The Importance of Financial Planning

Lifetime Financial Planning Remains Open During Lockdown

We at Lifetime Financial Planning wish to reassure our Clients that we are included in the Government’s list of Essential Services. So we are continuing to work as normal through the lockdown. We have however switched to conducting many Client meetings online, and our Clients are finding this very convenient and safe also in these Covid times.

So stay safe everyone and we will all get through this.

Aidan Wall QFA FLIA SIA RPA

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

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

Stand Back from the Scrum Snips #5

Its happening again, Stock markets are at all-time highs and confidence is flying high. But at Lifetime Financial Planning we use our tried and tested Value Based Investment Strategy to identify good value for our Clients. And from the 600 largest companies in the US and UK, only 12 meet our value criteria currently, which means 98% are not good value. However, the good news is we are likely to see a lot of Volatility in 2017, and volatility always means good value buying opportunities for our Clients.

Talk to us if you would like your Pensions and Investments to be managed in a strategy with a long (20 year) successful track record, and with a focus on value for money assets.

As always, bear in mind that Investments fall as well as rise, and past performance is not a good guide to future performance.

The Importance of Financial Planning

Reminder to Submit Your Pension Contribution Before the Pay and File Deadline

We’re just writing to remind you to take full advantage of the generous tax relief available on your 2015 pension contribution before the pay and file deadline of 31st October, or 10th November if you file through Revenue Online Service (ROS).

Depending on your age and income, you may be eligible for up to 40% tax relief on your personal pension contribution for 2015.

Depending on your age and income, you may be eligible for up to 40% tax relief on your personal pension contribution for 2015

Every €100 you contribute to your pension could cost you as little as €60*

* Revenue rules, age and income related rules apply.

With tax free growth on your investment we believe it is a highly efficient and effective method of converting your current income into long term personal wealth.

To take full advantage of this generous tax relief, review your existing pension funds and start your Lifetime Financial Plan please call us at 046 9240961 or visit our website at www.lifetimefinancial.ie

We look forward to hearing from you.

 

Aidan Wall

Aidan Wall

QFA, FLIA, SIA

Aidan Wall is a Qualified Financial Advisor, a Fellow of the Life Insurance Association and a Senior Investment Advisor.
Aidan has been providing impartial financial advice to clients since 1983, and he has acquired vast experience in the areas of Financial Planning, Family Income Protection, Retirement Income and Investments.

E: aidan@lifetimefinancial.ie

Dr Michael Wall

Dr Michael Wall

APA, PhD

Dr Michael Wall, PhD, is an Authorised Product Advisor (APA).
As an Authorised Product Advisor (APA) Michael is working under the mentorship of Senior Financial Advisor, Aidan Wall and has completed his QFA (Qualified Financial Advisor) examinations.

E: michael@lifetimefinancial.ie

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.

The Importance of Financial Planning

Set Your Financial Goals With a Lifetime Financial Plan

A recently published survey revealed that a significant amount of our population is suffering from high levels of stress due to concerns about their financial well being.

Pension planning, for example, was a serious source of stress with over 51% of respondents saying they were not saving enough for their retirement. Not knowing how to plan for your financial future can lead to inaction and high levels of stress.

Identify Your Financial Goals

Despite being worried about their financial future the vast majority of people do not have a Lifetime Financial Plan to address this. In order to put together a good plan you need to ask yourself some straight questions…. 

  • When do you want to retire?

  • If I die or suffer serious ill-health how is my family fixed?

  • When do you want your mortgage paid off?

  • Have I made a will?

  • Should I review my savings and investments?

  • Can I save money on the cost of some utilities and services – Energy, Car or Home Insurance, Health Insurance etc.?

Let’s have a brief look at some key areas:

Take Control of your Pension

Starting a Pension Plan or increasing your contributions to an existing one is a very good move to make at the start of 2016.

  • The younger you start your plan the better as your pension pot will then be bigger.

  • If you have a workplace pension scheme you should join it as your employer is likely to be making a contribution for you.

