01732 760000 info@strategic.uk.net
Planning for New Chapter’s on Life’s Journey

Planning for New Chapter’s on Life’s Journey


Life is a journey, during which we all face changes and transitions from time to time. Some of these are happy, planned new chapters of our life, such as marriage, or becoming a parent, whilst others are less positive and can come  out of the blue, for example divorce or ill health.

Transition From



Further Education





No Kids




Noisy House

Empty Nest





Elderly Parents


Family Home

Downsize or Re-size

Active Retirement

Slowing Down

Feeling Healthy

Health Issues




Cared For

Later Life

Rest in Peace


It is possible to take precautionary action against some of life’s unknown challenges, but one can never eradicate all the risks. On the other hand planning for a desired transition in our life, should be both rewarding and fulfilling, even if perhaps it’s a little daunting and unnerving.

This may explain why in our experience, people fail to plan properly for what is often a major transition in their life – retirement.

The single biggest reason why so many people struggle with the transition from working life into retirement, is because they haven’t fully appreciated the fundamental changes that will take place.

Firstly the balance of our two key resources, time and money, are completely turned upside down when we retire. We move from having regular income, but little time to enjoy ourselves, to a place where we have abundant time, but the regular income needs to be sourced from elsewhere.

Secondly how we choose to utilise these two resources need to coincide with our core values and beliefs. Furthermore, they should also fit in with the beliefs and values of those closest to us. The trouble is, it’s not always easy to articulate what those core values and beliefs are.

Often our values and beliefs are satisfied by the non-financial elements we get from working. The sense of being appreciated for a job well done, or of belonging in a community through social interaction. Without understanding what these values and beliefs are, how can we plan to ensure they are fulfilled once we transition into retirement?

If you are contemplating retirement in the short to medium term, or perhaps you have recently retired and are struggling to make the change as smooth as you had hoped, please click here to download our free guide on preparing for retirement.


I Hope I Die Before I Get Old!

The famous line from The Who classic “My Generation” has rather negative connotations for the prospect of growing old. Longevity has been in the news again recently, and it is a subject of frequent conversations with our clients.

Whilst recent reports highlighted the fact that the rate of increase in life expectancy has slowed in the UK compared to other developed countries, we can’t escape the fact that it is continuing to rise.

The common issue when thinking about how long we are going to live is that all too often we fall into the trap of framing. By which I mean we base our own expectations on the experience of our parents and grandparents. However they lived in different times, with different lifestyles and different medical services.

By way of an example to show just how things are changing, here are the statistics for 3 generations of the same family (mine).

You can gain get the same information given in the table above, for your own circumstances by visiting the office of national statistics website here https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthandlifeexpectancies/articles/whatismylifeexpectancyandhowmightitchange/2017-12-01



Trevor (Father)

Darren (Me)

Luke (Son)

Current age




Average Life Expectancy




1 in 4 chance of reaching age…




1 in 10 chance of reaching age…




Percentage chance of reaching 100





You can gain get the same information given in the table above, for your own circumstances by visiting the office of national statistics website here https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthandlifeexpectancies/articles/whatismylifeexpectancyandhowmightitchange/2017-12-01

The most frequently quoted statistics is that of average life expectancy. For me this is 85, and quite interestingly 3 years lower than both my father and son at their current ages. The problem with average life expectancy is it is just an average and we all have a 50/50 chance of beating it. However, it doesn’t help with the issue that if we do exceed the average, how much we might beat it by.

Therefore, what’s far more telling is the probability or chance of surpassing this, i.e the 1 in 4 chance to reach age 94 or the 1 in 10 of making it to 99, in my case a full 14 years more than the average. I have backed and won on horses at longer odds than this in the Grand National, so I don’t believe it is beyond the realms of possibility.

Furthermore, the percentage chance of reaching 100 and receiving that telegram from Buckingham Palace probably demonstrates how things are changing. The difference in the 1 in 10 figures in the table above are not that great, just 6 years between my 78 year old father and 13 year old son. But the percentage chance of becoming a centurion is quite noticeable at 18.3% for Luke compared to 3.6% for his grandfather.

This table also highlights the fact that my son (maybe yours or your grandchildren of similar age) will in all probability have to prepare to fund either a longer retirement than me or face working much longer. Therefore installing good money habits early could be the answer as well as potentially giving them a helping hand along the way.

As planners by nature we have little difficulty in looking into the future 10, 20 or even 30 years ahead. This is something most people struggle with or perhaps prefer not to think about too much.

The big question that always comes up when planning and talking about life expectancy is “Will I outlive my money?” Clearly we don’t know how long anyone will live, we only know the statistical data, and therefore we take a maybe conservative yet prudent approach by planning for age 100.

