Topic: Family financial planning

Early Retirement is good for your health

Sound financial planning is not only good for your bank account – it could improve your life expectancy. If you’re reading this then you probably don’t need to be convinced of the benefits of looking after your money, but here’s another reason to add to the list.

The idea of retiring early can be most appealing. For some it will already be a reality, whilst wise financial planning may mean it’s perfectly achievable for those thinking about it. Research now suggests that an early retirement can also lengthen your life. Economists from the University of Amsterdam published a 2017 study in the Journal of Health and Economics which confirmed that male Dutch civil servants over the age of 54 who retired early were 42% less likely to die over the subsequent five years, compared to those who continued working.

Researchers put this life-extending phenomenon down to two main factors. First, when you retire you have more time to invest in your health. Whether that means you find more time to sleep, more time to exercise or simply more time to visit a doctor when an issue arises, you’ll see the benefit.

Secondly, work can be a great contributor to stress, creating hypertension which is in turn a huge risk factor for potentially fatal conditions. In the study, retirees were shown to be significantly less likely to fall victim to cardiovascular diseases or strokes.

Of course, there can be benefits to continuing to work. Participating in a work environment is a good way of keeping your mind and body active. On top of that, being part of a team helps develop and maintain a sense of purpose and belonging that is essential to cognitive health and development.

That’s not to say that all these benefits can’t be achieved outside of work; the key is to find a hobby, interest or cause to involve yourself in. As is so often the case, there’s no single solution. It’s important to find the best path for you, whether that’s staying in work, retiring early or going part-time. Whatever you choose, spend your time wisely as it could have a major impact on how long your retirement turns out to be.

There is no such thing as Plain Sailing

Embarking on a financial plan is like sailing around the world. The voyage won’t always go as planned and there will be rough seas, but the odds on reaching your destination increase greatly if you are prepared, disciplined, patient and well advised.

A mistake many inexperienced sailors make is setting sail without first having charted a course to embark on or without a clear sense of direction and once they finally decide on their destination, they find themselves lost at sea, in the wrong boat with inadequate provisions.

Likewise, in your financial planning journey, you need to decide on your goals. A first step might be to consider whether these are realistic and achievable. For instance, whilst you may long to retire to the South of France, you may not be prepared to sacrifice what you want to do today to satisfy tomorrow’s longer-term goal.

You need to ensure you have the right planning tools to get you there. Have you planned for contingencies? What degree of bad weather can your plan withstand along the way?

The key to a successful voyage is a good navigator. A financial adviser is like that, regularly taking coordinates and adjusting, if necessary. If your circumstances change, the adviser may suggest you re-plot your course.

As with the weather at sea, markets can be unpredictable. A sudden squall can whip up waves of volatility, tides can shift, and strong currents can threaten to blow you off course. Like a seasoned sailor, an experience adviser can help navigate you through these conditions.

Once the storm passes, you can pick up speed again. Just as a sturdy vessel will help you withstand

Where are we now?

I feel the above sketch by Carl Richards explains what we do for clients and what they can do for themselves at the beginning of our relationship so that we can work out where they are today.

When it comes to money, what we don’t know can hurt us. I’ve seen this truth play out time and again when people tell me that they want to take their finances seriously by investing and making plans for the future.

“Excellent,” I’ll say. “So, what can you tell me about your current finances?” Occasionally I have a client who is fully aware of what they have, but the most common response is a blank stare.

I’m not surprised.  Sometimes we just don’t want to know.  As soon as we start listing our current assets and liabilities, we come face to face with both our good and bad financial decisions.

Maybe we’ve done a great job of saving money every month, but we’ve also had a credit card balance for over a year. We need to know both the good and the bad. Otherwise, we can’t plan for the future. Getting a handle on our current reality starts with something simple: a personal balance sheet.

To start, grab a piece of blank paper. Draw a line down the middle. Write “Assets” on the left, “Liabilities” on the right. Then, make a list.

