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People tend to think of wealth management as being mostly about making investments, but financial planning is just as important (if not more so). Many of our users begin thinking that investment management advice is all they need, but soon realise they need to form or revise their financial plan first.

The majority of the wealth managers on our panel offer financial planning services so if this sounds like you, you are certainly in the right place.

At heart, financial planning is about helping you achieve a range of financial – and therefore life – goals. These may be long term, like retirement saving, or shorter term, like education funding. Your financial plan underpins why you are investing, how long you invest for and what you invest into. Financial products are just end-results.

The planning process begins with a thorough assessment of your financial position (assets, income and liabilities) and objectives. Then, a route-map for achieving these in your desired time-frames is formulated and put (gradually) into place. The challenge of balancing near and longer-term needs, while also keeping risk and tax at reasonable levels, explains why financial planning really calls for expert advice.

Crucially, financial planning is an ongoing process. Your circumstances – and the financial landscape – will evolve dramatically over time, so you should review your plan at least yearly with someone who knows how to keep it fit for purpose.

Everyone needs a robust financial plan, and those with complex financial affairs even more so. Taking professional advice as early as possible is likely to be your wisest ever move. Ensuring your wealth is working as hard as it possibly can, and that all your savings and investments are pulling in the same direction, will make all the difference. With proper planning, you can look forward to enhanced returns for reduced risk premia, significant tax savings and – perhaps most important of all – true peace of mind.

You shouldn’t haphazardly buy assets without a proper investment strategy and that has to be built on a sound financial plan. We are all investing for specific things so maximise your chances of achieving these goals through proactive planning.