What's your plan?
The aim of creating this blog, was to share some of my own stories and how they tie in with my role as a Financial Adviser. The single biggest problem I have is planning - I am too busy living. If I am honest, I struggle to visualise what the future holds.
Simply put - I’m time poor! I am sat in the Leisure Centre writing this blog, whilst my son is at his swimming lessons. I am used to juggling all the different responsibilities I have, but it does mean that at times I just can’t fit them all in.
I have this idea of what life might look like when my five year old son Sebastian leaves home. I have a vague idea what I might like from retirement, but with thirty years to go until (under current rules) my State Pension will be due, there are just too many permutations to put it into context.
From speaking to clients and friends, I am not alone in this. We live in a world where information is at our fingertips, yet, unless someone really gets our interest we just don’t have the time or desire to delve into the detail and find our own way. How often do you scroll past a post on your social media account without taking the time to click it, or mark it for the future and never go back to it.
We are much more concerned with the impact on us in the here and now, than we are with the future.
I find Investing, Protection, Pension planning are key areas that people just do not want to engage with. Yet the earlier you engage, the more likely you are to have a positive outcome. We would prefer to believe that our employer will make the right decisions for our pensions than really looking into it ourselves. The truth is that most employers pension schemes will treat the employee as Joe Average, based on demographics, rather than giving you something bespoke and tailored to your needs.
When people ask what I do and I tell them I am a Financial Adviser, the typical response is “oh you deal with Mortgages” (Although qualified, I actually choose not to advise on Mortgages), or “you invest money for people”. Yet this initial perception couldn’t be further from the truth. At its core, what I do is help provide people with information and empower them to make rational decisions given the options in front of them.
So lets look at my own personal objectives. I am 38, my primary concern is what would happen if I am not around, what would be the impact on my wife Gemma and my son Sebastian. I have the added complication of caring for my Grandmother. A lot of people rely on me and will continue to rely on me for some time yet. If Seb goes to University, it is likely I will need to provide, some form of support. for another 16 years at least.
There are complications of course – “what if I get sick”?, “what if something happens to me”?, “can I afford to contribute to his University Fees”?, if so “how much”?, “Is there anything I can do to help the matter get better”?. This is what Financial Planning is all about, forget investing, forget how much money you may or may not make – it’s about looking at what I am trying to achieve and my probability of success and equally - what are my barriers to success.
Your life is a personal journey. You will experience bumps along the way, it could be periods of sickness, loss of a loved one, divorce, a new child, long term care for a family member. Financial Planning should focus on you as the individual and your goals and your concerns.
We use Cash Flow planning to help provide visual context to these decisions, this helps to empower you in your decision making. It might be, that after analysing your situation, we will be able to help you turn those vague ideas into firmer plans. We may be able to use our expertise to recommend ways of increasing your chances of positive outcomes.
The key message here is don’t bury your head in the sand, get a plan and remain open minded on how that plan will change over time. Don’t just visit it once and lock it away. Get it out regularly, review it and challenge yourself to improve it.
If you take these simple steps, you will be surprised at what you can achieve.