Regularly reviewing your finances is important, especially given it can be the key in keeping your plans for financial freedom on track. Huw Wedlock, Financial Planner and Director of our Singapore team, offers some guidance of what to consider for the year ahead.
- Check your financial budget
- Review your investments
- Understand your tax obligations
- Recognise the impact of the latest tax changes
- Ensure you have an up-to-date will
- Determine the size of your estate
- Consider your pension
- Focus on financial freedom
A new year is always a good time to review your finances. As well as giving you the opportunity to look back, the end of one year and the beginning of the next prompts a chance to take stock and plan which goals are most important to you and your family. It’s also possible that your circumstances have shifted, and you may need to adjust your plans accordingly. The following checklist contains some important aspects worth considering.
Check your financial budget
With inflation at a multi-decade high it’s useful to revisit your personal budget, and check whether you’re spending more than you need to. Include your investments in this review to ensure you’re saving or investing as efficiently as you can. And don’t forget financial protection – the watchword is to be prepared; although it can feel a chore it’s important to check you have adequate life, income protection and critical illness cover.
Review your investments
Although it’s not advisable to have your investments permanently under the microscope, once a year it’s worthwhile to look at how they’re performing and review whether they continue to fit well with your attitude to risk. It’s also wise to look at their suitability when it comes to draw down – for when retirement comes.
Understand your tax obligations
Good tax planning is the cornerstone of a solid financial plan so ensure you’re up to date with all aspects – tax reporting, residence status and your HMRC listed contact information. If you’re overseas, an accurate record of visits to the UK is vital to support any claim to be UK non-resident. It’s also important to keep informed of local reporting requirements and tax implications. If you have non-UK resident status and have tax liable UK income or gains, you can’t use HMRC’s online service to complete a Self-Assessment Tax Return and will need to send your Tax Return by post, use commercial software or seek professional help. If posting, make sure to complete the ‘residence’ section (form SA109) to confirm your status.
Recognise the impact of the latest tax changes
The amount of UK tax you pay is increasing as a result of frozen tax allowances and tax bands. In addition, dividend and Capital Gains Tax allowances are reducing. Therefore, it is more important than ever to ensure your investments are structured tax efficiently. If you live abroad and plan to return to the UK, consider your investments and the effects of UK Capital Gains Tax in advance (six to 12 months is preferable). If you are UK tax resident, ensure you use the allowances available to you, such as annual contributions into Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs).
Ensure you have an up-to-date Will
A valid Will is a necessity, wherever you are in the world. Do also set up a Power of Attorney, so someone can make financial decisions if you or a loved one are unable to do so. When living overseas it’s useful to have a Will in all jurisdictions where you hold significant assets (property in particular).
Determine the size of your Estate
Property prices, especially in the UK, have significantly increased over the past few years. And if your investments and other assets have performed well too your Estate is likely to be growing in size. It’s important to regularly revisit your Estate planning to ensure you have a strategy in place to mitigate bigger bills.
Consider your pension
Many people enjoy time overseas during retirement years, so it’s important to understand what pensions you have – whether they are UK-based or elsewhere – and the options available.
Focus on financial freedom
In the daily minutiae of financial commitments and priorities it’s easy to lose sight of your long-term plans. Achieving financial freedom – in whatever form that means for you – can only happen if you keep longer term goals in mind. So do consider whether your personal objectives have shifted, and whether your financial plans need to change to reflect that. Priorities often change and you may need to consider a range of circumstances.
The past few years have shown that there’s no such thing as normal when it comes to financial markets. The key is to keep a long-term horizon in mind. Whatever this year brings, I wish you a prosperous, fulfilling, and exciting 2023. If you have concerns or questions about your finances, please do get in touch.