Empower Yourself by Recognising Your Freedom to Choose

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
– Viktor Frank

We may not always be able to control the circumstances of a given situation we find ourselves in, but we always have the freedom to choose how we respond. The choice we make – and how we make it – often determines how well we survive the situation, and if we go on to thrive.
If challenges in your family life, your career, or your finances are making you feel powerless, try approaching the challenge from a new angle.

This simple three-step process can put you back in touch with your freedom to choose how and why you live your life.

1. Consider your reaction.
Take a step back from the problem. Take a breath. Take a walk. Pour yourself a cup of coffee.

By creating some space, you’ll be able to ask yourself, “Why am I reacting the way that I’m reacting? Is there a better perspective I could be taking? Am I letting past experiences influence my reaction for better? For worse?”

When we feel overwhelmed by a challenge, we often fall back on established patterns in our thinking. Often these default reactions are negative. If we’re arguing with our spouse, we might replay past arguments in the back of our heads. Financial difficulty might trigger memories of our parents struggling with money as we were growing up.

Identifying the negative experiences and perspectives that create our immediate reactions to challenges can help us find ways to create more positive and empowering reactions.

2. Consider your purpose.
Instead of allowing the situation to dictate how you’re responding, push back. Refocus how you choose to respond around the goal that you are trying to accomplish.

For example, if your business partner backs out of the new business you’ve been planning to start, that loss of manpower and capital could make you feel defeated and powerless. But the reality is that you are choosing to dwell on negatives that you can’t control.
So, what can you control?

If you’re really committed to starting your new business, you can choose instead to focus on alternative funding sources. You can talk to other friends, family, and colleagues about potential partnerships. You can choose to work on Plan B.

Another example is the investor who feels powerless as market volatility chips away at his nest egg over a quarter. No, you can’t control the natural disaster or political spat that’s giving the market fits right now. But you can choose to focus on your long-term purpose: a secure retirement for you and your family. That positive thinking and big-picture perspective could prevent a costly knee-jerk reaction.

3. Consider your values
One of the best ways to drive negative thinking from our reactions is to focus on the things that matter the most to us. Reconnecting our decision making to our values can lead to solutions that make life more fulfilling.

Work might be the most common source of challenges in our lives. And while no one loves absolutely everything about their job all the time, it’s worth considering how your job affects your sense of freedom. Do those 35 hours per week give you the financial resources to spend your free time doing what you want with the people you love? Are your skills and talents used in ways that make you feel like you’re making positive contributions? Does your employer have a mission bigger than profit that’s important to you?

If your answers are no, no, and no, you can choose to keep dragging yourself out of bed every Monday, resigned to the uninspiring week ahead. Or you can follow your values towards a more empowering choice. Consider a career change. Learn a new skill that will bolster your c.v. or line you up for a better job at your current employer.

If switching careers is really out of the question right now, choose to appreciate the parts of your job that you do well because of your unique skillset. And when you’re not working, make time for the hobbies, interests, and experiences that do fully engage your core values. Who knows? One day these pursuits might lead to exciting new opportunities for you and your family. If you’ve been committed to your values all along, you’ll be ready to make the right choice.

 

How to Have More Fun and Meaning in Retirement

A blank calendar filled with nothing but free time can be every bit as stressful as a packed work week.

That’s the surprising fact that many new retirees confront after a few days of hitting the snooze button and puttering around the house. This is usually when the reality of retirement sets in. This is your life now. What are you going to do with it?

Whatever you want!

The only thing better than sleeping in is jumping out of bed early because you’re energized and excited for the day ahead. This is the kind of active and fulfilling retirement that we love to help our clients prepare for.

Here are some ideas for creating a new retirement schedule that will keep you growing, learning, experiencing new things, and making meaningful connections with your community.

1. Travel.
Taking all those trips you couldn’t squeeze in around work meetings and kids’ football tournaments tops many retirements wish lists. And with good reason. After all that hard work, prudent planning, and disciplined saving, you deserve to treat yourself, do things you never had time for, see places you’ve always wanted to see.

