Millennials ‘misjudging inheritance windfall’

I read an article recently which seemed to indicate that more financial planning education is needed for Millennials.

For those that don’t know, Millennials are those born between 1981 and 1996, so those currently aged 23 to 38, and who grew up during the time when the internet became a normal everyday way of life.

A new survey conducted by Wealth Manager, Charles Stanley highlighted that some young people have an expectation of the amount of money they will inherit and what it could buy. Their survey found that the majority of millennials surveyed misjudged the amount of inheritance they will receive and when they expect to get it.

The survey suggests that whilst young people expected to receive nearly £130,000 from relatives when they die, the median amount handed down was only £11,000!

Similarly, one in seven millennials expected to inherit before they turned 35, while in reality the typical inheritance age is between 55 and 64. There is also an expectation about what an inheritance can go towards. At least 22% of those surveyed planned to use any money to go towards a deposit on a house, although official statistics suggest currently only 7% actually used the funds they had in that way.

“People are living longer than ever, so relying on an inheritance to get on the housing ladder is a risky strategy as you may get less, and much later than planned,” said John Porteous, from Charles Stanley. “In reality, most people save and invest to get on the housing ladder. Starting early and planning ahead is essential to achieving the deposit you need,”

Having said that, according to Your Money, more people are inheriting. Inheritance tax receipts in the UK hit a record high of £5.4bn in the 2018-19 tax year, up £164m or 3.1% on the previous 12 months, which was also a record.

The Financial Times says,

Three Reasons Why You Should Work Even When You Don’t Need the Money

It might sound a little crazy but there are many benefits to working even though you no longer need the money for your living or retirement needs.

These “retirement workers” have discovered that part-time jobs or volunteer positions allow them to keep a nice pace in life and find a balance among using their talents, enjoying recreation, traveling, and spending time with family. Some of our most ambitious clients even start brand new companies in retirement.

Here are three important benefits of working in retirement that might persuade you to clock back in a couple of days a week.

Working is good for you.

Retiring early is a very popular goal. But while it makes sense to want to enjoy your assets when you’re younger, some studies have linked retirement to decreased mental and physical activity and higher instances of illness.

Working keeps your mind and body active. It makes you engage in problem solving and creative thinking. It keeps you mindful of your health and appearance so that you make a good impression on colleagues and customers. It challenges you to keep achieving and rewards you when you do.

And, if nothing else, it keeps you from vegging out on the sofa all day and driving your spouse crazy!

Work can give you a sense of purpose.

Many retirees struggle with the transition to retirement because their sense of purpose and identity is so tied to their work. Without that familiar job and its schedule and responsibilities, some retirees struggle to find a reason to get out of bed in the morning. A part-time job can restore some of that sense of structure and drive.

In fact, you might find that working in retirement gives you an even greater sense of purpose than your former career did. You might have worked a job you didn’t 100% love in order to support your family. Now that you no longer need to worry about that, you can take that position at your local library or work a couple of days every week at that charity that’s making a difference in your community or a charitable organisation that’s close to your heart. You can feel like you’re making a contribution to society without worrying about the size of your salary.

Work can improve your connections to other people.

Early retirement can be a period of isolation for some. Your friends and family might still be busy working and raising children. The familiar social interactions you enjoyed at work are gone. You and your spouse probably share some common interests, but you can’t spend every single second together.

It’s important for retirees to be open to making new personal connections in retirement. A new workplace is a great place to start that process as you will meet new people from different walks of life.

You will work with and help people who can benefit from your personal wisdom and your professional skill set. You might meet other people who, like you, are trying to stay active and put their talents to good use. The more involved you are in your community, the more curious and adventurous you’re going to be about trying new restaurants, shopping in new shops, and interacting with more people.

Of course, working in retirement can affect other aspects of your financial planning even if you don’t need the money, such as taxes, withdrawal rates from your investments, and your relationship with your spouse. If you’re considering a new part-time job, why not set up a meeting to discuss any adjustments we should be thinking about so that you get the best life possible with the extra bit of money you’ll soon have.

