Writing this just after the October half-term break, it seems appropriate to talk about holidays. I love this time of year, and I’m sure many of you share my passion for spending quality time with your loved ones and enjoying some much-needed relaxation, fun and indulgence.
But imagine that you went to the travel agents, told them that you wanted to go away and they said that you could, but they could only send you away to Finland. There is nothing wrong with Finland, but it might not be the ideal holiday for you and your family. It certainly wouldn’t be classed as winter sun, and October is no time to be visiting Santa in Lapland!
That would be unacceptable, wouldn’t it? It would actually be ridiculous! If every travel agent only recommended one country, you’d end up having to most of your holiday legwork research, which somewhat defeats their purpose. You wouldn’t book a holiday through a company who offered such narrow options, so why is that so many people are accepting these conditions when it comes to their money?
If you are looking to plan for your future, grow your wealth or simply take the first step in your financial planning journey, it’s crucial to implement the best plan possible. So, as a customer, what should you be looking for in your planning?
First and foremost, look for independent help. Independence will give you far more choice and enable you to find the best solution for your specific needs. Independence means that you are employing someone to sit on your side of the table, as opposed to selling you something from the other side. Independent Financial Advisers have the ability to recommend solutions from across the market and are able to tell you how your existing planning stacks up against comparable strategies from other companies.
And therein lies an important point. If you go to see a travel agent that only sells holidays to Finland, guess what? They are going to try and sell you a Finland holiday! When I want travel advice, I want someone who knows the best places to travel to in each season. I don’t want to have to do that research myself, because I don’t have the time, resources or expertise.
When it comes to your pensions and investments, and the tools with which you are going to create your own financial freedom, it is vital you receive the best growth possible for a level of risk you are comfortable with. An extra 1% gained in performance here or an extra 1% lost in charges there may not seem like a big deal, but overtime it makes a massive difference. It could be the difference between cruise ships and battleships in your later life.
Knowing whether your money is growing as fast as it could be elsewhere in the market is difficult research to do without the right expertise and tools. That is one of the benefits of using an Independent Financial Adviser, because they have both.
To kick start 2020, we want to help people accurately assess their current pensions and investments, so they can clearly see if what they have really is the best solution available. To achieve this, we will be offering a FREE Portfolio Review for any new client throughout January. We will clearly show you how your investments are performing compared to the other options out there, so you can make an informed decision. If you would like to take us up on this incredible offer, simply email email@example.com or call 01572 898060 and we’d be delighted to shed some light on your financial situation.
At the end of 2012 The FCA (or FSA as they were then called) threw a cat amongst the pigeons of the financial advisory world. This metaphorical moggy came in the form of The Retail Distribution Review (RDR); a piece of legislation that banned commission on the sale of investment products and insisted that advisers must be better qualified to give investment advice. For some less scrupulous financial advisory firms this was the end. They could see the Horsemen of the Apocalypse approaching and there was no other way out than to pack up shop and ship out. RDR signalled the beginning of a new era in financial advice; a future where you, the client, receive the very best, unbiased service from the most highly qualified advisers. Great news, as long as you do not already have an ‘old style Financial Adviser’…..
A great deal of you who sought advice prior to December 2012, will have been well informed and would have received honest, trustworthy and dependable planning. However, there are some of you that may have experienced substandard, biased and commission driven financial ‘advice’. RDR has helped to eradicate poor quality financial planning, by forcing some less scrupulous advisers out of the industry. Arguably, some honest advisers have also been forced out, simply because they do not have the resources to meet the new, high standards. In both cases, a great deal of clients have been left without a financial adviser in this post RDR world. So what do you do if this is you?
You are probably thinking that this bright and wondrous new world that I described at the outset is beginning to look grim, but do not worry. Finding a new adviser in the post-RDR world is not as daunting as it may seem. Efficient Portfolio have compiled a 7 step guide to finding an adviser you can trust, will get you the best results and will be able to give you the highest levels of service.
Firstly, I think that it is important to distinguish between a Financial Adviser and an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA). I am sure that the difference is obvious to most of you, but what does ‘independent’ actually mean? What makes an IFA independent is the fact that they are advising you on the whole market, as opposed to selling products from one or a select number of companies. This means that when it comes to the product selection stage, they will find the best product for you, not the product that their company endorses (for example a bank can only recommend one of their own or a limited number of products!) So this is my first piece of advice; when choosing financial guidance, choose an Independent.
