Financial Planning is the process of evaluating and managing the utilization of financial resources optimally for achieving an organization’s goals and objectives. Financial planning helps insulate businesses from myopic policies and practices and aids in mapping out their financial future. Financial planning is one of the sought-after financial courses for working professionals owing to the rapidly growing need for trustworthy and knowledgeable personnel.
Importance Of Financial Planning
Whether it is an organization or a person, financial planning is critical to ensure that all expenses are taken care of, and the future is secure. For a company, this is of utmost importance as many people depend on it for their livelihoods. It cannot afford to find itself unable to continue operations. Having a clear idea about how a firm will spend money is crucial for reaching its goals. Let us see how this financial planning process benefits organizations.
Have Clear Business Goals
The main advantage of financial planning is that it allows a company to have clear business goals. When there is a good understanding of what money is available and how much can be expected, it is easy to set goals for different periods. Companies can plan for three, six, or nine months. It can also set goals for a year and beyond that period. Though everything may not happen as planned, it is good to have an idea and prepare for risks. With sound financial planning, organizations can achieve most of these goals.
Manage Cash Flow
Various steps in financial planning help to manage cash flow efficiently. It will allow companies to know how much revenue they will earn in a particular period. There will also be a concrete plan of how they will use this cash. Budgeting is part of the process, and it will help make sure that you can pay regular expenses that are part of a company’s operations. It is also possible to meet unexpected costs when there is good cash management. It helps to continue development works as planned.
Financial planning allows companies to allocate funds in a better manner. Money is required for various activities that a firm must perform as part of its routine. When there is good planning based on information from multiple departments, it is easy to provide money for various purposes in a more rational manner. Every business unit of the company will also find it an excellent exercise to prioritize their projects and complete them successfully.
Cost reduction is a part of the process of financial management. Every company is looking at ways to reduce costs. Analyzing past spending and their returns is an excellent method of finding a possibility for reducing costs. This must be part of financial planning if an organization must benefit from this exercise. Lowering costs is vital for growth and development. Regular review of spending is an excellent way to find avenues for cost reduction.
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Every company must prepare itself for unexpected events. Though everything cannot be predicted accurately, modern methods like analytics are helping to forecast various incidents correctly. Using this information, organizations must look at preparing themselves for future threats. Financial planning is an excellent opportunity to look into these and make provisions to overcome such risks. As all risks cannot be avoided, it is sensible to prepare for losses resulting from such events.
Crisis management is different from risk management. Crises are not expected, and companies suddenly face a situation they must manage but are unprepared for. When these circumstances last a long time, it is essential to keep changing financial plans frequently as the pandemic situation. Those having a robust plan in place will find it easier to manage instead of those who must start from scratch.
Raise Funds Easily
The process of financial planning helps considerably when a company needs funds. It can be a new company looking for investors or a company that needs more funds for expansion. All of them will need to approach lenders with a concrete plan about what they will do with the money. Those lending money will more trust a firm with a financial plan because they know that such a company will spend wisely. They can be sure of getting good returns on their investment.
Making a financial plan is a way to ensure transparency in a company. It is a new thought that employees must also know how a company is spending money. Many CEOs have started disclosing their salaries openly. A financial plan is an excellent way to tell employees how firms are spending money. This plan will give assurance to workers that their firm is going on the right path. They will not worry about their future.
It is pretty clear that financial planning has many advantages, and all companies must perform this exercise to ensure better use of money. It is worth knowing the components this plan must include.
Things To Include In Financial Plan
Financial plans may differ with companies, but certain items do appear in all financial goals.
The sale of goods is what will bring revenue. So this needs to be included. Companies must mention their growth plans for the near future and how much they will cost. They must give cost details with a separate breakdown for individual products.
Company spending will include various types of expenses. There will be fixed and variable costs. Companies with lesser fixed costs are at a lower risk. It is necessary to have all prices, including that of resources needed additionally for sales growth.
Cash Flow Statement
A cash flow statement is a vital part of financial planning that will help cut expenses. This will be a statement that shows how the money will come in and how companies will spend it. Firms must give these details for the period for which they do financial planning.
Assets & Liabilities
Firms will include all startup costs in this. Assets at hand and those that they will purchase for new expansion will find a mention in this statement.
