The Importance of Financial Planning

Set Your Financial Goals With a Lifetime Financial Plan

A recently published survey revealed that a significant amount of our population is suffering from high levels of stress due to concerns about their financial well being.

Pension planning, for example, was a serious source of stress with over 51% of respondents saying they were not saving enough for their retirement. Not knowing how to plan for your financial future can lead to inaction and high levels of stress.

Identify Your Financial Goals

Despite being worried about their financial future the vast majority of people do not have a Lifetime Financial Plan to address this. In order to put together a good plan you need to ask yourself some straight questions…. 

  • When do you want to retire?

  • If I die or suffer serious ill-health how is my family fixed?

  • When do you want your mortgage paid off?

  • Have I made a will?

  • Should I review my savings and investments?

  • Can I save money on the cost of some utilities and services – Energy, Car or Home Insurance, Health Insurance etc.?

Let’s have a brief look at some key areas:

Take Control of your Pension

Starting a Pension Plan or increasing your contributions to an existing one is a very good move to make at the start of 2016.

  • The younger you start your plan the better as your pension pot will then be bigger.

  • If you have a workplace pension scheme you should join it as your employer is likely to be making a contribution for you.

  • Those approaching retirement should make sure they are not taking too much investment risk.

  • Identify your retirement goals and the cost of getting there.

  • Put in place a plan to review your Lifetime Pension Plan at least once a year.

Protect your Family

Death is a taboo subject to most and yet having plans in place to deal with the financial impact of unexpected death is vital for anybody with dependent relatives. Equally you need to consider you and your families circumstances if you suffer a serious illness to the point where it has the effect of eliminating your income. 

  • Do you have Family Protection/Life Insurance cover?

  • If so will it be enough to maintain your family’s standard of living?

  • Should you have Serious Illness or Income Protection cover or both?

Estate Planning

Estate planning is a vital component of any robust financial plan. While, for example, the recent budget increased the tax free threshold for inheritances passing between parent and child to €280,000, with increasing house values etc., it doesn’t take a lot before there are very heavy tax exposures. Only a third of Irish people have made a will which is crazy if you want to dictate and sensibly arrange how your affairs are going to be managed when you die. You certainly don’t want to leave yourself dependent on the laws of intestacy which may not distribute your assets as you would like.

  • Have you made a will?

  • Does it need to be reviewed?

  • Are there any financial or tax planning matters that need consideration?

The Need for Regular Reviews

You should review your financial plan with your Broker on an annual basis. Numerous studies have shown that those who conduct regular reviews having higher savings and pension values than those who do not. 

  • A good plan will help eliminate the stress of not knowing where you are going.

  • Your circumstances do change regularly, for example, additions to the family.

  • Other situations change – tax laws, interest rates, economic climate etc, and your Financial Broker will be able to keep you up-to-date with these changes.

     


 

If you would like to take control of your finances in 2016 and get your Lifetime Financial Plan in place then please contact Aidan Wall, QFA, at 046 924 0961 or email aidan@lifetimefinancial.ie

 

The Importance of Financial Planning

Financial Broker Vs Bank Advisor Part 3: Competitive vs Monopolistic

In Part 1 of this series of articles I explained that an advisor at your bank is often tied to a limited number of financial product providers, greatly restricting the amount of choice it can provide to you the customer. Impartial Financial Brokers are not tied in the same way, and are therefore free to research the market for a more competitive alternative which is often better suited to your specific requirements.

The Competition Authority in Ireland has noted that this ability to act in the best interest of our clients results in Life and Pensions companies providing more competitive quotes, more flexible terms and better product design when engaging with an Impartial Financial Broker.

This leads to the ultimate question, why would you want to pay for what is often an ill-fitting off-the-shelf product from your bank when you can arrange a better suited product that often costs less through your Impartial Financial Broker?

If you have already availed of a free financial planning service or purchased a financial product which you wish to review, I would be happy to do it for you. Call me at 046 924 0961 or email: aidan@lifetimefinancial.ie Website: www.lifetimefinancial.ie

Aidan Wall Financial Services Ltd T/A Lifetime Financial Planning is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

The Importance of Financial Planning

Financial Broker Vs Bank Advisor Part 2: Long Vs Short Term

It can be difficult to cultivate any kind of meaningful relationship with a Financial Advisor at your bank, as they can often be more focused on hitting their quarterly sales targets than in your long term financial well-being. If you are deemed worthy enough to be called in for an annual review you might also find that the Advisor you previously met has been transferred to another branch in a reshuffle.

