Many individuals have goals for their family, business, investments and retirement. A financial plan can help you achieve all these goals effectively by coordinating your wealth to minimize taxes, shift cash flow to take advantage of short-term opportunities and manage risk.
The financial planning process involves more than just investments. It is a personal road map to help you achieve all your life goals no matter how complex or simple they may be.
THE DIFFERENT AREAS OF FINANCIAL PLANNING
During your income-earning years, your employment or business provides cash flow to support you and your family’s lifestyle. When planning for your retirement, it is important to ensure that your financial resources will allow you to maintain your lifestyle for the rest of your life, beginning at your preferred retirement age. With a financial plan, we can help you tax-efficiently coordinate retirement income from a variety of sources allowing you to maximize your investments, registered retirement accounts, pension plans or government sources.
A complete financial plan can include an analysis of not only your future cash flow, but also your after-tax cash flow. There are many strategies that can help reduce or defer the amount of tax you are currently paying or will pay in the future. Tax is especially a concern where individuals own their own business.
While registered products represent a fraction of retirement income for affluent individuals, there are still strategies you can use to manage risk, estate objectives, survivor benefits, and taxes effectively. Depending on your situation, it can be more advantageous to take your pension in a lump sum rather than the monthly installments. A financial plan can help you make an informed decision.
Diversification involves spreading your wealth across a wide range of investments to manage risk and your investment return objectives. Owning a diverse range of investments can help you achieve smooth and consistent investment returns over time while avoiding the pitfalls of trying to time the market.
A complete financial plan can include a review of your loan and credit needs to help you obtain appropriate financing for your financial and lifestyle objectives, manage cash flow effectively, or allow you to take advantage of short-term opportunities without disrupting your retirement savings or investment plan.
Insurance has evolved beyond life insurance and it should play a critical role in the risk management of your life, your family’s long-term financial security and your portfolio. A financial plan can help assess your risk and provide valuable information to help you determine if you are over-insured or require more sophisticated insurance strategies to help you transfer wealth tax-efficiently in your estate plans or charitable gifts.
Estate planning – how best to preserve and transfer your wealth – is an integral part of a sound financial plan. Estate planning involves much more than simply “making a Will”. There are many considerations including: how best to transfer your wealth across generations; the right executor and trustee for your estate; charitable giving and tax considerations. Your estate plan should also include possible future incapacity. A financial plan can give you an opportunity to make objective and financially sound decisions that reflect your wealth transfer vision, providing invaluable peace of mind for you and your loved ones.
It is tempting to wait until retirement is near to start making succession plans for your business, but there can be substantial savings when you plan further ahead. Planning early helps to reduce the tax impact of ownership changes as well as to ensure a smooth and successful transition of the business to future generations.
You may also wish to consider making gifts to charities during your lifetime and/or in your Will. There is a tax benefit available to an estate on death if specific bequests are made to charities. More importantly, there is the added satisfaction of giving back to a cause that is important to you. Many charitable organizations, including postsecondary institutions, allow you to set up endowed bursaries in your memory which can continue in perpetuity. Proper planning can ensure that you are making the best use of your resources over your lifetime while creating a lasting legacy.
Planning Beyond Financial Independence
As your wealth increases, the need for ongoing planning is often greater due to the complexity of multiple assets and the desire for seamless inter-generational transfer. For the next generation to gain more from wealth than simply its monetary value, it is best imbued with deeper meaning and direction.
Special thanks to Dominic Proietti, Director of Financial Planning for Scotia McLeod for authoring this article.