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News and Insights

Gender Pension Gap

British women impacted at every stage of career

The staggering impact of the gender pension gap has been revealed in research which shows that women have lower pension pot sizes in every age bracket, with the situation significantly deteriorating as they approach retirement.

Pension pot sizes

The research highlights that there is always a difference in pension pot sizes between genders, even at the start of men’s and women’s careers. This initial gap (17%) remains largely unchanged until men and women reach their thirties, but doubles to 34% by the time they are in their forties.

The gap increases to 51% in the fifties age bracket, and then to 56% at retirement. The analysis also reveals that the difference in size of pot has a significant influence on the choices being made at retirement. 92% of women choose to take their pension in cash compared to 86% of men, while only 7% of women consider a drawdown compared to 12% of men.

Investment earnings

The issue is compounded by the fact that even in sectors where women are more heavily represented in the workforce, the pension gap remains just as stark. For example, in the Senior Care sector, the research shows that 85% of pension scheme members are women, yet the average woman’s pot size is 47% smaller than the average man’s (£8,040 current male average pot size).

Defined Contribution (DC) pensions have grown substantially in recent years, with the introduction of auto-enrolment. DC pensions are a retirement plan in which the employer, employee or both make contributions on a regular basis. Individual accounts are set up for participants and benefits are based on the amounts credited to these accounts plus any investment earnings on the money in the account.

Career progression

However, much like the gender pay gap in wages, the gender pension gap is fast becoming an issue. This analysis reveals the extent of the gender pension gap in the UK – a gap that exists right from the very beginning of a woman’s career and accelerates as she approaches retirement. The decision to take a career break to raise a family has a clear impact, though there are a number of other factors at play here, including lower pay relative to male peers at all stages of a woman’s career, a lack of pension contributions when she is away from the workplace, and the potential impact that raising a family has on a woman’s career progression.

Financial struggles

The research shows women are also more likely to face financial struggles following a divorce from their partner and are significantly more likely to waive their rights to a partner’s pension as part of their divorce. This is particularly true for older women, with one in four divorces occurring after the age of 50.

Changing social and workplace attitudes should help begin to level the playing field in terms of responsibilities, helped by the increasing acceptance of more flexible working patterns. The gender pay and pension gap is a complex issue that will take time to solve.

It’s never too soon to start thinking about the retirement you want

Whether you’re saving for retirement or planning your life now that you’ve retired, receiving professional financial advice can be hugely important in order to maximise your savings and avoid costly mistakes. To discuss how we could help you, please contact us for further information.

A pension is a long-term investment not normally accessible until age 55 (57 from april 2028). The value of your investments (and any income from them) can go down as well as up 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. You should seek advice to understand your options at retirement.

Coping With Life-Changing Events

Plan for tomorrow, live for today

Change is the only constant in life. It inevitably involves twists and turns, with some that are expected while others may be entirely unplanned. When this happens, it’s important to feel secure with the knowledge that you have the right contingency plan in place.

None of us can predict exactly what a life-changing event will be or when it will occur, and many of them will take you by surprise, whether good or bad. Here, we consider some major life events you may wish to discuss with us.

Divorce and managing finances

Managing your finances after divorce can sometimes feel like an impossible task, especially if the amount of money coming into your household is much less than when you were married. For some people, divorce can mean financial devastation or hardship. You may lose half of what you have saved over the course of your adult life, and go into debt paying lawyer’s fees and other expenses.

Yet as messy and painful as divorce can be, it is often both necessary and ultimately a good thing – and it is possible to recover both financially and emotionally after a divorce. When you’re facing a divorce, you need to know where you stand financially. We can help you plan for a sound financial future, to give you security and peace of mind, allowing you to move forward with your life.

Thinking about financial planning for long-term care

More people in the UK are living for longer, which is good news. However, this longevity brings certain challenges, such as how we will fund any long-term care that may be needed in the future. If you are one of the many people faced with helping a parent or another loved one find long-term care, then you are probably grappling with a lot of questions.

