Do you have a plan?

Many of the emails I receive from readers ask about the best way to manage their money. Most of us seem to float along from month to month without really understanding whether we are using our money as efficiently as we can. Are the banks accounts that we use doing the things we need them to do? Are we paying more than we need to for all of the insurance polices that we have? Have we arranged our finances in such a way that when we decide to retire we will have enough money to keep us going until we die? And when we die have we arranged our money in such a way that our loved ones can access it as easily as and tax efficiently as possible?

These, and many other questions, can be answered next week during this year’s Financial Planning Week, organised by the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment, the not-for-profit, professional membership body whose members include financial planners, Chartered Wealth Managers and Certified Financial Planning professionals. The week includes free one-to-one sessions with qualified advisers and Jacqueline Lockie CFPTM, Chartered FCSI and CISI Head of Financial Planning, is hoping this will help many consumers get to grips with their money. “Our CFPTM professionals are delighted to help all consumers, no matter what their age or financial circumstances, during these free sessions from 7th to the 11th of October. These sessions are for all age groups and all personal circumstances. For example, Age UK recently estimated that the 90,000 retirees whom the FCA stated are withdrawing 8% or more from their pension pots post pension freedom reforms since 2015, may face the risk of running out of money in a market downturn, unless they reduce the amount they are taking out. Our CFP professionals can help these individuals during these confidential sessions to determine how to plan for a more sustained income stream.”

This is a really important point. Pensions have become much more complexing recently years and although it is easier than ever to access the money that is in our pensions we need to understand the implications of doing so, both from a tax point of view and also from the length of time that our pension fund will last us if we take too much out of it too soon.

Scottish firms are well represented next week, not just in Glasgow and Edinburgh but all over the country. Kirsty Watson, CFPTM MCSI, Watson Wood Financial Planning in Inverness has supported the initiative for a number of years now. “This will be the third year we have supported CISI’s Financial Planning Week. As a firm, we are passionate about ensuring that the client outcome is the best for them. Whilst we will always offer an initial meeting at our cost, this week helps to tell the public a little more about what true financial planning entails. At our firm, we work in a holistic manner, with a small number of clients, in order to help identify their objectives, formulate a plan together and then regularly review progress. Two of the three planners in our firm are certified through CISI and upholding the highest standards of qualifications and advice are important to us. Many clients initially come to us as they are unsure as to whether the pensions and investments they have gathered over the years will be able to meet their long term goals. The starting point after an initial meeting is usually for us to provide a detailed overview and commentary on the client’s circumstances and where we can potentially help them – this covers a number of areas. We have many different types of clients and would encourage anyone who feels that they would benefit from an initial discussion with a financial planner to use the opportunity to get in touch.”

And Jonathan Gibson, CFPTM Chartered MCSI, Managing Director Wells Gibson Wealth Planning in Dundee reckons that it is time that more of us understood what financial planning is all about. “I believe all financial planners should be doing everything they can to raise awareness of, the importance of financial planning and the immense value financial planning can bring to the lives of individuals, couples and families. Financial Planning Week is the perfect opportunity for the financial planning community to encourage people to take positive planning action.”

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This article originally appeared in The Daily Record.

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