Planning For Your Future


Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” – Gloria Steinem

Women continue to build and take control of wealth at an impressive rate. Yet, the importance of this fact rings hollow if there isn’t a purpose and vision for this accumulated wealth. This wealth can help make possible the hopes and dreams you have for yourself, your loved ones and organizations important to you. However, having a vision isn’t enough — you also need a roadmap to support that vision and outline how to reach your goals. The more concrete and detailed your plan is, the easier it is to know how to start and measure progress. In addition, your plan should be flexible enough to accommodate life events that may require you to revise your course.

The purpose of a plan

The reasons to plan might seem fairly obvious, yet planning is something that people at all wealth levels sometimes choose to ignore. Reasons for not planning run the gamut, from lack of time to lack of know-how to perceived lack of need. Yet the benefits of planning are powerful, with some of the most significant being the articulation of goals, the outline of activities you need to complete and the ability to measure your progress.

“The process of planning helps you establish and document your goals. It does the incredibly hard work of encouraging you to consider the many facets of your life — personal, family and business — regardless of whether there is a related financial aspect,” said Karen Reynolds Sharkey, the head of client advisory and services at City National Bank. Documenting your goals makes them tangible and gives them life.

Some goals are intrinsically financial, while others may have a financial component though the main thrust is not financially oriented. For example, traveling worldwide is not inherently a financial goal, but it certainly requires financial resources to realize.

Remember that your goals and plan are not immutable. Goals may change as your life priorities evolve, creating a need for adjustments. “Planning is a fluid process that needs to respond as your aspirations and life situation change over time,” explained Reynolds Sharkey.

“Our clients are not planning for just themselves or even their lifetimes. They are making plans for the current and future generations, and they may also address community needs,” she said. Goals can address various needs and interests. Establishing priorities can increase the likelihood that your highest priorities get implemented successfully.

Creating your personal commitment

Goal setting establishes what you want to achieve, and developing a plan around your goals identifies the actions you need to take to help you progress toward achieving them.

Sharing goals with a key confidant — a spouse or partner, wealth advisor or another trusted individual — can be beneficial for several reasons. Making others aware of your priorities gives them a chance to ask questions and raise ideas that you may want to explore. The process of telling others also allows you to confirm the completeness of your list and the priority assigned to each goal. Additionally, documenting and communicating your goals help build your commitment to them. A research study on strategies for achieving goals found that writing them down resulted in higher achievement, and the combination of writing down goals and communicating the goals to a friend drove achievement even higher.1

Being committed takes you a step beyond the desire to achieve your goals and provides the motivation you need to persevere when obstacles appear.

The process of planning

The value you derive from a plan is directly proportional to the thought and effort you invest in it. Based on our experience working with clients and helping them create their plans, here are steps you can follow to help you prepare and execute your plan.

Discover: Your personal goals and life aspirations are the focus of discovery. In this phase, you’re encouraged to formulate answers to various questions.

  • What do you want to achieve for yourself or others?
  • What are your aspirations for your personal legacy?
  • What is the relative priority of each goal?
  • Is there a timeline for the goals you set?
  • Are there unique family circumstances to consider?

It is essential to consider when to engage your children in your planning process. Preparing beneficiaries increases the likelihood of your plan’s success. “It is common for clients to ask us to meet with their children to discuss things like pre-marital planning, including pre-nuptials, education planning and trusts,” said Reynolds Sharkey.

“When working with clients, our role is to help develop the client’s ideas more fully,” explained Gaye Chun, a senior wealth planner at City National Bank. “Having worked with many clients, we bring the experience of those prior interactions to future client engagements. We understand the questions that need to be answered to help crystallize what is truly important.”

Analyze: The analysis step helps you refine your plan by identifying related issues. For instance, this part of the process:

  • Uncovers goal dependencies
  • Defines the financial implications of each goal
  • Identifies required action steps for implementation
  • Highlights possible issues to resolve
  • Provides insights on goal prioritization

New ideas and information uncovered during this analysis may suggest alternative actions or may create new follow-up action items. Anticipate the analysis process may be fluid and iterative. However, by the time you complete the analysis, you will have the framework for a plan ready to be implemented.

Chun described City National’s approach: “How we work with clients is unique to the individual. For example, in a complicated estate situation, we may create a flowchart that displays the components of a client’s estate and how each component works. We may run analyses for a client’s investment portfolio to show how the portfolio might perform under a range of conditions. For instance, we can consider distributions clients may take to purchase a second house or pay for a grandchild’s education. This analysis helps the client understand the likelihood that the portfolio will provide the needed financial resources.”

