It pays to secure a comfortable future with an informed financial adviser.

WHEN the majority of people think of financial planning they tend to focus on specific matters in isolation, for example a pension, life assurance, mortgages or individual savings accounts (ISAs). “It is this way of thinking which causes many people to shy away from taking financial advice,” says Grant Middleton of FML Wealth.

HeraldScotland:

“They see little added value when taking up these types of ‘product’. In reality however that isn’t what true financial planning is all about and, in my view, a more powerful, often life-changing, approach needs to be taken.

“True financial planning helps people to identify the type of life that they would like to live now as well as the life that they might wish to live in ten, twenty or thirty years’ time. It comes from dealing with the difficult questions such as :

  • What sort of life do you wish to live in those timescales and when you are no longer working?
  • Will it be a life that includes lots of travelling and, if so, how much will this travelling cost?
  • At what age would you wish to retire?
  • In retirement, for how long will you be active and young enough to do the things that you want to do?
  • At what point might older age arrive, and what additional costs might this entail?
  • And it is here that a good financial adviser can add real value in the process.

“Crucially, true financial planning involves identifying your cost of living both now and in the future – always a difficult thing to do accurately and honestly. Using sensible assumptions around investment growth and inflation, how long can you realistically expect your money to last?

“Most people don’t think about the cost of living in the future. However, if you don’t think about this how can you be certain that you might have enough money to live on when you get there? If you are one of those people who spend every penny they earn, you might have to continue working much longer than you would wish to.

HeraldScotland:

“True financial planning helps people to identify how much they need to save now so that they don’t have to keep working into their old age – this could be thought of as deferred gratification.

If you are a regular saver, real financial planning might enable you to see that you could retire earlier than you had originally envisaged.

“After having identified the life you want to live at some point in the future, true financial planning then helps you to go from where you are now to where you want to be.

“Some of the pieces that you already have may still fit the picture of your future but there may be other pieces to the puzzle that need to be introduced or changed.

“A good financial adviser helps during this part of the process as well. Perhaps the most important part of true financial planning is the ongoing advice that is available – checking on a regular basis to see whether your plan for the future remains the same, and checking that you are making progress towards your goals.

“If you are drifting off course, a good financial adviser helps you to make the necessary adjustments before you find yourself completely off track. Life is uncertain, but being aware of the threats that may affect your plans enables you to respond effectively.”

Contact Grant Middleton, FML Wealth, 333 003 0872 Web: www.fmlwealth.com

No time like the present to think about pensions.

IF you are like the vast majority of the population, hearing the word ‘pension’ is enough to make you drift away into a deep sleep. “It’s not the most appealing of subjects and we never want to think of ourselves as growing older,” says Natalie Donnell of Paterson Financial Planning Ltd.

HeraldScotland: The sooner we face up to planning for the future, the better prepared we will beThe sooner we face up to planning for the future, the better prepared we will be

“When it comes to pensions and planning for our retirement, it’s easy to put it on the back burner as something to worry about in the future rather than reviewing the situation now. But the sooner you realise you will have to face up to the inevitable one day, the better prepared you will be. Recent research suggests that around £20 billion across 1.6 billion pension pots are unclaimed in the UK.

“We no longer live in a society where we leave education, go into full time employment and stay with the same employer until we retire. It is estimated that two out of three adults in the UK have multiple pension pots, with the average person having eleven different jobs over their lifetime.

“When we move into new employment, we don’t always keep track of our pensions with our previous employers and when we move to a new house we don’t always update our pension providers with our new address.

HeraldScotland:

“Both factors are contributing to the volume of ‘lost’ pensions and this number is likely to continue to increase. When the industry deems pensions to be ‘lost’, this does not mean lost forever but instead that the pension providers have been unable to reunite the monies with the policyholders.

“It is more likely that we will achieve the retirement that we hoped for if we prepare for this well in advance. It is important to review the pension provisions that are in place, to consider whether they remain the most appropriate, based on circumstances. Or it may be that a consolidation of your pension pots would be more appropriate, allowing plenty of time to make any necessary changes to help meet the overall objectives. Having a better grasp of your financial position will help you to take control and provide more choice and flexibility in retirement.”

Contact Natalie Donnell, Paterson Financial Planning Ltd. 0141 221 0033 Web : www.patersonfp.co.uk

It’s wise to prepare for what could go wrong in life.

WHEN it comes to Financial Planning, it is often said that the starting point should be to protect what you have, and then build on it. “Financial Protection comes in many forms,” says Keith Miller of Capital Managers LLP. “But its aim is to provide cover against an individual’s ability to work and earn.

HeraldScotland: Many workers have no cover in place for illness or accidentMany workers have no cover in place for illness or accident

“There are many insurances – such as cars and houses - which are a legal requirement. But to protect our most important asset – ourselves - there is no legal requirement, even when taking on financial debt and mortgages.

“Royal London recently issued their ‘State of the Protection Nation’ Report for its third year and it contains interesting statistics. The report surveys advisers and consumers about their confidence in the market, breaking down its results into age segments.

“Worryingly, of those surveyed in age group 18-35, 56% would have enough savings to last three months if they couldn’t work due to illness or injury.

This figure falls to 14% for more affluent higher earners in the age group 35-50, but remains at 52% among lower single earner households in age group 30-50.

HeraldScotland:

“The survey shows a level of inertia and scepticism from individuals in recognising the need for life cover, income protection and critical illness cover.

“Protection needs will be very specific to an individual’s circumstances and should take account of financial, family and work situations.

“For those in good health, the cost is not expensive. From protection providers we have seen a good level of innovation in the market place and now our protection policies can assist with a healthy life style, offering rewards and discounts for fitness activity and healthy living.

“Also a number of specialist providers take on cover for those with certain ailments such as diabetes – which was difficult in the past.”

Contact Keith Miller, Capital Managers LLP, 0141 222 2322 Web: www.capitalmanagers.co.uk