We’d like to take you back to when you first sought financial advice. It may have been in the last year or two or perhaps it was 15 or 20 years ago. Regardless of the time lapse, there would have been a particular reason, and it’s very likely that reason remains the key purpose and cornerstone of your financial plan today.
In this article, we explore why those reasons remain constant throughout your financial life providing a point of reference and lifelong compass guiding your personal success and prosperity.
Generally speaking, those who receive financial advice worry less.¹
Why? Because they have defined goals and a formalised financial plan which regularly reviews progress, considering opportunities and setbacks along the way. This helps them to meet financial obligations now and achieve required, and desired, financial outcomes in future.
While there is usually a lot of technical infrastructure behind the scenes, it’s the ‘having a plan’ part that provides clients with comfort especially during times of uncertainty.
Conversely, for those without a financial plan, worry is often justified.
This is usually because those who are unadvised, may have less understanding of what they have, the extent of their commitments or what could happen in an emergency or in an unexpected financial event.
When we first meet clients, they often have undefined goals and a range of concerns as many are unsure how a qualified financial planner can assist them.
“We were originally just after some assistance with budgeting. However, Stephen has given us advice not only on budgeting, but areas including insurances and income protection, superannuation and wills and estate.”
While reasons for seeking financial advice can be very different, in our experience the common thread for seeking financial advice (and support) is a desire to understand money, take control of it and create the means for achieving what really matters in life.
For some, what matters is being able to sleep peacefully at night knowing financial commitments are met. For others it’s about creating a financial legacy that can be passed on to family members, while others may be more focussed on creating wealth to enjoy very full lives.
At Stratus, the financial planning process starts with a financial health check.
This quick online questionnaire gathers information and it’s often a first step in gaining financial awareness as prospective clients are asked for responses to questions that may have not considered before.
The next step is the more involved Fact Finding process.
For us, this process is a conversation starter that allows us to delve into the information provided, to reveal a client’s financial truths, aspirations, goals and causes of concern.
With these established, we are able to identify and agree on financial goals and what’s important, because a successful financial plan focuses on fulfilling all those requirements.
“This was the first time anyone had ever really understood our position enough to be able to present a succinct picture of our total position on one page…”
Each financial plan prepared by Stratus is bespoke.
Depending on individual circumstances, your financial plan may include strategies for managing cashflow and debt, using surplus cash and investing and creating income stream. It might also include contributing to superannuation, implementing personal risk insurances, updating Wills, creating an estate plan, protecting assets as well as more complex matters than may extend to business ownership or executive share schemes. These and other matters are also considered in context of tax efficiencies.
Money and financial influences and implications affect almost every aspect of life, which is why our financial planning approach is holistic.
We proactively collaborate with other professionals – accountants, solicitors and estate planning lawyers, lenders and mortgage brokers, personal risk insurers and others – to guide all areas of advice towards achieving the best possible ‘integrated’ financial outcomes for clients.
We committed to holistic financial planning over a decade ago, and since then we’ve earned external validation winning multiple industry awards, among them three that specifically named us Australia’s Holistic Advice Firm of the Year.
As qualified and experienced financial advisers, it’s our role to plan, implement and measure financial planning outcomes for our clients.
Of equal importance, we provide financial education that supports financial decision making in context of what they’ve defined as goals over the course of a lifetime.
We genuinely care about how our clients feel. We reassure them when they are uncertain, offer advice, share our experience and perspective, especially when life circumstances change, big decisions are being made, or markets fluctuate.
“I understand how every piece of our financial pie now works to create one that has an icing layer and a cherry on top.”
Regular progress meetings are central to successful financial planning.
During progress meetings we review the purpose of the plan, report on the performance of the financial strategies to date and measure outcomes in context of achieving financial goals and what you consider important.
We also ask about changes.
Seemingly insignificant changes in circumstances can influence financial outcomes. These may include buying or selling your home, having a child, receiving an inheritance, divorcing, re-partnering, becoming ill or injured (either you or your spouse) among other things.
When it comes to financial planning the key is to keep your eye on the prize, which as we’ve indicated here are agreed financial goals and achieving what you’ve defined as important outcomes for your life.
Once we’ve presented our recommendations and you agree to your plan, we do the heavy lifting of implementation, but it’s important for you to remain an active participant.
While regular progress meetings are important for remaining informed and in control of your financial life, in between times may we encourage you to revisit your Statement of Advice. In particular, remind yourself of the reasons you sought financial advice and with that in mind, feel content in the knowledge that your financial plan (and your Stratus team) is quietly helping you to achieve what really matters in your life.
If you have a family member, friend or colleague who is worrying about their financial future, please encourage them to contact Brett Cribb, Steve Nicholas or James Marshall on +61 (0)7 3007 2007 for more information about our holistic financial planning approach. Alternatively please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s make it happen.
Stratus Financial Group helps professionals, executives, business owners, families and retirees manage their complex financial affairs and coordinate their professional advisers.
Stratus Financial Group and its advisers are Authorised Representatives of Fortnum Private Wealth Ltd ABN 54 139 889 535 AFSL 357306. This is general advice only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs, so you should consider whether the advice is relevant to your personal circumstances. You should also read the relevant Product Disclosure Statements (PDS) before making any financial decisions.