Your Bespoke Plan may be built on one or a number of the following areas. Click each title for more information.
Investment Planning – Savings & Investment
We believe that investment planning, like all financial planning, starts with understanding why. We work with you to understand your reasons why and then present solutions that are bespoke to achieving your specific objectives. Bespoke plans ensure we have included your personal tax status, your investment objectives, your attitude to risk and how we will maintain the plan on-going.
Whatever your longer term objectives it is vital that proper consideration be given to protecting against the financial impact of long term ill health and premature death. We take the time to understand exactly what the effect on your immediate and longer term financial position would be and then assess the adequacy and suitability of any existing provision.
As well as advising on suitable policy types, levels and terms of cover, we also advise you on the most tax efficient ways of structuring benefits. With more couples deciding against a marriage or civil partnership there is an increasing need to consider the tax position. A full understanding of tax and trust legislation is vital to ensure that your beneficiaries do not suffer as a result of tax deductions.
As well as protecting the main earner it is important that consideration also be given to protecting anyone with home responsibilities since there will be financial implications should external help be required (for example child care costs).
We look at various solutions including
- Life Assurance
- Income Protection
- Critical Illness
- Health Insurance
- Long Term Care
Retirement – Wealth Accumulation
Retirement planning is something that most of us put off for as long as we can. But the reality is that the sooner you start paying into a pension the higher your income in retirement is likely to be. If you’re working you’re usually building up the right to a basic State Pension – and possibly an additional State pension – but these may not be enough to give you the standard of living you want.
With the challenges the credit crunch has presented a strategy is needed to help you protect, repair, and recuperate your pension. Market cycles show it will recover but no one knows when and to what level. Whatever you decide, you cannot afford to do nothing. Retirement planning may be painful at the time, but it is not as painful as reaching retirement with inadequate provision and having to give up things you have taken for granted during your working life.
Types of pensions
There are three main types of non-State pension. They are:
- Occupational salary-related schemes – offered by some employers
- Occupational defined contribution schemes (also called money purchase pensions) – offered by some employers
- Stakeholder pensions and Personal pensions – offered by some employers, or you can start one yourself. You may also be offered a group personal pension at work. These are also money purchase pensions
Retirement – Pension Income Option
When you retire, you can usually take part of your pension fund as a tax-free lump sum. The remainder of your fund must be used to provide you with an income.
If you have a money purchase pension, you can do this in various ways, for example using annuities or unsecured pension options. We explain briefly how they work and the things you need to consider before deciding which to choose.
If you’re getting a pension from an occupational salary-related (defined benefit) pension scheme, your income in retirement is provided by your employer’s pension scheme direct. So you don’t need to make any of the retirement choices mentioned here. Talk to your pension scheme administrators for more information.
If you have a money purchase pension scheme (occupational defined contribution, a personal or stakeholder pension), this section is for you.
Retirement means when you start to take benefits from your pension. You can usually do this from age 50, but the minimum age from which you can take your benefits is going up from 50 to 55 by 2010. The precise timing may vary between pension schemes, so check with your pension provider.
Since April 2006 retirement has become much more flexible than in the past. You have more options; for example, you can:
- delay buying an annuity;
- receive an income but continue to work, if your scheme rules let you; or
- work beyond normal retirement age if your scheme rules let you.
Types of retirement options
After taking any lump sum, there are a number of ways to take an income from your money purchase pension. Some, such as an unsecured pension or phased retirement, may only be suitable if you have a large pension fund or other substantial assets and you are prepared to take some risks with your pension fund to get greater flexibility and a higher return.
Your options include:
- a lifetime annuity;
- an unsecured pension; and
- phased retirement.
What if my pension funds are small?
If the total of all your pension funds is less than a minimum amount, you can take some or all of your pensions as a cash lump sum, rather than taking an income. This is known as trivial commutation.
You must be between at least 60 but not yet reached 75 and all the pension funds which you want to ‘commute’ must be converted to cash within a 12-month period.
A quarter of the money you will get is tax free and the rest will be taxed as income.
You don’t have to ‘commute’ all your pension funds, but bear in mind that it might be difficult to get a retirement income from small funds because many annuity providers will not take funds below a specified minimum, say £10,000.
More than one pension fund?
If you are using more than one pension fund to buy an annuity, think about combining them when you are shopping around. You may get a better annuity rate from a larger fund. If you have small funds, combining them may also enable you to achieve total funds above the minimum specified by providers.
Family Wealth Preservation
For many, the fact that wealth which has been subject to a range of taxes throughout life, should then be subject to further tax on death seems inequitable.
There are a range of strategies that can be employed to mitigate Inheritance Tax, from taking advantage of the various exemptions to more progressive planning which tends to involve either sacrificing access to capital and/or income or accepting some degree of investment risk.
