Investing isn’t a sprint; it’s not even a race. Planning and saving for your retirement is more like a marathon. Both require a long-term strategy and ongoing preparation, flexibility and persistence.
Of course, following a plan takes patience, says Peter Nieuwoudt, CFP of Consolidated Wealth: “Any successful athlete will tell you that you don’t become a champion overnight. It takes years of planning and hard work. This same long-term approach should be used when it comes to saving for your retirement. You need to focus on cultivating the discipline and persistence necessary to achieve your financial goals.”
Peter uses the context of marathon running to explain his top five tips for retirement planning:
It starts with a plan
You can’t wake up one day and run a marathon. You need a strategic plan that starts with a realistic assessment of your current fitness as well as your level of commitment. From this, you will compile a training schedule that has measurable benchmarks along the way. Similarly, retirement planning demands a careful look at your wants, needs, aspirations and resources. Using interactive financial modelling, you can stress test the assumptions made in the planning stages and continuously measure the extent of the commitment required.
Work with a coach
Behind every Bruce Fordyce or David Gatebe was a highly qualified coach … encouraging, motivating and constantly reassessing the situation. Your financial advisor is your personal trainer – they see the bigger picture, focus on the long-term goals and do the research. As your needs change and unforeseen circumstances arise, they review your investments to keep you on track.
The all-important timeline
Just as runners have to build up distance over time to avoid injury and fatigue, it’s the same with retirement savings. A timeline lets you break down your savings strategy into components. If you have 25 years until you retire, you may choose to take more risks by venturing into volatile investments. However, if you only have five years left until you retire, you don’t want to take as many risks.
Maintaining a steady pace
In a marathon, pace is everything. The same is true when you are saving for retirement. Start small and as you are promoted and your earnings increase, your savings can also increase, slowly but surely moving you towards the final target. Focus on keeping a steady pace and having a systematic savings plan.
It’s about overall fitness
Training for a marathon requires an all-round approach to fitness. Likewise in the financial arena. Markets can be volatile and past performance is no indicator of future success so to balance out these peaks and troughs, the best approach is to invest in a diversified portfolio.
This is where your financial adviser has the expertise to be your conscience and your guide, so be committed to the process, says Peter.