What is a financial planning “road map”, and how does it benefit you? Just like a long road trip, a financial road map plots your life journey towards your financial goals. Not only does it help you determine where you are right now, but it reveals the different directions you could go and highlights the distance/work required to reach your destination. Here at WMM, in this article we offer an example of what this can look like. We hope this is helpful and invite you to get in touch to discuss your own road map via a free, no-commitment consultation.
Where do your finances stand right now? Gaining a clear picture of your assets and liabilities is key to determining where your goals are realistic. For instance, perhaps in your case the former includes £50,000 cash savings, a £300,000 pension pot, a final salary pension (from a previous employer), a house which is nearly paid off and a large share in a business that you founded.
However, your liabilities might include your outstanding mortgage, some personal debt (e.g. unpaid credit cards) and a loan used to invest in your business.
It is also important to determine the “liquidity” of your assets; that is, how easily they can be converted to cash, for spending. Your business share may be an asset on paper, for instance, but does it produce a regular income? Could you sell it easily and generate a healthy profit if you wanted to, or would you have to lose a lot of value and income in a ‘fire sale’ if needed?
What would you like to achieve in the future? Perhaps you’d like to retire early, at 57. Or, maybe your dream is to travel the world with your spouse after the kids have left home. Whatever your goals, wealth will play a key role in making them a reality. Here, it is important to consider some vital questions to give the best chance of success. For example, how long are you likely to live? (Be optimistic!). What are your income and expenses likely to be in retirement?
Perhaps your costs will go down since the mortgage will be paid off, the children will (hopefully) be living independently and you no longer commute to work. However, your lifestyle may rise in retirement as you take up new hobbies, make home improvements and travel. Living costs will also be higher due to inflation. Your pension and other savings will need to account for all these factors, and more.
With your goals now established, it is time to construct a plan (the “road map”) to move you towards them. Suppose your goal is to retire at 52. Assuming your financial planner agrees this is possible, you can start crafting a strategy to achieve this.
For instance, you will need to factor in that you cannot access your State Pension until much later (e.g. 67 or 68). Also, you cannot access pension funds until age 55 (rising to 57 in the future). So, initially you will need to draw from other income sources – such as your ISAs, regular savings and perhaps income from Buy to Let (BTL) property. This can also make sense from an inheritance tax (IHT) perspective, since ISAs and BTL properties are not automatically exempt from IHT like a pension pot is, or your family home (assuming its value falls under your IHTfree allowance).
If you also intend on leaving an inheritance to your loved ones, then the plan will also need to ensure that you do not spend so much in retirement that nothing is left for them when you die. Here, a financial planner can help determine a “safe withdrawal rate” for your pension – so there are sufficient funds for a comfortable retirement, but also funds left to pass down later.
Interested in finding out how we can optimise your financial plan and investment strategy? Get in touch today to arrange a free, no-commitment consultation with a member of our team here at WMM.
You can call us on 01869 331469
This content is for information and inspiration purposes only. It should not be taken as financial or investment advice. To receive personalised, regulated financial advice regarding your affairs please consult us here at WMM (financial planning in Oxfordshire).