Category Archives: Finance

Types of Banks

  • Commercial banks: the term used for a normal bank to distinguish it from an investment bank. After the Great Depression, the U.S. Congress required that banks only engage in banking activities, whereas investment banks were limited to capital market activities. Since the two no longer have to be under separate ownership, some use the term “commercial bank” to refer to a bank or a division of a bank that mostly deals with deposits and loans from corporations or large businesses.
  • Community banks: locally operated financial institutions that empower employees to make local decisions to serve their customers and the partners.
  • Community development banks: regulated banks that provide financial services and credit to under-served markets or populations.
  • Land development banks: The special banks providing long-term loans are called land development banks (LDB). The history of LDB is quite old. The first LDB was started at Jhang in Punjab in 1920. The main objective of the LDBs are to promote the development of land, agriculture and increase the agricultural production. The LDBs provide long-term finance to members directly through their branches.[24]
  • Credit unions or co-operative banks: not-for-profit cooperatives owned by the depositors and often offering rates more favourable than for-profit banks. Typically, membership is restricted to employees of a particular company, residents of a defined area, members of a certain union or religious organizations, and their immediate families.
  • Postal savings banks: savings banks associated with national postal systems.
  • Private banks: banks that manage the assets of high-net-worth individuals. Historically a minimum of USD 1 million was required to open an account, however, over the last years many private banks have lowered their entry hurdles to USD 350,000 for private investors.[citation needed]
  • Offshore banks: banks located in jurisdictions with low taxation and regulation. Many offshore banks are essentially private banks.
  • Savings bank: in Europe, savings banks took their roots in the 19th or sometimes even in the 18th century. Their original objective was to provide easily accessible savings products to all strata of the population. In some countries, savings banks were created on public initiative; in others, socially committed individuals created foundations to put in place the necessary infrastructure. Nowadays, European savings banks have kept their focus on retail banking: payments, savings products, credits and insurances for individuals or small and medium-sized enterprises. Apart from this retail focus, they also differ from commercial banks by their broadly decentralized distribution network, providing local and regional outreach – and by their socially responsible approach to business and society.
  • Building societies and Landesbanks: institutions that conduct retail banking.
  • Ethical banks: banks that prioritize the transparency of all operations and make only what they consider to be socially responsible investments.
  • A direct or internet-only bank is a banking operation without any physical bank branches, conceived and implemented wholly with networked computers.

Types of investment banks

  • Investment banks “underwrite” (guarantee the sale of) stock and bond issues, trade for their own accounts, make markets, provideinvestment management, and advise corporations on capital market activities such as mergers and acquisitions.
  • Merchant banks were traditionally banks which engaged in trade finance. The modern definition, however, refers to banks which provide capital to firms in the form of shares rather than loans. Unlike venture caps, they tend not to invest in new companies.

Both combined

  • Universal banks, more commonly known as financial services companies, engage in several of these activities. These big banks are very diversified groups that, among other services, also distribute insurance – hence the term bancassurance, a portmanteau wordcombining “banque or bank” and “assurance”, signifying that both banking and insurance are provided by the same corporate entity.

Other types of banks

  • Central banks are normally government-owned and charged with quasi-regulatory responsibilities, such as supervising commercial banks, or controlling the cash interest rate. They generally provide liquidity to the banking system and act as the lender of last resort in event of a crisis.
  • Islamic banks adhere to the concepts of Islamic law. This form of banking revolves around several well-established principles based on Islamic canons. All banking activities must avoid interest, a concept that is forbidden in Islam. Instead, the bank earns profit (markup) and fees on the financing facilities that it extends to customers.

 

Definition Of Banking

The definition of a bank varies from country to country. See the relevant country pages under for more information. Under English common law, a banker is defined as a person who carries on the business of banking, which is specified as:

  • conducting current accounts for his customers,
  • paying cheques drawn on him/her and
  • collecting cheques for his/her customers

In most common law jurisdictions there is a Bills of Exchange Act that codifies the law in relation tonegotiable instruments, including cheques, and this Act contains a statutory definition of the termbanker: banker includes a body of persons, whether incorporated or not, who carry on the business of banking’ (Section 2, Interpretation). Although this definition seems circular, it is actually functional, because it ensures that the legal basis for bank transactions such as cheques does not depend on how the bank is structured or regulated.