Among them: How can I bring this up in a way that won’t upset them? How are they, or how are we, going to pay for this? What type of living situation is best? Ageing comes with many joys and challenges. We can discuss with you the options to help cover your loved ones’ care needs now and in the future.

Dealing with your finances in widowhood

Coping with the death of a loved one can be extremely hard. You may be dealing with lots of different emotions, finding it hard to process them and having difficulties moving on. Losing your loved one, whether expected or sudden, can prove almost too much to bear. But it’s surprising how uninformed some spouses can be about each other’s financial lives.

Even in marriages that consciously attempt to integrate finances (joint bank accounts, both names on the mortgage), a lot of financial activity is specific to one spouse, for example, a credit card, retirement planning, an ownership interest in a business, investments, a car with only one name on the finance agreement. After the death of a spouse, your financial situation will likely be a major concern. We will take the time to understand your needs and recommend solutions personally tailored to you.

What to do and not do with an inheritance

Losing someone you care about is one of the hardest experiences in life. Receiving an inheritance probably means coping with the death of a loved and cherished member of your family or a friend. The emotion associated with bereavement often makes taking decisions about both their estate, and what you stand to inherit, difficult.

Most estates are settled within six to nine months in the UK, but it depends on the complexity of the estate. If it isn’t handled appropriately, the pressure of the proceeds can be stressful, upset your relationships and complicate your finances. During this difficult time we can help you to consider your options, assess any tax implications and decide how this inheritance could be used to provide you with financial security in the years ahead.

The importance of financial planning

Financial planning helps you determine your short and long-term financial goals and create a balanced plan to meet those goals. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has demonstrated unequivocally that such unforeseen and unplanned-for events can wreak havoc on our personal finances. Establishing clarity around your finances is arguably one of the most critical things you can do for your overall financial success. It is important to understand your financial needs and then create a financial plan to meet them. Tax planning, prudent spending and careful budgeting will help you keep more of your hard-earned cash.

We know you’ll have different priorities for your wealth at different points in your life. Whatever your financial aims, we can help you achieve them for both you and your family.

Time to bring clarity to your financial affairs?

Everybody experiences life-changing events at some point, whether directly or through a loved one. To discuss how we can help you, please contact us.

Build your own financial plan

Easier to manage your money

Having a financial plan in place early on can make it easier to manage your money further down the line. It’s never too early to make a financial plan. The sooner you work out your goals and start following a plan to achieve them, the more likely you are to succeed.

Here are three key questions to ask yourself when building a financial plan.

1. What are my goals?

Building wealth takes time and a little effort. Like any activity, be it growing a business or learning a new skill, you need to decide early on what your long-term objectives are. It’s exactly the same when you are building wealth – it is important to set financial goals. Without a goal, your efforts can become disjointed and often confusing. Being able to keep track of your progress towards achieving a goal is only possible if you set one in the first place. Being able to measure progress is extremely rewarding and will help you maintain focus. Procrastination is something we all battle with from time to time. However, when you set goals in life, specific goals for what you want to achieve, it helps you understand that procrastination is dangerous. It is wasted time. It is another day you aren’t moving closer to that goal.

Setting financial goals is essential to financial success. Once you’ve set your goals you can then write and follow a roadmap to realise them. It helps you stay focused and confident that you’re on the right path.

Consider the SMART principle when setting your own goals:

Specific – Clearly define what each goal is and use details such as numbers where possible (quantify it).
Measurable – Think about a tangible way in which you can measure your progress.
Achievable – Are your ambitions realistic? With planning we are often capable of more than we realise but being pragmatic is important. Discussing your goals with us will help you to balance this.
Relevant – Are your goals in line with your own personal values? It is useful to chat this through with somebody else to clarify your values.
Timebound – Think about the timeframe you are working within and whether there is any flexibility needed.

Your goals are personal and unique to you. Perhaps you want to set up your own business and follow a lifelong passion, or maybe you want financial security and to ensure you can pass a legacy on to your loved ones. Once you’ve defined your goals and you’re clear on your current situation, it’s a good time to work out if you have enough to achieve your goals or if there’s a gap. This isn’t an easy task as there are often many variables to consider, such as inflation, tax and growth rates.

