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

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

Tax Saving Tips for Managing Your Stocks and Shares

Many people now own shares in publicly listed companies such as Glanbia, Ryanair, Kerry, Vodafone etc, but some are unaware that a little care and attention in managing your stocks and shares can save you a considerable amount of money in tax.

Tax

Shares sold at a profit or Gain incur a Capital Gains Tax liability. The current rate is 33% of the Gain.

The Gain is the difference between the sale price and the original cost price of the shares. So it is important to have a record of the original cost of the shares. This is known as the Base Cost.

Tax saving – Previous Losses

Previous losses on assets such as Property, Bank shares, (Anglo), etc are available for set-off against future gains. So any Gains will be tax-free until the previous losses are completely used up.

Tax saving – Annual Tax Exemption

Individuals can make a Gain of €1,270 free of Capital Gains Tax in each tax year. By holding the shares in joint names, spouses can generate Gains of €2,540 tax free each year.

It is important to utilise the annual €2,540 Exemption from Capital Gains Tax. This is done by “bed and breakfasting” the shares.

Bed & Breakfasting

“Bed & breakfasting” means selling a sufficient number of shares each year to generate a Gain of €2,540 (€1,270 for an individual), and buying them back again after a minimum of 30 days. The effect is to increase the Base Cost of the shares, and thereby lessen the Capital Gains Tax liability.

There is a risk that during the 30 days, the shares might jump in price. Of course if you sell, and buy back at a higher price, you lose some of the benefit of “bed & breakfasting”.

Dividends and Scrip Dividends

Dividends are a significant element of value in ownership of shares. By ensuring that you own the shares at the “ex-dividend date” you maintain your entitlement to the dividend.

Some companies offer the option of “Scrip Dividends”. This means the company issues new shares instead of paying cash dividends. There is no tax advantage for the owner, and scrip share certificates are liable to be lost. Replacing a lost certificate is expensive, and may cost more than the shares themselves are worth, making it uneconomic to replace a certificate for a small number of shares.

Our Recommendation

The paperwork generated by even a small amount of shares held in paper certificates can be daunting and confusing. We recommend holding shares in a Stockbroker account.

This ensures that

  • no loss of share certificates occurs,
  • accurate records of Base Cost are maintained,
  • Bed & Breakfasting is made easy,
  • Scrip Dividends happen automatically,
  • no more lodging (or losing) small dividend cheques,
  • paperwork is minimised,
  • a statement is issued every year setting out the Capital Gains Tax and Dividend Withholding Tax calculations for your Accountant/Tax Advisor.

To discuss this further, give Aidan a call at 087 2621006.

Aidan Wall Financial Services Ltd Trading as Lifetime Financial Planning is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.  Investments can fall as well as rise. Past performance is not a reliable guide to future performance.

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 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.

The Importance of Financial Planning

Exploring Your Investment Options

Keeping your money on deposit can be a good means of achieving short term objectives and access to instant cash but for longer term financial goals, however, you may want to consider other options. A good place to start in this is by taking these 5 steps:

Step 1

What do you want to do with your investment – what are your goals?

Step 2

What is your investment horizon – how long do you wish to invest your money for?

Step 3

How much investment risk are you prepared to take or is appropriate for your financial profile?

Step 4

How much ready access to your money do you need? In general you can assume that the longer your money is invested the better the return tends to be.

Step 5

Consider your long term goals and don’t simply focus on the short term.

By taking on board the message from these 5 steps you can discover the type of investor you are and find an investment that best balances all of the criteria. These can generally be found in a combination of the following options:

  • Cash – money placed on deposit
  • Bonds – government and corporate bonds or government and corporate loans
  • Property – usually commercial property but can include residential
  • Equities – company shares traded on stock markets
  • Commodities – tracking the performance of the likes of oil, copper, gold and more
  • Alternatives – this refers to investing in non-traditional assets or strategies
  • Funds – these are collective instruments that invest in combinations of each of these and will often be referred to as Mixed/Managed Funds or Multi-Asset Funds

Help Is At Hand

At first glance the investment world can appear confusing and an uncomfortable place, complicated by charts, tables and strange language. While ultimately the decision about where and how to invest your money is yours, professional advice is particularly important when exploring the type of investor you are – ranging from conservative right through to Adventurous and a range of options in between. This advice will then follow on to helping you choose the right portfolio of investments to match your profile. It is also important that the person giving you advice is properly authorised and qualified who can guide you along your investment journey and offer one to one advice along the way.

If you would like to explore your investment options please call Aidan Wall at 046 924 0961 or email: aidan@lifetimefinancial.ie

The Importance of Financial Planning

Understanding Investment Risk

During the last few years of the 2000’s we all saw the effect that stock market falls had on pension funds, investments and share prices. We all saw how the values of pensions and investments fell. If you were one of these people that has been affected by the stock market falls, it’s understandable that you might still think twice about investing in shares (non cash funds). However, we all know that leaving your money in cash for a long time may not necessarilty generate the best returns.

As 2015 has begun with historically low interest rates, many people are now seeking alternatives to deposit accounts. However the levels of risk associated with alternative investment options and also the investors attitude and capability of taking on risk must be carefully assessed in considering suitable choices.

It All Begins With A Plan……

Before you begin to choose a suitable investment you will want to consider what are your investment objectives. Setting these objectives correctly based on your current situation and knowing your investment profile will form the basis for choosing the correct options.

Rating Funds

It is important to note that most managers of Investment and Pension Funds are now broadly in line with guidelines received by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) in the context of Risk Rating their Funds. The ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 7 meaning that you can now readily identify the level of “risk” pertaining with 1 being at the very lowest level and 7 the highest.

Investor Attitude to Risk

A very important piece of work that should be done as part of the decision making process is to take full account of an investors attitude to risk. There are many “Risk Attitude Questionnaires” that help to determine this and help to match the investors requirements with the huge range of investment fund options available in the market. Apart from recording the investors view it also takes account of really relevant matters such as:

  • What is my knowledge of investments?
  • When will I need access to my capital?
  • Do I need to draw an income?

Capacity to Bear Risk

This is another very important factor to take into account when constructing your portfolio. It is one matter to say you can accept risk in order to achieve high returns but another key factor must be to match your profile with your capabilities.The real message in all of this is that while there is a myriad of options and choice it is vitally important to seek and have independent advice available to you. If you need any further information on this please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Call Aidan Wall at: 046 924 0961 or email: aidan@lifetimefinancial.ie