Tag Archives: insurance

Cash flow makes or breaks your business, so safeguard it!

According to a recent survey by research firm East & Partners for lender Scottish Pacific, nearly 80% of owners of small and medium enterprises said cash flow issues caused them the most sleepless nights.[1]

Which then begs the question, what might you do to improve your cash flow and sleep better at night?  Here are five tips you can take that can help!

1.   Build a cash reserve

We’ve often heard “Cash is King” but the truth is, it’s really Cash Flow!  Cash flow is the true lifeblood of any business. To ensure that it makes, not breaks, your business, it’s important to build a robust cash reserve. This may help you meet your financial obligations in difficult times and allow you to take on opportunities to grow your business.  Sometimes, that’s easier said than done, but worth working towards.

2.   Separate business & personal money

Keep business and personal expenses separate!  It makes it so much easier to understand your business’s cash position at any given point. It also ensures that you don’t use money meant for your business on personal expenses; like that holiday or your mortgage.

3.   Get paid on time

If your business hasn’t been actively pursuing unpaid invoices, you may want to make it a practice – and have a strategy – to regularly chase up payment. Finding ways to encourage prompt payment, such as offering a discount to early payers, can help.

And if that’s something that you find cringe-worthy – outsource it.  Ask your book keeper if they’ll make those calls you hate for you each week to stay on top of things.

4.   Control business costs

Controlling costs might help you to maintain a healthy cash flow. Experts suggest taking stock of your business expenses regularly to identify where you can cut costs without sacrificing growth. This may include reviewing your suppliers and negotiating better rates with them.  Review whether they’re items that you can’t avoid (like taxes) to items that you probably should do (like marketing) to the ones that you can go without (like sponsorship.)  Even if it’s just until things turn around.

5.   Protect your business

By taking out business expenses insurance and/or key person insurance, you may help ensure your business can meet its running costs if you or a key employee is too ill or injured to work. Both insurance plans provide a monthly benefit if you or a key person in your business become incapacitated.  Absolutely vital if there’s key people you just can’t do without!

Work with a professional

Your professional financial adviser tailors insurance plans to your business’s cash flow protection needs, safeguarding what you’ve worked so hard to build.  Is it time you had another look at your strategy?

Note

[1] Scottish Pacific and East & Partners, October 2018, ‘SMEs flag higher revenue growth, but prospects could be dampened by declining property market and cash flow issues,’ accessible at: https://www.scottishpacific.com/media-releases/smes-flag-higher-revenue-growth-but-prospects-could-be-dampened-by-declining-property-market-and-cash-flow-issues

Successful Investor Secrets

The investment world can change dramatically from one month to the next.

These secrets of successful investors never go out of style!

Successful investing can be one of your biggest allies in the quest for long-term financial security. Unfortunately, unsuccessful investing can leave you wishing you’d kept your money in the bank, or under the mattress!

So what are the secrets to making your investments achieve what you want them to?  Here are some of the tactics used by successful investors around the world.

1. Start with a plan

Smart investors don’t just look for ‘good’ investments. They look for investments that will help them achieve specific goals.

Are you interested in income or growth or a combination of both from your funds?

You may be seeking a return above that available on term deposits.  There are other investments such as shares and fixed income, which may generate higher returns than cash over the long term, however, they are usually more volatile too, so investors need to consider both the risk and return components of their portfolio.

2. Diversify

One of the main goals of investing may be to ensure you have a mix of assets that are likely to perform well at different times – helping you survive any downturn in a specific market or industry sector.

While many Australian investors are heavily exposed to Australian shares, a well-diversified portfolio will generally hold assets in each of the major asset classes (e.g. Australian and international shares, property, fixed income and cash)And can drill down further, across sectors and industry types.

Even if you want to stick with just one asset class and be a guru at that, diversification still helps.  e.g. Property: considering where you invest (location! location! location!) along with the type of property (land, residential, commercial or industrial) also can make a difference.

3. Watch costs

It’s easy to get fixated on the returns your investments can generate. But successful investors always keep track of, and seek to minimise, fees and taxes associated with owning them.

A ‘buy and hold’ strategy can help avoid transaction costs like brokerage, or buy and sell spreads from managed funds. It can also help you reduce capital gains tax, which generally decreases by 50% when you’ve held an asset for over 12 months.

4. Market Timing

Despite periods of significant volatility on a daily basis, over the long term, investments in assets such as Australian or International Shares have generated strong returns.

Holding when everything is going pear shaped is difficult, but you’re more likely to recover stronger then pulling out and trying to work out when to get back in.

5. Don’t panic!

When share markets retreat (which they inevitably do), smart investors don’t hit the panic button and sell long-term investments based on short term volatility – this is made easier by following Step 1 “Start with a Plan”.

Instead, if you continue to invest during a market downturn, you may be able to buy high-quality investments at a lower price than you could if you waited for markets to recover.