Why not try to be your own travel agent? Planning a few big trips scattered throughout the year can be a fun activity for you and your spouse to do together. And in between those big destination holidays, you can sprinkle in some long weekends visiting the grandkids, and a few separate getaways to give each of you space to pursue your personal passions.

2. Work or volunteer part time.
No, “working in retirement” is not an oxymoron. More and more retirees who can afford to stop working are taking part-time jobs and volunteer positions. This can give your week some welcome structure and provide an outlet for things you’re passionate about.
That non-for-profit job you couldn’t afford when you were raising kids and paying a mortgage? Take it. Do some good in your community and make a little spending money on the side. Put your cultural expertise to work as a guide for an art gallery or museum, or maybe volunteer at a church or charitable organization that’s close to your heart.

3. Upgrade your living situation.
Whether you’re handy and enjoy doing the work or just like picking out new colours, patterns, and fixtures, take care of all those lingering household projects. Your comfort is important, especially as you age. Don’t let minor inconveniences like leaky pipes turn into major problems. Get rid of that lumpy mattress and hard couch you’ve been torturing yourself with for a decade. Map out the garden you’ve always wanted and turn it into a ‘go to’ meeting place for your family and friends.

Of course, that’s assuming you want to “retire in place” at your current residence. A permanent change of scenery can be invigorating as you enter this new phase in your life. Just make sure you talk to us if you see a holiday home in your future. We’ll make sure that we incorporate the move and all the necessary tax, and cost of living adjustments into your financial plan.

4. Get really good at something you love doing.
Been a frustrated weekend golfer your whole life? Sign up for lessons and get that handicap down for good. Or better yet, set up a weekly tee time with a group of retired friends.  No more rushing through meals on your way to and from work and school, so let your inner foodie have the run of the kitchen. Dust off your college French lessons before that dream trip to Paris with an online class. Clear out that back bedroom no one uses any more and make a study. Paint the pictures you’ve always wanted to paint. Finish the novel hiding in the bottom of your desk drawer.

The possibilities for an exciting and fulfilling life in retirement are bound only by your imagination and the financial resources you have available to you. Let us help you take care of the money part so you’re free to focus on the fun.

10 considerations before going into cash over Brexit

I know you are probably fed up with reading about Brexit, but I read an interesting article earlier this week written by Robin Powell¹ which mirrored my own views and I thought was worth sharing with you.

The article related to an approach taken by an investor who felt that the best strategy was to ‘sit out the Brexit negotiations on cash’ on the basis that “There is a significant chance of them going badly and markets taking a tumble. If, on the other hand, an agreement is reached, that will be a signal to invest. We should know which way things are pointing within a couple of months.”

This is what Robin had to say: –

I dare say there are many investors who are taking a similar approach, and their point of view is to be fully respected. Investing is a hugely personal matter. Nobody should take more risk than they’re comfortable taking, they can afford to take and need to take. If investors honestly feel that it’s time to reduce their exposure to stocks, then that is what they should do.

It is, however, a decision that should not be taken lightly, without serious thought or without seeking the opinion of a competent financial adviser.

Regardless of Brexit, there’s a very strong case for keeping your portfolio exactly as it is.  So, if you’re thinking of sitting in cash while events unfold in Brussels, here are ten things you need to bear in mind.

1. Timing the market is notoriously difficult. The evidence shows that it’s almost impossible to do it accurately with any long-term consistency, and the professionals are little better at it than the rest of us. And remember, you have to be right twice; you might get out at the “right” time and then spoil it all by mis-timing your re-entry.

2. All known information is incorporated into market prices. Current valuations reflect everything we know about Brexit and the likelihood of all the different outcomes. Do you honestly know something that the rest of the market doesn’t?

3. It’s new information that causes prices to rise or fall, and that by its nature, is unknowable. True, government ministers and officials involved in the negotiations may be privy to vital information, but they’re bound by insider trading regulations so can’t act on it anyway.

