An appointment with a financial planner doesn’t have to be scary. Here’s what you need to know.
In a good meeting, you can count on being the one doing most of the talking while being reminded that it’s your money, and your decision.
As is so often the case, we fear what we don’t know. It can be a daunting task to muster up the courage to finally face our finances head-on and make the decision to meet with a financial planner. Many of us don’t know what to expect and find our self asking questions such as, “What should I know before speaking to a planner or advisor? What should I bring? What kinds of questions will they ask me?”
While the nature of every meeting is unique, as the needs of every client will vary, here’s a typical outline of what your conversation with a financial planner may look like:
Before we can figure out where we’re going, we need to determine where we are today. You would never attempt to give a friend directions if you didn’t know where they were coming from. Much the same with your financial plan; your planner can’t help guide you until he or she knows the starting point. You’ll discuss your current assets that may include a savings account, checking account as well as any superannuation you have through current or former employers. It’s also important to review any debt that you may be carrying. This may include credit cards, student loans, car loans or perhaps a mortgage. Your adviser will also consider any existing life insurance cover you hold as mitigating risk an important part of planning.
Cash flow analysis
Once a baseline has been established for your assets and your liabilities, it’s time to assess your monthly cash flow. This is a fancy way of saying you’re going to discuss how much money you make every month, how much you spend each month, and how much you are saving. Your planner is getting an understanding of how much you have available to reasonably save and invest on a monthly basis. This is a great time to discuss where you would like to cut back on certain expenses. Whether you’re spending too much on happy hours, expensive dinners, or shopping at your favorite boutiques and department stores, we all have areas where we can cut back on spending.
Now that we know where we stand financially and how much we have available to invest each month, we need to figure out what we’re doing with those savings. This is how you know your advisor is focused on helping you meet your objectives because this is where you’ll be asked questions like, “What are your goals? What are you hoping to achieve? What’s most important to you?” To help you put together an investment plan, your planner needs to know when you plan on needing that money. Are you hoping to buy a house in the next three to five years? Are you saving to afford a big vacation every year? Are you trying to pay off your debt? Are you planning to put away funds to cover unforeseen expenses in an emergency savings account? Are you looking to start saving for your retirement? By prioritizing your goals, your planner can help put a plan in place that is intended to help get you there.
Based on the information that you’ve shared, your planner will discuss with you some preliminary thoughts and ideas around your expressed ideas and goals. Topics touched on could include Investment Risk and Return, Saving (both inside and outside of Superannuation), Insurance, Centrelink and other discussion points to help you both understand the best course for you. It is important after all to be sure that your plan aligns with your goals, time horizon and risk tolerance. Reviewing all factors enables you both to make educated, informed decisions.
At the end of the meeting, you’ll have the beginnings of a plan that outlines how much you wish to be saving each month, what those savings are for, where you would like them invested and why. You’ll have a strong grasp of where you are financially, where you want to go, and how you’re planning on getting there. It’s important to remember that you are the decision-maker and your planner is there to help guide you on your journey to reaching your goals.
You can count on being asked a lot of questions. In a good meeting, you can count on being the one doing most of the talking while being reminded that it’s your money, and your decision. Most importantly, you can count on leaving the meeting with a personalized outline designed specifically to help you reach your goals.
Even positive experiences might necessitate some professional help.
Sometimes, even the best events in life – a birth, new job or dream relocation – require a financial plan. They might necessitate the need for more insurance coverage, a new budget or guidance from a financial advisor.
Here are 6 positive events that should inspire you to do some financial planning:
1. You retire.
Retirement is considered the pivotal financial moment in a person’s life. If you haven’t already worked with a financial planner to figure out your plans and budget, then now is the time. In fact, at Power2 we urge even clients in their 20s and 30s to start planning for this major life transition, to make sure they’re saving enough along the way, during their peak earning years. It’s also a good time to reflect on what you want out of the final third of life.
2. The opportunity to buy a Holiday Home / Rental Property.
Beach houses and holiday homes are a great annual escape from everyday life. Then, the landlord offers a sweet insider price you can’t refuse. Likewise a rental property can seem like a great idea, tax deductions and an investment you can visit and touch. While they can be a great investment for some, rentals and holiday houses, especially ones that require rental income to finance – can be a complicated long-term commitment. A Power2 financial planner, not a real estate agent, is the adviser to help you objectively consider this decision.
