Earlier this year, at the age of 23, a young American Jordan Spieth became the youngest golfer to win The Open Championship since Seve Ballesteros in 1979, further to the dramatic highs and lows of the tournament at The Royal Berkdale course. Even if you are not a golf fan or player, there is no denying the close relationship and complete trust between a player and their caddie, in this case former teacher Michael Greller.
The role of Financial Planner has striking similarities to that of a caddie. A caddie provides the player with insightful advice and support, making them aware of the challenges and obstacles of the golf course being played, along with the best strategy in playing it. In the same light, a financial planner will use their experience to analyse, guide and provide advice to their client through their ‘rounds’ of life, however challenging their particular course may be.
The ongoing process of financial planning will help you make decisions about money that can help you achieve your goals in life. The skills of an experienced planner will extend beyond that of pure numbers.
The process works best when it is a two-way team effort. This requires engagement with the process and open, clear communication. You will need to consider what you want to achieve, how you spend money and be open with yourself and your planner about where you are now financially and where you want to be in the future. These factors will determine your options and your planner will help you work out what is the best way to proceed for you. As life can be unpredictable the plan should consider the unexpected; you never know when life might land you in the rough, requiring you to review your game plan.
Dialogue and analysis with your planner can then help you see how your plan is progressing, if you are on target to meet your individual goals, and where any surpluses or deficits in the plan may arise and over what timescale. This all helps you see clearer how your plan is coming together. Working on aspects of returns such as taxes, costs of investment, use of available allowances, can all help you achieve your goals.
So whether you are starting on your first few rounds of life, perhaps with young children to provide for, or are a bit further ahead, nearing the important ‘at retirement’ decisions, you could benefit from having a strong financial planner as your caddie, helping you avoid difficulties where possible and helping you find the right way forward.
Similar to the player and caddie relationship, trust is paramount for a successful client and planner partnership. Working well with your financial planner involves many features, including the knowledge that at all times they are working on your behalf to help you implement your personal plan. Faith in the planning process, engagement and open communication between all parties, really helps the relationship develop and bring rewards so that your game plan and performance is on form every year.
Philip Gauld is Financial Planning Manager at Acumen Financial Planning and is based at the office in Elgin.