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Educate yourself on financial advice

You might be surprised to know, that working out how to achieve your financial goals is easy and you don’t have to earn a high income to do it.

Whether you’re looking to get your financial affairs in order, buy a first or subsequent home, start a family or prepare for your retirement, seeking quality advice from a qualified financial expert can help you achieve your goals sooner, and with more confidence.

So just what is financial advice?

Financial advice is about much more than just making money. It’s about creating new opportunities to help you achieve whatever you desire in life. A financial planner can help work out what’s important to you. They can help develop a plan that aligns your financial decisions to your lifestyle goals.

Priorities can change over time, as can economic conditions, government legislation and investment markets. Advisers can help re-focus your plan, track your progress and keep you accountable along the way, whether you’re starting out, building wealth or planning for retirement.

Seeking financial advice will help you identify solutions to important questions like:

  • Will I have enough income to live comfortably in retirement?
  • Is my family protected should something unexpected happen – what do I need to know about life insurance?
  • How can I make sure I have enough money to fund my children’s education?
  • How can I invest and structure my finances in the most tax effective way?
  • How can I manage my debt and pay off my home sooner?
  • How can I make my money work harder for me?
  • What’s the best structure to protect my investments and assets?
  • How can I maximise my entitlements to government benefits?
  • How does estate planning fit?

At its best, financial advice is an ongoing long-term partnership centered entirely on your goals.

If you’re weighing up whether financial advice is right for you, consider booking an initial complimentary obligation free appointment.  We’d be happy to help!

Are you a Key Person?

Key-person insurance is Protection for your business

How would your organisation cope if something happened to a key person?

Unexpected events can play havoc not only with people’s lives but also with businesses.

However, business owners are often so busy they don’t stop to consider the true cost of the loss of a key employee, business partner or even themselves.  Eeeek!

The knock-on effects may include disruption to other staff, missed opportunities, delays or penalties for late delivery of projects, lost revenue, increased expenses, significant costs to find and train a suitable replacement, loan repayment and even loss of the business.  Ouch!

What is key-person insurance?

Key-person insurance protects a business’s financial position against the significant impact of a traumatic event such as the death or disablement of a key person.

A key person may be an employee, owner or an individual whose contribution to the business is significant.

This cover is not a specific kind of insurance but the application of life insurance to protect against key-person risk. It can be used with buy/sell life insurance (also known as business succession insurance) which covers the change of ownership if an owner dies or becomes incapacitated.

The benefits

Often a cash injection to an affected business may keep a bad situation from becoming worse or even catastrophic. The insurance proceeds may be used to:

  • minimise or eliminate the potential loss of revenue, sales or profits
  • help cover the often significant costs of finding or training a replacement
  • service or repay any debts that are called in
  • cover the impact of a writedown in the goodwill of the business
  • provide needed liquidity
  • help keep staff and maintain essential supplier relationships.

Are there alternatives?

A business may have other strategies to help manage their risks, including asset sales, promoting staff or reallocating workloads even temporarily, using profits, borrowing more, or drawing down existing loan facilities.

However, insurance is the only practical alternative where a business doesn’t have the capacity to cover its risks.

If you want to know more and see if it can apply to your business, why not give me a call? 07 5593 0855.

Protect your assets from expensive mistakes

Protecting yourself from frivolous creditors and lawsuits is becoming an increasingly common concern. Here we outline some of the ways you can insulate your assets.

Check your insurances

Liability insurance is a must if you want to safeguard your assets in the event that you need to pay compensation. Lawsuits can arise for a range of reasons – from personal injury to financial loss resulting from any products or services you provide.

You can choose from three key types of cover – public liability insurance, professional indemnity insurance and product liability insurance. Seek advice from your financial adviser or insurance broker to determine which, if any, of these are suitable for you.

Separate business and personal assets

If you are a business owner and your family home is held in your name, it may be at risk from bankruptcy or litigation procedures.

One way to protect your home is to give majority ownership of the home to a person who is not an owner of the business, typically a spouse. The business owner generally retains some interest in the home, however, to ensure the asset is not dealt with without his or her authority. It is also important that the spouse does not having any dealings in the business, for example guaranteeing loans. You should also know that the trustee in bankruptcy will consider other factors to determine the bankrupt’s interest in the house and if you transfer your home to your spouse for no consideration or for less than its value, before bankruptcy, the trustee in bankruptcy can in some cases reverse the transaction.

Create a trust

Trusts can be beneficial asset protection strategies, as you are transferring ownership of an asset away from yourself and into a legal structure, so the asset is not yours to lose in the event you are sued.

