The Importance of Financial Planning

How Can a Company Pension Benefit Me?

Tax Relief on Contributions
Employer contributions – Corporation Tax Relief
Employee Contributions – income tax relief & not treated as a BIK

Investment Options
Access to thousands of Global Equities, Funds, Bonds, and Property, on regulated markets and managed though a single portfolio

Tax Free Investment Growth
Capital Growth & Income received from Investments made within Retirement Funds are tax free

Retirement Benefits
Tax Free Lump Sum up to €200,000 is available, (can be 1.5x salary or 25% of fund) the next €300,000 is taxed at standard rates

Income Drawdown Options
Flexible Income drawdown using an ARF allows tax management with other retirement income
Guaranteed income from an Annuity

Estate Planning
Protect the Family Balance Sheet
Lump Sums & pension options for your dependants in service & in retirement. ARF asset passes to your estate

 

How can a company pension benefit me?

 

The Importance of Financial Planning

The Short and Long Term View

Over the recent economic cycle, the acceleration in Global equities Returns was driven by three catalysts including (1) growth in corporate Earnings (2) a downward trend in interest rates (with bond yields reaching all time lows and indeed dipping into negative territory) and (3) massive liquidity injected into the financial system by Central Banks. (Notably, this resulted in their balance sheets being expanded from $4 trillion to $22 trillion since before the Great Financial Crash). And “Voila”, we are where we are today with market valuations.
Looking across Global Markets, we see divergence in the returns since 2014 when the US (in blue) is included & excluded (in orange). (EAFE: Europe, Australasia, Far East)

 
WORLD & EAFE Standard returns since 1998
NET RETURNS (Euro priced) FROM DEVELOPED MARKETS WORLD (incl US) AND EUROPE AUSTRALASIA AND FAR EAST WORLD (EAFE) (ex US) (Source: MSCI)

 

Taking a closer look at the US markets, we observe today that the Cyclically Adjusted Price Earnings Ratio CAPE for US Equities (shown below) is about 30.6 times earnings compared to its 20 year average of 25.6 and its all time PE average of 17.1. Similarly, the Buffet Indicator (Market Cap to GDP) currently stands at 176.6%. To put that into context “fair” value falls in the range of 93% to 114%.

Ratio of current US500 levels

RATIO OF CURRENT US500 LEVELS TO 10 YEAR AVERAGE PE RATIO ADJUSTED TO INFLATION (CAPE) (Source: Shiller RS)

 

Though US valuations usually tend to be higher than other global regions, it is reasonable however, to attribute this (over) growth in US market valuations (by in large) to the technology sector. While overheated valuations within sectors are not unusual, it appears that the US growth stocks are particularly affected by over exuberant market participation leading to often eyewatering valuations. Indeed, one could argue that we are in a period of irrational exuberance within this sector when we see stocks like Tesla inc (TSLA) trading at Price/Sales = 13.8x, Price/Book Value = 35.2x, Price/Earnings = 224, and EV/Operating cash = 101.3x.
So, the CAPE, Buffet indicators (& others) suggest that US equities are indeed overvalued implying likely lower returns in the long term.
Casting our “Valuation” eyes around the globe however, we see a different picture. In Europe, Australasia, the Far East and Emerging Markets, valuations (and hence long-term returns) do appear more attractive. As the chart below shows, current Price to Earnings (PE) and Future Price to Earnings ratios (fPE) are lower than those for the US.

 
Current & Forward Price to Earnings Ratio

CURRENT (in blue) AND FORWARD (in orange) PRICE TO EARNINGS RATIOS FOR GLOBAL EQUITIES (Source: MSCI)
As investors really favoured “Growth” over “Value” factors for the past 5 years, we are now seeing attractive entry points across the European, Australasia, Far East and in particular, Emerging Markets. An opportune time then to consider adding a list of some of the worlds great and innovative companies to your portfolios from these regions?
Perhaps, but as always, we need to add further consideration and perspective to the analysis. As we begin a cycle of more challenging corporate outlooks and continued low interest rates, global earnings too, will be challenged and we shouldn’t be surprised if overall future returns are lower than the last decade. Indeed, within sectors, we shouldn’t be surprised where we also see swift reversal of fortunes of stocks which are currently in favour.
So how does all this distill into your long-term Financial Plan? From a practical viewpoint, if your plan contains long-term financial objectives, having a solid core of funds invested in Global Equities in your portfolio provides a decent foundation for long-term returns. Being Globally invested, your investment will already be positioned to take advantage when investor sentiment shifts to more attractive valuations within markets and across regions.

