What is Financial Planning?
Financial planning is really quite simple – “spend less than you earn”. However, life is complicated as we like to change jobs, homes, start a family, care for the young and the old. This is where savings (in the form of cash, investments and pensions), mortgages and protection plans become useful.
The key to financial planning is to save as much as you can, as early as you can. That way you don’t miss the money saved and you get the benefits of your money working for you with any income re-invested. However, you do need to remember that inflation is the enemy of time and so £100 in 10 years’ time will buy you much less than £100 today.
All this can be demonstrated in the comfort of your own home using your income and expenditure figures and details of your savings and investments, pensions and mortgages. The power of cash flow planning is the ability to see where future problems may lie e.g. you want to retire early but your state pension starts much later; you have received an inheritance and want to gift some away but don’t want to run out of money later. We can model multiple scenarios and advise you how best to achieve your desires based on your current position and what action you are willing to take. Take a look at the short video on cash flow planning below.
Elements of Financial Planning
For those who have a young family, or a mortgage, or a low-income partner then protection plans are very important. Assuming you are in reasonable health, you can insure your life to pay out either a lump sum, or a monthly income, on your death or on being diagnosed with a serious illness such as cancer, heart attack, or stroke.
For businesses we can set up a company death in service scheme. This provides peace of mind for all the employees, with no health questions asked and at a low tax deductible cost to the employer.
The tax code in the UK is one of the most complex in the world. There are many different reliefs and allowances available and often these get missed. A part of our role is to make sure you are aware of all of the allowances, reliefs and tax traps that may apply to your situation. Remember, it is perfectly legal to minimise the tax you pay, using the available allowances permitted by Parliament. This can help reduce the cost of saving and investing towards a set goal, or enable you to achieve that same goal earlier.
So, when reviewing your pensions, we will talk about salary sacrifice and income tax relief. We also cover ISA allowances, the child benefit tax trap, Gift Aid rules, capital gains tax allowances, inheritance tax and all the many ways to reduce this.
Levels, bases of and reliefs from taxation may be subject to change and their value depends on the individual circumstances of the investor. The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate Estate or Tax Planning.
When investing your money there are a few things to consider:
- Time – when do you want to reach your goal?
- Attitude to risk – how much risk are you prepared to take?
- Capacity for loss – how much of a loss can you suffer without affecting your standard of living?
- Diversification – the amount held in cash, bonds, property and shares; also the geographical spread of these investments; and with different banks, life companies, fund managers.
- Charges – certain styles of investing are more expensive than others and some plans and providers offer better value for money than others.
- Limitations or preferences – many clients like their investments to achieve a monetary return as well as benefit society, e.g. ethical or socially responsible investments.
We take all the above factors into account when reviewing your existing plans and setting up new ones. We will use your existing plans where possible and seek to simplify your arrangements where they have become complex over time. Our first request is often to look through your mountain of paperwork that you have and divide it into a small pile to keep and typically a much larger one to shred.
The value of your investment (and any income from them) can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.