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

Landscape – Why Delay? You Can Start Improving Your Health Right Now!

A busy 40- to 50-hour work week, kids that need shuttling to and from school and extra-curriculars … and a gradually decreasing metabolism.

Sound familiar?

Young, working couples with no kids may have more time to be active and healthy. Long morning walks, three trips to the gym every week playing sport with friends cooking their way through gourmet recipes.

Then life happens. Children, promotions at work that lead to more responsibility and longer hours.

A couple’s free time together begins to dry up. Five-a- side night turns into crashing on the couch for a few hours before bed. Weekend bike trips or trivia nights turn into weekend rushes to and from kids’ parties or sporting activities and gourmet cookbooks are replaced by fast food menus.

Then there’s the money crunch. Even couples with a financial plan in place tend to worry more about money once a mortgage, car payments, and children enter the picture. Many couples start pinching pennies at the expense of their creature comforts and well-being. New clothes and a replacement for that worn-out mattress aren’t as important as saving for college tuition or eventual retirement. Frozen meals and take-aways are quick fixes when there’s so little time to cook a good meal before your daughter’s dance lessons.

The Result

The risks involved when we start neglecting our health are real, and harder to correct as we continue to age. But there are emotional consequences as well, especially if one spouse slips out of shape faster than the other. Innocuous suggestions like, “Let’s take a trip to the farmer’s market” or “How about we re-start our gym membership?” can feel laced with criticism. A loss of confidence, feelings of depression, and inattentiveness to basic hygiene and appearance can follow. Money – already the most common source of marital friction – will continue to be a barrier to self-improvement. Unhealthy people don’t like being told they’re unhealthy, and will often put off preventative care, like annual checkups.

If you or your spouse are struggling with a similar scenario, take a moment to work through the following questions and suggestions together:

Questions to Ask

Are you and your spouse able to maintain your health without any financial stress?

Do you and your spouse regularly confirm your health and overall well-being with your doctors?

Is your level of physical activity higher or lower now than it used to be? If you’re about to retire, do you anticipate a more or less active lifestyle?

What are some physical recreational activities that you enjoy?

What is a recreational activity you’ve never tried, but deep down always wanted to try?

How old is your furniture, especially your bed and mattress?

How many fresh meals do you and your spouse cook and eat at home every week?

Steps to Take

Landscape – How Will You Practice Your “ART” in Retirement?

A hammock on the beach. Your favourite chair in the living room. Waking up when you feel like it. A blank diary. Doing what you want when you want. Doing nothing if that’s how you feel that day.

After a lifetime of working 35 hours or more every week, this scenario sure sounds appealing to many soon-to-be retirees. But the surprising reality is that a life of unstructured leisure can create stress, strain spousal relationships, and lead to feelings of uselessness and depression.

When today’s successful retirees stop working, they learn the “ART” of retirement. It’s about Activity, Relationships, and Time. They experiment. They try new things. They make new connections. And eventually, they create a new daily routine focused on the people and passions that make their lives fulfilling.

Activity

Jack just retired. He has no idea how to spend his time anymore. So, he potters around the house, fixing stuff that isn’t broken, rearranging things that don’t need to be rearranged, watching a lot of TV … and driving his wife, Jill, crazy.

We chuckle when we see a scenario like this play out in a film or TV show. But Retired Hubby or Wife Syndrome is a very real problem. Many senior couples have spent eight hours or more apart from each other every single day for decades. Then, suddenly, they’re together all the time!

Often, this is the moment when spouses realise they each have very different ideas about what retirement is going to be like. One spouse might have visions of a spending their time in the garden whereas the other might have plans to see the world. Somewhere in between those expectations are the activities that are going to make retirement worthwhile for both people.

The things you do in retirement should be meaningful, stimulating, and energising. Your passions should be your guide to a new routine – both with your spouse, and apart from him or her. Take professional lessons to turn a hobby like golf or painting into a real skill. Volunteer at a charity that’s close to your heart. You and your spouse can indulge your inner foodies with weekly date nights to try out all the new hot spots in town.

Relationships

Your spouse isn’t the only person you’ll be seeing more often in retirement. Your relationships with the rest of your friends and family are also going to change now that you’re no longer working. This too can be difficult, as many of the people you spent your workdays with recede from your day-to-day routine.

But this can also be a wonderful opportunity to connect with the people who matter the most to you. Once you and your spouse make it through the initial adjustment period, in my mother and fathers case this took at least 12 months I have to warn you, you’ll be able to spend time doing the things that brought you together in the first place. Planning trips and extended vacations around your children and grandchildren will create meaningful experiences that you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life.

Your social diary also gets a whole lot bigger. Fill it up! Organize your friends for a weekly round of golf. Plan date nights with other retired couples. If there are people you lost touch with due to the grind of working and raising a family, reconnect.

Time

Time without the structure that work provides can be challenging for retirees. The very notion of time can take on new meaning. Without meetings and project deadlines to worry about, time can seem so limitless that it’s overwhelming. It’s like an artist staring at a blank canvas—where do you begin?

So how will you fill your day? Will you start taking an hour to do things that used to take 10 minutes when you were working? Will you sleep later? What new routines will you start?

The good news is, many of today’s retirees are more active, more connected to their communities, more adventurous, more ALIVE than they’ve ever been! And they organise their time in retirement around the activities and relationships that make them feel happy and fulfilled.

