There will always come a time when you need to access some of the money you have saved. After all, you put it away for a purpose.

But, unfortunately, investments don’t operate like bank accounts. Withdrawing funds is often not as easy as simply logging onto an app and making a transfer. Units need to be sold, managers need to be notified, and there is an admin process that needs to be followed.

Particularly if you are dealing with funds invested offshore, getting the money into your local bank account can take a week or more. You also have to consider the tax implications.

While we will always do everything we can to make sure you get access to your money as quickly as possible, bear in mind that a withdrawal from any investment takes time. Here are some general guidelines about what you can expect when asking us to get access to your money:

• If you are making a withdrawal from a local unit trust, this process takes around five to seven working days. Each company has different turnaround times, but you should plan at least a week ahead in order to have the money in your account when you need it.

• The same applies if the withdrawal is from unit trusts in a tax-free savings account (TFSA). However, it is important to bear in mind that you have an annual and lifetime limit for how much you can put into a TFSA. If you take money out, you don’t get to take that off your limit. It is essentially lost.

• If you have money in a local endowment, you are only allowed one withdrawal in the first five years, and how much you can take may be limited. It usually takes five to seven working days for these to be processed, assuming all withdrawal conditions are met.

• You might also have to pay capital gains tax on funds you withdraw from an endowment. This is usually possible to estimate, but it is very difficult to guarantee exactly what the final amount will be.

• If you are withdrawing from an offshore investment, the process usually takes 10 to 15 working days.

• When funds arrive from offshore, your local bank should notify you and give instructions on how to transfer that money into rands. This will be done at their specific exchange rate, which can differ from bank to bank, and will not be the same as the rate you hear quoted in the daily news bulletins.

• Remember to make allowance for bank charges when received foreign currency.

• To retire or withdrawing from a pension, provident fund or retirement annuity, you need a tax directive from SARS. And SARS will only issue this directive if your tax affairs are in order.

• Withdrawals from these retirement products can be severely taxed. Be sure to discuss the implications before taking any money from your retirement savings.

Overall, how quickly you can access funds and the taxes that might apply depend on where the money is invested, what kind of product it is in, how much you need, and the investment company that is managing it. Before making any withdrawal, it is best to discuss all of these implications with us.