 

A New social phenomenon – the ‘sandwich generation’

In recent years, a growing realisation has formed that we’re in the middle of a new social phenomenon – the ‘sandwich generation’. The term ‘sandwich generation’ is often used to refer to those who care for both sick, disabled or older relatives and dependent children.

With an ageing population and many people starting families later in life, ‘sandwich caring’ responsibilities are on the rise. However, new research from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has highlighted the fact that a pensions injustice could be making life even more difficult for this group.

Twin responsibility

The report shows that almost 27% of sandwich carers show symptoms of mental ill health[1] while caring for both sick, disabled or older relatives and children. With life expectancy increasing[2] and women having their first child at an older age, around 3% of the UK general population[3] – equivalent to more than 1.3 million people – now have this twin responsibility.

Sandwich carers are more likely to experience symptoms of mental ill health – which can include anxiety and depression – than the general population (22%), according to the ONS analysis for 2016 to 2017[4].

The prevalence of mental ill health increases with the amount of care given. More than 33% of sandwich carers providing at least 20 hours of adult care per week report symptoms of mental ill health, compared with 23% of those providing fewer than five hours each week.

Health satisfaction

People providing fewer than five hours of adult care each week report slightly higher levels of life and health satisfaction, relative to the general population. Some of the differences between the two groups could be explained by demographic differences. For example, more than 72% of the sandwich generation are aged between 35 and 54 years, while 62% are women. Whereas among the general population, 38% are aged 35 to 54 years, and 51% are women.

Around 76% of those providing fewer than five hours of adult care say they’re satisfied with life, while just 10% are dissatisfied. Meanwhile, 74% of the general population are satisfied with life, with 16% saying they’re dissatisfied. However, when sandwich carers spend more than five hours a week providing adult care, they report lower levels of life and health satisfaction than the general population.

Sandwich carers

Those providing between 10 and 19 hours of adult care per week are least satisfied according to both measures, even compared with those giving at least 20 hours each week. This could be because 69% of carers in the 10 to 19-hour category are in work (either employed or self-employed), compared with 41% of those providing at least 20 hours a week.

Similarly, many sandwich carers are not satisfied with the amount of leisure time they have. Those looking after their relatives in their own home – half of whom provide at least 20 hours of adult care per week – are least satisfied.

General population

Overall, around 61% of the general population are happy with their amount of leisure time, compared with 47% of sandwich carers looking after their relative outside the home and 38% of those providing care within their own home.

As well as reporting a lack of leisure time, 41% of sandwich carers looking after a relative within their home say they’re unable to work at all or as much as they’d like. The ONS report also shows that women sandwich carers – who account for 68% of those providing at least 20 hours of adult care per week – are more likely to feel restricted than men. Around 46% of women feel unable to work at all or as much as they’d like, compared with 35% of men.

Labour market

Women sandwich carers are also much more likely to be economically inactive than men – 28% are not part of the labour market, compared with just 10% of men in the same situation. It should be said, though, that the majority of sandwich carers are able to balance their job with caring responsibilities. More than 59% of those providing care at home say this does not prevent paid employment.

Clearly, caring for two generations could have an impact on carers’ finances. One in three sandwich carers say they are ‘just about getting by’ financially, while one in ten are ‘finding it difficult’ or ‘very difficult’ to cope. Meanwhile, only 17% say they are ‘living comfortably’, compared with 32% of the general population.

Preparing for a more secure financial future

As concern grows among sandwich carers, so too does the need to financially plan for ageing dynamics and family relationships. If you’d like to talk about how we can help you understand the big questions of where am I right now and how you might get to your own financial freedom then call or pop in for a coffee.

Source data

[1] This is based on the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ), where a score of four or more indicates symptoms of mild to moderate mental illness such as anxiety or depression. The GHQ is self-reported.

[2] Life expectancy at birth in the UK did not improve in 2015 to 2017, having risen consistently for decades beforehand. The ONS investigated the stalling of improvements in life expectancy and its links to mortality rates.

[3] For the purposes of this article, the general population is all adults (including sandwich carers) aged 16 to 70 years.

