Miles Gooseman

The magnificent 7 tips of financial planning for Singapore expats


Retirement can be a bit like the Wild West so to be safe and comfortable in your golden years you will need to prepare and practice like the Gunslingers of old. Starting early and having a solid but flexible plan will be critical.

A person’s financial life can be broken into two distinct phases: the accumulation phase and the distribution phase. The working life is where wealth is earned (accumulated). The distribution phase is where plans are put in place in how and when to spend.

This is the phase most expats in Singapore get wrong. In many cases too much money is distributed for spending during the working years, leaving way too little for the retirement years. Additionally, distribution of savings in retirement must also be carefully planned as the remaining savings must last until death.

Retirement planning is for everyone and the early the better. Given life’s uncertainty in employment, health and family matters, the earlier one makes a plan and starts putting money aside the more likely a good outcome. The amount of savings is hard to predict but mapping out conservative estimates on investment returns and exceeding your savings targets is a good idea.

So what are the magnificent 7 tips of financial planning and how can they serve your retirement goals?

Continuous Planning: Like any good Gunslinger you will need to continuously plan and ready to change strategy as the environment changes. Getting stuck in one position and not being open to re-evaluating your position and making changes will result in “financial death.” Planning and re-evaluating regularly (at least annually) will offer the best chance to stay alive and thrive in retirement.

Independent Professional Advice is Good Advice: Seeking out and finding professionals in Singapore who can offer advice and offer options will be more than helpful and worth its weight in gold. The financial landscape is ever changing and only the pros who watch it every day can keep on top of how to best maximise returns. Going it alone is like a Cowboy without his Posse.

Tackling Tax: This is yet another area that requires constant monitoring and thought as tax regulations change and those changes can really impact your payout. This should be a big part of you planning as some taxes are assessed at different times so a good plan will minimise impact on payouts.

Be Realistic: Deep thought about how much to spend during the accumulation stage and how to manage the distribution stage will be critical. In many cases unrealistic assumptions on the level of returns on investments as well as the level of capital needed will lead to shortfalls later. Erring on the conservative side on rates of return on investment and saving more can pay out big. When heading into a gunfight it is always better to have too many bullets rather than too few.

Diversified Strategy: Your professional financial advisor in Singapore can help on this but having a diversified plan will serve you well. Different markets will be up and down and over the long haul of planning and saving, diversifying will go a long way to smoothing out the bumps and delivering a solid return. All the best Wild West gangs had a variety of weapons in their arsenal – you will need that in your financial arsenal.

Cash is KING: Having some cash on hand can go a long way in capitalising on new opportunities quickly. Market shifts and unexpected global upheavals can create awesome investing opportunities but in most cases having cash on hand will be needed to take advantage and capitalise. All good Gunslingers have a loaded gun at the ready and so should you.

Lock Your Funds Away: Avoid investments that promising high returns – they generally disappoint. Professional advice can help again in this area as a good diversified mix of investments is the best way to go. Getting you funds away from your day to day spending accounts are a good idea so they are locked away for your future retirement.

The Magnificent 7 tips of financial planning can go a long way to making your retirement what it should be. To avoid walking into a “financial gun fight” unarmed, expats in Singapore need planning, advice and discipline. But with a good mix of these attributes you have a fighting chance of not only surviving but thriving.

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Miles Gooseman

Miles Gooseman

Miles Gooseman's professional experience in the financial industry spans over 13 years. The experiential knowledge that he has garnered as an independent financial consultant specialises in wealth management, tax planning and providing comprehensive report based advice.

Miles is Financial Consultant at the Fry Group Singapore, a holistic financial planning service that has been in practise for 117 years. Furthermore, he conducts client seminars and events covering topical subjects that may be of his clients` interest in Singapore.

In 2014, he was awarded the British Chambers of Commerce Young Professional of the Year title at the 15th Annual Business awards. He has also been recognised Singapore's #1 Expatriate Financial Advisor for two consecutive years.

In addition to this, Miles was elected Co-Chairman of the Entrepreneur & Small Business Committee through the British Chamber of Commerce.

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