Summer 2023 Newsletter...

Date: 7th July 2023

Signs of optimism in global economy - Although the global economy continues to face significant headwinds, statistics released during the first few months of this year have revealed unexpected signs of resilience. This has led economists to begin upgrading growth forecasts, while the World Economic Forum’s latest Chief Economists Outlook reported signs of ‘nascent optimism.’.

Growth stronger than expected - Uncertainty undoubtedly continues to be a key feature of the world economy with pressure being exerted from a number of issues. First quarter data, though, has shown that the global economy performed better than most economists had previously feared, with growth recorded across all regions amid signs of the green shoots of recovery.

Inflationary pressures set to fall - Persistent inflationary pressures and tighter financial conditions, however, do remain key challenges for policymakers around the globe. Inflation has so far stayed stubbornly high and, while economists do expect it to continue falling over the rest of the year, this decline is predicted to be at a slower pace than previously thought.

Resilient economic growth - A key theme at the World Economic Forum’s recent Growth Summit was ‘enabling resilient economic growth’ with discussions focusing on inclusive and sustainable growth, and equitable globalisation. The organisation’s updated forecast showed a notable strengthening in growth expectations, although it also highlighted sharp variations by region. The most buoyant activity is predicted to be in Asia, with China’s reopening expected to drive a significant rebound, while growth prospects are thought to be noticeably weaker in Europe.

Diversification is key - An improving outlook should clearly create opportunities for shrewd investors. However, the relatively uncertain backdrop, along with divergent regional dynamics, inevitably means diversification will remain a vital component in any investor’s armoury. Spreading money in a globally diversified portfolio across a range of sectors and different size businesses should, as ever, prove an effective way to mitigate risk in the quest to build wealth.

Striking a balance - While recent financial challenges have taken their toll on everyone’s pockets, it comes as no surprise that parents are putting concerns about their children’s finances above their own, as highlighted in a recent survey of advisers. Over half (55%) of the advisers surveyed noted that adult children were taking priority in clients’ wealth planning at present, with many taking action to assist with their children’s financial struggles amid the cost-of-living crisis.

The main requests by parents wanting to lend a financial hand include releasing funds (25%) for their adult children, while over half (55%) of the advisers have clients choosing to access their pension savings in order to enhance their disposable income to support family members, with 18% of those clients taking an additional lump sum specifically to help their offspring. Reportedly 53% of advisers have clients keen to adjust their finances, with 40% requesting advice on ensuring investments stayed ahead of inflation.

Although people are understandably concerned about their children’s financial circumstances and are keen to help, it’s important to be mindful about striking the right balance and not to lose focus on your financial objectives for your own future. For help in striking that balance, get in touch.

Achieving real financial empowerment - Traditionally, people might have assessed their financial health by simply checking the balance on their bank account or totalling their amassed level of wealth. In recent years, however, a different measure has emerged which seeks to balance financial stability with emotional wellbeing.

Financial empowerment
This new concept places greater emphasis on goals and developing a financial plan to achieve life’s aspirations; in other words, it’s about people gaining control over their finances rather than their finances controlling them. Achieving genuine financial empowerment does not therefore focus simply on someone’s level of wealth, but on handling that money so it has a truly positive impact on their wellbeing.

A state of mind
In many ways, financial empowerment is about understanding the emotional relationship with money by focusing on an individual’s mindset as well as their finances. Taking time to strategise, by aligning spending and savings commitments with long-term goals while being prepared for life’s unexpected financial challenges, can provide a logical, ordered approach that brings satisfaction and pride to our financial lives. In effect, it creates control that affords a sense of financial freedom and thereby puts us on track to a fulfilling, well-lived life and retirement.

Empowerment versus income
Analysis3, which compares people’s emotional experiences with their level of empowerment and earnings, offers further valuable insight. It found that financially empowered people had mostly positive experiences, even those in lower income brackets, while those who felt disempowered were generally less happy with their finances than their peers. This suggests that a sense of personal power rather than someone’s income level is the key to achieving emotional wellbeing in their financial lives.

It’s all in the planning
Financial empowerment effectively derives from equipping ourselves with the right tools. With the clear, transparent advice and professional support our firm provides, we can construct a well thought-out, long-term but flexible plan that will allow you to live the life you want and thereby achieve true financial empowerment.

IHT goes mainstream - Inheritance Tax (IHT) receipts have been consistently rising, with new data from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) showing takings for the 2022-23 tax year totalled £7.1bn, up a massive £1bn from the previous tax year (£6.1bn 2021-22). According to HMRC, this huge uplift can be attributed in part to ‘a combination of the recent rises in asset values and the government’s decision to maintain the IHT nil rate band thresholds at their 2020 to 2021 levels up to and including 2025 to 2026.’