Assets are anything we own. Liabilities are any debts we owe. On the asset side, list things like savings accounts, ISA’s, Pensions and the value of a home. On the liabilities side, list things like credit card debt, a mortgage balance, and any other loans. For this process to work, we need exact numbers, especially for our liabilities. Be prepared to call credit card companies and banks if needed to get this information. Again, not knowing these numbers can hurt us.

Of course, the personal balance sheet may also reveal we’re better off than we think. That’s a good thing. We may have saved more and have less debt that we assumed. Once we have all the numbers, add them up. Then, subtract all the liabilities from the assets. This number equals our net worth and our current reality. This process seems simple enough.

The next step is however a little more complex. It needs discussion and some analysis. The “how do you get there?”; that all important middle step is where the advisor with a wealth of experience can help. However, if we keep avoiding or skipping this first step, we’ll have a difficult time figuring out where we want to go, let alone how to get there!

So if you’d like help understanding where you are now, or working out how you get to where you want to be, please do contact us.

 

Financial freedom- Creating and maintaining the right investment strategy

Our life is an endless series of daily choices, and how we manage those choices determines the outcome of our life. We all want financial freedom, but how will we achieve it? Financial goal-setting is the key to building wealth.

There are always going to be bumps in the road on every journey, which is why it’s essential to be flexible enough to adjust your plans when the unexpected happens. Your wealth creation objectives need to be able to adapt to whatever’s going on in your life. Nothing should stand between you and your long-term goals.

Creating and maintaining the right investment strategy plays a vital role in helping to secure your financial future. Whether you are looking to invest for income, growth or both, we can provide you with professional expert advice to help you achieve your financial goals. So what do you need to consider?

Set a goal and start early

Short term, ultra-specific goals are generally very easy to achieve as they don’t really involve any planning, but longer-term goals on the other hand require you to actually plan out how you are going to achieve the goal. Remember that wealth creation is about creating a lifestyle of your choosing, and the earlier you start to invest, the sooner you can enjoy the benefits of compound growth working for you to build value and make your money work harder for you.

By taking the time to step into your future, you can look back and visualise what needs to happen today for you to enjoy the lifestyle you want tomorrow. Ask yourself these three questions to help you visualise your future needs: what do I have? What do I want? When do I want it?

Develop an investment habit

If you think that investing a few hundred pounds every month will offer little in return, you should change your mindset. To start your investment strategy, you should adopt a stable and organised investment routine that will help you achieve your goals. Compound growth is the central pillar of investing. It is why investing works so well over the long term.

The more you invest and the earlier you start will mean your investments have that much more time and potential to grow. By investing early and staying invested, you’ll also be able to take advantage of compound earnings. Making money on your money is the concept behind compounding. Compounding is when the money you earn from your investments is reinvested for the opportunity to earn even more. However, you need to keep in mind that while compounding can make an impact over many years, there may be periods where your money won’t grow.

Be consistent

Many people stop their investment planning particularly during market downturns, as we’ve seen in recent weeks. By doing this, they often miss out on opportunities to invest at lower prices. If you keep to your investment strategy and keep moving ahead consistently, this helps spread risk and enables you to grow your wealth for the long term through pound-cost averaging and careful asset allocation.

It’s important to remember that investing is an ongoing process, not a one-time activity. The right way to begin your investment strategy is by establishing goals that need to be achieved over the short, medium and long term. Secondly, it is necessary to assess your current position in the financial lifecycle. Thirdly, you must ascertain your risk profile, as that decides how much risk you should take while investing. This is particularly important as different financial objectives require different investments approaches.

Maintain a well-diversified portfolio with regular reviews

Regular reviews of your portfolio enable you to adjust your portfolio to meet your changing needs and risk appetite at different stages of your life and in different market conditions. This helps you keep up your investing momentum towards achieving your long-term financial goals. It’s also important not to put all your investment eggs into one basket.

