This is an outline of the family financial plan that each of 55 students in two personal financial planning courses at Pace University in the fall of 2007 (one for MBA students in finance, the other for senior undergraduates), as taught by John Tepper Marlin, were required to prepare. The general quality of student reports was excellent - this project is something they put their energies into. They could see the value to their own lives of understanding each of the components. The text used in the course was Lew Altfest's excellent book, Personal Financial Planning, published by McGraw-Hill.
A brief summary of the client or clients, who may be invented or real. Summary of Recommendations
Main advice to clients. This is their primary "takeaway" - but you won't be able to do this properly until you have finished the entire report. Economic Environment
Summarize briefly the general threats and opportunities you see in the current economic environment. Refer to a specific newspaper story or web site. Do you see bad economic times ahead? For how long? If you see good times ahead, for how long. Remember, you are addressing this to your clients, so take into account how the general economic climate might affect them - what is the outlook for real estate that they own or would like to own? What is the outlook for interest rates if they are thinking of buying a home or refinancing their mortgage? What might the impact of the economic future be for their job or their neighborhood or their investments? Balance Sheet
Evaluation plus the normal balance sheet statement as described in the Altfest text. Cash Flow Planning
Background and recommendations plus statement including current year and next two years projected data. Check the Altfest text for the proepr way to present this. Tax Planning
Background and recommendations plus statement including current year and next two years projections. Investment
Background and recommendations plus overall asset allocation and Morningstar Sheet for one fund. Risk Management Background and recommendations. Retirement
Background and recommendations and capital needs analysis. Estate
Background and recommendations. Overall
SWOT Analysis - Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats, with special reference to Total Portfolio Management. For example: - "As is shown in the cash flow statement you have a yearly deficit of $15,000 caused in part by a high vacation spending." - "Your retirement needs analysis calls for saving $10,000 per year and you are saving only $3,000 annually." Student grades were based on (1) the substance of the recommendations, (2) ability to capture in writing the essence of "client" goals and problems, (3) quality of supporting tables, (4) ability to integrate the supporting tables with descriptive material, and (5) the depth and extent of analysis and specific recommendations.