Financial planning week: 10 steps to take before New Year

Posted on

This month marked financial planning week, which aims to showcase the benefits of financial planning, from the financial gains to improved wellbeing. To celebrate this, we’ve got a checklist of steps you should take before 2020 ends to ensure you’re on track.

1. Think about your lifestyle goals

The financial steps you make should be linked to your lifestyle goals. As a result, this is one of the first things you should do. Since setting out your current financial plan, have your aims changed? Take some time to think about what you want to achieve in the short, medium, and long term.

2. Review your financial safety nets

No one knows what will happen, but you can prepare for the unexpected. Having financial safety nets in place can provide peace of mind that should something happen, such as becoming too ill to work for an extended time or an unexpected bill comes up, you still have security.

Ideally, you should have an emergency fund that will cover three to six months of expenses. If you’ve dipped into savings, look at how you can replenish this fund. You should also review the financial protection you have in place and ensure they’re still relevant for your circumstances and priorities. In some cases, policies will no longer be needed, while in others it may be useful to take out additional cover.

3. Assess your debts

If you have debts, it’s worth spending some time reviewing them too. What interest rate are you paying and are you on track to pay them off? Prioritising paying off debts with higher interest rates makes financial sense, as can making overpayments where possible. You may be able to reduce the interest rate by transferring the debt too. Switching to a 0% interest credit card can help you reduce the debt quicker.

4. Check the interest rate on your savings

Interest rates for savings accounts are at an all-time low. It means it’s more important than ever to shop around for a good deal to make your savings work as hard as possible. If you’re in a position to, locking your savings away for a set period or choosing an account with restrictions can help you access higher interest rates.

Keep in mind, though, interest rates are unlikely to match inflation. In real terms, this means your savings are reducing in value. If you’re saving for long-term goals, investing may be appropriate.

5. Take a look at your investments

While looking at your savings, you should review investments too. It can be tempting to base your review on simply how investments have performed recently. But keep in mind investments should be made with a long-term goal in mind and there has been significant short-term volatility this year. Rather than focusing on recent performance, look at the bigger picture and ensure your investments are still appropriate for you.

6. Check your pension

If you’re not yet retired, a pension can be abstract. After all, it can be decades before you’ll actually use the money you’re saving for retirement. But it’s important to regularly review what’s going into your pension and what this means once you start using it to create an income.

If you are retired, review your pension savings with your financial plan in mind. Are your withdrawals sustainable? Do you have the level of security you want? And is your current income allowing you to live the lifestyle you want?

Pension savings can be complex and it’s essential you have a long-term outlook. You can get in touch with us if you need help understanding your pension savings.

7. Consider your retirement plan

While looking at how your pension is growing, don’t forget to think about what you want out of retirement too. How do you want to spend your time when retired? We often focus on the big areas when looking at retirement lifestyle, but your day-to-day plans and goals are just as important. Setting out what you want can help ensure your savings are on track and ensure your retirement lives up to expectations.

8. See if you’re making the most of allowances

How have you used your allowances so far? From the ISA subscription limit to the pension annual allowance, making the most of these can help your money to go further. Thinking about how you’ve used allowances now can help you avoid the end of tax year scramble in April 2021.

9. Review your estate plan

While reviewing your finances, you should consider your estate plan too. Changes to your wealth and circumstances may mean you need to adjust your estate plan to reflect these. If you don’t have them already, putting a will and Power of Attorney in place should be a priority. If you do have these, give them a quick review to make sure they still accurately reflect your wishes.

10. Check when your next review is

Finally, regular reviews are an important part of your financial plan. They provide an opportunity to check your plan still aligns with your goals and reflect any legislative changes that may have been brought in. Check when your next review is scheduled for, but remember, you can contact us at any time if you have any questions or concerns you’d like to discuss.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

The value of your investment can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

A pension is a long-term investment. The fund value may fluctuate and can go down, which would have an impact on the level of pension benefits available. Your pension income could also be affected by the interest rates at the time you take your benefits.

The tax implications of pension withdrawals will be based on your individual circumstances, tax legislation and regulation which are subject to change.

We aim to keep our clients up to date on interesting and relevant financial news.

You can sign-up to receive our monthly newsletter by email, even if you’re not yet a client. Sign-up using the form below.

Client testimonials

I have always found Black Swan to be caring and understanding of my quirky lifestyle. I always feel they try to get me the best returns while respecting my current needs.