This can sometimes be greeted with discomfort or even horror – “I wouldn’t want to live that long”, or “Oh I do hope not”. This makes me wonder whether there is an image or perception in this country, that Roger Daltry was hinting at back in 1965, of a negative view of our lives in our later years.  There seems to be a fear that life may become empty when, what might be considered inevitable,  either our mind and/or body gives out.

But does it have to be this way? There are various studies looking at places around the world where longevity is way above the norm. The stand out example is Japan.

In fact whilst the country as a whole enjoys a high average life expectancy, the place with the global highest number of centurions is one of Japan’s many islands, Okinawa. Here people live very full and active lives throughout their 80’s and 90s and beyond.

One study of Okinawa quotes 3 reasons for this: 

  • A greater sense of community and being part of that community. In fact 3 of the 5 top places in the world for centurions are islands. It’s thought that living island life when at times there is a scarcity of resources promotes a greater sense of community.
  • Not what you eat necessarily but the fact they adopt an approach of stopping eating when 80% full rather than overindulgence.
  • A sense of purpose. Their reason to get up in the morning.

I appreciate heading off to a remote island to live out your retirement might not be everyone’s ideal, but ensuring we feel part of a community, be it through clubs, church, groups or location can be achieved.

Being mindful of what we eat and the exercise we do is also something we can all achieve.

Finally the purpose. We all need a purpose and identifying that is key to a long and happy retirement as this will ensure our physical and mental wellbeing is maintained. See our previous post entitled “Have you got enough purpose to get you out of bed” 

In Okinawa the image of later life is not sitting around in an armchair in god’s waiting room. Active social and community life is encouraged by the local government. Central to this is volunteering and organising local community events.

In fact rather than following The Who’s sentiment and wishing for an early demise, the residents in Okinawa are more likely to be doing an impression of Roger Daltry at one of the regular karaoke evenings! 

A statute in the main town on the island has the following inscription:

A declaration from the town where people live longest

At 80 I am still a child

When I come to see you at 90, send me away to wait until I’m 100.

The older, the stronger; let us not depend on our children as we age.

If you seek long life and health, you are welcome in our village, where you will be blessed by nature, and together we will discover the secret to longevity.

How we choose to live and how long we live in retirement clearly has major financial implications. Fortunately we have a wealth of experience and insights in working with clients throughout their retirement  which helps them make informed decisions about their financial and non-financial lives.

If  you would like to plan for your hopefully long, healthy and happy retirement, and prefer not to die before you get old, please do get in touch.

Info@strategic.uk.net or 01732 760000


Happy Time – 5 Tips for Making the Most of Your Time!

Happy Time – 5 Tips for Making the Most of Your Time!



We all know how precious time is, and as we get older our appreciation of this fact is heightened. We each have an equal amount of time allotted to us – 168 hours a week to be exact. However, while our weeks contain the same number of hours, our bank accounts don’t contain equal funds. But where does our bank balance figure in our quest for happiness?

Does money make us happy, or is it simply the case that the more money we have, the more problems we can expect? Interestingly, when it comes to money and happiness, it’s how you use your money – not how much money you have – that matters.

Money can boost happiness if you use it to buy things that facilitate pleasant experiences. These experiences later become fond memories – continuous wells of pleasure from which we can draw mental sustenance. Importantly, cherished memories aren’t subject to the diminishing returns of happiness that physical objects usually are.

By way of an example, a child given a new toy will initially be excited to play with it. After a while, though, she will likely grow bored and stop using it. In other words, it will stop bringing her joy. In contrast, if you buy a tent and then use it to go camping, that tent may bring you lasting happiness. Why? Because you will forever remember the starry nights and campfires of that trip.

Additionally, if money is used to boost our happiness, we must rethink how we measure such happiness. When we consider how happy we are, we often think only of life satisfaction, which refers to how well we think our life is going in general.

So, if you have a great business or career and a good house, or simply getting on with retirement, you may consider yourself happy. However, this life satisfaction may not be the best measure of your happiness. Indeed, your moods are often much more driven by your hour-to-hour experiences than by your overall life satisfaction.

For instance, your mood may often be depressed if you have a gruelling daily workload or alternately literally too much time on your hands.

With this reality in mind, we can begin to assess which of our daily activities bring us happiness, and which make us miserable. We can then strategically use our money to either enlarge or minimize these activities. Research has shown that commuting to work is often the unhappiest time of a person’s day. If this is true for you, too, then you could use your money to move closer to the office, thus reducing that commute and boosting your mood.

The same could apply to moving closer to family or to a location that allows more time to do the things that really make you happy. Though this may cost a significant amount of money, it would be an important investment in your future wellbeing.

