20th April 2012
Financial Planning – use it to reach your financial goals
Barbara and Janelle, two Commonwealth Financial Planners with 23 years combined experience, explain how financial planning can help you work out your goals and put a plan in place to help you reach them. And, in doing so, give you the peace of mind that you really can have the future you’re dreaming of.
Q. Firstly, what are some common misconceptions about Financial Planning?
Barbara: “I think the most common one is that you have to have a lot of money to see a Financial Planner and that the cost of the advice is expensive. This isn’t the case at all. Every client is just as important – whether they have $50,000 or $500,000.”
Q. So when is a good time to start talking to a Financial Planner?
Barbara: “There aren’t really any wrong times to see a Financial Planner. The “right times” are never really based on age and are usually related to changing circumstances – in terms of lifestyle, family or work – where the right advice will help considerably. This can be everyone from young professionals hoping to build and protect their wealth, all the way through to retirees who are hoping to conserve and use their wealth to achieve some of their personal goals.”
Janelle: “That said, the earlier people think about their future, the easier it is to make small changes and savings. By doing this over a longer period of time it takes the pressure off them being in a position where they need to make larger lifestyle changes and saving more severely down the track.”
Q. What are the benefits of chatting to a Financial Planner?
Barbara: “Most people go through life without any proper financial planning. Then they realise one day that they’re about to retire and have no idea if they’ll be able to afford to. Our role as Financial Planners is to educate our clients and work with them, to put a plan in place that will help them to meet their goals and secure their financial freedom.
It’s also our job to keep up with the constant changes in legislation and in the economy. A lot of people would not know how their super is invested, let alone what legislative changes have occurred that may impact their super.”
Q. What are the most common goals you come across?
Barbara: “Probably the most common goal is people wanting to ensure that they’ll have enough money to live on after they stop working, including something for their children if they have any.
For example, with one of my clients we implemented a Transition to Retirement (TTR) strategy, where she began salary sacrificing to super and drawing the required income tax effectively out of a pension. This strategy boosted her retirement savings by an additional $20,000, simply by rearranging how she was drawing income and putting a strategy in place for any surplus income she wasn’t spending.”
Janelle: “Travel is also a very common goal that people come in with. To be able to get away, whether it’s closer to home, around Australia or overseas.”
Q. Any unusual goals or challenging conversations you’ve faced?
Janelle: “A less common, but more difficult side of Financial Planning is where you’re looking after someone who has a terminal illness. It’s important to be able to guide them, while ensuring that their spouse or families don’t have any financial hassles in the event of their death.
Being able to assist people with uncertain futures quite often gives them emotional comfort, which is a totally different facet of what we do.”
Q. What are some other examples of how you’ve helped clients?
Janelle: “Using a Transition To Retirement (TTR) strategy, I was able to help a couple repay their home loan in seven years, in time for retirement, instead of over 24 years.”
Barbara: “A couple wanted the financial freedom to travel every year once they retired. I was able to set up their investments so that they could meet their everyday needs but also accumulate enough funds to have an additional lump sum amount set aside – their annual travel fund.
By making good decisions along the way and putting away some extra money they had enough money in retirement to do both.”
Q. Finally, what kind of questions should people ask during their first meeting with a Financial Planner?
Janelle: “It’s important to trust the person who’s going to help put a plan in place for your future. So here are a few questions I’d ask of any Financial Planner…”
- What are your qualifications and experience?
- Do you receive a commission?
- What services do you offer?
- What fees will be involved?
- How regularly will we meet to review your advice?
Barbara: “During your initial chat, you should also ask whether they have clients in similar situations to your own and the results they achieved with that client.
A good Financial Planner should be a coach and mentor. Someone who you can bounce ideas and aspirations off, who eases any worries you have about your future and sets out a plan to help you to achieve your goals.”
To book a free first appointment with a Commonwealth Financial Planner, ask in-branch or visit startwithus.com.au
Commonwealth Financial Planners are Representatives or Authorised Representatives of Commonwealth Financial Planning Limited ABN 65 003 900 169, AFSL 231139, a wholly owned but non-guaranteed subsidiary of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124.