Reported estimates from the Spring Budget detail that over the next five years, IHT is expected to bring in £38bn for the Treasury, meaning annual receipts will exceed £8bn by 2027-28, with 6.7% of deaths expected to trigger an IHT charge. This compares with 3.76% of UK deaths in 2019-20.

Record receipts have prompted suggestions that the tax has now become mainstream. Previously dubbed a tax on the wealthy, this is certainly no longer the case, as frozen thresholds and elevated house prices impact.

The good news is that through expert planning you can legitimately mitigate this tax, so you can pass on assets to your family as you’d intended. There are various different strategies depending on your unique circumstances, including making gifts during your lifetime, considering placing assets into trust, making use of exemptions, and thinking about leaving something to charity, to name but a few.

Don’t go it alone - IHT is a complex tax, with reliefs and exemptions on gifts to consider and the interaction with other taxes. These days, with many more estates likely to be subject to IHT, taking expert advice could save your beneficiaries substantial amounts of tax. Get in touch.

Summer Retirement Round-up

Developing a coherent strategy
The last few years have created an increasingly complex backdrop for retirement planning. Not only has the post-pandemic era seen attitudes to work alter significantly, but macro-economic headwinds from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the cost-of-living crisis have created significant unhelpful market volatility. In combination, this has inevitably heightened the need for everyone to engage in retirement conversations at the earliest opportunity. Some recent research sets the backdrop for your summer retirement round-up, spotlighting key trends.

Changing face of retirement
A recent study4 of UK employees has shown how people are re-evaluating plans for work and later life, with evidence that partial retirement may become the new norm. In total, over half of all workers said they like the idea of continuing to work through retirement. The research also highlighted a strong sense of semi-retirement positivity, with nine out of ten saying they were ‘much happier’ after reducing their working hours.

Low levels of confidence
Another study5, however, has highlighted a distinct lack of confidence among 55 to 75-year-olds when it comes to financing retirement. Indeed, nearly a third said they were either not at all confident or not very confident they would enjoy a comfortable lifestyle in retirement, compared to less than one in five who felt very or extremely confident.

Mind the gap
The research also highlighted a sense of unpreparedness, with a notable divergence in anticipated levels of retirement income and expenditure. For instance, while average expected spending five years into retirement was predicted to be 92% of pre-retirement levels, average income was only expected to hit 78%; other evidence suggests this latter figure is an aspiration few pensioners are likely to achieve.

Planning is essential
These findings suggest many from the next generation of retirees will need support if their finances are to see them through retirement, and this vividly highlights the need to develop a sound strategy tailored to an individual’s unique circumstances long before retirement looms. Planning ahead can address potential income requirements and offer solutions that build resilience to ensure you enjoy the retirement you deserve.


HNWIs cutting pension contributions
Research has highlighted that in an effort to alleviate daily financial pressures, including rising mortgage rates, one third of high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) have reduced their pension contributions or intend to do so in the next six months2. Those with assets of £250,000 plus are more likely to have reduced their pension contributions in the last six months (14%), versus 9% across the UK population as a whole.

Those HNWIs who have already taken steps to reduce their pension payments have done so by an average of £1,246 a month, nearly £15,000 over the course of a year. Over eighty percent (84%) of HNWIs are already experiencing or expecting an increase in their mortgage rates to put a strain on their cashflow, prompting many to reduce their pension contributions.

Interestingly, the research has also shown that the majority of HNWIs are underestimating the requirements for a comfortable retirement, believing on average that a pension pot around £580,000 will do the job, but in reality a pot of nearly £700,000 plus the full State Pension will suffice, according to the research. 2Saltus, 2023

A Defining Moment - FTSE 350 female board representation
Three years ahead of schedule, FTSE 350 companies have met the target of achieving 40% female board representation, according to the latest FTSE Women Leaders. The report highlights ‘steady progress’ in getting women leaders to the ‘top table of business in the UK,’ with Nimesh Patel and Penny James, co-chairs of the Review describing the achievement as “a defining moment and testament to the power of the voluntary approach and the collective efforts of many businesses and individuals over the last decade.”

The value of investments can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. The past is not a guide to future performance and past performance may not necessarily be repeated. It is important to take professional advice before making any decision relating to your personal finances. This document does not provide individual tailored investment advice and is for guidance only.

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