  • Those approaching retirement should make sure they are not taking too much investment risk.

  • Identify your retirement goals and the cost of getting there.

  • Put in place a plan to review your Lifetime Pension Plan at least once a year.

Protect your Family

Death is a taboo subject to most and yet having plans in place to deal with the financial impact of unexpected death is vital for anybody with dependent relatives. Equally you need to consider you and your families circumstances if you suffer a serious illness to the point where it has the effect of eliminating your income. 

  • Do you have Family Protection/Life Insurance cover?

  • If so will it be enough to maintain your family’s standard of living?

  • Should you have Serious Illness or Income Protection cover or both?

Estate Planning

Estate planning is a vital component of any robust financial plan. While, for example, the recent budget increased the tax free threshold for inheritances passing between parent and child to €280,000, with increasing house values etc., it doesn’t take a lot before there are very heavy tax exposures. Only a third of Irish people have made a will which is crazy if you want to dictate and sensibly arrange how your affairs are going to be managed when you die. You certainly don’t want to leave yourself dependent on the laws of intestacy which may not distribute your assets as you would like.

  • Have you made a will?

  • Does it need to be reviewed?

  • Are there any financial or tax planning matters that need consideration?

The Need for Regular Reviews

You should review your financial plan with your Broker on an annual basis. Numerous studies have shown that those who conduct regular reviews having higher savings and pension values than those who do not. 

  • A good plan will help eliminate the stress of not knowing where you are going.

  • Your circumstances do change regularly, for example, additions to the family.

  • Other situations change – tax laws, interest rates, economic climate etc, and your Financial Broker will be able to keep you up-to-date with these changes.

     


 

If you would like to take control of your finances in 2016 and get your Lifetime Financial Plan in place then please contact Aidan Wall, QFA, at 046 924 0961 or email aidan@lifetimefinancial.ie

 

The Importance of Financial Planning

How to Invest a Lump Sum

HOW TO INVEST A LUMP SUM

As someone who has advised clients on their investment options for over 30 years, people often contact me seeking impartial and unbiased advice on how to invest a lump sum. Whether you have recently received an inheritance, successfully completed the sale of an asset or even won the lottery jackpot the advice I provide is pretty much the same in every case. Here are some simple steps to help demystify the whole process:

 

1: Decide on your investment goals

Some important questions to ask yourself at the early stages of investing include:

  • How long do I want to invest for, is it short or long term?
  • What level of return do I expect to receive?
  • Do I want a guaranteed level of return?
  • Will I need access to my fund if my personal circumstances change?
  • Do I want to receive a regular income from my investment?
  • How much risk should I take?

 

2: Seek Impartial Advice

Often people assume that they save money on fees or commission by arranging their investment directly through a product provider, bank or other financial institution when in fact the opposite is often the case.

The Competition Authority recently noted that Life and Pensions companies tend to provide better product design, more flexible terms and more competitive quotes when engaging with an Impartial Financial Broker.

An Impartial Financial Broker is a highly qualified professional who is required by law to work in your best interest, not in the interest of investment companies.

Their impartiality enables them to research the market thoroughly for the most suitable investment opportunity and to provide a range of choices to suit your needs. This is known as fair analysis of the market as it gives you a much better picture of the range of investment choices available.

 

3: Ensure your Advisor conducts a “Factfind”

Before imparting any advice on how to invest a lump sum your advisor should conduct a “Factfind”, which is essentially an in-depth analysis of your current financial circumstances and includes your income and expenses, your family situation (number and ages of dependants etc) and your existing assets and liabilities. This helps both advisor and client to build up a picture of where you currently stand financially.

 

4: Ensure a Risk Assessment is carried out

All investment funds are rated from 1 to 7 in terms of the level of risk involved, with low rated funds offering lower returns and less chance of volatility, and higher rated funds offering the potential for greater returns, but also greater volatility.

