What is Holistic Financial Planning and Why is it So Important?

By Anna E. Diaz on April 27, 2021

There are many different approaches to financial planning in the world, from low-maintenance target date funds to DIY portfolios. As you grow your wealth, you may find yourself looking for a more sophisticated way to manage your assets and investments. So what is financial planning and why should you take a holistic approach? Holistic financial planning is an excellent solution that treats your wealth as a resource that should be protected and maximized in working towards your goals in life.

Here’s what to expect with a holistic approach to financial planning and the unique benefits you’ll discover.

What is a holistic approach to financial planning?

Holistic planning looks at your current financial picture as well as your future goals, your health, family, and other variables that are unique to you. When you take a holistic approach to financial planning, you acknowledge that both your life and your money can’t be controlled by a checklist.

Holistic financial planning takes all of these factors into consideration to develop a comprehensive strategy that accounts for multiple variables. It’s much more in-depth than simply filling out a questionnaire and getting an automated portfolio recommendation. Holistic financial planning is constantly evolving and adjusting based on changes in your life, the tax environment, the economy, and the stock market. It also integrates the expertise of multiple  disciplines, because your wealth is intertwined with so many other aspects of your life.

Benefits of Holistic Financial Planning

It’s key to understand why financial planning is important. There are a number of benefits of holistic financial planning. The first is that the process helps you prioritize your goals. It entails more than finding out how much you can spend in retirement based on your current savings track. Instead, you’ll verbally identify what’s important to you, like retiring early versus working longer to maintain a certain lifestyle and ensuring a certain level of wealth for your beneficiaries or charity. Holistic financial planning also helps you make milestone-specific financial decisions, such as finding the implications of taking a big family vacation, buying a second home, or making meaningful gifts to children or charity. Understanding the trade-offs is important so you can feel confident in the decisions you make.

A holistic financial plan also gives you the flexibility to change course as your life evolves. It should be continually evaluated and updated based on what’s happening in your world, whether good or bad.

Holistic Financial Planning Process Explained

Holistic financial planning places a unique focus on you and your needs. You’ll work with a team to help you identify and reach your goals. At Dowling & Yahnke Wealth Advisors, our clients benefit from a diverse team with a variety of specializations, like business exit planning or the financial components of navigating a divorce.

If you are wondering how to create a financial plan, here’s a step-by-step look at what you can expect from the holistic financial planning process with D&Y.


Complimentary meeting with a lead advisor: Your financial advisor will kick things off by talking to you about your current financial life as well as your future goals. Expect to discuss both your ideas and your concerns. You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and get an idea of where your financials stand today. At the end, walk away with actionable steps without any commitment to move forward with our team.

Onboarding: Once you choose to move forward, our client services team helps with the transition. We’ll take care of the paperwork (including new account applications and transfer authorizations) so that the process is seamless and stress-free. You’ll also have a Digital Concierge to get your devices connected to our secure technology platform. This lets you track your portfolio anytime, either online or with your smartphone.

Strategy: Next, you’ll work with your Lead Advisor and financial planning team to craft a strategy for your specific goals, both in the near-term and the long-term. In addition to retirement planning, this could also include anything from college savings to estate planning. All of these goals have an impact on your investment strategy. Holistic financial planning advice doesn’t offer a one-size-fits-all solution; instead, each decision is tailored for your unique needs.

Collaborative advisement: Another major component of the holistic financial planning process is the importance of working with your other trusted professionals. We’ll work with other advisors and professionals on your team, like your lawyer and tax preparer. Your wealth isn’t one-dimensional, and your team of professionals should not work in silos. By collaborating in areas like estate and tax planning, we’ll be able to protect your hard-earned wealth as much as possible.

Testing for the unforeseen:  Your Lead Advisor will work with you in exploring the impact of potential external influences on your wealth such as a major market correction, higher taxes or higher inflation.  Additional unforeseen events could be a major health event or the need to care for an ill parent or child.  At D&Y, we recognize we cannot predict all the potential risks on your wealth however with holistic financial planning, we can help prepare for a number of financial stressors.

Ongoing conversations: No financial strategy is static. Holistic planning includes an annual check-in that usually takes place in person. You can also schedule any additional meetings needed throughout the year, or simply call, email, or arrange a video meeting with your Lead Advisor as questions arise. It’s also smart to schedule a meeting anytime a major life event occurs, such as a death in the family, a birth, loss of a job, or a divorce. These are often emotionally charged periods, so it’s important to have a third-party help you navigate the financial components that may otherwise be difficult to focus on. When you opt for a holistic financial planning process, you’ll quickly realize that you’re treated as a person, not just a portfolio.

Holistic Financial Planning Topics

What exactly can you expect to cover with a holistic financial planner? Here are some common topics that you could make part of your wealth strategy, depending on your needs.

Family issues: Family dynamics can change a lot over a lifetime and can also have an impact on how you manage your assets. Your holistic financial plan addresses these issues throughout each stage, whether it’s how best to care for aging parents or what to do when your own spouse passes away. Asset division during divorce is another potential need that your team can help with should the issue ever arise.  It is worth exploring to what extent your wealth will unify or divide your family.

Debt management: Debt isn’t always a bad thing, but we can still help you manage it in a way that costs you less and helps you achieve other goals. For instance, a holistic financial planner can help you compare a mortgage payoff to refinancing your home loan. Or you may opt to leverage your portfolio as bridge financing during the transitional period of buying and selling two properties. And if you do feel like your existing debt is holding you back from other goals in life, we’ll help you create a debt reduction plan based on your income and assets.

Insurance: Holistic financial planning should include a comprehensive insurance strategy; after all, you’ve worked hard to build your wealth, it’s important to protect it as appropriate. Your financial advisor probably won’t be an insurance broker, but that’s usually a good thing for objectivity. At D&Y, we’ll analyze your current coverage and make recommendations if we see any gaps. None of our advisors are insurance brokers, and thus  we never receive any type of compensation or commission for recommending a certain product, so you can trust that the advice you receive is based on your best interest.

Tax planning: Tax planning becomes more complex as your wealth grows, which is why a holistic financial planner works in tandem with your tax advisor and your estate attorney. Together, your team of professionals will take a proactive approach to minimizing taxes in many different areas, including income, gift, and estate taxes.  As tax laws change and evolve, your advisor will assist in spotting potential tax reduction opportunities.

Executive compensation and employee benefits: Negotiating and understanding your compensation falls under the realm of holistic financial planning. D&Y’s experienced team helps you create a balance between optimizing your overall compensation while minimizing taxes as much as possible. For instance, we can help you understand your employer’s investment options and analyze any equity-based compensation plans and offers.

Estate planning: In order to have a holistic financial plan, your estate attorney and financial advisor should work together to make sure your wealth passes on in accordance with your wishes and in a way that minimizes taxes for your beneficiaries. Common areas to analyze include trusts, IRAs, and estate taxes. There is a wide range of financial vehicles you can use to transfer your wealth to your loved ones. We’ll help you weigh the pros and cons of each one.

Education planning: College tuition costs have risen dramatically, causing many people to make education planning for their children and grandchildren part of their financial planning strategy. Once you start researching tax-advantaged accounts, you’ll find there are actually a lot of options to choose from. Your advisor can help you compare and create an investment strategy to help you meet your education savings goals.

The Bottom Line

Opting for holistic financial planning is a smart strategy that focuses on how your money serves your life, not just the numbers on a few account statements. The right advisor also helps you navigate the inevitable changes that happen in life and adjust your financial plans accordingly.

Ready to see the difference holistic financial planning brings to the table? Schedule an introductory meeting with a D&Y advisor today.


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