You've probably heard it said that good financial planning is based purely on facts and figures, and has nothing to do with emotion, right?
Well, no, actually! In this post I'm going to turn that idea on its head, along with some other standard 'truths' you might have heard.
In my opinion, money on its own is not the secret to happiness. I've learned this over almost 30 years in the financial services industry, advising people on their financial futures.
My clients often arrive in my office for the first time thinking that my role is to help them accumulate more cash reserves, or buy a business, or own a larger home or more expensive car.I can help you to do all, or any, of those things. But, in fact, my main job is to help you achieve greater emotional satisfaction in your life. Money is just a facilitator for that.
Let me explain.
At Medical Financial Group, we spend time getting to know you and what you want out of life, so that the financial decisions you make will help you to achieve your life goals. The first time we meet with you, we explore your values, goals, and vision for your future. If you have a life partner, we encourage you to bring them along so you can both express your thoughts about your future with each other.
We start by talking to you about what's important to you right now, then in the short term and longer term. We work through a systematic questioning process designed to reveal your own personal definition of "success". We then record your thoughts on an 'advice map' that's unique to you.
What's important to you? Maybe it's the best education you can afford for your children. Maybe it's having a successful practice but also having quality time with your family. Maybe it's a good home, or regular holidays, or being able to contribute to the community through research or some charitable work. Or maybe it's a combination of all of these.
Working out what you want is the starting point for everything. For many clients, this first session is a revelation. Often they haven't really reflected on their life goals since they stepped into university at 17 or 18. They've been so busy studying, training and starting a practice that they haven't had a chance to stop and think about the bigger picture.
With our help, you get an opportunity to take a breath and spend time thinking about what will really make you feel fulfilled. You may be surprised; my clients often realise that there's a gap between their financial behaviour and what they'd actually like to achieve. And husbands and wives are often surprised by what their partner has to say. It's a great opportunity to develop a shared vision for the future that incorporates both partners' priorities.
To enhance your financial future over the long term, it's vital to work out what you want and to put plans in place to help you achieve it.
Once we all understand what you'd like to achieve in life, we can work together to help make those goals a reality.
And the sooner you do it the better. One of the major findings of our recent white paper on financial independence for medical professionals was that many medicos wished they'd sought expert financial advice earlier in their careers, before they made major financial decisions and, in some cases, mistakes.
Planning early in your career can have a major impact on your financial success and happiness.
And here's where I turn another truism on its head. We've all heard the expression that 'hindsight is a wonderful thing'. Well, I believe that foresight is better. With help from a qualified financial adviser, you can avoid pitfalls and be confident that your hard work is actually moving you closer to where you'd like to be.
We can accurately model different scenarios before you make major purchases so that you can see their implications. For example, if you buy that luxury car you've always dreamed of, what will you have to give up? If you go into private practice, how many hours will you need to work to achieve financial viability? With our help, you can go into things with your eyes open and enjoy what you spend. Sometimes you may make different decisions as a result.
The best part of what I do is helping my clients work out what they want and how to get there.
Good financial advice isn't a couple of meetings and a few emails. It's about taking the time to get to know your client and having a conversation with them over many years. It's about establishing a relationship, asking the right questions, and providing options based on a sound understanding of the financial world and a sound understanding of your client's goals and values.
Here's my final reflection for this post. Some people say you can't put an old head on young shoulders and to an extent this is true. I think, however, if you're smart enough to seek advice you can reap the benefits of more insightful decisions while you're still young enough for them to make a real difference. And that can help to put you on the path to achieving the things that you really want.
Good financial planning - it's an emotional thing.
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