[4] The ONS analysis defines sandwich carers as people aged 16 to 70 years who have a dependent child (one aged under 16 years, or 16 to 18 years, who is in school or non-advanced further education, not married and living with parent) in their home, and also provide regular service to a relative (usually parents, parents-in-law, grandparents, aunts or uncles, or another relative) who is ‘sick, disabled or elderly whom you look after or give special help to’. The analysis is taken from Understanding Society, the UK Household Longitudinal Study. Households are surveyed each year either through a face-to-face interview or a self-completed online survey. Data collection takes place over a 24-month period, and the sample size for the general population in the 2016 to 2017 period was 34,000 individuals.

 

To downsize, or not to downsize?

Planning your next move for a comfortable retirement

It can be a daunting prospect to think about selling the family home, but it is a decision that many decide is the right choice for them once the children have long moved out and the upkeep seems too onerous. However, people don’t often consider the impact this could have on their retirement, according to new research[1].

This has revealed that if people have decided to downsize, they could unlock value from their home, providing the often-overlooked solution to helping them achieve a comfortable retirement. The new report found that UK adults would like an annual retirement income of £39,773 to be comfortable in their later years. This is up from £26,184 in 2016.

UK adults’ retirement savings expectations

Expectations for larger incomes in later life may stem from retirement savings increasing substantially over this time. The research found that the average size of a pension is up 7% over two years, from £174,555 to £186,617. In keeping with this, UK adults expect to have retirement savings of £215,852 by the time they stop work – up 27% from 2016 – when the expected amount was £169,594.

After the State Pension of £8,546 per year[2], £31,226 per year extra would be needed to meet people’s desired income target of £39,773. At current low annuity rates, this income would need a pension pot of £600,515 for a level annuity.

Mind the gap – funding a desired lifestyle

Despite the increase in pensions savings, the bigger increase in expectations for income in retirement has meant that the pensions gap – the shortfall from what people will need to fund their desired lifestyle, if they bought an annuity, and what they expect to have in their pension pot at retirement – has gone up from £370,000 to £385,000 over two years.

Post-pension freedoms, there are several options for retirees to consider rather than having to buy an annuity, providing myriad ways for retirees to meet their income goals. For example, the research showed that figures revealed that those choosing to move to a smaller property, or ‘downsizing’, could release a significant amount of capital that could help them achieve the lifestyle in retirement that they really want. 

Providing motivation for a move to a smaller property

Once the children have left home, moving closer to public transport links or to a single-story home can often provide motivation for a move to a smaller property that may be more suitable. Using average UK house prices for homes of different sizes, figures show that the £385,000 shortfall could be significantly plugged if downsizing from a four-bed to a two-bed property. This would immediately increase savings by £287,286, or if invested over five years could be worth nearly enough to fill the gap, at £349,527[3]. If the decision to downsize is made earlier in life, then the funds could be invested over ten years[3], amounting to £425,253.

Planning to fund retirement by continuing to work

Despite the benefits of downsizing and increasing retirement savings, 83% of those surveyed said they did not intend to downsize to fund their retirement, increasing to 87% for over-55s. More people said that they plan to fund their retirement by continuing to work, either in their current role (11%) or by taking up a new job (9%), than by downsizing their property.

Considering the maximum annual pension contribution per tax year of £40,000, releasing a large amount of cash in one go from downsizing your property would mean only a portion can be invested directly into a pension. However, any money that is invested in this way would benefit from 20% tax relief before any investment return. The remainder can be invested or held in cash based on appropriate advice for that individual.

Monumental life decision that can be unnerving

Making the choice to downsize is a monumental life decision that can be unnerving to think about, but it can also have a great financial impact, providing a major boost to your retirement fund. Deciding on the right time to downsize can also be difficult, but the process can be easier if not left too late.

Moving to a smaller home nearby will lower the pressures that come with the upkeep and expenditure of a large property while keeping you near to any friends or family who live in the same area. Also, moving wealth from an illiquid asset such as property to a liquid asset such as cash has the added benefit of enabling tax planning, which could reduce any potential Inheritance Tax liability. It can be useful to take emotion out of the equation and try to be as pragmatic as possible – it’s easier said than done, but it can help with some very tough decisions that need to be made.

