Wait. What? I know what you’re thinking. How can creating a financial plan have anything to do with Game of Thrones? If you’re a fan, like me, of the thrilling HBO series, you know that the final season begins this month. I found myself thinking about it recently and looking forward to finding out what happens with Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, the Starks, and the Lannisters. Don’t worry, I don’t have any inside knowledge on what happens in Season 8, so no spoiler alert necessary. Feel free to keep on reading.
However, it did get me thinking – What is it about the show that I like so much? And the answer was, well…everything. The all-around quality of the show is impressive. In my opinion, no other show comes close to producing such a quality finished product. Now granted, that product comes with a large price tag and a lot of time invested, but none the less, the end result is outstanding.
I didn’t give much consideration into all the work that goes into producing such a great show until I was able to visit some of the shooting locations in Spain last summer. The production sets were long gone and the locations were returned to how they looked originally, but it was easy to see how much effort went into transforming the locations to shoot the scenes.
Placa dels Jurats, Girona, Spain - courtesy of Spotern1
And since I’m never very far removed from thinking about financial planning, I began to think about the parallels when considering all the pieces that go into creating a truly comprehensive financial plan. While the end products are unrelated, the method of creating a quality product is similar.
Start with a Structured Process
By Season 8, the producers of Game of Thrones pretty much have the process down when it comes to producing each episode. That doesn’t make it easy, but following a defined process for the production development ensures that the critical pieces are accounted for. That’s not to say that it’s a cookie cutter process and adjustments aren’t made along the way. However, having a structured path to follow provides a solid foundation while still allowing for the unique aspects that go into each episode.
The same is true when developing a comprehensive financial plan. A competent financial planner will have a repeatable process to take clients through when creating a comprehensive financial plan. At the same time, the process is flexible enough to meet the needs of individual clients. While many people may have some similar general goals such as retirement or planning for their children’s educations, the specifics of each goal and the individuals’ financial situation will be unique. In other situations, people will have special planning considerations to consider, such as selling a business, taking care of aging family members, or desiring to give away their wealth over time. Whatever the situation may be, the planning process should be flexible enough to handle these unique needs.
Oftentimes clients come in without clearly defined goals because they are not sure what their financial situation will allow. The planning process helps clients identify and define their goals by giving insight into their financial situation and allowing them to explore their options. With my clients, I follow a goals-based structured planning process. At a high level these are the steps:
- Define client goals – discuss and explore what the client wants to achieve
- Gather the plan inputs – assets contributing to accomplish the goals
- Analyze the information, identify gaps, and develop the plan
- Outline actionable steps to implement and achieve plan goals
With a structured process in place, we have the foundation to consistently deliver a quality outcome.
Each Piece Plays a Role in the Overall Success
As with any large project, there are multiple pieces that must work together to create a solid finished product. The pieces involved in the production of Game of Thrones include the script, the actors, the set designs, character wardrobes, and film editing, just to name a few.
A truly comprehensive financial plan will look at all aspects of your finances including Retirement Planning, Investment Management, Tax Planning, Risk Management, Employee Benefits, Estate Planning, Education Planning, Budgeting, and other areas depending on your personal situation.
While each part may be developed independently, the parts are never created in isolation. The other pieces of the project must be kept in mind when working on the other parts. Just as we want the lines of the script to fit the characters of our favorite show, we want the pieces of our financial plan to work together in a cohesive manner. For instance, we want to make sure our Retirement Planning takes Tax Planning considerations into account, and we want to ensure our overall plan is covered with an appropriate Risk Management strategy.
Keeping in mind all pieces of the project during development allows us to construct an integrated final product.
Use Tools and Technology to Enhance the Final Product, and Experience to Pull It All Together
Working on a project is often aided by tools and technology. Season 8 of Game of Thrones finished production in the summer of 2018. Since that time, the production team has been editing the footage and using technology to put the finishing touches on the final product. Like many film productions these days, computer-generated imagery (CGI) is used to enhance the on screen product.
While I was in Cordoba, Spain, I was able to visit the Roman bridge of Cordoba that was used for the Long Bridge of Volantis in Game of Thrones. Here is a picture of the bridge I took and the CGI enhanced version. As you can see, the CGI editing adds a lot to the quality of the finished product.
Long Bridge of Volantis - courtesy of Fandom2
During the financial plan development process, we utilize financial planning software to capture and analyze much of the information that is used in the plan. The software is then used to create a model of your financial future. Using the software, we can adjust the client goals and plan inputs to create a model and an overall plan design that is acceptable to you, the client.
The final step of the process is to pull all the pieces together to produce a quality finished product. Just as each episode production is unique, so is each financial planning client and their financial plan. Experience and familiarity with the process, pieces, and production tools play a key role in assimilating the final product, both in the production of Game of Thrones and creating a quality comprehensive financial plan.
So while most people will not immediately see similarities between developing a financial plan and producing a quality film production, there are parallels when it comes to producing a quality finished product. And while I’m sure that I’m over-simplifying the film production process, the final product clearly shows all the effort that goes into producing such a great show.
While you’re tuning in to find out the fate of the characters and how the series ends, don’t be surprised if you find yourself thinking about your financial future. And when you’re interviewing potential financial planners, be sure to ask them if their financial plans are Game of Thrones worthy.
Are you getting a canned financial plan that is generated out of the planning software, or are you getting a personalized plan with commentary, analysis, and recommended actionable steps to achieve your personal financial goals? At TriPrescient, we use financial planning software to help develop the plan foundation and then take the extra step to develop an easily readable financial plan that clearly shows your current financial situation, your personal goals, and the steps to take to achieve them.
If you’re interested in seeing how our planning process works using some of your own goals and financial information, we offer a 90 minute online Intro & Discovery meeting to introduce you to our financial planning process and the software we use. Send a Raven (or an email) and we’ll set something up!
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This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.