2. Where am i now?

Cash flow planning is a concept borrowed from business and every business owner or finance director will be familiar with the term. These same principles can be applied to your personal financial planning. As we’ve mentioned, the starting point is to identify each one of your personal goals. Cash flow planning is most effective when all likely future needs are taken into account too. Just focusing on immediate needs may seem more practical but focusing on one goal at a time can limit future options.

Make a list or a spreadsheet of what you have, specifying where and how much; this could include any assets such as property, cash balances, investments, pensions, protection policies and any debts such as mortgage, credit cards or loans. Look at your income and expenditure levels. Remember, the future is somewhere you have never been before. Cash flow planning guides and updates you on your journey. If there are delays on the way it can find another path. Combined with our professional advice, we can help you arrive at your destination more smoothly.

3. What do i need to do next?

As we’ve seen with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, things can change very quickly. It goes without saying that your financial plans should not be static objects, and that you should review your plans over time and on a regular basis to ensure that you remain on track towards your goals. You also need to adapt your financial plans as your circumstances change. Reviewing your arrangements regularly is a vital way of ensuring you meet your financial goals and ensures that all your plans are up to date in light of changes to your circumstances and the wider financial landscape.

Reviews can also prompt you to consider some of those things that sometimes get left undone – such as your Will, which might still need to be arranged or updated. Or perhaps there is a Lasting Power of Attorney that has not been progressed or a life assurance policy that should be placed under an appropriate trust. As we’ve all recently experienced, life has a habit of springing unpleasant surprises on us when least expected.

let’s get started
Financial planning is the key to improving your financial wellness. Your personal plan is a roadmap to your financial success. You’ll see exactly what you need to do now to make a significant difference for your future. Please get in touch to find out how we can help you reach your financial goals – we look forward to hearing from you.

Retirement Options

What can you do with your pension pot?

When the time comes to access your pension, you’ll need to choose which method you use to do so, with options including: buying an annuity, taking income through (flexi-access) drawdown, withdrawing lump sums or a combination of all of them.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each method, and in some cases your decision is permanent, so it’s important to ensure that you obtain professional financial advice when considering your different options. This is a complex calculation that must take into account the growth rate your investments might achieve, the eroding effects of inflation on your savings, and how long your savings will need to last.

Annuities – Guaranteed Income for Life

Annuities enable you to exchange your pension pot for a guaranteed income for life. They were once the most common pension option to fund retirement. But changes to the pension freedom rules have given savers increased flexibility.

You can normally withdraw up to a quarter (25%) of your pot as a one-off tax-free lump sum, then convert the rest into a taxable income for life – an annuity. There are different lifetime annuity options and features to choose from that affect how much income you may receive. You can also choose to provide an income for life for a dependent or other beneficiary after you die.

Flexible Retirement Income – Pension Drawdown

When it comes to assessing pension options, flexibility is the main attraction offered by income drawdown plans, which allow you to access your money while leaving it invested, meaning your funds can continue to grow.

This option normally means you take up to 25% of your pension pot, or of the amount you allocate for drawdown, as a tax-free lump sum, then reinvest the rest into funds designed to provide you with a regular taxable income.

You set the income you want, though this might be adjusted periodically depending on the performance of your investments. You need to manage your investments carefully because, unlike a lifetime annuity, your income isn’t guaranteed for life.

Small Cash Sum Withdrawals – Tax-Free

This is an important consideration for those weighing up pension options at age 55, the earliest age at which you can take up to 25% of your pension pot tax-free. You should ask yourself whether you really need the money now. If you can afford to leave it invested until you need it then it has the opportunity to grow further.

For each cash withdrawal, the remaining counts as taxable income and there could be charges each time you make a cash withdrawal and/or limits on how many withdrawals you can make each year. With this option your pension pot isn’t re-invested into new funds specifically chosen to pay you a regular income and it won’t provide for a dependant after you die.