The business of banking is in many English common law countries not defined by statute but by common law, the definition above. In other English common law jurisdictions there are statutory definitions of the business of banking or banking business. When looking at these definitions it is important to keep in mind that they are defining the business of banking for the purposes of the legislation, and not necessarily in general. In particular, most of the definitions are from legislation that has the purpose of regulating and supervising banks rather than regulating the actual business of banking. However, in many cases the statutory definition closely mirrors the common law one. Examples of statutory definitions:

  • “banking business” means the business of receiving money on current or deposit account, paying and collecting cheques drawn by or paid in by customers, the making of advances to customers, and includes such other business as the Authority may prescribe for the purposes of this Act; (Banking Act (Singapore), Section 2, Interpretation).
  • “banking business” means the business of either or both of the following:
  1. receiving from the general public money on current, deposit, savings or other similar account repayable on demand or within less than [3 months] or with a period of call or notice of less than that period;
  2. paying or collecting cheques drawn by or paid in by customers.

Since the advent of EFTPOS (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point Of Sale), direct credit, direct debit and internet banking, the cheque has lost its primacy in most banking systems as a payment instrument. This has led legal theorists to suggest that the cheque based definition should be broadened to include financial institutions that conduct current accounts for customers and enable customers to pay and be paid by third parties, even if they do not pay and collect cheques .

Financial risk management

Financial risk management is the practice of economic value in a firm by using financial instruments to manage exposure to risk: Operational risk, credit risk and market risk, Foreign exchange risk, Shape risk, Volatility risk, Liquidity risk, Inflation risk, Business risk, Legal risk, Reputational risk, Sector risk etc. Similar to general risk management, financial risk management requires identifying its sources, measuring it, and plans to address them. Financial risk management can be qualitative and quantitative. As a specialization of risk management, financial risk management focuses on when and how to hedge using financial instruments to manage costly exposures to risk. In the banking sector worldwide, the Basel Accords are generally adopted by internationally active banks for tracking, reporting and exposing operational, credit and market risks. Finance theory (i.e., financial economics) prescribes that a firm should take on a project if it increases shareholder value. Finance theory also shows that firm managers cannot create value for shareholders, also called its investors, by taking on projects that shareholders could do for themselves at the same cost.

When applied to financial risk management, this implies that firm managers should not hedge risks that investors can hedge for themselves at the same cost. This notion was captured by the so-called “hedging irrelevance proposition”: In a perfect market, the firm cannot create value by hedging a risk when the price of bearing that risk within the firm is the same as the price of bearing it outside of the firm. In practice, financial markets are not likely to be perfect markets.

This suggests that firm managers likely have many opportunities to create value for shareholders using financial risk management, wherein they have to determine which risks are cheaper for the firm to manage than the shareholders. Market risks that result in unique risks for the firm are commonly the best candidates for financial risk management.

The concepts of financial risk management change dramatically in the international realm. Multinational Corporations are faced with many different obstacles in overcoming these challenges. There has been some research on the risks firms must consider when operating in many countries, such as the three kinds of foreign exchange exposure for various future time horizons: transactions exposure, accounting exposure, and economic exposure. Financial management overlaps with the financial function of the accounting profession. However, financial accounting is the reporting of historical financial information, while financial management is concerned with the allocation of capital resources to increase a firm’s value to the shareholders and increase their rate of return on the investments.

Government Debt

Government debt is the debt owed by a government. By contrast, the annual “government deficit” refers to the difference between government receipts and spending in a single year. A central government with its own currency can pay for its spending by creating money ex novo. In this instance, a government issues securities not to raise funds, but instead to remove excess bank reserves (caused by government spending that is higher than tax receipts) and ‘…create a shortage of reserves in the market so that the system as a whole must come to the Bank for liquidity.’  Governments create debt by issuing securities, government bonds and bills. Less creditworthy countries sometimes borrow directly from a supranational organization (e.g. the World Bank) or international financial institutions.