Investing randomly into different asset classes without ascertaining their asset allocation, not following a disciplined approach to investing, exiting abruptly from an asset class and investing without a clear time horizon are some of the most apparent inconsistencies in any investment process.

Create the right investment strategy

We recognise that choosing how to invest your money can seem daunting. When it comes to planning for your future and that of your family, you’ll want to be sure that you have everything covered. We help our clients set goals and then create the right investment strategy to achieve them, whether it’s growing family wealth or leaving a legacy. We know everyone is unique and has different priorities. To discuss your future dreams, please contact us.

 

 

The above information is provided for information only. It does not constitute investment advice, recommendation or an offer of any services and is not intended to provide a sufficient basis on which to make an investment decision.

Pensioners embracing the benefits of retirement and new-found time

As with any new life stage, planning often helps a smooth transition from the old to the new.  Preparing properly for anything new requires planning and commitment. Spending time on planning now will ensure you enjoy the retirement you’ve worked hard to achieve.

According to new research[1], retirement has meant a new lease of life for millions of people who have given up work in the last ten years, with more than one in four (26%) saying they are fitter and healthier since they stopped working. Far from winding down, nearly half of those who have retired since the height of the financial crisis (48%) say they are busier and more active than they anticipated.

Experience of retirement

Through embracing the benefits of retirement and making the most of the new-found time, more than one in three (35%) say they have more time to make their life more adventurous than they could have hoped while they were still at work.

When asked how else their experience of retirement was exceeding their expectations, many of those who have become pensioners in the last ten years pointed to improvements in their relationships. More than a quarter (26%) believe they now get on better with their partner, while 25% think that their relationship with their family is happier since stopping work. Meanwhile, just under one in four (23%) say their social life has improved more than they expected.

Professional financial advice

As people who plan to finish work in the next ten years begin to look forward to their retirement, there’s plenty they can still do to make sure they are as comfortable as the people who have become pensioners over the last decade. Most importantly, in the face of changing pension rules, many people will benefit from obtaining professional financial advice in the run-up to retirement.

Retirement will continue to change over the coming years, but for many people the desire to make the most of their new-found free time will remain. Reflecting on their retirement in general, the vast majority who gave up work in the last ten years (86%) said that it had met their expectations or they were happy with how it had panned out so far, while only one in eight (13%) said that it has been a disappointment.

Thoughts, feelings, emotions

Nearly two in five (37%) thought they would have missed work more than they have since retiring, and in fact one in four (26%) wish they had retired earlier. Meanwhile, on reflection, more than one in ten (11%) wish they had been more active or found a job in the early years of their retirement.

It’s important to prepare your thoughts, feelings and emotions for the next phase in your life: a time to look forward to and welcome as a chance to do the things you have been dreaming about, as well as a rest after a long career. There is likely to be a mixture of feelings and thoughts as you start on this new venture into uncharted territory.

Any concerns about your retirement?

If you have any concerns about your retirement provision or would like to assess your personal circumstances to see what type of retirement income your current planning will give you once you’ve retired, please contact us. If your goals are out of reach, or you’re taking undue levels of risk, we’ll let you know.

 

Source Data:

[1] Consumer Intelligence conducted an independent online survey for Prudential between 26 May and 5 June 2017 among 751 adults in the UK who had retired within the last ten years.

 

Avoiding hidden dangers in retirement

Make sure you don’t run out of money or face a reduced standard of living

Increasingly, more and more pensioners are keeping the bulk of their pension fund invested after they retire. This means they’re faced with two very different risks when deciding what to do with their savings in retirement in a world of ‘pension freedoms’. Since April 2015, people who reach retirement have had much greater flexibility over how they use their funds to pay for their later years.

A recent report [1] identified that many savers in retirement are either taking ‘too little’ risk (the ‘risk averse’ retiree) or taking ‘the wrong sort’ of risk (the ‘reckless’ retiree). Each of these approaches increases the danger of a saver either running out of money during their retirement or having to face a reduced standard of living.

