In the early part of this year I decided to conduct a financial survey with local residents and business people. This took place face-to-face at Barclays Bank and I thank them for accommodating myself and my team.
Firstly, I asked what they expected their financial position to be by the end of 2014. 76% expected that it would be better, 17% the same and only 7% worse. This matches the current feeling of optimism in London and the South East and reflected in a recent BBC survey which recorded the highest level of business optimism for 22 years.
Next, I asked which profession was most trusted to give tax saving advice. 67% said Chartered Accountants, 23% financial advisors, 8% business consultants and 2% bankers. Right now, before the end of the tax year on 5th April, it is certainly the right time to ask for good tax saving advice. Not only will this give you tax savings in the current tax year but it also avoids the more penal tax legislation starting on 6th April.
When asked which professional was most trusted when it comes to investment advice, 48% said qualified financial advisors, 26% Chartered Accountants, 10% bankers and 7% solicitors. This certainly echoes my own view that a qualified financial advisor is the right person to go for overall investment advice. If they have the necessary qualifications, authorisations and are financially regulated, good financial advisers will give you the right investment advice for your circumstances as well as financial protection from inappropriate recommendations.
However, for higher rate taxpayers paying tax at 40% and above, most investment advice is influenced by tax considerations. Therefore, coordinated advice from both an investment adviser and Chartered Accountant will give you the benefit of the best overall net of tax returns.
Lastly, I asked \”If you won £1 million pounds in the lottery what would you do?\” 9% would spend £900,000 or more, 16% would give it to family, friends and charities, 29% would split it equally between spending and investing and 46% would invest at least £900,000. Not only is this the sensible thing to do but it also reflects the fact that people are becoming increasingly conscious that they have to put aside additional capital, as pensions and the state won\’t provide them with sufficient income for a comfortable retirement.
However, people’s reluctance to spend is a concern. A word of warning came from a report by Ernst & Young indicating that the recent economic recovery has been led by consumer spending and without a rise in real wages, consumers will reduce their spending and will not be able to continue to stimulate growth.
Overall, it\’s pleasing to hear that the majority of local residents and business people are feeling optimistic about their finances for 2014 and will seek out good tax and financial advice. However, until the upturn in the economy becomes more embedded it is right to be cautious and not overspend.