In countries which are Monetarily Sovereign (like the US, the UK and most other countries), government debt held in the home currency are merely savings accounts held at the central bank. In this way this “debt” has a very different meaning to the debt acquired by households who are restricted by their income. Monetarily Sovereign Governments issue their own currencies and do not need this income to finance spending. In these self-financing nations, government debt is effectively an account of all the money that has been spent but not yet taxed back. Their ability to issue currency means they can always service the interest repayments on these savings accounts. This is why bonds and gilts are considered the safest form of investment. Government debt can be categorized as internal debt (owed to lenders within the country) and external debt (owed to foreign lenders). Another common division of government debt is by duration until repayment is due. Short term debt is generally considered to be for one year or less, long term is for more than ten years. Medium term debt falls between these two boundaries. A broader definition of government debt may consider all government liabilities, including future pension payments and payments for goods and services the government has contracted but not yet paid.

A government bond is a bond issued by a national government. Such bonds are most often denominated in the country’s domestic currency. Sovereigns can also issue debt in foreign currencies: almost 70% of all debt in 2000 was denominated in US dollars. Government bonds are sometimes regarded as risk-free bonds, because national governments can if necessary create money de novo to redeem the bond in their own currency at maturity. Although many governments are prohibited by law from creating money directly (that function having been delegated to their central banks), central banks may provide finance by buying government bonds, sometimes referred to as monetizing the debt.

Government debt, synonymous to sovereign debt, can be issued either in domestic or foreign currencies. Investors in sovereign bonds denominated in foreign currency have exchange rate risk: the foreign currency might depreciate against the investor’s local currency. Sovereigns issuing debt denominated in a foreign currency may furthermore be unable to obtain that foreign currency to service debt. In the 2010 Greek debt crisis, for example, the debt is held by Greece in Euros, and one proposed solution (advanced notably by World Pensions Council (WPC) financial economists) is for Greece to go back to issuing its own drachma. This proposal would only address future debt issuance, leaving substantial existing debts denominated in what would then be a foreign currency, potentially doubling their cost.

Public Finance

Public finance is the study of the role of the government in the economy. It is the branch of economics which assesses the government revenue and government expenditure of the public authorities and the adjustment of one or the other to achieve desirable effects and avoid undesirable ones.

The purview of public finance is considered to be threefold governmental effects on:

(1) efficient allocation of resources,

(2) distribution of income, and

(3) macroeconomic stabilization.

The proper role of government provides a starting point for the analysis of public finance. In theory, under certain circumstances, private markets will allocate goods and services among individuals efficiently (in the sense that no waste occurs and that individual tastes are matching with the economy’s productive abilities). If private markets were able to provide efficient outcomes and if the distribution of income were socially acceptable, then there would be little or no scope for government. In many cases, however, conditions for private market efficiency are violated. For example, if many people can enjoy the same good at the same time (non-rival, non-excludable consumption), then private markets may supply too little of that good. National defense is one example of non-rival consumption, or of a public good.  Under broad assumptions, government decisions about the efficient scope and level of activities can be efficiently separated from decisions about the design of taxation systems (Diamond-Mirlees separation). In this view, public sector programs should be designed to maximize social benefits minus costs (cost-benefit analysis), and then revenues needed to pay for those expenditures should be raised through a taxation system that creates the fewest efficiency losses caused by distortion of economic activity as possible. In practice, government budgeting or public budgeting is substantially more complicated and often results in inefficient practices.