There are also more tax implications to consider than with the previous two options. So, if you can, it may make more sense to leave it to grow so you can enjoy a larger tax-free amount in years to come. Remember, you don’t have to take it all at once – you can take it in several smaller amounts if you prefer.

Combination – Mix and Match

Of all the pension options, if appropriate to your particular situation, it may suit you better to combine those mentioned above. You might want to use some of your savings to buy an annuity to cover the essentials (rent, mortgage or household bills), with the rest placed in an income drawdown scheme that allows you to decide how much you can afford to withdraw and when.

Alternatively, you might want more flexibility in the early years of retirement, and more security in the later years. If that is the case, this may be a good reason to delay buying an annuity until later in life.

The Value of Retirement Planning Advice

There will be a number of questions you will need answers to before deciding how to use your pension savings to provide you with an income. These include:

• How much income will each of my withdrawals provide me with over time?
• Which withdrawal option will best suit my specific needs?
• How much money can I safely withdraw if I choose flexi-access drawdown?
• How should my savings be invested to provide the income I need?
• How can I make sure I don’t end up with a large tax bill?

How much are you saving for your retirement?

We can advise on your retirement planning whether you are in the process of building your pension pot or getting ready to retire. Working closely with you, we will identify what you want from your pension and develop a structure that meets your requirements. To find out more, contact us to discuss your options.

A pension is a long-term investment not normally accessible until age 55 (57 from april 2028). The value of your investments (and any income from them) can go down as well as up 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. You should seek advice to understand your options at retirement.

Accessing pension benefits early may impact on levels of retirement income and your entitlement to certain means-tested benefits and is not suitable for everyone. You should seek advice to understand your options at retirement.

Grandparents, Grandchildren and Money

Sharing Your Wealth During Your Lifetime Can Make A Big Difference

With all of us leading longer lives, you might be considering how you can help your family when it matters most. Sharing your wealth during your lifetime can make a big difference and bring you a lot of joy, particularly when helping younger generations who are dealing with rising house prices and university fees.

After you’ve determined how much you can afford to give, there’s a simple starting point. What exactly do your grandchildren need, and when do they need it?

The right way to give presents for your grandchildren can vary depending on how old they are, and whether you’re concerned about turning over a sizeable amount of money to a child who may still be impressionable.

Younger Grandchildren

Junior Individual Savings Account (JISA)

If your grandchild is under the age of 18, you might put money into their JISA account. While you won’t be allowed to open one on their behalf, you will be able to donate up to their annual JISA limit, which is £9,000 for the 2021/22 tax year.

The benefit of the JISA is that they can’t touch the money until they turn 18 – after that, it’s theirs to use as they choose. The funds may be stored in cash, invested in securities, or a mixture of both. Investment growth is tax-efficient in a Stocks & Shares ISA, while a Cash ISA’s interest is tax-free. If you put money away for 18 years, it might grow into a sizeable amount, but the value of any investment will go up and down.

Child’s Bank Account

Alternatively, a child’s savings account is a convenient and easy place for families and friends to deposit money for smaller presents.

Keep in mind, though, that savers’ rates have been poor in recent years and over time, inflation can reduce the value of the savings, because prices typically go up in the future.

Older Grandchildren

Lifetime Individual Savings Account (Lisa)

If your grandchild is 18 or older, a LISA will be able to assist them in saving for their first home. If they turned 40 on or before 6 April 2017 they won’t be eligible. Only first-time buyers can use a LISA to buy property under age 60.

For every £4 saved, the government will add £1 (worth up to £1,000 every tax year until they turn 50 years old). Up to £4,000 a year is eligible for the 25% bonus (they can add more but it won’t receive a government contribution).

The bonus is paid every month, so they benefit from compound growth. They can invest in either cash or stocks and shares and this forms part of their overall annual ISA limit, which is £20,000 in tax year 2021/22.

Would you like the reassurance of some control?

It’s understandable to be concerned about giving too much money to grandchildren too young.

