Archive for the ‘Corporate Financial Advice’ Category

Investment Portfolio Health Check

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Investments

Time for a portfolio health-check.  Once a financial plan has been put in place, it is tempting to believe the paperwork can simply be tucked away in a drawer and forgotten.  However, like a well-kept garden, a financial plan needs regular tending to ensure it is still on track. ‘Weeds’ can spring up or you may just like to grow something new.  What should a financial health-check comprise?

check it is still fit for purpose.  The original financial plan will have been matched to an investor’s goals – to retire at 60, say, to fund education for children or whatever.  A review will first look at whether these goals have changed, perhaps with the birth of another child, or a change of job or a surprise inheritance.  It should consider whether investors need to save more or switch to different types of investments to achieve their goals.

The Portfolio Review

A review will also look at an investor’s progress towards their goals.  It may be a portfolio has performed particularly well and it is no longer necessary to take as much risk – or the opposite might be true and an investor needs to take on more risk.  A financial health check will also examine whether the underlying investments are performing in line with expectations.  Fund managers will have good and bad periods.  A run of bad performance may mean their style is out of favour – for example, they may target larger, dividend-paying stocks while the market currently prefers small companies – but your financial adviser will be able to judge whether this is expected or whether it is a sign of a deeper problem.  It may be a manager is losing their touch, has left their employer or there are problems within the investment house.  In this case, it may be worth switching to another manager.

Investment Changes

A portfolio will also need to be tweaked according to the wider economic environment.  The 2008 financial crisis changed the investment landscape – for example, the low interest rates that have followed mean income-seekers have had to work harder to generate the same level of yield.  While an event of this magnitude will hopefully not repeat itself in the short term, it highlights the importance of regular reviews and ensuring your financial plan continues to be appropriate.  Financial health checks can ensure your garden grows abundantly in all weathers.  A little tending can go a long way.  To arrange a financial review contact Maxim Wealth Management or call 0141 764 0040.

Pension Transfer Advice

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Pension Transfer Advice

Pension transfer advice, for the pot that you have accrued.  Most people switch jobs several times during their working life.  When you change employers, it is worth thinking about, combining your pensions into one pot.  It is easier to keep an eye on fund performance if your pensions are all under one umbrella.  A single pension pot will incur less paperwork and administration, and could also generate lower costs and better overall performance.  Sounds like a no-brainer?  In theory yes, however, there are some important issues to consider before taking the plunge seek independent Pension Transfer Advice.

Occpational Pension Schemes

Most occupational pension schemes and private schemes can be transferred, but there are restrictions and potential pitfalls.  It is not usually worth transferring final-salary or public-sector pension schemes the benefits are too good to lose.  You should only transfer if you have actually left a company.  If your current employer contributes to your existing occupational pension scheme, you should not switch.  Also it is worth noting that the money in your pension can only be transferred from one pension scheme to another (until you have retired), and not every new pension scheme accepts inward transfers.

Small Pension Pots

If your pension pot is very small, it may not be worthwhile switching: you will have to pay charges when you transfer, and some providers impose harsh penalties if you leave their scheme.  And, if you are relatively close to retirement, you might not have sufficient time to recover the costs incurred by transferring.

According to the Pensions Advisory Service, the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) is set to publish a consultation paper examining the consolidation of small pension pots.  Possible approaches could see your pension pot moving with you when you change your employer; alternatively, when you change your job, your pension pot could be left behind and – unless you decide to opt out – the cash would automatically be transferred to a central aggregator fund.  The DWP believes the changes would increase the visibility of pensions saving: instead of seeing several small figures, each individual would be able to view one larger, consolidated figure.

Transferring and aggregating your pension pots might generate significant long-term benefits; however, any decision to do so should be taken for the right reasons.  Tread carefully and, above all, take expert advice before making an irreversible decision.  For Pension Transfer Advice contact Maxim Wealth Management  who are well-placed to help you with this.

Pension sharing on divorce Scotland

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Pension Sharing on Divorce Scotland

To achieve your fair share of pension rights and a clean break you will need expert legal and financial advice, especially where divorce is taking place between older couples and a considerable pension fund built up over the life of the marriage.

The allocation of pension rights on divorce is a particularly sensitive issue mainly because women are likely to have much smaller pension pots than men.  This is usually for two main reasons – women on average earn less than men and they are more likely to have spent time out of the workplace raising children.  In the event of a divorce, it is as important to consider the fair split of pension provision as it is the division of any other assets.  If one spouse has no pension savings because they have stayed off work to support either house or family, while the other has worked and built a substantial fund, this should be taken into account when determining the settlement.

