Life cover - I have couples and families who come to see me and their primary concern is what would happen should either of them be unable to work, be diagnosed with a critical illness or worse still, die. I work with them to understand their needs, what they would want to happen in each scenario, how much money or income they would need and how much they could afford to pay towards a solution. I tailor individual bespoke levels of cover for them, their situations and within their level of affordability.
For Mr and Mrs D, who were both self-employed with no children, arranged:
- Income protection for the maximum level of cover available based on their income, which would pay out after 13 weeks of being unable to work.
- Individual life cover for both of £200,000 which would pay off their mortgage in the event of death and £100,000 life or critical illness cover which would pay out on earlier critical illness or death
Ideally, the couple would have liked to have had the full £300,000 life or Critical Illness cover however, based upon their affordability, we tailored it so that there would be sufficient payable on diagnosis of a critical illness to mean that they wouldn’t need to worry about money and working during the period of recovery.
Luckily, I haven't yet had a client that has needed to make a claim however, there are some scary statistics out there and most of us have our mobile phones and pets insured and its good to have the peace of mind that you and you loved ones are protected should the worst happen.
Pensions review – one of the most common types of client I see are people who have been collecting pensions. They have generally worked at a few different companies and are looking towards retirement. They have often joined a company pension scheme and then left employment, joined another company pension scheme and so on. They have no idea where the pensions are, where they are invested or even what they are worth. They therefore have no idea whether or not their pensions are going to provide the income in retirement that they desire.
In this scenario, I work with clients to understand what they would like to achieve and what their objectives are both for their pensions and for their retirement. Among other things I will establish their attitude to investment risk and the amount of income that they would like in retirement. I then formulate a bespoke plan for their pensions and retirement planning in order to work towards generating the income they desire at retirement. This ensures that my clients fully understand their retirement planning, what their pensions are worth and that they are invested appropriately. I will then review this regularly with clients to ensure that it remains appropriate with their circumstances and the ever changing legislation. It is one less thing for my clients to worry about.
It is really important to review pensions and investments regularly. A recent client had 8 pensions with varying amounts in them. One of the pensions, had a value in the region of £60,000. The client hadn't reviewed the pension for over 10 years and over half of the money was invested in cash.
Had he been invested in line with his risk profile over this period, the 1-2% return he had received could have been worth significantly more.
At retirement – I assist clients with their "at retirement planning" – aka, when they wish to start drawing an income or take a lump sum from their pensions usually when they stop or reduce their working hours. I work with both existing and new clients at this stage.
I will establish my client's objectives and work to structure their income appropriately so that it meets their requirements and that the income is received as tax efficiently as possible.
A client I recently worked with Mr C, wanted to take the tax free lump sum from his pension in order to pay off his mortgage and establish whether he could afford to reduce his working hours by drawing an income from his pension and other investments. We looked at various options and the client was over the moon to understand that by structuring his lump sum and income from his investments, not just his pensions, he could reduce his hours. We have structured his income appropriately for his current needs and will continue to review this so the amount of income he is drawing remains suitable for his requirements and is sustainable.
At this stage, I can help clients to understand the income their pensions could generate in retirement and how this should be taken to best suit their individual circumstances and like with Mr C, I can empower clients to help them to cease working. I like to work with clients so that they understand their options.
With money to invest – I often work with clients who have money to invest. This may be surplus cash that they have been saving in the bank, surplus income, a gift or inheritance, from the sale of a property and so on. I work with clients to understand their individual objectives and situations.
Every client will be different therefore, each client’s plans will be bespoke. I recently worked with a client who had been gifted some money by his parents which he wanted to invest for growth and potentially income in the future. We structured his investment so that he utilised his available allowances to ensure that he was invested tax efficiently and appropriately to his attitude to investment risk. At the beginning of each new tax year we move money into his tax efficient investments to ensure he utilises his available allowances throughout the year.
On divorce - divorce can have a huge impact on pensions and other investments. I work with clients both sides of the table, but most commonly, with the individual who will be in receipt of the settlement. In such situations, individuals can get fixated on "assets" however, I work with clients to understand the income that they will require after divorce and how the assets they receive can support this. Pensions can form an important part of divorce proceedings because after property, they are commonly the largest asset. I work with clients to ensure that they get a fair share and also provide advice on what to do with any pension settlements. In other cases, I will work with the settlor to establish how they can build their assets and pensions back up following the divorce.
Start saving - the most important pound someone will pay into their pension or savings is the first. I work with clients to make the first steps in saving for their retirement. They are often self-employed in their 20s or early 30s who have seen their employed peers being automatically enrolled into pension schemes. I also work with employed clients who are in pension schemes of various ages too. It is often the first investment that people will make so I ensure everything is clear and understood. Depending on the individual, we would usually look at utilising allowances suitable to the individual’s needs.
Inheritance tax planning – I work with clients who have a potential inheritance tax issue which they are concerned about.
In such situations, whilst gathering information regarding the clients I establish whether they wish to cover any potential tax charge or mitigate it. Either way, there are solutions to consider and the suitability of this would depend upon the client's situation and attitude to investment risk.
Automatic Enrolment – I work with business owners to establish a pension scheme to meet their automatic enrolment obligations. Clients often just want to have a scheme in place that meets their obligation whilst others wish to set up a scheme that will be viewed as a benefit by their employees as a way of attracting and retaining staff. I advise Companies to ensure that the scheme that is set up meets their requirements.
During the process, I will find out what is important to the employer, recommend a scheme, work with them and their payroll to set the scheme up, conduct member presentations and one to one meetings with the employees.
This ensures that the employer is at arm’s length during the proceedings and the employees are informed about their options and what the payments will mean to them.
The firms I work with have 10+ employees or more however, I have also worked with companies where there are fewer well paid employees.
Employee benefits - companies often want to set up employee benefit schemes in order to attract and retain staff. I work with companies to set up:
- Death In Service schemes - to pay a multiple of salary on death whilst employed by the company
- Group Critical Illness cover – which will pay a multiple of salary on diagnosis of a critical illness whilst employed by the company
- Group Income Protection – to cover an employee’s earnings should they be unable to work for a period of time due to sickness or ill health
Business Protection – it is important to ensure that should anything happen to people within a business, the business is protected. I work with businesses to ensure that they are by setting up:
- Shareholder protection – this protects the business, its owners, their partners and the employees should a shareholder die. It is an important cover which set up in the correct way can ensure that on death of a shareholder, the shares go to the other shareholders within the business whilst the family of the deceased are properly and fairly remunerated for them
- Key person cover – this ensures that should a key person within a business such as a large business writer die, the company will be compensated by way of pay-out from protection taken out on their life. This ensure that the business can continue to operate and there are funds to source a replacement.
- Relevant life plans – these can be used as an alternative to death in service schemes where there are a small number of people to be covered.
Shareholder protection and key person cover are applicable to businesses where there are a number of shareholders and employees while relevant life plans could be applicable to smaller limited company owners and directors.