The risk-averse retiree – how can you take too little risk?

An example of taking ‘too little’ risk is the saver who takes their tax-free cash at retirement and invests the rest in an ultra-low-risk investment such as a Cash ISA, believing this to be the safe approach. The report points out that ‘investing in retirement is still long-term investing’ and shows that decades of low-return saving can seriously damage the living standards of retirees.

It highlights the case of someone who retired ten years ago with an illustrative pension pot of £100,000 which they invested in cash. Assuming they withdrew money at £7,500 per year (in line with annuity rates at the time), they would now be down to £27,000 and likely to run out in around four years’ time, less than fifteen years into retirement. By contrast, if the same money had been invested in just UK shares, there would still be around £48,000 left in the pot, despite the 2008 stock market, and market volatility.

The reckless retiree – what is ‘the wrong sort’ of risk?

In an era of low interest rates, some retired people may be tempted to seek out more unusual forms of investment with apparently high rates of return but accompanied by much greater risk to their capital. Examples could include peer-to-peer lending, investment in aircraft leasing or even crypto currencies such as bitcoin.

Concentrated exposure to a single, potentially volatile investment can produce very poor outcomes, particularly if bad returns come early in retirement.

The rational retiree – what is the best way to handle risk in retirement?

Rather than invest in an ultra-low-risk way or chase individual high-risk investments, the report identifies a ‘third way’ of spreading risk across a range of assets, including company shares, bonds and property, both at home and abroad. This multi-asset approach can be expected to provide better returns over retirement than cautious investing in cash but also helps to smooth the ups and downs of individual investments.

The pension freedoms introduced in 2015 opened new possibilities for people in retirement, but they created new dangers as well. There is the danger of being too cautious and not making your money work hard enough – investing in retirement is still long-term investing. There is also the danger of taking the wrong sort of risk, seeking high returns but putting your capital at risk. Spreading money across a range of asset classes and in different markets at home and abroad is likely to deliver better returns in retirement – and a more sustainable income – than remaining in cash, without exposing you to the capital risks that can come from chasing after more exotic or risky types of investment.

Help to ensure your expectations are fulfilled

By understanding your retirement plans, we can help ensure your expectations are fulfilled by establishing tailored plans to preserve your capital, produce income and pass on wealth securely and efficiently. If you would like to review your current planning provision, please contact us – we look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

Source data

[1] Research report published 13 January 2018 by mutual insurer Royal London

Warnings

  •  The article above is provided for information only. It does not constitute advice, a personal recommendation or an offer of any services and is not intended to provide a sufficient basis on which to make a decision.
  • These investments do not include the same security of capital which is afforded with a deposit account.  You may get back less than the amount invested.
  • The value of investments and income from them may go down.   You may not get back the original amount you invested
  • Assessing pension benefits early may impact on levels of retirement income and is not suitable for everyone.  You should seek advice to understand your options at retirement

 

Helping you realise your retirement vision

We’ve now entered a new age of retirement planning with the introduction of pension freedoms. But Britain has an ageing population, highlighted by the fact that the number of telegrams sent by the British Monarch to 100-year-olds has risen from 24 in 1917 to nearly 7,000 today.

It is projected that the number of centenarians – people who live to 100 years old and beyond – will continue to rise by more than tenfold over the next 30 years (when the NHS will also celebrate its 100th birthday). This growth is due to the higher birth rate between the First and Second World Wars, and dramatic improvements in health and healthcare.

Thinking about pensions sooner rather than later can mean the difference between a comfortable retirement and struggling to make ends meet. Unfortunately, some people put off retirement planning when they are young because they think they’ve got time on their side. However, the earlier you start saving for your future, the bigger the pension pot you’ll end up with when you’re older.

Seven pension tips for nurturing your nest egg 

Research shows we’re more likely to achieve our financial goals if we write them down and start with a clear plan of action. Work out what financial goals you want to achieve, then break them down into realistic steps that will lead you there. We’ve provided seven pension tips for you to consider to keep your retirement plans on track at the start of the New Year.