Looking towards a patchwork of savings and assets

The research showed greater realism about how long it might take to accumulate assets to fund retirement, and what will be needed to reach financial goals in retirement. On average, people would like to retire at age 61, up five years from when the survey was last undertaken in 2016, when this was 56. However, many admit that early retirement is unrealistic, with 67 being the average at which respondents think they will have enough money to stop working, coinciding with the rising State Pension age.

Many people are now looking towards a patchwork of savings and assets to fund retirement. While only 17% of people expect to downsize, over one in three (34%) expect to draw on other savings to fund their retirement, and a fifth (20%) expect to at least part-fund their later years by continuing to work. In addition, 14% hope to use inherited money or property.

Complexities around optimal financial planning

Despite the complexities around optimal financial planning for retirement, 52% of people do not seek advice regarding retirement and do not plan to. This number increases to 70% for retirees, which may be why one in ten (10%) of them still don’t know how they will fund their retirement.

Pensions have long been seen as the foundation of retirement saving, but many people now recognise that they will need to draw on other available assets to finance their retirement. The answer used to be to ‘buy an annuity’. Whilst annuities still have a place as one of the few ways to guarantee an income, they are expensive. A successful retirement plan involves making the most of not just your pension, but all your savings, other investments and assets.

Want to discuss your options?

Clearly, there is a lot to consider, and making the wrong retirement decisions can be costly. Many people approach retirement with little or no idea how much money they will need or the best way to take an income. Obtaining professional financial advice in the lead-up to and at retirement is essential. We use Financial Modelling Software to help you understand how your retirement can be funded, so please do contact us if you would like to discuss your requirements.

Source data

[1] Research conducted by Opinium Research amongst 5,000 UK adults between 30 August and 5 September 2018.

[2] Full State Pension 2018, https://www.gov.uk/new-state-pension/what-youll-get

[3] This assumes a 4% p.a. growth rate with dividends re-invested net of charges and no Capital Gains Tax to pay on the property sale.

 

 

Safeguarding your wealth for future generations

Unforeseen life events and circumstances can potentially impact your finances in several ways. We can help you to safeguard your wealth for future generations. But for many of us, there can be a remarkable gap between our intentions and our actions.

Inheritance Tax (IHT) affects thousands of families every year. It comes at a time of loss and mourning and can have an impact on families with even quite modest assets – if you thought IHT was just for extremely wealthy people to worry about, think again.

Tackling IHT sooner rather than later

There are legitimate ways to mitigate against IHT, which is why it is sometimes called the ‘voluntary tax’. Unfortunately, some of the most valuable exemptions must be used seven years before your death to be fully effective, so it makes sense to consider ways to tackle IHT sooner rather than later and to seek professional financial advice.

As property prices make IHT a reality for many in the UK, we’ve looked at a few ways to prevent HM Revenue and Customs being one of the largest beneficiaries of your estate. IHT is levied at a fixed rate of 40% on all assets worth more than £325,000 per person (0% under this amount) – or £650,000 per couple if other exemptions cannot be applied.

Parents and grandparents who are passing on their home will be able to leave up to £950,000 to their children without them having to pay IHT.  This figure will rise to £1 million by 2020. The current allowance of £325,000 remains unchanged, but a new tax-free band worth £175,000 per person on your main residence will be added to the £325,000, making it £500,000 per person. The new tax-free band was set at £125,000 in 2018, eventually rising to £175,000 in 2020.

Steps to mitigate against IHT

  1. Make a Will

Dying intestate (without a Will) means that you may not be making the most of the IHT exemption that exists if you wish your estate to pass to your spouse or registered civil partner. For example, if you don’t make a Will, then relatives other than your spouse or registered civil partner may be entitled to a share of your estate – and this might trigger an IHT liability.