At Lifetime Financial Planning, our core beliefs continue to be…..that portfolio diversification, time in the market, not timing, passive investments and a long-term horizon all lead to decent and consistent capital returns in portfolios. We just have to remain disciplined (some would say boring), accept the short-term volatility and ignore the “noise”.

Michael Wall CFP® PhD is a Director of Lifetime Financial Planning. Aidan Wall Financial Services Ltd Trading as Lifetime Financial Planning is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. All views and details contained within this article are for information purposes only, are subject to change & are not advice. We recommend you seek independent clarification for your particular circumstances. Lifetime Financial Planning makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness nor suitability of any of the information contained within and will not be held liable for any errors, omissions or any losses arising from its use.

The Importance of Financial Planning

Stick to the Plan – Time in the Markets!

Just a brief note to share a thought on the recent market activities. As a long-term investor in equities, I remind myself regularly that I am buying a small stake in the world’s most innovative companies. These global businesses are the service, travel & leisure providers, drivers of technology and manufacturing advancements, medicine discoverers, communication enablers, food producers, green energy innovators, etc. who shape the world as we know it today.

 

Investment Although it is nigh impossible to put a future value on these companies currently, if you are a regular investor, today you are purchasing a stake in these companies at a discount to what they were valued at two months ago.
If you are fully invested, then it is worth noting that you already own that stake and if you SELL now, you are gifting somebody else a potential bargain.

 

Remember, SELLING equities in a temporary decline in markets could lead to a permanent loss to your portfolio and a bargain to someone else, which is not rational.  

 

Experience from a decade ago teaches us that these world innovators will adapt, will revamp their business, will tool up and will face the new business environment in a post Coronavirus era. This may involve new ground being broken, a change in business and work practice or new products and services.
So, during these temporary declines in valuations, it is important to remain rational and recall that it is “diversity & time in the market, not market timing” which leads to better investment returns over the long term. This is exemplified by the S&P500 index of North America’s biggest 500 companies (above)
If you have any queries or concerns about current market conditions, please do give me a call on 085 866 9813.
Please do stay safe & check in on those who are cocooned.
Michael

The Importance of Financial Planning

International Women’s Day Sunday 8th March

There are plenty of national and international studies showing lower participation rates for women contributing to a pension and for those women who do participate, smaller pension pots.

The reasons and impact of the resulting pensions pay gap for women are manifold. Here are 7 simple step’s which women, and their employers, can take to help narrow the pension pay gap women experience.

  1. Join or set up a pension plan at your earliest opportunity. The funds built up can continue to grow even if you take time out during your career.
  2. Link salary increases to pension contribution increases. This is even more effective if committed to in advance. Simple percentage contribution rates do this automatically.
  3. Maximise contributions by availing of the maximum employer contribution rates and considering making Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs) where affordable.
  4. Continue making pension contributions, both employer and employee, while on maternity or other types of leave.
  5. If affordable make pension contributions while on a career break via a personal pension or PRSA. Take advantage of the tax reliefs available.
  6. Maximise contributions when returning to work after maternity leave or a career break.
  7. Take financial and/or investment advice which takes account of your specific circumstances and plans.

If you would like to take control of your finances and get your Lifetime Financial Plan in place then please contact Aidan Wall, QFA, or Michael Wall, QFA, at 046 924 0961.

The Importance of Financial Planning

Investment Snippets #6

#STICKTOTHEPLAN: How to deal with Market Volatility

Volatile Markets rattle the nerves of investors, but we should remind ourselves why, as investors, we invest.

Consider that when we purchase shares in a company, we are buying ownership of that company, so we become a shareholder and that entitles us to a share in the profits. The profits may be distributed in the form of a dividend or invested back into the company. The upshot is when a company is profitable; it usually increases its net asset value.

