An MOT is carried out on our cars to ensure they are roadworthy and fit for purpose. Scott Wallace gives some tips for carrying out a financial MOT.
We all lead busy lives, yet what we all want to do is achieve the things that are important to us. This often requires having the financial means to do so. Having a financial plan is essential in making sure you achieve all of your financial goals – whether it’s being able to support your children through university or achieving the retirement you’ve always wanted. Remember the old adage ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail’. When did you last really look at your finances? Do you know if your plan is fit for purpose? Should one of your New Year’s resolutions be to get advice about whether you are on course to achieve your goals? Here are some tips for conducting a financial MOT:
IMPROVE RETURNS ON YOUR SAVINGS
1. Invest for the long term. Interest rates are at historically low levels and the returns on your cash deposits are in danger of being eroded by the effects of inflation.
2. Never ignore the risk that at some time in your life you are going to have to live through a period of significant inflation. A financial adviser can help identify alternative investment strategies that provide potentially higher growth or income over the long term.
3. Make sure you always have sufficient money on deposit to meet short-term planned or unexpected needs.
4. Diversify your investments as widely as you can. No individual asset (cash, bonds, equities, property) has been consistently the best performer.
5. Find the very best managers you can for your investments so they maximise your return and use valuable tax allowances.
PLAN FOR RETIREMENT
1. Gather correspondence relating to your pensions and ensure you know the pension benefits you’re entitled to.
2. Decide how much income you think you will need in retirement, relative to today.
3. A financial adviser can help you quantify how much provision you will need and whether you should adjust your contributions to achieve your goals. Pensions are an extremely tax-efficient way of saving for your future.
4. Review your existing pension funds and ensure the level of risk matches your own tolerance and capacity for risk. A reputable financial adviser will be able to compare how your pension funds are performing relative to the market.
5. As you approach retirement it is even more important to obtain-high quality advice. The rules surrounding pensions have experienced unprecedented change in recent years and it is important to consider the pros and cons of each option available to you, so you make a properly-informed decision.
ENSURE YOU HAVE ADEQUATE FINANCIAL PROTECTION
1. Make sure you have an appropriate life policy to repay your mortgage and other household expenses following the untimely death, long-term illness or disability of the main breadwinner.
2. If you run a business, you should look at insuring against the serious financial consequences of one of your key people dying unexpectedly or suffering a serious illness or disability.
3. Make a Will so your estate goes to those you choose.
4. An experienced financial adviser will be able to advise you on how to mitigate inheritance tax and ensure your estate is structured appropriately.
WALLACE FINANCIAL PLANNING LIMITED | 36 Market Street, Haddington EH41 3JE | t: 01620 820 202 | www.scottwallace.co.uk