Steve’s story

Libertas client since 2015

I had a collection of savings vehicles, from PEPs (Personal Equity Plans) to ISAs at the time and I’d gone from working for a large corporation with a Defined Benefit scheme, to setting up a scheme with my own company. It was wanting one product like a personal pension that drove me to speak with a guy I had worked with previously who was a financial adviser. At the time, I needed help as I still had a mortgage, debts, young children, etc. At the time I sought help, time was at a premium.

I think part of the trigger for me wanting to work with the planner was that I’d gone from this era, this decade, where most of my income was being gobbled up by mortgage payments, bills, cars, all these other family things. Suddenly, I could see I had more disposable income. A change from ‘am I overdrawn?’ to ‘wow, I seem to have money left at the end of the month!’

The guy I’d originally approached in the late 90s, took a step back and Phil’s business took over his client portfolio. I immediately found I felt really confident that Phil knew what he was doing, and he remembered everything that had gone on. He has a very professional outlook.

“What I really value is the personal touch.”

Although I rely on the investment structure, the management of the portfolio is channelled through an investment manager and with Phil. At the same time, as the industry moved away from commissions to a clear fee structure, I liked that I could see what I was paying. There is no danger of any hidden fees and I liked the fact that Phil was ‘whole of market’ and not tied to any particular company; this was also a big appeal to me.

The best piece of work that Phil has done for me has been the consolidation of my various pensions. I had two major distinct ones at the time and Phil brought those under a wrapper, aligning that to my attitude to risk which Libertas do as a matter of course, and also aligning it to the things that interest me.

One thing I really value in the work that we have done together is that I can manage and choose my own ISAs which interests me. Like Phil, I love the details and science behind how my pension is managed and how it performs. Phil manages my pension, at the same time, I can choose my own investments and manage my own ISA portfolio with a more aggressive risk portfolio, knowing the bulk of my money is managed well.

I always had a target to retire at 55 and I managed that (a month early to tie in with the tax year!). I worked in IT before I retired. I think what it’s done is allowed me to achieve a retired life filled with more of the things I enjoy. We’ve taken lots of holidays, time away, time to chase the sun; we’ve been to see places we’ve not seen before. Seeing the funds in the pension pot and understanding from the discussion with Phil the changes in pension law, particularly in relation to drawdown gave me a better and more holistic view of my financial situation.

When I came to retire at 55, I still had a small mortgage left which I knew I needed to pay off, so I was able to move money around through various pots to ensure I could retire debt-free. Having worked through a period of increasing salary up to about 2004, I then took a longer-term view to decrease my salary to get used to not having as much income. That way, I could get used to lower- income to manage my outgoings to the degree that it would balance with what I had planned to do with the pension funds. Phil gave me the confidence that I wasn’t way off the mark in terms of what I thought I could achieve and what I thought I could do. It’s helped me get a much better sense of my financial situation. For example, last year we treated our grown-up daughters to a trip to Florida – they’re aged 28 and 25. It’s allowed me to do a lot more.

I work within a category of expenditure which I call ‘enjoyment’, which is now around 70-80% of my annual expenditure. Maybe this is one of the things which sort of goes against the typical idea of financial planning and analysis, but that Phil will do. I want to enjoy my money now whilst I’m fit and able to do so, rather than wait until I’m in my 70s and unable to trek in Peru or whatever it is I want to try. I need to know I’ll have adequate funds to do this but my view is to live for now.

I think I’ve got additional confidence because for the 20 years before I retired, I was self-employed and saving into my pension. Phil has advised me to start spending a little bit more before I hit the lifetime allowance threshold and this forward planning service enabled me to ensure I don’t fall foul of it.

What I really value is the personal touch. I feel that despite the fact we only need to get together once a year and speak a couple of times on the phone, I do feel it’s personalised to me. I go direct to Phil if I need something. I feel it’s small and personal enough which I prefer rather than going to one of the big players.

libertas2019Steve’s story