4. New information is incorporated into prices within seconds, even milliseconds. If there is a significant development over the coming months, it will be absorbed so quickly by the markets that by the time you get to act on it, prices will either have risen or fallen already.

5. Correctly predicting the outcome of the Brexit negotiations won’t, in itself, be of help — unless of course you bet on it. To profit on the financial markets, what you need to do is predict how those markets will respond to the outcome you’re expecting, which is extremely hard to do.

6. Markets often react to big political events in unexpected ways. When an event is widely considered to be negative, markets often wobble initially but then recover and resume the course that they were already on. That’s exactly what happened after the Brexit referendum in 2016 and Donald Trump’s election later that year.

7. Investors typically allow their own political views to influence their investment decisions. Because most of us are prone to confirmation bias and to negativity bias to some extent, our expectations of what will happen if things either go our way or don’t go our way tend to be exaggerated. (I myself have very strong views on Brexit and its likely implications!)

8. The idea that there will soon be clarity over Brexit and markets will “return to normal” is unrealistic. It may well be that a deal is reached soon that takes Britain out of the European Union. But, as everyone knows by now, the divorce will be hugely complicated, and it may take many years, decades even, before the lasting effects of Brexit are clear.

9. Important though it is, Brexit isn’t the only show in town. There’s uncertainty everywhere you look, whether it’s the future of President Trump, the prospect of a global trade war or rising tensions between Russia and the West. And those are just the obvious risks. Regardless of whether the UK strikes a win-win deal with the EU that pleases everyone, or there’s a painful, disorderly exit, markets could still fall or rise sharply for a completely different reason.

10. There will always be reasons to bail out of equities. Throughout the long bull run that began in 2009, there’ve been scores of plausible arguments for getting out while the going’s good. If you had heeded any of them, you would have missed out on gains. Will it be Brexit that finally brings the bull market crashing to a halt? The bottom line is that nobody knows.

Again, you have to do what you think is right, and only time will tell what the “right” decision proves to be.

Whatever you do, though, beware of acting on emotions. Assuming that you are comfortable with the risk you’re taking, and that your portfolio is thoroughly diversified and has relatively recently been rebalanced, the rational response is to sit tight and watch the political drama unfold. It’s certainly getting interesting.

 

¹  The Evidence Based Investor and an award-winning journalist, blogger and content marketing consultant, based in the UK, with specialist expertise in the investing industry.

‘Pretirement’

Half of pensioners plan to work past retirement age

The onwards march of ‘pretirement’ – where people scale back on work or slow their retirement plans down rather than giving up entirely – is continuing, according to new research [1].

A recent study found half (50%) of those retiring during 2018 are considering working past State Pension age. This is the sixth consecutive year where half of people retiring would be happy to keep working if it meant guaranteeing a higher retirement income.

Cost of day-to-day living concerns

More than a quarter (26%) of those planning to delay their retirement would like to reduce their hours and go part-time with their current employer, one in seven (14%) would like to continue full-time in their current role. An entrepreneurial fifth (19%) would try to earn a living from a hobby or start their own business.

The research shows that many people expect their retirement to last an average of 20 years. Around one in 12 (8%) of those scheduled to retire this year have postponed their plans because they cannot afford to retire. Nearly half (47%) of those who cannot afford to retire put this down to the cost of day-to-day living which means their retirement income won’t be sufficient.

Keeping mind and body active and healthy

The research also found that the decision to put of retirement isn’t always a financial one. Over half (54%) of those surveyed who are already,

Averting a later-life financial crisis

More retirees drawing pensions without LPA’s

People are generally living longer these days. Increasingly, more people are living well into their 80s and 90s – and some even longer. This may mean you have a long time to budget for. That’s why it is very important to consider all your options carefully and think about what will matter to you in retirement.

As you will probably be aware from our previous blogs, the Government introduced ‘Pension Freedoms’ in April 2015, which means that you can now access your pension in more ways than ever before. Therefore, it’s important that you take time to think carefully before you decide what to do with your money.

