Posts Tagged ‘financial adviser’

Should You Change Financial Adviser in 2016?

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

Should You Change Your Financial Adviser in 2016-Is it time for you to change your financial adviser?

In the most simple terms if you didn’t receive the return on your investment that you expected last year, then yes, it may well be time to change adviser.

In more complex terms there are a number of areas to consider more closely when judging whether or not its time to change adviser.

This post will run you through some key areas you should assess so as to make an informed decision about whether to switch to a new service.

Was Your Invest Performance Lucky?

Over the last six years or so, most investors have been receiving a good overall return and this period of time has been what is known as a bull market. In laymen’s terms, this means your adviser may have simply got lucky; earning you money without skill or insight.

This all changed in 2015 however, when the stock market had its first negative return in six years. This means it’s wouldn’t have been unusual to have received a lower return last year, but was yours lower than it could have been? Given the performance of the market last year, after typical expenses it may have been normal to receive a negative 2 or 3% return, but anything from 5-10% and its time to start looking at what went wrong.


What kind of strategy did your adviser apply and did it work? For example, he or she may have gone for a low cost ‘match the market’ strategy, if so did this work? Alternatively they may have gone for a higher cost, ‘beat the market’ strategy, if so did this more costly approach see a good return for you?

Reports and Feedback

A good adviser will keep you constantly updated- and not just when times are good. If you don’t feel your financial adviser has built a sufficient relationship with you, or fails to provide thorough data and reports, even during slump times, then it’s almost definitely time to change adviser. If you didn’t feel you were given enough facts to make an informed decision, this could also be an alarm bell to change services.


Does your adviser work from your own feelings on risk? A good adviser will take your lead when it comes to risk and won’t coerce you into either taking a gamble you wouldn’t take or playing it safe when you’d rather gamble. If you feel you were talked into a risk strategy that wasn’t to your choosing, this is another alarm bell.


Quite simply, how much did your adviser charge? Was this expense greater than your overall return for 2015? If so then it’s almost certainly time to change adviser.

Is Your Financial Adviser Working in Your Interests?

Whilst these factors all look at the finer number crunching of investment, the most important thing is your instinct. How do you feel about your financial adviser? Does he or she understand where you are in your life and what you are looking for investment-wise? Do they have experience across the investment market including pensions, equity release and retirement as well as general investment? Do you feel he or she has invested in you as a person and will be there to inform you and answer questions in every sort of market, good or bad?

Another key area is to look at how many products you have been offered. Do you feel the products you’ve been offered in terms of pensions for example, has been limited? A good adviser will offer all products and not just the ones they make the best commission on.

What Should You Do If You Are Concerned About Your Finances?

If you feel your financial adviser hasn’t performed to the best of their ability, then it’s time to change. 2016 will be an interesting year for investment, especially for those looking to make the most of their retirement and ensure they have something to pass on, so make sure your adviser is up to the challenge.

If you are unsure about your current financial adviser, or haven’t previously had financial advice, then please contact Maxim Wealth Management today on 0141 764 0040 (Glasgow) or 0203 841 9941 (London). Our team will be happy to help you make sense of your finances.

Investment Portfolio Health Check

Thursday, October 4th, 2012


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.

Can you afford to spend 1/3 of your life in retirement?

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Life expectancy in the UK is rising

It has long been accepted that improvements in medicine, lifestyle and an understanding of the effects which habits such as smoking can have on our health means life expectancy is increasing. Future generations will enjoy much longer and healthier lives on average than their predecessors.

Figures released in April 2011 by the Department of Work & Pensions help illustrate rather exactly what this means. These figures suggest, of the under 16s already alive today, over a quarter are going to reach the age of 100 – and already, the average new-born female is going to live to over 90.

As Steve Webb, Minister for Pensions, commented at the time, this means that millions of people will spend over a third of their life in retirement.  But, as the DWP were quick to point out, this news also coincides with a period during which pension savings are in serious decline.