  1. Consider consolidating your pension pots – while it might be hard to keep track of pensions with job changes, the Government offers a free Pension Tracing Service. Bringing your pension pots together may help you manage them but take care to understand the benefits associated with the existing contract, along with any potential risks/disadvantages of transferring the funds – and always seek professional financial advice to see if it’s suitable for you.
  2. Make use of your tax reliefs on pension contributions – when you can do this, particularly at higher rates, this can be beneficial. The Government may well revisit pension tax relief post-Brexit to help ‘balance the books’.
  3. Maximise your workplace pension contributions – if your employer pays a contribution that is linked to your contribution, see if it’s affordable for you to pay the maximum to receive your employer’s maximum.
  4. Invest for the long term – there have been various moments of uncertainty in the markets – think back to the ‘crash’ of 1987, which now looks like a blip. Keep an open mind, and don’t panic or have a knee-jerk reaction. You must remember that when investing in the stock markets, it is inevitable that there will be times of volatility when you need to weather the storm.
  5. Review your State Pension entitlement – given so many changes, it is worth keeping your finger on the pulse and looking at what you may need to do to top up to the maximum entitlement available.
  6. Review your expected expenditure in retirement – it’s key that you clearly establish ‘essential’ and ‘discretionary’ spending, so that in poor market conditions you can always look to reduce income from pension funds if necessary to cut back on discretionary expenditure that can wait for another day.
  7. Ensure your income in retirement is set up as tax-efficiently as possible –making full use of all available tax allowances/exemptions is crucial. Don’t forget to look at how different tax wrappers can work for you.

What does retirement mean to you?

From stopping work altogether to a slow and gradual reduction of commitments, retirement means different things to different people. Making sure you can sustain the level of income you need as you move away from full-time employment or your business interests is key to a long and happy retirement. To discuss your requirements, please contact us.

Source data: 

Investor Pulse Survey – BlackRock’s Global Investor Pulse Survey examines investing attitudes and behaviours across the world. The 2017 survey included 28,000 respondents in 18 countries. The UK sample included 4,000 respondents between the ages of 25 and 74. Survey conducted in Q1 2017.

 

 

How much money do you need to retire?

You may have had it drilled into you from an early age that you should save. Being a diligent sort of person, you may have always done that; maximising your yearly ISA allowance, putting 6% of your salary into your pension, investing wisely, even purchasing a buy-to-let property as an additional investment.

But once you’re into the habit, is there a danger of saving too much? More importantly, when can you afford to stop?

Of course, it’s different for everyone. Perhaps a more relevant question is what kind of lifestyle are you planning for when you have financial independence and how much will you need to meet those requirements?

Our culture today is focused on acquiring things: the latest iPhone, that designer jacket you’ve seen, a top of the range sports car. There comes a point, however, when we reach a kind of saturation point without even realising it. That’s why it’s good to take a step back and consider how much money you really need.

Once your basic needs are met,

The bank that likes to say ‘yes’

Repeated pay-outs to children could have a detrimental impact on your own long-term saving

Many parents who are in a position to do so would want to provide financial help to their children. However, in many cases, this financial support ends up being gifts from Mum and Dad rather than the loans from the Bank of Mum and Dad they start out as.

Long-term dent

These written-off loans risk making a long-term dent in the finances of parents, often at the stage in their lives when they would like their money to be invested for the future and working hard for them in a pension. If the choice is between providing loans to their children or continuing to contribute to a pension, parents should obtain professional financial advice before making that decision.

On average, those who have lent money to their children or grandchildren are owed £12,700, and more than one in ten (11%) of the Bank of Mum and Dad’s loans are for figures of more than £20,000.