Perfecting your ART

Retirement is an ART you have to work to perfect. You’ll make mistakes, and you’ll learn from them and adjust. You might load up your days with activities, only to find that having a bit less structure allows you to explore your options. You might find the initial lack of structure maddening, and work on a new routine. You might try a part-time job. You might like it. You might not.

There’s no one way to have a successful retirement. But the sooner you start working to refine your ART, the more beautiful your retirement picture will be.

10 Tips for surviving inevitable market falls

It is an inevitable part of investing that at some point markets will fall by an alarming, if not unexpected, degree.  We haven’t seen large market falls for a decade but should expect that at some point we will.  When, and in what magnitude, no-one knows, but remembering the following can help:

  1. Embrace the uncertainty of markets – that’s what delivers you with strong, long-term returns.
  2. Don’t look at your portfolio too often. Once a year is more than enough.
  3. Accept that you cannot time when to be in and out of markets – it is simply not possible. Resign yourself to the fact. Hindsight prophecies – ‘I knew the market was going to crash’ – are not allowed.
  4. If markets have fallen, remember that you still own everything you did before (the same number of shares in the same companies, and the same bonds holdings).
  5. A fall does not turn into a loss unless you sell your investments at the wrong time. If you don’t need the money, why would you sell?
  6. Falls in the markets and recoveries to previous highs are likely to sit well inside your long-term investment horizon i.e. when you need your money.
  7. The balance between your growth (equity) assets and defensive (high quality bond) assets was established by your adviser to make sure that you can withstand temporary falls in the value of your portfolio, both emotionally and financially, and that your portfolio has sufficient growth assets to deliver the returns needed to fund your longer-term financial goals.
  8. Be confident that your (boring) defensive assets will come into their own, protecting your portfolio from some of equity market falls. Be confident that you have many investment eggs held in several different baskets.
  9. If you are taking an income from your portfolio, remember that if equities have fallen in value, it is likely that your adviser has set up your portfolio so that you will be taking proportionately more of your income from the cash held within your portfolio or your bonds; not selling equities when they are down.
  10. Your adviser is there – at any time – to talk to you. He or she can act as your behavioural coach to urge you to stay the course.  They are a source of fortitude, patience and discipline.  Be strong and heed their advice.

Warning – The above information is provided for information only. It does not constitute investment advice, a recommendation or an offer of any services and is not intended to provide a sufficient basis on which to make an investment decision.  The value of investments may go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount invested.

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

 

SSAS – How to Transfer Wealth Tax Efficiently in a Family Business

As you may be aware, at Carpenter Rees we have many years’ experience in setting up and administering Small Self-Administered Pension Schemes (SSAS) for our own clients. Whilst we are financial planners first and foremost, SSAS do form an important part of many of our client’s financial plans. Set out below is a typical case study demonstrating how the use of SSAS can assist our clients in their financial plan.

Husband and wife team, Roy and Janet have a business which makes and sells garden furniture.  The business has been doing so well in recent years that their sons Alan and John have joined the business.

Roy and Janet have indicated that they intend to hand the business over to their sons in stages, as they would gradually like to take more time out of the business to enjoy travelling together and would like to replace some of their earned income with pension income.

The business operates from a rented warehouse and the landlord has recently offered

Spring Statement 2018

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, delivered his first Spring Statement to Parliament on 13 March 2018. In a break with recent tradition, the chancellor did not use the financial statement midway between Budgets to present a ‘mini-Budget’ or pre-Budget report.

The chancellor’s Spring Statement 2018 is a response to the Office for Budget Responsibilities’ (OBR’s) latest economic and fiscal forecasts and provides an opportunity to set out government priorities and consultations ahead of the Autumn Budget later this year.

Projections for growth

Mr Hammond upgraded projections for growth and predicted falling inflation, debt and borrowing in his 26-minute statement. He claimed the UK economy had reached a turning point and there was ‘light at the end of the tunnel’.

The UK economy will grow faster this year than previously forecast and the deficit will be some £5 billion lower, with the overall economic and fiscal picture ‘broadly the same’ according to the OBR.

Future spending rises

He ruled out an immediate end to austerity but hinted at possible spending rises in the future, announcing to the House of Commons that growth was forecast to be 1.4% this year, 0.1% higher than forecast by the OBR in November, with the forecast for 2019 and 2020 unchanged at 1.3%.

Mr Hammond said debt would fall as a share of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – the main measure of UK economic growth based on the value of goods and services produced during a given period – from 2018/19, which would be the start of ‘the first sustained fall in debt for 17 years, a turning point in the nation’s recovery from the financial crisis of a decade ago’.

Public sector borrowing

Mr Hammond revealed that public sector net borrowing in 2017/18 would be £45.2 billion, down from the £49.9 billion forecast in November and as a share of GDP that would be 2.2%, lower than the 2.4% previously expected.

He also hinted at possible spending increases to come in his Autumn Budget when he will ‘set an overall path for public spending for 2020 and beyond’ with a detailed spending review in 2019.

Click here to read our guide to the Spring Statement 2018.

What does the Spring Statement mean for you, your family and your business?

If you would like to review your personal or business plans to ensure they still remain on track, or if you have any further questions, please contact us.