This blog post was originally posted on June 29, 2021 and is authored by the Dunham Marketing Team. If you have questions concerning today's topic, please call us at (858) 964 - 0500. Hold us to higher standards.

The term ‘holistic financial planning’ is probably familiar to you. Many headlines in advisor magazines and websites proudly display the description of holistic financial planning. However, do you understand what this buzzword refers to and do you know how Dunham can help you with this?

What is holistic financial planning?

Living in Southern California, I think of green smoothies and yoga when I see the word holistic. These things are all related to holistic health, which considers the status of the whole body instead of just the one place that is not functioning correctly. In essence, that is what holistic financial planning is as well.

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, holistic is "relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts." [i] Therefore, holistic financial planning is the practice of considering the entire financial health of a client, not just one or two goals or investments under your management.

Holistic financial planning takes a top-down approach to personal finance. It considers all the factors in a client's financial life and uses those insights to make informed decisions. For example, a financial advisor not using the top-down approach of holistic financial planning will ask clients about specific details of their financial life like "what investments do you have to help save for retirement?". While this information is essential, it fails to encapsulate the entire financial experience a client is currently living.

holistic financial planning

An advisor using holistic financial planning will ask their client, "What are your big-picture life goals?". Questions like this take a bird's eye view of a client's financial health and how their goals and challenges interact in their unique situation.

Why is holistic financial planning important?

Holistic financial planning is crucial because it forms a unique and comprehensive financial plan for a client instead of trying to fit each client into a generic financial plan. Furthermore, the top-down approach provided by this planning involves managing a client's monetary health under just one financial professional.

Clients without advisors using holistic financial planning may have many different financial professionals they are working with. Each of these professionals has other goals and plans for their clients. The problem with this strategy is that none of these plans are working together to advance the client's long-term, overarching goals. [ii]

With an advisor who takes a holistic approach, different plans are connected to the client's overall goals and, therefore, can be tailored to work together. This may help clients achieve their goals quicker and to a greater extent.

holistic financial planning

What are the benefits of holistic financial planning?

There are many benefits to taking the top-down approach of holistic financial planning. Here are some of the more notable benefits:

1.      Customization

As discussed above, holistic financial planning allows for complete customization of a client's financial plan. Because the advisor considers every aspect of a client's life, they can customize their plan to work with their current unique financial situation and bring them closer to their overall financial life goals. Furthermore, this plan can be made to fit a client’s unique lifestyle.

2.    Proactive Planning

Typically, any type of planning is proactive. The act of planning denotes proactivity. Holistic financial planning involves an even higher level of proactivity. Because this type of planning considers all aspects of a client's financial life, problems that may arise from any part of a client’s life will be prepared for.

holistic financial planning

3. Client Relationship Building

Holistic financial planning requires you to be involved in all aspects of their client's life. Because you are involved in so much of your client's life, you will naturally have a closer client advisor relationship built on trust and understanding.

4. Synergy Among Plans

When your client has all their financial plans under an overarching goal and value system, you can help them tailor plans to work together. For example, as a holistic financial advisor, you would understand your client's tax, investment, retirement, and insurance situations. Because you know all these elements, you can see how an investment plan could help retirement planning or how a tax situation could affect a client's insurance plans.

What does a holistic financial advisor help clients with?

A financial advisor using holistic financial planning helps clients with more than just investments. When using the top-down approach presented by holistic financial planning, an advisor may assist their clients with the following:

- Personal Business Venture Planning

- College Planning

- Insurance Planning

- Tax Preparation and Planning

- Charitable Giving

- Estate Planning

There are many other areas that an advisor using holistic financial planning with their client may be involved in, but this lists a few.

For Information on How You Can Assist Your Clients with Charitable Giving, Read Our Blog Series on Giving Back to the Community. Click Here.

How do clients feel about holistic financial planning?

As holistic financial planning has grown in popularity, many clients are now looking for this form of wealth management. In fact, according to a study done by eMoney advisor, 71% of clients say they are open to adding wealth-adjacent variables to their financial plans. However, not as many financial advisors are fulfilling this need. That same study cited that only 44% of financial advisors have considered adopting a more holistic financial planning strategy. [iii]

Because of the demand and numerous benefits of holistic financial planning, consider adapting your firm to this methodology. You can use holistic financial planning to potentially strengthen client relationships and gather new assets under management.


[i] Dictionary, s.v. “holistic,” accessed February 22, 2023,




No investment strategy or risk management technique can guarantee returns or eliminate risk in any market environment.

Holistic financial planning, if not carefully implemented, followed or updated when information becomes materially inaccurate may not produce the desired benefits. There may be fees associated with engaging a financial professional to develop a financial plan. Be sure to ask your qualified professional this and other important information.

This communication is general in nature and provided for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be considered or relied upon as legal, tax, or investment advice or an investment recommendation, or as a substitute for legal counsel. Any investment products or services named herein are for illustrative purposes only and should not be considered an offer to buy or sell, or an investment recommendation for, any specific security, strategy, or investment product or service. Always consult a qualified professional or your own independent financial professional for personalized advice or investment recommendations tailored to your specific goals, individual situation, and risk tolerance.

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