Melanie Nutbeam
Melanie Nutbeam
Melanie Nutbeam is an award-winning financial planning professional based in Hong Kong. She is a Certified Financial Planner TM (Australia) and has diplomas in finance, investment and law. She is also Vice-Chair of the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and Macau. She can be reached at [email protected]

Life is a lottery. Why bother with financial planning? Life is a lottery and, even for the most controlling, mostly beyond our control. All we can hope for is to manage the odds and relish the evens. Financial planning is, at least, risk management and, at best, wealth enhancement.

I'm 45 and my annual health checks are great with no hint of the heart problems that killed my Dad and his Dad. My wife is 47 and in good health but smokes. My employer provides generous medical benefits for the family. I love my job and have no plans to move but my industry is fickle. Should I look for some sort of back-up cover?

We have property in Australia and a bit of superannuation there. Was there anything arising from last month's federal budget that we should be aware of?

Rising property values have increased our equity in our Hong Kong home. We are thinking of increasing our current home mortgage to buy a property in Britain or Canada. We are in our mid-50s and plan to repay the loan from the sale of our Wan Chai investment flat when we retire at 65. This flat is mortgaged to about 70 per cent of its value. What do you think?


My wife and I are permanent residents and jointly own our home. We have separated and I would like to buy my own flat. Will I be exempt from the new higher stamp duties?

Should I consolidate my MPF accounts?  Regardless of the sum in your Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) accounts, it's worth considering consolidation. The MPF Authority (MPFA) is on a mission to encourage people to do this. There are over two million scheme members and four million accounts. You, and all scheme members holding multiple accounts, will soon receive a letter from the MPFA recommending consolidation.

Recent events in Cyprus remind all of us that you cannot always count on the cash in the bank. It is vulnerable to bank runs, financial crises, institutional failures and government edicts - of which recent Asian history provides many, many examples.

We arrived in Hong Kong a few months ago. My partner's initial contract is for two years with another two likely after that. Do you have any personal finance tips for us, or comments on pitfalls to avoid?

My wife and I are British/Irish. We plan to sell our property in Hong Kong and use the money to retire to Britain. Should we look for an adviser here or in Britain and what steps should we take?

How is financial planning different for women? Women generally earn less than men, earn over shorter periods, and live longer. This means they face greater challenges accumulating the wealth needed for financial security throughout retirement.

My husband and I have owned our flat here for more than 35 years. For succession planning, we would like to add the names of our two children (living and working abroad) to the title deeds of the property. Would this involve any duty or tax at any stage and, if so, would it be wise to do it in the current financial climate? We are about to start making our wills.

We plan to retire to Australia in five to 10 years. Should we transfer our monthly surplus to an Australian superannuation fund so we don't pay as much tax when we're there?

We would like our family budget to include giving to charities. How should we incorporate this? Giving is often spontaneous. Things happen over the course of a year that tug at the heart strings and loosen the purse strings. This is as it should be but you can also approach gift giving in the context of your wider financial objectives, so as not to compromise family goals.