Anthony Lieu, Lawyer at Legal Vision, says trusts also provide a degree of flexibility.

“Just as each family is different, each discretionary or family trust is also different. Trusts generally take their rules and operation from the trust deed, so each trust will have to abide by a different set of rules,” Lieu says.

Summary

Structuring your assets the right way is one of the most important things you can do to protect your hard-earned wealth. As these strategies can be complex, always seek the help of a qualified professional such as your financial planner, lawyer or accountant.

We’d love to assist and can also help you find the right professionals to help.

Where to turn for advice?

Time and again, we hear and see headlines on the latest scams and the heart-breaking journeys of those ripped off.  From a dodgy tradie to those cashing in on the bitcoin boom, scams can come in all shapes and sizes and are getting harder to recognise.  Sometimes, it’s easy to sit back and judge when it’s not us involved and it seems ‘glaringly obvious.’  But for those who got ‘done over’ it’s very real and very painful.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) report that over $5 million per annum is lost to scams, but seeing that many are too ashamed or embarrassed to admit their error, the number is quite likely much higher than that!

So, where to turn?

When we have serious health problems, we head to the doctor or specialist.  A serious legal issue means we call in the lawyers.  We want someone with training, experience and qualifications to assist…, but Aussies, in particular, seem pretty happy to take financial advice from family and friends… or even the hot tip from the cabbie!

Professional advisers, however, are likely to have years of experience and training and can help size up investments in ways that our loved ones, just cant.  We don’t want to get left behind with the latest buzz, but we also don’t want to be caught in the latest get-rich-quick scam iether.

Devoting years to study and having inside knowledge of investments and markets plus hours of ongoing education and professional development, can mean a bonus for you.  A good adviser is a steady hand at the tiller and the calm voice during the storm that can help you stay on track and naviagate the good and bad times.

Planners develop investment strategies based around your personal timesframs and financial goals and help you assess the risk and the return.  They’re the ones who help guarantee a good night’s sleep instead of staring at the ceiling and worrying.

Advisers now are on an ASIC register so you can check them out: Financial Advisers Register.  You can find who they’re licenced through, what they can advise on , their qualifications and training and if any disciplinary actions have been taken against them.

To find out what others think of your adviser or leave feedback yourself, you can now also head to Adviser Ratings to see feedback from both clients and colleagues.  There’s lots of research you can do before getting advice so ensure you interview a few to find the best fit for you.

Your finances will be glad you did!

 

Confronting Child Marriage in Malawi

Part of our visit to Majete 5 involved meeting people in the village who were open enough to share their homes and stories with us.

For some background, for many years, their homes and village formed part of the Majete Game Reserve, and naturally enough for people suffering chronic persistent hunger, the wildlife was viewed as a food source and the trees were cut down to burn and sell the charcoal as an income source.  Over time, this decimated the area until the Government finally decided to partner with private enterprise and re-establish the game reserve to entice tourist dollars back to Malawi.  It was pitched as good for the villages to bring money back to the country, but to those starving, made little sense.

Fencing the entire reserve meant that those living in the Park were forcibly relocated outside of the perimeter and much antagonism arose with the local communities cut off from what they once viewed as their own.

To assist in helping villages find their feet again and look for new sources of income, The Hunger Project was asked to partner with communities around the Reserve and assist with mindset change and leadership.  Education assists in helping find new sources of income and building a better life.

Yet for now, some things remain the same in the villages.

Maxwell (32) and his wife Shiveira (28) welcomed us to their home.  Shiveria was very shy and is currently expecting their 5th child.  Their eldest is now 15 (do the math!) was married at 12 and is a mother herself.  Maxwell told us she wanted to be married and wasn’t forced, but they needed the dowry to be able to eat.  We were witnessing firsthand inter-generational child marriage and teen pregnancy… and it was a little confronting.

I found it difficult to suspend judgement and just listen to the story for what it is seeing it’s so different, unacceptable and unusual in my own culture.  Child marriage however has long been considered normal in the area and no-one raises an eyebrow.The legal age for marriage in Malawi is 18 however child marriage still regularly occurs in the village areas with little to no intervention from the village leaders.

Maxwell’s daughter stopped attending school once having the baby and may never have the opportunity for further education… until The Hunger Project bring their literacy classes to the area.

At home, remain 2 sons and another daughter, plus the baby on the way.  Hopefully by the time their existing daughter is a teenager, the mindset training will be complete and her parents will take part in the Vision, Commitment and Action workshops, educating them with alternate options.

