The next time you go out for a coffee, think of these questions.
Do you know what you want? Do you know the price? Is it going to be regular or large? And is it dairy-free and has a flavour shot?
Yes, these are extremely easy questions. The answers are generally based on personal preference, price, and/or the amount of coffee we want to consume.
If we render this situation and apply it to the retirement aspect of life, what kind of mental picture does the word invoke up for you? Is it sunny beaches and no longer having to set an alarm clock? Or a stressful feeling about how much longer you will need to work to afford such a lifestyle?
Yes, these are extremely personal questions, and the thoughts can get overwhelming.
Over the course of our lives, there are many uncomfortable questions and conversations to be had. But it is safe to say, those dealing with financial wellbeing are perhaps the most persistent and difficult.
Just as our working lives have changed immeasurably over the decades, so has our concept of retirement – not to mention how our long-term savings and investments are structured.
The new retirement landscape with increased longevity demands a fresh approach to thinking about and planning for your golden years. It's important to estimate how much money you will want for a comfortable retirement and where that money will come from.
Investing can be a good way to continue to grow your wealth or produce a regular income. However, it is also essential to understand the risks of investing while considering how much money you need to maintain your preferred standard of living.
It is important to remember more risk does not always bring more reward. An income-focused asset allocation may deliver similar retirement income to other common approaches while better managing risk.
With so many factors to consider, a person accepting advice for the first time needs to ask themselves a couple of questions.
Are my current investments suitable for me going forward?
This is a tough question, and it might be an emotional one. People may be sitting on all sorts of assets for all kinds of reasons - don't want to pay the tax, don't want to accept the loss mentally.
A large wad of cash accumulated might be more about perceived security than addressing future goals. Sometimes there might be family entanglements that leave one party hanging onto part of an asset (usually real estate) that benefits them in no way. Still, they've been encouraged to hold onto it for a family member who is deriving a benefit from their inaction.
Do you have a fire drill for your investment plan?
My American friend and advice veteran once said, "he did not have people with investment problems as he had investments with people problems".
Such wise words!
When unsettling news is breaking, there's a natural inclination among people to want to adjust their portfolios in response. When uncertainty looms larger than before and volatility spikes, investors can feel tempted to tinker with the plan designed for them.
So, it makes sense to build into any long-term investment plan a virtual fire drill that seeks to minimise the chances of making impulsive changes or allowing your in-built "fight-or-flight" response to take charge in the face of external, uncontrollable events.
A pandemic, a geopolitical catastrophe, a financial crisis or just a routine market movement can cause the urge to act, and it can be hard to ignore. Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman called this type of thinking 'System 1'— an automatic fight-or-flight response to a stimulus.
This contrasts with what Kahneman calls 'System 2' thinking — a type of effortful reflection that involves individuals carefully weighing options and making deliberative choices. This latter approach is less about instinct and more about executive control.
You can guess which system is dominant at times of perceived danger. We have a natural urge to protect our wealth. The big question is whether instinctive, emotionally driven reactions are the best way of achieving that.
And that is why a sound financial plan is important in getting to their desired destinations, whatever may occur.
Also, the need for financial advice doesn't end upon retirement. In many ways, it's a new beginning. If you worked closely with a financial adviser during your working years to save for retirement, continue to work with one going forward.
The best approach is determined by sitting down with a financial adviser who can analyse your situation and present appropriate options for your consideration as a part of your wealth management strategy.
As Benjamin Franklin has rightly said, "If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail." You may have several different financial goals you wish to achieve, but to reach them at the right point in life, you need to have a financial plan and the right advice.
· Nick Stewart is a Financial Adviser and CEO at Stewart Group, a Hawke's Bay-based CEFEX certified financial planning and advisory firm. Stewart Group provides personal fiduciary services, Wealth Management, Risk Insurance & KiwiSaver solutions.
· The information provided, or any opinions expressed in this article, are of a general nature only and should not be construed or relied on as a recommendation to invest in a financial product or class of financial products. You should seek financial advice specific to your circumstances from an Authorised Financial Adviser before making any financial decisions. A disclosure statement can be obtained free of charge by calling 0800 878 961 or visit our website, www.stewartgroup.co.nz