The 7 Financial Planning Questions Women Must Answer Correctly Before Getting Serious About Retirement Planning and Investing
- Have you clarified your financial and investing goals?
Some women and couples will be able to achieve all that is important to them and live out their later years in style. Many will not.
Having a clear understanding of your objectives, priorities, and goals for retirement will help to clarify choices about doing the best with what you’ve got for greater control over your financial future.
You may want to buy a vacation home or ranch, go on a dream vacation, go back to school, or spend most of your time with your grandkids.
Also, it helps to understand both the estimated needs and the resources available to meet those needs, as well as whether your ideal lifestyle is feasible, or not.
Simply, a solid financial plan starts NOT with your means or assets or liabilities, but with your goals and values.
We need to know what is most important to you in your life – in retirement and over the long-term. Then, your financial plan and investment strategy can be built to help you reach your goals and express your true values.
- Have you planned to take care of family, education expenses, or important causes?
Through our simple financial planning process we uncover and help prioritize both your needs and wants. Needs are your required expenses such as housing, healthcare, children’s activities, insurance premiums, fuel and auto expenses, and food.
Wants are expenses that are non-essential, but contribute to your ideal life. These items can include a vacation home, travel, and funding important causes or education for future generations.
This simple process helps create a strategy designed to pay for your needs and wants through retirement with a combination of income streams and income from assets. This will help you take care of family, education expenses, or charities that are important to you.
- Are you addressing the common life and retirement risks?
We are living longer than ever before. That means you need to plan for
a long life, and potentially a long retirement and likely deal with all the challenges of aging. At the most personal level, it’s about your health and quality of life. It’s also all about your purchasing power and the damaging impact of inflation on that ability to support your needs and quality of care.
China is now the biggest car market in the world. 5 In 2009 for the first time auto sales in China surged past the United States. This statistic means more than bragging rights. It indicates the pressures that China and the other growing countries worldwide will put on key resources such as water, food, oil, and steel, and the lists go on.
The budget deficit along with escalating demand for resources both from a growing world population and from developing countries will have an impact. That’s why fixed investments such as cash, treasury bonds, and fixed annuities may not keep up in an inflationary environment.
It comes down to this: Inflation must be taken into account in financial planning.
- Do you have an investment strategy?
Study after study shows that the average investor cannot beat the market.
You may have heard that “fear and greed” drive the markets.
If you invest on emotion you risk being fearful at the wrong time and selling at the bottom, or being greedy at the wrong time and buying at the top.
As a result of this “fear and greed” cycle, many investors do far worse than the average market return. Research backs this up. On average, investors without a disciplined process will significantly under-perform the stock market. Most individuals don’t want to spend the time, nor do they have an interest or the experience, to create and follow a disciplined investment system that is going to give them a reasonable chance of accomplishing their most important goals.
Without having and following a disciplined plan, investors jump in and out of the market at the wrong time damaging returns and jeopardizing their retirement goals. The management of downside risk is critical in today’s volatile markets and should also be a key philosophy deployed on your behalf.
Finally, we recommend that your investment strategy be guided by a risk analysis and careful consideration by you. Take advantage of institutional funds through which are designed to:
- Tailor your asset allocation to best meet your goals while reflecting your tolerance for risk,
- Minimise taxable income and realized gains when in taxable accounts,
- Minimise the internal expenses of investments and total cost of your strategy,
- Diversify portfolios to avoid the concentrated risk of betting on any one industry, company, or geography, as well as maintaining the proper diversification through selective re-balancing, and
- Use historical models to weight investments to perform the best over time through a disciplined, long- term investment approach.
While no one can guarantee future performance, we believe an investment strategy that is:
- In our mind proven over decades,
- Tailored to your goals, and
- Patiently executed and will maximise your chances of reaching your investment goals.
- Do you have a plan for healthcare?
Health care expenses can rise with longer life, which is a big concern when planning for retirement. Many women are worried about the cost of their own healthcare drawing down their savings in retirement.
Some women are concerned that the medical care costs of their husband or partner may use most of their savings for medical care and support at the end of their life.
- Have you chosen a financial advisor or are you thinking about doing financial planning and investing yourself?
News of greed and misdeeds in the financial services field has caused investors to be sceptical. They may suspect a conflict of interest everywhere. Trust takes time to build and it is easy to break. Whether you are evaluating financial advice or seeking an advisor to collaborate with you in developing your own financial plan, look for:
A Fiduciary Standard – This means that the advisor acts always in the best interest of their clients – they have an obligation to act in a way that best meets each client’s needs. Most large financial services firms offer investments, which are deemed “suitable for you” yet they may not always be in your best interest.
No Mystery about Fees – A study by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and State Street Global Advisors focuses on improving client relationships. This study makes the connection between coming across as trustworthy and being direct and explicit in your discussion of fees. Is there a full disclosure of costs?
Keeps Commitments to Clients and Prospects – Trustworthiness can be found in the individual or firm that cares enough to show concern for clients by keeping all commitments.
Women need to find their own trusted advisor who works in their best interests – one they feel comfortable with – or decide to master the important nuances of financial planning and investment on their own.
- Do you have a financial plan?
Most women we meet go through the accumulation phase of life without a defined strategy to fund both their annual expenses and their long-term needs. They have not charted a basic financial course that will balance their life today with saving and investing for the future.
Performing a basic projection far ahead of your expected retirement date is ideal. The numbers may reveal that you can fund everything you want today and your retirement as well. Or, perhaps, they will show that you can make simple choices today that will help you avoid running out of money during retirement. This analysis may put your mind at ease.
Avoiding the serious missteps can help to provide a better chance for a long-term financial future and eventual retirement that meet your desires. But more needs to be done. And most people we meet don’t have the time or desire to understand and put together all the pieces of the puzzle of creating and managing a complex financial and investment plan.
In addition, a major benefit of working on an on-going basis with a financial planner is they will help you keep the plan up-to-date so that your investment strategy stays in sync with your financial situation, and financial issues are addressed as they arise.
Why Do You Need a Financial Plan?
First, let’s answer the question, “Why do you need a financial plan?”
Financial planning takes the uncertainty out of financial decisions and helps you discover the trade-offs inherent in all options so you can get the most from your financial resources and, hopefully, your life.
Everyone has unique objectives and circumstances, and those will change over time, so it’s critical to have your own financial game plan, one that provides direction today and can guide you in the future.
The average woman faces an uncertain economy and more options for saving and investing than ever before. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed or confused, unless you find a way to understand the big picture. A financial plan can bring clarity to all your finances and help you develop a strategy. It becomes easier to make financial decisions, set long- and short-term life goals, and stay on track. Working with a financial plan can secure your financial wellbeing and give you peace of mind.
Some women choose to create their own financial plan, but you may consider a financial planning professional if you:
- Want more control over your finances, but aren’t sure where to start,
- Don’t have the expertise or time to do your own financial strategy,
- Want a professional, objective opinion about the plan you are considering,
- Don’t have a grasp of a specific area such as investments, insurance, taxes or retirement planning, or experience a financial windfall, health challenge, unexpected event in life, or are newly in charge of wealth.
Financial planners offer varied services and can have different levels of expertise, experience, and credentials. They can also have different styles and philosophies. Some planners work as a part of a cohesive team of advisors, and others work as solo practitioners.
Your own financial planner should be a trusted advisor who understands your needs, sits on the same side of the table as you do, and works in your best interests.
A System for Financial and Retirement Planning for Women and their Families