FAQ

What services do you offer?

Our standard financial planning process looks like this:

  • Discovery Meeting
  • Proposal
  • Engagement
  • Data Gathering
  • Foundation Meeting (to review data and confirm scenarios)
  • Plan Presentation
  • Check in meetings/calls at 6 months and 12 months
  • Open door for email and telephone queries for 1 year

Our standard cash flow process looks like this:

  • Discovery Meeting
  • Proposal
  • Engagement
  • Data Gathering
  • Foundation Meeting (to discover values, establish goals and review data)
  • Planning Meeting
  • Business Planning Meeting (if applicable)
  • Plan Implementation Meeting
  • First Plan Review Meeting
  • Second Plan Review Meeting
  • Open door for email and telephone queries for 4 months
  • Check in call at 12 months 

We offer assistance with:

  • Personal Cash flow planning 
  • Corporate Cash flow planning
  • Retirement planning
  • Planning for U.S. citizens who are resident in Canada
  • Planning for individuals who own corporations and family trusts
  • Planning for individuals with disabled family members
  • Pension planning (including the interaction between Social Security and Canada Pension Plan)
  • Tax planning (not to the point that we complete your tax returns or implement specific planning strategies, but to the point that we plan your savings plan, retirement, and estate around tax concerns)
  • Estate Planning
  • Insurance Planning
  • Post-Secondary Education Planning

We don’t manage investments or offer specific investment advice. Canadian regulations requires that, in order to provide specific investment advice, you must be registered as an investment advisor – and therefore, manage investments. We can tell you what your goal rate of return is, advise on the dollar amount to allocate to specific types of accounts and when to draw from them, review the accounts you have, assist you in creating an Investment Policy Statement, and help you find an investment manager that’s a good fit for you. We do not accept referral fees or commissions.

Do you meet with clients virtually?

Yes, we do, and we encourage it. Here’s how we conduct virtual meetings:

  • Any documents needed for the meeting are provided to you through safe, encrypted channels, ahead of time for your review.
  • We’ll chat at an assigned time, by phone or Zoom. We can call you, so you don’t end up with long distance charges, and we can set up a video chat through our Zoom account so you don’t have to worry about what platform to use. We can even send you instructions if you’ve never used a video chat before.

Why are virtual meetings useful:

  • The key thing about virtual meetings is that they are efficient. You don’t spend any time traveling, and neither do we. You could be on vacation in Hawaii or Mexico or Antarctica, and you can still connect with us. Thanks to the internet, we are not limited by geography.
  • Thanks to the above-noted efficiency, conducting virtual meetings costs Spring Plans less money. We don’t have to worry as much about overhead costs or – again – travel time. It’s all happening right now, at everyone’s most convenient location. If it costs us less money, that means it’s that much easier for us to remain a sustainable company that can hire more staff, train more planners, gather more education, and continue to serve you over the long run. It also means that if one of us wants to spend a winter working somewhere warm (the DREAM!) we can actually do that and still help you with your planning. 

What’s missing at virtual meetings:

  • Signatures & Documents: We can do that through the safe, encrypted channels noted above. We can also screen share through online programs, if needed.
  • Body Language: This is why video chats  are great. We can see each other, in real time, read expressions and hand gestures, and continue to communicate well. 
  • Hand shakes: You’ve got us there.
When will I get my financial plan?

Before we talk about timelines, we want to emphasize that the financial plan document itself is the least important part of our engagement, despite the amount of time and effort we put into writing it for you. When clients look back on our work together, they talk about collaborating to articulate their values, itemizing the resources they have to pursue success on their own terms, and the incredible sense of accomplishment that comes from taking action. 

The length of time between the day you sign your engagement letter until the day you receive your plan (and accompanying action list) is influenced by:

  • How quickly you are able to gather the information we need to fully understand your financial circumstances
  • How many clients we’re currently working with and how far along in the process we are with them
  • How complex your situation is, and how creative we need to be to bring together your unique circumstances and values into a cohesive and workable plan

Generally speaking, 

If you have a decision that has be made on a deadline, we can’t guarantee that we’ll be able to deliver a fully-developed plan before you have to make your decision (although we will do our best). 

