Tag - Financial Planning

November 2012

Life Cycle ~ Wealth Cycle & Financial Planning

Life Cycle ,Wealth Cycle ,Financial Planning, Wealth Management, Investments, Insurance, Accumulation Phase, Distribution Phase,

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Many people take no care of their money till they come nearly to the end of it, and others do just the same with their time.  – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Financial planning, thus,  is not exclusively about retirement planning or investing or even portfolio management. If distilled to its purest elements, this discipline is more accurately understood as one that involves applying guiding principles to deal with the past, present and future finances. 

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

It is useful to have a perspective on the life cycle and wealth cycle which you are in before going in for investing for a secure financial future. Understanding Life Cycle and Wealth Cycle is one way to become a informed investor.

These are the normal life cycle stages that people go through, viz.:

Childhood

During this stage, focus is on education in most cases. Children are dependents, rather than earning members. Pocket money, cash gifts and scholarships are potential sources of income during this phase. Parents and seniors need to groom children to imbibe the virtues of savings, balance and prudence. Values imbibed during this phase set the foundation of their life in future.

Young Unmarried

The earning years start here. A few get on to high-paying salaries early in their career. Others toil their way upwards. Either way, the person needs to get into the habit of saving. The fortunate few who start off well have to avoid falling into the trap of unsustainable life styles.

Equity SIPs and Whole-life insurance plans are great ways to force the young unmarried into the habit of regular savings, rather than lavish the money away.

This is the right age to start investing in equity. Personal plans on marriage, transportation and residence determine the liquidity needs. People for whom marriage is on the anvil, and those who wish to buy a car / two-wheeler or house may prefer to invest more in relatively liquid investment avenues. Others have the luxury of not having to provide much for liquidity needs. Accordingly, the size of the equity portfolio is determined.

Young Married

A cushion of assets created during the early earning years can be a huge confidence booster while taking up the responsibilities associated with marriage.

Where both spouses have decent jobs, life can be financially comfortable. They can plan where to stay in / buy a house, based on job imperatives, life style aspirations and personal comfort. Insurance is required, but not so critical.

Where only one spouse is working, life insurance to provide for contingencies associated with the earning spouse are absolutely critical. In case the earning spouse is not so well placed, ability to pay insurance premia can be an issue, competing with other basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. Term insurance (where premium is lower) possibilities have to be seriously explored and locked into.

Depending on the medical coverage provided by the employer/s, health insurance policy cover too should be planned. Even where the employer provides medical coverage, it would be useful to start a low value health insurance policy, to provide for situations when an earning member may quit a job and take up another after a break. Further, starting a health insurance policy earlier and not having to make a claim against it for a few years, is the best antidote to the possibility of insurance companies rejecting future insurance claims / coverage on account of what they call “pre- existing illness”.

While buying an insurance policy, there has to be clarity on whether it is a cashless policy i.e. a policy where the insurance company directly pays for any hospitalization expenses. In other policies, the policy-holder has to bear the expense first and then claim re-imbursement from the insurer. This increases the liquidity provisions that need to be made for contingencies.

All family members need to know what is covered and what is not covered in the policy, any approved or black listed health services provider, and the documentation and processes that need to be followed to recover money from the insurer. Many insurance companies have outsourced the claim settlement process. In such cases, the outsourced service provider, and not the insurer, would be the touch point for processing claims.

Married with Young Children

Insurance needs – both life and health – increase with every child. The financial planner is well placed to advise on a level of insurance cover, and mix of policies that would help the family maintain their life style in the event of any contingency.

Expenses for education right from pre-school to normal schooling to higher education is growing much faster than regular inflation. Adequate investments are required to cover this.

Married with Older Children

The costs associated with helping the children settle i.e. cost of housing, marriage etc are shooting up. If investments in growth assets like shares and real estate, are started early in life, and maintained, it would help ensure that the children enjoy the same life style, when they set up their independent families.

Pre-Retirement

By this stage, the children should have started earning and contributing to the family expenses. Further, any loans taken for purchase of house or car, or education of children should have been extinguished. The family ought to plan for their retirement – what kind of lifestyle to lead, and how those regular expenses will be met.

Retirement

At this stage, the family should have adequate corpus, the interest on which should help meet regular expenses. The need to dip into capital should come up only for contingencies – not to meet regular expenses.

The availability of any pension income and its coverage (only for the pensioner or extension to family in the event of death of pensioner) will determine the corpus requirement.

Besides the corpus of debt assets to cover regular expenses, there should also be some growth assets like shares, to protect the family from inflation during the retirement years. 

Wealth Cycle is an alternate view to look at a person’s profile. The stages in the Wealth Cycle are: 

Accumulation

This is the stage when the investor gets to build his wealth. It covers the earning years of the investor i.e. the phases of the life cycle from Young Unmarried to Pre-Retirement.

Transition

Transition is a phase when financial goals are in the horizon. E.g. house to be purchased, children’s higher education / marriage approaching etc. Given the impending requirement of funds, investors tend to increase the proportion of their portfolio in liquid assets viz. money in bank, liquid schemes etc.

Inter-Generational Transfer

During this phase, the investor starts thinking about orderly transfer of wealth to the next generation, in the event of death. The financial planner can help the investor understand various inheritance and tax issues, and help in preparing Will and validating various documents and structures related to assets and liabilities of the investor.

It is never too early to plan for all this. Given the consequences of stress faced by most investors, it should ideally not be postponed beyond the age of 50. 

Reaping / Distribution

This is the stage when the investor needs regular money. It is the parallel of retirement phase in the Life Cycle.

