How can I make a start with life planning and wealth management?

Let's start with your dreams

Before you can even start arranging to manage your wealth for the years ahead you need to be 100% clear about your plans for the future.

At this point you don’t need to overly worry about ‘what if’ – we can help you factor in vagaries.

Right now, it’s all about broad brushstrokes, bold vision and big dreams: you can shade in the detail and contingencies with our help later.

The truth is that, far too often, life is something that happens to us, rather than something we plan to achieve. And, as you approach retirement, you must have a plan; wealth management is how you ensure that everything in this plan can happen.

The starting point for wealth management is not the nitty, gritty of your finances. It is not about pensions, investments, savings or future stock market trends.

It’s much simpler than that – yet it can also be easier said than done.

The starting point for wealth management is you and your dreams for the future. So, you need to discover and crystallise exactly what you want this to look like.

To help you do this we ask you to consider certain questions.

Some of these are quite deep and involved but, thankfully, most are more instinctive and have answers that come from the heart rather than the head.

These questions include:

What do you value most in life?

Which is to say, what things will be most important to you in the immediate and longer-term future.

If you didn’t have to work anymore, what would you do?

Not at all a trick question, but one that is often trickier to answer than most people first imagine.

What would an ideal weekend or holiday look like?

What ‘special things to do’ or ‘special places to be’ bring you most enjoyment and contentment?

What’s important about money to you?

Perhaps the hardest question to answer.

We all know why we ‘need’ money in a bread and butter sense. But what matters most is being able to be clear about what you want your money to allow you to do.

What goals do you have that need to be achieved with money and forward planning?

This – and the following questions – lie at the heart of our approach to your wealth management.

Everything we do is informed by your life plan for retirement. This is why we always focus on these questions with you and recommend that you take your time answering them.

Don’t worry: we will return throughout our relationship with you to respond to any changes that may occur.

For now, though, we simply suggest sense-checking your answers with your partner, family or close friends. And your answer may change – or become more clearly defined – each time you circle the questions.

What concerns do you have now that you address? What opportunities need to be captured? And what strengths need to be maximised?

It’s useful to have answered this question before you attempt to consider the final one…

Imagine you are having a conversation, three years from now, and you are looking back over these years: what needs to have happened in your life, both personally and financially, for you to feel happy with your progress?

Having spent time on the last few questions, this is something of a reality check.

It asks you to imagine looking back, rather than gazing forward. It’s surprising to most how this subtle change in perspective can help solidify and shape exactly how they view their fundamental goals.

Evaluating the bedrock of reality on which your dreams will be built

Don’t worry, it’s not all deep questions and navel gazing.

Without getting bogged down in the detail there are plenty of practical things you also need to do to start wealth planning for retirement.

To gain a complete picture of where you are, you will need to collect together the following information that will help us to establish your current financial position.

These include:

  • Recent utility bills
  • Mortgage information
  • Details of your:
    • Current and savings accounts
    • Unit trusts
    • Personal pension plans
    • Investment bonds
    • Endowment policies/ savings plans
    • Stocks and Shares ISAs
    • VCTs/EIS
  • A list of any share holdings
  • Information about your loans and debts
  • Your P60 or salary slip
  • Your self-assessment tax return for last year
  • Information about each family member’s life assurance, health cover and long-term care arrangements
  • Details of any company benefits you are receiving or due, such as pension plan, annual summary, investment plan options, employee benefits (health, dental, life etc).
  • Estimated large, one-time expenditures in the next three years (i.e. house renovations, new car, property etc).
  • Details of any legal arrangements you have made for your future, such as you will or lasting power of attorney

Once you have collected this information and batted back and forth the initial questions with those you trust, you’re ready to start.

And it gets easier from here!