The first step to ensure that your estate is shared out exactly how you want it distributed

It’s easy to put off making a will. But if you die without one your assets may be distributed according to the law rather than your wishes. This could mean that your partner receives less, or that the money goes to family members who may not need it.

Making ethical choices when it comes to your finances

More and more people are taking an interest in green and ethical issues according to the Investment Management Association, covering subjects as diverse as environmental improvement, climate change, genetically modified foods, gambling and the destruction of rain forests. Nowadays, you can choose to actively support or avoid these causes through everyday activities such as buying organic food, donating to particular charities or using recycled products. There are also increasing opportunities to make ethical choices when it comes to your finances.

Will you have to work until you are almost 80 year of age?

According to research from fund management group, Fidelity International, many Britons hoping for a comfortable income at retirement could find themselves working until they are almost 80 years of age.

Meeting the distinct and changing needs of you and your business

Did you know that we provide a comprehensive planning service designed to meet the distinct and changing needs of you and your business? We understand that having a sound financial plan is vital to the success and growth of your business, and to your own personal wealth and security.

Assets Generally, everything that you own.

Beneficiary A person, or organisation, to whom you leave a gift in your will.

Now is a great time to discuss your problem with us

The fall in the value of assets such as shares, buy-to-let properties and holiday homes to their lowest levels in years, combined with a historically low capital gains tax rate, may be prompting more and more taxpayers to give away surplus assets to minimise future inheritance tax (IHT) bills. If you are considering tackling a potential IHT issue, now is a great time to discuss this with us.

Don’t miss out on the extra tax relief available this year

Research from Unbiased.co.uk, has found that UK workers in company pension schemes are missing out on huge sums by neglecting to save more tax-efficiently.

As a result, higher-rate taxpayers, who are members of their employers’ occupational pension schemes will miss out on an extra £720m available in tax relief this year by failing to make Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs).

Navigating through the minefield of choices

If you’re thinking of retiring soon, we can help you navigate through the minefield of choices that you are likely to face and ensure that you receive the pension and other benefits you are entitled to.

Your questions answered

Q: I’m 39 and don’t have a pension. Should I wait until after the economy recovers before I commence my pension provision?
A: As a general rule and if appropriate to your particular situation, you should start saving as soon as possible. The longer you delay your pension planning, the more you will eventually have to pay. If your employer offers a pension, take it; if they do not, start your own personal pension. The pension system was overhauled in 2006 and, as a result, the industry has become more transparent. Pensions are also a very tax-efficient way of investing for your future, and depending on the type of pension provision you choose, now could be a good time to invest in pensions, when you can buy more shares or units for less.

Choosing the right pension scheme options for you and your employees

If you’re a business owner there are many different pension options available both to you and to your employees. We can help you navigate this complex area and advise you on how to make sure that you choose the most suitable pension schemes available for your particular requirements.

Advice is invaluable, particularly when you are dealing with more complex financial products

An increasing number of people may be forced to delay their retirement plans because of the impoverished state of their pensions caused by the ongoing financial crisis. Pension funds have been affected by the stock market falls, and those who confidently assumed that their property would subsidise their retirement have seen their house prices fall. Add to this the fact that annuity rates have also fallen, due largely to increased longevity and declining gilt yields.

Recession-proof your portfolio

The big question that all savers and investors are asking during this period of economic downturn and low interest rates is: ‘Where should I put my money?’

Banks no longer seem the secure bastions they once were, although savers should, if possible, keep a sense of perspective. In this economic climate it certainly pays to err on the side of caution, but this does not mean withdrawing funds from the banks completely.

Bringing your money under one roof
Many of us may have two or three careers during our working lives, and that could mean we head into retirement with a number of different pensions, both workplace and personal. This has the advantage of diversification and of spreading our investment risk. But there may also be downsides, particularly in terms of converting these retirement funds into an annuity.

Making money during both rising and falling markets

Absolute return funds aim to make money for investors during both rising and falling markets. They look to give a better return than holding cash by using the powers for shorting stocks – that is, selling shares they do not own in the hope that the price will fall –and other hedging techniques that are now open to conventional fund managers under European directives.

Could you end up paying too much tax?

Falling property values could result in inheritance tax (IHT) relief for families selling the homes of deceased relatives. However, delays in finding buyers in this current economic climate may mean that some homes are being sold for significantly less than their ‘probate’ valuation, the amount calculated at the time of death and registered with the tax authorities.