Guide: Leaving an inheritance vs gifting during your lifetime

Guide: Leaving an inheritance vs gifting during your lifetime

Have you thought about how you’ll pass wealth on to those who are important to you? Traditionally, this has been done through inheritance, but it’s becoming more common to gift during your lifetime.

Our latest guide explains why more families are choosing to gift during their lifetime and the pros and cons of each option. Whichever option you decide is right for you, our guide will enable you to fully understand your situation and make sure your wishes are carried out, and will explain everything from writing a will to calculating the long-term impact of gifting.

It can be difficult to think about how you’ll pass on wealth to loved ones, but it’s important to set out a plan.

Download Leaving an inheritance vs gifting during your lifetime to discover the steps you should take.

If you have any questions about passing on wealth, please contact us.

Investment market update: July 2021

Investment market update: July 2021

The pandemic recovery continues to pick up pace in economies around the world. However, there are still reasons to be cautious and signs suggest the pace of growth is beginning to slow in some regions.

According to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), the recovery is picking up for leading economies as vaccination progress means their lockdown measures are beginning to be eased. However, the IMF (International Monetary Fund) has warned that a failure to support poor countries fight Covid-19 could cost the global economy $4.5 trillion (£3.24 trillion) by 2025.

UK

The UK’s economy continues to grow, but the pace is slowing. In May, the economy expanded by 0.8%, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show. This is weaker than the 1.5% expected and means the UK economy is still 3.1% below pre-pandemic levels.

One of the challenges the government now faces is repaying debt. To provide household and business support throughout the pandemic, the government borrowed at record levels. In July, government debt interest payments were a record £8.7 billion, around three times the amount paid just a year earlier. This is partly due to government bonds being linked to inflation, which has increased as lockdown measures have lifted.

The Office for Budget Responsibility stated that UK debt stock is increasingly exposed to shocks from both inflation and interest.

July’s Freedom Day, when lockdown restrictions lifted, led to a boost for hospitality, retailers, and pub chains. In line with this, the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) reported strong retail sales in July, with in-store transactions up 23%.

CBI figures also show UK factory output surging, with new orders reaching their highest levels since the 1970s. The IHS Markit PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) for the service sector was 62.4, a slight easing from the 24-year high recorded in May, but still strong growth.

One of the challenges businesses across many sectors identified is the “pingdemic”. With members of staff needing to self-isolate, some firms are struggling to continue operating even as restrictions lift.

Brexit also continues to have an impact on the UK economy. According to ONS, UK exports to the EU increased by £1 billion (5%) in the first five months of 2021. However, imports are still weak.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak also revealed that post-Brexit talks, centred on providing UK financial firms access to the EU, have stalled. He suggested that Britain would diverge from Brussels’ rules on financial services.

Europe

Figures from Europe are mixed, and Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank, cautioned that the recovery in the eurozone remains fragile.

While the eurozone PMI composite hit a 21-year high of 60.6, placing it firmly in the growth zone, factory output dipped by more than expected. Industrial production fell by 1% in May, according to Eurostat, leading to questions around the strength of the eurozone recovery.

In other news, the EU has fined Volkswagen and BMW £750 million. The two motor companies were colluding with Daimler to delay emissions-cleaning technology, breaching EU antitrust rules in the process.

US

Signs suggest that the US economy is continuing to grow, but the pace is slowing down.

The latest PMI figures indicate that the boom seen as pandemic restrictions lifted is easing. The US recorded 59.7 in July in the PMI Output Index. While this is still in growth territory, it’s markedly down from the 63.7 recorded in June.

GDP figures also support this. In the second quarter of 2021, the US economy grew by 6.5%. While positive, it’s far below the Wall Street forecast of 8.5%.

However, job figures provide some positive news. At the beginning of July, the US reported 850,000 new jobs as American companies continued to take on more staff. The figure is a significant improvement on the 700,000 expected and points towards growing business confidence.

Asia

China’s ongoing crackdown on technology companies hit stock markets across Asia. Beijing has tightened restrictions on overseas listings of Chinese companies, as this puts tech companies under more scrutiny. The measures have affected the stocks of some of the region’s largest tech companies, including Tencent and Alibaba.

While China is expected to post growth of around 8% for the second quarter of 2021, it’s a marked slowdown when compared to the first quarter record of 18.3%. To encourage a boost in lending, the People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, has cut the amount of cash banks must hold in reserve.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

The value of your investment 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.