Later-life financial crisis

According to a recently published report [1], nearly 80% of retirees who take advantage of the new pension rules to manage their retirement savings will face a potential ‘later-life financial crisis’ as they have not set up a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).

There are two types of LPA. These are the Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney, and the Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney.

The same research found that 345,265 pensioners accessing their pension pots in this way have not yet given a family member or friend the legal authority to make decisions on their behalf if they were no longer able to do so.

Responsibility of managing income

The analysis highlights the scale of an issue that has emerged since the 2015 changes when the British government abandoned the requirement to buy an annuity at retirement. It has come to light that twice as many people are now opting for pension drawdown over annuities. In effect, this puts the responsibility of managing income in retirement onto the individual.

Therefore, registering an LPA has become even more important since the pension reforms. Thousands of people are now making complex decisions on their pension into old age, when the risk of developing a sudden illness or condition such as dementia increases. Despite this, many are unprepared for a sudden health shock or a decline in their mental abilities, hence, the time to set up an LPA is well before you need it.

Potentially creating problems

With more and more people moving into drawdown, this is potentially creating problems that could leave thousands of people facing a possible later-life financial crisis. It is vital to plan for a time when managing your pension might become hard, or even impossible, and obtaining professional financial advice is one of the best ways to do this.

The Alzheimer’s Society has discovered that there are currently 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia and this could increase to over 1 million by 2025. Yet the report revealed that only 21% of retirees who have accessed funds under the new freedoms have registered an LPA.

Discussions with your family or others

A LPA can be a very important part of planning for a time when a person will not be able to make certain decisions for themselves. It allows you to choose someone you trust to make those decisions in your best interests. This can be reassuring and making an LPA can start discussions with your family or others about what you want to happen in the future.

The stigma around the LPA, as with dementia, is compounded by its links to mental capacity. Some people are reluctant to consider a future where they may not be able to make their own decisions due to the connotations they associate with this. In cases where LPAs are not in place, assets and equity may be lost, or those in a vulnerable position may be forced to make decisions they are no longer able to make.

Do you need help? Give us a call

Whatever your plans for the future, we are here to help you take the next step and if you don’t have your own Solicitor, we are happy to introduce you to a Solicitor who can help you with these requirements.

 

Source data:

[1] The study for Zurich UK is based on a YouGov survey of a UK sample of 742 people who have moved into drawdown since the pension freedoms were introduced in April 2015. The survey was carried out between 14 December 2017 and 24 January 2018.

FCA Data Bulletin (issue 12) shows 345,265 pots moved into income drawdown between October 2015 and October 2017. Assuming the number of people moving into drawdown continued at a similar rate from November 2017 to April 2018, this would equate to a further 86,316 people in drawdown. 345,265 + 86,316 = 431,581 people.

345,265 / 2 years of drawdown data = 172,632 x 10 years = 1,726,325 people.

Warning:

The information noted above is for general information only and is not intended as personal advice. Carpenter Rees does not accept any liability for your reliance upon, or any errors or omissions.

Countdown has commenced ….. Are you on track to a financially secure retirement future?

The very concept of retirement is changing and when you are at the point of retiring, the new ‘pension freedoms’ have opened up all sorts of alternative strategies to taking your pension benefits.

The way we can access our pension is now a lot more flexible and it’s no secret that in the UK we’re living longer than ever before.   With a longer retirement and more choice over how you can take your pension, planning ahead will help ensure you’re on track to a financially secure future.

Although retirement can still seem a while away, begin to consider what you want your life to be like when you get there.  Our timeline will help you get started.

Ten years before you plan to retire

Here are some things to think about as you start to build your plan:

· The age you’d like to retire
· How much you’ll likely have in your pension fund/s, and the income you’ll need when you retire
· Any savings, investments or other assets that you could add to your retirement income
· How your living expenses could change in the future
· How you’ll pay for any travel, hobbies or further education once you’ve retired
· An emergency savings fund, to help with any unexpected costs like car or home repairs
· Paying off any debts before you retire
· How you’ll support your dependants once you’ve retired
· Putting money aside to pay for long-term care for you, your partner or other dependants

Don’t forget that your spending habits are likely to change in retirement. For example, your commute costs are likely to be lower, but more time at home may mean your utility bills go up.