Government can pay for spending by borrowing (for example, with government bonds), although borrowing is a method of distributing tax burdens through time rather than a replacement for taxes. A deficit is the difference between government spending and revenues. The accumulation of deficits over time is the total public debt. Deficit finance allows governments to smooth tax burdens over time, and gives governments an important fiscal policytool. Deficits can also narrow the options of successor governments. Public finance is closely connected to issues of income distribution and social equity. Governments can reallocate income through transfer payments or by designing tax systems that treat high-income and low-income households differently. The public choice approach to public finance seeks to explain how self-interested voters, politicians, and bureaucrats actually operate, rather than how they should operate.

Financial Modeling

Financial modeling is the task of building an abstract representation (a model) of a real world financial situation. This is a mathematical model designed to represent (a simplified version of) the performance of a financial asset or portfolio of a business, project, or any other investment. Financial modeling is a general term that means different things to different users; the reference usually relates either to accounting and corporate finance applications, or to quantitative finance applications. While there has been some debate in the industry as to the nature of financial modeling—whether it is a tradecraft, such as welding, or a science—the task of financial modeling has been gaining acceptance and rigor over the years. Typically, financial modeling is understood to mean an exercise in either asset pricing or corporate finance, of a quantitative nature.

In corporate finance and the accounting profession, financial modeling typically entails financial statement forecasting; usually the preparation of detailed company-specific models used for decision making purposes and financial analysis.

Applications include:

  • Business valuation, especially discounted cash flow, but including other valuation problems
  • Scenario planning and management decision making
  • Capital budgeting
  • Cost of capital calculations
  • Financial statement analysis
  • Project finance

Modelers are sometimes referred to (tongue in cheek) as “number crunchers”, and are often designated “financial analyst”. Typically, the modeler will have completed an MBA orMSF with (optional) coursework in “financial modeling”. Accounting qualifications and finance certifications such as the CIIA and CFA generally do not provide direct or explicit training in modeling. At the same time, numerous commercial training courses are offered, both through universities and privately.

In quantitative finance, financial modeling entails the development of a sophisticated mathematical model. Models here deal with asset prices, market movements, portfolio returns and the like. A general distinction is between: “quantitative financial management”, models of the financial situation of a large, complex firm; “quantitative asset pricing”, models of the returns of different stocks; “financial engineering”, models of the price or returns of derivative securities; “quantitative corporate finance”, models of the firm’s financial decisions.

Relatedly, applications include:

  • Option pricing and calculation of their “Greeks”
  • Other derivatives, especially interest rate derivatives, credit derivatives and exotic derivatives
  • Modeling the term structure of interest rates (Bootstrapping, short rate modelling) and credit spreads
  • Credit scoring and provisioning
  • Corporate financing activity prediction problems
  • Portfolio optimization.[17]
  • Real options
  • Risk modeling (Financial risk modeling) and value at risk[18]
  • Dynamic financial analysis (DFA)
  • Pairs trading
  • Credit valuation adjustment, CVA, as well as the various XVA

These problems are generally stochastic and continuous in nature, and models here thus require complex algorithms, entailing computer simulation, advanced numerical methods(such as numerical differential equations, numerical linear algebra, dynamic programming) and/or the development of optimization models. The general nature of these problems is discussed under Mathematical finance, while specific techniques are listed under Outline of finance# Mathematical tools. For further discussion here see also: Financial models with long-tailed distributions and volatility clustering; Brownian model of financial markets; Martingale pricing; Extreme value theory; Historical simulation (finance). Modellers are generally referred to as “quants” (quantitative analysts), and typically have advanced (Ph.D. level) backgrounds in quantitative disciplines such as physics,engineering, computer science, mathematics or operations research. Alternatively, or in addition to their quantitative background, they complete a finance masters with a quantitative orientation, such as the Master of Quantitative Finance, or the more specialized Master of Computational Finance or Master of Financial Engineering; the CQF is increasingly common.

