Polestar Key Guides
REVIEW, RETHINK, REGROUP
The long-term impact of the Covid-19 pandemic across every aspect of life is still unfolding. With additional government support and further restrictions announced in September and October, it is clear we are in for the long haul.
The crisis has also shone a light on the importance of resilient financial planning. A range of questions may have come into sharp focus in recent months. Is your budgeting realistic? What are your most pressing concerns? Do you need to manage your income? Or to review your longer-term pensions and investments? What can you do to protect yourself and your loved ones financially in light of the pandemic or potential job loss? Are your affairs in order?
Financial planners have adapted quickly and remote services, both online and over the phone, are now available, meaning social distancing and self-isolation do not have to be barriers to identifying and resolving your financial planning needs.
Investment planning is now more of a science than an art. Technology, ever-increasing investment opportunities and stricter regulation have all encouraged a more scientific approach. But has your investment strategy kept pace?
Investment planning and asset allocation is a multi-stage process. The actual execution of investment transactions is virtually instantaneous, but the decisions behind them need time and should not be hurried. There are many different approaches to the investment planning and asset allocation process, but most will broadly follow the step-by-step framework explained in this guide.
All too often, people put off estate planning. This is understandable as, rather than preparing for the here and now, it requires you to consider what will happen when your life is over, hardly something most of us rush to contemplate.
Consequently, estate planning often becomes, and all too often remains, a do-it-tomorrow task. When it could suddenly become all-important it might be too late. After all, accidents and illnesses can and do happen.
This guide will help you prepare effective plans that will help ensure you control what happens to your estate.
Financial planning can help everyone. It isn’t reserved for the rich, or sophisticated investors, because we all want to make sure we are making the most of our money.
Whether it’s making a retirement plan, investing to provide for your children’s education or preparing for retirement, financial planning can help everyone across their lives.
A good financial adviser should be a trusted partner who can help you achieve your financial aspirations and protect those you care for through the changing circumstances of your life and potentially in the event of disaster. However, most people don’t really know what financial advisers actually do.
Becoming a landlord has been an attractive proposition for anyone who could raise a deposit, thanks to a prolonged period of low borrowing costs and generally rising property values. However, interest rates have finally started to rise (they are now the highest they have been for nearly a decade) and uncertainty in the housing market has reduced property prices, particularly across London and the south-East.
Despite these negatives, becoming a landlord may still be an appealing option given the perceived lack of good alternatives, with savings rates remaining low and restrictions on the amount that can be saved into a pension.
When Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) first appeared in 1999, as a replacement for PEPs and TESSAs, they were a relatively straightforward offering. In the 19 years since, complication has set in. The point has now been reached where the May 2018 report on savings tax from the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) suggested that “there is scope for a wider full review of the current ISA landscape, to make the regime simpler and more accessible”.
The government’s website says there are only four types of ISA – cash ISAs, stocks and shares ISAs, innovative finance ISAs, and Lifetime ISAs – but variants exist for specific investment needs.
This guide will explain how five types work, in order of their original launch date.
Retirement is something most of us look forward to − particularly on a Monday morning. However, those thoughts are often little more than a whimsical cocktail of not having to work and prolonged holidays. The reality could be rather different, particularly if your retirement date is some way off.
For a start, retirement is now often not the sudden change from work to enforced idleness that it used to be. It has increasingly become a gradual process, with part-time work playing an important role. The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that 13.4% of men and 7.9% of women aged 65 and over are still in employment.
Most parents want to help their children financially, whether it is making sure there is enough money for their education or eventually helping them to buy a property. An early objective as they grow up may well be to help children understand the value and importance of money.
Whatever the reason, tax will be a major factor to consider, as will the risks of giving children too much money too soon. It is therefore important for parents and others to appreciate the basic tax and legal rules, and the investment products that are suitable for children to help achieve the goals set for them.
If you are a business owner, business succession planning and insurance is important. It is simply the process of planning for what you want to happen if you (or your co-owner, if you have one) were to die or fall seriously ill.
If this happens, family and business partners can be left in a complex situation. In some instances, the business ends up in the wrong hands, or in worst cases can fail. These issues apply to sole traders, partners and shareholders in limited companies, and all of this can be avoided with some sensible succession planning.
The way that investments are taxed has changed over recent years as successive governments have chosen to handle various sources of investment income in different ways. The aim has typically been to increase tax revenues.
Alongside this, the whole tax system has grown increasingly elaborate, thanks to revenue-raising tweaks such as the taxation of child benefit and multiple reforms of dividend taxation. The situation was highlighted in a paper on savings tax from the government’s own Office of Tax Simplification published in May 2018. This noted that, “the interactions between the rates and allowances is sufficiently complex at the margins that HMRC’s selfassessment computer software has sometimes failed to get it right”.
This guide offers a brief outline of how your investments are taxed. Expert advice is necessary if you require more information or a greater insight into how to cut your tax bill.
If you are a high-earner and feel you are paying more and more tax, you are not alone. More than one in seven income tax payers are taxed at the higher or additional rate and they pay about two thirds of all income tax.
Increasing the tax burden for higher earners has been a deliberate policy of successive governments. For instance, the thresholds for phasing out the personal allowance and the start of the additional rate tax threshold have both been unchanged since they came into force in April 2010.
Most people’s finances are like a house of cards, with their ability to earn an income acting as the bottom row. Everything else rests upon this bottom layer and, should the worst happen and your income stop, the whole house can come tumbling down. Life and health insurance protection underpins most good financial planning. These types of insurance can ensure that, if the worst should happen, the right amount of money will reach the right hands at the right time.
There comes a time when you stop working for your money and put your money to work for you. For most people, that is retirement.
The decisions you make then could have repercussions for the rest of your life, and in recent years there have been some major changes to the retirement choices you can make with your pensions.
This guide will help you understand the key issues and decisions that will affect your income after retirement.