My wife and I are both in our mid fifties and are higher rate taxpayers.  My wife works for the local authority and I am a senior manager in a local business.  I’ve been furloughed during the COVID-19 crisis and she has been working from home:  we’ve spent long evenings and weekends talking about the future and about our retirement plans.  We both have pensions – my wife has 20 years’ service in the local authority scheme so has built up some decent benefits and mine is now worth about £220,000.  We also have a few ISAs and an investment portfolio worth about £150,000 that we organised with an inheritance from my dad about 10 years ago.  Our income more than covers our everyday needs and anything spare just goes into a building society account which earns very little interest.  I think we need to be more organised about our retirement planning:  what do you think?

Carl Lamb of Smith & Pinching Responds

The first thing to say is that it certainly sounds like you would benefit from getting some financial advice to enable you and your wife to put together a proper financial plan so you can achieve your goals for your retirement.  A financial plan should be reviewed regularly to make sure it’s on track and that it continues to be suitable for your circumstances as they change, so engaging a financial adviser on a long-term basis can be both reassuring and beneficial.

The COVID-19 crisis has had a serious impact on the value of investments and now is probably not the time to be making huge changes to your investments, including your pensions.  It may be more appropriate to wait until later in the year to make changes, when markets will hopefully have recovered, at least to a certain extent.  However, now is certainly the time to be thinking about getting advice and building a financial plan – particularly if you have a little more time at the moment to give it your full attention.

Most financial advisers, including us at Smith & Pinching, are still open for business despite the continued need for social distancing.  Our advisers are working full time from home and are continuing to hold client meetings, either over the telephone or by video link.  There is no reason why you shouldn’t have a full review of your current finances in the next few weeks.  This process will allow you to identify your financial milestones and to get a plan in place to make sure you can achieve what you want at the right time.

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.  A pension is a long-term investment and your eventual income may depend on the size of the fund at retirement, future interest rates and tax legislation.

Carl is a Director and Chartered Financial Planner with Smith & Pinching