Matt Merchant, Independent Financial Planner at Scrutton Bland looks at some of the issues his clients have wanted to talk about during the past few months.
At last! Finally, we are starting to see a return to something that at least vaguely resembles ‘normal’ with pubs, restaurants and even gyms re-opening. This moment feels like a good opportunity to look back on some of the key trends we have seen throughout lockdown within the Financial Planning Department here at Scrutton Bland.
Unsurprisingly, a global pandemic has helped put things into perspective for a lot of people and one of the most common themes we have been faced with over recent months is helping clients understand whether or not they can afford to retire. Whether this has been prompted by being furloughed and worried about future job security, or simply enjoying more time at home with the family and not wanting to spend five days a week in the office, we have seen a large number of new and existing clients wanting to partially or fully retire in recent months.
Another trend we have noticed is existing clients passing our details on to family and friends and suggesting they come to us for advice. With conversations around finances becoming more prominent during difficult times such as these, it really does mean a lot that our clients are happy to pass on our details and recommend us to those closest to them. This then goes hand in hand with conversations about passing wealth down the generations, with parents or grandparents keen to ensure the younger generations of their family are supported, and that their own affairs are in order in case the worst was to happen to them.
One final topic that we have spoken with a lot of clients about recently is that with so much government borrowing to support the various schemes that have been running during the pandemic, the increased levels of government debt will need to be repaid at some point. Which, many people believe, will mean that there may well be significant changes to tax regimes in order to try and balance the books in the not too distant future. There are various allowances available to individuals at present in relation to pension contributions, ISA contributions and associated tax reliefs. So as long as you have the ability to do so, it makes sense to be making the most of these whilst they are still available to you, provided of course it is the right thing to do from a planning perspective.
I’m sure at various times in the past few months we have all decided to take a little bit of time to start reviewing our finances, although many people then quite possibly decided not to because values are down or it seemed like a daunting task. Whether you are re-evaluating your working patterns, looking to pass on wealth or make your own affairs more effective and tax efficient, our Financial Planning Department can help. All of our Independent Financial Advisers offer a no obligation initial meeting, and all of our work with you can be carried out via telephone, video call or a socially distanced face to face meeting if necessary and safe to do so.