If you’re looking ahead to your retirement, the good news is that nowadays there are more choices open to you than ever before. However, recent research7 shows that many retirees may not be exploring these options and aren’t shopping around at retirement, selecting instead to take the annuity or drawdown facility offered to them by their existing provider.

How advice can help

A report from the Financial Conduct Authority8 highlighted that those who didn’t take financial advice often struggled to choose between retirement options, and many ended up making poor investment decisions, or put their money into cash funds that provide low returns and risk being eroded by inflation.

We can explain what the various choices available to you are, what they could mean for you, and help you make the right decisions for the future. We know that for many people this is a complex and bewildering area, so will explain everything in plain English and will be able to answer any queries you may have.

7Canada Life, March 2019
8FCA Financial Lives Survey, 2018

Parents and grandparents keen to help their offspring get onto the housing ladder are increasingly helping them out with the money they need for their deposit. This can help reduce Inheritance Tax (IHT) too, but you need to be aware of the rules.

Everyone has a yearly ‘gift’ allowance for IHT and can give away up to £3,000 each year. If you don’t use it, you can carry over any unused allowance from one tax year to the next up to a maximum of £6,000. This means you could give away up to £6,000, or £12,000 for a couple.

Wedding gifts

You can also make small gifts of up to £250 per person per tax year to as many people as you like. Weddings are another opportunity to hand over cash to loved ones – parents can each give children £5,000 as wedding presents, and £2,500 to grandchildren or great-grandchildren, or £1,000 to anyone else, all free of IHT.

You can make more significant gifts above and beyond those listed above, known as ‘potentially exempt transfers’. You need to live for at least seven years after making the gift for it to be outside the estate for IHT.

This article is purely for information only and does not constitute advice, for advice based on your individual needs and circumstances please contact a financial adviser.

The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate some forms of taxation advice.

Data from the Office for National Statistics5 show that various patterns are emerging in how wealth is transferred down the generations.
Unsurprisingly, gifts and loans are more commonly made to those aged 25–34, with 11% in this age bracket receiving more than £500 during the previous two years, with the average across all age groups being £2,000. This illustrates that parents are stepping in to help their offspring cope with times of major expense, like buying a house or starting a family.

Inheritances come later in life

The average inheritance across all age ranges during the previous two years was £11,000, with those aged 55 to 64 most likely to receive larger inheritances, receiving on average £33,000. Those aged 65 and over inherited on average £20,000. This money was put into savings or investments by around 49% of recipients.

This research serves to highlight that those who rely on receiving an inheritance instead of putting adequate pension provision in place might find they’ve reached retirement before they inherit. With gifts often given earlier in life, inheritances may be smaller in the years to come.

5ONS, Oct 2018

ARE ‘SLASHIES’ THE FUTURE OF WORK?

A study by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed1 reports that more than 320,000 self-employed people in the UK have two or more jobs. The term used to describe this is ‘slashie’, as in “I’m a writer/dog-walker/gardener”.

AUTO-ENROLMENT BENEFITTING THOSE IN SMALLER FIRMS

The government reports that auto-enrolment has been an “extraordinary success”. A study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies2 shows that only 26% of small business employees would be saving in a workplace pension if auto-enrolment had not been introduced, whereas the actual figure is now 70%. Auto-enrolment has effectively increased the pension participation rate amongst employees of small firms by 44%.

PENSIONS – DON’T LEAVE MONEY TO THE WRONG PEOPLE

A pension nomination form allows pension plan holders to give instructions as to who should receive their pension on death. But if it isn’t updated when circumstances change, there’s a risk that the pension could pass to the wrong person, for example an ex-partner.

UNRATED POLICY WARNING

People often buy unrated policies from comparison sites as they can seem a cheap option, but the Financial Conduct Authority warns that consumers buying unrated insurance policies could be at risk. Four unrated insurers have gone into administration in the last 18 months, leaving people with certain types of motor and buildings policies without cover.

This article is purely for information only and does not constitute advice, for advice based on your individual needs and circumstances please contact a financial adviser.

If you haven’t got proper insurance in place for you, your family and your valuables, then you could be vulnerable if you faced one of life’s unexpected crises. Insurance cover doesn’t just pay out if you die, it can also give you the satisfaction of knowing that if you fall ill, have an accident or lose your treasured possessions, there would be a pay-out from a policy to help you deal with your financial loss.

We can help you find the cover that’s right for you.

This can be a difficult question to answer as there are many factors, economic and political, that can affect the UK housing market. As many people will be aware, the protracted negotiations over Brexit have recently taken their toll, particularly on the London property market, as uncertainties affecting the future prospects of European workers coming to the capital have yet to be resolved.

Spring kick-starts the market

The time of the year can play a part in whether your property sells quickly. Traditionally, estate agents report that once the clocks go forward in spring, housing demand picks up. Improving weather and in-bloom gardens can all help a property look its best. Families with school-age children who are moving into a new area often choose this time to start house hunting, hoping to tie in their move with school terms.

The peak holiday months of July and August are quiet months for property sales. However, once the children go back to school in September, the housing market tends to pick up, in the hope that the move can be completed in time to celebrate Christmas in a new home. Although December is traditionally slow, January sees renewed activity as people start making their plans for the year ahead.

Getting the timing right

Whilst seasonal peaks and troughs can be universal, it always makes sense to look at what’s happening in your local market before contemplating a sale. Taking a look at the various online sites that show what comparable properties have been sold for, rather than the price they were initially advertised at, will help ensure you get your asking price right. This can be key in getting a quick sale.

Although it might be tempting to think that investing is just about getting the best possible return on one pot of money, goal-based investing, structuring your investment around your specific financial aims, has become a widely-used way of helping people plan their financial futures.

Thinking things through

One of the most significant benefits to a goal-based approach is that it encourages us to think about what we want our money to achieve in a tangible way, across a range of time horizons. No two investors have the same financial aims, and meeting different goals means using a variety of investment strategies.

This approach starts with the investor defining their objectives such as saving for school fees, a child’s wedding, a deposit on a home, a comfortable retirement. These goals then become the building blocks of an investment plan. The information gathered is used to define the right level of savings and the most appropriate mix of funds to meet the investor’s goals and will also take account of all available annual allowances and employ taxation saving strategies too.

For instance, a retired couple might typically want an income stream now to boost their pension, but also want to invest some of their capital to fund the likelihood of care costs later in life. In this instance, a portfolio can be tailored to meet each specific goal.
A younger investor may want to structure their investments to cover school fees from nursery to graduation for their children, whilst at the same time building up a substantial pension pot for retirement.

Gauging your attitude to risk

Being clear about your goals will make it easier for us to tailor your risk profile to different investments. Each goal may have its own risk tolerance and time horizon. Naturally, over time your goals may change as your life and circumstances change, and your attitude to risk may alter too, that’s why we always recommend regular reviews.

The value of investments can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. The past is not a guide to future performance and past performance may not necessarily be repeated.