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Understanding Financial Planning

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Ė Lao-tzu

A life without goals is really not worthy.

Goals may include worldly things like buying a home, saving for your childís education or marriage or planning for retirement or even planning a vacation. In order to accomplish these goals, a proper planning and management of your money is required.

Thus Financial planning is the process of meeting your life goals through proper management of your finances.


Globally, money environment has witnessed a sea change in the last few years. Gone are the days when there were limited investment options and investors did not have much to plan on their investments and generally, bank managers, accountants, share broker and insurance agents generally provided advice on investment to individuals. Most of it is restricted to recommending you one particular product, more often from their own parent company or is guided by their targets or commission.

But now we have multiple choices. This has added complexity to the decision-making process about our money. And thus more and more people are now turning to professional financial planner for a comprehensive roadmap on money planning to achieve their money goals, in essence, assist them to make informed decisions about their money and how it can be used to best advantage.

An Effective Financial Planning needs following approach :

  • Set measurable goals
  • Understand the effect your financial decisions have on other financial issues
  • Re-evaluate your financial plan periodically
  • Start now Ė donít assume financial planning is for when you get older
  • Start with what youíve got Ė donít assume financial planning is only for the wealthy
  • Look at the big picture Ė Financial planning is more than just retirement planning or tax planning
  • Donít confuse financial planning with investing
  • Donít expect unrealistic returns on investments
  • Donít wait until a money crisis to begin financial Planning

Understanding Investment Planning

"Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty." - (Proverb)

  • What rate of return do you need to meet your goals?
  • Are your current investments achieving the return?
  • What is the best asset allocation (Mutual Fund, FD's, Bullion, Cash, Insurance, PF, Bonds, Property etc.) suited to your profile?
  • What investments opportunities do you use to implement that asset mix?
  • What shall be the best Mutual Fund, FD, Insurance and other such investments are suited to your needs?

There is no definite answer to all these. It all depends on person to person. You may have a different risk profile, life goals, time horizon, and current portfolio than your colleague. Then their are macro and micro economic factors. Past performances and strengths of the investment opportunities in question is also very important. A number of statistical tools, such as Sharpe ratio and Standard deviations are used to evaluate their past performances.


Understanding Insurance Planning

"You don't need to pray to God any more when there are storms in the sky, but you do have to be insured." (Bertolt Brecht)

Insurance !! Who Needs it, Anyway?

You might. As a matter of fact, you do. And it doesnít cost much.

Let's start with life insurance. Life is full of uncertainty. And with uncertainties comes a lot of risk. And despite of what we may think we never know when death may happen and what hardships our family may have to face as its aftermath. Same may hold true for our medical, accidental and other such uncertainties. Different people buy life insurance for different reasons, but most of us have a need for it at some point in our lives.


The type we need, the amount we need, and the reasons why we need it may change; but it definitely plays a vital role in most financial plans.

Here are some reasons why people purchase life insurance:

  • To Pay off debts

    Life insurance can be an inexpensive way to make sure there is ready cash to cover any financial obligations (Loans etc.) you leave behind.

  • Replace your income for your family

    It helps to cover the uncertainties in our life. It helps your Children to complete their education, your wife to take care of the household expenses, your dependant parents to live their life comfortably in case you are not with them.

  • Tax planning ( u/s 80 C )

    Many people use life insurance as part of tax planning strategy designed to potentially reduce taxes.

One must choose his insurance plan with utmost care. The types of Insurance policies include:

  • Term Insurance
  • Endowment
  • Whole Life Insurance
  • Medical Insurance (Regular)
  • Critical Illness
  • Accidental and Permanent Disability
  • Key Person Insurance
  • Employee Benefit

Other Key Insurance requirement includes :

  • Car Insurance
  • House Insurance
  • Factory Insurance
  • Travel Insurance
  • Professional Indemnity
  • Lifestyle Insurance

Understanding Retirement Planning

"The question isn't at what age I want to retire, it's at what income." - (George Foreman)

Despite all the current upheaval (from economic to environmental), people donít seem terribly concerned about their retirement. Old Age typically brings

  • Income Insecurity
  • Over dependency on Children
  • Medical Expenses
How are we going to live our life after retirement

Do you know what shall be the future value of your expenses? And till what time your current savings will last. Let's start tackling the how of retirement planning by asking the No.1 retirement question: "How much money do I need at the time of my retirementíí ?