Sally Muir

A client since 2011

We would be very happy to recommend the support and service we receive.

Valerie Locks

A client since 2010

I have always been completely useless regarding finance - thankfully our financial adviser is not! I've retired with far more than I ever expected and investments continue to grow safely. So - thank you!

Bernadette Jane Warner

A client since 2000

Very happy with the professional service I have received and feel a lot happier now with my finances put in order.

Martin Field

A client since 2011

Julie Cooper was recommended to me by a work colleague. She has been very helpful, professional and has explained everything well. I would definitely recommend her services to anyone else who are interested in a financial review.

Steven Rooke

A client since 2018

…Service has been first class.

Hugh Fells

A client since 2012

My face to face meetings with Rob Young and Jessica Lyons have always been very open and understandable. My questions have been answered clearly and I have left feeling that my financial matters are in good hands.

Sandra Jack

A client since 2000

[A] safe pair of hands in a complex financial world.

Gary Middlehurst

A client since 2003

A reliable company with good communication skills and good knowledge of the financial markets.

Alan Evetts

A client since 2014

Maureen Pembridge is a long-time trusted advisor to our family. The market might fluctuate but her attention to detail is consistent.

Linda Burnard

A client since 2000

I am pleased to recommend Julie as a trustworthy financial advisor. She explains financial jargon in plain language, and always listens carefully to my particular financial needs and has helped me make the best of my savings.

Carolann Samuels

A client since 2010

I have always been satisfied with the way that Black Swan has handled my account. And I have always found the staff very helpful whenever I need to call the office.

Robert Anthony Matthews

A client since 2012

An excellent personal service from a person I know and trust.

Michael Dalton

A client since 2010

I am getting a very good services from Black Swan, they have got my investments sorted out which was in a bit of a mess.

Roy Jakens

A client since 2012

A good, efficient team providing clear ideas to shape a winning strategy.

Adrian Michael Levenstein

A client since 2011

Black Swan is a company to be trusted, with friendly staff and professional advisors.

David Brian Jennings

A client since 2017

I have been with Black Swan for many years. I have never wished to change anything. They give a good straight forward service.

Martin Barrett Brooks

A client since 2010

Andy Peters has been invaluable in firstly combining several pension pots and then giving excellent investment advice. It has given us a great deal of comfort to know that our financial affairs are in such good hands.

James Guillum Scott

A client since 2014

I find my financial advisor easy to talk to and feel that she understands my lifestyle. She is always available for help when I need her and explains in words that I can understand.

Margaret Ena Glasgow

A client since 2000

Andy is a first rate Director, excellent communicator and leader.

Ross Perry

A client since

Black Swan Financial Planning and Andrew in particular, are very clever at working out how risk averse we are, and coming up with solutions that we feel comfortable with. We are happy in the knowledge that we can continue to enjoy a comfortable retirement. Andrew Peters is a very, very friendly person who is great to chat to and easy to deal with. He explains things very clearly in layman’s terms, and if we still don’t understand, he explains it until we do!

Alan & Jane Dyer

Clients since 2012

We have always found Rob [Young] to be very approachable and knowledgeable. We have every confidence in the advice given and feel comfortable with the decisions we’ve made. There are certain opportunities that we wouldn’t have known about if Rob hadn’t brought them to light, which makes the advice good value for money as far as we’re concerned.

Peter & Pauline O’Halloran

Clients since 2013

Rob [Young] is extremely knowledgeable. I knew nothing about the different types of trusts which will not only secure my income in retirement, but also leave a legacy for my children. I’m glad that I sought his advice when I did.

Sarah Wilson

A client since 2015

I am extremely happy with the service afforded to me by the company and my adviser Julie Cooper.

Geoff Coxell

A client since 2010

My wife and myself have been dealing with Black Swan for a number of years. We have met with different representatives from the company over the years and have found all very helpful in their own way. We met with James [Anderson] a few years ago and found him very helpful and knowledgeable. He keeps in contact with us on a regular basis. We find the Company information very helpful and we feel very secure with our finances.

Andrew Kirchen

A client since 2015

I have always found my adviser to be easy to contact, very professional in his approach, yet friendly and understanding. I have a sense of an experienced company behind him, really on the ball financially and with good standards.

B McBean

A client since 2011

Partner with the most reliable and experienced team of advisers

Enter your details & we'll be in touch to discuss your needs.
Alternatively, contact us directly and speak to a member of the team.





    Subscribe to our newsletter