Financial planning in action

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What is in a financial plan?

Our approach to financial planning is pragmatic and flexible. How we work is driven primarily by your needs.

While some people have very complex affairs requiring a carefully constructed and complex financial plan, others simply need advice centred on effective and tax-efficient investment, or on minimising tax on the transfer of their assets to their inheritors, or arranging a care home fee plan.

In each case, we consider your goals to be the basis of any planning we do, and our first task is to ensure that we understand those goals and can articulate them clearly so that we can measure progress towards them over the years.

Exploration

After your first meeting with us, we will ask you not just for personal information (family, employment) but also for details of your existing assets (property, investments) and liabilities (borrowings).

We will also ask you about your short, medium and longer term goals and to rank them in order of their importance to you.

We will often need to gain additional information about your existing plans (such as pension arrangements) and will ask for your authority to obtain this from the plan providers.

We will also ask you to undertake an assessment of your attitude to and tolerance of risk using our Harbour system. On the basis of this and of your goals and circumstances (which may restrict your ability to incur risk) we will allocate you a Risk Profile, which will form the basis of all our saving and investment recommendations.

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Formulation

Once we have all the information we need, we will work out how realistic your goals are and where necessary we will suggest changes in priorities or timescales so that you can reasonably expect to achieve your goals with the resources you have and expect to have available.

We will agree a specific set of goals and priorities as the basis of your plan. It may take several discussions to establish this clearly enough to form the basis of a detailed plan.

Our analysis may show you have several issues to deal with and we may agree, once the objectives have been agreed, to take a plan in bite-sized chunks, dealing (for example) with pension and saving issues first, then inheritance tax later.

Design

The actual plan can be simple or quite detailed and complex, depending on your circumstances. We will set out the recommendations as clearly as we can with details of the actions necessary to implement them.

After we have sent you your plan and our recommendations, we will meet again to confirm your understanding of the plan and deal with any queries you may have.

We will always aim for the maximum tax savings that can be achieved using our understanding of the tax system and legislative provisions favouring schemes such as pensions and ISAs.

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Implementation

Once you have ‘signed off’ your plan, we will effect the sale, purchase or transfer of plans and policies and proceed with whatever other steps we have agreed.

This may involve liaising with lawyers and accountants on legal and tax issues. If you do not have the appropriate advisers, we can recommend one.

Depending on the complexity of your situation, some of these changes may be implemented quickly while others occur over longer timescales of several years.

Review

We will agree with you how often we will review your plan and your progress towards the goals you have set.

A plan is not a set of tramlines, so it will usually need adjustment in response to changes in your circumstances and in legislation and financial markets.

We will report regularly on the investments you hold and their performance. If your tolerance of risk changes, we will alter your investments so that they remain suitable for you.

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