What is planning anyway?

We call this the "financial planning profession," right?  So here's a topic for discussion: how is it that many people calling themselves a financial planner don't actually do financial planning work for their clients?

The easy targets here are insurance agents and certain kinds of brokers and product sales people, whose hope is that if they put "financial planner" on their business card, the customer won't know the difference.  But here, I'm really talking about what may be the silent majority of RIA firms.  Their revenues come from asset management fees, and they've increasingly focused their professional attention on client portfolios.  I hear it a lot of young college-educated advisors: they work with a firm that says it does financial planning, but aside from a quick retirement analysis, there isn't a lot of attention paid to tax and estate planning, risk management, charitable intent etc. etc.  No six step process.  No plan document.

So here's what I'd like the community to help me figure out: what is the bare minimum that should be done, by an advisor, to accurately describe the advisor/client interaction as a financial planning engagement? 

Should there be some kind of rule or guideline that requires somebody who doesn't meet this minimum standard to stop calling him/herself a financial planner, and instead market the firm's services as "investment advisory?"

Is this important enough that we -- somebody -- should enforce it?

To enter this discussion, and offer your views, click people.  I hope at least some of you will think that I'm completely off-base and will be courageous enough to say so; those are the comments I tend to learn the most from.

If you have suggestions about other topics that the profession ought to be exploring, or great ideas for a group discussion, please send me a message at: bob@bobveres.com.

For a lot more information on practice marketing, practice management, client services, investment paradigms and other important issues for financial planners, go to: http://www.bobveres.com.