We have seen the importance of financial planning and what documents will appear in this. It is time to explain financial planning and its various stages.
Six Steps In Financial Planning
Whether your finance personnel does it or a Certified Financial Planner does it, the financial planning process should be done using the following 6 steps of financial planning.
Establish goals and define client-planner relationships
The first step in a financial planning process is establishing goals and defining the client-planner relationship. This lays the foundation for the financial planning process and provides clarity about the client’s financial destination. To this end, the planner should ask open-ended questions about needs, goals, dreams, objectives, risk appetite, experience, financial strengths, weaknesses, etc. The financial planner defines her role, responsibilities, and services to the client and the client’s obligations in this process. Once they reach an agreement about goals and relationships, the process moves ahead.
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Gather relevant data
For formulating a sound financial plan, relevant data about financial information about the client, the collection of necessary documents, and structured questioning. The planner must document all the information to visualize data and provide prudent recommendations. Gathering data is not as easy a job as it sounds. Good financial planners will look at what data will be most helpful for this purpose. When gathering information, one must take adequate care to eliminate those that are not pertinent and cause wrong judgment.
Analyze and evaluate data
The financial and other data gathered about the client are analyzed and evaluated by the financial planner to understand the client’s situation concerning her needs, goals, and objectives and determine the gap between the two and the path that she must follow. Based on the services requested, the financial planner will customize assessments and analyses. Analyzing data can provide valuable insights into a company’s spending patterns and the returns received from various expenses.
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Develop the Financial Plan with recommendations and alternatives
Based on the analysis and evaluation of the customer data and needs, the financial planner develops alternatives and recommendations to meet goals and objectives and presents them to the client. Client feedback is taken and reviewed. Financial planners address concerns and revise plans to the client’s satisfaction. They incorporate relevant recommendations and revisions to develop a financial plan.
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Implement the plan
Implementation is the most challenging step because one can develop robust and sophisticated plans and revise them, but it is still a document on paper. It is one of the most complex financial planning steps when being done for an organization. It requires immense focus and discipline to implement the plans and stay with them. It will need everyone’s cooperation to act as per plans. It is also the financial planner’s job to convince all concerned to stick to this plan.
Monitor the progress of the plan
Plans need to be dynamic and must evolve with the need of the hour. So, monitoring and reviewing the plan’s progress regularly and systematically is an essential step in the financial planning process. While looking at how they implement, it is necessary to see why there is a deviation and find ways to reverse it. Sometimes, plans need to be revised as market conditions and other situations change. Financial position is constantly evolving, and procedures must remain flexible to include these changes.
Personal Financial Planning Tips
Taking the assistance of a financial planner is best for both companies and individuals. However, it is also good to know specific valuable personal finance tips from experts. It will help in ensuring that one utilizes one’s earnings most beneficially.
Managing Money Wisely
For those wondering what the first step in financial planning is, an expert will say it is managing money smartly. An essential step in money management is saving. It gives people a lot of independence. Saving can help when there is an emergency that everyone faces at some time. You need not rush to a friend to borrow. Saving helps people from falling into a debt trap.
Saving can help people achieve their goals early. If there are enough savings, one can even retire early and enjoy life. There is always a doubt about how much to save. Ten percent of a person’s earnings can be a starting point. If there are ways to set aside more money, then that will be an added advantage. It is always better to keep aside this money before starting to spend it for various other purposes. It will curtail expenses and help save without failure.
This is something everyone has been advising for ages. This is also something that people find difficult to do. When it is possible to curtail spending, there will be automatic savings. An excellent way to regulate spending is by preparing a budget. While budgeting, the first step should be to segregate expenses into fixed and variable. Then you must separate the variable costs as necessary and avoidable.
When you prepare such a budget, it is possible to avoid any unwanted expenses that drain money. It is necessary to prioritize expenses to see which ones you can address immediately and postpone. It is very important to understand that a person’s wants are unlimited, and income is limited. People must live within their revenues and have some savings every month.
Prepare A Balance Sheet
Those who explain the financial planning process say that everyone must prepare a balance sheet. It is not just companies who must do this exercise. A personal record of what someone owns and owes is a great way to know their financial position. A balance sheet shows all assets on one side and liabilities on the other. Assets will include homes, vehicles, and other items that someone can evaluate in terms of money. Liabilities will be all that you owe to someone else.