Five years before you plan to retire

Now is the time to make sure your goals are on track:

· Decide the age you’re likely to retire
· Consider phasing your retirement and continuing to work part-time for your current or a new employer
· Consider boosting your pension by increasing your contributions and/or adding lump sum payments (take advantage of any unused pension tax allowance)
· Trace any lost pensions through the Pension Tracing Service
· Ask for up-to-date statements for all your pensions. You can also get a forecast of your State Pension at www.gov.uk
· Look over your investments and savings to see if they still meet your attitude to risk as you get closer to retirement
· Think about whether you’d like to take an income from your pension or whether you want a pot of cash, including any tax-free allowance, to do something different in retirement
· Discuss your options with a professional financial adviser
· Write a Will or review your existing Will – and plan what will happen to your pension and estate if you die, plus any tax implications.

Six months to go

It’s time to give yourself a retirement readiness check-up:

· Review your pension statements to get an accurate picture of what your funds are worth
· Make an appointment with your professional financial adviser for advice on the best retirement options for you
· Determine the best option/s for taking your pension savings to meet your financial and lifestyle needs
· Tell your pension providers you’re planning to retire, so that they can send you any and all information you need in plenty of time
· Update your beneficiary information
· Set a date for a pre-retirement meeting with your employer
· Let the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) know you’re retiring because your change of status will affect your tax code
· Budget for changes in your day-to-day spending after you retire

Twelve to eight weeks before

It’s down to business now – you’re just outside of your selected retirement date:

· Speak with a professional financial adviser to consider your options and retirement plans
· Ask your provider about the ways you can access your pension based on the options available
· You should receive a letter four months before you reach State Pension Age, telling you how to claim your State Pension. If you haven’t received this by three months before, here’s how to claim this
· Look into any entitlements from the Government over and above any State Pension you may get, as these could make a real difference to your living costs

Eight to two weeks before

The final countdown! It’s time to make sure you have all the information you need to help make a decision:

· Consider any retirement quotes that your provider may have sent you
· Remember, if you want to use your pension to provide an income, you should shop around the different providers to get the best income you can. If you and/or your partner have a health and/or lifestyle condition, then you could get an even higher income as different providers also cover different conditions
· You’ll also need to apply to your provider/s if you’re moving pensions from different sources
· There you have it – happy retiring!

We can offer the right help

Whether you’re new to pensions, or whether your retirement is just a few years away and you want professional financial advice, we can offer the right help for you to make the most of your money now and in the future. To find out more about your options, please contact us.

 

Warning – The information noted above is for general information only and is not intended as personal advice.  Carpenter Rees does not accept any liability for your reliance upon, or any errors or omissions.

ISA rules and Inheritance Tax

Families set to pay millions in unnecessary tax

There’s a fundamental lack of awareness and understanding around Inheritance Tax, especially when it comes to how Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) are treated after death. Given that some people have been able to amass over a million pounds in their ISAs, it’s an area where lack of knowledge could prove costly.

Over half (51%) of over-45s do not know that ISAs are liable for Inheritance Tax, leaving families across the UK set to pay millions in unnecessary taxes according to findings from an annual Inheritance Tax monitor survey[1].

Gifted to a partner 

As ISAs can only be gifted to a partner and not children without incurring tax, the Government will ultimately be a major beneficiary of money currently residing in Cash ISAs and Stocks & Shares ISAs. In the last Budget, HM Treasury predicted it would raise £5.3 billion in the 2017/18 tax year in Inheritance Tax, which will eventually increase to £6.5 billion by 2022 to 2023.