However, the profitability of a company is not always reflected in the share price and visa-versa, Price doesn’t always reflect profitability. This is highlighted in the chart which shows Unilever PLC’s share price and the company’s profitability which we measure using Earnings per Share. Here, we see even with consistent increasing earnings there is significant “volatility” in the share price.

 

Unilver

 

The share price is what most people are familiar with and it can be difficult to tease out the cause of its volatility. Genuine reduction in profits due to  changeable local economic factors, interest rate policy, bond yields and inflation, employment, political interference, and world trade agreements all influence investors emotions to varying degrees and therefore their appetite for investment which is reflected in the share price. A hard look at the facts is always warranted when we see volatility to understand that the investment case remains sound.

If you are a lump sum investor, then downward volatility has to be ridden out. Strong emotions will tempt you to SELL holdings and preserve the CASH. This is a mistake as it will likely crystallize a permanent loss, which if repeated frequently, is the quickest way to destruction of your wealth. Consider also, that you will likely be selling a good value asset at low price which is a bargain for a buyer on the other side.

On the other hand, we view Share price volatility as an opportunity to pick up quality assets at good value. If you are a regular investor, a monthly contribution invested will allow you to take advantage of a lower price paid for your holdings which can help to enhance long term capital appreciation.

And so back to Unilever, which if you had acquired in 31/10/2013 at a price of £25.01 per share, then today, 5 years later, that share is trading at £40.85, which represents a gain of £15.84 (63% or a compound growth rate of 10.31% pa).

How do we deal with market volatility?…….we ALWAYS look at a 5 year investment term.

If you have any queries, reservations, concerns or just want to talk it out, do give us a ring on 085 866 9813

The Importance of Financial Planning

A Little Care and Attention Can Save on Tax

Many people own shares in publicly listed companies such as Aviva, Glanbia, Ryanair, Kerry, Vodafone etc, but few are aware that a little care and attention in managing these can save you a considerable amount of money in tax.

At Lifetime Financial Planning, we provide that attention. Invest 20 minutes of your time today and we will show you how.

For Personal Financial Planning advice, talk to Michael or Aidan, at Lifetime Financial Planning today. Visit us at www.lifetimefinancial.ie then call us on 046 9240961. Lifetime Financial Planning; with you every step of the way.

The Importance of Financial Planning

Moved to Ireland from the UK? – Transfer Your UK Pension

If you worked in the UK and have moved to Ireland, you may have left one or more UK Pensions behind. We strongly recommend that these assets be transferred back to Ireland, you thereby gain control of your asset.

BREXIT means this should be done sooner rather than later. The funds can be retained in Sterling if desired.

At Lifetime Financial Planning, we have the technical expertise and experience in transferring UK Pension Funds to Ireland.

If you need help in relation to transferring your UK pension or any other financial matter give us a call at Lifetime Financial Planning.

Tel +353 (0)46 924 0961. Email: michael@lifetimefinancial.ie or aidan@lifetimefinancial.ie

The Importance of Financial Planning

Moved Job – Lost Track of your Pension ?

Lost track of your pension after moving jobs?

If you work in a job which includes a Pension, then you have a valuable asset. If you move to another job though, you might have lost track of your pension, especially if you change your address.

Indeed you might have moved job several times, and have several Pension pots. The safest solution may be to take control of these assets yourself so then there is no danger of losing track of them.

If you need help in relation to this or any other financial matter give us a call at Lifetime Financial Planning, Michael 085 866 9813 or Aidan 087 2621 006.

The Importance of Financial Planning

Will you have enough to retire?

It’s a worry, isn’t it. You don’t want to run out of money after you stop working, or have to live in austerity. You may have a mix of things you are relying on, a business, property, pension fund, cash savings, your home. You may also have debts, loans. So it’s complicated, and the State Pension is good, but not nearly enough, and will it stay the pace ?

