Canadians agree that financial planning pays off by delivering real value.
In two recent studies — The Value of Financial Planning and The Value of Advice: Report — a majority of Canadians agreed that by choosing financial advice, they accumulated more assets and were better prepared, financially, for retirement.
Over half reported that they were on track to reach their desired lifestyle in retirement, compared to just 18 per cent of those who don’t receive any financial advice.
Most also felt that integrated financial planning improved their ability to save, made them less concerned about their financial situation and feel better about having the discretionary income to lead the life they want — and very importantly, it gave them greater peace of mind.
Do you need a financial plan?
Yes – if you have an income, a family or hopes of one in the future, retirement lifestyle dreams, and for many other financially-rooted reasons that are unique to you. In general, your financial plan should include investment planning, cash flow planning, education planning, estate planning, insurance planning, retirement planning, and income tax planning.
But the key to a successful financial plan is tailoring each of those elements to you and your needs. To achieve that, a competent professional adviser will take you through this six-step planning process:
1. Goal setting — to define and prioritize your goals and concerns.
2. Data gathering — bringing together pertinent financial information to understand your current financial situation.
3. Financial analysis — using your current and projected financial situation to establish how much tax you will pay and how to reduce your taxes; whether you’ll have enough income to cover your retirement expenses and ways to ensure you will; what you can do to better meet your income needs; and strategies for protecting your family and income should you become disabled or die unexpectedly.
4. Plan formulation and recommendations — reviewing and agreeing on solutions for achieving your financial goals and improving your overall financial life.
5. Plan implementation — a written report that summarizes the steps you need to take to make your plan work.
6. Monitoring and plan review — staying on track by reviewing your plan at least annually and when major life events occur.
Comprehensive financial planning is necessary. It’s also complex.
It should be precisely tailored to your life as it is today and easily adaptable to the constant changes life brings your way. When you add a professional adviser to your financial team with the qualifications, tools and track record you can count on, you can rest assured that your personalized plan will do the job for your life.
J. Kevin Dobbelsteyn is a certified financial planner with Investors Group Financial Services Inc. His column appears every Wednesday.