Financial Economic

Financial economics is the branch of economics characterized by a “concentration on monetary activities”, in which “money of one type or another is likely to appear on both sides of a trade”. Its concern is thus the interrelation of financial variables, such as prices, interest rates and shares, as opposed to those concerning the real economy. It has two main areas of focus: asset pricing and corporate finance; the first being the perspective of providers of capital and the second of users of capital. The subject is concerned with “the allocation and deployment of economic resources, both spatially and across time, in an uncertain environment”. It therefore centers on decision making under uncertainty in the context of the financial markets, and the resultant economic and financial models and principles, and is concerned with deriving testable or policy implications from acceptable assumptions. It is built on the foundations of microeconomics and decision theory. Financial econometrics is the branch of financial economics that uses econometric techniques to parameterise these relationships.Mathematical finance is related in that it will derive and extend the mathematical or numerical models suggested by financial economics. Note though that the emphasis there is mathematical consistency, as opposed to compatibility with economic theory. Financial economics is usually taught at the postgraduate level. Recently, specialist undergraduate degrees are offered in the discipline.

Financial economics is the branch of economics studying the interrelation of financial variables, such as prices, interest rates and shares, as opposed to goods and services. Financial economics concentrates on influences of real economic variables on financial ones, in contrast to pure finance. It centres on managing risk in the context of the financial markets, and the resultant economic and financial models. It essentially explores how rational investors would apply risk and return to the problem of an investment policy. Here, the twin assumptions of rationality and market efficiency lead to modern portfolio theory (the CAPM), and to the Black–Scholes theory for option valuation; it further studies phenomena and models where these assumptions do not hold, or are extended. “Financial economics”, at least formally, also considers investment under “certainty” (Fisher separation theorem, “theory of investment value”, Modigliani–Miller theorem) and hence also contributes to corporate finance theory. Financial econometrics is the branch of financial economics that uses econometric techniques to parameterize the relationships suggested.

Although closely related, the disciplines of economics and finance are distinctive. The “economy” is a social institution that organizes a society’s production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services, all of which must be financed. Economists make a number of abstract assumptions for purposes of their analyses and predictions. They generally regard financial markets that function for the financial system as an efficient mechanism (Efficient-market hypothesis). Instead, financial markets are subject to human error and emotion. New research discloses the mischaracterization of investment safety and measures of financial products and markets so complex that their effects, especially under conditions of uncertainty, are impossible to predict. The study of finance is subsumed under economics as financial economics, but the scope, speed, power relations and practices of the financial system can uplift or cripple whole economies and the well-being of households, businesses and governing bodies within them—sometimes in a single day.

Financial Capital

Financial capital is any economic resource measured in terms of money used by entrepreneurs andbusinesses to buy what they need to make their products or to provide their services to the sector of the economy upon which their operation is based, i.e. retail, corporate, investment banking, etc. Financial capital or just capital/equity in finance, accounting and economics, is internal retained earnings generated by the entity or funds provided by lenders (and investors) to businesses to purchase real capital equipment or services for producing new goods/services. Real capital or economic capital comprises physical goods that assist in the production of other goods and services, e.g. shovels for gravediggers, sewing machines for tailors, or machinery and tooling for factories. Capital, in the financial sense, is the money that gives the business the power to buy goods to be used in the production of other goods or the offering of a service. (The capital has two types of resources, Equity and Debt). The deployment of capital is decided by the budget. This may include the objective of business, targets set, and results in financial terms, e.g., the target set for sale, resulting cost, growth, required investment to achieve the planned sales, and financing source for the investment.

A budget may be long term or short term. Long term budgets have a time horizon of 5–10 years giving a vision to the company; short term is an annual budget which is drawn to control and operate in that particular year. Budgets will include proposed fixed asset requirements and how these expenditures will be financed. Capital budgets are often adjusted annually (done every year) and should be part of a longer-term Capital Improvements Plan. A cash budget is also required. The working capital requirements of a business are monitored at all times to ensure that there are sufficient funds available to meet short-term expenses.

