THE IMPORTANCE OF CASH FLOW PLANNING

Investment & Wealth Advice




THE IMPORTANCE OF CASH FLOW PLANNING

Duncan Gourlay, Head of Weatherbys Private Bank Scotland
This article first appeared in The Herald

When it comes to planning for the future, most people tend to focus on one thing: building as much wealth as they can. This is vital, of course. If you want to meet your financial goals, then saving and investing wisely is absolutely fundamental. 

However, another aspect is also critical: having a financial road map in place, in the form of a cash flow plan. As we all know, life does not move in a straight line. During certain phases – and not just retirement – we find ourselves needing to spend more. At other times, we may be in a position to invest significantly larger sums. This is where advice is essential. 

WHAT IS HOLISTIC FINANCIAL ADVICE?

An Adviser will take a holistic view of your current assets and future spending requirements.  They will use this information and work with you to develop a cash flow plan that will help you to map out your fiscal requirements and will demonstrate how various different scenarios might affect those needs.   

Not only will a clear cash flow plan help you to save, and eventually spend, your money in the most tax-efficient manner, it will also give you a deeper understanding of what you are working towards. Indeed, choosing the right Adviser is at least as important as choosing the right investment manager. 

The sorts of questions that we, at Weatherbys Private Bank, as your adviser, will help you to answer include: where do you want to be in 20 years’ time? What will you need to fund during that time? Are school or university fees for children something you need to consider? Have you given any thought to maximising your pension and ISA (Individual Savings Account) contributions during your peak earnings period – something which is particularly important to consider given the radical reduction in pensions contributions allowances in recent years? 

HOW WEATHERBYS CAN HELP

Even if you are comfortable that you have sufficient assets to fund your goals, a cash flow plan will help you to make the most of your wealth. For example, one Weatherbys client came to us in retirement. He and his wife had various savings pots between them: ISAs, a SIPP, and a general investment portfolio, with many investment managers involved across the board. 

We assessed his current and future income needs, including allowances for gifting money to minimise inheritance tax, and concluded that he and his wife had sufficient assets to meet their goals even assuming a relatively modest rate of annual return on their investments. 

Yet the discretionary fund manager who was managing their SIPP was investing in very high risk assets – and charging them in the region of 2% a year to do so. When we asked: “If you could meet your cash flow needs until age 100 while taking lower risks in your portfolio, would you prefer to do that?” And naturally, they said “yes”. Why take more risk than you need to, if you’ve already met your goals?  

FINDING VALUE FOR OUR CLIENTS

This approach can also identify opportunities that you may not have been aware of. For example, a child can contribute up to £2,880 a year to a pension, which then attracts basic rate tax relief. A grandparent contributing this on the child’s behalf could in many cases, exempt the gift from their estate for IHT purposes. If the full allowance is contributed annually until the age of 21, then even with no further contributions, by the time the child reaches retirement age, their pot would have grown to around £2.36m, assuming an annual return rate of 6%.  

Even once you have a plan in place, it must be reviewed regularly. For example, you might inherit money, or find that unexpected expenses arise. Circumstances change and with that, plans become outdated. This is particularly important as you move from the “accumulation” phase of your life – where the primary focus tends to be on building your wealth until you retire – to the “utilisation” phase, where the focus moves to ensuring you have the cash flow to maintain your standard of living, and perhaps planning for your legacy.

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The illustration only gives you an estimate of what could be available on retirement, based on a very limited amount of information and assumptions, including:
 

  • The way you choose to invest
  • When you choose to draw your benefits
  • Your investment portfolio’s performance
  • Our understanding of the UK taxation and pension rules as they currently apply

 
The amounts shown are only to give you an idea of what could be available and are in no way guaranteed.  The amount you get may be more or less than that shown and you could get back less than you invested.  Tax rules may change in the future and how they affect you will depend on your individual circumstances.