COVID-19: Why You Need A Financial Plan Now, More Than Ever

“What if” has become “What now”. As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, economies worldwide have slowed significantly as people stay home and businesses close. Many people are worried what this crisis will mean for them financially – some have lost their jobs, others are grappling with huge portfolio losses, and yet others are having to rethink their retirement plans in this uncertain time.

While it is hard to predict the exact financial toll the circuit breaker measures and growing global recession headwinds will take on Singapore’s economy, acting now to protect and position your finances going forward is critical. 

Having a sound financial plan is the first step

A financial plan is essentially a roadmap detailing your current finances, your financial goals and the strategies you’ll use to achieve those goals. A good financial plan starts with the details of your cash flow, savings, debt, investments, insurance and any other elements of your financial life. To help you determine whether your assets will provide the necessary income to fund your goals, your financial plan should also include various projections such as the level of savings required to retire at 55, instead of 65. 

It should contain alternative projections as well, using different rates of return, to account for market ups and downs and its impact on the value of your assets and investments. To cater for these scenarios,your financial plan should then include contingency strategies for when situations like a market downturn become a reality. That’s because the last thing you want is to be in a position where you may be forced to liquidate your investments for cash.

With uncertainty in the air, now is the time to revisit your financial plan with your adviser, or start creating one if you don’t already have a plan. 

A financial plan in minutes with UP 

You can even create one from the comfort of your home. Forget tedious form-filling or complicated calculations and charts. With Up, simply fill out your personal details, financial information, goals (such as buying a property), and let the platform do the necessary calculations and projections. The good thing is that you can easily incorporate relevant Singapore financial data in real time: CPF, SRS, local mortgage rates and inflation rates, for more accurate forecasts. 

Syfe has partnered Up to allow Singaporeans to act seamlessly on the financial plans created as well. You can simulate an investment in a range of diversified portfolios from Syfe through the Up platform and see how they help you to achieve your goals.

Protect your finances during volatile times

Part of having a financial plan in place is setting aside an emergency fund containing at least three to six months of salary to tide you through rainy days. Ideally, your emergency fund should be kept as cash so there is no need to prematurely draw down on your investments to fund daily needs. 

If you’re invested in the stock market, now is the time to hold on and stay invested. Selling off now in the current market means turning your paper loss to a permanent one. While it can be difficult to not let stress and anxiety cloud your investing decisions during this period, having a financial plan in place can help you navigate choppy markets with confidence, discipline and perspective.

Reassess your risk tolerance 

The purpose of financial planning isn’t to earn as much money as you possibly can. It’s to help you define your life goals, calculate how much money you need to achieve those goals, and then choose an investment strategy that will help provide the appropriate returns.

The right investment strategy can weather market ups and downs with you. And it all starts with getting your risk tolerance right. Just as markets go through boom and bust cycles, your risk tolerance does not stay constant. Instead it evolves as life unfolds and your financial needs change.

A higher risk tolerance means you’re willing to accept larger market swings for potentially higher long-term returns. A lower risk tolerance means you are more comfortable with returns that don’t fluctuate too wildly based on market conditions, but may also be more conservative. 

With market volatility looking set to continue for the foreseeable future, be sure to review your risk tolerance and ensure your investment exposure is aligned with it. A tool such as Syfe’s risk questionnaire will determine your risk profile and suggest the ideal portfolio that matches your risk tolerance and financial needs. 

No matter what lies ahead for the economy, stick to your financial plan and stay disciplined. When the market makes its inevitable recovery, you could be back in the black. So stay the course and think long term.