Striking a balance this spring

As well as being a season of hope and renewal, spring is also viewed as the ideal time to declutter and reorganise. The last couple of years have taught us the importance of achieving balance in our lives – this extends to our finances too, making now an opportune time for investors to review and rebalance their portfolios to ensure investments remain aligned to their long-term financial goals.

Concerns surrounding inflation, rising interest rates and immense global political tensions have all combined to create a potentially disconcerting backdrop for investors during the early part of this year, as markets search for a stable footing. The good news is that many investors with long-term retirement goals tend to have time horizons that extend beyond inflationary cycles and any market volatility experienced is a normal investment phenomenon. History shows that investors who are patient and stick to their plans are more likely to achieve their financial objectives. Diversification is one strategy that withstands the test of time.

What now for the global economy?

A ‘disrupted recovery’

The current mix of uncertainties has led the International Monetary Fund* to downgrade its global growth forecast when its latest economic musings were released in January. While the international soothsayer does expect the global recovery to continue in 2022, it is predicting a ‘disrupted recovery’ with growth forecast to moderate from 5.9% in 2021 to 4.4% this year – this estimate was made prior to the Ukraine invasion, so it’s likely growth expectations will moderate further as a result.

Macro matters

Last year’s gains in growth due to rebounding activity now appear to be behind us. Although the pandemic will continue to impact growth rates, the outlook for macroeconomic policy is likely to become increasingly critical. Indeed, the path of the global economy this year looks set to be largely shaped by central bank policies, specifically, their ability to keep inflation expectations anchored while allowing a supportive environment for growth.

Time to review your portfolio

With the investment landscape undoubtedly changing, now seems an opportune time to spring clean your portfolio to ensure your investments continue to work as hard as possible for you. We can arrange a review to make sure your investment strategy is firmly aligned to your current personal circumstances and that your portfolio is well-balanced, diversified, tax-efficient and inflation-proofed where possible.

*1IMF, 2022

Taking positive steps to achieve financial freedom

When are you thinking of retiring? With many pre-retirees reassessing their lives and priorities in the wake of the pandemic, there really is a seismic shift for many people towards achieving life balance. People need a plan to flex with their changing aspirations – it’s become more about living life rather than going through the motions of the daily grind.

With earlier retirement a serious consideration for many seeking balance, a quarter of Brits who aspire to retire early feel that age 60 is the optimum time to do so.*

Embracing a new lifestyle

What really makes you happy? If you’re planning to celebrate your 60th birthday by saying ‘goodbye’ to working life, it’s good to know that 68% of people report an increase in overall happiness as a result of retiring early, with 44% of early retirees reporting their family relationships improved and 34% citing improvements in their friendships. From a health perspective, 57% of early retiree respondents report a boost to their mental wellbeing, with 50% believing their physical wellbeing has improved.

Driving force

Nearly a third (32%) of people who retired early or plan to do so are driven by the desire ‘to enjoy more freedom while still being physically fit and well enough to enjoy it.’ Other factors driving people to pursue early retirement include financial security (26%), reassessing priorities and what’s important to them in life (23%), wishing to spend more time with family (20%) and finding they are either ‘tired or bored’ of working (19%). Stress is also a contributing factor that 19% of respondents are keen to eradicate.

Pause for thought

With a sizeable 24% of people returning to work after retiring because they experience financial issues, careful planning is essential. Interestingly, 47% of retirees found that their finances worsened and only 22% felt they benefited financially from their decision to retire early.

Positive steps to financial freedom

People cited steps toward making early retirement achievable like paying off a mortgage (30%), saving little and often (29%), saving extra when they receive a pay rise or bonus (19%) and receiving an inheritance (14%). We’re here to reassure you that happiness doesn’t need to come at a cost when retiring early. Although it’s very important to be realistic, with meticulous planning and careful consideration, we can assess and develop a robust plan to align and fl ex with your changing requirements and priorities.

*Aviva, Dec 2021

Inheritance Tax reporting – in the know

Keeping up to date with tax changes can be challenging and you may have missed this one in relation to the reporting of Inheritance Tax (IHT), especially as it’s not something most of us will deal with very often.

Excepted estates

The changes came in at the start of the year and apply to the estate of anyone who dies on or after 1 January 2022. Now, before you make a report to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) you need to check whether the estate is an ‘excepted estate’ to make sure you complete the right forms.

There are several reasons why an estate may now be classified as ‘excepted’:

The estate has a value below the current IHT threshold (£325,000 for one person)

Any unused threshold is being transferred from a spouse or civil partner who died first, and the estate is worth £650,000 or less

The estate is worth less than £3m and the deceased left everything in their estate to their surviving spouse or civil partner who lives in the UK, or to a qualifying registered UK charity

The estate has UK assets worth less than £150,000 and the deceased had permanently been living outside of the UK when they died.

A step-by-step guide

Further details on how to value an estate for IHT and report its value can be found here

Thinking of your own IHT planning

More people are having to pay IHT; HMRC figures show IHT receipts for the period April 2021 to January 2022 to be £5bn, which is a £700m increase on the same period one year earlier.* IHT planning is a complicated subject, but sensible financial planning can help to reduce the amount of IHT payable and safeguard your wealth for the future.

*HMRC, 2022