This is the first of a regular series of articles about financial planning that will be published in the Meaford Independent. We would like to thank the publisher for giving us this opportunity to present this information to you and welcome any comments and questions or suggestions for future topics.
We expect to cover a wide range of topics that will provide real life, practical information for our readers; be they individuals or business owners.
FINANCIAL PLANNING – WHAT IT IS AND WHY YOU NEED A PLAN
Normally we try to avoid quoting clichés but here is an old one from an anonymous source that really sums up why you need a financial plan:
“A failure to plan is a plan for failure”
We recognize it is probably not the first time that you have heard this expression. At the same time, it applies to just about everything from framing a house to planning a wedding. Why should your retirement be any different? Without having a clear expectation of what your objectives are, and an idea of the steps that are required to get there, it would be pure dumb luck if things turned out the way you expected. Do you really want to leave your retirement to chance?
There have been many statistics published about how much time Canadians spend planning their finances compared to planning their vacations. I won’t bore you with the numbers but it’s clear that most individuals and business owners do not take adequate time to plan for their future. It’s easy to understand why this happens because it is not something that needs to be done by 4:30 next Wednesday afternoon and quite often it gets put off indefinitely. Perhaps it’s because many people do not fully understand what it involves.
Here’s our own short form definition of Financial Planning:
”To make sure that you save and protect enough assets to take care of you and your family while you are living and ensure that whatever is left over is transferred to your beneficiaries in the most favourable and efficient manner”.
It’s much more than just choosing investments and having a will. Financial planning for a business is more complex but the fundamental concepts remain the same.
Why do you need a financial plan?
There is a common misconception that financial planning is just for those people who have lots of money. It’s absolutely true that people who have significant assets to transfer to their surviving spouse or their beneficiaries will need to plan carefully so that this happens in the most beneficial way. However, we believe that it is perhaps even more important for those of us who are living closer to the financial edge to have a plan to ensure that our retirement and our families are protected.
How to create your financial plan
We’ll explore this in more detail in a future article but here are the main steps in creating your plan:
First off, you’ll need help. There are many factors such as taxation, government benefits and regulations that need to be considered. And they are constantly changing.
Look for a qualified professional you can trust and with whom you are comfortable discussing your financial affairs.
Identify your personal or business goals.
Have an initial discussion with your planner. They will likely bring some things to your attention that you may have not considered.
Your planner should create a written plan with specific strategies to meet your goals and should meet with you again to review them
Implement the strategies – you may need to prioritize these to fit your budget and may not be able to do all of these at once but you should have a plan to implement them over time
Regularly monitor and review your plan. There is no doubt that life will throw you some curves and that your plan will need to be changed and adapted. You will need to meet with your planner on a regular basis to review the progress and make adjustments to suit changing circumstances
The most important thing is to get started - perhaps before 4:30 next Wednesday afternoon.
Who we are:
Barry Altman, PEng, CFP
Barry lives in Meaford, having moved here from Elora almost five years ago. He has over 25 years of experience in private business in a number of fields including finance, sales, design and project management of numerous projects in North America, Europe and South America. Barry is a Professional Engineer and a Certified Financial Planner and is associated with Sun Life Financial.
Owen Craig, B.Comm, M.A. Econ.
Owen joined Sun Life in 2008 after spending a dozen years in energy trading. Before leaving Calgary, he was responsible for managing a commodity portfolio worth over $200 million per year on behalf of Alberta consumers. But having grown up in small-town Ontario, he began exploring opportunities to come back this way. When Sun Life approached him about utilizing his skills to develop lifelong financial solutions that work for people, he jumped at the chance to relocate his family to the Georgian triangle.
Note that the information provided in these articles will, by necessity, be general in nature and you should always consult a qualified professional for advice on your specific situation. The opinions expressed are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the company’s we represent. The authors retain all rights to publication.
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