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We Fear Change… so here’s a whole bunch of it.

With a year of potential change ahead around the world, our founder, Steve Rowe, talks us through the benefits of change and how we can help you navigate your financial and personal changes.



2024 is the year of change in global democracies, with the greatest number of elections in one year ever – with 64 countries and 49% of the global population going to the polls. Also, there is a whole bunch of change going on in financial services; with pension lifetime allowance changes, alteration of operating models at national advice companies and clients switching advisers. All of which will affect our financial lives in the UK.


All of this this can seem like daunting, anxiety-inducing trouble ahead! But without change, where would we be? I’d have probably been stuck up a chimney of the landed gentry, as a Victorian slum dweller. Stuck being the operative word, as I was massive by the time I was 8. Then again, I probably would have been diminutive in the 1800’s due to malnutrition. As Martin Luther King said, ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice’ and so lots of little changes and some big ones will take time but they all lead to progress.


As such, I thought it would be good to look into these and also the psychological motivations for change and blockers against it.

"I'm all for progress, it's change I object to." - Mark Twain

Change is hard as we are all lazy creatures at heart… we can’t be bothered! Change means reaching out of our rut/groove/sofa and doing something! 


Uncertainty: Change often brings uncertainty, and people may fear the unknown or unpredictable outcomes. But surely, that’s life! Even if we think things are certain, we are probably lying to ourselves a tad. No one really knows what’s going to happen. But if something is bad… let’s reach up and try to get better!


Loss of control: Change can make people feel like they are losing control over their lives or circumstances. But how much are we in control really? We are all subject to forces beyond our control most of the time but we tend not to think about it much. As with aforementioned General Elections coming up. Perhaps a change can bring more control and more certainty? Switching the viewpoint can often help overcome these feelings.


Comfort zone: People may fear change because it forces them out of their comfort zone and disrupts their familiar routines. I’m like that. I like to be comfortable! But I also know the things that have made me most uncomfortable (presenting to large audiences, hiring staff…) have also been the most rewarding in the end.


Fear of failure: Change often involves taking risks, and people may fear that they will fail or make mistakes. It’s funny, how a mistake you are making right now feels ok, but a change that is likely to remedy the mistake is more scary in case a bigger mistake is made!


Impact on relationships: Change can affect relationships, and people may fear losing important connections or support systems. Similarly, it can also lead to new connections and support systems, that may be better or more rewarding.


These are just some of the reasons why people may fear change. It's important to remember that everyone experiences fear and uncertainty when facing change, but it's also an opportunity for growth and development. Here at Lucent Financial Planning, we want to change you. We want things to be better for you! We want you to be the person you want to be and do the things you want to do. We will help you do this through:


Understanding: we will listen and help you wipe away misconceptions of what you can and can’t achieve.


With sound financial knowledge of your situation, we can tell you to stop dreaming and focus on what is more important. But… also to START dreaming and do a lot more of putting those dreams into action!


You may not know, but at Lucent Financial Planning our company values are:

C – Curious

– Honest

A – Alternative

N – Nurture

G – Generous

E – Entrepreneurial


The eagle-eyed among you will note that spells ‘CHANGE’. Amazing! You think I don’t think this stuff through, don’t you?



Now, for something a bit drier, but important (skip if you’re not interested in pension law or want to wait until we meet in person for an explanation).


Lifetime Allowance Abolishment and Pension Changes around this

From April 6th, the Lifetime Allowance will be abolished. Previously, the amount you could save in pensions was capped over a lifetime at £1,073,100 – this was the Lifetime Allowance (LTA). It has been higher in the past at £1.8 million at one point and you may have various protections that mean your LTA is higher (Primary, Enhanced, Individual, Fixed…). Anything in excess of that number didn’t get you flogged, thrashed or flailed, instead, you had an extra charge applied if you took money out over that limit.


The lifetime allowance law meant that any money ‘crystallised’ (i.e. accessed for the first time) after using 100% of the LTA would be taxed at 55% if taken as a lump sum or if taken as an income, 25% then your marginal income tax was applied. If you were a marginal rate taxpayer of 40% then that meant your tax charge was in effect 55% (amount, less 25%, then less a further 40% on the remainder).


Well, that’s all gone folks! As of 23/24 tax year, the rate for excess amounts fell to 0%. But from April 6th 2024, there are no lifetime allowance tests at all! Hurrah!


Not exactly, it just means there is a load of new jargon and legislation to learn. That’s “change” for ya! I will go through the changes that affect most people, as with everything, there may be some nuance involved dependent upon individual circumstances.


LSA – Lump Sum Allowance

Before, the amount of tax-free cash you were allowed to take (also known as Pension Commencement Lump Sum – PCLS) was capped at 25% of the Lifetime Allowance.