The answer to this question contains some good news and some bad news. First, the bad news: There really is no single number that would guarantee everyone an adequate retirement. It depends on many factors, including your desired standard of living, your expenses (including any medical costs) and your target retirement age.

Now for the good news: It's entirely possible to determine a reasonable number for your own retirement needs. All it involves is answering a few questions and doing some number crunching. Providing you plan ahead and estimate on the conservative side, it's entirely possible for you to accumulate a nest egg sufficient to last you through your golden years.

There are several key tasks you need to complete before you can determine what size of nest egg you'll need in order to fund your retirement. These include the following:

Decide the age at which you want to retire.
  • Decide the annual income you'll need for your retirement years. It may be wise to estimate on the high end for this number. Generally speaking, it's reasonable to assume you'll need about 70%-80% of your current annual salary in order to maintain same standard of living.
Determine a realistic annualized real rate of return (net of inflation) on your investments.
  • A realistic rate of return would be in the range of 8 -14%, depending on the portfolio. Again, estimate on the low end to be on the safe side.
If you have a company pension plan, or have an annuity plan obtain an estimate of its value from your plan provider.

Understanding Tax Planning

"In this world, nothing is certain but death and taxes." - Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

Tax Planning essentially means using a strategy to either reduce or shift your current tax liabilities. Even Government allows and encourages tax saving to us. Tax planning saves you your hard earned money. And avoids last minute rush to put your money into investments such as u/s 80C. And other sections also you ample opportunity to save you your taxes.

There are investments that are totally exempted from Tax on their profit. And some get concessional tax treatment, which means they are taxed at a lower rate. It also benefits if you meticulously define out in whose name in the family to invest, so as to reduce the tax liability, if any. A salaried person can also reduce Tax liability by various means. Let's look at some of the tax saving instruments :

U/s 80C

  • Public Provident Fund. Maximum amount is s. 70000/- in a year
  • Employee Provident Fund
  • National Saving Certificates
  • Kisan Vikas Patra
  • Insurance Policies
  • ELSS
  • Tax saving FDs
  • New pension schemes
  • Senior citizen saving scheme
  • Children Tuition fee
  • Repayment of housing loan (Principal)

U/s 80CCF

  • Specified Infrastructure bonds upto Rs. 20000/-

U/s 80D

  • Premium paid for health insurance (mediclaim policies) for individual Rs. 15000/- and another Rs. 20000/- if paid for parents who are senior citizens

U/s 80DD

  • Expenditure on handicapped dependents from Rs. 50000/- to Rs. 100000/- depending on the severity

U/s 80DDB

  • Expenditure incurred on specified diseases or ailments

U/s 80E

  • Interest paid on higher education loan

U/S 24(1)(Vi)

  • Interest paid on housing loans

Understanding Estate Planning

Estate Planning essentially includes having a succession plan in place, so that your dependents, other family members and the people you love must know how your assets be distributed in an unfortunate event of you being no more in this world. If a person dies without a will or trust, known as dying intestate, he / she generally leaves heirs confused or fighting over who gets what from their assets.

In order to have a prepare a good succession plan, one must consider the following :

  • Decide whether you need will or living trust!
  • Both are part of estate planning. A Will act as a guide on distribution of assets. Living trust is generally safer and let your assets be distributed in a cost effective manner and without the hassle of probate of will. You can have a living trust that allows you manage your assets during your life. And after your demise these assets are then passed on to your beneficiaries. Trusts are more helpful when you have valuable properties and / or a complex successor tree. Having both will and trust is a better idea in certain cases

  • Who shall be the beneficiaries
  •     if your children are minor then who shall be their guardian

  • Who shall be the best person to execute your will or act as successor trustee
  • Assignment of medical power of attorney

You must take inventory of all your assets, which includes your

  • Immovable and movable property
  • Financial assets such as shares, bonds, insurance policies
  • Business interests

After you have taken the stock of all your assets, name the beneficiaries to whom you wish to pass on your assets. You can make changes in your will any time; make sure to add details of the old will to avoid any ambiguity. You must also review your succession plan regularly, especially if you there is a change in your marital status or a new baby is born.