  1. Make lifetime gifts

Gifts made more than seven years before the donor dies to an individual or to a bare trust are free of IHT. So, if appropriate, it could be wise to pass on some of your wealth while you are still alive. This may reduce the value of your estate when it is assessed for IHT purposes, and there is no limit on the sums you can pass on. You can gift as much as you wish, and this is known as a ‘Potentially Exempt Transfer’ (PET).

However, there is a catch: if you live for seven years after making such a gift, then it will be exempt from IHT. But should you be unfortunate enough to die within seven years, it will still be counted as part of your estate if it is above the annual gift allowance. You need to be particularly careful if you are giving away your home to your children with conditions attached to it, or if you give it away but continue to benefit from it. This is known as a ‘Gift with Reservation of Benefit’.

  1. Leave a proportion to charity

Being generous to your favourite charity can reduce your tax bill. If you leave at least 10% of your net estate to a charity or number of charities, then your IHT liability on the taxable portion of the estate is reduced to 36% rather than 40%.

  1. Set up a trust

Family trusts can be useful as a way of reducing IHT, making provision for your children and spouse, and potentially protecting family businesses. Trusts enable the donor to control who benefits (the beneficiaries) and under what circumstances, sometimes long after the donor’s death. Compare this with making a direct gift (for example, to a child), which offers no control to the donor once given. When you set up a trust, it is a legal arrangement, and you will need to appoint ‘trustees’ who are responsible for holding and managing the assets. Trustees have a responsibility to manage the trust on behalf of and in the best interest of the beneficiaries, in accordance with the trust terms. The terms will be set out in a legal document called ‘the trust deed’.

Types of trust

There are now three main types of trust.

Bare (Absolute) trusts – with a bare trust, you name the beneficiaries at outset and these can’t be changed. The assets, both income and capital, are immediately owned and can be taken by the beneficiary at age 18 (16 in Scotland).

Interest in possession trusts – with this type of trust, the beneficiaries have a right to all the income from the trust, but not necessarily the capital. Sometimes, a different beneficiary will get the capital – say, on the death of the income beneficiary. They’re often set up under the terms of a Will to allow a spouse to benefit from the income during their lifetime but with the capital being owned by their children. The capital is distributed on the remaining parent’s death.

Discretionary trusts – here, the trustees decide what happens to the income and capital throughout the lifetime of the trust and how it is paid out. There is usually a wide range of beneficiaries, but no specific beneficiary has the right to income from the trust.

Some trusts will now have to pay an IHT charge when they are set up, at ten-yearly intervals and even when assets are distributed.

The sooner you start planning, the more you can do

We can work with you to ensure you make use of all the reliefs and exemptions you can. We can build a tailor-made succession plan based on your individual circumstances to make sure the allowances work best for you. We can give you the peace of mind of knowing that you have laid the firmest foundations for your family’s future. Please contact us to discuss your situation.

Warnings

This article is distributed for educational purposes only and must not be considered to be advice.  The information is based upon our current understanding of taxation legislation and regulations.  Any levels and bases of, and reliefs from, taxation are subject to change.  Errors and omissions excepted. 

 

How to make a good decision when life throws you a tough choice

No matter how thorough our planning is, life inevitably tosses curveballs at us. Often these challenging moments are linked to major life transitions that affect our families, our careers, and our money. Balancing these variables can make arriving at the best decision that much more complicated.

Snap decisions are usually the least effective in the long run. Instead, take a deep breath, and let these decision-making strategies lead you towards the best possible outcome.

  1. Discuss the decision openly and honestly with your spouse

The harder the decision, the more serious it probably is, especially if it involves your family finances. Hiding problems from your spouse almost always makes a difficult situation even harder. If this is truly a fork in the road moment, both of you should be on the same page. Your spouse’s perspective might be just the thing you need to make sure you’re making the right choice for the right reasons.

  1. Consider how this decision aligns with your values

You might think of this as the “mirror test.” If you make this choice, are you going to be able to look yourself in the mirror tomorrow? If not, you might be leaning towards a decision that’s at odds with what’s really important to you.

Think about the reasons for this disconnect. Are you considering the easier of two possible choices? Living by your values isn’t always easy in the moment, but that face in the mirror is going to be looking back at you for the rest of your life.

