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Personal Financial Planning

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Like many things in life, you can get by without a formal financial plan or expert input from a financial planner. However, experience and now research shows that you are more likely to make better financial decisions and end up wealthier if you have a proper financial plan.

It’s similar to having a personal fitness coach – their expertise and experience helps you set goals, get fit and stay fit because they apply their technical knowledge and ensure you stay on track through a bespoke plan.

Your plan must reflect your individual circumstances and encapsulate your real needs, wants and desires in life. You must spend time regularly revisiting it as your life develops.

Many financial planner/client relationships last for decades which seems to confirm their value. A financial planner often becomes a trusted member of a client’s family. Many people say: “I wish I’d used a financial planner earlier in life”.

How do I know if I need financial planning advice?

There are three common reasons why people seek financial planning advice:

  1. You have a specific financial need:
    a. You may be considering owning your own home, which almost certainly means you will need to borrow money. You will need to protect your ability to pay this money back. There are other life events to consider provision for, such as illness or death, especially if you have a family and/or children.
    b. You’ve received an unexpected inheritance from a distant relative and are unsure how best to use this for the future. What’s the right balance between risk and reward? How should you protect its value against inflation?
  2. You are aware you have an issue and think you might benefit from expert advice:
    a. Your career has gone well, you’ve remained fit and healthy. The children are growing up and will be leaving the nest soon. You have accumulated some spare money and want to help them. What’s the best way? When’s the best time – now or later? Should you protect your gifts to them somehow?
  3. You want peace of mind that you are making the best use of your finances throughout your life – it’s hard making money, you want to ensure your money is always working hard for you:
    a. You lead a busy life, your circumstances are changing as the family grows up. You do your best to keep on top of all financial matters, but sometimes you’re not sure if you understand things in enough depth to make full use of tax or ISA allowances. You need help and advice that you can trust, someone who knows you and your circumstances and who takes a proactive approach and suggests things you might not have thought about.
    b. You are still working and are putting in your best effort to earn money, but how long will it last? Will you have enough to fund your retirement? When can you afford to retire? What standard of life will you be able to lead in retirement? By analysing your income and expenditure and how this might change in the future, you can see the effect on your income and capital in retirement. You can then plan for these and take steps to navigate them so you continue to lead the life you want.

When does financial planning help you?

Financial planning can assist you at every stage of your life.

Broadly, during the stage of your life when you are working and earning a salary, or perhaps developing a business, your financial focus will be on matters such as:

  • buying property
  • saving regularly from your income to make provision for retirement
  • building up an emergency fund
  • making provision for your family and children

One-off events can also trigger a need for financial planning advice such as managing and investing an inheritance, divorce, a life changing injury where a compensation award needs to be used carefully to be able to fund care and living requirements. Our guide about the 5 Ages of Financial Planning explains this in more detail.

Later on, you need to make maximum use of tax allowances to keep as much of your hard-earned money as possible.

When you reach the stage where retirement is in your sights, your focus will be on accessing funds to meet your regular outgoings, generating these in the most tax efficient way possible, via a mix of income and capital. You may also start to be considering passing on wealth to your children and grandchildren, you may consider setting up Trusts as part of Inheritance Tax Planning.

Or you may begin to consider using the value of your home to increase your income or to fund the cost of care in a care home or your own home.

Financial planners work closely with solicitors, accountants and other professionals to ensure that all aspects of your financial needs dovetail together to achieve the best outcome for you.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need to be ‘wealthy’ to benefit from Financial Planning?

Absolutely not. Most people would not say they are wealthy. They just want to make the most of the money they are earning or building up in a business.

The growing complexity of financial and tax matters simply makes keeping on top them harder.

In early 2022, Guy Opperman MP, Minister for Pensions highlighted the importance of “people having access to the support and information they need to make informed choices about their pension.… If mishandled, the financial consequences for later life can be catastrophic and ruin retirement dreams… Savers who are better informed are better protected.” 

I don’t have much free time – could I still have a financial plan?

Yes. But you should be organised in your financial affairs – life is considerably easier if you are! Some financial planners can help pull together all your financial paperwork into a single on-line secure vault, which can make your life considerably easier.

Their administrative teams can also action the decisions you make in a timely fashion eg utilising your ISA allowance before the end of the tax year. You will have peace of mind that this has been done correctly.

Do you need to meet Face to Face?

No, but it usually helps to do so reasonably often. These days financial planners often hold meetings with clients over secure Teams video calls. Many people find these useful and they reduce the need for travel.

Can I review my investments and financial affairs on-line?

Yes. Those financial planners who use the latest technology such as platforms and secure on-line client portals, usually offer secure, real time access on-line to your financial matters.

What about Cyber-Security?

This is critical. You should assure yourself that your financial planner continually invests in the latest cyber security technology. Email and text are, unfortunately, increasingly these days not regarded as secure.

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Ready for some personal financial advice?
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