Now, this is capped at a £ figure, instead of a percentage and is known as the LSA.

You can get 25% of your pension value tax free, up to a maximum in your life of £268,275.


Why the weird number? That’s because it was calculated at 25% of the old Lifetime Allowance of £1,073,100. If you have one of those lifetime allowance protections (Primary, Enhanced, Individual, Fixed…) you will be able to or have already drawn a higher tax-free sum.


Lump Sum Death Benefit Allowance – (LSDBA)

This is the total amount that you can leave and is again, £1,073,100.


It seems that old LTA number is popping up everywhere. This is probably to avoid too much ‘change’. Change is slow and affected by what has happened previously. It’s rarely sweeping away everything, but a modification of the old.


This amount is reduced by:

  • Any LSA taken (e.g. the tax-free amount)


Excluded from the LSDBA are:

  • Charity Lump Sum Death Benefits

  • Trivial Commutation Lump Sum Death Benefits

  • Lump sum death benefits from crystallised rights tested under the old LTA regime

  • Small Pots do not use up LSDBA.


Death Under 75:

Any amount under the LSDBA, if you die under the age of 75, is left tax free to whomever you leave your pension to in your expression of wish.


Any amount over the LSDBA is taxed on death at the marginal rate of the recipient.


This is pretty much the same as under the old regime, but without the Lifetime Allowance Excess Charges of 55% lump sum / 25% income.


Death age 75 or over:

The whole sum is taxable at the marginal rate of income tax for the recipient.


Transitional Allowance Usage

One of the main wrinkles in the rug this change is causing is dealt with by Transitional Tax-Free Certificates.


If, say you have used 50% of your Lifetime Allowance when it was £1 million, then you would have had:

50% X £1,000,000 = £500,000 of which tax-free cash of 25% is £125,000

50% X £1,073,100 = £536,550. 25% tax-free sum = £134,137.50


The total amount of tax-free cash would be: £134,137.50 + £125,000 = £259,137.50


But remember, the total amount of tax-free cash you can have now is 25% of £1,073,100 = £268,275


To receive the maximum possible, before you take any further benefits after 6th of April, you must apply for a Transitional Tax-Free Certificate from the pension provider.

  • This must be provided within 3 months of the request.

  • With Complete Evidence of previous amounts paid.

In the above example, this would mean thus:




St James Place

This national advice firm has recently announced changes in its charges. Many believe this is a result of the FCA’s “Consumer Duty” regulation that is putting pressure on financial service providers to justify their fees. However, still, according to their latest figures, the charges for their advice and investment funds will amount to 1.75% to 2% a year (it depends which investment funds are selected). This compares to Lucent FP’s total charges for investment to be around 1.08% lowest cost to 1.25% per annum.


Ongoing advice charges are for… hmmm… that’s right ‘Ongoing Advice Services’ but it has been found that some of St James Place's partner advisers had not been providing these ongoing services in some instances and so last week (29th February 2024) they announced they have set aside £426 million to repay clients that had paid for a service but not received it.


Sadly, I don’t think this is the only case of this. We have taken on many clients from other advice firms, where they had received little ongoing assistance or advice after the initial transaction / investment. Why is this so terrible?


  • It’s paying for something you are not receiving. That’s bad.

  • Things CHANGE! Your life will change, your circumstances will change, legislation will change. There’s a whole world of change that you need to adapt your money for. This is why an ongoing service is so important.


Clients Changing Advisers

Switching financial advisers can be seen as a great deal of hassle. But, if you aren’t getting the service you are paying for, then you absolutely should! If you are getting a ‘service’ but it is not blowing your socks off, then perhaps it is time to consider a change. Why not look for an adviser that is:

  • A Chartered Financial Planner – only 20% of firms are chartered.

  • Lifestyle Financial Planner of the Year 2023 – obvs, that’s just us! But any recognition is good.

  • Independent Financial Advisers – any description apart from that is not independent and is restricted in some way in the products they can advise you on.

  • Mixed Team – in all areas, at least 50% of our team are women. Blokes don’t know everything (they just think they do…) so why are financial firms chocka with lads? Probably because they like boring the sh*t out of people with graphs and data. But really, empathetic curiosity and caring are the key to being a great financial adviser.

  • The average age of a financial adviser is 57. Ours is 35. This means we have lots of experience on the one hand but also a long period on the other to stay with you for the potentially 30 years that you will need our help!


We have had comments such as below from clients that have switched to us from national advice firms (this is where they mainly come from) but also other smaller intermediaries.

“We never saw them. They called once or twice a year but there was no proactive meeting, just asking if we needed anything. I don’t know if I need it or not, I needed to be shown.”
“It took us 5 months to get some money out of investments they looked after. They never returned our calls”.