Implement: With an agreed-upon plan in place, you can begin to execute the activities that will help you realize your goals. At the implementation stage, you might need the expertise of additional advisors to assist with elements of your plan.

“It’s at this point where we remain alert to unintended consequences that might arise because the client’s other advisors may not clearly understand the overall plan. They may recommend a strategy that makes sense from their point of view but may not work well with other aspects of the plan that other advisors are responsible for implementing. You may be working with an attorney, accountant, insurance specialist and others. We can coordinate with all these advisors to identify and remedy these situations,” said Chun.

Monitor and adjust: Drafting and implementing a plan is only part of the process. It’s essential to review progress-to-date at regular intervals. Look holistically at your plan and assess if the pieces continue to work together. Where possible, make comparisons to appropriate benchmarks to evaluate your progress and help confirm you are advancing toward your goals. You may need to adjust your implementation activities periodically to bring you back on course.

“Your plan is meant to be dynamic. Goals established in year one may be supplanted by new goals in year five. It may be necessary to repeat steps in the planning process to determine what changes are needed to support the accomplishment of new goals,” Chun commented.

“The City National approach to planning is built on a commitment to collaboration and client outcomes. The process is straightforward and focused. We meet our clients where they are and work together to create a plan supported by activities designed to help achieve the goals,” said Reynolds Sharkey.

Planning’s payoff

 “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”
– Warren Buffett

It can take years to realize a wealth plan’s full intended benefits. Some goals, by their very nature, are long-term in scope. For instance, you may want to create a family fund that helps support the passions of current and future generations, establish a private foundation to help address environmental or social issues, or build reserves to provide for your health and well-being during retirement.

Given the long-term nature of planning, it isn’t unusual for there to be a delay in recognizing some planning benefits. However, even with this delay, you can take great satisfaction and derive peace of mind knowing the hopes you once dreamed of are taking shape.

Our role at City National Bank

At City National, we strive to be your trusted advisor. We’re here to encourage and support you along your journey and deliver engagement, information and inspiration at every step. We are familiar with the different factors that may make a woman’s financial journey unique. Our teams are experienced at working with women and are ready to provide you insights and advice for building and managing your wealth. We can work with your other advisors to keep parties informed and help coordinate plan execution. We consider how the components of your plan work together, watching for unintended conflicts with other elements of your strategy. We want to help you be engaged, informed and inspired as we help you reach your goals.

Engaged: We recognize that each client chooses a level of engagement that fits their needs and interests, and we are prepared to work with you as you desire. From planning through execution, we listen intently to your personal goals and aspirations and make it our priority to help bring those dreams to life. We want you to see your relationship with City National as an opportunity to use your wealth to support your goals and aspirations.

Informed: Managing wealth is complex, and additional knowledge is always beneficial. Regular communication helps ensure you understand your portfolio’s performance compared to your plan goals, and recommended adjustments help keep your portfolio on track. We’ll connect you to the information and resources you need to feel confident in your choices and decisions about your wealth. In addition to one-on-one conversations with members of your relationship team, you have the opportunity to participate in client roundtables and webinars to expand your understanding.

Inspired: Your personal financial journey has already begun. By working with City National, we hope you further realize how your wealth creates many opportunities for you and those you cherish. Whether your primary goal is to make a difference for your family and community, enhance your own life, or provide for future generations, we are here to support you and your dreams.

1 Gardner, Sarah and Albee, Dave, “Study focuses on strategies for achieving goals, resolutions” (2015). Press Releases. 266.

City National Bank, its affiliates and subsidiaries, as a matter of policy, do not give tax, accounting, regulatory or legal advice, and any information provided should not be construed as such. Rules in the areas of law, tax and accounting are subject to change and open to varying interpretations. You should consult with your other advisors on the tax, accounting and legal implications of actions you may take based on any strategies presented, taking into account your own particular circumstances. This material is being delivered for informational purposes only and should not be considered tax advice. This information is subject to change, and City National Bank has no responsibility for informing you of any future changes.

This article is for general information and education only. It is provided as a courtesy to the clients and friends of City National Bank and managed affiliates and subsidiaries (City National). City National does not warrant that it is accurate or complete. Opinions expressed and estimates or projections given are those of the authors or persons quoted as of the date of the article with no obligation to update or notify of inaccuracy or change. This article may not be reproduced, distributed or further published by any person without the written consent of City National. Please cite source when quoting.