Impartial Financial Brokers, on the other hand, are singularly focused on building long term relationships with our clients as we know it takes time, expert planning and regular reviews to truly achieve your financial goals and aspirations. That’s why we’ve called ourselves Lifetime Financial Planning to better reflect our ethos of long term focus on your financial wellbeing.

We want you to succeed in your long term financial goals as your success means our client is happy, and happy clients return to us for more business. We certainly wouldn’t have lasted over 30 years in this business if we were solely interested in short term relationships and quarterly sales targets. So the question is, what kind of relationship would you prefer with your Financial Advisor?

If you have already availed of a free financial planning service or purchased a financial product which you wish to review, I would be happy to do it for you. Call me at 046 924 0961 or email: aidan@lifetimefinancial.ie Website: www.lifetimefinancial.ie
Aidan Wall Financial Services Ltd T/A Lifetime Financial Planning is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

The Importance of Financial Planning

Financial Broker Vs Bank Advisor Part 1: Tailoring vs Forcefitting

If you have been offered a financial planning service or “wealth check-up” by your bank, you may be unaware that banks tend to ally themselves with a single provider or a very limited number of financial product providers, greatly restricting their ability to provide you with more choice.

This often results in your requirements being force fitted into an off-the-shelf financial product which is unsuitable to your needs, uncompetitive in terms of pricing and unrepresentative of the actual range of choices available to you. A service which initially appears to be “free” could therefore end up costing you more in the long run.

Impartial Financial Brokers, on the other hand, are not restricted to a limited number of product providers, and are therefore free to research a much larger number of providers to find the most appropriate solution for you with regard to price, suitability and terms.

This is known as a “fair analysis” of the market, as it gives you a much broader picture of the range of choices available to you, and when it comes to your personal finances it’s always better to have more choices.

If you have already availed of a free financial planning service or purchased a financial product which you wish to review, I would be happy to do it for you. Call me at 046 924 0961 or email: aidan@lifetimefinancial.ie

Website: www.lifetimefinancial.ie

Aidan Wall Financial Services Ltd T/A Lifetime Financial Planning is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

The Importance of Financial Planning

Exploring Your Investment Options

Keeping your money on deposit can be a good means of achieving short term objectives and access to instant cash but for longer term financial goals, however, you may want to consider other options. A good place to start in this is by taking these 5 steps:

Step 1

What do you want to do with your investment – what are your goals?

Step 2

What is your investment horizon – how long do you wish to invest your money for?

Step 3

How much investment risk are you prepared to take or is appropriate for your financial profile?

Step 4

How much ready access to your money do you need? In general you can assume that the longer your money is invested the better the return tends to be.

Step 5

Consider your long term goals and don’t simply focus on the short term.

By taking on board the message from these 5 steps you can discover the type of investor you are and find an investment that best balances all of the criteria. These can generally be found in a combination of the following options:

  • Cash – money placed on deposit
  • Bonds – government and corporate bonds or government and corporate loans
  • Property – usually commercial property but can include residential
  • Equities – company shares traded on stock markets
  • Commodities – tracking the performance of the likes of oil, copper, gold and more
  • Alternatives – this refers to investing in non-traditional assets or strategies
  • Funds – these are collective instruments that invest in combinations of each of these and will often be referred to as Mixed/Managed Funds or Multi-Asset Funds

Help Is At Hand

At first glance the investment world can appear confusing and an uncomfortable place, complicated by charts, tables and strange language. While ultimately the decision about where and how to invest your money is yours, professional advice is particularly important when exploring the type of investor you are – ranging from conservative right through to Adventurous and a range of options in between. This advice will then follow on to helping you choose the right portfolio of investments to match your profile. It is also important that the person giving you advice is properly authorised and qualified who can guide you along your investment journey and offer one to one advice along the way.

If you would like to explore your investment options please call Aidan Wall at 046 924 0961 or email: aidan@lifetimefinancial.ie

The Importance of Financial Planning

Life Assurance – Looking After Your Loved Ones

Statistics show that people are more likely to insure their cars and homes than themselves. They don’t seem to baulk at all about insuring their borrowings such as the mortgage on their home, however, insuring themselves has been shown to be much more price sensitive. Perhaps it is the mandatory nature of car, home and mortgage protection cover that makes it so much more acceptable. In reality, however, your life is your most important asset – especially if you have dependants.If you have people dependant on your income generating ability such as a spouse and children you really ought to be taking measures to ensure that their financial wellbeing is secured in the event of your untimely death.

