Keep it simple for clients: A QuickStart guide to a financial plan

August 15, 2019


Financial planning can be a complex affair. But you can make it easier for clients and yourself.

A short summary might cover only one or two pages and serve as a basis for the advised relationship going forward. Planning, along with positivity and proactivity, is a pillar of Vanguard Advisor's Alpha® behavioral coaching.1

Our new QuickStart Guide to Your Financial Plan—offered free in an editable pdf below—is a concise conversation starter to help you record a client's values and goals and then articulate how those goals will be achieved. For current clients, the guide can be used to review progress toward their goals. A demonstration QuickStart Guide, filled out with information for a hypothetical client, is also included below.

When surveyed, advised investors who reviewed the template and sample for Vanguard were enthusiastic about the idea of getting such a plan from their own advisor:

  • "This would be nice to have. It's easy to read and specific to my goals and hoped-for results," a 47-year-old female said. "It would be great to share with my family. I really like this idea; I'm going to ask my advisor about it!"
  • "This is unlike what I get from my advisor," wrote a 52-year-old male. "I really like the scorecard layout; it provides context for my investments."
  • A 59-year-old female called it "more motivating" than her current financial plan.

The experiences of these investors may not be representative of the experience of other investors and are not a guarantee of future investment performance or success.

The QuickStart Guide is not meant to be a substitute for comprehensive planning. After all, a comprehensive plan could cover estate planning, retirement accumulation and income planning, taxation, insurance needs, health care, and more, all covering dozens of pages. The guide could serve as the summary of a completed comprehensive plan that can help clients better understand how their financial goals can be obtained.

The QuickStart Guide also could serve as a basic plan in lieu of filling out a full plan for clients or if you are an advisor who does not perform comprehensive planning. Advisors often don't create formal written plans for many of their clients.

According to a Vanguard survey of 600 advisors, nearly one in three ultra-high-net-worth clients did not have written plans created for them. Meanwhile, less than half of mass affluent clients with less than $1 million in investable assets had plans created for them.1

Example guide
Download pdf

Fillable guide
Download pdf

1 Donald G. Bennyhoff, 2018. The Vanguard Advisor's Alpha® guide to proactive behavioral coaching. Valley Forge, Pa.: The Vanguard Group.


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