The idea of building a comprehensive wealth strategy plan can be overwhelming, which is why many of us put off getting started. Christine Graham, executive vice president/chief fiduciary officer and director of trust administration, and Kim Gattis, senior vice president and financial planner, share how to map out a financial plan, keys to estate planning and actionable steps you can take now to build a successful wealth strategy plan.

A wealth strategy plan is a comprehensive strategy designed around an individual’s personal circumstances, including your family and wealth, as well as your individual goals and objectives. Some common elements of a wealth strategy plan include financial planning, estate planning, business succession planning, charitable or philanthropic planning, career planning and future impact planning. Some individuals will only have two or three of these elements in their plan, while others will have all six. The number of elements in your plan may also depend on what stage of life you are in.

Getting started

In many ways, getting started is all about gathering information. First, you should take inventory of your assets and liabilities so that you and your advisors have a good understanding of what you are planning for and what you have to work with. This is not just the amount of your assets, but also includes what kind of assets you own and how they are titled. As part of this inventory, we recommend including any anticipated inheritance that you are aware of.

Second, make sure your advisors are aware of your personal family circumstances and career.  Building a family tree is a great way to provide your advisors with an overview of your family dynamics. The more your advisors know about you, the better able they are to help you build a meaningful plan. Third, you need to identify your personal goals and objectives. Once these items have been identified, you can start building your plan.

Life events to consider

It’s important to recognize that everyone is at a different stage of life. Because of this, our plans won’t all look the same. Some life events may be the trigger that gets you thinking about establishing some form of planning. For example, having your first child may get you started on setting up your estate plan. Other life events will trigger a step in your plan. For example, retirement will trigger many of the financial planning elements of your plan as you shift from living on a salary and employer-provided benefits to living on your savings and paying for health insurance. Finally, there are those life events that force you to rethink your plan like the unexpected death of a spouse or child.  Significant events like this may lead you to start over with some elements of your plan.

Setting your own goals

For many, setting goals can be a difficult step in the process. We’ve found that answering some basic questions is the best way to kick off this part of the process.  Some of these questions include:

  • How do I grow my wealth?
  • How do I protect my wealth?
  • How do I share my wealth?

These are only some basic questions to get you started.  There are probably a hundred questions that follow as you answer these, but this exercise will put you on the path to setting your personal financial goals and objectives.  The most important thing is just to get started.

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