Like any other type of plan, a financial plan is a map of how to achieve a set of objectives using financial products and services. This process is best done with the assistance of a financial adviser who is up to date with the products and services available in the market and can best take you through the process of achieving your financial goals and objectives.
Steps in the financial planning process can be illustrated as follows:
Your financial adviser will conduct a thorough financial analysis to assess your current financial position. This will include:
- Will and estate
- Marital status and contract
- Current earnings and future earnings potential
- Family circumstance & dependents
- Contractual obligations
The combination of these factors determines your risk profile. Your appetite for risk will also be a factor. This refers to whether you are willing to risk great losses for potentially high returns or, whether you prefer lower potential returns and reduced risk. Having a financial adviser is a long-term relationship that will involve a few planning sessions at the outset and then regular follow-up sessions.
The First Planning Session
The first meeting is used to define your financial goals. Among other things, your adviser will want to know your current and future income and capital requirements. Use this session to ask questions about goal setting and financial planning. Make sure that the adviser understands your priorities and objectives. It is vital that you share your goals with your financial adviser as he/she is the person who will help you structure a financial plan that will help you achieve them.
Your adviser will also need to know your current financial circumstances. This includes:
- Your budget
- Any additional sources of income such as rental or investment income
- Your debts
- The provisions of your Will
- Details of your assets and liabilities
- Business involvements
The following documentation is also important:
- Marriage certificate and contract
- Salary slip or income statement
- A record of all income streams
- All policy and investment documentation (and any recent correspondence)
- A balance sheet detailing your assets and outstanding liabilities, including any business assets or liabilities
- A copy of your current pension/provident fund statement, and any other corporate benefits
Follow-up Planning Session
- Your adviser will provide you with the findings of the
financial needs analysis that has been completed, based on the objectives you
set and the information you provided.
- Your adviser will introduce you to a selection of products
that will suit your needs and risk appetite.
- The Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act (FAIS)
require your adviser to practice full disclosure. This means they must provide
a full break down of all the benefits and drawbacks of each product.
- Listen carefully and ask as many questions as you like.
Ultimately it is your future you are investing towards.
- You now have a financial plan that sets out your objectives
and goals, and an action plan for achieving those goals.
- You need to review your financial plan at least once a year
to make sure your plan is on track. It is also important to review your plan
whenever your circumstances change.
- Adjust and fine-tune your financial plan over time. Your
investment portfolio at retirement will look very different to the portfolio
you had when you were younger.
- Don’t change for the sake of change. Changes normally have cost implications, and they should be carefully considered. Make sure you understand any changes your adviser recommends. And don’t be afraid to ask questions.