Our Recommendation. You need a PLAN. We call it a Lifetime Financial Plan, because it’s a long term plan, taking everything into account. And as your circumstances change, the plan is updated so you are always on track. You can get more info about this on our website www.lifetimefinancial.ie In making the plan, we also make sure you are making the best of any opportunities, such as saving tax. The sense of relief, and peace of mind that having a plan brings, means you can confidently get on with enjoying your life.

To find out more, and take the next step to your Lifetime Financial Plan, give Aidan a call at 087 262 1006 or Mick at 085 866 9813.

The Importance of Financial Planning

Does the Market Decline Worry You?

Howard Marks, Chairman of the US based Oaktree Capital was recently asked a question by a Bloomberg reporter – ‘does the market’s decline worry you?’ – he answered the question by writing the following in a memo to clients which we believe is a far more useful answer than the current sensational media headlines.

Does the market’s decline worry you? “The answer lies in another question: What does the market know?” Is the market smart, meaning you should take your lead from it? Or is it dumb, meaning you should ignore it? Especially during downdrafts, many investors impute intelligence to the market and look to it to tell them what’s going on and what to do about it. This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. As Ben Graham pointed out (many years ago), the day-to-day market isn’t a fundamental analyst; it’s a barometer of investor sentiment. You just can’t take it too seriously. Market participants have limited insight into what’s really happening in terms of fundamentals, and any intelligence that could be behind their buys and sells is obscured by their emotional swings. It would be wrong to interpret the recent worldwide drop as meaning the market ‘knows’ tough times lie ahead.”

The Importance of Financial Planning

Meeting Investment Expectations

Investors now have a much wider range of investment choice open to them than ever before, ranging from the US stock market to the value of the euro versus the Japanese yen, the price of commodities such as oil, German government bonds and a whole range of other securities. For the non-professional, attempting to devise an appropriate investment strategy with all of these options and choices available can be a daunting task.

It is widely understood that higher investment returns are accompanied by higher risks. While we might dream of making a killing on the stock markets, however, we might not want to risk our hard earned cash on high risk strategies. Fortunately there are now some quite useful and necessary tools available to assess an individual’s risk appetite to ensure they don’t find themselves outside their comfort zone.

There are three key elements that feed in to an investors profile and risk tolerance with regard to the investment strategy required.

  • Attitude to Risk
  • Requirement
  • Capacity

Attitude to Risk

This deals with the individual investors own risk attitude and/or their tolerance of risk.

“How can I emotionally handle moves in the value of my portfolio?”

Are you likely to panic, for example, if there are significant downward movements in values? On the other hand are you a bit of a gambler and feel you can take on lots of risk and volatility in order the achieve high returns? To get the balance right the attitude to risk then need to be co-related to requirement and capacity, bearing in mind that in most cases taking some level of investment risk is key to higher investment return.

Requirement

Here the need is to focus in on what is the objective of any investment. If, for example, the investor has €200,000 and wishes this to grow to €300,000 over 10 years this is probably achievable without too much risk. On the other hand if the need is to do this over 3 years then history shows us what short-term volatility can do to an investment over that period. In addition an individual’s requirement when it comes to investing a capital sum for example could be quite different to the same individual’s requirement for his pension scheme. In the first case the time horizon may be quite short while for the pension you are probably looking at a longer term.

Capacity

This is perhaps the most important consideration of the lot and deals with the individual’s ability to take the financial risk.

“If this investment lost a significant amount of its value would it make a material impact on my financial position?”

Capacity is particularly important for individuals taking on higher levels of risk obviously. Risk tolerance and appetites change over time and can actually change very quickly. It could be a significant inheritance or business success that changes circumstances for the better or when it comes to pension planning it will be necessary to calibrate risk capacity the closer the person gets to retirement. Suffice to say that there are strategies to suit each circumstance and it is vitally important you review risk tolerance regularly.


Aidan Wall has been providing impartial and unbiased investment and pension advice to clients at all stages in the their lives since 1983. If you would like to talk to Aidan about a lump sum investment or pension fund please call 046 924 0961 or email: aidan@lifetimefinancial.ie

At Lifetime Financial Planning we also conduct regular reviews of your investment / pension fund performance, which we believe are the key to ensuring your chosen fund(s) can meet your expectations.