Pension Sharing

When pensions are to be shared, you may not actually split the pension fund itself but instead, offset your rights to it against the value of something else – perhaps some investments, business assets or even the marital home.  Where young children are involved, for example, the marital home may be a precious asset which will reduce upheaval in the short term.  However, the benefits of this need to be weighted against those more formally related to retirement.

If a longer term solution for pension assets is required, there are a number of available options. The first might be to earmark a portion of your ex-spouse’s pension fund, and defer receipt of that benefit until they retire.  However, such earmarking leaves one partner dependent on the other, reducing the chances of a clean break.  They may also have to wait years before benefiting – and, if your ex-spouse dies before retirement, it is possible you could end up with no formal pension provision at all.

To protect against such eventualities, it is now possible to split a pension at the time of divorce.  A dependent ex-spouse gains access to a specific portion of the main breadwinner’s pension fund which then allows them to move their share away and make a much “cleaner” break. Both parties can then move on and take full control over their own share. In addition, if the main pension holder dies or remarries, all pension rights for the ex-partner remain protected.

The allocation of pensions on divorce requires expert legal and financial advice to achieve a fair split for both parties.  If you could benefit from talking to our financial advisers on this matter please call 0141 764 0040 in complete confidence.  Contact Us.

Is NEST best for your business?

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

NEST, the National Employment Savings Trust launches in 2012.

All employers will be forced to set up a Company Pension Scheme for their employees or auto-enrol their employees into the new NEST pension scheme. Group personal pension schemes (GPPs) have emerged as one potential solution which could help employers keep control of what pension benefits are offered to different individuals.

NEST pension or GPPs?

The main attraction of GPPs is their simplicity. The employer passes contributions straight from payroll to the provider and this is then invested as per the employee’s instructions. Through a group scheme, each employee has their own plan so they benefit directly (and only) from their own contributions and can also decide how this is invested. Contributions benefit from tax relief at the employee’s highest rate and employers can also make contributions to top this up.

This not only helps the employee but also the company tax bill – and can also reduce national insurance contributions. In addition, an employer contribution of at least 3% (which will be phased in between 2012 and 2016) is a requirement demanded by the NEST rules. Note, however, the rules are still being finalised, so may be subject to change.

Finally, at the end of the employment, employees simply take their sub-plan with them and keep contributing themselves. This reduces the need for employers to administer retained benefits and also helps the employee keep their career pension savings in one place.

If you think your business would benefit from a group personal pension scheme rather than being forced to meet the requirement of NEST, our dedicated Corporate Pensions Advisor would be happy to help talk you through the pros and cons.  Call now on 0141 764 0040.

At what age do you want to retire?

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Sooner rather than later?  But later may mean you have more money.

Age of retirement in the UK

The minimum retirement age is now 55 and the statutory age is 65 and this is increasing to 66, for men and women, by 2020.

Retiring later can increase your retirement income

As a general rule, it is better to hold off retirement for as long as possible. Deferring state, employment and/or personal pension benefits generally provides a larger income than retiring early because the older you get, the better annuity rates tend to be. Equally, if you choose to downsize your career but can still earn some income after your chosen retirement date, you may be able to ‘phase’ your retirement, using only a portion of your pension fund to begin with and leaving the remainder invested until later.

However, the most important choice you will make will be over the actual annuity, or unsecured pension product (Income Draw Down), as this will determine your ultimate retirement income. There is also the option of taking 25% as a tax-free lump sum, which could perhaps pay for a long holiday or be re-invested elsewhere to generate additional income. An annuity will provide you with an income stream for life, but this does mean you give up all right to the capital – and your descendants may not inherit anything of your investment if you die soon after retirement. You therefore need to weigh up the merits of guarantees in your annuity choice (thereby securing some of that fund value at least for the short term) against the rate being offered to you, particularly if you smoke or have certain health conditions which could lead to an increase in the amount you receive.

Alternatively, you can use an unsecured pension arrangement, which allows you to keep your fund fully invested and to draw an income directly from that. This income could be less or more than you might receive with an annuity, depending on your circumstances and requirements, but it does mean you preserve some of the value of your pension fund. This approach does, however, come with risks. Rather than consolidating your value as an annuity would, your retirement investment remains in the hands of the market so, whilst the value could go up, it could just as easily go down. Given the time it took to build that value, positioning your portfolio to minimise the risk of losing it is therefore essential.

Finally, you could do a little bit of both – take an annuity for part of your pension fund and leave the remainder invested. Such a combination could offer a decent half way house, but be sure to examine all the options before you make your move.

We’re happy to provide more information about planning for your retirement and you options will really depend on your own set of circumstances and wishes.  For professional advice tailored specifically to you why not call our financial advisers on 0141 764 0040.

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