Professional Advisers: A wealth of ideas

Professional expertise can help you make the most of your retirement funds.

By Robert Caplan, December 13, 2010

Retirement and uncertainty. These two words do not sit comfortably together. The harsh reality is that there has never been a more difficult or challenging period in which to retire. First Wealth helps its clients build a comprehensive and individualised financial plan for the run-up to retirement. It aims to maximise clients' opportunities for financial success.

Uncertainty at retirement can be broken down into three main components: investment risk associated with assets held within your pension fund; income risk at the point of retirement, with annuity rates at historical all-time lows and legislative risk - the current government rewriting or altering much of the pension rules as they currently stand.

Investment risk has been not been far from the news in the past three years, with the global financial crises and interest rates at a record low. Unfortunately, this has driven clients to adopt lower-risk investment strategies, just at the point where returns are most needed. Bespoke financial modelling will help identify the exact level of return you require in order to meet your income requirements and then build an investment portfolio around this. Many clients have investment or pensions with inherent risk which is totally out of line with their planning requirements.

The financial crisis has led investors towards low-risk assets such as government bonds. As prices increase, yield on government bonds drops. This is desperate news for retirees and annuity rates are based on bond yields.

Annuity rates are lower than ever before. We are convinced that the massive quantative easing undertaken by the UK and America will ultimately lead to inflationary pressures in the global economy, forcing bond yields higher. For many clients (although not all) a good retirement plan will investigate ways to unlock income from your pension in the early years without immediate annuity purchase.

Legislation on pensions has changed massively over the last five years. This has created opportunities for intelligent funding methods to help build your pension assets. Moreover, there are now a multitude of different options in terms of how income from the pension is derived.

In the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, "a goal without a plan is just a wish".

Robert Caplan is a partner at First Wealth. 020 8416 0111

Last updated: 12:01pm, December 13 2010