Whether you’re already working with us or not, everyone has a different journey with money. So we want to focus on how financial planning can aid that journey – and what better way to do this than looking at some real-life case studies. This is the first article in our once upon a plan series that we’ll be revisiting throughout the year.
Our clients vary, from the stage of life they are at, to their needs and values; therefore, each plan is carefully tailored specifically to them. However, we commonly see that there are specific ways financial planning can improve their financial situation and enrich their lives. And this is where clients see the true value of our advice.
So, without further ado, let us introduce Thomas and Kathy…
Thomas and Kathy
Thomas and Kathy first reached out to us to find out when they could afford to retire. Kathy had worked her whole career in nursing while Thomas had been a board member of an engineering company. Both in their mid 50’s, they expected to work until they were 60 or more, partly for money and partly for the intellectual stimulation.
Thomas had built up several valuable private pensions and they both had a collection of savings accounts and investments. They also had a small mortgage.
The couple both found their finances to be too confusing and wanted our careful guidance to help them make better financial decisions.
Following the six steps of financial planning, here is an exploration of Thomas and Kathy’s financial planning journey.
Vision and goals
Our initial discussions revealed the following key points:
- If they had unlimited money, they would both stop work immediately and Thomas would do less stressful consultancy work on a part-time basis instead.
- They loved to travel and liked the idea of a six-week trip to New-Zealand, but they rarely took holidays due to work demands.
- They dreamed of moving from the city to the countryside.
- Thomas wanted to be sure Kathy would be financially secure if he died.
- Thomas had always wanted a flashy sports car.
We closely analysed their wealth, and went through our financial planning process, preparing a personal financial plan for them, bearing in mind everything they told us. We then met with Thomas and Kathy a few weeks later to present their financial plan. These were the main points to takeaway:
- Both Kathy and Thomas could afford to retire immediately.
- We explained that Thomas could choose to do consultancy work if he wished, but there was no need to do so for the money.
- They could maintain their current lifestyle and have a much-increased budget for holidays.
- They could afford to move to a new house in the countryside, with a good budget for improvements and furniture when they got there.
- They could afford to give a good sum to their son to help him on the housing ladder in a few years.
As the shock and surprise turned to excitement and relief, they started asking whether there was any risk of their money running out.
Is there enough?
We simulated a range of disaster scenarios and showed that, although the plan could not be guaranteed, this lifestyle was always likely to be affordable. We also identified elements that they would be prepared to compromise if things changed.
Plan of action
We then turned to the practical planning actions which are needed to make this all happen:
- Consolidating Thomas’ pensions together, reducing costs worth around £5,000 a year, improving the benefits that would be available to him and Kathy if he died.
- Making a large contribution to Thomas’ pension before he stopped working and structuring it to be within his allowance and benefit from tax savings worth £35,000.
- Consolidating investments, protecting them from tax and changing the investment strategy to make it simpler and lower cost, generating extra growth/savings of £1,000 a year.
- Repaying their mortgage, saving interest they would have paid of £6,000.
- Taking a fixed, monthly income from their investments rather than Thomas’ pension, which not only was tax-free but also helped protect their wealth from inheritance tax. The tax saving was around £8,000 a year.
- Ring-fencing some savings which would be their budget to buy a new house.
- Taking out an insurance policy that would offset the inheritance tax if they died.
Making it happen
After we had the framework in place, it was a case of making it happen. Our team worked hard in the background to implement all the above steps, then it was over to Thomas & Kathy to make their lifestyle changes.
Keeping on track
A year after our team had put all of this into action, Thomas and Kathy returned to the office for their review meeting.
By this time, Thomas had been retired for six months and they had found a place to buy in the countryside. It needed some work doing and they were looking forward to the project. They knew what their budget was and felt confident in their plans. They had also splashed out on the sports car that Thomas had always wanted.
In the review meeting, we also picked up on some of the next planning points, which would refine things even further. Over the years, we’ve used our expertise to provide Thomas and Kathy continued financial planning advice and professional support.
It’s truly a pleasure helping our clients achieve their goals in life and we look forward to being able to improve the financial wellbeing of many more people in the years to come.
*This client story has been prepared by Balance: Wealth Planning. It is based on a combination of different clients’ experiences. Names have been changed.