Striving to live your best financial life

Rosemary Gallagher meets an advisor who believes a good relationship with wise counsel can lead to healthier investment returns
Achieving your financial dreams - Acumen FP (Photo by Ross Johnston/Newsline Media)Achieving your financial dreams - Acumen FP (Photo by Ross Johnston/Newsline Media)
Achieving your financial dreams - Acumen FP (Photo by Ross Johnston/Newsline Media)

While many people decide to get financial advice for a specific reason, such as reviewing their pension or for inheritance tax planning, a less transactional approach has more long-term and holistic benefits, according to experts.

Paul MCabe, a chartered financial planner with Acumen Financial Planning, sees himself as a counsellor who can help clients achieve their dream of “living their best financial life”. He believes regular and in-depth conversations about finance are vital – and more than ever during the current period of economic uncertainty and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

McCabe says: “Many clients will decide they need financial advice but, in my experience, this is likely linked to a transaction or event, such as putting provision in place to protect their family. Where we really add value is helping clients come at financial planning from a different angle.”

He adds: “My passion for financial planning is helping clients lead the financial life they really aspire to. It’s not all about ticking boxes and choosing the most efficient financial products, or focusing on the amount of funds people have under management. Instead, it’s more about getting to things that really inspire clients.

“I enjoy being able to tell people they can go on more holidays or upgrade their car. This makes clients smile, and it therefore makes me smile. Frankly, if people don’t spend their money, they are often creating problems for the future.”

There are many elements and many types of services available from a financial planner, explains McCabe. “A skilled and client-centric planner will help you figure out how to live your best financial life. I see financial planning as a form of counselling. Clients will happily provide us with what we call ‘hard facts’ and this is easily recorded in our fact-find.

“Where our expertise and skill really comes to the fore is in drawing out the ‘soft facts’, and finding out what makes our clients tick. We delve into the dreams and fears of our clients and take what I’d call a psychological approach. It’s people’s hopes and bucket list events that I try to hone in on.”

McCabe says that when clients get to the point of coming to Acumen for advice, they have usually been successful at having built up a comfortable amount of savings during the “accumulation stage” of their lives.

The question they are often looking to have answered is whether they have saved enough to live the financial life that they have looked forward to over the years. And he avoids using the term “retirement” by concentrating on how clients can achieve financial independence. This means they can stop work if they want to, switch to a part-time role, or free up their time to volunteer.

“A picture paints a thousand words, as they say, and the heart of our service revolves around lifestyle financial planning,” explains McCabe. “We use software and technology to carefully build a picture. Then we can really probe and explore what our clients have always wanted to do with their money. It’s quite a thrill when we’re able to guide a client to live their best financial life.”

He points out that – as this year has shown – change is always around the corner, and the situation can be unpredictable. He gives the example of the pensions allowance being increased, along with the planned scrapping of the lifetime allowance – measures announced by Westminster in this year’s Spring Budget – that no amount of horizon scanning could have identified.

According to McCabe, financial planning is unquestionably an ongoing process and it is imperative that clients meet with their trusted advisor every year to update their plans, stay up to speed with changes and – most importantly –establish how they will achieve what they want financially in the year ahead.

“I might have a client who wants to visit their children in Australia in a few months time, for example. I’ll look at how they can generate the income from their portfolio to make that happen,” he explains. This approach reflects the fact that Acumen prides itself on offering a tailored, personal service rather than being transactional in nature.

McCabe concludes: “There has always been a lot of noise for clients to cope with and the digital age has amplified this. We are working harder than ever to make sure our clients are reassured and comforted. We are committed to guiding our clients through any choppy waters that come along and keeping them on course.”

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