Expert Interview with Liz Koh About Maintaining Financial Stability for Mint

Liz Koh knows that financial concerns are universal. She also knows that financial problems can be addressed no matter who you are or what your needs may be.

Koh is a financial planner who started Moneymax, a New Zealand company, to provide wealth creation, wealth management and wealth protection advice to help individuals achieve the important things in life.

Her insights on financial matters have been published in dozens of newspapers, magazines and websites. She also wrote Your Money Personality: Unlock the Secret to a Rich and Happy Life.

Koh shares her advice on helping individuals in every stage of life and with all sorts of financial needs to get out of debt, stay out of debt, and create the financial stability they desire.

Moneymax offers readers with advice on how to create, manage and maintain wealth at various levels. What makes Moneymax unique in that arena?

Moneymax specializes in providing cost-effective advice for clients. We deal with people at all levels - from those who are just setting out in their career, to couples saving to buy their first home, to families struggling from one payday to the next, to those with significant sums to invest. We understand that people who need general financial advice on how to manage their money are not able to pay big fees to an adviser, so we have developed systems to help these people in a cost-effective way.

As a financial planner, what are some of the most common concerns/questions that you come across from your clients?

When I ask my clients what they want in life, they most often say they just want to be comfortable financially without having to worry about money. Moneymax has the aim of helping people to enjoy life. They also want to know how to invest their money without taking too much risk, while still getting a reasonable return. Quite often, clients simply want to know whether they are on the right track and how they compare to their peers.

Your blog features a wide variety of topics, but I noticed that you write about mortgages. What are some of the biggest challenges people face when paying for a mortgage? What kinds of tips do you offer to help those individuals pay off the mortgage faster?

The biggest issue I see with mortgages is that people don't leave themselves enough "wriggle room." They take on too much debt and then when interest rates go up or their income changes (for example, through sickness, redundancy or starting a family), life becomes a real struggle. There are lots of ways to pay off a mortgage faster.

Many banks now offer an offset arrangement where your savings offset your mortgage for interest calculation. This means you can pay off your mortgage in chunks, by saving as hard as you can and then repaying a chunk of your mortgage. Another good tip is to increase your mortgage repayments every time you get a pay rise. Increasing the frequency of your repayments can also keep interest down. Don't be tempted to increase your mortgage to pay for non-essential expenses such as holidays.

What kind of advice do you offer to those looking for more financial protection?

People often forget that there are two sides to wealth - creating it and protecting it. I work with clients to identify the risks that people face which could erode their wealth, such as illness, death of a partner or other family member, separation or divorce and business failure. We then look to measure the risk and decide how to deal with it, for example through insurance, wills, ownership structures and legal agreements. There are many aspects to risk, and it pays to get expert help.

When individuals think that they will never retire or never be free of debt, what kind of advice or tips do you extend to these people?

There are many ways to build wealth, and it can be done even on a small income. In simple terms, there are four aspects to look at - how to increase income (for example, renting a room in your house, retraining for a higher paying job), how to reduce expenses by cutting out non-essentials, how to manage your money more effectively and how to use other people's money to create wealth (for example, by setting up a business or buying an investment property). There are very few people who can't save if they are disciplined enough.

Tell us about some of the services Moneymax and/or a certified professional planner can offer.

Moneymax offers a full range of services from advice on money management to debt reduction, saving for retirement and investment. The level of advice ranges from coaching to the preparation of financial or investment plans.

What are some of the most important reasons to use a certified professional planner?

Most successful sports people use a coach, and people who want to get fit hire a personal trainer. Using a financial planner will help you achieve your financial goals more quickly and successfully. Always use a planner who is certified so you can be sure you are getting quality advice.

As a New Zealand-based business, do your tips pertain specifically to those living in New Zealand, or can individuals from around the world benefit from Moneymax?

Money issues are universal. It doesn't matter which country you live in - everyone faces the same problems. Specific product solutions will of course vary between countries.

Your blog about aging and dementia gives readers a chance to think about how to have their financial affairs in order before they reach an age where they may not be able to communicate their needs. What measures should one take to make sure all of their finances are in order throughout their lives?

The best way to keep things in order is to set a time once a year to review everything (budget, debts, insurance, investments, etc.) and to sort out your files. Make a date with your money! It might be a particular month or a particular date - just choose one and keep that same time blocked out every year. Once it becomes a habit, you will never get behind.

Please share anything else you would like to say about Moneymax and/or professional planners.

We at Moneymax love helping people with money and seeing the difference even a small amount of advice can make to people's lives.

Follow Koh on Facebook and Twitter