You might like to have a say in where your moneyis spent and where it is spread. Putting a gift into trust will alleviate concerns over giving substantial sums to grandchildren before they have reached financial maturity and it can provide grandparents with the leverage they want.

You maintain some control of the assets and to whom and where they are paid as a trustee, and gifts to the trust will lower the estate for IHT. Giving money to your grandchildren may eventually affect the way your estate is taxed, so it’s important to obtain professional advice before doing this.

Plan Ahead for a Brighter Future for All

There’s a lot grandparents can do today, with a little extra thinking and forward planning, to ensure that the money donated goes towards ensuring a brighter future for your loved ones – when you’re still alive to enjoy it.

Giving your Loved Ones Financial Gifts

If you’re unsure about the best approach, talk to us to discuss your options. Please contact us for more information.

Information is based on our current understanding of taxation legislation and regulations. Any levels and bases of, and reliefs from, taxation are subject to change. The value of investments and income from them may go down. You may not get back the original amount invested.  Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

Will your pension run out early?

Impact On People Opting For Early Retirement As A Result Of The Pandemic

An increasing number of people have been forced into early retirement due to the economic impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19), with many worried about how they’ll make ends meet in the future. Because of the pandemic, we are currently in a challenging economic period. The global economy has taken over ten years to recover from the shock of the last financial crisis.

In a recent survey, the findings showed that 3% of people in the 55-64 age group have taken early retirement due to the coronavirus pandemic. And 4% of people in this age group have had to access some of their pension savings to cover living costs because their income has dropped due to redundancy or reduced pay. These percentages may seem small, but they represent hundreds of thousands of people.

Risks Of Early Retirement

While early retirement may sound like a dream come true, for those with insufficient pension savings it can be a ticking time bomb. Every year of early retirement will have an impact on your pension, in that it represents both a year lost for saving and a year added for spending. Simply put, you’ll need to make less money last longer. Unless you’ve budgeted carefully and are sure you have enough savings, you could run the risk of your pension running out in your later years. This is an expensive time for many people, due to the cost of financing care, and that can result in unexpected hardship.

Planning For Early Retirement

If you’re planning early retirement, you should consider the following steps:

1. Calculate all your savings in different pension pots to find out what your total is.

2. Track down any lost pensions from previous employers and add these to your total.

3. Check how much of the State Pension you can expect to receive, and from what age.

4. Create a budget for your retirement spending, making sure to include any additional future costs you’re aware of and a little extra for future costs you’re unaware of. Be honest about how much you’ll need.

5. Make sure that the total you have in pension savings, when combined with the State Pension you’ll receive, is sufficient to cover all your future costs.

Alternatives To Early Retirement

If your financial situation is forcing you to withdraw from your pension but you’re not ready yet to stop saving, there are ways to access your pension that do not affect your annual allowance and therefore allow you to continue contributing at the same rate in the future.

These include:
Taking up to 25% of your savings as a tax-free lump sum (from a defined contribution pension)
Accessing a defined benefit pension (if you have one)
Withdrawing a pension pot worth under £10,000 in its entirety under ‘small pots’ rules
Buying certain types of annuity

Can You Afford To Retire Early?

We know that you work hard for your money, so you should be able to enjoy it as much as
possible. When planning for retirement, there are now more choices available than ever before. By understanding precisely what you’ll need to get to where you want to be, you can ensure you’re prepared for the future. So when working out if you can afford to retire early, your starting point should be to think about whether your savings and investments will be enough to cover all your outgoings, as well as all your essential living costs and any regular debt repayments you may have to make.

Answering All Those Big Questions

We can give you more information on any of these options and help you to choose the ones that are best for you. We’ll answer all those big questions you might have: When can I retire? How can I make my money last? Should I take a lump sum? To find out more and discuss your options – please contact us.

 

Sustainability Matters

Plan For A Better Tomorrow, Today

Responsible investment is a catch-all term to broadly describe funds that invest to make a positive change, either to the environment or for society. Within this umbrella term there are four broad investment approaches: ethical exclusion; responsible practice; sustainable solutions; and impact funds.