Now we get down to the ‘nitty gritty’- the matter of money. You need to find out how your IFA wants to get paid. Within the financial sector there are, unfortunately, some Financial Planners still implement confusing fee structures which hide their costs, even in a post RDR world! Firstly, you need decide if you are happy with the structure and whether or not it is relative to the returns you could receive. You also need to make sure that you are receiving ‘value for money’. Paying for advice on an hourly rate simple encourages a slower, more drawn-out process. We would recommend opting for a planner who will give you a clear fee each stage of the process. This way you know exactly what to expect and it is likely that your planning will be completed in a much more timely fashion. You should also look to see if your Financial Planner has any ‘Money Back Guarantees’ in place. Not only will this ensure that your planning is done with your specific needs at its core, it willalso give you peace of mind that if you are not happy, you will get your money back.
At Efficient Portfolio, we have worked hard to ensure that our payment structure is transparent and explained at the outset. All trustworthy IFAs will do this, so make sure to always ask. We also have a 100% money back guarantee in place, so that if you are not happy with the financial plan we build for you, we will refund all of the fees you paid.
The ‘shining light ‘of RDR has forced advisers to obtain higher levels of qualification, however there is good and there is the best! Obtaining qualifications shows commitment to standards, an aptitude for learning and a desire to be knowledgeable for one’s client. It also means that the adviser has studied finance and has built up expert knowledge in a range of areas. Win, win for you. There are of course different levels of qualification; the highest being the coveted Chartered Financial Planner accolade. Currently only 10% of independent financial advisers have been awarded this title, and approximately 7% of firms have received Chartered status. This gold standard in the industry is only awarded to advisers who have proven extensive knowledge, compliance and a strong ethical practice. Efficient Portfolio were the first firm to achieve this accolade in Rutland. Our approach has always been client centric, but we can offer them even better service.
On this same topic, you need to ask what your adviser specialises in. Most good IFAs will specialise in certain areas. For example, Efficient Portfolio are experts in a range of fields, but we have specific advisers who deal with each area; Charlie Reading has gained specialist qualifications in investments, pensions, taxation and trusts, Eric Duckworth is an expert in mortgages and Justin Bentley deals specifically with corporate financial issues. So if for example you need advice on a frozen final salary pension scheme you have from a previous employer, you need to seek the advice of a pension specialist like Charlie Reading. We invite our potential clients to ask us questions about our experience and qualifications- we are always happy to oblige. You must make sure that the IFA you chose can help you in your desired area.
You may be wondering what exactly ‘proper’ financial planning is. Well put simply, this is planning that is centred on your specific needs, lifestyle and requirements for the future. RDR has signified a new beginning for the industry; financial planning is evolving and developing into something that is no longer about generic products, common goals or generalised strategies. Financial planning is becoming a profession that discovers your unique aspirations and shows you the ways in which these can be achieved. This style of financial planning is also called ‘Financial Life Planning’. Of course, this is something new to the world of finance and is not as yet common practice, but it is the only real way of truly achieving your dreams through financial means.
At Efficient Portfolio we are embracing Financial Life Planning. We believe that the client’s core dreams and desires need to be at the forefront of their financial planning. Every client is unique to us and we work hard to ensure your financial planning is designed specifically to meet your dreams and aspirations. We aim to help you overcome obstacles that could prevent your dreams from coming to light.
Understanding how your actions now impact upon your future is a power insight. But how can you actually do this? What you need is a mechanism that will set out multiple scenarios about what could happen to your money during your lifetime and where that would leave you. I am delighted to tell you that this tool does exist.
If you would like to know where you are heading financially, and let us be honest- who would not, Lifetime Cash Flow Forecasting is the tool for you. So what is it and how does it work? Lifetime Cash Flow Forecasting is a tool that allows you to understand the impact that the decisions you make today will have on your future finances. Essentially, it provides you with a very visual display of how your future finances will look, both from a Cash Flow point of view (will I have enough money to pay my out goings in the future) and from an asset point of view (will I run out of money, or at what age). Not only is every aspect of your finance today taken into account, hypothetical situations are also factored in from your likely future, along with assumed interest, inflation and growth rates. This means it becomes your unique Lifetime Cash Flow Forecast that best reflects your future.
When you are looking for a financial planner, always ask them if they have the necessary technology and experience to produce Lifetime Cash Flow Forecasts. This is a fairly new tool, but if your firm, like Efficient Portfolio, is up to speed with their knowledge and services, they should be able to help you with this.