3. You got a pay rise.
Pay raises are typically small and incremental if they come at all, so getting a big raise is cause for celebration. They also mean it’s time to do some planning to determine how much you should be saving for the future. It might be time to consider bumping up your retirement savings through strategies such as Salary Sacrifice.
4. You just got an inheritance.
Baby boomers stand to inherit significant wealth in the coming years, and receiving lump sums also carries with it financial responsibility. It can raise questions about spending habits, charitable contributions, tax payments and a slew of other concerns. You might want to get help from a Power2 Financial professional as you figure out how to handle the money.
5. Wedding bells are ringing.
Marriage is often the start of a long journey with many major shared life events like children, travel, loans, business and eventually retirement. A good financial planner will take that journey with you, scouting ahead to be sure you take advantage of every opportunity and avoid life’s traps.
6. You’re expecting a new arrival in the family.
When the baby arrives, life inevitably gets more complicated. It could be worth it to fit in some financial planning alongside baby naming or stroller shopping. You might want to start planning around future debts such as housing, cars and schooling as well as take out additional life insurance policies.
Protection for your financial plan!
A financial plan is a powerful thing, but it’s most potent when supported by a solid insurance strategy.
What is the point of personal insurance? Put simply, it can help to smooth out some of the unexpected turbulence that life sometimes encounters, just as motor vehicle insurance can help take the financial shock out of events that can occur on the road.
If you have a financial plan, whether it’s a short or long term one, then your financial journey along life’s road is already mapped out. Serious threats still exist though, particularly in the form of death, illness or injury.
Helping to guard against such threats are three main types of personal insurance – income protection, life insurance and total and permanent disability. But what is the difference between the three? And how can they help to support major life and retirement goals?
If illness or injury leaves you unable to work for a short or long period, the result on current finances and future plans can be serious. An income protection policy can be put in place to help soften the blow, usually offering up to 75% of your current income to be paid to you in place of your regular income.
The replacement income is usually paid monthly,
taking away some of the typical financial stresses during recovery and helping to protect future
Income protection policies cab be highly personalised, including lower premiums for longer waiting periods (replacement income does not kick in until six weeks after disablement, for instance), longer or shorter benefit periods, and either a pre-agreed payout value or a value that is assessed at the time of the illness/injury. Premiums for income protection may also be tax deductible.
Potential financial benefits:
• provides ongoing income to cover living expenses
• helps to cover medical costs
• investment strategy can potentially continue uninterrupted throughout recovery period.
Putting aside the obvious emotional consequences for your family, if you died tomorrow then who would be affected financially, and how? Could the mortgage be paid? How might future school fees be financed? What would happen to the lifestyle of those closest to you?
In the event of the death (and sometimes the diagnosis of a terminal illness) of the insured, a life insurance policy pays a lump sum. The s
ize of this lump sum will depend on the amount agreed with your insurance company.
Such insurance is not necessarily only for the main breadwinner, but for
anybody whose death may affect the family’s ability to earn an income. The payment of the lump sum helps to soften the blow of the loss of income, meaning survivors have a better chance of continuing in the lifestyle to which they have been accustomed, and of protecting their financial future.
Potential financial benefits:
• pays debts
• lump sum can be invested for future
• pays funeral costs
• covers living expenses for family.
Total & Permanent Disability (TPD)
An injury or illness that results in your being permanently disabled is also very likely to damage your income earning capabilities. But debts and medical bills must still be paid and the future financial health of your loved ones must be managed.
TPD pays a lump sum if you are ‘totally and permanently disabled’ and unable to work. Various TPD products carry differing definitions of ‘totally and permanently disabled’, so ensure this is clarified by your financial planner.
As with life insurance, the TPD payout amount is agreed before the policy is put in place, to ensure it will do the job of helping to pay medical bills and protect your loved ones financially.
Potential financial benefits:
• pays debts
• helps to cover medical costs
• covers living expenses for family
• funds lifestyle and property changes resulting from disability.