The research also revealed over three quarters (77%) think the UK’s Inheritance Tax rules are too complicated. Yet despite this, only a third (33%) have sought professional financial advice on Inheritance Tax planning. Of those who did seek advice, over two fifths (42%) spoke to a professional financial advise

Rules regarding inheritance

Some people could inherit less than they expected because they aren’t aware or make assumptions about the rules regarding inheritance. In particular, the rules governing the gifting of ISAs and valuable estates mean that many may be faced with a higher than expected Inheritance Tax bill.

ISAs remain the ‘go to’ financial product for many people as they look to build up a nest egg in a tax-efficient way during their lifetime. But with such a large number of older people investing into them, there is a worrying lack of awareness that ISAs are subject to a 40% Inheritance Tax charge. ISAs are a great tax-efficient investment in your lifetime, but more people need to be thinking about how to pass on their hard earned money to their loved ones when they die.  

Securing and protecting your wealth

Early preparation is the key to success here. Taking advantage of methods to secure and protect your wealth will ensure that more wealth can be passed onto the next generation – to find out more, please contact us.

Source data:

[1] Survey of 1,001 UK consumers aged 45 or over with total assets exceeding the individual Inheritance Tax threshold (nil-rate band) of £325,000. Carried out in October 2017. 

Article published by Goldmine Media Ltd.  For further information, please see our latest edition of Smart Money
 

 

Back to the future

Uncovering what really matters to you is the key to the planning process

Have you ever thought about writing a letter to yourself to describe your ideal future life, long-term life goals and the process of how to plan for them?

Imagining what you want your life to be like in the long term when you retire will help you think much further ahead than you might have done before. Research conducted for a new campaign[i] shows that over half of people (54%) plan their lives only days (31%) or weeks (23%) ahead.

The participants were asked to look deep into their future lives in a bid to uncover what really matters to them. When asked to write a letter to describe their ideal future lives, people were very good at imagining it. But many didn’t know how they were going to achieve it or how to take the next step to build a bridge from now to that future self by putting a plan in place to get there. 

Key well-being aspirations

The writing exercise uncovered how people really envisage their life in the future. The letters illustrate that well-being in old age pivots on simple hopes (family, health and happiness) rather than extravagant financial ambitions. A well-balanced life was a key aspiration for many respondents. The letters confirm a clear hierarchy of needs and aspirations in life that many of us would have expected: family/partner, followed by career and financial security, followed by hobbies and interests, including friends.

While a handful of the respondents hoped for lottery wins or gold medal glory, the overwhelming majority expressed their desire to remain healthy and active in old age and to live ‘comfortably’ with some degree of financial security. The letters revealed a nation aspiring to much more grounded ambitions: the centrality of family, a desire to travel, to learn throughout life, and to have fulfilling but balanced careers with a good work/life balance.

Family, health and happiness

It’s not surprising that family, health and happiness are central pillars for people’s well-being. What is surprising is how unprepared most people are to achieve the dreams they have described. The letters are wonderfully optimistic, but there is a reality check. The findings showed that people underestimate their required size of pensions pots by up to £550,000, while many people who have the capacity to save aren’t doing so.

By using the letter as a catalyst, once you know what your goals are, the next step is to plan for them.    To support the letter writing campaign, a study was also commissioned to gauge people’s current well-being and life goals[ii]. The survey indicates a fundamental disconnect between the life people aspire to and their life now.

Prevention barriers

As noted above, the study found that 54% of people plan their lives only days or week ahead.  Only 14% of respondents said they plan for years ahead, with only a handful (4%) suggesting that they plan for future decades. This may explain why only 11% of UK adults with life goals know how they will achieve them.

When it comes to life goals for the future, travel is a primary ambition for over two in five people (44%), followed by eating well (40%), getting fit (39%), spending more time with friends and family (36%) and better work/life balance (20%).   On the flip side, the main objects listed as preventing people from achieving their goals are money (33%) motivation (28%) followed by energy and time as barriers in equal measure (26%).

Path to financial freedom

When it comes to financial goals, one in five people (20%) have none whatsoever. Among those with goals in mind, the same percentage of people (20%) have not worked out a strategy and don’t know how they will achieve their specific goals. The top financial goals are: save for a rainy day (43%); earn more money (32%); save for a special occasion (21%); reduce or clear debts (19%); and buy property and pay off mortgage (both 17%).