Ideally, you want to be dealing with a firm that has an ongoing investment process. This system is a step by step guide that is utilised for all clients who wish to invest their money.
You may think that simply picking random funds for each client would be the best way to operate and would fulfil each client’s unique goals. Unfortunately this is not true. This method is unreliable, lacks continuity and will prevent you from receiving a continuous level of service. This method also does not lend itself well to ongoing reviews of your funds.
At Efficient Portfolio, we take each investment client through the exact same process. We evaluate your needs, design your investment strategy and continuously reviewit for you. Our structure also gives you access to a Discretionary Fund Manager (DFM) to manage your money https://www.efficientportfolio.co.uk/advice-discretion-management-tool-best. A DFM has the power to quickly move your funds if they are under performing, but you still have full control. Read the article above to see the benefits of using a DFM.
The very best way to decide if the IFA you have in mind is suitable is to interview them. You can do this either over the telephone or face to face. At Efficient Portfolio we welcome our clients to do both- whichever method is most convenient for them. We conduct ‘Exploration Meetings’, where we can see what you need, how we can help and give you the chance to make sure that we are right for you.
You will also get a good idea of whether or not you get on with the IFA. Of course, you are not interviewing for a new best friend, but having a solid rapport with the IFA is important.
you find them? The internet is a good place, put I would not conduct a generic search (anyone can put up a website claiming to be an IFA)! Instead, I would use websites such as www.unbiased.co.uk and www.findanadviser.org. Both of these websites specialise in Independent Financial Advisers and list location, qualification and specialist fields. ‘Find an Adviser’ only lists advisers who are members of ‘The Personal Finance Society’, and thus who have signed up to the code of ethics.
If you would like to have a chat with us directly, please pick up the phone and call us on 01572 898060, we’d love to hear from you.
From ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ right back to Shakespeare’s ‘Merchant of Venice’, those in finance have always been portrayed as money-grabbing fat-cats, skimming the cream off your hard-earned money and pushing you into products for their own personal gain.
But is there any truth in these commission-hungry, sales-driven stereotypes? Well, frankly, yes! Financial Advisers, and the service they provide, often get a bad name - and rightly so! The traditional model of financial advice saw products being thrust upon clients, which lined the pockets of the advisers more than meeting the needs of their clients. Financial Advisers, especially those tied to just one company, rarely had your best interests at heart. How can they, when they are restricted to offering you a limited range of solutions?
Sadly, prehistoric financial advice hasn’t completely gone extinct. The high charges, limited service and lack of understanding that old-school financial advice often provides is still leaving people unprepared for the future and unsure as to whether they could actually achieve the things that hold a personal importance to them.
Thankfully, into this landscape has come a new kid on the block, in the form of Financial Planning. Financial Planning has changed the face of advice and does things a little differently to others. Financial Planners, especially those who are independent, take the time to understand your unique goals and learn what matters most to you. They don’t just look at what products will pay them the most - they look at what solutions and strategies from the whole of the market will best help you to achieve your goals.
At Efficient Portfolio, we pride ourselves on taking a revolutionary stance when it comes to Financial Planning. We don’t focus on products or pigeon-hole people into strategies, we talk about individuals and their needs, so that we can build unique planning that evolves and changes throughout a lifetime.
More importantly, we’re normal people! Actually, I think we’re extraordinary, but what I mean is that we communicate on your level and explain Financial Planning in terms you can understand. We love what we do, and our enthusiasm and commitment is infectious. We want you to feel as passionately about your future as we do.
One way that we help people with this is through education. We understand that your finances can often feel like your enemy: they’re confusing, complicated and sometimes even chaotic! We all want future financial security and to lead a life full of everything we love, but where do you start? And what exactly do you need to know to get ahead?
Starting in November, we will help to answer these questions and more. During our series of Free Education Seminars, we will look at a range of topics and concerns, all designed to give you more confidence and clarity with your finances. These seminars will help you to manage your money more effectively, leave a legacy, reduce your risks and structure your income so you can enjoy your ideal future.
If you are passionate about changing your tomorrow and ambitious and determined enough to start putting in place the building blocks of your future, these free seminars are the spring-board you need.
Since joining the financial services industry in 1999, I have discovered that there are really 6 key areas that need to be mastered if you want to create a financially free future. Whether you call that retirement, or your life 2.0 (the enhanced version of your life) unless you take control of your financial future, you will be working until the day you die. Some people enjoy what they do for a living, and never want to give up, but is that you? If it is, wouldn’t it more enjoyable still if you knew that working was a choice, and that you didn’t have to if you didn’t want to? Most people want to either stop work in the future, or at least have the choice to. But to be able to do that you need to create financial freedom or enough capital that you can live off for the rest of your life. That’s why we created The Efficient Wealth Management Method.
