The 8 Characteristics of a Successful Financial Plan

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

Having a financial plan in place means more than just having a good asset allocation or some insurance to protect the people you care for.  No matter what plan you have in place, it is recommended that you sit with an experienced planner/advisor and make sure that YOUR financial plan includes ALL of the following 8 characteristics;

  1. Consistent flow of money into the plan.  It isn’t enough to randomly “feed” your plan and rely on portfolio returns.  Consistency breeds stability and predictability when it’s time to “reap”.

  2. A fair rate of return as it pertains to your individual plan objectives and risk tolerance.

  3. Minimum tax consequences while you are building your plan.

  4. Minimum tax consequences while you are reaping the fruits of your labor.

  5. Access to your money.  Your plan will most probably include different “buckets” of money.  Some intended for short term objectives and some for longer term objectives.  When an objective is reached the funds set aside for it should be easily accessible.

  6. Minimum risk.  If you have gone to the trouble of putting together a well thought out plan, don’t try to accelerate your progress by taking more risk than you have to in order to accomplish the goals you set out for yourself with the help of your planner.

  7. Provide for emergencies and unpredictable events.  “Life happens!”

  8. Flexibility to change and adjust as your life does.

Your plan will stand the test of time and will reward you well if you and your planner take care to include each and every one of the above.  If you cut corners or leave out any of the above, your plan will at some point fall short. 

Happy Planning!  


Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

Stacy Francis is the Founder, CEO and President of Francis Financial, Inc., a Wealth Management and Financial Planning firm. With over 18 years of experience in the financial industry, she is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®), a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ (CDFA™), and a Certified Estate Planning Specialist (CES™). She is the Co-Director of the Association of Divorce Financial Planners’ (ADFP) Greater New York Metro Chapter and a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) and an honoree member of the Private Risk Management Association (PRMA). A nationally recognized financial expert, Stacy has appeared on ABC News, CNBC, CNN, PBS Nightly Business Report, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fine Living Network, and The O’Reilly Factor. Stacy attended the New York University Center for Finance, Law and Taxation.