Financial Planning

Helping you get where you want to be.

Financial planning is a process. It starts where you are now, and helps you get where you want to be.

You can think of it as having 6 stages as shown below.

Financial_Planning_diagram.png

 

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Understanding your needs and objectives

We all have goals in life – most require money to fulfil them, or they generate money on the way. Whether we want to secure our future, to enjoy our retirement, to buy a yacht to moor by our villa in Cannes, or merely to enjoy a meal with family and friends, we all need money.

As Somerset Maugham said, “Money is like a sixth sense - and you can't make use of the other five without it”. In itself, it may or may not be a motivator to you, but the decisions you make about money can make all the difference in the world to how you and those you love enjoy life now and in the future.

So, what do you want to achieve? What are your objectives? When do you hope to fulfil them? What will they cost? What’s more important to you; the job you do, or the money you earn? Do you work because you want to or have to? What does your money mean to you?

If you choose us to work with you, we will spend time trying to get to the bottom of what you want out of life, and asking questions like those above. These are what some call the “soft” facts, but this is where financial planning starts.

Our computers can’t help us here. Our understanding of what you want out of life is vital to us formulating the right plan for you; and you should feel comfortable that we understand what you want, before you accept the plan we put forward.

As well as discussing your attitudes and goals, we will talk to you about the hard facts. Details of how much you earn, your savings, investments, tax position, expenditure and so forth are vital to us. You may love or loathe this kind of detail, but we need it to illuminate the important stuff about how best to use your money in  meeting your goals in life. 

So, taking the soft and hard facts together we will do two things:

  • Assess the current position
  • Propose a plan to help you meet your objectives.

Analysing

The assessment may be revealing to you. For some it is freeing to know they can afford to retire, make that gift to help their children, take that trip or move house. For others it is challenging. They need to make adjustments now if they want to reach their goals.

Whilst no-one can predict the future, an accurate assessment of the present gives us the best chance of projecting where you might be in the future. So, we will use the information we have gleaned to run cash-flow analyses and consider a series of “what if” scenarios. Often, this is an interactive process as we work with you to refine your objectives.

Confirming the plan and getting into detail

Having done that, we would put forward a plan to show you clear steps you can take to maximise your chances of meeting your objectives. 

Depending on your situation this plan might include proposals on:

  • Strategic tax planning
  • Pension planning
  • Sensible Levels of withdrawal from, or addition to, your capital
  • Suitable administrative arrangements
  • A coherent Investment strategy

In the normal course of events the written plan will be presented to you at a further meeting where we can run through the details, checking we have accurately understood your situation and objectives, and mapping out how we think you should proceed.

Implementing the plan

Then, if you appoint us to work with you over the long term, we would move to the next stage of implementing the plan.

Putting the plan into action may take a number of months, especially if investments or pensions need to be restructured. In some cases further meetings with your other professional advisers will be needed, for instance to deal with Inheritance tax issues, use of trusts, re-writing of wills or the like. 

Regular reviews

Once the plan is under way, we would expect to review how things are going on a regular basis. Annually is usually sufficient, but especially in the first year or two it can be useful to meet more often. 

Circumstances change. Your situation may change in unexpected ways; your objectives may alter; your attitudes may shift; your health may deteriorate; tax regimes or pension and trust legislation may change; interest rates, inflation or investment returns may be quite different from those we anticipated. So we need a plan that is flexible, and can be adjusted to keep things on track.

A financial plan, designed to meet long term goals, can only work effectively if one sticks with it; constant changes of direction can be very destructive. Especially in stormy financial times, it is important to keep a steady hand on the tiller, and you will not find us making radical changes in direction.

However, no plan is cast in stone, and we know life has a habit of throwing up the unexpected, and, to continue the sailing analogy, we may have to tack a bit to get you safely to your destination.

So, in order for us to help you make the most of your money and line it up with your lifestyle and objectives we need to:

  • Establish where you are now, what’s important to you, and your objectives.
  • Analyse your circumstances, find solutions and build a financial plan to meet your objectives.
  • Report to you with the recommended plan of action.
  • Give details of investment solutions to help deliver the plan.
  • Implement the agreed strategies.
  • Regularly review how things are going, and adjust to changes.

To us this is what financial planning is about, and it lies at the heart of how we help our long term clients. It is relationship based and personal.   

What you aim to achieve in life will determine how your money is managed.  

 

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