You must write down everything. An ideal situation is where what a person owns is more than what they owe. But this may not always be the scenario. One can have more loans than assets. As these loans get paid, the assets will increase, and liabilities decrease. It is worth noting that one must try to own assets that appreciate value rather than just buying things whimsically.
Use Surplus Cash Wisely
Finding yourself with surplus cash is a good sign of planning. It means that a person has saved a little money after taking care of all necessary expenses. This cash will be surplus and will add to the savings. But keeping it idle will not help. As the years go by, inflation will reduce its value. Money doesn’t automatically grow to adjust for inflation. People must make sure to use cash wisely so that it multiplies and earns you more.
Investing in various financial instruments is an excellent way to make sure that money grows to offset inflation. Such investments can make retirement enjoyable. One must look at multiple ways to invest this money for the short-term as well as long-term periods. A person must also assess the risk in different types of investment. Knowing how many falls a person can take is necessary. It is at this juncture that a financial planning expert can be of great help.
Make An Investment Portfolio
Creating an investment portfolio is among the best financial planning process steps because then it is evident that you have started saving. Creating a portfolio means investing a person’s savings in various instruments. There are a variety of options that are available for investors today. Many insurance companies offer different types of investment opportunities that can return cash in different periods. There are mutual funds that can give excellent returns.
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It is always wise to distribute money instead of putting all your eggs in one basket. A planner can help you find the best investment areas. It is necessary to plan in such a way that these returns come in different durations. It means that it is possible to take care of some major expenses when cash is available. One must also plan to get a regular monthly income after retirement age.
Preparing For Retirement
There are those who may feel it is too early to plan for retirement. Expenses are increasing daily, and by the time people retire, their monthly requirements will be much higher than what they are today. It is possible to know when a person retires. But it is anyone’s guess for how many years one will live after retirement when there is no fixed monthly income. It is best to plan for as much monthly income as possible.
Health is a significant concern for older people. Healthcare expenses after retirement can be much higher than what they are now. The cost of medicines and hospitalization are also going up. One must plan for those expenses too. If they do that, then there is no need to depend on someone else. It is also easy to get good healthcare if there is enough money.
Manage Loans Well
Almost everyone has loans. People buy various assets by availing of loans from banks or other financial institutions. These are easily payable using their monthly income. But it is of critical importance to be very careful when getting into debt. If they are not managed well, one can end up availing of new loans to pay up old ones. Falling into a debt trap can delay retirement and make life really miserable. One must have a clear plan about how one will repay these debts.
Credit cards are a very dangerous form of debt. It is also one of the costliest if you don’t pay on time. It is best to use them with restraint. Even if there are purchases made with credit cards, one must pay them off fully on time. People should not be lured by offers of the minimum payment. As far as possible, all low-priced purchases must be made using cash. If there are costly things to purchase, one must start saving for them early.
Everything from our property, assets, and life is prone to risk. There are many types of risks that can take away everything we have within a few seconds. The recent pandemic has shown how life can be suddenly taken away before giving us a chance to fight. It is always best to protect all our wealth. If it is not done, one can put their closest relatives in danger.
Buying term insurance is a good way. They are cheaper and offer great benefits. There are various options available that can be checked online. This is one of the steps in the financial planning process that is very important and must be given a lot of thought. Health insurance is also very important because even a short time spent in a hospital can wipe away all your savings.
Plan Taxes Well
Taxes can sometimes be very high. One must have a clear plan about how much income is taxable and what amount will need to be paid. This is an exercise everyone must start doing when a year starts. Keeping it for last can result in you not having enough money for investing. There are various options for saving tax legally in India. One must have a detailed study about which is most beneficial to avail.
Many insurance schemes allow you to claim tax deductions. Some loans like housing loans can also help you reduce tax while creating an asset. Many equity instruments give a good benefit while having a very less lock-in period. This can be a kind of savings that can be used when there are purchases to be made. Everyone has to take care that they don’t indulge in tax evasion or avoidance. This can land people in a lot of serious trouble.