Increasingly more pension savers are asking where their funds are invested. Many are no longer just concerned about getting the best returns – they also want their money to be used in a way that helps society and the planet. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is currently consulting on improving the governance, strategy and reporting of occupational pension schemes on the impact of climate change.

The growth of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues – from an increasing awareness of climate change, global responsibilities and social issues to investing in companies that act responsibly and prioritise making the economy cleaner, safer and healthier – is an important consideration for many investors.

Considerations Within Retirement Portfolios

While ESG concerns have been gaining profile in the investment world for many years, there is reason to believe that there will continue to be a big shift toward these considerations within retirement portfolios and the coming transfer of wealth to sustainability-minded Millennials.

Eight out of ten people (83%) think global warming will be a serious problem for the UK if action is not taken, and there is a lack of awareness about the extent to which pension funds are working to reduce the impact of climate change. In the survey, around half (51%) say global warming is ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ important to them.

Categories Of Criteria Used To Assess Companies

However, there remains a lack of understanding among some savers as to how pension schemes are taking action against climate change. Three-fifths of workplace pension holders (59%) say they don’t know if schemes are taking any action; just one in seven (15%) workplace pension holders think schemes are.

ESG refers to the three categories of criteria used to assess companies when investing responsibly: ‘E’ stands for ‘environmental’ factors, such as carbon emission and water management; ’S’ stands for ‘social’ factors, such as employee welfare, diversity and inclusion; ‘G’ stands for ‘governance’ factors, such as business ethics and corruption.

Percentage Of People’s Wealth In Their Pensions

The concept of ESG investing has existed for decades but has grown enormously in popularity over the last five years. While early adopters of this practice were often driven by moral or ethical concerns, over time the financial benefits of ESG investing have become clearer, which has encouraged mass adoption.

ESG investing is becoming increasingly popular, and many investors are choosing ESG funds for their Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) and general investment portfolios. However, these accounts usually hold a lower percentage of people’s wealth than their pensions.

Greater Transparency Around Climate Impact

The survey also found a number of people don’t understand what pension schemes do with their money. Little more than two-thirds (68%) of the general population understand that pension schemes invest in a range of companies and other investments, and only one in five (22%) pension holders say they know the types of companies that their pension invests in.

Despite these knowledge gaps, when it comes to pensions there is still strong support for greater transparency around climate impact, in terms of the investments that are made and the way firms operate. Six in ten (62%) people think that pension schemes and other investors should hold those in charge of the companies they invest in to account for their efforts to minimise their impact on climate change.

Behave In A Way That Helps Tackle Climate Change

Two-thirds (66%) think investors have a responsibility to encourage the companies they invest in to behave in a way that helps tackle climate change. A similar proportion (65%) think that financial services firms should report on the impact the companies they invest in have on climate change.

Around seven in ten people (68%) say that pension schemes should be transparent about the extent to which they invest in a climate-aware way. Seven in ten (69%) also want financial services firms to be transparent about the impact of their own operations on climate change.

Looking For More Freedom Over How Your Pension Is Invested?

Pension holders now have far more freedom over how their pension is invested than many realise. If you would like to ensure your pension is invested according to your preferences, including a preference for ESG investments, contact us for more information.

Minimum Pension Age to Increase

Age Change To When People Can Start Taking Pension Savings

The government has confirmed that it plans to increase the minimum pension age at which benefits under registered pension schemes can generally be accessed, without a tax penalty, from age 55 to age 57 commencing 6 April 2028.

The Treasury is consulting on how best to apply its decision to increase the age when people can start taking their private pension savings. The Normal Minimum Pension Age (NMPA) will increase in line with increases to the State Pension age.

Unqualified Benefits Right

Members who currently have an ‘unqualified right’ to access their benefits under a registered pension scheme before age 57 and members of the armed forces, firefighters or police pension schemes will be permitted to retain their existing minimum pension age. The government is planning to introduce a protection regime which would mean that an individual member of any registered pension scheme (occupational or non-occupational) who has an unqualified right – for example, without needing the consent of their employer or the trustees – under the scheme rules at the date of the consultation to take pension benefits at an age below 57 will be protected from the increase in 2028.