Why is your cash flow plan process different than your financial plan process?

Money can cause a lot of feelings – good and not so good. Those not so good feelings can come from feeling like you make great money but wonder where it all goes, carrying credit card debt that just never seems to go away or not knowing what you can pay yourself from your business and ensure that you are also paying your taxes on time. 

Therefore, our cash flow process not only creates a structure for your day to day finances but it is also influences new habits and behaviours. This takes time with a series of action steps and with the accountability of our cash flow planners. The cash flow process is a collaborative experience between you and the planner so that we can ensure we are creating the right strategy for your money. The full cash flow process is a series of 5-6 meetings over 4 months. Each meeting follows with specific actions to help you get to the next stage of your plan.

Can I see a sample plan?

The short answer is no, but we’ve thought about this a lot (because it’s a frequently asked question), and here’s why: 

A plan we wrote for someone else is – by its very nature – a plan that’s not personalized for you. We only write financial plans that are tailored to that particular client and what their definition of success is, don’t write general, which means that what you see in someone else’s plan won’t tell you very much about what you’ll see in your plan. 

Generally, when someone asks us this question, what they’re really asking is “what topics will you cover, in what detail, and how will you express yourself?”, so let’s answer those questions: 

What topics will you cover?

In almost every financial plan (with very few, very rare exceptions), we review, analyze, and make recommendations for your: 

  • Income: How you earn your money, how you pay yourself (if you’re the boss), and how to protect that income in case you get sick, injured, or die far too early
  • Cash Flow: What you spend your money on, what you have available for saving or debt repayment, and if a spending structure or tax strategy could free up extra money
  • Assets: What you own, who you own it with, why you own it, if there’s anything you can do to lower the cost of owning it or reduce how it’s taxed now, when you sell it, or when you die
  • Liabilities: What you owe, how much that’s costing you, and how to pay it back 
  • Goal Funding: What you want, when, and how to pay for it
  • Insurance: All the many ways life can make a mess of your plans, how to prepare for the worst in advance, and what you may need to consider trading off in favour of protecting yourself and your family
  • Estate: What will you leave behind, how you can structure things now to give less to the government and more to your family and causes you care about, and whether your documents actually say what you want them to say

In what detail? 

Our plans are simultaneously very detailed and very simple. We include a list of all the documents we reviewed, all the assumptions we’ve made, all the analysis we did to come up with your plan, and all the tables and diagrams that illustrate it. We include this amount of detail for a couple of reasons: 

  • We want to document our own thought process so we can refer back to it later (hey, some of us can’t even remember how old our kids are without help)
  • We want you to know exactly what we were thinking when we made your recommendations and have confidence that we looked at all the details before making them
  • We want your professional advisory team (your lawyers, accountants, and insurance advisors) to know exactly what we were thinking when we made our recommendations, which saves them time and saves you money
  • If you decide to stop working with us (it happens…but rarely), we want your next financial planner to understand the plan you’ve been following so far

Despite the many reasons for including all the detail, we also include a very simple Financial Planning Checklist in almost every report. This is usually one or two pages, and lists all the things that need to be done to implement your financial plan. Often this checklist will include tasks for your financial planner and your other professional advisors to complete with you, as well as the times we’ve agreed to check in over the year.

How will you express yourself?

We know that everyone processes information in their own way, and so every plan is delivered with written recommendations, tables for those of us who love a good spreadsheet, visual graphs, and verbal explanations. Sometimes we need to return to a particular question more than once, trying different ways to work through it. Our only goal is to make sure you’re clear about how to reach yours.

I thought I’d be working with Julia (or another planner) and was offered an appointment with Kathryn (or another planner). Why?

When you work with a Spring planner, you’re working with the entire Spring team, which includes specialists in trusts and estates, supporting disabled family members, personal and business cash flow, planning for US citizens living and working in Canada, pension calculations and retirement income, tax strategies for savings, retirement, and estates, post-secondary education funding, and insurance of all kinds. 

Since we work as a team, and not as individual, silo-ed financial planners, your first call may be with any member of our team. From there, we will determine your lead planer, and the best mix of experts from our team to help you develop your long-term plan.