The Importance of Financial Planning

New Pension Legislation Relevant to Small Self-Administered Schemes

The Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys announced in a press release issued on Tuesday the 27th of April that she has signed the European Union (Occupational Pension Schemes) Regulations 2021. (IORP stands for Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision). This means that the EU IORP II directive will be transposed into Irish law through the amendment of the Pensions Act 1990.

How will this impact your Executive Pension Plans?

The legislation specifically targets the Administration and Investment Rules for Small Self- Administered Schemes including Executive Pension Plans. While one-member schemes, such as EPPs, have been granted a transitional period of 5 years to adopt the legislated changes, the increased governance and trustee responsibilities required by the rules are designed to bring immediate benefits to consumers.

What are the Administration Rule changes?

The New Regulations

• Cover trustee qualifications where trustees must pass a “fit and proper” test, risk management, auditing and reporting, cross-border activities, solvency and supervision.
• Provide better protection through enhanced governance and risk management.
• Provide clear, relevant and more consistent communication about pension schemes.
• Remove barriers to cross-border schemes.
• Ensure that trustees have the necessary powers and credentials to supervise schemes.
• Small schemes (schemes with less than 100 members) and trust RACs are no longer exempted from the IORP investment rules.

What are the Investment Rule changes?

The change in investment rules are effective immediately. They apply some restrictions to EPP investments as follows:
• Scheme assets must be predominantly invested in regulated markets. This means that direct property investments and unregulated investments will be restricted to no more than 50% of the aggregate portfolio. We await guidance on what this might look like in practice.
• Scheme assets must be properly diversified in such a way as to avoid excessive reliance on any particular asset, issuer or group of undertakings and accumulation of risk in the portfolio as a whole and
• Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues must be considered when making investments.
These conditions apply only to new investments or borrowings entered into by EPPs and are not retrospective.

What is next?

The Pensions Authority will provide further information and guidance over the coming weeks and months, to ensure the new obligations are fully understood. We are working through the changes as quickly as we can with our providers and will update all our clients where appropriate.

If you have any queries regarding how this new legislation may affect your scheme, please contact our office on 046 92 40961.

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

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

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

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.