Planning Tools and Resources.
Where the Institutional investors planning process can be complicated, the Individual investors planning process can be easier than one might think.
A good starting point for comprehensive financial planning work for the Individual investor is online retirement calculators. For sure, they are built to be general in nature and to have wide applicability so, at best, they are blunt instruments. Consequently, they are seldom ‘the’ answer. But they are a starting point for planning that then allows the Individual investor to determine where they are today and do some testing what the future might look like (financially anyway) given uncertain assumptions. The investor can evaluate multiple portfolio outcomes across different time horizons and given a wide range of scenarios. What if I increase or decrease savings? What if I retire earlier or later? What if I increase or reduce retirement income?
Any one of these tools below will leave most Investors better off than having no plan(s) at all. (Or, at least, more informed. For example, when preparing a budget, you may be surprised at where the money goes – ‘I’m spending how much a year at Starbucks’)?
Use of more than one tool will capture the full financial snapshot and also ensure a range of potential outcomes.
Planning Tools & Resources.
One of the best references’s for comprehensive financial planning is the Institute of Advanced Financial Planners. At the same link there is a ‘Value of Planning’ study available for download. Of particular interest to Investors will be the IAFP / R.F.P. planning guide. (Note: the Registered Financial Planner (RFP) is distinct from the Certified Financial Planner (CFP). Disclosure: I gave up my CFP designation and disassociated myself from an organization that, I felt, promoted product-based advising and whose members benefited from commissions-based compensation).
A good place to start planning is sometimes the family budget. The exercise is worthwhile. It’s your stake in the ground. I.e. what are we dealing with? There must be ‘000s of free templates online. Also check out the Consumer Reports’ money blog for a review of both downloadable and online personal finance software.
For a ‘simple’ retirement income calculator try: bankrate.com
For a ‘comprehensive’ retirement income calculation which includes CPP & OAS in combination with the investors other savings try Service Canada
B.C. Securities commission, Investor education guides are available at InvestRight.org
Investors looking to gauge their risk tolerance can make use of the questionnaire at FinaMetrica
There are many samples of Investment Policy on the web. Use the publications at the Pension Investment Assoc. of Canada site for a reasonableness check. PIAC. Also use the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) website resources.
Readers will no doubt have seen Moshe Milevsky quoted in print. His web site has some more complex calculators for nearly everything and everyone.
Caveat: I don’t think a plan can be prepared ‘for’ you. I think the Individual investor has to be involved in the process. Otherwise, any plan is likely to be generic and, well, a commodity with the broadest applicability. It will never be ‘your’ plan. And the outcome is likely to be generic and non-specific.
Still Hate Planning? Is there a shortcut?
Doug Cronk, CFA is Manager, Investments for a Canadian Pension fund.