Laura Vanderkam, in her book Off the Clock, shares five tips on how to make the most of your time

Do you ever feel like time just slips from one end of the hourglass to the other? No one can make more time, but a few simple strategies can make the time we have feel richer and fuller.

1. Figure out where the time really goes. People tell themselves plenty of stories about where the time goes (“I’m so busy! I have no free time at all!”) but why not find out for sure? Try tracking your time for a week. You can use an app, a spreadsheet, a notebook – whatever works. Most people discover that they have some pockets of time that can be redeployed for meaningful activities if they wish.

2. Plan in little adventures. When time isn’t memorable, we don’t remember it. That’s how whole years can disappear into memory sinkholes. Try planning in little adventures to make the days stand out from each other. These adventures don’t have to be elaborate. Grab friends or colleagues for a picnic lunch. Take the children or grandchildren for a day out. Just do something to switch up the routine.

3. Be careful with “yes.” If you want to have time for adventures, you can’t pack your schedule with things you don’t want to do. When asked to do something in the future, ask yourself if you’d do it tomorrow. That makes the opportunity costs clearer. If the answer is that you’d move things around or cancel things to fit in this new obligation, then by all means say yes. But if the answer is absolutely no for tomorrow, probably that should be your answer for the future, too.

4. Slow down. Rushing just makes you feel rushed. Try noticing a moment when all is calm. Consciously call your attention to sights, sounds, details. Take deep breaths. Savouring good moments makes them seem longer – and that can stretch the experience of time.

5. Put friends in your calendar. People who spend lots of time with family and friends actually feel like they have more time than people who spend equivalent quantities of time watching TV or perusing social media. A dinner party takes effort, but it’s more rewarding than looking at photos on Instagram of other people’s dinner parties. Aim to schedule in relaxed time with friends this week. You’ll look forward to it – and feel like you’re the kind of person who has the time to get together with friends. That will make you feel less busy right there.

We all have the same amount of time each week, but our mind-set can greatly influence our perception of that time. Spending time with family and friends, and making fond memories, makes us feel as if we have more time. In contrast, worrying about our productivity and going through the motions of a boring routine can make us feel like we have less. In order to make the most of our time, it’s important to stop worrying, ditch the routine and start having adventures with those we love.

We have been helping people retire well and make the best use of their time and money for over 20 years. If you would like to investigate how we can help you do gain a better return on life please come a have a coffee and a chat.

T:01732 760000 – info@retirementinfocus.uk.net

Gifting to Charity – Should You be Active or Passive?

Gifting to Charity – Should You be Active or Passive?


As our existing clients will know our investment philosophy is centred on the fact that most active fund managers fail to consistently outperform the market, and therefore fail to justify the additional expense associated with active fund management.

Academic research dating back over 60 years shows that investors have been rewarded for time in the market, rather than trying to time the market. Diversification, taking a disciplined approach to trading, and keeping costs down, have all been contributing factors to a successful investment experience. This can be achieved by taking a more passive approach to investing, rather than trying to identify the active fund managers with the best chance of outperforming the market, and then timing the switch to the next manager, when the first starts to underperform.

So when it comes to investing, in our opinion passive is the way to go. However, this doesn’t mean we are permanently wedded to everything passive.

An area where the majority of people adopt a passive approach, but could benefit from being more active, is with meaningful gifts to charity. In our experience people who want to pass some of their wealth or assets to charity do so via their will, passively once they have gone.

This has potentially 3 downsides:

  • They miss out on the opportunity to witness the impact and difference their money makes to the lives of others through their donation.
  • They are unable to hold the charity accountable for how they use their donation
  • If the donation is delayed until after your death, it’s is not 100% guaranteed that your wishes are carried out, as your other beneficiaries may dispute the will.

Writing out a cheque during your lifetime eliminates all 3 of the above negatives, so why do so many people still leave it via their will? It’s appears the biggest barrier is the fear of giving away financial assets, and then not having enough to maintain their lifestyle and standard of living in later life.

This is a perfectly reasonable and understandable concern, but again help is at hand. Having helped clients successfully transition into retirement and then continue to advise them throughout their retirement years, we have made a number of observations.

Firstly when it comes to estimating future expenses in retirement, many fall into the trap of assuming that (after allowing for inflation), their expenditure will be pretty constant throughout their retirement years.

The reality is quite different. We observe that retirees have the potential to pass through up to 4 different stages within retirement. Each stage has different characteristics and differing effects on our finances and spending habits.

How long each stage lasts, depends on a number of factors, not least your state of health, but, your expenditure will change. There will inevitably become a stage where you start to slow down, do less foreign travel, and simply not go out as much. Health plays a big part in determining when this might happen, but rest assured it will.

This slowing down phase coincides with less expenditure, so those that have budgeted for a constant outflow throughout retirement, find in later years they are not spending at the same rate and therefore retain more capital than planned.