Following the GFC or Global Recession, when the stock market bottomed in early 2009, many investors sold out of equities and held large proportions of cash in their portfolios. The opportunity cost of this decision has meant that some investors have missed a significant rally over the past decade.

6. Protect your assets

Even a carefully constructed investment strategy can come unstuck if you need access to your money in an emergency.

A smart strategy is to ensure you still maintain a sizeable cash reserve (even if it’s offsetting your mortgage), and put in place appropriate risk mitigation insurance plans such as income, TPD and life insurance. Having appropriate insurances in place can help prevent the need for a ‘fire sale’ of your investments if you suffer a serious illness or accident.

Tip: Income protection typically replaces up to 75% of your income if you can’t work due to an illness or accident. 

Here’s why you need income protection

Your ability to earn an income is usually one of your biggest assets, so why not protect it?

Income Prot

A sudden illness or injury can keep you from working and leave you in financial difficulty. You may get help from a worker’s compensation payout or personal savings, but are they enough to help you meet your expenses and financial obligations?

Taking out an income protection (IP) plan may help provide peace of mind that you’ll be able to meet your financial responsibilities and focus on recovering. IP cover may provide a monthly income while you’re unable to work as a result of illness or injury. It generally replaces up to 75 per cent of your income for a set period of time.

Standalone or through super?

Getting your IP cover through your superannuation fund may be a good idea if you want to avoid paying for your insurance out of pocket. But keep in mind that the policies offered through super may not cover all your financial obligations for an extended period of time.

A standalone IP policy may provide more adequate coverage. It may also offer you tax benefits – IP premiums are usually tax deductible when you fund your cover outside super.

Making your policy affordable

If cost is a concern in taking out a standalone plan, there are a few ways you may be able to make your premiums more affordable. One of them could be choosing a longer waiting period before you receive benefits after being unable to work due to illness or injury. Generally, the longer you wait, the lower the premiums you have to pay.

Opting for indemnity cover may also help you keep your insurance costs down. You’ll have to choose between indemnity and agreed-value cover for your IP plan. Under an indemnity policy, your insurer bases the monthly benefit you would be paid on your income at the time you make a claim. For an agreed-value policy, the benefit is based on your income when you apply for coverage. Premiums for indemnity cover are usually lower than for an agreed value policy.

But indemnity policies may vary among providers, so speak to your adviser about which cover may suit you. Your adviser may also help you tailor your plan to meet your income protection needs.

Saving for retirement: Hacks for parents with dependents

You can build your retirement savings while supporting your dependants.

Providing for the kids doesn’t have to come at the expense of stashing funds for retirement. There are ways you can build a sufficient nest egg while supporting your children.  And chances are, you’ll be spending a lot longer in retirement than previous generations… who knew?

Saving for retirement

Forced saving can be your best ally in building your retirement fund. Making voluntary contributions to your super through salary sacrifice can seriously boost your nest egg.  You can make concessional super contributions of up to $25,000 each financial year (which includes your employer’s super guarantee contributions.) The government will tax your salary-sacrificed contributions at 15% which may be much lower than your marginal tax rate.

It may also be worth looking at how and where your super fund invests your money. Choosing a different investment option may help you earn better returns and grow your super.  Do you know what your Investor Risk Profile is?  Conservative?  Balanced?  Aggressive?

Super can be a difficult subject to get your head around. Have a chat with your adviser about how you can boost your super by making voluntary contributions or changing your investment options. Your adviser can also knows about retirement saving options beyond super.

Protecting your income

While you’re building your fund for retirement and still supporting those eating you out of house and home, it’s important to protect your current income in case you’re unable to work due to an illness or injury. Taking out income protection insurance is an incredibly wise precaution against any event that can prevent you from working. This policy may provide a monthly income to support you and your family during your recovery and help you stay on track with your financial commitments.  Premiums are tax deductible.  And if you think about it, why wouldn’t you insure your most important asset? – the ability to earn an income!

It’s also crucial to ensure your dependants are looked after if you die or became seriously ill or disabled. Having life insurance, total and permanent disability cover, and trauma insurance can help you protect what’s important to you.

Get advice

Balancing your need to prepare for retirement and your responsibility to your partner and kids can be tough, but keep in mind that help is always available. Speak to your adviser about how you can provide for your dependants while building a nest egg for a comfortable retirement.

Your future self will thank you for it!

Managing the cost of Insurance

You don’t have to cut corners on your insurance or sacrifice the adequacy of your cover to make your policy more affordable.

A necessary evil?  A must have?  Love it or hate it, you’re likely to need insurance in your life!  But how do you get the most bang for your buck?  This article deals with options available for personal insurances like Life and Total & Permanent Disability, Trauma Insurance and Income Protection cover.

Choosing a payment structure

Choosing stepped premiums in the first few years of your life insurance policy may help you keep the cost of cover low in the beginning. Stepped premiums allow you to start paying your insurance at a lower rate, which then rises as you grow older. Your insurer calculates your premiums on each policy anniversary based on your age, and sometimes with CPI too.

