As a financial planner my role is to understand what people’s goals are and how best they can achieve them. Having goals for your financial future is important if you want to truly plan for them. Time flies, as they say, and this is often very true when it comes to financial planning.
If I was to ask different people at different ages what their goals were, they would no doubt differ due to their stage in life. People with young children may feel that the immediate priority wold be to get the children through education, whereas someone who has seen the children through education and is now thinking about the next stage in their life might turn their attention to their retirement.
The truth is we tend to consider short term goals before longer term, so things that are happening now take priority. Investment research from Morningstar asked 318 people to write down their top 3 financial priorities. When presented with a list of goals prepared by the researchers 75% of them changed their minds, choosing other goals. Maybe this shows that we don’t fully consider all our goals and we do indeed focus on the most pressing financial matter.
So, people who consider getting their children through education may well be forgetting other goals, such as plans to set up their own business or retiring at some point.
It is fair to say that resources to achieve your goals are likely to be limited and therefore being able to effectively prioritise your planning is crucial. If your long term goals such as retiring early are actually more of a priority than your short term goals, then this could mean adjusting your shorter term plans to make sure that your goals are achievable.
Understanding what your true goals are and the order of importance is likely to give you the incentive to plan effectively for them. If for example you have a loan that you are keen to repay and therefore decide to opt out of your pension scheme for a few years to focus on the loan. you could be missing out on important tax breaks and of possibly receiving matching company contributions. In effect delaying your retirement or reducing your retirement income.
It’s worth noting that just accumulating money for the future does not give you any incentive or focus on the end game. I have spoken to clients who have accumulated varying different levels of wealth who at some point quite near the event they have been savings for, such as retirement, suddenly find that they won’t have the sort of income they were expecting. Knowing this much earlier allows the opportunity to address it. Five years before retirement does not.
Understanding your goals and the order of priority can be difficult as I have said, the immediate financial pressures tend to take priority. I find that discussing these goals with a Financial Planner helps to gather your thoughts and understand where your priories lie. You may decide that having a bigger house is not worth working an extra five or ten years for.
Good Financial Planners will be able to help you understand how you can achieve your goals by amongst other things using cash flow modelling to show how you plan effectively and realistically.
This information is provided strictly for general consideration only. No action must be taken or refrained from based on its contents alone. Accordingly, no responsibility can be assumed for any loss occasioned about the content hereof and any such action or inaction. Professional advice is necessary for every case.
Kristina Bailey Dip FA CeMAP