  1. Identify an objective

Sometimes we don’t understand our true reasons for the choices we make until we dig a little deeper. “Why?” can be a simple but very powerful question, especially if you keep asking it.

For example, why do you want to buy a bigger house?

Because we need more space.

Why do you need more space?

Because I don’t have room for a home cinema.

Why do you need a home cinema?

Because my job is too stressful, and I need to destress.

Turns out your housing decision isn’t really about your house. It’s about work and a bigger TV isn’t going to make your job any less stressful.

  1. Think about everyone involved

Step outside of yourself and think about the other people who are going to be affected by your choice. Your spouse, your children, your friends, your colleagues, your neighbours. What’s best for you right now, might not be what’s best for the people closest to you. Is this decision going to damage any relationships that are important to you? Is that damage worth it?

  1. Are past experiences influencing this decision? For better? For worse?

Our decision-making can sometimes feel like it’s automatic. We make choices without ever really thinking about why we made that choice. We might say after the event that we were “going on instinct” or “listening to our gut feelings.”

But the way we respond to major choices is often a result of our past experiences. For example, your attitudes about an investment decision or high value purchase might be heavily influenced by how you saw your parents handle their money when you were a child. You might continue to work a safe but unfulfilling job because that’s what your father did to provide for you.

Think about whether your experiences are helping you make a good choice or reinforcing some bad habits.

  1. Consider seeking professional advice

It can be difficult to admit when we need help. But pros are pros for a reason. There are probably plenty of people who have benefitted from your professional expertise over the years. Don’t be too proud or too embarrassed to contact a solicitor, doctor, counsellor, contractor, or tax expert if you need the best possible advice.

And if your decision will occur at a major intersection of your life and your money, we want to be at the top of your call list. Come in and talk to us about how this choice could affect your Financial Plan, and how we can help.

A ‘set-and-forget’ investment approach? Forget it!

Systematic, evidence-based investing often results in very little activity in a portfolio. It is wrong to think that this is the result of a ‘set-and-forget’ strategy. The Firm’s Investment Committee would be aggrieved at such a suggestion! Considerable effort goes on behind the scenes to allow this state of calm consistency to exist. The fortitude and discipline to deliver ‘not much needs to be done to your portfolio except for rebalancing’ advice, comes from a rigorous process of ongoing challenge to the status quo.

The broad terms of reference of the Investment Committee are set out below:

Manage risks over time
The Investment Committee is responsible for the oversight of the risk in portfolios and the wider investment process. Meetings are regular and minutes are taken, which include all action points to be followed up on. Third-party inputs and guest members – such as Albion(our strategic analysts) – provide independent insight and challenge.

Challenge the process
The investment process at the Firm is driven by the latest empirical evidence and theory available. It is always open to challenge. If new evidence suggests that doing things differently would be in our clients’ best interests, then we will revise our approach. The investment process is evolutionary, but change is most likely to be slow and incremental.

Review the portfolio structure
The underlying characteristics of the Firm’s client portfolios are reviewed, including performance and risk level attributes. Risks (asset class exposures) and their allocations within a portfolio are evaluated. Any issues are raised and resolved. Existing asset classes are reviewed alongside asset classes and risk factors that currently sit outside the portfolios. Areas of interest are placed on a longer-term ‘watch’ list.

Review the incumbent ‘best-in-class’ investment products
The incumbent products are ‘best-in-class’ choices seeking to deliver the returns due to investors for taking specific market risks. Each product has a role to play in a portfolio and its ability to deliver against this objective is regularly reviewed. Any product-related issues are raised and resolved.

Screen for new products and undertake appropriate due diligence
Although the incumbent products were recommended as ‘best-in-class’, new products are regularly being launched. Tough screening criteria are in place against which new funds are judged. New, potential ‘best-in-class’ products face detailed due diligence and approval. They are included only when they make the grade. Given the quality of the products already in portfolios, the threshold for replacement is high, but not insurmountable for newer products.