The first area we need to master if we are going to be able to retire is to Prepare. Whether you are 40 years from leaving your working life or just 5, you need to get yourself into a position where you have every chance of being able to eventually stop. Would you agree that the £144 per week that the government will provide you with in retirement is not going to be enough? Imagine trying to live your desired lifestyle on that minute amount of money. If you do not save enough for your retirement, you are not going to able to enjoy your ideal life. The Financial Services industry really isn’t very good at teaching people the psychology, strategies or systems around saving, which we believe the keys to your success. Only once you know the steps you need to take will you be able to prepare properly for your retirement. The government have made it a legal requirement for employees to save through company pension schemes. They think that they cannot teach people to save, so instead have to force them into saving. We don’t agree with this. Everyone can learn. That’s why we created The SMART Saving Solution, to ensure people are prepared for their retirement. This is how we have helped our clients build a money management system, to ensure that they are saving the right amounts for different areas of their life in a way that makes the minimum impact on their lifestyle. We want to ensure our clients have created most suitable systems, understand how they can best maximise their money, and also ensure they have a back-up plan if something goes wrong, and we do that using The SMART Saving Solution. By saving in the right way now, you can ensure that you will not become one of the 1.4 million people over 65 who are still working. Instead, you will have the freedom to fill your future with amazing experiences with those people that are important to you, all the time knowing that your savings are supporting you and giving you an enriched life full of purpose and happiness. The SMART Saving Solution ensures that you can retire early enough to enjoy wonderful experiences with your friends and family, rather than listening to their stories of freedom while you are still at work. Our SMART Saving Solution helps you prepare for your retirement.
The second area we need to master to create a financially free future is to plan. Probably the biggest concern people have in the lead up to retirement is that they will run out of money later on in life. Either that or they stop themselves doing the things they want to, thus ending up as the richest man in the graveyard. The key to a successful retirement is being able to look into the future, see what you need, and then plan how you can get there, including what you can afford today. This aspect in particular is the key to having peace of mind in your financial life. Without it, you will feel uncertain and worried about what the future holds. With it, you will have the confidence to live the life you want. We created The SAFE Retirement Roadmap, so that we can help our clients clarify what their financial future looks like, and help to forecast different scenarios, because this gives them the confidence to make the right financial decisions for their desired future. Can you imagine the empowerment that clearly knowing about your financial future would give you? The SAFE Retirement Roadmap gives you confidence, so that you can afford to do your bucket list at a time where you are able to, rather than leave it too late when it’s no longer an option. It gives you the ability to make the right decisions today by allowing you to see future implications. And finally, it allows you to make wiser decisions with your planning strategies, to really maximise how hard your money works for you. The SAFE Retirement Roadmap will give you the peace of mind you need by helping you plan for a financially happy future.
The third area that you need to understand, to create your Life 2.0, is profit. Saving money is important, but if you do not get that money working harder for you, then you will have to save twice as much and it will run out twice as quickly. To combat this, we need to allow your savings to generate profit. What I mean by this is that you’ve got to get your money growing; but not just any growth, growth over and above inflation. Only at this point do you start to profit. This is an area where I believe big insurance companies have really let so many people down. There are too many products out there that provide very low or non-existent growth; even some of the more sophisticated solutions that attract high fees, and have ‘gold branded’ names, let you down drastically in this area. Sadly, so many encourage you to take too much risk, and more risk than is needed to get the returns you require. We created The RADICAL Investment Approach so that our clients could be confident that they were getting the best returns possible, without taking more risk than is necessary or they are comfortable with. We ensure client’s money is growing over and above inflation, but without gradually getting risker and risker, as usually happens naturally in a portfolio. The RADICAL Investment Approach gives you the control so that you can ensure you are getting the right level of returns you need, with a level of risk you are comfortable with. This means you always know your money is in the right place, as opposed to gradually taking more risk than you should be. It also ensures you avoid the investments that are likely to blow up your financial plan. The RADICAL Investment Approach will ensure you get your money working for you as hard as possible, thus delivering your real profit for the future.
