The new financial year is a chance to lay good foundations

WELCOME to a new financial year - and the opportunity to lay some solid foundations for the year ahead.

As always, the past year has been a challenging one, and market gyrations in the Eurozone indicate more challenges ahead.

Market movements are nothing new. What makes the coming year unique is a growing awareness of the immense challenges we will face due to the combination of an aging population and a world that is deep in debt.

Already this is manifesting itself in a change of attitude to the age pension. It was once regarded as a right - now it is regarded as welfare.

Interest rates are at historic lows and are almost certain to go lower.

This may be great news for anybody paying off a loan but makes it tough for many retirees who are nervous about growth assets such as shares and property.

If you are one of these nervous souls, I suggest talking to an adviser about making a small foray into managed funds that invest in local and international shares. You may have 30 years of living ahead of you, and you'll almost certainly run out of spending money if you stick with cash in the bank.

If you're over 55, you should be pouring as much money as you can into superannuation. Certainly, you need to keep cash available for emergencies, but there is no point in leaving money lying in bank accounts where the interest is fully taxable, when you can move it to superannuation - where income will be taxed at just 15%. There is no entry tax on non-concessional contributions and once you reach 60 you can make withdrawals tax-free as needed.

The start of a new year is the perfect time to think about finding yourself a financial adviser. Regulations, markets, investment products and strategies are continually evolving, and you need someone who can help you optimise your financial position.

A good adviser will help you crystallise your goals and set in place specific strategies to reach them.

Good advice doesn't cost, it pays.

*Noel Whittaker is the author of Making Money Made Simple. His advice is general and readers should seek their own professional advice before making any financial decisions. Email: