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  • 20/03/2019 0 Comments
    Financial Planning Tips to act on before 5th April

    With the end of the tax year looming (5th April), now is the perfect opportunity to make use of any tax or personal allowances that you have not yet used. But be quick, as many are “use it or lose it”.

    By making use of allowances available to you, you can often save a significant amount of tax and therefore provide yourself with more money for both now and in the future.

    Here are our top tax year-end tips for 2018/19

    Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) – fully utilise your tax-efficient ISA allowance. The allowance for 2018/19 is £20,000 per person, whilst the Junior ISA allowance is now £4,260 for children under 18.

    Pension contributions – spouses and children – consider contributing up to £2,880 towards a pension for your non-earning spouse or children. The Government will add £720 on top – for free.

    Pension contributions – maximise contributions and tax relief. Take full advantage of increasing pension contributions by utilising the annual allowance, which is £40,000 (tapered if you earn over £150,000) or the value of your whole earnings – whichever is lower. Unused annual allowances may also be carried forward from the previous three tax years so you could contribute up to £160,000 if your earnings allow.

    Capital gains – use the capital gains annual exemption of £11,700 (2018/19) to realise gains tax-free. You can use the capital gains allowance against gains from investment property or investments & shares that are not in a tax wrap (for example, those in a share account or unit trust). The allowance cannot be transferred between spouses or carried forward.

    Gifting – you can act at any time to help reduce a potential Inheritance Tax bill when you’re no longer around. Make use of the Inheritance Tax annual exemption that allows you to give away £3,000 worth of gifts outside of your
    estate. If unused, the exemption can be carried forward one year.

    Everybody’s situation and requirements are different when it comes to tax planning, so it is always best to seek financial advice to make sure you are using all allowances available to you and doing so correctly.

    You can rely on True Financial Design to provide you with the expert advice you need to ensure you are making the most of the allowances available to you.

    Lottie Kent

    01423 297077 or  01937 338088


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  • 06/03/2019 0 Comments
    What Does A Financial Adviser Do & Do I Need One?

    A good financial adviser is like a good mechanic: you likely will need one at some point in your life, it could save you a sizable chunk of money, and many people have no clue where to start when it comes to finding one. To further complicate matters, our industry uses all sorts of terms to describe advisers – financial planner, money manager, wealth manager, retirement planner, and so on. Regardless of this, I hope by the end of this blog you will be clear on some of the uncertainties in the financial planning world!

    Planner, manager, adviser – what’s the difference?
    Financial advisers can have multiple specialties and can go by many different names (even more than just the ones above), but the basic idea is that they will help you create and then implement a plan so you can achieve your financial goals. These goals could include retirement, saving for college, minimizing your tax burden, giving to charity, budgeting, debt reduction, or generating income. But it is not just about getting you there, it is about making sure you are doing so in the most tax efficient and cost-effective way.

    Many of us are very keen to make sure we are getting the best deals out there, whether that be on our weekly food shop or on our new TV, but what always surprises me is people aren’t looking at getting the best deal for themselves on their finances. Perhaps that is because people don’t know where to start and I suppose that is exactly what a financial adviser does – not only gets your where you want to be but also gets you there the best way according to your goals and circumstances.

    Just so you know, the reason True Financial Design, use Financial Planners is because we think it is the most relevant to what we do….at the end of the day we are creating a financial plan for you!

    How to invest?
    Your financial plan will include an investment strategy in line with your attitude to risk. In plain English that means, your investments will be split into different types of asset classes (such as, cash, property, fixed interest, bonds, gilts and equities) across different geographical locations. The proportion of money invested into each of these geographical locations or asset classes depends on how much risk you are willing to take with that money – known as attitude to risk.  This diversification helps reduce the risk that your portfolio will decline in value if one sector of the market sours.

    Controlling behavioural risk
    While diversifying investments can help reduce risk, not all risk is investment-specific. Some risk is emotional or behavioural.  Did you panic during 2008 and sell all of your stocks? Or get overconfident in 2006 and take too much risk leading into the Great Recession? An adviser should counsel you through difficult times and help set expectations for your portfolio, so that you know what risks are involved and what “success” looks like on the upside.

    The whole financial picture

    While some advisers are entirely investment-focused, many focus on the other aspects of your financial life, like estate or inheritance tax planning, insurance, retirement planning, debt reduction, long term care or tax planning. Many financial advisers have expertise in one or more of these topics, and the scope of services each adviser provides is different – ranging from strictly investment management to holistic financial planning. Every client is unique and has different priorities, so make sure your adviser can help where you need it.

    Searching for opportunities

    Looking beyond your investments can save you a tremendous amount of money, and a top financial adviser may find other tax or planning opportunities that you weren’t aware of.

    Do I need an adviser?