The cash budget is basically a detailed plan that shows all expected sources and uses of cash when it comes to spending it appropriately. The cash budget has the following six main sections:

  1. Beginning Cash Balance – contains the last period’s closing cash balance, in other words, the remaining cash from last years earnings.
  2. Cash collections – includes all expected cash receipts (all sources of cash for the period considered, mainly sales)
  3. Cash disbursements – lists all planned cash outflows for the period such as dividend, excluding interest payments on short-term loans, which appear in the financing section. All expenses that do not affect cash flow are excluded from this list (e.g. depreciation, amortization, etc.)
  4. Cash excess or deficiency – a function of the cash needs and cash available. Cash needs are determined by the total cash disbursements plus the minimum cash balance required by company policy. If total cash available is less than cash needs, a deficiency exists.
  5. Financing – discloses the planned borrowings and repayments of those planned borrowings, including interest.

Financial capital generally refers to saved-up financial wealth, especially that used to start or maintain a business. A financial concept of capital is adopted by most entities in preparing their financial reports. Under a financial concept of capital, such as invested money or invested purchasing power, capital is synonymous with the net assets or equity of the entity. Under a physical concept of capital, such as operating capability, capital is regarded as the productive capacity of the entity based on, for example, units of output per day. Financial capital maintenance can be measured in either nominal monetary units or units of constant purchasing power. There are thus three concepts of capital maintenance in terms of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS):

(1) Physical capital maintenance

(2) Financial capital maintenance in nominal monetary units

(3) Financial capital maintenance in units of constant purchasing power. Framework for the Preparation and Presentation of Financial Statements,

Financial capital is provided by lenders for a price: interest. Also see time value of money for a more detailed description of how financial capital may be analyzed. Furthermore, financial capital, is any liquid medium or mechanism that represents wealth, or other styles of capital. It is, however, usually purchasing power in the form of money available for the production or purchasing of goods, etcetera. Capital can also be obtained by producing more than what is immediately required and saving the surplus. Financial capital can also be in the form of purchasable items such as computers or books that can contribute directly or indirectly to obtaining various other types of capital. Financial capital has been subcategorized by some academics as economic or “productive capital” necessary for operations, signaling capital which signals a company’s financial strength to shareholders, and regulatory capital which fulfills capital requirements.

Corporate Finance

Corporate finance is the area of finance dealing with the sources of funding and the capital structure of corporations, the actions that managers take to increase the value of the firm to the shareholders, and the tools and analysis used to allocate financial resources. The primary goal of corporate finance is to maximize or increase shareholder value. Although it is in principle different from managerial finance which studies the financial management of all firms, rather than corporations alone, the main concepts in the study of corporate finance are applicable to the financial problems of all kinds of firms. Investment analysis is concerned with the setting of criteria about which value-adding projects should receive investment funding, and whether to finance that investment with equity or debt capital. Working capital management is the management of the company’s monetary funds that deal with the short-term operating balance of current assets and current liabilities; the focus here is on managing cash, inventories, and short-term borrowing and lending.

The terms corporate finance and corporate financier are also associated with investment banking. The typical role of aninvestment bank is to evaluate the company’s financial needs and raise the appropriate type of capital that best fits those needs. Thus, the terms “corporate finance” and “corporate financier” may be associated with transactions in which capital is raised in order to create, develop, grow or acquire businesses. Recent legal and regulatory developments in the U.S. will likely alter the makeup of the group of arrangers and financiers willing to arrange and provide financing for certain highly leveraged transactions. Financial management overlaps with the financial function of the Accounting profession. However, financial accounting is the reporting of historical financial information, while financial management is concerned with the allocation of capital resources to increase a firm’s value to the shareholders.

The primary goal of financial management is to maximize or to continually increase shareholder value. Maximizing shareholder value requires managers to be able to balance capital funding between investments in projects that increase the firm’s long term profitability and sustainability, along with paying excess cash in the form of dividends to shareholders. Managers of growth companies (i.e. firms that earn high rates of return on invested capital) will use most of the firm’s capital resources and surplus cash on investments and projects so the company can continue to expand its business operations into the future. When companies reach maturity levels within their industry, managers of these companies will use surplus cash to payout dividends to shareholders. Managers must do an analysis to determine the appropriate allocation of the firm’s capital resources and cash surplus between projects and payouts of dividends to shareholders, as well as paying back creditor related debt.

