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  • Writer's pictureEleanor Coleman

Why “A Man Is Not A Plan”: Ensuring Your Financial Freedom

Updated: May 4, 2021

Planning for a secure future, be it for yourself, your family or your business is one of the most important steps you will ever take. So, why do we hold back?

Whilst we don’t always want to talk about it, women’s finance is different. Factors like the gender pay gap, career breaks, a longer life expectancy and maybe a different attitude to risk, can all add up to women not meeting their financial goals. I meet a lot of women who are incredible at what they do and yet say to me “I’m rubbish with money”. What they mean is that they are nervous and they don’t know who to trust, because it’s all a bit overwhelming and they fear getting it wrong.

According to a survey, 61% of women would rather talk about their own death than money*. The top financial regret for women is not investing more. This is where a good financial planner can help. Reviewing your current financial situation and putting some numbers on the goals that you have, can help you feel far more in control.

You’ve worked hard for your money, so shouldn’t it work harder for you? An investment portfolio needs to be driven by your hopes and aspirations. Your attitude to money defines what risks you are willing and happy to take, and what you expect in return. You need to feel completely comfortable that you understand what your investments do, how they work and more importantly why they matter in your life plan. You also need to be completely confident that the person helping you to make those decisions understands your aims.

In the same way, I would not attempt to take my own appendix out or build my own house, there should be no shame in talking to an expert. For women who have been told they should aim to “have it all”, this can feel like admitting defeat. Surely consulting a specialist and getting professional help should be a sign of being a “proper” grown-up? Delegating and making the best use of your time is the key to getting a lot done in Hong Kong, so why not get someone else to make sure your money is doing what you need it to do?

Money isn’t everything but it does help to provide us with the freedom to live the life we want, both now and in the future. Without planning, money is just paper. When properly planned for, our investments can give us freedom in our old age, provide the head start we want to give for our kids and make sure that if something ever goes wrong, we are still able to cope.

81% of people living to the age of 100 are women*, so we have an awful lot of time when we are retired and need to save up for this eventuality. We cannot afford to mess this up.

So, starting small…where do you want to be a year from today? What do you want to achieve financially over the next 12 months, and how are you going to make a change today to ensure that happens?

  • Break the jargon and end the taboos Don’t be afraid to have conversations with friends and family about money. If you don’t understand the jargon used, then challenge it and encourage conversations in plain language. It’s your money and you are responsible for understanding it. There is no such thing as asking a silly question.

  • Plan early and review often Early planning allows your investments to benefit from compound interest and the sooner you start, the better. It is vital that you regularly review your goals and objectives to ensure that your plan keeps evolving.

  • Speak to an expert Building a plan which takes into account every element of your financial life can be daunting. A good financial advisor should be able to make you feel at ease and listen to what you are saying. As a financial advisor, it is my role to look at the full picture and work with you to achieve your goals.

To help you prepare for any meeting with an expert, click here to download and print this checklist for your finances. It will provide a good overview so that you can clearly see what you have, which will help form the basis of your discussion.

The value of an investment with St. James’s Place will be directly linked to the performance of the funds selected and may fall as well as rise. You may get back less than you invested.

*Merrill Lynch and Age Wave, 2018, out of 3,707 respondents, including 2,638 women and 1,069 men

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