Repaid in full

Research from Prudential[i] has revealed that in many cases, the Bank of Mum and Dad doesn’t expect its loans to be repaid in full, with more than two in five (44%) parents who have lent money to their families admitting it is unlikely that they will ever see the full amount of money again.

However, the potential for significant financial loss from written-off loans doesn’t appear to deter them. More than two thirds (68%) of the parents interviewed have already loaned money to their families, or have definite plans to do so in the future, while the remaining (32%) all hope to be in a position to act as their children’s preferred lender sometime in the future.

Considering lending

Of those parents who are considering lending to their offspring in the future, many are also unsure they will get the money back – nearly two fifths (37%) think it is unlikely

Your Wealth – Your Legacy

In my recent blog ‘to gift or not to gift’ I talked about how too much money can leave you with a difficult quandary regarding gifting. But what is too much money, and have you even considered your Legacy or Inheritance Tax?

Data from the Office of National Statistics shows that IHT receipts increased by 22.9% in the first quarter of this tax year. The figures show that since March, more than £2billion has been taken from people’s estates in IHT.

According to new research[1], almost half of UK Adults (47%) say they have never discussed Inheritance matters.  Talking about estate planning can of course be an extremely emotional subject as people generally don’t like talking about death or money. However, research shows that around one in ten people would like to talk about it but haven’t found the right time, whilst some people just don’t know where to start.

Amongst the most common reasons given for not discussing Inheritance are; not old enough so it’s not a priority, don’t like talking about it, and avoiding it because it’s a morbid subject.

However, whilst approximately a third of people say they don’t feel comfortable talking about their legacy, there are some life events that may prompt people to talk to loved ones, such as a health scare, a near death experience and getting older. Research suggests that after their partner or spouse, people feel most comfortable talking to their mum or a financial adviser in the first instance.

So just what can you pass on?

When someone dies, the value of their estate becomes liable for IHT. Everyone is entitled to pass on assets up to the value of £325,000 IHT-free. This is called the ‘nil-rate band’. It hasn’t changed since 2009 and will remain frozen until 2021.  Any excess above £325,000 is taxed at 40%.

Residence nil-rate band

The new £100,000 residence nil-rate band was introduced in April 2017. It will increase in steps to £175,000 in April 2020 so married couples or registered civil partners with children will be able to pass on up to £1 million IHT free, as this is in addition to the ‘nil rate band’.  However, the residence nil rate band is only available when passing on the family home, or the value from the sale of it, to a direct descendant, so it is important to consider structuring your estate to make the most of these allowances.

5 Conversational topics to have with your loved ones

  1. The importance of an up to date will – When you are making a will, this is a good time to talk to your family about your wishes. Research found that just four in ten over 55’s have an up to date and valid will.
  2. Take advantage of the gift allowance – gifting small sums or money regularly throughout the year can be a great way to financially help loved ones, as well as reduce your IHT liability. See my previous blog http://carpenter-rees.co.uk/blog/gift-not-gift/ for further information on gifting.
  3. Let life events help you start a conversation – It’s not only negative events that can prompt a discussion about inheritance matters. Positive events such as the birth of a child or a marriage can also make people evaluate their plans. Use these opportunities as a way of talking to relatives about how you would like to pass on your wealth.
  4. Talk about later life care – Social care is a much talked about topic, and many people are worried about how they will pay for care when they get older. As a result, people are starting to plan for this earlier, and this provides an ideal opportunity to also talk about your estate planning.
  5. Talk about family heirlooms – If you find it hard to approach the subject of estate planning with your family, then a good place to start could be talking about family heirlooms. People love to hear stories about other relatives even if they never had the chance to meet them and this can be a great opportunity to start a conversation about estate planning.

For more information, please see the November / December edition of our smartmoney magazine, http://carpenter-rees.co.uk/resources.html

Planning for what will happen after your death can make the lives of your loved ones much easier. To discuss putting in place an estate plan to reduce or mitigate Inheritance Tax, please contact us – don’t leave it to chance.

 

[1] Brewin Dolphin