10 fantastic books to read with children this Read a Book Day

10 fantastic books to read with children this Read a Book Day

Read a Book Day on 6 September offers the perfect opportunity to curl up with a book and escape, whether with a comforting favourite or a new adventure. It’s also a great time to share a book with your child or grandchild and instil a love for literature in their early years.

Developing a love for reading can be hugely beneficial to children. It’ll help improve their vocabulary and language skills, learn more about the world around them, and develop their imagination. There are shelves filled with wonderful books for you to enjoy together, including these 10 chapter books.

1. Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl

Join a group of woodland animals led by the cunning Mr Fox as they try to stay one step ahead of three greedy farmers. Despite being published more than 50 years ago, this Roald Dahl novel has become a staple of children’s literature thanks to the creative story and writing style the author has become well-known for. Of course, once you’ve finished Fantastic Mr Fox, you’ll need to decide which of Roald Dahl’s books to pick up next, from Matilda to The BFG.

2. A Really Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

Perfect for inquisitive young minds, Bill Bryson’s adapted his popular adult book for children. Filled with vibrant illustrations, it explores the history of science, from the big bang to the dawn of modern science. Answering questions about space, dinosaurs, and everything in between, this book is a great place to start for children with an interest in science and you might learn something new too.

3. Holes by Stanley Yelnats

Holes has sold millions of copies worldwide since its release in 1998 and it’s a compelling read for children. When Stanley Yelnats is sent to Camp Green Juvenile Detention Centre, he’s told to dig a hole every day as part of a character-building exercise, but what is the real reason for the holes? You’ll want to find out just as much as the child you’re reading with.

4. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

Charlotte’s Web has consistently been named a favourite children’s book since it was released in 1952. It tells the story of a pig named Wilbur and his friendship with a spider, Charlotte, as they come up with a plan to keep Wilbur away from the chopping block. The beautifully written and at times humorous story more than deserves its classic status.

5. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter has become one of the most popular children’s books ever, and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone takes you right to the start of the magical story filled with dragons, gnomes, quidditch, and evil wizards. Follow Harry as he starts his journey, but you may become so hooked you’ll finish all seven books in no time.

6. Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz

Action-packed and filled with gadgets, the Alex Rider series is James Bond for children. The first in the series sees teenage spy Alex sent to investigate Herod Sayle, who is offering state-of-the-art computers to every school in the country but this offer seems too good to be true. Once again, there’s a whole series to enjoy if your child gets caught up in the thrills and challenges of carrying out an MI6 mission.

7. Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens

For budding detectives, Murder Most Unladylike is the first in a series that follows two girls at boarding school in the 1930s as they hunt for crimes to solve. When they find a body that disappears, they need to hunt for the killer before they strike again. Could they be out of their depth? With several in the series already written, detective duo Daisy and Hazel have plenty of adventures to take your child on.

8. Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce

First published in 1958, Tom’s Midnight Garden has become a classic read for children and a fantastic book to share. Stuck at his aunt and uncle’s house, Tom resigns himself to a long, boring summer, until he realises the grandfather clock strikes 13. As he discovers a secret garden filled with intrigue, you’ll find a magical story that’s become one of the best-loved children’s books.

9. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman’s wonderfully imaginative books delight children and adults alike, and The Graveyard Book is a great place to dive into his collection. It’s a gothic book perfect for kids that want to read something a little darker. It tells the story of Bod, a baby that escapes a murderer intent on killing his family. Brought up by the ghosts and ghouls of the local graveyard, will he survive as the murderer continues to hunt for him?

10. Attack of the Demon Dinner Ladies by Pamela Butchart

Perfect for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, this book is silly and laugh-out-loud, guaranteeing a lot of fun as you read it with your child or grandchild. Izzy and her friends have always hated school dinners but now there’s something different about the dinner ladies and they’re about to attack. Fans of the book will be pleased to know there are plenty of others in the series to pick up, including The Spy Who Loved School Dinners and My Headteacher is a Vampire Rat.

5 signs you could benefit from income protection

5 signs you could benefit from income protection

September will mark the first Income Protection Awareness Week. Income protection can provide financial security when you need it most, but it’s often something that’s overlooked. If you recognise these five scenarios, it may be worth looking at how income protection could fit into your wider plans.

1. Your employer doesn’t offer sick pay

It’s worth looking at the benefits your employer offers when weighing up the pros and cons of income protection. You should check what your employer’s sick pay policy is and how long it lasts.

Many employers offer an enhanced sick pay policy that means you’d continue to receive an income in the short term if you were unable to work. However, it’s worth noting that these policies rarely go beyond 12 months. So, an income protection policy with a long deferment period may still be beneficial.

