As we often discuss, it is our belief that the financial planning business works best for the client when both the human and computer sides of the business are put to their highest and best use.
While algorithms and software excel at rote or repeatable tasks, they are less effective where the client needs assistance with tasks that require empathy, intuition or motivation. Two areas where this is most evident are planning and integration. Planning, whether it be financial, estate or tax, typically requires a modicum of subjective emotional cognizance, which is why it is still dominated by human practitioners.
The other area that benefits greatly from human interaction is integration. While planning typically has clear and quantifiable benefits, the concept of integration–the implementation of the planning so that it is effective in real life–is often underappreciated or even overlooked because the client is often left to their own devices to make the planning work. Most often, we often find that most clients overstate their savings or underestimate their spending on a monthly basis. This is easy to do, yet it has detrimental impact on even the best financial plan.
Another example of how integration can run afoul is with estate planning vehicles, such as trusts, which require certain acts to be carried out after they are created. Typically they need to be funded with one or more asset classes and then managed in a way that benefits the ultimate beneficiary of the trust. Over the course of my career, I have often met with clients who have paid significant fees for complex estate plans only to not fund them. Or, if they have funded them, they have not given enough thought to how to best manage those assets so that the trust performs as intended.
All the planning in the world won’t help you achieve your goals without some level of integration of that planning with the assets and people intended to benefit from that planning. When integration is overlooked it often leads to poor asset management, incorrect transfers, and adverse tax impacts. Having a person who can sit next to and guide a client down the path of how best to integrate their planning can lead to better financial and asset transfer outcomes.
In a more complex world, planning for your financial, tax and estate well-being has become a necessity for the vast majority of people. It is important to remember the outsized economic impact created by an advisor who can help you properly integrate all of your planning.