Have you thought about what you would like to achieve in life, for you and your family, and the money you need to turn your aims into reality?
We help you identify your objectives and work out what you could realistically achieve – retire early, buy that cottage in Cornwall (or Spain), pay off your mortgage, pass on your wealth to your children (or grandchildren), – and recommend a financial strategy designed to achieve your aims.
Taking into account your current personal and business circumstances, we generally seek to optimise your finances, reduce the amount of tax you have to pay, now and in the future, and limit the amount of financial risk to which you and your family are exposed.
We assess the financial impact of every decision you make. For example, if you have spare cash should you pay more into your pension or increase your mortgage repayments? We review your financial strategy with you each year to make sure that it is on track, and because your financial position and objectives are likely to evolve and may even change radically.
Working with your accountant
Most of our clients are referred to us by their accountant, ensuring we have a rounded view of your financial affairs when making our recommendations. Irrespective of whether we already work with your accountant, we will, with your permission, contact them to make sure we have a thorough understanding of your personal and professional circumstances.
Choosing investments likely to meet your objectives and timescale
Our role as independent financial advisers is to discuss with you what you would like to achieve with your investments. We make sure you understand that the more risk you take, the more money you could lose (as well as make), and agree with you the level of investment risk you are comfortable taking. We then recommend suitable ways of investing your money as tax-efficiently as possible – now and in the future.
Pensions: Building up the wealth you need to enjoy a comfortable retirement
Part of our role as independent financial advisers is to assess the pension provision you already have, whether from your current and previous employer schemes or personal pensions, and the contributions you are currently making. Then, taking into account your age, current income and financial situation, including savings, other assets and other considerations, we can put in place strategies which are designed to provide you with the amount you are likely to need in your pension fund when you retire.
Income in retirement: What you need to think about when drawing your pension
This is likely to come from a variety of sources, including savings and assets held outside of normal pension arrangements and so you need to think carefully before you take any action.
You can start drawing funds from your pension arrangements when you turn 55, taking out a tax-free lump sum if you so wish, and using the rest to generate income, which is taxable, now or in the future. You don’t have to stop work to start drawing your pension. You now have considerable flexibility over how you access your money and it is important not to accept the first annuity you are offered without having explored all your options.
Insurance and protection: Financial security for you, your family and your business
What would you and your family live on if you are unable to work for any length of time because of an accident or sickness, or if you are made redundant, or worse still, if you die? You or your family would still have to pay the mortgage, gas, electricity, food and other household bills and possibly also other major items of expenditure such as school fees. Similarly, your business would probably suffer financially should the unexpected happen.
You will probably need more than one type of insurance and for each type a huge number of policies are available. They can be surprisingly different as to the events and conditions they protect you against, how and when they pay out and to whom if you do need to claim, and how much they cost, together with the tax treatment of payments in and out.
We will assess the financial risks you, your family and your business may face if certain things were to happen and explain them to you. Once you have agreed the types and levels of cover you want to put in place, we find policies that offer these at competitive prices.
Reducing inheritance tax: Helping you pass on as much of your wealth as possible
We can help you pass on as much of your wealth as possible, reducing and possibly eliminating any inheritance tax payable on your estate when you die.
With the inheritance tax threshold at £650,000 for married couples (£325,000 for single people), even people with a relatively modest family home and few investments are realising that there will be tax to pay on their estate should they die. Any amount above the threshold is taxed at 40%. We can help you calculate how much inheritance tax might be due when you die and help reduce this, depending on your priorities.
Paying for long-term care
Being faced with the prospect of paying for long-term care can be stressful and worrying. State help is limited and care fees are expensive. If you have assets over a certain level you will have to pay for your own care. If you don’t take action, you are likely to find that you deplete your capital quickly and may even run out of money.
The good news is that you may be able to organise your finances in a way that makes your money go further. We are experts in providing practical advice to people who need to pay for care. As well as helping you find ways of paying for the care, we can also make sure that your affairs are in order.
Legitimate ways of reducing the amount of tax you pay
There are numerous ways of legitimately reducing the amount of income and capital gains tax you pay now, in the future or both, and the amount of inheritance tax likely to be paid when you die. Most involve putting money in a tax-efficient “wrapper” or “vehicle”, such as a pension, investment bond or trust.
Some ways of reducing tax are fairly straightforward and can be of lower risk, such as pensions and ISAs. Others, such as Venture Capital Trusts or Enterprise Investment Schemes, are more complicated and higher risk. As a rule of thumb no investment should be made purely because it reduces tax – it should also be a sound investment in its own right.
As independent financial advisers, we can make sure that your finances are arranged as tax-efficiently as possible, and that you are using the various allowances and exemptions available to you if it makes sense to do so. Many people are pleasantly surprised to find that some careful planning can noticeably reduce the amount of income tax they pay and enable them to pay less capital gains tax when they sell certain assets.