At a time of continued low interest rates and complex taxes, how can you manage risk and maximise your savings and investments?
While the main aim of investing is to build up your savings for the future, protecting your wealth is as important as growing it – you need to balance the two. Careful planning plays an especially important role in securing financial security over the long term, perhaps now more than ever. Here are six key tips that can help.
With current global economic uncertainty, prolonged low interest rates and the new Brexit landscape, it is challenging to achieve decent returns and make the most of your money today.
1. Customise your strategy
It is crucial that your investment approach is designed to meet your particular circumstances and goals, including your risk tolerance and income needs. For example, are your financial arrangements tailored for your life in Portugal/Spain/France/Malta/Cyprus, where your expenses are mostly in euros, or are they actually better suited to a UK resident?
With an ill-fitting investment portfolio, you could find that your money is not working as hard as you would like, is difficult to access, or is eaten away by inflation and/or unnecessary taxation.
2. Know your appetite for risk
Before investing, you need to pinpoint the right balance of risk/return for your peace of mind, but it is extremely difficult to do this effectively yourself. An experienced adviser is best placed to ask the right questions and use appropriate tools to create a clear and objective risk profile for you. They can then recommend an appropriate blend of investments to match your specific profile.
Remember: without some element of risk, you may struggle to outpace inflation and could lose money, especially over the longer term. Explore your options for controlling risk, such as staggering the timing of investments to reduce exposure to market movements.
3. Identify your timeline for investing
Generally, the longer you have to invest, the more risk you can afford to take. With time, you can ride out market volatility and benefit from compound returns. Understanding your time horizon is also the key to ensuring your investments offer the right level of ‘liquidity’. You never know when your plans may change – for example, needing to return to the UK unexpectedly for family or health reasons – so make sure you hold some liquid assets that can be easily sold if you need to access your capital or change your strategy.
4. Insist on diversification
The higher your concentration in one particular investment type or area, the greater the risk. The best way to limit risk is diversification. By spreading out investments across asset classes, geographic regions and market sectors, you limit your exposure to any one area. You can take diversification further by choosing an adviser who uses a ‘multi-manager’ approach to spread your investments out among several carefully-selected fund managers. This reduces your reliance on any one manager making the right decisions in all market conditions.
5. Don’t overlook tax planning
To help maximise your real returns and protect your wealth for future generations, factor in tax planning when setting up your portfolio. Look for arrangements that can shelter capital from tax while providing a tax-efficient income, and that enable you to transfer wealth to your beneficiaries with minimal bureaucracy and inheritance taxes.
For expatriates, tax planning is complicated by having to work with the rules of more than one country. An adviser with cross-border expertise can ensure you meet your tax liabilities, in your country of residency and in the UK, while taking advantage of available opportunities.
Does your cross-border tax planning stand up to today’s scrutiny?
6. Regularly review your strategy
Good financial planning is not a ‘set and forget’ exercise. Not only does everyone have their own unique set of circumstances, aims and requirements, these often change over time. This may be the result of moving into a different stage of life – approaching retirement, for example – or following a major event like relocating or receiving an inheritance. Or you could simply change your mind about what you want to achieve. External influences such as changes in the law or tax rules may also prompt a strategy rethink.
You should review your financial planning around once a year to keep it on track. But if anything significant happens that might affect the effectiveness or suitability of your portfolio, make sure you bring this forward. With today’s challenging and changeable climate, regular reviews are even more important to help control risk and encourage a positive effect on portfolio performance.
The key to bringing all these guidelines together is ensuring you take personalised, expert advice from a regulated adviser such as Blevins Franks. With the right strategy in place, you can protect and grow your wealth – in real terms – not only during your lifetime but for the next generations to enjoy.
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All advice received from Blevins Franks is personalised and provided in writing. This article, however, should not be construed as providing any personalised taxation or investment advice.