Our planners will explore all the options with you highlighting the advantages and disadvantages before putting forward a suitable strategy.
Inheritance Tax Planning & Trust
Across all of our plans, we ensure that all personal allowances are being used and that investments are held in the most efficient structures. A financial plan should be built around doing the basics well.
Within tax planning, a lot of tax allowances and exemptions are ‘use them’ or ‘lose them’. We ensure that you get the most of these allowances and use them
Legacy Planning is a process usually developed over a number of years, where good communication is vital. We combine our expertise on investments and trust planning and build a plan including: a check list to make sure the basics have been done; Wills, LPAs, Digital Legacy etc, a clear summary of your financial legacy position, options for annual gifting and gifting surplus income, and options for usin trust planning.
Cash Flow Modelling
Cash flow modelling is an integral part of the financial planning process, based on a number of assumptions; a cash flow model will provide graphical analysis. This will establish whether you have sufficient income to maintain your standard of living or meet anticipated expenditure. It will also help us design an appropriate asset allocation for your investment portfolio, in association with your risk profile.
For example, you may only require investment returns of 4% a year, to ensure you achieve your stated goals. In reality however, you may have a portfolio taking more risk than you require, as it has been constructed to try and achieve a higher return, adding in a greater degree of risk, the reverse could also have a dramatic effect on the outcome also.
In addition, cash flow analysis will produce different scenarios, to see how your finances will be affected. For example, it will evaluate whether you have sufficient savings and how this will impact on your lifetime objectives. These scenarios will suggest whether you need take more or less risk and whether to spend more or less money, they will give parameters that you are able to live within.
Life is not straight lines, so having different scenarios can help you plan.
Mortgages can be a complicated area. That is why we offer an advice-driven service to look after the whole process for you. With our expertise we can find you the most appropriate and competitive mortgage which, in turn, could make a substantial saving for you.
Each client has specific needs and requirements depending on their circumstances. That is why we spend time researching the marketplace and selecting the best company to provide you with a mortgage.
There are a number of factors that will determine the most suitable mortgage for you and one of our qualified and experienced planners will guide you through the process. Our service is proactive, meaning that we keep in regular contact to review your mortgage situation as and when your circumstances change, leaving you with one less thing to worry about.
- First Time Buyers
- Buy to Let
- Investment Property Portfolios
- Commercial Property
- Property Purchase using Pension Schemes
Equity Release is the term used to describe the process of using your main residence to provide either a one off lump sum or a regular income. Equity Release is normally only available to those aged 55 or over. There are 2 broad methods of releasing equity; via a Home Reversion Scheme or through a Lifetime Mortgage.Home Reversion Scheme
Under a Home Reversion Scheme your property is sold but you retain the right to continue living there at a pre agreed rent which could be zero. Because you retain a right to continued residence, the amount you receive from the sale of your home will be significantly below the market value.
Unlike a Home Reversion Scheme where your property is sold, under a lifetime mortgage a loan is secured against your property. Unlike a conventional mortgage, with a lifetime mortgage you have the option to add interest to the loan so that both capital and interest are repaid on death or one sale of the property.
The amount that you are able to borrow will depend upon the value of the property and the age of the youngest borrower. The older you are the more you are able to borrow.
Although once seen as a product of last resort, the wider benefits of equity release are gradually being appreciated. As well as being a means of supplementing income in retirement equity release can be used as part of a wider estate or retirement planning strategy.
Independent financial and legal advice should be sought when considering equity release. You may also wish to consider involving family members or beneficiaries in this process as equity release may affect the amount of inheritance you are able to leave them.
Long Term Care
Long term care insurance provides the financial support you need if you have to pay for care assistance for yourself or a loved one. Long term care insurance can cover the cost of assistance for those who need help to perform the basic activities of daily life such as getting out of bed, dressing, washing and going to the toilet.
You can receive long term care in your own home or in residential or nursing homes. Regardless of where you receive care, paying for care in old age is a growing issue.
How it works
Government state benefits can provide some help, but may not be enough or may not pay for the full cost of long term care.
The level of state support you receive can be different depending on whether you live in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.
In England and Wales, for example, you can also receive means-tested state assistance, which depends on your savings and assets. For instance, if your savings and assets are above £23,250 in England you will normally be expected to pay for the full cost of long term care yourself.
The UK Government is currently changing how long term care is funded. Some of the detail has yet to be decided, but the Government has said that all changes are expected to be in place in England by April 2016. The changes are based on the recommendations of the 2011 Dilnot Commission on Funding of Care and Support.
Types of long term care plans
Immediate needs annuities
pay a guaranteed income for life to help cover the cost of care fees in exchange for a one-off lump sum payment, if you have care needs now
Pre-funded care plans
gave you the option of insuring your future care needs before they develop (these plans are no longer available to purchase).
- Legal Services
- Wills, Trusts & Lasting Power of Attorney