What is it? – (and what is it not?)
When I meet people for the first time and they ask what I do, the usual response I get is ‘Oh, I’ve got all the life insurance I need, I’m putting money away in my pension and I’m happy with my broker’.
That’s not an unusual response because the insurance industry has promoted the idea that financial planning is about having enough money in pensions, about saving enough money, buying life insurance, protecting your income etc, etc, etc. When it comes to investments all the talk is about the value of money going up & the value of money going down. The industry has fed this idea to people for years.
A popular view of a financial planner is that ‘he wants to sell me something, he’s got great ideas & the latest whizz-bang which will turn my world around and make me wonderful’. That is not what financial planning is about.
So, what is financial planning? It’s about making sure that the things that you’ve got – your income, your assets, and your expenditure – delivers for you what you want out of life, the way you want it.
It’s about giving you the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you will be able to afford those 3rd level fees and that you can take those holidays every year. It assures you that you can change the car on a regular basis while looking after your family, and makes it possible to be able to retire at the time that is right for you.
It’s about delivering what you want out of life, the way you want it – and making sure you have enough of what you need, at the right time – when you need it, to deliver what you would like to deliver for your family. It brings the peace of mind that arises when you know where you are at the moment. It has very little to do with investments and pensions and savings. They are the building blocks of your future financial life and they have a place in financial planning.
But planning your life in line with your vision is more important than anything else.
I can’t count the numbers of times in my career, of 40 years, that I’ve heard the same question – ‘Where does all the money go?, We never seem to have any.’
This question is usually followed by ‘What are we going to do?’ and ‘Will we have enough?’ Those are the foundations of what financial planning should be about. It’s about answering those questions. It’s about making sure that the income that comes into the house actually does what it’s supposed to do. It shows up where the holes are that the money falls through. It reveals what you need to put away over a long period of time and makes sure that you’re actually delivering the lifestyle you want for yourselves.
After 40 years in the business, I know that retirement is not about pensions. It’s about a new kind of life, one that exists on the other side of not having to work anymore. And to make sure that your new life is a great one, it needs to be planned for – and that takes time and effort. It requires a lot of thought to deliver what it is that you need.
Once you know where you want to go you have a road map, and then you can put all the other bits & pieces in place to make sure that it delivers what you want, as you need it. And that is what financial planning is really about.