‘A good financial planner starts by knowing who you are and where you want to be.’
It’s an interesting habit that people get themselves into: talking about their life and their finances as if they’re two separate things.
We approach this from a different angle. Your finances are a part of your life. They represent your opportunities and options, your dreams and aspirations. These motivations belong to you, personally – they’re not merely numbers on a statement.
So from the moment we meet you – even before we take you on as a client – the first steps of the journey involve getting to know you.
What are your dreams? What’s on your bucket list? What are your pain-points and what kind of investment risk are you comfortable with?
We know that in order to create the best financial plan for you, we have to start with knowing you!
This approach also links in with our professional duties to our clients.
The relationship between a financial planner and client is stipulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) which lists some important safeguards for you, the client.
They include rules about conflicted remuneration – the requirement that an adviser can’t take a commission or payment from a third party where taking that payment might lead to them not giving advice that is in your – the client’s – best interest. Another requirement is ‘code approval’ – or the insistence that your financial adviser operates under a code of conduct from an approved professional body.
These are all important foundations of professional financial advice, but the key one for us is also the most important under the law: the best interests duty.
This is a simple test, and it’s in our DNA: it’s the duty for financial advisers to act in the best interests of their clients, subject to a ‘reasonable steps’ qualification. We must place the best interests of our clients ahead of our own when providing advice. – every time.
Wealth Markets’ philosophy is to always look after clients as though they are family. So, while it is a legal requirement, it is the founding philosophy of this business to put the interests of you – the client – ahead of our own at all times.
What does this mean for you? As mentioned, we work tirelessly to get to know you, your goals and dreams, and we spend many hours researching strategies and products to ensure you optimise your financial situation and meet your goals.
This important because it goes to the essence of why you see a financial planner in the first place! . Helping you achieve your personal goals, not ours.
Allowing you to create financial independence, go on an annual overseas holiday or sail around the world during your retirement years.
Secondly, we start with the individual because everyone is different. They earn different amounts of income, they have different lifestyles, they live in different postcodes and they have different circumstances, from their health and their outlook on life, to marital status, kids and what they do for a living. With all the clients we have, no two of them have exactly the same goals.
When you think about it, we’re all quite unique. So why would any of us have to fit-in with a plan made for someone else?
So along with individual traits, tailoring a plan must also take into account our life stage. You may have heard this term: it simply means that at different times in your life, you have new or different priorities. Most single, young people have a different focus to married couples with kids, or to pre-retirement people who are empty-nesters. Divorce is a life stage with its own dynamic, as is the period when there are new babies in the house or when you are changing career.
So we get to know our clients, to understand them, keep the communication open and use their life-stages to their own advantage.
This is how we match you with your own financial strategy. When you’re young and single, and not thinking about retirement, it might be a good time to consider having your super invested in high-return funds that are exposed to equities, and other ‘riskier’ asset classes. You’ll also be saving outside of super, to build a deposit for your first home. As you start a family, we advise on your need for life insurance products such as life, income protection, trauma and total & permanent disablement. In your middle years you might switch to more conservative investment options, your insurance needs might change and you have the opportunity to use the equity from your home for other investments. During the pre-retirement phase you’ll want investments that are unlikely to lose your capital, and you won’t be so focused on life insurance or taking-on more debt.
Through all of these life stages, you interact with the tax system in a way that’s different to other people, and our job is to ensure you gain the maximum benefit and the least disadvantage from it.
However, good financial advice means hearing ideas that you might not be aware of, or you don’t want to dwell on. Life insurances are not a popular subject, but it’s one that we have to talk about when you’re starting a family.
You also need to keep your costs to a minimum when investing, which means finding the lowest super fees, the best returns, the best tax result and constantly monitoring your loans to ensure you’re not over-paying.
Perhaps the hardest conversation is about longevity. It’s great that we’re all living longer (average life expectancy for Australians is around 85 years of age but that creates its own challenges; if you retire at 65, you’ll have to fund your retirement for around 20 years for males, and up to 30 years for women.
Outliving our savings is a big risk facing retirees. For most of our clients, it means an investment strategy that holds some ‘growth assets’ alongside safe assets that yield lower returns. It sounds counter-intuitive but keeping all your post-retirement money in low-return, safe investments actually heightens your longevity risk.
The great news is that once you have found the right financial adviser for you, they will be there on the journey of life with you. If you opt into an ongoing service package with your financial adviser they will meet with you regularly to review your situation and ensure you are on track to meeting your goals.
As you can see, there’s a number of moving parts when it comes to planning the path to your goals, and there has to be constant adjustments. Which is why we always start with the most important piece of the puzzle: who you are and where you want to be.
This article was sourced from wealthmarket.com
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