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We can see that financial planning is important for individuals and companies. Financial planners are in demand, and the profession pays well. To equip yourself with the skills and knowledge required in financial planning and management, you should consider enrolling yourself in finance courses. So, what are the most important skills that a person must possess if he or she wants to become a financial planner?
Skill Required For A Financial Planner
A person who wants to be a financial planner must possess financial skills. These can be acquired by attending certificate courses on this subject. These are offered by various institutions in India. One can attend these classes online. That makes it easy even for employed people to get specialized in financial planning. Having a certificate will also make clients trust you more with their money. They can be confident that their future is safe in the hands of a competent person.
The financial planning process steps include soliciting new businesses. For independent planners, this is an important step, and for this, they will need excellent interpersonal skills. They will need to collect various data from a client, which requires interacting with them cordially to extract such details. Even those working in companies must constantly meet other colleagues and unit heads to find out their business plans and make sure it aligns with those of the company.
Some may equate it with interpersonal skills. But communication is not just about mingling with people. It is essential that a good planner is able to convey messages in such a manner that a client or a department head in a firm understands perfectly. Finance is full of terms that a non-finance person may not understand. A planner must convert such jargon into simple language that anyone can follow. Financial planners must also be able to convince others to follow their strategies without any deviation.
Ability To Handle Pressure
A financial planner is expected to help clients or organizations to invest well and reap good rewards. But finance is highly dynamic, and situations keep changing constantly. There are so many external factors that affect personal and corporate finances. This means that planning must be done keeping this in mind. Their decisions are very critical, and this puts a lot of pressure on them to make the right judgment. Whether a client gains immensely or loses badly will depend on what advice a financial planner gives.
Persistence and high energy are required for most professions. But for a finance expert, it is even more necessary to have these qualities. These capabilities are required for prospecting clients and acquiring them. They are also essential when analyzing market conditions. Such professionals must constantly watch financial markets to find the best investment for their clients. They must know the latest financial news. It is necessary to cash in on upward trends when they happen.
Problem Solving Skills
A financial planner deals with someone else’s money. These people are expected to get the best out of a company’s or person’s investment. Each client and situation will require unique solutions. They must be able to solve problems and go ahead with helping others plan their finances well. In companies, they will be faced with various hurdles that will prevent implementing a strategy. These must be overcome while keeping everyone together. Implementing a plan in a company with many people can bring forward various issues that must be solved.
The financial planning process consists of various activities that need to be done together. A planner must deal with many clients and their financial matters. In an organization, there could be many documents and reports that need to be studied. Data analysis is an important part of financial planning. All these need to be kept organized so that they are accessible whenever needed. Being organized will help in managing time well and ensuring that all clients are attended to.
Financial management is a relative concept that refers to planning, organizing, directing, and controlling the financial activities like procurement and utilization of funds of the enterprise. It means applying general management principles to the financial resources of the organization.
An Introduction to Financial Management
The basics of financial management include managing the routine-wise operations by keeping them in the budget of business in lieu of the long-term investments in equipment and obtaining the financial support for all your operations. It is a process where the money for a firm’s functioning is planned, organized, controlled, and monitored. This type of management is essential for a company to achieve its goals.
The job involves procurement of funds required for setting up and running an organization. Finance managers are appointed for this purpose. They will also ensure that funds are properly utilized. It is also their job to make sure that all money that comes in and goes out is properly accounted for. This is required both as a control measure and for checking by outside agencies. Risk assessment is another important function of the financial management process.
Why Is Financial Management Important To Business?
Money is what makes this world function as it does. It is the commodity that makes businesses function. Without it, nothing can be achieved. It is also for money that people work in these companies. So it is highly important that this precious commodity is managed well. This is what financial management achieves. This function is critical because if finance is not properly managed, all plans of a company can get derailed. It will not be able to function nor achieve its goals. It is beneficial for those aspiring to take up financial management to know its importance in business.
One of the key components of financial management, the various steps involved in financial planning, can help companies to have clear business objectives. This procedure is also useful for bringing down expenses to a great extent. Budgeting is part of financial planning, and this is done to ensure that all expenses can be met. Organizations can also make sure that they don’t plan expenses in excess of income. Financial planning is essential to manage risks and crises. It is a vital tool for raising funds.