    Many individuals, if they have simple financial situations and a sound knowledge of investments, would likely be just fine on their own if they take a simple & low-cost approach.

    At True Financial Design, our clients either want someone to hold their hand because they don’t understand the jargon of the financial world, or although they are perfectly capable of managing their own finances, they recognise the value of good financial advice and realise their time is better spent on business or personal endeavours.

    An adviser can help avoid mistakes, find opportunities that you miss, help you stick to your plan in times of stress, and manage risk in a tax-smart way to protect and grow your assets.

    A Research Report from ILC-UK – “The Value of Financial Advice” (July 2017) stated that:

    Those who receive financial advice accumulate more assets and have more retirement income than those who don’t.

    If you would like to know more about how a financial adviser could help you, please say hello on social:


    Or contact us on 01423 297 077 or hello@truefinancialdesign.co.uk to have a chat or to book your FREE initial consultation.

    The value of investments and income from them can go down. You may not get back the original amount invested.

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  • 14/02/2019 - Lottie Kent 0 Comments
    We are in the paper....Do you (or your family) need to avoid Inheritance Tax quickly?

    Many people think that the only way to avoid Inheritance Tax (40%) is to gift money out of their estate or put the money into trust. But there is another way.

    Investments that qualify for Business Property Relief (BPR) can be passed on free from Inheritance Tax upon the death of the investor, provided the shares have been owned for at least two years at that time.

    Generally speaking, investments in the following kinds of businesses that carry on a trade rather than investment activities could qualify for BPR.  These include:

    • Shares in qualifying companies listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM)
    • An interest in a qualifying business, such as a partnership
    • Shares in qualifying companies that are not listed on any stock exchange

    Investors can now hold AIM-listed shares within an ISA. This means an ISA that invests specifically in AIM-listed companies expected to qualify for BPR can offer inheritance tax exemption as well as the traditional ISA benefits of tax-free income and capital growth.

    So, investing in the shares of BPR-qualifying companies can be very useful, if:  

    • You don’t want to give away large sums of money: If you feel uncomfortable gifting large sums of money from your estate you could invest in a BPR-qualifying investment - the shares are held in your name, which means you keep hold of your wealth
    • You want the money you invest to become inheritance tax exempt quickly: Traditional estate planning strategies, such as making gifts or putting money in trust, typically take seven years before becoming fully exempt from inheritance tax. With a BPR-qualifying investment, the shares become 100% inheritance tax exempt after a holding period of just two years, as long as the shares are still held at the time of death.

    Of course, when looking to put money into an investment that qualifies for BPR you must consider the risks of doing so. It is a high-risk investment and tax legislation may change in future, so it is best to seek professional advice

    To raise awareness of investing to avoid inheritance tax, True Financial Design Ltd offer a FREE INITIAL meeting to discuss your needs and how this could help your family and if you become a client you receive £100 of John Lewis Vouchers which you will receive once your recommendation is in place.

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  • 05/02/2019 - Lottie Kent 0 Comments
    BREXIT - Investing in Uncertain Times...

    Following the rejection of the Government’s proposed EU withdrawal agreement on 15th January, there remains the possibility of the UK leaving the EU without a deal. The prospect of no deal does create significant uncertainty regarding the future impact on the UK economy. This may prompt questions about either your existing investments or new investments that you are considering making.


    Firstly, Brexit should not really change anything with regard to your overall objectives and the suitability of investments to meet those objectives. Individuals prepared to invest for the longer term should not be concerned about short-term fluctuations in their investment values. Asset allocation models are constructed to predict a range of potential investment outcomes. However, these should remain suitable for longer term investment and there is no reason to automatically assume that any short-term market disruption caused by a hard Brexit will result in long-term results significantly outside of the range of given potential outcomes. A diversified approach to investment is key and there is no guarantee of a single asset class that will be superior to others in protecting against Brexit uncertainty.


    The simple guidance here is to not try and time the markets. The problem is always going to be deciding when to enter back into the market and there is a real risk of missing out on significant investment growth by doing so. Studies have shown that over the past 20 years around 50% of all of the investment growth in the FTSE All-Share has come from just the 10 best trading days. Disinvestment or delaying investment decisions carries the risk of missing out on one of those best trading days, setting back potential long-term investment growth. Even if there is some market downturn or volatility following a no deal Brexit, there will always be the possibility of future agreements and trade deals being reached, either with the EU or with non-EU states. Any such agreements may well have a positive impact for investments which will be missed opportunities for those not in the market. Furthermore, if you are considering disinvesting or holding cash or cash equivalents, consideration needs to be given as to what the short to medium term impact of this might be. A sudden no-deal exit from the EU may well prompt a further devaluation of Sterling. For individuals planning to sell holdings in the near future in order to meet a planned expenditure event e.g., annuity purchase, property purchase, school fees etc., there are considerations around whether to bring forward a disinvestment decision in view of this uncertainty. For imminent expenditure plans there is no right or wrong answer, but the decision will come down to your attitude to giving up an element of potential investment return. For expenditure plans that are slightly further into the future the considerations around trying to time the markets will start to come into play.