Stop, Think and Ask Yourself…

  • Do I have dependants who rely on me and my income and who would be at a major financial disadvantage if the worst were to happen to me?
    • If the answer is yes and there is none or not enough Life Assurance cover in place then you should consider doing something about it.
  • Questions that need to be asked and advice that needs to be sought around this are: –
    • How much cover should I have?
    • Apart from providing for my dependants future financial wellbeing, do I have liabilities that need to be covered?
    • What type of cover do I need and for what period of time?
    • What is the cost and how do I go about getting best value?
    • Do I need to cover my spouse’s life also?

So…what are the next steps?

There are many reasons why people are slow and reluctant to put in place appropriate and sufficient Life Assurance cover.

  • It’s discretionary and therefore not prioritised – it should be though
  • There is a fear that it is hugely expensive – in general this is not the case
  • Maybe you feel that having Mortgage Protection to pay off your mortgage is enough – it’s not
  • How do I start?? – it’s easy, seek good advice

The role of a good advisor in all of this is to help you through the process of:

  • Identifying what type of cover you need
  • How much cover you need and the cost
  • Helping you choose the most appropriate policy for your needs
  • Assisting you through the process of putting the policy in force
  • Carrying out regular reviews to take account of your changing circumstances

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The Importance of Financial Planning

Everyone Needs a Financial Plan

How often have we heard the expression “I would not have achieved my goal without having a carefully thought out plan and sticking to it”. We hear it from high achieving people in the world of sport and business alike.

You will hear it from top class golfers like Rory McIlroy who will set his objectives, arrange his playing, coaching and work schedule for the year ahead and then go and execute that Plan. If he starts his year with no plan then he would say the focus simply isn’t there to be successful. This same principle is equally important in all other situations – the football/hurling team coach, the business manager or home-maker all need a plan. Doesn’t it make eminent sense, therefore, to seek assistance in achieving the objectives of your financial plan through each stage you face in your life?

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The Importance of Financial Planning

Pensions – No longer a luxury but an absolute necessity

 

The recent budget announced that the Pensions levy is being substantially reduced and indeed will be abolished completely by the end of 2015. What was seen as a major obstacle to the encouragement to save through a Pension Plan for your retirement has now effectively been removed. Here therefore are some key considerations for you to bear in mind.

1. Start as soon as you can

  • Make no mistake, the starting point is the most important point when it comes to pensions.
  • Of course it is hard for someone in their 20s to think about saving for their retirement – let’s face it they are immortal and will never get old! – and it is made even harder in a fraught economic climate.
  • But the sooner a pension is started, the less a person will have to save. Someone who is 25 and takes out a pension is saving themselves a world of financial pain in the years ahead. If they wait until they are 40 they will need to put aside over 4 times to get themselves the same return.

2. Never panic though

  • More than 50 per cent of the population does not have a private pension.
  • While it is better to start a pension early, that doesn’t mean it is ever too late to start, it simply means that the later the start the more you may need to put in.
  • Counterbalancing the late start is probably a greater degree of affordability as you get older.

3. Managing risk

  • When you are younger you can afford to take a degree of investment risk that can include investment in high risk stocks.
  • As you get older the fewer risks you should take.
  • A gradual de-risking should be a feature of your strategy with each passing decade.
  • Good advice will help steer you through the process and to identify suitable opportunities without putting all your eggs in one basket.

4. Mix things up

  • Don’t just decide on a sum you’re comfortable putting into it and leave it at that. Change the payment amount as your life circumstances change.
  • If you get a pay rise you can increase it, if you have children you can reduce it (but only slightly). If you are due a bonus you can put in a once off lump sum.

5. A necessity, not a luxury

  • Putting pension money aside for your future retirement should be considered an unavoidable outgoing and not a luxury.
  • It is right up there with a mortgage, food, clothes and electricity as one of the things people need to realise that they cannot do without.

6. Keep tabs and get good advice

  • You should check your pension plan regularly.
  • Having access to a good financial planning adviser who will steer you through the process and carry out regular reviews with you is vitally important.

Source: Lifetime Financial Planning 2014