Advice unique to you - Delivery
Why should you use our services?
Holistic lifetime planning mode
As Independent Financial Advisors operating across Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and the wider East Midlands area, we have made ‘holistic’ lifetime financial planning part of our financial planning process for many years. You might have heard the term ‘holistic’, but what does ‘holistic’ lifetime financial planning actually mean?
There are many interrelated matters to financial planning and ‘holistic’ lifetime financial planning means looking at them all at the same time. Too many times we see clients who have had investments ‘sold’ to them and all other issues ignored. Worse still, once the investments have been set up the client never hears from the Adviser again! Our service grew out of concern over this short-sighted process.
We invest the large amount of time and hard work that is necessary to set up a bespoke, holistic lifetime financial plan for you that incorporates tax planning and much more, which we then review on a regular basis.
For some of our clients with more complex circumstances, after more than 10 years we are still only part way through implementing their overall plan. However, as they had a lifetime plan in place at the outset and knew what goals they were ultimately working towards, they have been able to make any shorter term decisions in line with their lifetime plan.
We have for many years structured any planning in a way that saves the most Income Tax, Capital Gains Tax or Inheritance Tax (IHT) as possible. This has included situations where our clients have wanted to undertake some Estate planning, encash existing investments or sell second properties, etc. One of the most effective ways to demonstrate the benefit from this approach is in the area of IHT planning.
One of the biggest impacts of the ‘holistic’ lifetime financial planning we have provided for our clients has been the IHT planning (Inheritance Tax Planning). This is because we have achieved some of the biggest tax savings for our clients in this area, with the tax savings running into many millions of pounds.
For some of our clients, who have spent their lifetimes accumulating wealth, although it seems contrary, having a lower value Estate due to IHT planning such as gifting (often to a Trust) or setting up specialised Life Insurance policies actually results in their beneficiaries inheriting far more money.
Our approach is to go through our bespoke process ‘IHT planning options’ and our benefits and drawbacks checklist. This ensures that all of the options related to IHT planning are discussed with their associated benefits and drawbacks BEFORE any planning is arranged. The wider family situation is also incorporated in this process.
A key question we often ask is ‘What level of priority do you place on reducing your IHT liability?’ The answers usually range from clients who want to just arrange sensible planning to others who view IHT as virtual theft!
We ascertain our clients’ views on the key options such as outright gifts, Lifetime Trust planning, downsizing their property and restructuring Business and Pension assets.
The IHT position also needs reviewing regularly – we monitor the value of our clients’ Estates annually. Some clients spend less than anticipated resulting in the value of their Estate rising rapidly. It can be fairly easy to deal with this if it is addressed annually; however, in some cases where it has been ignored for 5 years or more, we have seen the IHT problem more than double. We also discuss the Legislation changes, such as those made to ‘nil rate band’ Wills and the reduction in the 40% IHT charge to 36% if they gift 10% of their taxable Estate to Charity.
Some clients are uneasy with gifting too much, as they feel they might need it. For these clients a cash flow forecast can make a big difference, particularly when looking at funding any potential Long Term Care costs.
Also there is often no link between a client's Will and their specific financial holdings. We meet with each client and their Solicitor, which can be particularly helpful when it comes to Pensions, because we can advise in this specialist area where a solicitor cannot. This means we can work together and prevent valuable pension assets from adding to an already significant IHT liability.
Sadly, on some occasions, a client has seen a product-focused adviser /sales person, who has arranged long-term investments, only for them to later find out that this has stopped them from undertaking the IHT planning they would like to, as all of their money is now tied up and their Adviser does not have the expertise to help them.
Other areas where we can add value
For some clients, their financial planning is about financial independence and the key question is – when can they afford to retire? Or for some who are retired, or living off the income from their Pensions or investments, it is about how can they generate the income that they need for the rest of their lives, whilst protecting the level of income and capital that they have. These issues involve far more than simply setting up savings plans, Pensions or investments.
We work with our clients in this situation to ascertain their outgoings (current or projected), what their attitude to risk is and what the likely return from investments matching their risk profile would be. If the likely return is inadequate, we discuss shortfall options. This usually involves either increasing the level of funding (if applicable), or reducing their income expectations.
Whilst this might not be what our client wants to hear, at least they have time to plan for any amendments that they might need to make. We also then review this each year to ensure the planning is kept on track.
We have various case studies and testimonials from clients demonstrating some of the key areas we have provided advice on that we would be pleased to provide you with on request.
Our aim is to look after you for the rest of your life. This means that once we have helped you to meet your initial financial objectives, we then review these objectives and the planning that has been implemented on a regular basis, which is crucial as the financial and tax landscape is constantly changing.
Please see our document entitled ‘Professional Financial Centre (PFC) Advice Unique to You – Ethos’ for details of how our attitude towards independence and qualifications allows us to deliver the highest possible financial planning advice as described above.