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EXECUTIVE FINANCIAL COUNSELLING: How do you recruit and retain your best talent?

EXECUTIVE FINANCIAL COUNSELLING: How do you recruit and retain your best talent?

Differentiating your employee benefit package can help with executive financial counselling.

When you are growing up as an infant you are counselled regularly by your parents. At school your teacher /careers officer counsels you on what subjects or options to take. At university you get career and student loan counselling. So why does it all seem to stop when you are at work? If you provide executive financial counselling to your key employees it does not have to.

Market research has confirmed our own experience, that today executives in a business are too busy running the company or their department to have time to consider their own financial needs. The same research has shown that on average executives will spend more time this year on planning their summer holiday than they do on their own pension and wealth planning.

Following George Osborne’s recent pension freedom announcement it is now more important than ever that we understand the choices and options open to us.

This is where our unique service executive financial counselling can help. We come into your business at a time and location that is convenient for the executive and help create a clear and bespoke financial plan giving guidance in areas such as pension contributions and tax-efficient investment.

We have found we can often reduce the tax burden on employees giving them more disposable income and provision for the future without an increase to their overall remuneration.

Executive financial counselling aims to:
  • Deliver trusted advice that is innovative, proactive and tailored
  • Develop a clear and bespoke financial plan
  • Create tax-efficient solutions
  • Provide financial education on all pension legislation and options
For executives and high earners a staff pension scheme is unlikely to offer sufficient flexibility, and indeed saving for a pension may well need to be supplemented by other tax-efficient saving methods.

For those with higher incomes it is important to balance tax efficiency with flexibility to ensure that, whilst taxation is minimised, this does not compromise the overall investment strategy or become an excessive financial burden.

The benefits of executive financial counselling to the employer:
  • Helps differentiate your employee benefit package from that of your competitors
  • Helps retain and recruit talent
  • Demonstrates to your key employees you genuinely care about their futures
  • Helps executives concentrate on running the business
The benefits of executive financial counselling to the executive:

We help executives reach their personal financial goals. Here are just a just a few of the outline goals of our executive financial counselling service to your employees:
  • Delivering trusted advice that is innovative, proactive, and tailored to an individual’s circumstances. We have a track record of over 20 years spent dealing with business owners, executives and professionals in integrated financial planning, and the development of their wealth is in good hands
  • Developing a clear and bespoke financial plan both for immediate requirements and for the long-term towards retirement. We put the employer’s benefits into a personal context
  • Creating more efficient remuneration packages by giving guidance in areas such as tax-efficient investment and pension contributions
  • Providing financial education on all new pension legislation and options, which creates significant additional decisionmaking responsibilities for employees. Even with generous contributions, an unsuitable investment strategy can leave employees woefully short of expectations at retirement, particularly when combined with legislative changes
The executive financial counselling process

Developing a close working relationship is key and we would need to gain a full understanding of the employee’s financial position, key issues and objectives when starting the executive financial counselling process. A typical initial financial planning review meeting would cover the following key areas:
  • Determining short, medium and long-term financial goals and create a wealth plan
  • Short-term goals may include building savings to meet emergencies, and ensuring family members are protected in the event of death or ill health
  • Medium-term goals may include planning for school or further education expenses
  • Long-term goals may include planning for retirement, and passing wealth to children tax efficiently
  • Reviewing the executive’s existing arrangements in full, including existing benefits provided by the employer
  • Identifying gaps or shortfalls and make appropriate recommendations to address these
  • Reviewing the plan on an annual basis to ensure arrangements made remain appropriate, and agreed goals are achieved
The feedback we have had from executives who are on the programme has been very positive and we found it created a lot of goodwill with their employer. One executive recently said: “Having an efficient financial plan (like a will) is something we all know we would like to get around to doing but having the time to do it and getting guidance and consultancy in creating it has been invaluable and very worthwhile.”

Liz Woods, Commercial Director at Nestlé said: “I have been delighted with the services we have received from the Wealth Management team. The delivery, performance and personalised service, together with a solution-driven approach has exceeded our expectations.”

FINANCIAL EDUCATION

Our rapidly changing financial world creates the need for better financial education and support.

With the implementation of auto-enrolment very much upon us, is the provision of a pension shifting from the responsibility of the government to the individual and the private sector? From next April savers will be able to use their pension fund as they see fit, from the age of 55. Whilst we are happy to spend time finding cheaper car insurance or the best deal on our utilities bills, do we have the confidence and ability to search for and understand the best solutions for our retirement?

The proposed structure from 6 April 2015 is arguably one of the biggest
changes to pensions in the UK with every individual over the age of 55
able to draw on whatever funds they want from their pension scheme.
Ways to do this include:

• Income for life, i.e. lifetime annuity, scheme pension, or
• Funds into drawdown, known as flexi-access drawdown, or
• A single or series of lump sums from uncrystallised funds (known as uncrystallised funds pension lump sum), or
• A combination of the above options

The significance of the changes cannot be underestimated and generates the need for re-education to ensure that the appropriate outcomes for individuals are achieved.

Concerns about money are a major cause of stress, leading to employee absence; it therefore seems sensible for employers to offer financial education to their workforce.

So what next for an employer who is interested in putting a financial education programme in place?

Identify what your employees want and need. Promoting employee benefits is a good step and should not be ignored. However there may be other more personal areas that employees would value ahead of these, the major changes in pension being an area impacting on the vast majority.

Different generations will have different financial drivers. Younger employees may prefer assistance with student loans or early financial planning (such as protecting their young family), whereas those closer to retirement may need to know more about their journey after retiring.

Financial education forms a significant part of the service we deliver. We work with employers of all sizes and provide different approaches, such as employee surgeries and individual counselling. In addition, retirement workshops cover the technical aspects of pensions, and we can team up with experts to provide help with the psychological impact of retiring.

The needs of the executive team must not be overlooked. High earners and executives more than ever need financial education and counselling to ensure that they make the best use of the options available to them. As pension and tax options for these individuals become more restrictive, there is a need to consider what other tax shelters are available to them. This requires a much broader view of the individuals’ overall tax and financial affairs, to ensure that the right decisions can be made and a personal plan designed and implemented. For these high-earning individuals it is important to balance tax efficiency with flexibility to ensure that whilst tax is minimised, this does not compromise the investment decisions and strategy. Our article on Executive Financial Counselling on the previous page goes into more detail on this topic.

One thing we can be sure of is that the next ten, twenty or thirty years will continue to bring even more radical and fast moving change than the last. The challenge is for employers to ensure their benefits packages, executive reward programmes, and their employees’ financial awareness is kept up to date and remain relevant in this ever more complex world.

By Adrian Firth, Consultant