Well, here’s hoping anyway!

“I wonder what are the poor people doing?”

If you’ve ever made that throw away comment whilst floating around a resort pool with a cocktail waiting for you on the side… I can now give you an answer…

For a complete change of pace, we headed to Majete 5.  A new community for The Hunger Project bordering a game reserve in southern Malawi (and yes, it’s the 5th surrounding the reserve.)

This area has been working with The Hunger Project for only a short while on their mindset change, and have just had their first Vision, Commitment, Action (VCA) workshop.  Their communities surround a reserve for tourists, now hosting the Big 5 and was once the source of their food and income.  Now, relocated on the outside of the fence, life is harder than ever before.

This means that what we’re seeing is pretty much real Malawi and the lives people lead faced with chronic, persistent hunger.  Many who are fortunate, eat twice at day.  At the moment, there is no Epicentre building, and the work has just begun.  They are skeptical that any real changes can be made in their lives, resigned to the lives they lead and yet hopeful that change can be made by partnering the THP.

We witnessed history in the making during the morning, when locals expressed their hesitance and reluctance to engage, believing that life had always been ‘this way’ and that it probably always would be.  They were also cautiously optimistic that maybe this time, real change could be made, but hardly convinced.   And before our eyes, after a rousing talk by the THP Director of Malawi Rolands Kaoatcha and THP employee Grace shared their passion, changed their minds, so hopeful for their children, that change was indeed possible.  It made us reflect later on how much our own limiting beliefs keep us imprisoned to the ideas we ‘choose’ to partner with.

Maternal and infant health is a huge issue in the area, with women in labour having to walk for 27kms (around 7 hours+) to the nearest health facility to give birth.  Many are too tired to make the full journey and give birth along the way.  Any complications mean possible death for the mother, infant or both.  To say the tears were flowing on hearing their stories is the understatement of the trip so far.  Knowing that I would have died trying to have my daughter without medical assistance made the stories more poignant for me and we were moved to tears with one man begging for a health service and ambulance for their women during our visit.

We were soon divided into four groups and braved epic Malawian heat as we were each welcomed into the homes for four local families who shared their personal stories with us.  One family married their daughter off at 12 (apparently she was willing) so that the dowry could feed the remaining family for the rest of ‘the hungry season.’  Others shared their stories of love and loss, of saving 10 years for iron sheets for their roofs and their struggle to feed their families at least twice per day.

To not be moved by such every day battles, and put our own ‘first world problems’ into stark perspective, we’d have been heartless indeed to have not been touched.

Malaria is still a huge issue, and the Majete Malaria Project is working in tandem with THP to improve the lives of those in the villages.

Despite the confrontational day we had, we too were optimistic about their future based on the Epicentre we have seen reach self-reliance and knowing that the work ahead can make positive and real change in their lives.

Their vision that their children may one day end up as President, or even doctors or nurses is more possible right now they could ever believe.

My question for myself as I settle in to bed with a full belly tonight is, as ever, “what’s holding me back?”

The Moth and the Cocoon

The Moth and the Cocoon

A man found a cocoon of an emperor moth and he took it home to watch it emerge. On the day a small opening appeared, he sat and watched the moth for several hours as the moth struggled to force its body through that little hole.

Deciding something was wrong, the man took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The moth then emerged easily, but it’s body was swollen and wings small and shrivelled.

The man expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body in its natural beauty, but they do not. Instead of developing into the creature free to fly, the moth spent its life crawling around with a swollen body and shrivelled wings.

The constricting cocoon and the struggle necessary to pass through the tiny opening were God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the moth into its wings. Freedom and flight would only come after the struggle. The merciful snip was, in reality, cruel. Sometimes struggle is exactly what we need in our life.

Author Unknown

This story I first discovered in my handbook for my Business Chicks Leadership & Immersion Program to Uganda with The Hunger Project and I found it really resonated with me.

In the context of this trip, I feel that it relates to the struggle that takes place when The Hunger Project first heads into the villages to meet with the elders and discuss the work they do. For two years they work to create a vision of what is required for that community, with a huge shift in mindset being required.

The local villagers need to take complete ownership of what they’d like to create and THP helps facilitate. To get people to shift from generations of chronic, persistent hunger to believing better things are possible, is monumental, and not embraced by everyone.

Each of the lovely ladies, or Trippers, too on this journey have their own struggles. Each has a unique family, personal or work situation that requires energy and focus.

Like the moth however, we too need to recognise that often freedom and flight will come after the struggle.

A great lesson and really fitting on this journey.