January 25, 2023

The Willow Tree Way

What’s in a name? Well, when it comes to Willow Tree Financial Services, our business name is almost as well considered as our services themselves.

When we choose a product or service provider – any product or service provider, but particularly the important stuff, it’s essential that we feel comfortable with the brand behind the business.

This involves everything from their brand principles, to the individuals and teams running the show. We’d consider your financial planning as the “important stuff”, so it’s vital that you feel at ease with every aspect of Willow Tree Financial Services, from the beginning.

Hi, I’m Rachael, Financial adviser and founder of Willow Tree Financial Services, and I’d like to take 5 minutes of your time to explain a little more about our business name. Or, more significantly, the brand principles behind and within our business name.

I named Willow Tree Financial Services after my dog, Willow. But do you want to know why I then added Tree onto the end? It is because trees are so symbolic of finances.

A healthy tree has strength, stability, and structure, standing firm and withstanding the greatest of challenges. And the remarkable thing about the willow tree, is its adaptability - how it can not only survive, but thrive, in some of the most challenging conditions.

In fact, the willow tree is one of the few trees that is capable of bending in outrageous poses without snapping. The branches are flexible and strong, bending without breaking. They channel all their energy into fortifying themselves. They take in nutrients that enable them to put down new, deeper roots - and help them branch out in search of sunlight. This helps to ensure that they’re strong and better prepared to withstand any adverse conditions that may lie ahead, from wind and rain to drought and more. The parallels between the willow tree and good financial management are evident, and I decided to use the willow tree as a source of inspiration when it came to building our brand ethos. Willow Tree is more than just a name. It’s a way of living, growing, and thriving.

How strong is your root system?

A healthy root system creates a stable foundation for nurturing growth, and the resilience required to thrive under challenging and stressful conditions.

Your income forms the roots of your finances and, without strong roots, the tree will wither and die.

Without an income - no matter the source - not only can you not afford to live, but you cannot sustain the branches and leaves that form your future.

It is vital your roots are well cared for. This means protecting your income, before doing anything else.

What about the trunk?

The trunk consists of five main parts: The outer bark, inner bark, cambium, sapwood and heartwood. Bear with me, this is perhaps the most significant analogy. From the outside of the tree working in:

1. The first layer is the outer bark; this is the protective outermost layer of the trunk.

2. Under this is the inner bark which is how the tree transports nutrients from the roots to the shoots and vice versa.

3. The next layer is the cambium, which contains the growth meristem of the trunk.

4. Directly inside of the cambium is the sapwood. These cells transport the water through the tree. The xylem also stores starch inside the tree.

5. Finally at the centre of the tree is the heartwood. This keeps other organisms from infecting and growing in the centre of the tree.

A damaged or infected trunk will prevent leaves from growing, flowers from blooming and fruit from ripening.

To ensure this doesn’t happen to your finances, the elements of your trunk are;

  • Life insurance
  • Critical/serious illness insurance
  • An emergency fund
  • Knowing your assets and liabilities
  • A good credit file
  • A sensible budget and spending plan
  • Wills and Powers of Attorney

What are your branches growing?

Just as different species of tree can grow different shaped leaves, and come to bear different fruit, each person will have different plans for their future.

Based on the stages of a financial life cycle, branches could look like;

  • Saving for a deposit
  • Buying a first home
  • Saving for retirement
  • Saving for travel
  • Saving for home renovations
  • Remortgage
  • Moving to a new home
  • Buying investment property
  • Repaying debt
  • Saving for your children’s future
  • Paying for school fees

Before you can grow strong and resilient financial branches, you need to root your tree. This is where we come in.

When financial decisions are made in a vacuum and are not tied to a bigger picture, it can threaten your ability to accomplish all of your goals. A Financial Plan helps to build a strong foundation while anticipating the unexpected, so that you’re in a better position to weather changing circumstances. It provides a framework for evaluating important decisions—from career changes, to buying a new house —in a manner that’s aligned with your goals and time frame. While the planning process cannot eliminate surprises or unexpected events, it can help provide the confidence that you are positioned to weather any storms that come your way. Who you choose to work with to put a comprehensive strategy in place also makes a difference—especially as your wealth grows over time and managing it becomes more complex. Partnering with an adviser helps to ensure that the important financial and tax planning advice you receive is not only in your best interest, but is implemented in a timely manner to support your goals.

When you work with us, we follow a proven process. We offer Financial Planning. This means that rather than focusing on the individual financial products you have, or could have, we focus on YOU.

We’ll help you work out what you want from life, and then create the plan (a financial tree of life, if you will) to make it happen.

Step 1 – Understanding you

We want to get to know you, your hopes and aspirations. We also want to you to know us – what to expect from using us, and how you will benefit. It is important that you feel comfortable and trust our advice. This initial meeting is with our compliments. Then, should you wish to instruct us and only when you feel comfortable with us, we move onto step 2.

Step 2 – Information Gathering

We’ll be asking for details of assets, income, outgoings and all plans and policies.

This can sound like a scary prospect for many people and we know that it can be off-putting to some potential clients, but you needn’t worry when you’re working with us. For example, if, like many, you shove all your documents in a drawer, don’t worry. We get it. We can sort through and organise the paperwork reducing it down to what is relevant and necessary. It’s not a problem and we don’t judge – we are providing a service and we want to make things as easy as possible for you. You can leave it with us.

Step 3 - Planning

Where possible we will make the best use of your existing arrangements, analysing them to see if they fit in with your plans. We’ll then build on these, working out what is needed to ensure you reach your goals.

We’ll create your financial plan – this will document your goals and creates the strategy we recommend for reaching them. Your plan is individual to you, taking account of your personal and family situation, as well as analysis of your risk tolerance and future expectations.

We will include a range of scenarios, not only on what you have asked us to look at - but including any other areas we feel are important, based on what we have leaned about you.

Together we will agree the right next steps for you to take at this time. And we’ll be right here for you, as and when life changes.

Step 4 – Implementation

Like many of our clients, you may well want us to take the administrative burden from you, putting in the necessary work to put your plan into action.

This will save you time and effort, and ensure your plans are set up correctly.

Step 5 – Ensuring your Tree is nourished

Many of our clients like to meet annually to check the progress of their plans.

You decide the level of service you need, and how often you need it.

These ongoing planning meetings are a chance for us to update you, but also for us to revisit your attitude to risk, ensure you don’t miss out on any tax allowances, and tell you if you will be affected by any changes to legislation or taxation.

We will also discuss any new options we could be taking advantage of to grow or protect your wealth.

If you make use of our ongoing service, then you will have the peace of mind that we are still here for you between our scheduled meetings and can act quickly should a change in circumstances necessitate a change to your financial plan.

The Willow Tree can teach us how to be more resilient. The mature tree can be quite impressive, growing to be several metres tall and living for many of years. Yet when you look at a tree, you don’t see the amount of growth that it undergoes daily.

Much like a person’s finances, you’re unable to observe a tree growing because the amount of growth at any given time is typically insignificant. However, even when you’re unable to notice that a tree is growing, it still is. After many years of small — yet consistent — growth, a tree will eventually evolve into something very substantial. Just like compound interest does to your money.

But, before we put up branches, we must put down roots.

If you want to know more about how we can help with mortgages, investments, retirement, insurances or estate planning, please get in touch.

The big print:

The value of investments and the income they produce can fall as well as rise. You may get back less than you invested.

The value of pensions and the income they produce can fall as well as rise. You may get back less than you invested.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

Will writing is not part of the Quilter Financial Planning offering and is offered in our own right. Quilter Financial Planning accept no responsibility for this aspect of our business.

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