IFA – Retirement Planning

Thank you for helping me through my pension transfer journey

The advice and service received was excellent throughout the process. Everything was explained clearly and related to my own circumstances and what was right for me.

I was given more than enough time to think about everything and make my own enquiries before the end decision.

Phil Casey made me feel so important and took the time explain in an easy language that I understood. I have and would recommend FOCUS to other colleagues.

Thank you Phil and the FOCUS staff for helping me through my pension transfer journey.

- Samia Chowdhury

Sound advice for my retirement needs

I felt that Marcus listened to my requirements regarding my pensions and needs in retirement and provided me with sound advice and any queries were explained clearly.

I would be happy to recommend the services from FOCUS.

- Stephen Turner

Detailed advice ensured the decision I made to switch out of my Defined Benefit Pension scheme was 100% right for me

Switching my pension out of a Defined Benefit Pension Scheme was one of the biggest decisions I have had to make.

Working with Phil Casey and the team at Focus I felt that every aspect of my personal situation was considered and the detailed advice I was presented with ensured that the decision I made was 100% right for me.

I am delighted to be a FOCUS client and am confident that going forward we will work together to maximise my investment.

- Jack Miller

Pensions Freedom – a success??

Hundreds of thousands of savers have cashed in £9.2 billion from their pension pots since pension freedoms were introduced in April 2015.

Over 1.5 million payments have been made using pension freedoms, with 162,000 people accessing £1.56 billion flexibly from their pension pots over the last 3 months, according to HMRC figures released in January 2017.

So, does that make Pension Freedom a success? With added flexibility comes added responsibility, so are people taking advantage of this new legislation to allow them to manage their finances in a more efficient way – or are they simply robbing Peter to pay Paul?

Let’s just briefly recap what happened in April 2015. The Chancellor of the Day, George Osborne, announced that people will be able to access their entire pension at age 55, with no limits as to how much they could take. 25% could be taken tax free with the other 75% taxed as income. The other key point was that this option was only made available to those people in Defined Contribution plans (or Personal Pensions, as they are commonly known). Those people in Defined Benefits or Final Salary type arrangements would have to transfer out to gain these benefits.

Whilst there were other changes around death benefits and succession planning, this ability to withdraw all of the money was described as one of the biggest changes in Pension Legislation ever.

So, what have people done with the £9.2Bn that has been withdrawn?? Well, to be honest, we don’t really know.

HMRC confirmed that the average withdrawal was just £6,000, which implies that it was either people encashing a small pension pot or they were taking a small withdrawal from a bigger pot. It does at least confirm that people aren’t withdrawing large sums to buy Lamborghini’s, which was one of the biggest challenges offered to this legislation change. But with longevity becoming more and more of an issue, people’s pension funds need to provide an income in retirement for longer and longer.

Therefore, whilst it may be tempting to release some or all of your pension fund, do make sure you take advice from a qualified individual. Because, as always, added flexibility always brings added responsibility.

A pension is a long term investment. The fund value may fluctuate and can go down. Your eventual income may depend on the size of the fund at retirement, future interest rates and tax legislation.


Clear, concise retirement planning advice

Phil Casey provided clear, concise retirement planning advice and excellent service.

I would recommend Phil and Focus to anyone.

- Graham Beith

Phil provided me with unbiased advice

Phil Rouse took the time to understand my retirement planning needs and listened to my concerns.

He provided me with unbiased advice to optimise my financial future.

- Margaret Drysdale

Are pensions coming back in to fashion?

What goes around comes around.

Do you remember the time when people valued pensions? As we enter 2017, it may just be that pensions are ready to return to the limelight.

The last few years have been a bit difficult for pensions. Interest rate reductions mean that the income provided by pensions through annuities were perceived as poor value and continued legislative changes made them more and more complicated. Further to that, flexible employment meant that many people simply decided to look elsewhere for their income in retirement, either through simply investing in different assets such as property, or different vehicles such as ISAs.

But the recent announcement in the Budget Statement confirming that many Salary Sacrifice arrangements are going to be taxed as if they were income means that the humble pension plan is starting to rise to the top of the pile again. So many of the things that pushed their way in front of pensions are now being taxed more heavily than before. Then add in the new pension Freedom rules that make pension planning and distribution of the income more flexible than ever and you begin to see why its time to be positive about pensions.

And for Company Directors, the need to consider pensions is even more pressing.

The Salary Sacrifice changes that will come about from April 2017 already put pressure on a Director remuneration package that is now also being hit by Dividend Taxation for the very first time. This was introduced in April 2016 and has made Dividends much less attractive (although still better value than taking the money as income). The combination of these two new pieces of legislation means that a Company pension contribution, which is deemed as a Business Expense, so reducing their Corporation Tax bill, is now starting to look very attractive.

It becomes even more attractive when it is paid to the partner of the key Director of the business, which in many cases is the wife. Many Company Directors will employ their wife as a Director of the same business, yet she will often have overall pension benefits that are much lower than her husband. This becomes an issue at retirement, when the wife will still have a personal allowance that is often not being utilized due to her limited pension benefits. Using Company pension contributions to ‘equalise’ the pension pots can provide Corporation Tax relief now and provide an excellent income tax planning tool at retirement.

It is this sort of flexibility that is starting to make pensions much more interesting again. With Dividends becoming less attractive and pressure being put on Salary Sacrifice, perhaps the humble pension is heading back to the top of the pile again.

If you would like to find out more, please do not hesitate to get in touch.



"Phil has helped guide us through the never ending changes in pensions legislation"

FOCUS has been arranging our company pension and benefits package for over ten years with Phil Casey the partner responsible.

Phil has been a pleasure to work with. He has always been pro-active in reviewing the different plans we have in place and has helped guide us as a company and as individuals through the never-ending changes in pensions legislation.

I would highly recommend his services.


- Steve Huyton, Chief Financial Officer - OxFORD Asset Management

"Gary Hunt has been our financial adviser for over 20 years and it has been a pleasure doing business! "

Our Company’s pension plans have been in FOCUS’ safe hands for over 20 years. I always feel I get excellent independent advice – which has been proven in our Pension Statements. We are nearing our retirement age and I feel confident that the advice we have been given will stand us in good stead.

The customer service we have received over the years has always been a professional and informative one. The staff turnover is minimal and therefore you really get to know your account manager and vice a versa.

I am really pleased FOCUS have been nominated for the Retirement Adviser of the Year Award as I feel they deserve to be recognised for all the hard work they put into their clients’ needs.

- Jo Davies, Buckle & Davies Construction Ltd - Business & Private Client

"As independent financial advisers – they must be one of the best."

I have known Gary Hunt since before he and his fellow Partners formed FOCUS in 1990.  In my capacity as a company director up until my retirement in 2005, I was always impressed by how he and his team worked diligently towards the best possible deal to suit our company needs, whether it be the company pension scheme,company insurance or personal advice.  There was always a peace of mind knowing that FOCUS would perform whatever the task.

Since retiring, FOCUS has remained my personal independent financial adviser and has given me unprecedented advice throughout the recent financial crisis period.

I would not hesitate to recommend FOCUS to anyone.

- Tony Pitkethly