I’m trying to decide what to do in terms of regular savings as I normally have about £1000 a month in excess income.  To date I’ve just been putting it in a savings account.  I have thought about splitting it between my pension and a stocks and shares ISA:  I am in my mid forties so might want to access some of my savings at various points – when I buy a new car, for example – so don’t want to tie it all up in my pension.  I’m having trouble deciding how to split it to make sure I have what I need.  Can you give me an idea of how much growth I can expect this year please?

Carl Lamb of Smith & Pinching Responds

The first thing to say is that it sounds like you would really benefit from some planning.  A proper financial plan, tailored to your specific needs and goals, will help you establish just what you need to save and invest.  It’s about building a strategy that is both achievable and flexible so that you can be prepared for what lies ahead.

When I work with a client, I look at the timeframes for your needs and work out what tax wrappers – ISAs, pensions etc – will deliver what you want at each milestone in the most tax-efficient way.  The point about a financial plan is that it is gives you a solid base on which you build your future but it is flexible enough to be adapted as your needs change.

We would look at what arrangements you already have in place and how suitable they are for you now.  We’ll look at the level of risk you are taking with your pensions and other investments, but always with an eye on the target and the horizon.  It may be, for example, that you can take a higher level of risk with longer term investments such as your pensions but be more cautious with measures that are due to deliver in the short to medium term.

I suggest you talk to a Chartered Financial Planner to put together a plan that will allow you to invest your excess income in a way that will benefit you in the longer term without compromising your flexibility in the meantime.

Any opinions expressed in this article do not constitute advice.  The value of an investment and the income from it could go down as well as up.  The return at the end of the investment period is not guaranteed and you may get back less than you originally invested.