The Financial Planning Process – Data Gathering

A couple of weeks ago, we started the first in a series of articles on the Financial Planning process, talking about the initial meeting. This week we are going to discuss the second stage, the Data Gathering process or “The Bottleneck” as I like to call it.

Cost of your Lifestyle

Everyone wants to know how much money they need to maintain their desired lifestyle. But until I know how much your lifestyle costs, I cannot start working on your financial plan. That is what you have to gather for me. The topics I ask you to address for me are:

  1. Housekeeping expenses
  2. Personal expenses
  3. Cost of servicing debts
  4. Motoring expenses
  5. Investments & insurance
  6. Professional fees
  7. Children & Grandchildren expenses

For some, they have emailed me a breakdown of their expenses before they have left the meeting. For most, it is like pulling teeth and there is nothing that they would like to do less than sit down and estimate how much they spend. But it is a worthwhile exercise to do as it shows you how much money you spend on things that you don’t actually need. And with more and more people using their debit cards instead of cash, it is easier to track what you are spending your money on.

It is also very important as it is vital for me to understand how much your life costs. This is going to be the basis of your financial plan. I need to ensure that you can continue to living your life now without factoring in any of the changes that you told me you want to make.

What assets have you got

I also need to know what assets you have accumulated, if any. For my younger clients, they are only at the start of their accumulation stage and haven’t accumulated much yet but they want to grow their wealth. Typical assets are:

  1. Cash deposits
  2. Pension funds
  3. Share options
  4. Investments
  5. Risk benefits
  6. Home

When I have all those details from you, I can start working on your financial plan.

If you would like a copy of the Expenditure Questionnaire that I use as part of the Data Gathering part of the financial planning process, send me an email at