Finances touch just about every aspect of your life. Your personal life and your financial life are not separate – they intertwine with each other. Your path to financial freedom means identifying and harnessing your dreams and bringing them alive. We can help you find an answer. Whatever stage of life you’re at, we can guide you through the opportunities and challenges you face.

Start planning decades ahead 

We all want to fulfil our life plans, so the earlier you know where you want to get to, the better chance you have of getting there. Ideally, it’s essential to start planning decades ahead to map out the life you want for yourself and your family. The process of writing the letter should prompt that thinking and planning and hopefully that conversation with your partner and family.

To discuss your situation or to arrange a meeting, please contact us – we look forward to hearing from you.

Source data:

[i] The Brewin Dolphin letter writing project asked 500 UK adults to write a letter to their future selves deep into old age – a letter their ‘future self’ may discover and read as they reflect back on life. Methodology: online survey completed by 500 economically active respondents aged 18–65. Fieldwork by Trajectory from 12–20 April 2018.

[ii] The survey polled over 2,000 UK adults about their life now, their well-being and attitude to money, plus also what they want in the future – personal and financial goals, and how they’ll achieve them. Methodology: online survey was completed by 2,004 UK adults (18+). Fieldwork by Opinium from 11–14 May 2018

What do we do about Bonds…

 

‘You don’t need bonds, until you need them!’

Anon

Challenging times

I sat in our Investment Committee meeting for most of yesterday morning and amongst many things we discussed the current thoughts on Bonds (these include Government Gilts and Corporate bonds). You may feel I am a glutton for punishment on a Monday morning but really …. it was quite interesting!

In response to the very low yield on fixed interest investments (bonds), some investors have been tempted to chase higher yielding bonds, in an attempt to squeeze some return out of what feels like an unproductive portfolio allocation.  This is, unfortunately, an accident waiting to happen.  The phrase ‘picking up pennies in front of a steamroller’ comes to mind.

Others are asking whether they should be holding cash as bond yields are ‘inevitably’ going to rise, denting bond returns, at least in the short term.  Neither, approach according to the research conducted by Albion Consulting who provide the research which helps build our investment portfolios for clients, makes much sense.

We should be looking forward to yield rises

At some point in the future, yields (income) are likely to rise back to higher levels.  The problem is that no-one knows when, how quickly and with what magnitude it will happen.  Investors should be looking forward to yield rises, because in the future their bonds will be delivering them with a higher income, hopefully above the rate of inflation.

When income yields do rise, bond prices will fall, creating temporary losses.  At that point bonds now earn an investor more than they did before the rate rise and they reach a breakeven point where the new higher yield has fully compensated them for the temporary capital losses suffered.  The time to break even is equivalent to the duration (similar to maturity) of an investor’s bond holdings.  Short-dated bonds with a three year duration will breakeven after three years.  Below is a hypothetical example.  Follow it through.

Table 1‑1: The impact of a 2% rise in yields on a 3 year duration bond portfolio

Year end Today Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5
Yield-to-maturity 1.5% 3.5% 3.5% 3.5% 3.5% 3.5%
Immediate yield rise % 2.0%
Capital loss* -6.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Yield during year 3.5% 3.5% 3.5% 3.5% 3.5%
Total return for the year -2.5% 3.5% 3.5% 3.5% 3.5%
Cumulative total return -2.5% 0.9% 4.4% 8.1% 11.9%
Annualised total return -2.5% 0.5% 1.5% 2.0% 2.3%

Note: * We have assumed that the capital loss is approximated by the rise in yields times the duration.  In reality due to convexity – capital losses would not be quite so great.

The bonds within our portfolios are generally within a 3-5 year duration period.

