You can run, but you can’t hide…
First published 22 September 2015 • Updated 25 July 2017
…from getting older, balancing your income with what you spend and making sure you’re comfortable in later life. Joss Harwood of Eldon Financial Planning shows why there’s no need to be scared of tomorrow – and reveals her secret to facing the future with confidence.
In a year when pensions have been in the spotlight, we have been bombarded with information, website links, blogs and media articles on how to accumulate and spend our money. There has been a lot of sense behind the excitement, but are you really any further forward in understanding your own affairs?
If 35 years in financial services has taught me anything, it’s that there is no template for our lives. The uncertainty of the future holds us back from making plans – the ‘what ifs’ that get in the way of firm decisions. We are very good at latching onto someone else’s circumstances as a reason for not taking action, even when the likelihood of our situation mirroring theirs may be remote.
We all want certain outcomes at certain times, and often we don’t know exactly where we are going, but financial security is the common thread.
So where do you start, realistically?
Come out from behind the sofa!
Let’s start with the first step. We can all pull together the different strands of paperwork for our savings, investments, income, mortgage, loans, rent, policies and pensions. If you can write down what you spend (honestly!) so much the better.
Next, go through it, preferably with a professional who will be able to explain how the jigsaw fits together. A financial planner can also tell you if there are pieces missing, and then guide you on how to find the raw material and print the right picture to add those pieces in. It isn’t an overnight process; we need to look at longer timescales for effective action.
Our job is to deal with the complexities in the background. Your task (if you’re seeking advice) is to provide as much detail as you possibly can, and to be open, honest and engaged with us.
And now take back control
A few weeks ago, a lady in her early sixties summoned up the courage to meet with us. I say ‘summoned up the courage’ because it was clear she had a phobia about all things financial – but she had realised that her personal financial cliff edge was dangerously near. She will be solely responsible for her own financial wellbeing in retirement and hadn’t a clue about her current position, a culmination of 30 years’ piecemeal advice and self-selection.
Her belief was that her position was dire. We told her we could help. Her relief when we said we would go through the densely stacked files containing decades’ worth of paper, was huge. The words ‘we can sort it out’ were what she wanted to hear. We can see already that if she takes our advice on board, step by step, we can walk her through her current confusion to a stronger position in a few years’ time when she enters full retirement.
This is what we do as financial planners. We are stress removers, emotional supports and providers of peace of mind. We work with real people who have real needs, and we share the responsibility to make their future look financially stronger. Yes, you may meet obstacles in your life, yes you may have to turn left when your plan was to turn right, but if you have the benefit of knowledge and understanding that a financial planner can provide, you will never feel lost. We help you move towards the best achievable outcome – that’s our job.
Time to come out of hiding? Find your financial adviser today.
Joss Harwood started in financial services as a clerk with a bank before moving into financial planning over twenty five years ago. She ran her own business for many years before meeting Tony Conner and Owen Temple. They set up Eldon in 2002 and haven’t looked back. Eldon Financial Planning is now widely recognised for providing a first-class wealth management service to personal clients.