By conducting a Risk Assessment an advisor can ensure that you fully understand the different levels of volatility risk involved. In recommending a particular investment for you, the advisor will also take into account what they believe to be your threshold for withstanding any potential losses that could occur. This helps you to gauge your own attitude to risk when deciding what type of fund you may want to invest your money in.

At Lifetime Financial Planning, conducting a Factfind and Risk Assessment is an integral part of our advice process.


5: Review your Investment Options

At this point your advisor will research the market thoroughly for a range of options to suit your needs, providing you with a choice of suitable investments based on your requirements, your financial situation and your attitude to risk.

A good impartial advisor will also take a number of other factors into account, such as the financial strength of the product provider, the past performance of similar investments, and the cost of fund management fees.

 

6: Conduct Regular Reviews

When you have made your investment decision we strongly advise conducting regular reviews with your advisor in order to stay up to date on the performance of your chosen fund. Conducting reviews also enables your advisor to stay updated with regard to your personal financial circumstances and recommend any changes needed to ensure you stay on track to meet your goals.

 

About Lifetime Financial Planning

At Lifetime Financial Planning we have been providing impartial investment advice to clients at all stages in their lives since 1983. If you are seeking impartial advice on how to invest a lump sum or you wish to conduct a review of an existing investment then please don’t hesitate to contact us.

We can help you to diversify your investment, devise a phased strategy and/or switch or redirect an existing investment if you so choose.

Call Aidan Wall, Lifetime Financial Planning, at 046 924 0961 or email: aidan@lifetimefinancial.ie

Website: www.lifetimefinancial.ie

Investments can fall as well as rise. Past performance is not a reliable guide to future performance.

Aidan Wall Financial Services Ltd T/A Lifetime Financial Planning is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

The Importance of Financial Planning

Financial Broker Vs Bank Advisor Part 3: Competitive vs Monopolistic

In Part 1 of this series of articles I explained that an advisor at your bank is often tied to a limited number of financial product providers, greatly restricting the amount of choice it can provide to you the customer. Impartial Financial Brokers are not tied in the same way, and are therefore free to research the market for a more competitive alternative which is often better suited to your specific requirements.

The Competition Authority in Ireland has noted that this ability to act in the best interest of our clients results in Life and Pensions companies providing more competitive quotes, more flexible terms and better product design when engaging with an Impartial Financial Broker.

This leads to the ultimate question, why would you want to pay for what is often an ill-fitting off-the-shelf product from your bank when you can arrange a better suited product that often costs less through your Impartial Financial Broker?

If you have already availed of a free financial planning service or purchased a financial product which you wish to review, I would be happy to do it for you. Call me at 046 924 0961 or email: aidan@lifetimefinancial.ie Website: www.lifetimefinancial.ie

Aidan Wall Financial Services Ltd T/A Lifetime Financial Planning is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

The Importance of Financial Planning

Financial Broker Vs Bank Advisor Part 1: Tailoring vs Forcefitting

If you have been offered a financial planning service or “wealth check-up” by your bank, you may be unaware that banks tend to ally themselves with a single provider or a very limited number of financial product providers, greatly restricting their ability to provide you with more choice.

This often results in your requirements being force fitted into an off-the-shelf financial product which is unsuitable to your needs, uncompetitive in terms of pricing and unrepresentative of the actual range of choices available to you. A service which initially appears to be “free” could therefore end up costing you more in the long run.

Impartial Financial Brokers, on the other hand, are not restricted to a limited number of product providers, and are therefore free to research a much larger number of providers to find the most appropriate solution for you with regard to price, suitability and terms.

This is known as a “fair analysis” of the market, as it gives you a much broader picture of the range of choices available to you, and when it comes to your personal finances it’s always better to have more choices.

If you have already availed of a free financial planning service or purchased a financial product which you wish to review, I would be happy to do it for you. Call me at 046 924 0961 or email: aidan@lifetimefinancial.ie

Website: www.lifetimefinancial.ie

Aidan Wall Financial Services Ltd T/A Lifetime Financial Planning is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.