Reaffirm or revise the investment process
The Investment Committee is accountable for reaffirming or revising the structure of client portfolios. Risk (asset) allocations and product changes are approved by the Investment Committee. Any actions arising from portfolio revisions will be undertaken, after discussion with and agreement by clients.

So, the next time you open your latest review report, remember that despite the lack of activity on the surface, the Investment Committee continues to paddle furiously behind the scenes to allow this be the case. In the immortal words of the investment legend and author Charles Ellis:

‘In investing, activity is almost always in surplus.’

Perhaps we should amend this slightly to:

‘In investing, activity is – except for the Investment Committee –almost always in surplus.’

Risk warnings
This article is distributed for educational purposes only and must not be considered to be investment advice or an offer of any security for sale. The reference to any products is made only to make educational points and must, in no circumstances, be deemed to be any form of product recommendation.
This article contains the opinions of the author but not necessarily the Firm and does not represent a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable but is not guaranteed.
Past performance is not indicative of future results and no representation is made that the stated results will be replicated.
Errors and omissions excepted.

Financial Planning is About Making Your Life Plan a Reality

Often, clients who have just begun working with us are surprised by how our planning process starts. We don’t begin by talking about Pensions, ISA’s, or how much you’re saving. Instead, we begin by talking about you, not your money.

Putting your life before your financial plan.

As Life-Centred Financial Planners, our process begins with understanding your life plan. We start by asking you about your family, your work, your home, your goals, and the things that you value the most.

Our job is to work with you to build a financial plan that will help you make your life plan a reality.

Of course, building wealth that will provide for your family and keep you comfortable today and in retirement is a part of that plan. So is monitoring your investments and assets and doing what we can to maximise your return on investment. But we also believe that maximising your Return on Life is just as important, if not more so. Some people feel like they will never have enough money whilst others, who have learnt to view money as a tool, start to see a whole new world of possibilities open in front of them.

Feeling free.

One of the most important things your money can do for you is provide a sense of freedom. If you don’t feel locked into chasing after the next pound, you’ll start exploring what more you can get out of life rather than just more money.

Feeling free to use your money in ways that fulfil you is going to become extremely important once you retire. After all, you’re going to have to do something with the 40 hours every week you used to spend working! But you’re also going to have to allow yourself to stop focusing on saving and start enjoying the life that your assets can provide.

So, having money and building wealth is a part of the plan. But it’s not THE plan.

The earlier you start thinking about how you can use your money to balance your vocation with vacation, your sense of personal and professional progress with recreation and pleasure, and the demands of supporting your family with achieving your individual goals, the freer you’re going to feel.

And achieving that kind of freedom with your money isn’t just going to help you sleep soundly at night – it’s going to make you feel excited to get out of bed the next morning.

What’s coming next?

So, when does the planning process end?

If you’re like most of the people we work with, never.

Life-Centred Planning isn’t about hitting some number with your savings, investments, and assets. We’re much more concerned about how your life is going than how the markets are performing.

Instead, the kinds of adjustments we’re going to make throughout the life of your plan will be in response to major transitions in your life.

Some transitions we’ll be able to anticipate, like a child going to University, a big family holiday you’ve been planning for, and, for many of you, the actual date of your retirement. Other transitions, like a sudden illness or a big move for work, we’ll help you adjust for as necessary.

In some cases, your life plan might change simply because you want something different out of life. You might start contemplating a career change. You might decide home doesn’t feel like home anymore and start looking for a new house. You might lose yourself in a new hobby and decide to invest some time and money in perfecting it. You might decide it’s time to be your own boss and start your own company.

Planning for and reacting to these moments where your life and your money intersect is what we do best. Come in and talk to us about how Life-Centred Planning can help you get the best life possible with the money you have.

 

Spring Statement 2019

Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, delivered his Spring Statement 2019 to Parliament on 13 March. Set against continuing uncertainty over Brexit and just hours before MPs were due to vote on whether to exit the EU without a deal, Mr Hammond devoted much of his speech to the possible effects that leaving the European Union could have on the UK’s finances.

The Chancellor announced that the UK economy continues to grow, with wages increasing and unemployment at historic lows, providing a solid foundation on which to build Britain’s economic future.

