In the days leading up to the Spring Budget announcement, I was approached by a number of journalists who asked for my top predictions.
Had I been asked this question earlier in my career, I might have given them a quote. But after working in the industry for 20 years now, I’ve learned not to speculate.
Even the UK’s brightest economists and most experienced financial planners can’t say for sure what’ll happen — unless of course they have insider knowledge from Number 10. So why waste my time, and yours, guessing?
Instead of trying to predict the future, I like to preserve my energy until after the announcement has been made. When Jeremy Hunt announced that the Annual Allowance for pension contributions would increase to £60,000 and the Lifetime Allowance would be abolished, it all gets assimilated, ready for the next time I speak with our clients and review their plans.
Thankfully, we’ve designed our financial planning services in such a way that we’re equipped to respond to changes quickly. WealthMap, as I’ll explain in more detail below, helps clients visualise their future and consider multiple possible outcomes.
But it’s our second service, Momentum, that really moves the needle and where I think we add most value. Without Momentum, responding to legislative changes such as the ones we’ve seen this spring, becomes so much more challenging. And yet, of the two services, it’s Momentum that sometimes gets undervalued.
When we start working with a new client, WealthMap is the first step. Its purpose is to help you design and build your financial future.
Before we start making changes to your savings and investments, we need to work out where you’re currently heading. We’ll analyse your progress, spending habits and assets to create your base plan. This shows what your future will look like if you continue on your existing path.
Then, we customise the plan. This is the fun bit. We’ll discuss how you’d like your future to look before playing around with a number of possible scenarios. For example, can you afford to retire early? Can you pay for your son’s wedding and help your daughter buy a house without compromising your own financial stability? And what impact would a sabbatical have on your retirement income?
Once we’ve mapped out your future, we’ll use sophisticated software to see how resilient your plan is. Would it survive a stock market crash, recession, or - heaven forbid - another pandemic? If our software identifies any risks, we’ll modify the plan.
WealthMap gives clients what I like to call ‘optionality’. It’s a bit like an old game show where you’re presented with a series of doors. Except with WealthMap, we’ll let you see behind each one before you make any life-changing decisions.
And yet, what WealthMap can’t do is predict the future. With their new financial plan in front of them, some clients feel confident that they can manage the rest of the journey alone.
Perhaps their goal is to retire with £2 million. WealthMap reassures them that not only is it achievable, but they can also afford to extend the kitchen, go on holiday twice a year, and spoil their grandchildren.
But how exactly do we reach that £2 million and where should you store that wealth? Is it better to hold that money in a pension or an ISA, or perhaps a mixture of both. As the Spring Budget shows, the path we take and the tax wrappers we use will always be in a constant state of flux.
Investment returns will be variable. Inflation amounts will be variable. Contributions will be variable. This is why our next service, Momentum, is so invaluable.
Momentum is our ongoing financial planning service designed to help clients make their WealthMap dreams a reality. We’ll oversee the whole process, working with your solicitor, accountant and other advisers to ensure that every aspect of your financial life is on track.
While WealthMap is about planning and preparation, Momentum is more responsive. It’s agile, flexible and provides us with the tools to keep moving forward, even if it feels as if the goal posts are constantly shifting.
We’ll motivate you and hold you accountable. We’ll make sure that everything from your savings to your investments are optimised and in the correct set of wrappers. We’ll be on our toes, ready to change course at a moment’s notice.
The Spring Budget emphasises just how valuable this service is. With the Lifetime Allowance abolished and the Annual Allowance increased, clients who’ve chosen to implement their WealthMap independently may be scratching their heads and wondering what to do next.
Meanwhile, the clients who saw the value in Momentum from the outset will have a team of experts at their side - we’re currently analysing the changes and optimising the outcomes for each and every client.
Over the next 12 months we’ll be looking at each client’s WealthMap plan to make sure they’re all still on course. We’ll help clients determine whether to prioritise their ISA or pension. We’ll look at how higher rates of Capital Gains Tax could affect their income. And we’ll calculate how a decrease in Dividend Allowance might affect their investments.
I might not have predicted these changes ahead of time, but that doesn’t mean I’m any less prepared to intervene. Thanks to WealthMap and our Momentum service in particular, we’re able to make significant alterations to our clients' portfolios.
The fact that our WealthMap service gives people the confidence to manage their finances alone is a testament to how brilliant it is. After all, it tells people what they need to do to achieve their goals, gives them milestones to meet along the way, and prepares them for a number of possibilities.
But you wouldn’t take your car in for an MOT only to leave it on the drive for the next 10 years — or worse, crash it into a wall. How do you want your journey to look? Roadblocks, black ice, and the occasional collision are inevitable. But with Momentum, your team is on hand to minimise the impact of these potential dangers before you’re even aware of them.