By Stewart Koesten

In a way, flying an airplane is a lot like financial planning and there are lessons to be carried over that one could consider.

Take for example, the busy time between starting the aircraft’s engines to leveling the plane at cruise altitude to begin the enroute phase.  A new financial planning client will experience a flood of activity as information is collected, assimilated and an initial analysis is presented.  Then, once accepted, the plan has to be executed and there will likely be many people involved in that process as efforts of the attorneys, CPAs, and insurance people are coordinated according to the plan.

Once a plane is leveled off at cruise altitude, the activities settle down considerably on most days.  A wise pilot won’t just sit there looking out for traffic but instead will at least regularly check the weather, review and calculate fuel consumption and make sure there are sufficient reserves at destination. Also this is a great time for the pilot to review and learn the plan for the approach to land.  A client in a financial planning firm will find a considerable slow down after the on-boarding period and may even second guess why they engaged a firm’s services during this period.  Like the pilot, a financial planner is checking over things regularly and providing regular reviews to the client on a periodic basis.

My wife tells me I can hear things in our car no-one else can hear.  I know that comes from spending hours alone in an aircraft alert for anything that might go wrong.  We hear every change in sound and are alert to buzzes, bells, bongs (sounds that is) flashing lights and bangs (no pilot likes bangs).  These things alert a pilot to possible problems.  The financial planner is alert to problems in taxes, cash flows, debts, investments and works during these more quiet times to resolve issues.

As an aircraft nears its destination the pilot has to prepare for the descent, the approach and landing – another critical segment of the flight requiring the full attention of the pilot.  In time, a client approaches their goals and one’s emphasis switches from accumulating to de-accumulating as a person retires.  This is another busy time in the relationship between a planner and a client.

The key message is that the financial planner is guiding the client affairs even though there may be no problems during any particular period of service.  Don’t think the planner isn’t working on your behalf just because things have been peaceful.  Like a good pilot who stays ahead of the aircraft, the financial planner should be staying ahead of the client’s financial needs.  It may seem they’re not doing anything, but I can assure you that’s not the case at all.  Pilots and financial planners all like to have things go smoothly.

For help with your personal plan, schedule a meeting by clicking below, contact Stewart Koesten –, or call (913) 345-1881.

Photo credit: Kuster & Wildhaber Photography / Foter / CC BY-ND