A population with increasing life expectancy is putting our welfare system under significant pressure as more people need not only pension income but also healthcare, incapacity support and help within the home.   When the time comes for you to retire you can expect that your State Pension will provide little more than a safety cushion. If your retirement plans include holidays, visiting relatives and treating yourself on occasion, then its time to take control of your savings and start building up a retirement fund of your own.

Call us today on 0141 764 0040 and our professionally trained financial advisers can talk you through your retirement planning options.

Retirement Planning

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

When it comes to retirement planning, time is one of the most important assets you have to save for retirement.

It takes a long time to build up the investments needed to provide a comfortable retirement income and the sooner you start retirement planning and saving, the better.  Even putting a small amount away on a regular basis, if done long term, can make a difference.  Both occupational or company pension schemes and personal pensions are tax-efficient.

Your contributions to company pension schemes are deducted from pay before tax is calculated and for contributions to personal schemes, tax you have paid before you make your contribution is reclaimed for you by your provider.  In to each type of plan you can contribute up to £3,600, 100% of your net relevant earnings or £50,000 (for tax year 2011/12), whichever is the greater and you can then use your personal income tax allowances before calculating the tax you pay when that pension finally pays out.

If you work for more than one employer, a financial adviser can help you check your previous company schemes and work out what you are entitled to.  Your retirement planning might also include individual savings accounts (ISAs) which are tax-efficient ‘wrappers’ all profits earned on investments held inside them are paid out to you free of further tax.  The amount of money you can invest in an ISA is also subject to limits (£10,680, tax year 2011/12), but it is worth getting into the habit early.

If you think you could benefit from retirement planning we’d be happy to offer our services.  But don’t delay because the longer you put off planning for your retirement the less retirement income you’ll have.  Call us now on 0141 764 0040 and let’s see if you can help.  Contact Us.

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.

A pension or an ISA?

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Our financial advisor explains that while a pension is one of the most common ways to save for retirement, it may not be your only option for retirement income and that an individual savings account (ISA) may provide an alternative.

Difference between a pension and an ISA

One of the main differences between a pension and an ISA is in the way they are taxed. Your pension payments will qualify for tax rebates up front, at your highest rate of income tax, but then the retirement income you receive later on will be taxed. With an ISA, the money you contribute will have already been subject to tax, but any withdrawals you make will be tax free. It’s also useful to be aware that your pension income counts towards your personal tax-free allowance, while your ISA withdrawals do not.

You might think that, thanks to the tax relief, a typical higher rate taxpayer saving the same annual amount into both an ISA and a pension plan over their working life will find that by the time they reach retirement age the pension fund is larger. This is obviously fully dependent on their investment choices and tax regulations remaining consistent but the tax rebates are important as they add to the value up front and therefore influence the size of annuity that can be bought. However, the retirement income from your annuity is likely to be taxable, unlike ISA withdrawals. But, your annuity payments are guaranteed for life and withdrawing the equivalent from an ISA may eat into your capital. It is therefore possible that the ISA capital eventually runs out.

Other pension benefits include the fact that employers can pay into a company or stakeholder pension scheme, and the annual contribution limits for pensions are much higher than for ISAs. Nevertheless, an ISA is much more flexible. With a pension, you have to wait until you are aged 55 to make withdrawals, whereas an ISA can be accessed pretty much whenever you like.

With longer life expectancies, as well as some high profile issues concerning the way in which a minority of pension funds have been managed, many investors’ funds will not provide quite as much retirement income as expected. As a result, some people are now looking to boost their pension funds by topping up their company pension, or by using additional investment vehicles. One other solution however, could be to use the ISA option and help ensure your retirement income is as healthy as possible.

Your options for retirement can be complex and will depend entirely on your own personal circumstances. If you’d like to speak to one of our financial advisors about pensions or ISAs they would be more than happy to take your call 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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