ARE YOU FINANCIALLY HEALTHY?

financial planningPhoto Source: http://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/michigan/files/201309/financial_data_wiki.jpg

Almost every man in the Singapore LGBTQ community prides himself on the ability to live an independent life, unconstrained by rules that bound other men in mainstream society. Building up a career, picking up any personal interest, or starting a romantic relationship are all personal choices. After his parents pass away, there is often nobody else to be accountable to except himself. Even those who choose to start a family break free of society’s conventions when their children grow up. For the mature gay man, being financially healthy ensures this freedom of choice continues for life. Towards this end, I have developed the C-PELA framework to help people in the LGBTQ community assess their financial health.  Use the C-PELA framework now to find out how financially healthy you are:

  1. Sufficient CASH

Imagine one day when you only have $5 left in the bank. That may be all right if you are still young, healthy, and can find work to do. What if you are already too old, too sick, or no longer have relevant skills that can land you a job in the workforce? This is one of the worst nightmares that anyone can have. For the mature gay man, this becomes even more important as he is less likely to have an immediate family to support him in the later stages of his life:

  • His parents would have passed away, or will do so eventually
  • Any siblings will usually be busy with their own children or family
  • There may not be grown-up kids he can depend on, and
  • He may not, or choose not to, have a life partner

So, having enough money is essential. This ensures you can continue to enjoy the lifestyle you want right till the last breath. Thankfully, it is possible to determine how much is needed. This amount is unique to each person based on his preferred retirement age, post-retirement lifestyle, and other factors. If you do not know this figure, you should find out right now and ensure you have saved sufficient cash before you stop working.

  1. Adequate PROTECTION

Can you recall an occasion when you were so sick that visiting a clinic on your own is almost impossible? If you have not experienced this yourself, you may know someone else who did. When a person is healthy, the kind of life he wants to live is as exciting as his imagination allows. But, what happens when he is weak and sick? While nobody wants this to happen, illnesses are very much a part of life, especially for those who are older. There is no need to be negative about this though; the key is to be well prepared before it happens. Many individuals from the LGBTQ community have told me they are more concerned about sickness rather than death. They want to be financially independent even when sick, but are less worried about death because of the lack of dependents. If that sounds like you, make sure you have sufficient insurance to specifically protect you against sickness and disability. This will help to pay for medical bills, replace lost income, or even let you engage a nurse to take care of your daily needs for as long as necessary.

  1. EXECUTOR of Wishes

When we go for a holiday, we need to find a colleague who will cover our work until we return. Likewise, who will cover you in life when you are unable to handle your own personal affairs? This can happen to any mature man when he is sick or has passed away. For many men, the default person is his wife, but this is unlikely to be the case for you. Think about this: who can you trust so that your preferences and wishes can be carried out on your behalf on a temporary or permanent basis? If you are lucky, this can be your life partner. Otherwise, how about a close friend, someone in your extended family, or a trusted financial advisor? Identifying this person beforehand is important because you must legally appoint him or her to help you before the need arises. Once you have this person in mind, use legal instruments such as a *Lasting Power of Attorney and a Will to appoint him as the executor of your wishes.

  1. Lasting LEGACY

Next, life is not just about living; it is also about leaving a legacy. Did we live a purposeful life? Have we contributed back to society after what we have taken from it? Many men in mainstream society do so by nurturing their kids for the next generation. What about mature gay men in the LGBTQ community? If he is not married with kids, how can he have a lasting impact on future generations? Some may choose to mentor younger colleagues at work, others may channel their fatherly instincts to their nephews or nieces. Are there other ways that are even more impactful? How about benefiting future generations within the LGBTQ community itself? Organizations like Oogachaga have programmes in place to cater to differing needs of the community, but are constantly constrained by the lack of funds and resources. If people within the community don’t even want to help the community itself, who else will? Would you want to leave some assets after death to deserving organizations to enhance the future generations of the LGBTQ community?

  1. Trusted ADVISOR

By now, it should be obvious that the needs of mature men in the LGBTQ community can be very different from other men. Do you have a financial advisor who understands what you need and use an appropriate framework like C-PELA to help you? Do they even know you are part of the LGBTQ community? Experienced advisors typically focus their work on certain segments of society. That’s because each segment faces its own unique challenges and needs. For example, some advisors focus on expats, others concentrate on professionals of particular industries. If you do not currently have a financial advisor who has experience advising the LGBTQ community, look for one who can better help you.

*Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) – It allows you to appoint someone you trust to make decisions for you if you are unable to make these decisions yourself in the future. https://www.silverpages.sg/caregiver_resources_article.aspx?Fid=469&Title=Lasting%20Power%20of%20Attorney#.U5zPIOOSwuc

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This article is contributed by Michael Heng. He currently works at one of the largest independently-owned financial advisory firms in Singapore and advises on the financial needs of his individual clients. A significant portion of his clients are from the LGBTQ community, giving him the experience to provide advice that meets their unique needs. Academically, Michael is trained in finance and investments at the postgraduate level. He holds an MBA specializing in finance from the Nanyang Business School, ranked 38th globally by the Financial Times in 2014. Michael has also completed the U.S.-based postgraduate Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) examinations for investment professionals, recognized as one of the most rigorous programmes in the world of finance. Among financial advisors in Singapore, this is a rarity and more than equips him with the knowledge and skills needed for his area of work. Personally, Michael’s motto is to help people to be richer. Health is wealth too, and Michael runs, swims and gyms in his free time. He also encourages his friends and clients to keep themselves healthy, and runs with a LGBTQ group on Sundays. To contact Michael, find him on Facebook at http://facebook.com/michaelheng.sg

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