According to the Standards of Professional Conduct from the CFP Board, there are six steps to the financial planning process: Establishing and defining the client-partner relationshipGathering client data including goalsAnalyzing and evaluating the client's current financial statusDeveloping and presenting recommendations and/or alternativesImplementing the recommendationsMonitoring the recommendationsBased upon the information gathered above, the basic areas covered in the financial planning process typically include, but are not limited to:Financial statement preparation and analysisInsurance planning and risk managementEmployee benefits planningInvestment PlanningIncome tax planningRetirement planningEstate planning A common discussion we have with those thinking about financial planning starts with the question, "Am I too young (or too old) to begin planning?" The answer is, "It is never too early (or too late) to begin the planning process." The earlier we start, the better. Typically, younger clients will be involved in accumulation strategies, but may be hampered by student loans or other debt. A comprehensive plan should take advantage of employer retirement plans and life insurance, while meeting existing debt obligations, in an attempt to get the most bang for the buck. Later in life, we must draw on wealth to support our lives. Without a plan, poorly formed "takedown" strategies might result in our outliving our wealth. As well, the changing nature of Social Security claiming strategies requires constant monitoring of long-term plans for income.