You may consider moving to level premiums as you become more capable of paying your insurance. Although they’re more expensive in the beginning than the stepped structure, level premiums generally offer a good long-term savings because premiums are calculated based on your age when you first take out level premiums.

Using your super

Taking out life insurance through your superannuation fund may lower the cost of insurance because premiums may be paid using concessionally taxed contributions paid from your employer or sacrifices into your super. Premiums can be cheaper because super funds bulk buy insurance policies and can negotiate discounts (group insurance.)  Individually, some offer a 15% discount or rebate off premiums due to the concessionally taxed structure of Superannuation.

But keep in mind that super funds may offer limited cover. Talk to your adviser on how to ensure you have enough cover.  And make sure you don’t constantly erode the value of your retirement savings with large premiums.

Waiting for a longer period

When taking out income protection insurance, you can choose a waiting period. The longer you wait before receiving income benefit payments, the lower your premiums.  Make sure you have enough in savings or an offset account to tide you over – and remember, payments are made 30 days in arrears – so a 30 day waiting period may still mean 60 days before you get paid!

You can also choose between an indemnity policy and an agreed value policy. Taking out indemnity cover may help you keep the costs down because premiums are generally lower than those for agreed value cover.

Income protection premiums are usually tax deductible if you fund your cover outside super, helping make this policy affordable. If you pay your insurance through your super, premiums are generally tax deductible to the super fund.

Getting advice

With so much to consider, seeking advice from a professional financial adviser is important to help make insurance affordable – and manageable – for you and your circumstances.  Give us a call if you’d like some help.  07 5593 0855.

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.

Create a great financial new year

New Year’s resolutions are easy to make but often hard to keep. But there are real benefits to making financial resolutions. Here are some helpful suggestions to get you started.

Chances are by now, you’ve forgotten what you wanted to achieve last New Year’s Eve, but a new financial year is also a great time to reset.

Get back to basics

If you find it near-impossible to reach your financial goals, you may need to revisit the basics: sticking to a budget. Does temptation usually unravel all your good saving intentions? Consider opening a locked savings account that you can’t deduct money from for a period of time, and automatically transfer funds into it each payday.  Automating everything in your life that can be is truly a gift!

Plan for large purchases

Whether you need a new fridge or are considering placing a deposit on a home, the earlier you start planning for these purchases, the more manageable they become.

If you know you’ll need a new item in 6 months that costs $1,000,  that means you need to set aside around $40 per week to make it happen… that’s a few sneaky coffees that may need to go!

Set up an investment plan

If you’re considering investing this year (instead of someday,) developing a sound investment plan is essential for your success. This may include working with your financial adviser to identify clear financial targets, calculate how much you can afford to invest and determine how much risk you’re willing to take on. 

If you’d like to have a small nest egg before you sit down with someone, again, automate the process so every week you’re setting aside an amount to put towards that portfolio.  Everyone started somewhere!

Review insurance policies

Knowing you are properly insured provides peace of mind if your circumstances change unexpectedly. But identifying appropriate insurance policies and levels of coverage for your unique situation can be difficult – and getting it wrong is risky… as you’ll likely find at claim time. This is why it’s important to regularly review your insurance policies with your financial adviser, especially if your situation changes.

You may be able to find that funding via various structures frees up cash flow to invest in personal insurances you may not have otherwise been able to afford.  Good advice is worth every cent!

Check your super

If you have multiple superannuation accounts – or have forgotten where your super is – you’re not alone. According to the Australian Taxation Office, there’s $18 billion of lost super waiting to be claimed nationally.1

Effectively managing your super is vital for building your retirement nest egg. Contact your financial adviser who may help you manage your super.  It’s also worth seeing what insurances are covered in your fund so you aren’t paying extra for cover you don’t need.

Set retirement goals

The earlier you set clear goals for your retirement, the more options you’ll have. Work out what assets you have – from your home to superannuation – and review your current spending patterns, then determine your goals for retirement and what lifestyle you’d like to enjoy. This will help you calculate how much you’ll need.

Remember, we’re now living a lot longer, which means our money may now need to last 30 years in retirement, or we may choose to work longer.  Our health is also an issue that needs consideration as we age and this too will impact our retirement years.

Create an estate plan

Estate planning involves more than writing a will. It outlines what you want done with your documents, contacts, debts, bills and assets, making the process easier for your beneficiaries after you’ve passed away.

Whatever your financial New Financial Years’ resolution may be, seeking professional advice may help you make it reality this year.

 

Note:
1 The Sydney Morning Herald, 2017, ‘Almost $18b in lost super waiting to be claimed’. Accessible at:

http://www.smh.com.au/money/super-and-funds/tax-office-holds-records-of-almost-18-billion-in-lost-super-20170920-gylo3z.html