If your employer doesn’t offer sick pay, you will usually receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you need to take time off. SSP pays £96.35 each week in 2021/22 up to a maximum of 28 weeks. Relying on SSP alone can mean you face serious financial difficulties if your income did stop due to illness.

2. You are self-employed

If you’re self-employed, taking time off work can have a huge impact on your income and may even affect long-term projects. It may mean you’re tempted to work despite being ill or that you rush back too soon without giving yourself enough time to recover. Receiving a reliable income through an income protection policy means you can focus on your health without having to worry about financial security.

3. Your emergency fund wouldn’t cover essentials

If you have to rely on your emergency fund, how long would it last? An emergency fund is an excellent option for providing short-term financial security if the unexpected happens. This money should be readily accessible and ideally cover three to six months of expenses.

If your emergency fund wouldn’t be enough to provide peace of mind, income protection could help.

While your emergency find may provide security for a few months, if a long-term illness affected you, you could still find that you face financial insecurity. Again, income protection with a long deferment policy can give you confidence while reducing premiums in this case.

4. Your salary is the main income source for your family

Your income may be essential for your family’s finances. If you have dependents, taking additional steps to ensure financial security if the unexpected happens becomes even more important. Losing income even for a few months could mean significant lifestyle changes for your family and may affect long-term prospects if you’re forced to dip into savings.

5. You don’t have any passive sources of income

If you have a passive income, such as from investments or rental properties, you may be able to cover the essentials and maintain your lifestyle without your salary. However, if your entire income relies on you being able to go to work, it’s worth thinking about how income protection could provide certainty.

How much does income protection cost?

Income protection will pay out a regular income if you’re too ill or injured to work until you can return, retire, or the policy ends. It can be difficult to put a value on that, but often income protection is cheaper than you think.

Many things will influence the cost of income protection. This includes decisions you make when selecting a policy, like the level of cover you want or how long you’ll need to wait before making a claim. Your health and lifestyle can also have an impact, from your age to whether you smoke. As a result, it’s important to receive quotes that are tailored to you but don’t simply dismiss income protection as expensive.

As with all financial decisions, you need to consider if income protection is right for you. Spending some time contemplating how you’d cope financially without your income can help you assess if income protection can add value to you. If you’d like to discuss whether it makes sense for your circumstance or need help choosing an appropriate income protection policy, please contact us.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

 

Cashflow modelling: How it can give you confidence in your choices

Cashflow modelling: How it can give you confidence in your choices

When you’re making financial decisions, one of the challenges is understanding the impact that it could have on your long-term finances. Not understanding the impact means you’re unsure what you should do, or when you do make a decision, you still won’t have full confidence in it. Financial planning can help you weigh up the short- and long-term implications.

Cashflow modelling is just one of the tools that can help create a plan you can rely on when working with a financial planner. Even if you’ve used cashflow modelling before, you might not be aware of how it works or how it adds value to your plans. Read on to find out.

What is “cashflow modelling”?

Cashflow modelling is used to forecast your financial future. It can help you understand how your wealth and income may change, whether you want to look 5 years ahead, or 30. It’s a way of answering questions like: “Do I have enough money?”

The first step when using cashflow modelling is to input data. This may include how much you have saved in your pension, your current income, or the size of your investment portfolio. It’s important these figures are accurate as they provide the foundations for calculations.

On top of this basic information, you can add extra details that will provide a forecast. This information is based on assumptions that may include:

  • The annual return of your investments
  • Adding a certain amount to your pension until you reach pension age
  • The rising cost of inflation and how it will impact your outgoings.

It’s important to note that you can’t guarantee these assumptions will happen, but they help build a relatively reliable picture of how your wealth will change over time. This can give you confidence in how financially secure your future will be. With this information, you can see where gaps are, allowing you to take steps to bridge them sooner.

Helping you make big financial and lifestyle decisions

When managing finances, you’ll face some big decisions. It can be difficult to know what the right option is. When using cashflow modelling, you can add new assumptions that will forecast your wealth based on different scenarios. This means you can answer questions like:

  • Would I run out of money if I retired five years early?
  • Would providing a financial gift to my children now affect my future?
  • Can I afford to take a lump sum from my pension to travel now?
  • Can I take a larger income from my pension and still have enough for the rest of my life?

