We spend our days helping clients to plan their financial futures. What we see is that people face similar challenges depending on their stage of life. At the same time of course, each and every one of us has a unique set of circumstances, has our own specific financial objectives and needs bespoke advice to help us reach our goals.
You see, financial planning is not an exact science. It depends completely on those unique circumstances; your current and potential earnings, your family situation and your assets and liabilities to name but a few factors. And it also depends on what it is you are trying to achieve. For you, is it all about comfort in retirement or are you seeking to maximise your wealth in the shorter term? Is the security of your family your primary concern?
While we clearly acknowledge that everyone is unique, we thought it might be useful to give you a sense of the type of issues that many of our clients see as the big financial challenges at various stages in their lives, and the typical solutions they seek out from us.
The carefree years: Age 20 – 35
Ah the carefree years! At least that’s how they start out for this age group before they start placing one eye on the future. For most of our clients in their late teens and early twenties, there are really just a small number of areas that they come to us looking for help with. The first area of focus is savings, often with one eye on building a deposit for that eventual house purchase.
As our clients move through their twenties and into their thirties, mortgages tend to dominate as people seek to get loan approval for that first home. As many of our clients also get married at this time and start their families, they tend to focus on getting protection (health insurance, life assurance, income protection etc.) in place to safeguard their families financially. The very forward-thinking of our clients also turn their attention to building education funds for their children and also their retirement funding. These smart people realise that the earlier they start their funding, the more they are likely to have available at retirement!
The growth years: Age 35 – 50
Hopefully now the mortgage is not hurting quite as much and there is a little spare cash available for other purposes. At this stage in our clients’ lives, we see a real commitment to pension funding – making sure that they can maximise the tax breaks available and finding the best pension vehicle for them. We also find at this stage that our clients become a little more aware of their infallibility (remember how indestructible we all felt when younger?), and want to ensure that they have the right protection in place to protect themselves and/or their families against the financial consequences of ill-health or death.
For those who are in the fortunate position of having some spare money, they also seek help in building an investment portfolio, particularly in the current low deposit rate environment.
The consolidation years: Age 50 – 65
As the state pension age moves out (eventually to 68) over the next few decades, this consolidation period is going to expand. We see our clients at this stage furiously continuing to build up their pension funds. However at this stage many are looking to take some of the risk out of their portfolios as they recognise the damage that could be done by a large drop in the value of their funds as they approach retirement.
Another area that we get asked a lot about among this group is in relation to the whole area of wealth transfer. Our clients have seen the reduction in Capital Gains Tax thresholds (hopefully to be reviewed in Budget 2017) and the increase in the CGT rate, and seek out ways to avoid leaving their families with big tax bills. These tax bills can often result in families being forced to sell an inherited family home, just to pay the tax bill. So we help them plan the transfer of wealth in a tax efficient way.
The Drawdown years – age 65+
And now the spending years – hopefully! This is where hopefully you get to enjoy the fruits of your labour and your careful financial planning over the years. Usually our clients no longer have a salary coming in at this stage, but of course we hope that we’ve been able to help them accumulate a good pension for themselves! Our work with clients who are in the latter stages of their lives tends to be around helping them manage their spending wisely. The risk these clients want to avoid is running out of money, so we help them to manage their assets carefully.
What we also see among this group is the amount of time they spend thinking about others and how important their legacy is to them. They are thinking a lot about their families in particular and how they can leave a lasting legacy (financial and otherwise) with them. Again we help them with their wealth transfer strategy to ensure their financial legacy is valuable and accessible for their families.
We hope this article gives you a sense of the types of challenges our clients face. If you would like to discuss your own particular situation with us, we would of course be delighted to hear from you.