Understanding wealth planning

Wealth planning is a fundamental tenet of wealth management and is intrinsically linked with an investment strategy.

Wealth planning is far from being a consideration only for older individuals, although it will be a particular concern for those who are seeing younger generations spring up and who are anxious that they are able to enjoy the same things they themselves have enjoyed. Formal wealth planning is relevant for clients of all ages, from young individuals saving for their future family, to older clients planning for their retirement and the next generation.

How it works

While your wealth manager’s main focus will be on managing the assets that you hold today, some institutions also provide a plethora of wealth planning services too. Indeed, in recent years several wealth managers have acquired wealth planning firms or set up such divisions in order to offer a more comprehensive service to clients.

Wealth planning addresses three main issues: preserving your wealth; the deployment of your wealth during your lifetime; and, finally, planning the distribution of your wealth according to your wishes after you are gone. As such, wealth planning covers several disciplines, namely: tax planning, retirement planning and estate planning.

It may be that your wealth manager charges an all-in-one fee for managing your investments and any necessary wealth planning services, but it is probably more likely that the former will be charged as a percentage of the amount of assets being managed with the latter carrying a separate fee.

Tax planning

Tax planning refers to the use of perfectly legitimate tax mitigation strategies to minimise the erosion of your wealth. Tax planning is important both for domiciled and non-domiciled UK residents, who have various different strict UK tax rules to adhere to, often alongside foreign rules. There are, however, a number of tax-efficient investment strategies your wealth manager can explain whatever your tax and domiciliary status. You may wish to explore investing in offshore bonds, for example.

Retirement planning

Retirement planning is about structuring your assets so that you will have the right amount of money at your disposal at the right time. There are many ways to save for retirement, just as there are many investment strategies your wealth manager could recommend to ensure that your wealth is working as hard as possible but without exposing you to undue risk. findaWEALTHMANAGER.com’s users are increasingly coming to the site to find a wealth manager to set up or consolidate and invest their pensions and ISAs. Following the pension reforms coming in in 2015, retirees will have to make some very important investment decisions about how they use their pension pots.

Estate planning

Estate planning includes a variety of elements, many of which can blur the lines between financial and legal services – like setting up an investment trust to provide for the family, which would need its investments managed and a professional trustee to administer it. For this reason, many of the largest wealth managers have divisions which deal with trusts and other legal entities; others will rely on having a well-developed network of partner firms – like trust companies – it has good working relationships with.

Estate planning is far from the preserve of the super-wealthy and those of even fairly modest affluence should explore what a wealth manager could do to preserve as much of their assets for their family as possible. Ways of mitigating inheritance tax could include tax-efficient investments, like Venture Capital Trusts and Enterprise Investment Schemes, or even deploying what is known as the “seven year gifting rule”. But estate planning decisions are rarely simple: passing on your wealth needs to be carefully thought out. People are now living longer than ever. You have to consider maintaining your lifestyle over a retirement which could perhaps last for several decades. Moreover, many could eventually find themselves having to meet residential care costs amounting to upwards of £20,000 a year. Your wealth manager will help you take an objective look at all your options before designing a strategy precisely aligned with your financial needs.

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