In the ever-evolving landscape of financial advice, staying ahead of the curve is not just a goal but a necessity. As we approach the close of 2023, financial advisers find themselves at a crossroads, ready to navigate the challenges and seize the new year’s opportunities.
Old Mutual Personal Finance Certified Financial Planner®, Henri Le Grange, says financial advisers play a pivotal role in shaping their customers’ financial stability and security.
He underscores this season as a critical moment for advisers to engage in thorough annual reviews, reflective strategising, and forward-thinking planning, ensuring their customers stride into the new year poised for success.
Le Grange says, “By adhering to industry-leading practices, and leveraging market intelligence and insights, you can empower your customers with the knowledge and strategies needed to achieve financial wellness and long-term prosperity, all while leading the way in the world of financial advisory services.”
Le Grange has identified nine points for advisers to help catapult their customers toward success on their financial wellness journeys.
- Year-End Review
“Start your financial wellness checkup with a careful year-end review,” advises le Grange. “This is the ideal time to assess your customers’ emergency savings, insurance coverage, and the alignment of financial products with their goals. Ensure a buffer against unforeseen circumstances, maintain adequate coverage, and ensure financial investments are in harmony with set objectives.”
- Tax Efficiency
Le Grange underscores the importance of tax efficiency, stating, “As financial advisers, your customers rely on you for guidance. Encourage them to maximise contributions to Tax-Free Savings Accounts and tax-deductible retirement funds. Stay up to date on the ever-changing tax landscape, including renewable energy incentives and adjustments to tax tables.”
- Investment Portfolio Balancing
“In the face of global economic fluctuations,” Le Grange asserts, “adopt a long-term perspective. Resist knee-jerk reactions to short-term market turbulence. The key is aligning asset allocations with long-term financial objectives.”
- Estate Planning
Le Grange emphasises a holistic estate plan: “Estate planning should holistically cover all assets and liabilities, from personal holdings and all related entities. It’s crucial to regularly review and update who benefits from your policies and investments and stay informed about legislative changes impacting estates.
- Debt Management
“Debt management is a crucial pillar of financial health,” Le Grange highlights. “Prioritise high-interest debt, explore refinancing options, and enforce rigorous budgeting. These are the foundations of effective debt management in today’s economic climate.”
- Retirement Planning
Le Grange prescribes effective communication: “Regular dialogue between advisers and customers is non-negotiable. Flexibility is key to 2023’s unique challenges. Make necessary adjustments to keep retirement planning on course, especially with the Two-Pot Retirement System reforms meant to be enacted soon.”
- New Financial Products & Innovations
“Innovate or stagnate,” Le Grange advises. “It is important to remain alert to new financial products. Ensure they align with your customers’ financial strategies before integrating them. It is essential to start with a holistic financial plan and select the right tools or products to execute it effectively.”
- Pension Fund Reform
Le Grange delivers a stark warning about the need to become clued up on the impending Two-Pot Retirement System: “The approach of the Pension Fund Reform proposed to come into effect in March 2024 is a game-changer. Advisers must consider its impact in their year-end preparations, as it will reshape the financial planning landscape.”
- Looking Ahead
He says proactive planning is a lifeline to navigate potential challenges financial advisers will face in 2024.
“Stay informed about emerging financial trends. It’s important to recognise and understand these trends but not to chase after each one without careful consideration. Embracing technologies that enhance efficiency and customer communication is another area to prioritise for the year ahead,” he concludes.