Meet Choo, a student of personal finance and investing. To date, he has accomplished many financial feats as an individual, including money saved, properties purchased, and dividend portfolio built.
Now he is contemplating marriage, and is discovering how different money management can be on a “couples level” compared with an individual level. It’s no longer a sole proprietorship, but a partnership.
There is a mindset shift from “my wants and your wants” to “our shared goals”, which involves more give and take, sacrifices, and investment decisions made together. All these are easier said than done.
So, how can Choo and his significant other go about this harmoniously? One way could be to have a licensed financial planner who can advise and assist them in optimising their finances and elevating their wealth to the next level.
Here are four reasons why a financial planner can be useful.
1. A 50-50 split doesn’t always work
Choo and his partner’s family background and financial statuses are different. Perhaps her income is more fixed, his variable. He might be more frugal, while she might enjoy more indulgences.
Choo could be more intentional and strategic in how he invests, leading to a stronger asset allocation in stocks and real estate. His partner may depend more on her EPF and fixed deposits.
In terms of liabilities, Choo’s debt commitments may be higher, while his spouse may have an outstanding mortgage balance.
With such financial standings, it is impractical to split their finances 50:50. A financial planner can help them review their situation, assess strengths and weaknesses, and share possibilities and responsibilities to maximise wealth, both individually and as a unit.
2. Blind spots
If Choo and his partner can earn and save money by themselves, is there really a need for a financial planner? The answer would still be yes, because financial intelligence involves five practices: to earn, keep, invest, protect, and donate.
Choo and the future Mrs Choo may be good in one, two, or even three areas, but could show weakness in other regards, which could lead them to be less financially stable.
Hence, a professional could study their finances in detail, identify financial blind spots, and offer suggestions on how they could work on them.
Such a study would be comprehensive, covering factors such as cash flow, net worth, debt commitments, investments, taxation, family planning, estate planning, and retirement.
3. Facilitate discussion on key decisions
For some, major conversations like marriage, buying a residence, insurance, and estate planning are easy. But for many couples, they can be tricky as these are serious topics that could impact their financial life significantly.
Usually, such discussions would either devolve into arguments or be avoided altogether. Should the person with the “money” or the “voice” dominate such decisions? In an ideal scenario, neither, as partners should be equal, with stakes and values heard and appreciated by each other.
An experienced financial planner would be able to facilitate such discussions, as he or she is a third party who is less “blinded” and emotional, and more evenly vested in both individuals. He or she may step in with amicable solutions and practical outcomes.
4. Licensed by the SC
Financial planners are required to be licensed under Securities Commission (SC), with their advisory activities approved by Bank Negara. It may not be in one’s best interest to receive advice from non-experts such as friends, family members, colleagues, social media, or other financial sales personnel, as they might not be closely familiar with one’s financial standing.
It would be especially beneficial if your financial planner is married with children, as they could relate more closely to your current and future shared challenges.
This article first appeared in KCLau.com. Ian Tai is a financial content writer, dividend investor, and author of many articles on finance featured on KCLau.com in Malaysia, and ‘Fifth Person’, ‘Value Invest Asia’ and ‘Small Cap Asia’ in Singapore.