We’ve just stepped into a new decade and all the surprises that brings. But as we set off on the next chapter, I always think that the exciting thing is the uncertainty. Yes we know some things are definitely going to happen, like most of our New Year’s resolutions will fall by the wayside, the UK will leave the EU and that we’ll all get older and hopefully a little wiser.
However when it comes to the markets, we can’t know for sure how they are likely to impact our personal finances. Having said that, we do have the next best thing available to us; our ability to review and amend!
Whatever your long-term plans may be, now is the time to review how the last year or two has performed for you and to put yourself in the right position to take full advantage of the financial opportunities now available. A review of your Savings, Estate Planning, Insurance Covers, Investments and Pensions now will allow you to make any changes and tweaks in your finances in order to make sure that you reach the end of the 2020’s in the financial position that you set out to achieve.
Now’s the perfect time to inspect an ISA
If you don’t currently have an ISA in your portfolio, then can I suggest that you add one to your list of things to consider this year.
It’s a great tax-efficient way of approaching investments, as your returns are free of income and capital gains tax. You can invest in an ISA up to a limit of £20,000 of which £4,000 can be paid into a LISA (for those eligible).
As the annual deadline for ISA’s is 5 April 2020, this means that you potentially have two bites of the cherry available to you throughout 2020. By that I mean that you can currently take advantage of the ISA Tax-free opportunity for the remaining of the tax year, plus you can then do the same again on 6 April 2020. Please don’t leave it too late though, as some providers take several working days to process new ISAs, so leaving things until the beginning of April may mean you miss the closing deadline.
Take a look at a LPA And Will
The chances are that you could be amongst over 50% of the UK adults, including many in their 50’s and 60’s, who don’t currently have a Will in place. If that’s the case, could I respectfully suggest that writing one really should be high on your financial agenda for 2020.
Whilst you may already have a Will in place, or high on your ‘To Do’ list, can I also prompt you to consider Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), as incapacity often strikes without warning. Which means that sorting out a LPA can save your estate and it’s beneficiaries considerable costs and avoid unnecessary and lengthy delays.
If this all sounds a bit daunting, please be assured that putting Will and a LPA in place is nowhere near as difficult or costly as many people think. If you are unsure regarding whom to approach to best sort these things out, then start by contacting us. We can easily arrange Wills and LPAs through our sister company Bridgewater Wealth Protection www.bridgewaterwp.com
If you do already have a Will or LPA, then please take this reminder as an opportunity to review it. Checking that it is up to date and that it reflects your current wishes.
Improve your Insurance
Even if you have insurance covers in place, now is an opportune time to review things. Our advice would be to just make sure that each plan covers you for everything you need and that the costs are correct. Your circumstances may well have changed since you took any cover out. If that’s the case, then it’s critical that you ensure you are covered for all you require and that there are no plans available that could provide better cover and possibly a lower premium too.
The wrong product can end up costing you a great deal of unnecessary expense and stress, so please take the time to review and compare cover options.
Investigate your Investments
After a bumpy year (The Queen’s words, not mine) in politics and the markets, now is an excellent time to take stock and to just check that your investment strategy is on course to achieve your goals.
An excellent starting point would be the latest report regarding your mutual funds. There you can check to make sure that they still match your appetite for risk and that you are also happy with where your money is being invested.
A good tip, for when you consider your investments, especially when thinking about your exposure to risk, is to always include your pension, ISA’s funds and stocks together. Do this even when the funds are spread around different accounts and investment products, that way you will get a better feel for your overall portfolio.
Peer into your pension
Lastly and certainly not least, is your pension.
Your pension is one of the most valuable assets you can have, yet it often gets overlooked; and I feel that more often than not, we don’t give pensions the attention that they deserve.
Regular reviews of your Pension makes excellent financial sense, especially as legislation has changed massively in the last few years. So if you haven’t recently reviewed your pension position, then now would be a very good moment to do so.
During your review, ask yourself the following questions:
• Are the level of your contributions correct? Too little could leave you
wanting in retirement and too much could create problems with your
Reduced Lifetime Allowance
• Does the strategy still fit with your time horizon, changes in your current
situation or attitudes to your investment risk?
• Is your pension scheme up to date and able to take advantage of the new
pension freedoms, or is it an older scheme that can’t benefit?
• Does your pension fit with your retirement and estate planning?
• If your pension is a Final Salary Scheme, then with the increases in
transfer values, is it worth requesting a transfer value and restructuring
Although this isn’t every question you should ask, they are certainly questions you should know the answers to, if you want to ensure that your pension is in the best place it can be.
We’re here to help whenever you need us
Although no one can see into the future, having a close look at your finances now is the difference between approaching 2020 with a clear financial strategy or setting yourself up for a cry of ‘I should have gone to Specsavers’ later in the year!
I hope that this blog goes someway to starting the new financial year off on the right foot. If however there is something specific you would like to talk to us about regarding your plans, then please get in touch with us at Bridgewater Financial Services, where we will be delighted to help guide you through your individual options and strategies.
Wishing you all a Happy and Prosperous 2020.