Bruce Wilson is head of wealth management, Helm Godfrey
There is a question that has the capacity to dramatically alter the direction of not only your own life but also those of the people dearest to you. It is probably the most important question we will ever pose because the answer has far reaching and all encompassing ramifications: what do I want to do with my life? Once armed with an answer, the issue is then how do you go about making it a reality. This invariably involves addressing head on the unavoidable issues of access to time and access to money.
Planning how we spend our time and our money creeps into all forms of life plan. A basic understanding of economics, investment and financial planning will all mean that this most important part of our lives is something we approach with a basic understanding and not ignorance. As in all areas of specialism, it is usually best to seek the advice of a professional to guide and advise from a position of independence and objectivity.
Having your family involved in these financial issues makes it easier to get buy in from all parties concerned. Money can cause so much conflict and grief, but if, from the outset, as far as possible each member of the family is brought into the wider picture then many of these issues can be resolved or even avoided. Plans can be made and investments can be agreed upon and understood, which rather than causing conflict can actually bring families together in a common cause.
Being involved in the family finances will vary from family to family and the individuals concerned. However, families can start at a young age teaching the basics of money – its scarcity and value – and the power of compounding interest. Aside from this I believe the sooner families can bring all parties into the discussions of understanding what makes the family business succeed, the issues involved in running a business and the underlying money factory that hold together a company, the better. For some this will mean when they go off to university and start to become independent, while for others they may well need more life experience before they are ready to play their part.
Making finance of interest to the next generation is an issue I believe depends on each individual's own interest in the subject matter. This means families must always go back to what their interests are and how they, and the next generation, want to be remembered for the work they have done. Investment must be seen in this wider context and for many it could well be a whole new business based on their own interests and talents
A holistic approach to wealth management – starting with life planning, continuing through to financial planning, investment planning, which is based on investment risk profiling, and finally tax strategies – can deliver the optimum outcome. Of course, these steps are always more successful when individuals have the understanding and backing of their families. In my experience, no individual is uninterested in how to make their life work better for them, and good financial planning, which starts at home, can be the basis of a more fulfilling life.
The answer you glean from that all important question really can be life changing in all the right ways.