The fourth area you need to conquer if you are going to create a financially free future is your pension. So, what does that actually mean? As and when you reach the point where you want to stop work, we need to find ways to turn the capital you’ve saved into an income you can live off for the rest of your life. That is your pension. The choices you have available to you at this stage can be confusing and daunting, but also can make the difference between a broke or a brilliant retirement. You could of course hand all those savings over to one company in exchange for a low but guaranteed income for the rest of your life, but these annuities assume you are as likely to climb Kilimanjaro at 95, as you are at 65. We all know that is unlikely to be the case, and most people want to spend more at the start of retirement than they do towards the end. The old way of creating a pension also meant that if you don’t live long into retirement, you would miss out on your hard-earned savings. That just doesn’t seem right. In order to help our clients at this stage in their life, we created The DREAM Income Strategy to ensure that they maximise their hard-fought savings and turn them into a flexible, dynamic income that can deliver what they want, when they want it. As an example, I had a client who had been forced to retire early. He was extremely upset when we first met him, because, whilst forced early retirement was not his fault, he was sure he had let his family down. He had not saved enough or in the right way to create the retirement he had promised his family. He was upset that their retirement would not be the later life had envisaged and he was worried that they would run out of money as they grew older. Using the tools and systems in The DREAM Income Strategy we were able to show him how to maximise his savings, so that he could create the later life he wanted, he could deliver on the promises he had made, and he and his family would have the confidence to enjoy that later life. The DREAM income strategy can give you the choice of how much income you need for that particular year, which means you can draw what you need without paying more tax than you need to, and still do all those amazing things you’ve dreamed of. Most of our industry tries to create a flat and rigid income strategy, which leaves you unable to do what you want when you want to. The DREAM income strategy will help you turn your hard-earned savings into fluid and accessible pension, which will facilitate your own ‘dream retirement’.
Everything I have been through so far has been about getting your finances into the right position for you now; but would you agree that things change? Legislation changes, the market changes, your situation changes, and all this affects the effectiveness of your planning. That’s why if you want to continue to have have a financially free future, you need to continually progress forward. You need your financial planning to evolve with you, rather than stagnate as all too often is the case. So, if we give you a clear plan, get your money growing and create you the best income strategy, that will be great today, however, by this time next year, it could be wrong. There will be changes that mean you need to make adjustments to ensure your financial planning continues to support your unique situation. And this is the area our industry is really bad at. Much of our industry only wants to see you again if they think they can sell you something else. For those that do see you, generally they focus on the basic investment performance and nothing more. But a proper review process needs to be so much more than that, to ensure you actually progress. That’s why we developed The Progressive Review Programme. This is unique to us, and is why many clients leave their current financial adviser to join us. We deliver a review service like no other, in ways that allow us to do so much more to ensure your financial planning actually does evolve with you, in time effective ways for you and us. The Progressive Review Programme ensures that you are still preparing for your later life in the best way and that your money is still generating the most profit possible. By reviewing your finances on a regular basis, we can make sure you aren’t taking more risk than is appropriate to your situation, but also taking enough to get the returns you need. The programme helps you to remain in touch with your plan, and your pension Income, and allows you to maximise the opportunities that life presents. The Progressive Review Programme will allow you to feel comfortable and give you the peace of mind that you are progressing towards or through your Life 2.0.
Would you agree there is more to a happy retirement than just the money? What I found after many years of helping people plan the financial side of retirement, was that they would also worry how they would spend their time and how they would remain fit, healthy and happy. These factors are as just as important as the money. If you want to truly create your own dream retirement, the final piece of the jigsaw is to control the personal side of your retirement. I regularly see clients who are approaching retirement who are far more worried about what they will do after they have stopped work than their money. They also worry about becoming a shadow of their former self and withering away soon after stopping work. That’s why we created The Fulfilled Life Formula so that you can really maximise your time in retirement. Using The Fulfilled Life Formula, we help our clients design their time, so that it is filled with purpose and passion. We help them define their bucket list, so they have reasons to live and things to look forward to, and we help them dramatically improve their health. The Fulfilled Life Formula doesn’t just focus of the health of your body either, but also the health of your mind and of your relationships. It will allow you to leave a legacy rather than just a Will for your loved ones. Something that will outlive you and be there for generations to come. The Fulfilled Life Formula will help you leave a legacy rather than a liability by helping you to create by design the personal side of retirement.
Getting to the heart of your concerns and opportunities.
Monitoring and reviewing your plan so it evolves with you.
The first step in achieving your goals is to discuss your current concerns with one of our qualified Financial Planners.
Why not complete our 4 minute retirement plan and get a personalised plan in your inbox now!