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One-Page Financial Plan Template for Your Clients

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A financial advisor looking at a one-page financial plan template

When clients come to you for financial advice, they may appreciate having it related in the simplest way possible. Presenting them with a one-page financial plan allows you to condense the most important information they need to know in an easily digestible format. If you’re unfamiliar with this approach or aren’t sure how to implement it, you might benefit from having a one-page financial plan template to follow.

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What Is a One-Page Financial Plan?

The one-page financial plan is a concept that was developed by New York Times contributor Carl Richards. In his 2016 book, “The One-Page Financial Plan,” Richards argues that financial planners can better serve their clients by summarizing key information into a one-page breakdown, rather than inundating them with unnecessary jargon or overly detailed reports.

A one-page financial plan is meant to provide clients with a snapshot of their goals and the steps they’ll take to reach them. If you’ve created a more in-depth financial plan for your clients, you could think of the one-page plan as the Cliff Notes version.

Creating a one-page financial plan can benefit both you and your clients in different ways. On the client side, a one-page plan may be less overwhelming to read through compared to a multi-page report. They can see all of the most important aspects of their plan on a single page, and which action steps they’ll need to take next.

From a planning perspective, a one-page financial plan can take less time to prepare. This document can easily be updated as clients check off action steps or goals, or if they experience life changes that require a shift in the direction of their financial plan.

What to Include in a One-Page Financial Plan Template

Sample of a one-page financial plan template

Templates are a helpful tool to have, as you can simply swap out the information from one client to the next. If you’re interested in putting together a one-page financial plan template for use in your practice, here are some of the most important sections you may want to include:

  • Client values: This is optional, but it may be helpful to include a section at the top of your template specifying your client’s top three most important values. Understanding what your client values most can be instrumental in shaping a financial plan that prioritizes what’s most important to them.
  • Current cash flow: Here, you can offer a brief overview of your client’s current cash flow. For example, you might include a bulleted list or pie chart showing their annual income, monthly income, and monthly expenses. You could also include a line showing how much they have in surplus funds each month and where that money is allocated.
  • Net worth: Including a graph or chart that shows how your client’s net worth is trending over time is a simple way to indicate to them how they’re doing financially. Depending on how often you update your clients’ financial plans, you may track net worth data monthly, quarterly, or annually.
  • Goals: This section should briefly list your client’s main goals and where they are in terms of reaching them. You don’t need to get too detailed here; you can simply specify whether they’re on track or behind, or whether that goal has been started or completed.
  • Asset allocation: In this section, you can use a chart to show a visual breakdown of how your client’s assets are allocated. You may also add a separate section illustrating where those assets are held. For example, that might include a 401(k), a traditional IRA and a taxable brokerage account.
  • Action items: This section should be the most detailed, in terms of specific next steps your client should be taking to execute their financial plan. You can add this as one long list of items or separate them into current tasks that need to be completed in the short term and tasks that can or will be finalized at a future date.

How to Use a One-Page Financial Plan Template

Clients looking at a one-page financial plan template from an advisor

If you’ve already created a comprehensive financial plan for your clients, then filling out a template may simply be a matter of plugging in the necessary information. But there’s some additional work you may need to do beforehand to ensure that the plan you’re creating accurately reflects your client’s needs. As you create a one-page financial plan template, here are some best practices to keep in mind.

  • Think like your client: The best financial plans, one page or otherwise, are tailored to the needs and values of each client. Understanding what your clients value and what they hope to accomplish can help you narrow down what kind of actionable items to include on a one-page financial plan.
  • Keep it simple: The one-page financial plan is not the place to use a lot of industry jargon or technical terms. Remember, this document is meant to provide clients with an at-a-glance look at their overall financial health. Here’s a simple rule to follow. If anything that you’ve included in your one-page financial plan template would take more than five minutes to explain, you’re probably overcomplicating it.
  • Incorporate graphics: Since you’re working with a one-page document, space is at a premium. You can make your financial plan template more visually appealing by adding charts, graphs, tables, or bulleted lists where appropriate. That can make it easier for clients to consume the information you’re providing while ensuring that you’re working on the most important points.
  • Review and update as needed: Just as your client’s needs and goals may change, their financial plans will need to be updated as well. Creating a one-page financial plan isn’t something you can or should do just once. Reviewing plans annually can allow clients to track their progress while giving you an opportunity to make adjustments as needed to ensure that you’re still aligned with their values.

Bottom Line

A couple reviewing a one-page financial plan template from an advisor

The one-page financial plan strategy might appeal to you and your clients if you’re hoping to simplify the way you deliver advice. Having the right information as a guide can help you create an effective one-page financial plan template for your clients.

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Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Pekic, ©Rebecca Lake, ©iStock.com/Jacob Wackerhausen, ©iStock.com/Jacob Wackerhausen

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