Protected Pension Age

A member’s protected pension age will be the age from which they currently have the right to take their benefits. The protected pension age will be specific to an individual as a member of a particular scheme. So an individual could have a protected pension age in one scheme where they have a right to take pension benefits at an age below 57, but for schemes where no such right exists the new NMPA of 57 will apply from 2028. It will also apply to all the member’s benefits under the relevant scheme, not just those benefits built up before April 2028. Individuals with an existing protected pension age under the 2006 or 2010 regimes will see no change in their current protections.

Associated Pension Schemes

In recognition of the special position of members of the armed forces, police and fire services, the government is proposing that, where members of the associated pension schemes do not already have a protected pension age, the increase in the NMPA will not apply to them. Individuals who do not have a protected pension age who access their pension benefits before age 57 after 5 April 2028 would be subject to unauthorised payments tax charges.

Pension Tax Rules On Ill-Health

There will be no need for individuals or schemes to apply for a protected pension age. This is in line with the approach taken under the existing protected pension age regimes. The government is not proposing to make any changes to the current pension tax rules on ill-health as part of this NMPA increase. Unlike the protection regime introduced in 2006, where individuals are entitled to a protected pension age in relation to the increase in NMPA from 2028, they will be able to draw benefits under their scheme even if they are still working.

Scheme Benefits Crystallised

In addition, currently, if an individual wants to use their protected pension age, then all their benefits under the scheme must be taken (crystallised) on the same date. However, considering the pension flexibilities introduced in 2015, the government proposes that this requirement will not be a condition of the 2028 protected pension age regime. This would mean, for example, that an individual with a defined contribution pension with a protected pension age of 55 would be able to allocate some of their pension to a drawdown fund, and at a later date use the remainder to purchase an annuity, without losing their protected pension age.

Normal Minimum Pension Age

The government’s position remains that it is, in principle, appropriate for the NMPA to remain around ten years under State Pension age, although the government does not intend to link NMPA rises automatically to State Pension age increases at this time.
The announcement means that there is the potential for some people to be caught in the middle, being able to access their pension at 55 prior to April 2028, but having to wait until they turn 57 to access any untouched pension funds after this date where they don’t qualify for protection.

Planning For The Retirement You Want

This announcement may, in particular, have an impact on the timing for taking your pension benefits. It’s never too early to be planning ahead. To discuss how we can help you plan for the retirement you want, please contact us.

It’s Good to Talk

Getting Financial Help During The Coronavirus(Covid-19) Pandemic

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has not only dealt a blow to the UK economy, many people and families have unfortunately experienced financial hardship. According to a recent survey, 31% of the population say they are struggling with their finances due to the effects of the pandemic.

With the pandemic causing many workers to lose working hours or their jobs, it’s more important than ever to know what financial options you have.

Under-35s Are Most Likely To Borrow

But the survey shows that the impact is not spread evenly. It appears that people aged 18-35 have experienced the most financial difficulty and are most likely to seek help from others. During the pandemic, 18-35s have been four times more likely than any other age group to receive financial support from their family or friends. They’ve also been twice as likely as other age groups to take out a loan to make ends meet.

People Aged 35-55 Have Been Impacted Less

Those in the 35-55 age group have been less likely to need to borrow than the under-35s, and also less likely to report a worsening of their financial situation than those aged 55-65. But that’s not to say that they have it easy. Nearly one in three people in this age group say their finances are worse now.

People Aged 55-65 Have Their Retirement Plans Disrupted

Many people in the 55-64 age group have had to change their retirement plans. Income from work for one in four of these people has fallen 40%. A rise in unemployment has led to increasing numbers of people taking early retirement, with some relying on their property wealth to fund this.

Over-65s Are Supporting Their Families

Over-65s have been less affected than the general population, with 17% reporting that they are struggling financially. This is likely due to their pension income, which, in a lot of cases, will have remained level. More than one in ten of those aged over 65 say they have offered financial support to family members, which is the highest of any age group.