By engaging in a financial planning process, (which should be reviewed at least annually) this surplus capital can be identified, and enable a lifetime gifts to be made with confidence that sufficient financial resources will remain.

One final benefit of making lifetime charitable gifts. We often talk about money values, and passing down these values that have served you well to the next generations. Engaging children and grandchildren in the grant giving process, provides the ideal environment to talk about your money values and impact your knowledge and experience on the younger members of your family.

If you wish to explore whether you have the financial capacity to make lifetime gifts, or simply you want a second opinion on your retirement plans, please do get in touch.

T 01732 760000 or info@strategic.uk.net      


5 Strategies to Deal with Inheritance Tax

5 Strategies to Deal with Inheritance Tax

Inheritance Tax discussions with our clients have brought about views from both ends of the spectrum. We often hear these two contrasting comments:

‘however much my kids get it’s a damn site more than I did so I’m really not bothered’
‘we worked hard all our lives to build up our assets and cant stand the thought of a huge chunk disappearing in tax’

There are others with far too many expletives to repeat!!!!

If your views on Inheritance Tax are aligned with the first comment you will like strategy 1.  Otherwise you may find other strategies of more interest.
In percentage terms. compared to Income Tax and National Insurance, the tax take the UK government receives from Inheritance Tax (IHT) is relatively small, the actual amount has for the first time exceeded £5bn in the 2017-18 tax year.

Leaving aside any changes to rates of taxation or allowances on IHT or Capital Taxes in general (watch this space if we get a change of government, or even if we don’t!) this looks set to rise anyway, largely due to house prices rising at a higher rate than the inheritance tax thresholds.

Once famously described as a largely voluntary tax, there are ways to ensure the effect is minimised and as much of your wealth is protected to be passed down the next generations, or to those closest to you.

1. Spend it. If you are not too bothered about how much money passes to the next generation. In theory, the best form of inheritance tax planning is ensuring your last cheque bounces! Engaging in the financial planning exercise helps a lot with this and will identify when surplus capital and/or income are starting to build up.

The real difficulty with this strategy is not knowing when we are going to die and therefore the fear that we might run out in later life hampers and restricts our ability to spend.

2. Give it away. Making gifts during lifetime can help reduce the value of the estate on death. Many people are aware of the 7 year rule, where with certain gifts you need to survive 7 years for them to fall outside of your estate for inheritance tax purposes. 

However there are many other gifts that are immediately outside your estate. These are either within certain allowances such as the annual £3,000 gift allowance, or the unlimited small gifts of £250. Gifts on marriage, (depending on the relationship with the bride or groom) also qualify. Gifts out of regular income can potentially be immediately outside the estate and can be quite substantial depending on income levels. Finally any gifts to charity or political parties (if you are that way inclined) are also immediately exempt.
3. Protecting against it. Having a life assurance policy that pays out an additional lump sum, (via trust to your beneficiaries) equivalent to the amount of Inheritance Tax due, means that while the tax is still paid, your beneficiaries have additional resources to pay it quickly without having to sell assets, and the rest of your estate is kept intact. One issue with this strategy though is that life assurance becomes more expensive as we age, and as health issues start to materialise. Having said this, it is not uncommon for adult children to pay the premiums, as at the end of the day it can be in their interests to protect their inheritance. 

4. Mitigate against it. There are certain ways you can mitigate against inheritance tax. This might include investing in assets that qualify for exemption, such as Business Property Relief or Agricultural relief. There are also special types of trusts where either the growth on the investment is outside the estate or there is an immediate discount on the value of the gift. This can work depending on individual circumstances. 

5. Do nothing! It is a valid option, and one that some clients take.  The premise often being we came into this world with nothing, paid taxes all our life, and therefore if we need to pay tax on our death there is still a net gain over our lifetime. 

Rarely will one solution solve the problem, and often a combination of the above strategies will need to be employed to achieve the desired outcome.
Engaging in the financial planning process is the first step to addressing concerns around potential inheritance tax. This will not only highlight the current liability, but will also predict the likely affect this might have on your estate into the future.
Furthermore, the financial planning process will provide clarity around whether further spending or lifetime gifts are affordable, and therefore a valid option based on your circumstances at this particular stage on life’s journey. This is vitally important as ultimately it should be a balance between living the life you desire to its maximum potential and protecting your accumulated wealth for future generations.
One last comment on the subject. Irrespective whether inheritance tax may become due, is to ensure that your wealth passes safely to the people that you intend to receive it, in the proportions that you wish. So an up to date will is paramount, together in some cases with the establishment of trust arrangements and these should be regularly reviewed.
If you would like to discuss your estate planning requirements and protecting the wealth you have worked hard to accumulate, please do get in touch.