    There are pros and cons to adopting a phased investment approach to new investments. Phasing will offer some protection against immediate falls in value. However, if you have a long-term investment horizon and sufficient risk profile then such protection should not really be necessary. If phasing is used, it needs to be over a short-term timeframe and ideally as part of an agreed automatic series of investments at defined intervals. Outside of these parameters, there is a real risk that market growth will be missed or that future investment will be overlooked completely with your funds remaining in cash indefinitely.


    It is possible that Brexit uncertainty will impact on your attitude to risk and the amount of investment risk that you are prepared to accept. The above points regarding not timing the market and the importance of asset allocation for long-term investment should form part of any risk profile discussion with your adviser. However, it is understandable that you may wish to change your view of investment risk as a result of the current political and economic landscape. In these circumstances, you should ask your adviser to revisit your risk profile before switching your investment strategy.


    The question about whether a proposed defined benefit transfer should still proceed largely depends on your overall retirement objectives. Economic or stock market conditions should never be the primary driver of a
    transfer decision. Anyone significantly concerned about the impact of investment performance on their pension fund should probably not be making a decision to transfer regardless of Brexit. Delaying a transfer will have an unknown impact on future transfer values which may also impact on your retirement objectives. Assuming that the primary drivers of the proposed transfer are non-investment related (e.g. need for capital but not income or legacy planning) then these drivers are likely to apply regardless of the immediate economic outlook. It goes without saying that transfer decisions should never be made lightly, but Brexit uncertainly is unlikely to come into play when there is a good reason to consider a transfer.

    It is important to take professional advice before making any decision relating to your personal finances. Information within this document is based on our current understanding and can be subject to change without notice and the accuracy and completeness of the information cannot be guaranteed. It does not provide individual tailored investment advice and is for guidance only. Some rules may vary in different parts of the UK. We cannot assume legal liability for any errors or omissions it might contain. Levels and bases of, and reliefs from, taxation are those currently applying or proposed and are subject to change; their value depends on the individual circumstances of the investor. No part of this document may be reproduced in any manner without prior permission.

    This document has been brought to you by your financial adviser who is a member of Tenet. For more details about Tenet and the support and backing we provide to our appointed representative financial advisers, please visit www.tenetgroup.co.uk/consumer. If you require any assistance or need financial advice, please contact Lottie Kent, at True Financial Design Ltd – 01423 297077.

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  • 18/01/2019 0 Comments
    We are in the paper - Pension savings: tips for how to keep yours on track...

    A simple pension “health check” will help keep you on track for retirement.

    Firstly, don’t dismiss the state pension – find out how much you are likely to receive at www.gov.uk/check-state-pension.

    If you are not entitled to the full new state pension (currently £164.35 p.w.), it is probably due to a gap in your national insurance contributions. Find out if you can make voluntary contributions to increase your state pension.

    Now for your pensions; perhaps from previous employment or pensions that you have started yourself. Ensure you
    have details of ALL the pensions you believe you are entitled to as it’s not uncommon to “lose” a pension if you have changed employment or moved house a few times. You can trace “lost” pensions at www.gov.uk/find-pension-contact-details.

    Finally, establish what type of pensions you have. Defined benefit schemes (often called Final Salary) provide you with a guaranteed income in retirement. Whereas the income you receive from a defined contribution pension (often called personal pensions) depends on various factors; contributions, performance, charges and the choices you make in retirement. Your eventual income may also depend upon the size of the fund at retirement, future interest rates and tax legislation.

    With a clear picture of the planning you have done so far, you will have a better idea of whether you are on track – and what to do to improve your position.

    Steps to take

    Increasing your pension contributions even by a small amount, will make a difference to your pension over time. An increase of £100 per month is £1,200 per annum and £24,000 over 20 years. This increase will also be subject to investment growth.

    Two other factors that can potentially boost your retirement income are also important: lower charges or improved investment performance.

    By reviewing the charges and performance of your pensions on a regular basis, you will ensure you are getting the best deal for your needs and circumstances. You could also consider consolidating your pensions, so you only pay one set of charges.

    These may sound like simple steps, but they are crucial to sensible financial planning. By reviewing your pensions regularly – with the help of an independent financial adviser if necessary – you will substantially improve your chances of securing the best-possible retirement income.

    To raise awareness of the benefits of financial advice, True Financial Design Ltd offer a FREE INITIAL meeting to help you plan your future.

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