone. Nothing herein should be interpreted or construed as investment advice nor as legal, tax or accounting advice nor as personalized financial planning, tax planning or wealth management advice. For legal, tax and accounting-related matters, we recommend you seek the advice of a qualified attorney or accountant. This article is not a substitute for personalized investment or financial planning from Modera. There is no guarantee that the views and opinions expressed herein will come to pass, and the information herein should not be considered a solicitation to engage in a particular investment or financial planning strategy. The statements and opinions expressed in this article are subject to change without notice based on changes in the law and other conditions.

Investing in the markets involves gains and losses and may not be suitable for all investors. Information herein is subject to change without notice and should not be considered a solicitation to buy or sell any security or to engage in a particular investment or financial planning strategy. Individual client asset allocations and investment strategies differ based on varying degrees of diversification and other factors. Diversification does not guarantee a profit or guarantee against a loss.

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