Why we established How to Retire Early
Our philosophy of financial service provision is based on ensuring our clients are rapidly advancing towards their financial and personal goals. This is achieved through creating and implementing a plan that creates efficient use of existing income and assets, with a powerful money management foundation, rapid debt reduction where prudent, habitual wealth accumulation in a easy to manage format plus sensible risk management practices to ensure the plan is as sustainable as possible even in an unfortunate event.
Many of our clients tell us they like the idea of either retiring or having more financial flexibility earlier than the standard age. Basically, most people like the idea of getting to a point where they have no money worries as soon as it is realistically achievable. To encapsulate this goal we chose the name ‘How to Retire Early’.
Meet the Principals
Rolf Latham and Alexander Straker have combined experience in the financial services industry of over 30 years.
Meet the Senior Financial Planner
ALEXANDER STRAKER DIP FS(FP), ADVDIP FS(FP), DIP NLP, B.MUS.ED
Alex has been actively involved with financial markets since the late 90's and working as a Financial Planner since 2005. Alex’s previous roles include Senior Financial Planner & Sales and Marketing Manager for a holistic financial planning firm, Senior Financial Planner for a major accounting firm primarily servicing high net worth clients, Financial Planner for Suncorp bank servicing the Southern Gold Coast and Nth NSW region and in 2012 he was recruited by finance and accounting industry leader Dr Antony Young to become a lecturer for the Diploma of Financial Services subjects. Aside from his Financial Planning skills, Alex also holds a Bachelor of Music, Diploma of Education and Diploma of Neuro-Linguistic Programming.
Alex holds an Advanced Diploma of Financial Services and is authorised and experienced in giving SMSF advice. In 2018 Alex was appointed as a member of the Investment Committee for Ethical Planners. Alex has a strong belief in getting the foundation right and works closely with his clients on developing an efficient structure to maximise the benefits of good money management. He has a strong track record in accelerating clients’ achievement of their life goals such as eliminating debt, creating wealth, protecting the clients’ financial position and ultimately retiring younger with an easy to manage source of passive income plus sound risk management. One of his particular areas of expertise is in sustainable cash flow planning to accelerate debt reduction and maximise wealth creation. Many of Alex’s clients consider him to be more like a ‘Financial Life Coach’ than a traditional Financial Planner.
Over many years Alex has developed a highly sophisticated knowledge of financial markets and is a sought after educator in many facets of financial services. He is active in cash, bonds, property, futures, currencies and stock markets. Alex is regularly invited to provide specialist cash flow based planning and technical analysis coaching at an institutional level plus he teaches market courses and charting skills for individuals through Institute of Financial Education.
What we do
Where are you now?
It is of extreme importance to be clear on what your existing financial position is so an appropriate financial plan can be designed. Detailed information is sought before any planning can get underway and while this is not the most exciting part of the process it is absolutely essential in order to maximise the efficiency of the strategy and achieve the best possible outcomes.
Building a plan together
In order to serve your best interests, we take particular care in establishing what your goals are for the short, medium and long term and why these goals are important. These are not just superficial discussions simply to meet a requirement of our process but real and in depth conversations aiming to truly empower both you and us with a clearer vision of where your life plan is heading and how strategic financial planning can best support the rapid achievement of your goals.
Staying on track together
Financial planning is an ongoing co-operative process and should not be considered as a once only exercise. Reviewing your plan regularly will enable you to fully benefit from changes in circumstances, legislative changes, new strategies becoming available (due to reaching a key age for example) and many other strategic advantages, ongoing planning is a must and will greatly increase the outcomes. An important aspect of this is also to eliminate costly mistakes and manage risks that may emerge as circumstances change. As goals are achieved, new ones will emerge and it is important to adjust the plan accordingly.
Time for a reality check.
Creating and maintaining a highly efficient financial plan including all the elements listed below is a complex, time consuming task and involves a lot of hard work. Without specialist knowledge, guidance and assistance it absolutely impossible to reach your full potential. One bad financial mistake can set you back years. Australia’s financial system, legislation and rules are complex to say the least and even full time financial planning professionals have an ongoing battle keeping up with all the changes.
Paying for high quality help to implement and maintain your own personal financial plan is the smartest thing you can do to improve your rate of progress. The cost of professional financial planning may seem high but the cost of not doing it is much, much higher.
