John Cameron's personal blog

Serious discussion about your financial position now - and in the future.

I’m Retiring, I Have My Super, What Can A Financial Planner Do For Me?

Good question. When you look beneath the surface of the Account Based Pensions offered by major superannuation funds, the answer is “quite a lot”.

How well an Account Based Pension serves you depends on its returns, and the risks taken to get those returns. Any financial planner worth his or her fee can help you structure a portfolio that provides a risk/return trade-off that meets your needs, both initially and, most importantly, over the years

The major tool to manage risk is “asset allocation”. This is a simple idea, and it relates to how much you have in safe, low risk investments, such as term deposits, cash and short term Government bonds, compared with how much you have in more volatile (but potentially higher yielding) investments such as shares, and property.

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But What About The Risk?

It’s that time of year again, where super funds are strutting their stuff, and the best performers are crowing about their place in the league tables of fund returns.

But, there is a dirty little secret to this exercise – it only tells half the story. The funds boast about their performance, but mention nothing of the risks they took to get that performance.

Mostly, they focus on the performance of their “balanced” option, which is usually understood to be a middle of the road mix of defensive and growth investments.

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Five Things To Do Before You Retire

Retirement is one of the major lifetime events. Like lots of important events, proper planning is an important key to success. Finance is not the only area, but no doubt it is an important one.

So what should you do to prepare your finances for life after retirement? Here are 5 things to get you started.

1. PAY OFF DEBTS BEFORE YOU RETIRE.

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Two Problems With Retirement Planning – Smooth Curves And Straight Lines

Often when you go to a financial planner to plan your retirement, they will give you a graph to show how your capital might fare over a period.

The process is fairly simple. You start with an amount of capital, it earns interest, dividends and growth over time, and this grows the amount of capital. Deduct the amount you draw to live on, and you are left with a balance. Then, draw a graph of the balance each year, and there is your future capital mapped out.

However, this comes with at least 2 serious drawbacks.

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Are You Growing Or Harvesting Your Investments?

Just as crops are first grown, then harvested, so is wealth.

Think of all the years of putting money away into superannuation. Money is regularly added, and this can be thought of as fertiliser. It helps the crop grow. Then there is the performance of the investments, which grows over time, with the occasional setback (much like a crop can experience setbacks due to weather, disease etc.).

All of a sudden it is time to harvest. Just as a well tended crop of fruit trees can go on producing fruit year after year, so to with a well structured investment portfolio. 

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