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5 Steps To Strengthen Your Retirement Planning In The New Normal

By Kian Ng


Retirement planning is an important part of your financial management. Learn how to manage it in the new normal.

“Have you ever thought of starting your own retirement planning?”


This is a popular question we ask of many different individuals at different age groups who have decided to seek advise over financial planning. It is a clear, ultimate goal why people turn to financial planners and seek for their advice and action plans to achieve it.


Of all those who approach us, some may have just started to invest in collective investment schemes like unit trust with different fund houses. Some of them heavily investing in shares market working with their brokers to ride on market appreciation for long term investment. There is a fair share of people investing in property with the intention to collect rental as retirement income. And, there are of course some that have never yet begun taking any action or even thought about doing anything on their retirement planning as they think they are still young, and they think retirement planning is too early to do so at this point of time.


For those who has started to plan for their retirement, i.e. on their own or working with a Licensed Financial Planner. It is advisable to do an annual review on your retirement planning. This is due to life stage changes; for example, one may have gotten a new born baby in that particular 1 year and this might affect the monthly expenses and impacted the retirement needs overall. The situation where government imposed new rules due to pandemic like what happened in early 2020, may have impact to income, hence affecting the retirement planning in total so a review may be necessary to include these adjustments.


It has been a hot discussion on how people can adapt to the new normal as most of our daily routines has been changed drastically after March 2020. It has big impact on how day-to-day businesses are conducted to ensure individual and community welfare. As a responsible person who have kicked start certain planning like retirement planning, these are the time to relook on how to strengthen your retirement planning in the new normal.


Here are some tips to improve your retirement planning in the new normal.


#1. Review Your Retirement Goals


For those who have started their retirement planning, you are advised to study your retirement goals. People may pessimistically put a nice figure as their retirement fund. You need to be realistic with the new normal by asking yourself these few questions:

  1. How will the new normal affect your current/future income?

  2. Will you be the first group of people to be affected?

  3. How flexible are your current retirement plans?

  4. Do you have any alternative plans other than the primary?

It is time to relook at your own career path and go detailed into your specialization and competency level. How badly your company needs you in this current position or can you be replaced easily by technology? Some may start to look at career change and become self-employed rather than under employment. Your answers would tell you how secure of your future income to ensure you can achieve your retirement needs.


How about those who have kicked start their retirement planning with just a singular income stream. Therefore, it is time to review the retirement journey to have alternative plans to the new normal. To ensure your plan is achievable, realistic goals based on current scenario is important as adjustment still can be made before it is too late.


#2. Reconsider Your Incomes VS Expenses


After reviewing your retirement goals, you need to look at your cash flow. In general, most income earners are affected due to new government policies. Therefore, it is time to reconsider the monthly income and expenses patterns to suit to the new normal. Some companies may look at slashing the salary for some of their staffs, reducing manpower in daily operation and make changes to their forecast profit and loss statement, what can you do when the tsunami of retrenchment comes to you. There are a few scenarios that we could probably look into as references.


For those whose income are not affected, it is advisable to relook at want VS needs. This group of people likely living in a more comfortable lifestyle compared to others. However, careful consideration must be prioritized to the basic needs and not spending excessively as online shopping are the most popular channel of shopping for the new normal. This can be done by either your credit card statement, bank statements or bills. Any saving shall be kept aside for rainy days and retirement planning.


What about those who are heavily affected? This group of income earner must identify the basic needs and other financial commitment with the inflow. They might need to make adjustment to their lifestyle, and it should not totally give up retirement saving or investment but making minor adjustment to expenses. Carefully look at your cash flow together with spouse to plan what need to be kept and what needs to be chucked away.

The scenarios given are examples of how flexibility of your retirement planning to suit to changes in the new normal. The more flexible your retirement planning, you would have peace of mind if you have started your retirement planning.

#3. Communicate With Spouse on Clear Retirement Goals


It is strange yet a norm that most people start to plan for their retirement “alone” without consulting with their spouse. It is often an issue when this scenario happen, as retirement plans turn out to be insufficient to cover retirement in real life due to misguided assumptions or lack of insight into spouse’s life, such as onset of critical illness. This leads to many foregoing retirement in order to continuing to work due to lack of retirement funding.


The new normal does convey a clear message that life is uncertain, and we need to plan ahead. Thus, the involvement of spouse is important not only to understand the goals, but also in planning the journey to retirement with alternatives. It is advisable to plan your retirement together with spouse and try to put in most consideration of possibilities and hiccup in the planning.


We are unsure what will happen tomorrow, but the pandemic has given us an alert how daily conduct must be followed. Losing any partner at this time will have an impact to retirement goals.


#4. Review Rainy Days Funding


It is simple yet important steps to ensure retirement plans is achievable. It is urgent to look at the new normal on how much emergency funding is needed. For those who only save up 3 months emergency funding, it is advisable to increase that to at least 6 months to 1 year. For those who run businesses, sufficient business emergency funding means having enough to keep business rolling. This is to ensure if any new wave of crisis attack, the retirement plans can continue without any interruption.


#5. Review Your Current Retirement Portfolio


While most people are having different approaches to achieve their retirement needs, some may invest in properties, shares market, unit trust, insurance, and even setting up their own business. These retirement portfolios must be reviewed in the new normal. The crisis has big impact to many industries and thus it affects the individual overall planning for retirement. Imagine if you intend to sell your investment properties might not even get any enquiries for buying at this time or for the next 6 months.


Most of the time, people only look at performance of each asset class an forget about the importance of overall portfolio returns over a period of time. The same asset class may not perform well for the next couple of years. No one can play a fortune teller’s role to tell you when the “new normal” will be over.


It is advisable to have a robust investment portfolio to ensure your assets allocation is done correctly according to your risk tolerance. A diversified portfolio consists of all asset classes based on your personal risk profile and constant review on it become extremely critical. Having a diversified investment portfolio able to help take advantage of different market movement in all asset classes which will help you achieve retirement planning.

Conclusion


Managing your finances in the new normal for retirement planning is not much different as how to manage it during any other time. One good thing about the new normal, is that more people are now aware of the importance of managing holistic financial health, which means an overview of cash flow, net worth, financial ratios and all other financial goals rather than just any one part of the above.


For people who has started to plan for their retirement planning, adjustment must be made in overall assets allocation, focus on long term gain instead of short-term profit. Your overall investment portfolio must be able to withstand any shocks and sail to your retirement goals.

What other retirement aspects do you include for review in the new normal? Share with us in the comments section below.

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