Archives For Personal Financial Planning

Happy New Year!

So, here we are in 2018 and you have been thinking about your personal goals for the next 12 months. Whether you’ve been in Dubai 1 year or 10 it is a useful time to take stock of your progress towards your longer term targets. So what should be on your financial check list?

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Let me dispel a misconception: financial advice is not free. Just because you don’t hand over a cheque, does not mean you are not paying. This post is designed to ensure you are better informed of the issues next time you decided to take advice. It will also help you determine the best payment method for you.

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Hopefully you have managed to enjoy some of the Rio Olympic Games. The tremendous effort of thousands of athletes competing over two weeks is a marvellous spectacle. Of course, we all know the years of training it takes just to compete at this level. Many Olympians have full time jobs outside of their sport as well as families which makes their achievements all the more outstanding. There is not a single competitor who got there by chance. They had a plan and stuck to it. Where others saw reasons to give up, they saw challenges to be overcome.

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An average person spends about a third of their lives growing up and reaching a state of independence. About another third working and accumulating assets and the final third using those assets to fund their retirement. The method of accumulating assets in your working life is an important factor, so here are three ways to supercharge your savings:

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After my last post I received some feedback about planning in a general sense, so this time I have provided some thoughts which I hope you will find helpful.  Continue Reading…

How To Plan


This week I look at financial planning and will offer  you some guidance on what you should consider when planning your future. To plan for any event such as retirement, for example, you need to consider the following:

  1. What resources do I have?
  2. Where do I want to be?
  3. When do I want to be there?
  4. Are my objectives realistic?
  5. Review

The first point is probably the easiest. A summary of your assets and liabilities as well as a detailed understanding of your income and expenditure will give you a clear picture of what resources you have available to you. In financial planning this one of the first things a financial planner will do when he meets with a new client.

Having established the current position it is necessary to know where we want to go – your financial and investment objectives. One of the problems many people have with financial planning is that it is a long process often covering decades, and, if we are honest: not very exciting. However, the end result, the reasons you make the sacrifices today are necessary, and should be personally rewarding. Having a clear vision of where you want to be and what you want to be doing is essential, as it is this picture which will keep you on course, and help you main investment discipline during your many years of investing for your future.

Failure to spend enough time on this section will result in you financially ambling from one idea to the next without any real direction, or worse still – failing to plan. Everyone’s vision is different but you need to make it as real as possible. Some people are better with pictures and others with words. You will probably know which suits you best. If it is pictures, have photos around the house or on your phone to remind you why you are making the investment. If you prefer words, write out a detailed description of your future and read it when you feel your commitment waning.

Having a timescale or investment horizon is equally important. Just as it is possible to drift away from an objective in physical terms it is also possible to let it slide in time. Putting the decision off ‘just one more month’ may not harm, but suddenly five years has gone by and you still have not done anything. This makes catching up very hard. Another common mistake is to skip payments if there were particularly high bills or a holiday one month. Your ‘future self’ will not thank you as this will further delay the long awaited day when the fruits of your labour will be harvested.

So, you have nothing in the bank, you are heavily in debt and you want to retire next year at the age of 45 with an annual income of £500,000. Yes, we are on section 4 – are the plans realistic. If after doing the sums you find you have no spare income and you need to save a lot of money, something has to give. It may be that some of the choices you make to enjoy today need to be deferred to tomorrow (i.e. cut down on current expenditure) and you may also need to trim back your goals to match your resources. Finding the balance between today’s and tomorrow’s needs is tricky. Often people completely under estimate their needs in the future. Could you afford to live on the amount you are currently saving for your future?

The final part of the process is to regularly review your planning to make sure it remains relevant. Your life circumstances are unlikely to remain the same as you age. Simply starting planning then forgetting about it is not an option. By reviewing regularly (two or three times a year) any adjustments will be small and incremental, thereby making them easier to manage. A review every five years could mean you have been off course for a long time and changes may be dramatic and hard to accommodate.

I hope the above is useful. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

School Fees


Now the children are all back at school I thought it would be topical to look at school fees planning. There are now more than 500,000 pupils attending fee paying schools in UK. Based on the latest census published by Independent Schools Council which represents over 1,200 schools in UK. There are more than 70,000 boarding, many with their parents abroad.

Why are more people sending their children to a fee paying school and more specifically: what is the attraction of boarding school and what financial costs are involved?

Smaller class sizes and better average results are often cited as reasons for sending children to fee paying schools. However not every jurisdiction in which expatriates live allow children access to free education. Historically, expatriates in the UAE would only stay for a few years. Therefore, if their children lived with them they would want them to continue to study the curriculum of their home country. Consequently, when the posting came to an end the student would not be disadvantaged on return to their home country. In UAE especially, there are a very wide range of different schools available teaching many different curricula. Those longer term expats who have careers that span the globe with a few years in each location often prefer to put their children in boarding school in their home country. This provides an element of stability particularly during senior school when important examinations need to be taken. There is also a school of thought which believes growing up in UAE does not expose children to the ‘real world’ and they may feel they lack cultural roots. The view here being: a few years in their home country in a boarding school can help ‘ground’ children in reality and teach independence.

Whilst significant variations occur throughout the UK, the Independent Schools Council census for 2015 states average day student pays around £12,900 per annum, about AED75,000 at current exchange rates. Those students who are on a full board basis pay an average £30,000 per annum, about AED172,500. Last year fees increased by 3.5% which is the lowest increase in more than 20 years but still significantly ahead of UK inflation over the same period.

Most parents must plan for many years in advance of sending their child to a boarding school. Whilst bursaries do exist it would not be prudent to assume qualification and they rarely cover all costs.

If your son or daughter has just been born and you would like them to attend a fee paying school in UK on a full board basis starting when they are 11 and finishing when they are 18 you should start saving now. Making a judgement about how much to save means estimating rates of investment return, exchange rates, starting capital, inflation, product charges as well as your view on risk and reward, budget and more. All of these things may change over time. At present assuming no starting capital, I estimate you will need to save between £1,100 and £1,600 per month from now until your son or daughter leaves school. Then there are university costs…

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.