Cashflow modelling lets you see how moving ahead with these types of decisions will affect your income now and in the future. It can help put the decisions you’re making into context. For example, if taking a lump sum from your pension to travel now meant a lower income in the future, would you do it? For some, travel will be a priority that means a lower long-term income is worth it. For others, scaling back travel plans would make more sense. Understanding the implications of your decisions can mean you make the choice that’s right for you.

It can also help you see how every day, smaller financial decisions can add up to provide you with more freedom in the future. For example, even a small increase in your pension contributions can mean you have the freedom to tick off bucket list items while still being financially secure.

Planning for the unexpected

Cashflow modelling doesn’t just help you answer questions when you’re deciding how to use your wealth; it can help you prepare for things that are outside of your control, too.

You may, for instance, worry about how your partner would cope financially if you passed away. Cashflow modelling can help you visualise this and show what steps you could take to provide security. This could mean taking out a life insurance policy or purchasing a joint annuity in retirement.

Alternatively, you may want to understand whether your retirement would still be on track if your investments didn’t deliver the expected returns. Or whether you could afford to pay for care in your later years.

These types of scenarios can be difficult to think about, but being proactive can provide peace of mind. By looking ahead, you’re in a better position to reach your goals and create financial security, even when the unexpected happens.

If you’d like to discuss how your decisions can affect your financial future, please contact us.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

 

How financial planning can help you strike a better work-life balance

How financial planning can help you strike a better work-life balance

Financial planning is about much more than simply growing your wealth. Not only can it reduce financial worry, but it can help you achieve long-term goals, reduce stress levels, and increase your mental wellbeing.

Perhaps you feel like you don’t have enough time to spend with those you love? Or maybe you’re striving for early retirement but you’re not sure how to get there? Financial planning exists to guide you through these issues with confidence.

Pandemic burnout and the increased work week

Covid-19 has influenced almost everything since early 2020. The Guardian reported earlier this year that UK workers have increased their working week by 25% since working from home.

In the UK, the average time spent on a business network each day increased from 9 to 11 hours. However, employees aren’t the only people affected; two in five company owners reported struggling with depression, anxiety, or exhaustion in 2020 and early 2021.

Not only have people been working longer hours, but now the line between work and leisure has blurred. Many people have complained of an inability to switch off after a workday.

Financial planning could help to strike a much-needed balance between work and life. But how?

Helping you strike a better work-life balance

Often, financial planning is associated with building wealth. While this may be part of the process for some people, it’s not always the case. Financial planning focuses on how to help you achieve your goals.

If you’re in a position where you want to start cutting back working hours or taking other steps to achieve a better work-life balance, financial planning can help you understand what your options are. By looking at what is most important to you, a bespoke financial plan could give you the option to reduce how much time you spend on work. In some cases, this may include cutting back on outgoings, depleting wealth, or adjusting other steps you’ve been taking.

Rather than assessing how much money you have, the process of financial planning is about understanding what makes you happy and how money could you achieve these things. With work affecting other aspects of life, rethinking your work-life balance could improve your wellbeing.

A demanding job may mean you’re able to afford a nice car or a large family home, but if you’re unable to take the car for a drive or spend as much time as you’d like with loved ones, is it worth it?  For some, rethinking their job will be appealing.

According to an Aegon report, just 4 in 10 people have thought about what gives their life joy and purpose. Spending some time thinking about this and making the answer central to your plans could help you get more out of life.

So, how does financial planning help here? It can help you understand the type of lifestyle you could still achieve if you did step back or how other assets can bridge an income gap. It can give you the confidence to create a work-life balance that suits you.

Striking the right balance as you near retirement

It’s not just getting about getting the right work-life balance now either. Financial planning can help provide more opportunities in your later years.

Since Pension Freedoms were introduced in 2015, which gave retirees more flexibility when accessing their pension, transitioning into retirement has become more common. Cutting back working hours or moving into a less demanding job has become a popular way to ease into retirement. It can help you create a work-life balance that suits your lifestyle goals.

Transitioning into retirement is appealing for many as it can still provide structure and meaning to your days, while still giving you more free time.

But is it something you can afford to do? Or are you hoping to retire earlier than the traditional retirement age?

Financial planning can help you take steps to give you the freedom to create the retirement lifestyle you want. It can give you the confidence you need to make retirement decisions that make sense for you.

If you’d like to discuss your finances and how they can help you live the life you want, please contact us.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

A pension is a long-term investment. The fund value may fluctuate and can go down, which would have an impact on the level of pension benefits available.

Your pension income could also be affected by the interest rates at the time you take your benefits. The tax implications of pension withdrawals will be based on your individual circumstances, tax legislation and regulation, which are subject to change in the future.