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According to the Certified Financial Planner’s Board of Directors (CFP®) Financial Planning is a collaborative process that helps maximize a client’s potential for meeting life goals through financial advice that integrates relevant elements of the client’s personal and financial circumstances.

Financial planning involves looking at a client’s entire financial picture and advising them on how to achieve their short- and long-term financial goals. If a client engages a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) for a comprehensive financial plan, a comprehensive seven-step process is followed. If the client seeks only narrow-scope financial advice, CFP professionals may provide limited advice. At all times, however, CFPs are required to act in the best interests of the client.

A comprehensive financial planning process must include all seven of the following steps (acronym: CGADPIM):

1) Understand the client’s personal and financial circumstances

2) Identify and select goals and their potential effects on other goals 

3) Analyze pros and cons of the current course of action and potential recommendations

4) Develop financial planning recommendations (including not only what the Client should do, but the timing and priority of recommendations, and whether recommendations are independent or must be implemented jointly);

5) Present financial planning recommendations and reasoning

6) Implement recommendations and

7) Monitor progress and update as needed

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