To have a high chance of hitting a target you must first take careful aim. Often the difference between failure and success is clearly defined goals. Goal setting as the essential first step to the realisation (as in to make real) of a well mapped and quantified plan. As goals are achieved, inevitably new ones will emerge and the plan needs to be adjusted accordingly. Ultimately, the aim is to plan to achieve your financial goals in a realistic, planned time frame.
This is the most powerful financial planning tool in existence. Often overlooked or under-rated the household budget is the essential driver of all financial plans. Your financial habits largely dictate whether you will end up in the 1% of the population who retire wealthy or otherwise. In our experience many clients can do a lot better in this area simply by defining their limits more effectively and following a simple process involving correct cash flow management and about 10 minutes homework per month to keep on track. It does not mean skimping and saving and not having a life, it is about taking better control of your money and ensuring the desired long term financial picture is supported by current money habits.
CASH FLOW MANAGEMENT
This refers to how to use your regular income to gain the most possible benefits. It is vital to establish the most effective money management foundation to gain as many strategic advantages as possible. It’s even possible to use the same dollars twice when you know how! Each pay cheque that comes in provides an opportunity to make progress yet for many people the wheels just keep on spinning and the financial vehicle does not seem to budge. Many people are surprised at how small subtle changes can allow far more efficient wealth building while still enjoying the same lifestyle.
Household debt levels have greatly increased in Australia since the 90's. One of the drivers behind this is the property boom which has lead to higher mortgages particularly for those entering the market more recently. Other reasons are the high cost of living and many forms of freely available credit. For many people a high debt level becomes a ball and chain that prevents financial progress. It is crucial to use efficient debt structuring and management to ensure personal debt is constantly being reduced in the most effective way. A special type of debt management plan known as 'debt recycling' can simultaneously build wealth as the personal debt decreases and if implemented correctly will in fact speed up the rate of personal debt reduction over time.
A lot of people could and should be using their Superannuation far more effectively. There are a myriad of strategies revolving around Superannuation including asset allocation, salary sacrifice, risk insurance, wealth accumulation & creation, tax efficient income streaming, pension maximisation, estate planning and in the case of Self-Managed Superannuation Funds, leveraged asset building. The advantages to using Superannuation as one of the main financial vehicles are too numerous to mention suffice to say that Australian legislation has given favourable treatment for Superannuation money in many different ways. The type of strategy best suited to any individual or couple will largely depend on the clients’ age and circumstances.
Most Australians would never dream of driving an uninsured car or not insuring their home and contents yet many of these same people are living an uninsured life and earning an uninsured income! In our view appropriate personal insurance must be given a higher priority ranking above investing, without appropriate cover the entire financial plan is put at risk of collapse. In an unfortunate serious event such as death, disability or a traumatic illness, being uninsured can cause an enormous amount of undue stress, financial pressure and heartache for family members and often this will lead to serious financial set-backs including loss of the family home and other hard earned assets. Don’t take our word for it, ask someone who has had to make a claim how important it is!
Aside from Superannuation investments, there are often valid reasons to create wealth through direct investment assets. Many clients tell us they like the flexibility and lifestyle benefits of holding some of their wealth building assets directly. There are many important factors when considering investing such as risk tolerance, available asset classes, growth and/or income characteristics, direct vs managed structures, tax implications, potential debt structures, etc. In our view there is a lot of wisdom in using a common sense approach to investing and anything that seems too good to be true probably carries additional risk or could even be an outright scam. Most of the wealth in our society is held in a few traditional asset classes as they have proven over long periods of history to be reliable and enduring.
While tax savings should not be the sole focus of a financial strategy it is certainly a welcome benefit where possible. Through more efficient structuring many clients will save multiple thousands of dollars per annum in tax. If the clients’ have debt the tax savings are paid off the debt to accelerate the debt reduction. If the clients are retired or transitioning to retirement and do not have debt, the tax savings can be used to increase Superannuation or other assets, or simply provide a better lifestyle!
Approximately 50% of the people we see do not have a will in place.
Many of these people have a mortgage and children. Estate planning can also require a more sophisticated legal structure depending on the client's circumstances and needs.
Want to talk?
We would love to hear from you