Sudden Wealth

Winning lotteries, unexpected inheritance of wealth, unusually high capital gains earned – all these are occasions of sudden wealth, that need to be celebrated. However, given the human nature of frittering away such sudden wealth, the financial planner can channelize the wealth into investments, for the long term benefit of the investor’s family.

In such situations, it is advisable to initially block the money by investing in a liquid scheme. An STP from the liquid schemes into equity schemes will help the long term wealth creation process, if advisable, considering the unique situation of the investor.

Given the change of context, and likely enhancement of life style expectations, a review of the comprehensive financial plan is also advisable in such situations.

Understanding of both life cycle and wealth cycle is helpful. However, one must keep in mind that each investor may have different needs and unique situations; the recommendations may be different for different investors even within the same life cycle or wealth cycle stages.  (~source NISM)

October 2012

What are Model Portfolios ~ A Financial Planner Tool

Model Portfolios, Strategic Asset Allocation, Tactical Asset Allocation, Financial Planner, Financial Planning, Equity, Debt, Gold, Real Estate.

Model Portfolios

Since investors’ risk appetites vary, a single portfolio cannot be suggested for all. Financial planners often work with model portfolios – the asset allocation mix that is most appropriate for different risk appetite levels. The list of model portfolios, for example, might read something like this:

Young call centre / BPO employee with no dependents

50% diversified equity schemes (preferably through SIP); 20% sector funds; 10% gold ETF, 10% diversified debt fund, 10% liquid schemes.

Young married single income family with two school going kids

35% diversified equity schemes; 10% sector funds; 15% gold ETF, 30% diversified debt fund, 10% liquid schemes.

Single income family with grown up children who are yet to settle down

35% diversified equity schemes; 15% gold ETF, 15% gilt fund, 15% diversified debt fund, 20% liquid schemes.

Couple in their seventies, with no immediate family support

15% diversified equity index scheme; 10% gold ETF, 30% gilt fund, 30% diversified debt fund, 15% liquid schemes.

Please note that these percentages are illustrative and subjective. The critical point is that your financial planner should have a model portfolio for every distinct client profile. This is then tweaked around based on specific investor information.

Thus, a couple in their seventies, with no immediate family support but very sound physically and mentally, and a large investible corpus might be advised the following portfolio, as compared with the previous model portfolio.

20% diversified equity scheme; 10% diversified equity index scheme; 10% gold ETF, 25% gilt fund, 25% diversified debt fund, 10% liquid schemes.

Within each of these scheme categories, specific schemes and options can be identified. So next time when you sit with your financial planner, don’t catch whatever advise gets thrown at you ~ Question him about the model portfolios in his toolkit and the reasons behind them.

It will help you develop a sustainable financial plan

How are Mutual Fund Gains Taxed?

Capital Gains Tax, Equity Mutual Funds, Debt Mutual Funds, Indexation Benefits, FMP's, Balanced Mutual Funds.

Capital Gain is the difference between sale price and acquisition cost of the investment. Since mutual funds are exempt from tax, the schemes do not pay a tax on the capital gains they earn.

Investors in mutual fund schemes however need to pay a tax on their capital gains as follows:

Equity-oriented schemes

– Nil – on Long Term Capital Gains (i.e. if investment was held for more than a year) arising out of transactions, where STT has been paid

– 15% plus surcharge plus education cess – on Short Term Capital Gains (i.e. if investment was held for 1 year or less) arising out of transactions, where STT has been paid

– Where STT is not paid, the taxation is similar to debt-oriented schemes

Debt-oriented schemes

– Short Term Capital Gains (i.e. if investment was held for 1 year or less) are added to the income of the investor. Thus, they get taxed as per the tax slabs applicable. An investor whose income is above that prescribed for 20% taxation would end up bearing tax at 30%. Investors in lower tax slabs would bear tax at lower rates. Thus, what is applicable is the marginal rate of tax of the investor.

– In the case of Long Term Capital Gain (i.e. if investment was held for more than 1 year), investor pays tax at the lower of the following:

— 10% plus surcharge plus education cess, without indexation

— 20% plus surcharge plus education cess, with indexation

Indexation means that the cost of acquisition is adjusted upwards to reflect the impact of inflation. The government comes out with an index number for every financial year to facilitate this calculation.

For example, if the investor bought units of a debt-oriented mutual fund scheme at Rs 10 and sold them at Rs 15, after a period of over a year. Assume the government’s inflation index number was 400 for the year in which the units were bought; and 440 for the year in which the units were sold. The investor would need to pay tax on the lower of the following:

— 10%, without indexation viz. 10% X (Rs 15 minus Rs 10) i.e. Rs 0.50 per unit

— 20%, with indexation.

Indexed cost of acquisition is Rs 10 X 440 ÷ 400 i.e. Rs11. The capital gains post indexation is Rs 15 minus Rs 11 i.e. Rs 4 per unit. 20% tax on this would mean a tax of Rs 0.80 per unit.The investor would pay the lower of the two taxes i.e. Rs0.50 per unit.

Here’s how different funds are taxed and who should invest in them:

Debt schemes held for short term: If you fall under 10% tax bracket, growth option would be better—as there is no DDT (13.519%). Dividend option is better if an individual falls under higher income brackets (20% or 30% & above) as the DDT is lower. Debt schemes if held for short term ( less than one year), then capital gains tax will added to income and taxed according to the slab.

Debt funds held for long term: If you want to invest in debt schemes for more than a year, growth option is a better choice. In case of debt schemes, long term capital gains are taxed at 10% without indexation and 20% with indexation.

This article – Guide to debt funds & article – Debt funds can prove beneficial from Economic times further articulates the tax advantages & other benefits of investing in debt funds. 

Source : NISM

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