Choosing between investment projects will be based upon several inter-related criteria.

(1) Corporate management seeks to maximize the value of the firm by investing in projects which yield a positive net present value when valued using an appropriate discount rate in consideration of risk.

(2) These projects must also be financed appropriately.

(3) If no growth is possible by the company and excess cash surplus is not needed to the firm, then financial theory suggests that management should return some or all of the excess cash to shareholders.

Capital budgeting is also concerned with the setting of criteria about which projects should receive investment funding to increase the value of the firm, and whether to finance that investment with equity or debt capital. Investments should be made on the basis of value-added to the future of the corporation. Projects that increase a firm’s value may include a wide variety of different types of investments, including but not limited to, expansion policies, or mergers and acquisitions. When no growth or expansion is possible by a corporation and excess cash surplus exists and is not needed, then management is expected to pay out some or all of those surplus earnings in the form of cash dividends or to repurchase the company’s stock through a share buyback program.

Personal Finance

Personal finance may involve paying for education, financing durable goods such as real estate and cars, buying insurance, e.g. health and property insurance, investing and saving for retirement.

Personal finance may also involve paying for a loan, or debt obligations. The six key areas of personal financial planning, as suggested by the Financial Planning Standards Board, are:[1]

  1. Financial position: is concerned with understanding the personal resources available by examining net worth and household cash flow. Net worth is a person’s balance sheet, calculated by adding up all assets under that person’s control, minus all liabilities of the household, at one point in time. Household cash flow totals up all the expected sources of income within a year, minus all expected expenses within the same year. From this analysis, the financial planner can determine to what degree and in what time the personal goals can be accomplished.
  2. Adequate protection: the analysis of how to protect a household from unforeseen risks. These risks can be divided into the following: liability, property, death, disability, health and long term care. Some of these risks may be self-insurable, while most will require the purchase of an insurance contract. Determining how much insurance to get, at the most cost effective terms requires knowledge of the market for personal insurance. Business owners, professionals, athletes and entertainers require specialized insurance professionals to adequately protect themselves. Since insurance also enjoys some tax benefits, utilizing insurance investment products may be a critical piece of the overall investment planning.
  3. Tax planning: typically the income tax is the single largest expense in a household. Managing taxes is not a question of if you will pay taxes, but when and how much. Government gives many incentives in the form of tax deductions and credits, which can be used to reduce the lifetime tax burden. Most modern governments use a progressive tax. Typically, as one’s income grows, a higher marginal rate of tax must be paid. Understanding how to take advantage of the myriad tax breaks when planning one’s personal finances can make a significant impact in which it can later save you money in the long term.
  4. Investment and accumulation goals: planning how to accumulate enough money – for large purchases and life events – is what most people consider to be financial planning. Major reasons to accumulate assets include, purchasing a house or car, starting a business, paying for education expenses, and saving for retirement. Achieving these goals requires projecting what they will cost, and when you need to withdraw funds that will be necessary to be able to achieve these goals. A major risk to the household in achieving their accumulation goal is the rate of price increases over time, or inflation. Using net present value calculators, the financial planner will suggest a combination of asset earmarking and regular savings to be invested in a variety of investments. In order to overcome the rate of inflation, the investment portfolio has to get a higher rate of return, which typically will subject the portfolio to a number of risks. Managing these portfolio risks is most often accomplished using asset allocation, which seeks to diversify investment risk and opportunity.
  5. Retirement planning is the process of understanding how much it costs to live at retirement, and coming up with a plan to distribute assets to meet any income shortfall. Methods for retirement plan include taking advantage of government allowed structures to manage tax liability including: individual (IRA) structures, or employer sponsoredretirement plans.
  6. Estate planning involves planning for the disposition of one’s assets after death. Typically, there is a tax due to the state or federal government at one’s death. Avoiding these taxes means that more of one’s assets will be distributed to one’s heirs. One can leave one’s assets to family, friends or charitable groups.