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If money was no object, what would you do?
We wrap up our series of articles for Financial Planning Week with a look at the liberating effect gaining conrol of your money can bring.
by Michelle McGagh on Nov 30, 2012 at 10:00
Financial planning isn’t just about saving money, it’s also about organising your finances to help you achieve everything you want, even if that dream is to build a miniature railway in your back garden.
Financial planners are privy not only just to people’s personal financial details, but more importantly their dreams and ambitions. In order for a financial planner to help organise your money in a way that benefits you, you first need to tell them what you really want to achieve in life.
Barry Horner, chief executive of Bristol-based Paradigm Norton Financial Planning, said the biggest mistake anyone can make is ‘dying with regrets’ because they didn’t use their money to live their dreams.
‘You can’t take your money with you so set some wild dreams and target your money on helping you achieve them,’ he said.
Horner said he has a client who is currently planning to climb to the Everest base camp with his son and another who plans to drive around Europe in a camper van, but they’re not the only crazy plans people have for their money.
Round the world
Andrew Brook-Dobson, director of Harrogate-based Brook-Dobson Breer, said he has one client whose dream is to build a miniature railway in his back garden.
However, he also had one client who thought his financial planning goal was to build up £1 million in his pension, but once he started talking realised this wasn’t the goal at all.
‘Once we spent time talking to the client and his wife, we established that what was most important to him was a ‘blue sky life’ where they followed the blue sky,’ said Brook-Dobson.
‘He told me he was driving to work through the woods in the middle of spring and he was talking to his finance director on the phone. He then started talking to the finance director about the bluebells poking out through the ground, waxing lyrical about them, but what he didn’t say was that what he really wanted to do was get out of the car and take photographs of the bluebells.’
The client reassessed his financial goals and the money was arranged to allow the client and his wife to go on a round-the-world trip.
Redundancy can be one of the most stressful times for a person but Jason Holmes, director of Lumen Financial Planning in Northern Ireland, believes it can be the push some people need to make a change in their life and a financial plan can help them see that change is achievable.
‘Quite often redundancy pushes people to do something unusual. I have one client who was made redundant and he now works as a ski instructor in the winters and in chalets in the summer. He would not have done it if he had not been made redundant,’ said Holmes.
He added that people aged 50 to 55 who have had good jobs and have no mortgage sometimes find it hard to express exactly what they want to do, but urged them to trust their financial planner to help them achieve their dreams, even if they seem way out there.
More crazy ideas needed
Jason Witcombe, director at London-based Evolve Financial Planning, said he was surprised ‘so few people come up with crazy ideas’ and more of us need to break the status quo.
‘People are sleepwalking towards retirement at 65 because that’s when they’ve been told they can retire,’ he said.
‘It is crazy that some people work five days a week when a lot of them do not have to. People are not enjoying their jobs but still going in five days a week.’
He believes most people want to lead more interesting lives or change their lives in some way but are scared about doing it.
‘So many individuals allow themselves to be dictated to by society and the job of financial planners is to say ‘you have a blank sheet of paper, now write down what you want to do and what is important to you’,’ he said.
‘There are plenty of times where clients have said to me ‘is it realistic to take a year out?’ and our job is to help them with the numbers and sometimes to help them justify it. It is almost as if we are giving them permission to do it.’
Financial planners can help you to work out what you want from life and help you achieve it, said Witcombe.
‘It is too easy to plod along and expect that you need to make more money when it’s not money that motivates most people, it’s spending time with family and having experiences.’
Financial Planning Week runs from 26 November to 2 December and is organised by the Institute of Financial Planning to raise awareness of the profession and help consumers make the most out of their money. You can find out more here.
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