Financial Planning: What does it entail, and do I need it?

Over the past five decades, not only have many individuals experienced increased wealth and expanded choices, but the anticipated lifespan of those born 50 years ago has risen by nearly 20 years1 . This shift has underscored the growing importance of building wealth for the future. From home ownership to retirement funds, and various investments, consumers now have the opportunity to not only save money but also to make it work hard to enhance their lifestyles.

The imperative to save has introduced risks though, and gave rise to an industry offering ‘financial advice.’ Initially, advice was provided by insurance company salespeople focused on selling insurance and investment products. They earned hefty commissions and while this was done under the banner of ‘advice’, their aim was primarily product sales. Advisers had little incentive to address issues beyond their specific product range.

Then came advances in research, planning techniques, regulation and technology which paved the way for the evolution of financial planning into a recognised profession – capable of navigating the complexities of the financial world. This push towards professionalism, bolstered by regulatory interventions and government reviews, acknowledges the importance of competent financial planning for most Australians, offering substantial value in making critical decisions, providing peace of mind and achieving financial goals.

Good planning is about far, far more than merely selecting investments or insurance products. Getting your finances in order makes a significant contribution to your quality of life. It reduces worries about money that are a major source of stress, ill health and absence from work. Holistic financial planning encompasses the following:

  1. Budgeting & cashflow analysis
  2. Tax and government benefits
  3. Debt management
  4. Forward planning (see below)
  5. Property
  6. Insurance needs analysis
  7. Understanding investment types and risk
  8. Taking action – seeking answers to questions or problems, or selecting a financial product

While the list is straightforward, their true significance becomes apparent when applied to the key life stages and decisions that impact one’s financial future. Decisions made today can profoundly affect financial outcomes in the future.

Life stages to consider include:

– Entering the workforce
– Buying a home
– Getting married or moving in together
– Having a child
– Getting a big promotion
– Starting a business, or taking time out to study
– Receiving an inheritance
– Entering retirement
– Old age

Each of these can dramatically change your financial situation. To pre-empt what’s coming in advance not only improves your decisions now, it enhances your outcomes when you reach that point. It also helps to ensure you’re resilient to adverse financial shocks.


Despite the importance of all this, the term ‘financial advice’ in Australia is surrounded by confusion. Is it just picking investments? What exactly does it cover?

A major problem is that the legal definition ‘financial advice’ is narrower than the spectrum of topics discussed above. The legal definition primarily focuses on financial product recommendations, and only licensed financial advisers can provide that service.

But many aspects of financial management fall outside this definition and may not require a licensed financial product adviser at all.

We end up with a situation where only licensed product advisers can assist with the full list of issues above, but their business models tend to be focused on a subset of those issues (where they make money).

Not everything people need help with requires a licensed financial product adviser. Examples are:

  • factual information, including information on rules, limits, obligations
  • budgeting and cashflow planning
  • identifying risks
  • factual characteristics of different asset classes, such as shares vs cash
  • taxation advice from a qualified accountant
  • retirement calculators
  • strategic advice
  • life decisions, such as when you can retire and estimating long you could live.


Forward planning deserves additional consideration, because it’s what many Australians see as the most relevant and effective and is where they value professional help. Forward planning goes beyond immediate day-to-day budgeting or product selection and helps people anticipate what life might hold in the future, and the impact of today’s decisions on tomorrow’s finances.

Forward planning needs to be done at household level and be actionable. It should be part of a holistic process that balances short term budgeting with long term cashflow and risk planning. This helps people prepare for future life events and to understand the probabilities and risks of a long life. Poor forward planning affects people irrespective of their income level.

A key area of forward planning for all Australians at some point in their lives is retirement and superannuation. The challenge here is complexity. Our retirement system requires each individual to cobble together multiple financial arrangements and cashflows, including government entitlements, part time work and sometimes equity in the home – to form a coherent and sustainable income for life. The biggest question of all is: how much money do I need to retire?

Do-it-yourself online calculators can’t provide the counsel that a skilled professional can. This includes vital emotional reassurance, information about which rules matter, judgement, and an understanding of human behaviour to support people making life changing decisions. It also involves understanding and adjusting to constant regulatory change, economic uncertainty and dealing with personal dramas too. The best forward planning solutions are ‘bionic’: a human adviser empowered by fantastic IT.


We shouldn’t need to quantify the value of this in dollar amounts or percentage terms. How can you put a price on not-messing things up when it comes to getting long term finances right? Ultimately, there are three outcomes: (1) spend too much / retire too early and run out of money, (2) work too hard / for too long with a fear of spending money, and (3) knowing just how much money you need to live the lifestyle you want, and have the buffers you need, to deliver confidence.


As we’ve outlined, there is a difference between ‘financial product advice’ and the knowledge and insights provided through financial planning. We would argue that more often than not, it’s actually forward planning that people need most, because decisions around how much to spend/save and how to manage risk have a greater impact on their financial lives, at key life moments, than product selection alone. Ask for details of our Investment Philosophy for more information.

Jubilacion help people between the ages of 50 to 70 – by building a financial model of their assets and cashflows for life. We are not authorised to sell investments of give personal financial product recommendations[2]. We are first and foremost actuaries who focus on the projections every Australian needs to make informed life decisions that have a financial dimension.

Our team are specialists who bring a sophistication and calibre that cannot be provided by online calculators.

To talk with Jubilacion about the services we provide, or our fees, feel free to speak to one of our consultants or request a call back.

  1. In 1970 life expectancy for a baby boy was to age 68 and for girls it was age 74. In 2024, those babies reach age 54 and their remaining life expectancy is, on average, age 88 for the boy and age 89 for the girl – including allowance for longevity increase trends. These figures are averages meaning around half of people live longer and half less.

    2.Jubilacion is authorised to provide general advice as a Corporate Authorised Representative of Independent Financial Advisers Australia, AFSL 464629. ASIC number 1306078. You can read more about this in our Services Guide. Anyone seeking help with their decisions about a specific financial product (or class of financial products) should consider obtaining advice from a licensed personal financial product adviser. ↩︎
Jim Hennington - Jubilacion

Jim is a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries who has spent his career specialising in scaled advice. Jim previously founded a boutique ex-pat retirement planning practice which grew to become an international network (UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). Since 2010 he has held senior software development roles for a number of financial institutions in Australia and the UK including the design of retirement decision systems for HSBC, Challenger Life and Scottish Widows. As well as being a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries, Jim holds a Commerce degree from the University of Melbourne as well as two Diplomas in Financial Planning (UK and Australia).