 Holding cash deposits is not the solution

Imagine that an investor felt that rate rises were likely to occur, with a detrimental – albeit temporary – impact on bond returns in the near future.   They decide to place a deposit for three years, receiving interest of 1.5% p.a., comparable to the current yield on three-year bonds.  In three years’ time when their deposit matures, they end up with the same return as the bond portfolio (green-coloured cell in the table above).  Why bother?

Our view is that long-term investors should stick with their bond holdings.  At some point they will need them to protect against turmoil in the equity markets and that is what they are there for. Remember ‘You don’t need bonds until you need them!’.

Warning – The above information is based upon the views  of Carpenter Rees Limited.  It is not intended as a personal recommendation and should not be relied upon as such.  The value of your investment can go down as well as up, and you can get back less than you originally invested.

4 Ways to Feel More “At Home” in Your Home

Do you feel “at home” in your home?

Your home is often the biggest financial purchase you’ll ever make. But is it also giving you the emotional payoffs you hope for?

Your home is an important part of your financial plan because we have to consider your rent or mortgage, utility bills, maintenance, and taxes as part of your monthly and long-term financial picture. But to get the best life possible with the money you have, your home should also be a safe place that makes you feel comfortable and relaxed.

Here are four things to consider when trying to make your residence feel more like home.

Your personal touches.

In this age of social media and free two-day delivery, it’s never been more tempting to get sucked into “Keeping up with the Joneses.” But if you’re always trying to surpass you neighbour’s latest big splurge, you won’t be creating a space that’s truly yours. You’ll just be buying a copy of someone else’s idea of home.

Forget about the celebrity Instagram boards, and instead think about how to make your house reflect your family’s passions and stories. Turn an unused bedroom into a workshop or personal study. Bring those old family photo boxes down to a framer and breathe new life into your walls. Brighten up shelves with mementos from favorite trips.

If you’re considering additions or garden amenities, try thinking about these changes in terms of the experiences they can create for you and your loved ones. Sure, a hot tub sounds nice. But a new patio and some green space might be a more versatile and welcoming environment for family gettogethers. Upgrading your kitchen might allow your inner master chef to blossom into a truly talented cook.

Your personal comfort.

Sometimes less flashy upgrades to your living space have the biggest impact. A brand-new mattress isn’t as exciting as a garden hot tub, but you’re certainly not going to spend 8 hours every day soaking!

If you’ve been sleeping in the same bed and siting on the same settee for close to a decade, do some furniture shopping. Get some new pillows and sheets, or an ergonomic computer chair. These improvements aren’t just cosmetic – they’ll help you rest better and feel better.

Many of us also live with little quirks that have a negative impact on how we feel about our homes: that room that doesn’t get warm enough in the winter, a leaky sink, a living room with enough lighting for TV but not enough to read by, that cupboard under the stairs that’s going to explode someday. Minor household repairs and good old-fashioned spring cleaning can bring some welcome calm to the clutter we all accumulate.

Your personal geography.

Real estate pros like to say the three most important qualities in a home are: location, location, location. But the perfect spot for your first home might not be the perfect place to get married, raise a family, and start your own business. Once your kids move out of the house and have families of their own, your feelings about where you live might change yet again.

Your home city might become more or less appealing to you over time as well. Beloved businesses and restaurants close. New establishments take their place. Friends come and go. The cost of living can fluctuate.

If your community no longer provides you the same comfort, activities, social circle, and engagement that it once did, it might be time to consider a move. This could be another reason to explore buying a second home for extended weekends closer to your family or vacations that allow you to explore your passions.

Your personal journey.

As your life changes, your experience of home will change along with it, especially as retirement nears. The big family home might become a difficult empty nest for you and your spouse to maintain as you age. The familiar comforts of home might start to create a restless sort of discomfort. You might feel drawn to new places, new people, and new experiences to keep your golden years fresh and stimulating.

Or, like more and more retirees, you might decide that your current home truly is where your heart is. You might “retire in place” and give your current home some TLC that will prepare it for the next phase of your life.

So what does “home” mean to you? We are happy for you talk to us about creating a financial plan that will provide you with as much comfort as your favourite reading chair.