Before providing help to younger family members, it’s important to make sure that you can afford to without affecting your standard of living. Consider how your costs might rise later in life and ensure that you retain enough wealth to cover these additional expenses.

Support Is Still Available If You, Your Family Or Your Business Need It

In response to the impact of coronavirus, the government agreed a raft of measures with providers across a range of sectors to ensure struggling consumers are treated fairly. For those still worried about paying utility bills or repaying credit cards, loans or mortgages due to the impact of coronavirus, support is still available. Visit www.gov.uk.

People struggling to pay essential bills are encouraged to:

Contact providers: if you think you might have a problem paying bills, contact your providers to explain the situation and receive help Ask for help if it is needed: if you are struggling with your bills or credit commitments, free advice is available. Coronavirus has affected the entire nation and many people need support now, even if they never have before Explore payment options: if you are struggling with bills, it is better to agree a payment plan with your provider/s and keep making regular instalments, rather than cancelling direct debits and letting debt build.

Help And Financial Support

Even though the government has relaxed some of the COVID-19 restrictions, this is still a particularly difficult time for many households across the UK, with some struggling to keep up with bills, loan payments and mortgages. If you would like to discuss your situation, please contact us for more information.

Conscientious Investor

Investing Today to Help Make a Better Tomorrow

In a fast-changing world, sustainability is a growing concern for investors. Sustainable investing funds position investors to manage the risks associated with environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors, capture the opportunities and contribute to positive change.

The tremendous toll of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic crisis – on health, economic wellbeing and everyday activity – has precipitated a widespread reassessment of the way we live our lives. For governments, businesses and investors, an essential question has been to understand the sources of resilience during this past year and how to build on them to prepare for any future crises.

Influencing Positive Changes

If you’re someone who wants to make a positive difference, you might be interested to know how you, your money and the things you care about could all benefit from sustainable investing. At its core, ESG investing is about influencing positive changes in society by being a better investor. Investment into ESG funds has been growing at an accelerating pace over the last five years. Recent research suggests that 9% of investors currently hold ESG investments™, with 12% of investors saying they don’t currently hold ESG investments but plan to in the next year. 17% say they are likely to make their first ESG investments in 2022 or later. These numbers suggest a snowballing rate of ESG investing adoption over the next few years.

Resistance To Future Crises

As the nation emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic and begins to rebuild the economy, there is the opportunity to rebuild based on new principles. ESG concerns can be embedded in the recovery, to create an economy with more resistance to future crises. Companies are also under growing pressure to report transparently on their ESG-related practices.

More people today understand the increasing importance of responsible investing in investment decisions and it’s arguably the most important investment trend of recent decades. ESG strategies factor environmental, social and governance considerations into the investment process, with the goal of generating long-term, sustainable returns for investors.

Responsible investing is about ‘doing the right thing’, encouraging sustainability and contributing to positive, lasting change.

Environmental – Renewable energy, lower carbon emissions, water management, pollution control.

Social – Labour practices, human rights, data protection, selling practices, corporate supply chains.

Governance – Board makeup, corruption policies, auditing structure.

Approach Responsible Investing

There’s no single, universal way to be a responsible investor, but these factors will enable the growth of ESG funds by giving investment managers more options to invest in, and improved ways to assess and monitor, the ESG rating of an investment.

While ESG investing is an opportunity you might be eager to explore, there are some considerations. Your investments must align not only with your values but also with your growth expectations and risk appetite. As with any approach to investing, you should choose the funds that are right for you and obtain professional financial advice to understand the market you want to invest in.

Looking To Boost Portfolio Performance

It’s a common misconception that investing responsibly means accepting lower returns but, increasingly, evidence says otherwise. Adding an ESG criteria could help boost portfolio performance. This investment ethos also delivers benefits beyond the bottom line and recognizes that modern-day investment should be a matter of long-term ownership and sound stewardship. Speak to us for more information or to discuss your requirements.

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