Ensure Project Completion
Projects are important for every company. These are planned and implemented to make sure that all objectives are met in a systematic manner. Projects require funds, and these must be allocated carefully. Managing finance helps in allocating and setting aside funds for various projects. It will support in ensuring that projects are completed successfully. Completion of such assignments also gives a morale boost to employees. Project managers can concentrate on other areas instead of worrying about funds.
Ensure Payment To Suppliers
Suppliers are a vital part of any company’s operation. They support a firm’s activities by supplying raw materials. Keeping them happy is important, and the best way to do this is to ensure their payments are made on time. This is important among the steps in the financial planning process that makes sure that funds are available to pay suppliers on time. Good financial managers will ensure that money is kept aside for all future payments to vendors. This will help to keep suppliers on the company’s side.
Companies don’t just spend money on their production and other expenses. They also invest in various ways. This is one method of using available surplus and putting them to use. Investing excess cash can help in earning good returns. But this investment must be made wisely, and this is part of financial management. For financial institutions, this is a highly critical activity. They must invest public money well to make sure that it can be returned when needed, and profits can be made out of that.
Make Sound Decisions
Business decisions are very crucial. Important decisions can make or break a company. A decision about whether to expand production capacity or launch an expensive marketing campaign must be taken very carefully. Once companies spend these amounts, they cannot be got back. So it must be made sure that they will fetch excellent returns. It is the finance managers who must make such critical decisions. They must have an excellent idea about what expenses will be most beneficial for their organization.
Growth And Stability
Organizations must grow. They cannot remain stagnant. As expenses climb continuously, they must find new methods of revenue. Expansion is the best way to make sure that they make increased profits. The growth of a firm is also highly desired by its employees. That is the only way by which they can also grow and become economically stable. Finance managers study various options for a company to expand and improve its profits. They look at what returns can be expected by spending money on development projects.
Reducing Tax Burdens
Those explaining what the financial planning process is can tell you that reducing the tax burdens of an establishment is an important part of this procedure. There are various types of taxes that a firm must pay to remain within the law. There are ways in which tax can be reduced using legal means. Financial managers look at such ways and recommend what is most suited. This will help improve a company’s profits. Saving on tax will also help in increasing investments in new projects.
If you are a working-class professional aspiring to advance in the field of finance, an advanced financial management course can help you learn all the advanced modeling techniques used in finance. The ultimate goal of any business is to maximize the wealth of its shareholders and stakeholders, which can be achieved through the following five activities of financial management
Five Financial Management Activities
Estimation of Capital Requirements
A finance manager has to estimate with regards to the capital requirements of the organization. The capital requirement depends upon various factors like unexpected costs, profits, future programs, policies of concern, etc. Estimations have to be made in an adequate manner that increases the earning capacity of the organization.
Determination of Capital Composition
Once the estimation has been determined, the capital structure has to be decided. This involves determining the short-term and long-term debt-equity analysis. This depends on the proportion of equity capital a company possesses and the additional funds required to be raised from third parties.
Procurement and Investment of Funds
For additional funds to be procured, the organization has many options like the issue of shares and debentures, loans can be taken from various banks and financial institutions, or public deposits can be drawn in the form of bonds. Choice of the source depends on the relative pros and cons of each source and the period of financing. The finance manager also has to decide how much and where to allocate the funds to gain the maximum yield out of the investment.
Disposal of Surplus
The net profits decision has to be made by every finance manager. This can be taken in two ways.
- Dividend Declaration – This includes identifying the rate of dividends and other benefits like bonuses to the distribution of the surplus.
- Retained Profits – The volume of profits to be retained in the company has to be decided. This depends upon the long-term expansion, innovation, diversification plans of the company.
Management of Cash
The finance manager finally has to make decisions with regard to cash management. Cash is required for many purposes like payment of electricity and water bills, payment of wages and salaries, purchase of equipment and assets, payment to creditors, meeting current liabilities, purchase of raw material, etc.
The finance manager not only has to plan, procure, and utilize the funds but he/she also has to exercise control over those finances. If you want to get more insight into the scope of financial management activities, you can consider applying for financial management online certification to dig deeper into this domain. An advanced financial management course can help you learn the latest concepts and modeling techniques used in finance to determine how to gain control over the finances of an organization like ratio analysis, financial forecasting, cost and profit control, etc.