With borrowing and debt both forecast to be lower in every year than at last year’s Budget, the Chancellor set out further investments in infrastructure, technology, housing, skills and clean growth, so that the UK can capitalise on the post-EU exit opportunities that lie ahead.

The Chancellor also confirmed that the government will hold a Spending Review which will conclude alongside the Budget. This will set departmental budgets, including three-year budgets for resource spending, if an EU exit deal is agreed. Ahead of that, the Chancellor announced extra funding to tackle serious violence and knife crime, with £100 million available to police forces in the worst affected areas in England and Wales.

Keeping your financial plans on track

In our ‘Guide to Spring Statement 2019’ we reveal the key announcements made by the Chancellor. If you would like to review what action you may need to take to keep you, your family and your business on track – or if you have any further questions – please contact us. We look forward to hearing from you.

Brexit – The potential impact on your investments

As we fast approach the date of the UK’s impending withdrawal from the EU and due to the continued uncertainty around the terms of this withdrawal, we have been contacted by several of our clients asking us about the possible impact on their investments.

Therefore, this week I thought it might be useful to share with you the basis of those discussions.

What effect could Brexit have on my investments?

The actual impact will be dependent on the terms under which the UK leaves the EU. But it is important to remember that all investments can go up and down in value over time and returns are not guaranteed.

Most investments are designed to be held over the medium to long term and we would caution against making any decisions on whether to encash or retain particular investments based on the potential impacts of Brexit alone or any short-term fluctuations in the value of your investments.

In short, no-one can accurately predict how investment markets will be affected by Brexit or what the precise implications will be.

What about investments that I hold that are provided by non-UK companies?

If you hold money in funds/investments that are provided by a non-UK company that is based within the European Economic Area (EEA) then you should still be able to continue holding these investments even in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit. This is because the Government and the Financial Conduct Authority (which is responsible for regulating the conduct of all UK authorised financial services firms) have put in place special measures that will enable these companies to continue offering services to you.

Will Brexit affect the consumer protection I receive on my investments?

There will be no changes to consumer protection for most individuals.

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) will remain available to UK consumers post Brexit. It is designed to deal with claims from (and in the event of a successful claim, provide compensation to) consumers who have previously dealt with a UK financial services firm that has since gone out of business. The compensation limits are per person, per institution and currently set at £85,000 (deposit accounts), £50,000 (investments) and 100% of a claim with no upper limit (pensions and life assurance.)

EEA based firms doing business in the UK are not typically covered by the FSCS and instead the compensation scheme in their country of origin will usually deal with any claims against the firm. Brexit could result in a loss of access to these EEA compensation schemes if no deal is reached. This loss of access is dependent on the terms of withdrawal and at this stage, is far from certain.

In the event of an issue with the provider, or advisory business the Financial Ombudsman Service settles disputes between consumers and UK financial services firms where these arise. This service will continue to be available post Brexit, meaning that if you have a dispute with a UK based financial services firm that is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, you will continue to be able to refer a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) if a dispute arises. It is also proposed that you will be covered by the FOS for the activities of EEA based firms that provide services into the UK.

Will product providers with whom I hold investments be updating me in relation to any potential impacts Brexit may have?

You may also receive communications from providers updating you with regards to the impacts of Brexit, although again given that the position is still unclear, they may not be able to provide definitive information. We are more than happy to discuss any questions you may have received from correspondence with any providers and to assist where we can.

What next?

For our existing clients, we will, of course, be happy to discuss the performance of your investments with you during your next ongoing review with us and we can also discuss any concerns you may have on issues that could affect your investments, such as the impact of Brexit. Where necessary, we will of course adjust your portfolio, based on your circumstances, preferences and risk appetite.  Of course, if you want to speak to us beforehand, please do give us a call.

Whilst we are always happy to chat to you, we should stress that at this stage, we cannot accurately predict nor give you any definitive answers in terms of what the impact of Brexit will be, or even if Brexit will happen; but then, if we could …….

notes and risk warnings

Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable but is not guaranteed.
Errors and omissions excepted.