These have now people benefitted from a full financial plan and understanding of what their money was for. They felt the psychological ‘permission’; to be able to spend more than they thought possible, and the anxiety-reducing knowledge that they would be OK.


Many have also benefitted from:

  • Seeing our psychologist partner, Jess, to help them get ‘healthy heads’ or overcome something they were struggling with.

  • Joining our walking club, to get out and about with fellow clients on a yomp across the countryside.

  • Coming to our client events – next up, Frank Bruno – to have a great time!


Chris from Solihull wrote this sonnet for us. His story is that he came to see us for an initial meeting… then didn’t come back! Because, rightfully, he saw a couple of advisers. Wrongfully, he didn’t choose us! 2 years later, following some pretty dismal service from a national advice firm and with investments performing poorly, despite paying higher charges in order to beat market returns (this is not possible people! When it happens, the evidence suggests it is ‘fluke’), Chris was brave enough to come back to us.


Why is this brave? Because change is hard. Change is admitting you were wrong. Change is accepting that you made a mistake and that’s no good for our ego. But also, it’s definitely not good for our financial planning! Chris is pleased he made this change and he has grown from it. Not only financially and in life terms (he is reducing the number of days he is working on the back of our advice, of a type that was not experienced at his previous adviser) but also, it seems, poetically.


Here is something he penned for us:

Oh Lucent, shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and smarter than the average bear (sorry, financial adviser).
Thou art more fun than 99% of financial advisers.
Thy advice is like a breath of Spring air -
Banish the dark nights of obscure charts and jargon recitals!
Thy care is more than financial.
Thy lessons include The Doctor of Happiness.
Mine enquiry "Have I enough ?" is met with honest discussion.
Thy modelling tools make predictions clear.
Verily, past performance can no guarantee be of future performance.
But with Steve at the helm the tributes will surely continue.
"Thy eternal summer shall not fade"

Awesome! Thanks, Chris. Change leads to personal growth. If you’re with us, we will change with you, as you grow. We will instigate this change if required, to get you the life you deserve. If you’re with another adviser, perhaps it’s time for a change? Perhaps it’s time for a chat to see how we can help you grow.



Frank Bruno MBE in an interview with our very own Hannah Knight in April!



Hannah is getting her microphone on and practicing her best Gabby Logan impression, to interview Frank Bruno who is seen here turning away and wincing from her hard-hitting questions! This is at our exclusive Client Event in April. If you’re a client of Lucent Financial Planning and you haven’t booked your place yet, then hop to it!


If you’re interested in becoming a client, then arrange a meeting with us asap and we can invite you along to see Frank in order to get to know us all. There are very few places left and existing clients come first.

 

End of tax year… don't forget, it’s the final chance to: 


  • Make the massive income tax savings that pension contributions allow.

  • Make ISA contributions so that your money can grow in a tax-efficient environment.

  • Benefit from 30% income tax refunds in VCTs.

  • Sell assets with capital gains tax and invest tax-efficiently, and use your £6,000 capital gains tax exemption.

If you need help with any of the above, don't delay as it may be too late!

 

New Podcast – coming soon...


Jess, our client psychologist partner and I are launching a podcast. It’s called ‘Juggling Mind and Money’ and will be focussing on how your mind affects your money and how your money affects your mind.


We have recorded 3 episodes so far and… it’s a fast-talking, rib-tricklingly profound show!

We would really appreciate your support when we launch it, to download in the first few weeks, and also to leave review so we can get maximum reach!



Navigating your own changes


We hope you have enjoyed this month’s newsletter, and we would welcome the chance to become your adviser, your counsel. We can help you make the change in your life:

·        Transition to Retirement

·        Transition from married to single!

·        Change in working practices

·        Switch to an understanding and empathetic adviser.


If you have seen us in the past, and you didn’t think we were right for you then perhaps gives us a another try, like Chris from Solihull did.


If you already have an adviser or want to experience true lifestyle financial planning from the ‘Lifestyle Financial Planner of the Year 2023’ then why not come and see for yourself!

We offer two meetings at potentially no cost to you. The first, we will see how we get on and whether we are a good fit to work together. After all, we will be working together for a long time.


At the second meeting, we will show you exactly what we would do for you and how we would work together. There is a charge for this as most people think it is absolutely awesome.


However, if you don’t and think it’s a load of rubbish, we have a ‘satisfaction guarantee’ so you don’t have to pay. If you think it’s rubbish, I don’t want your money as that would make me feel ashamed of myself.


·        If your adviser is from a large national firm, or a small local one that never replies to you, I fully expect we will be more cost effective, and also have a more rounded and enhanced service.

Or

·        If you have no idea what your financial plan is

Or

·        If you want to see what award-winning Lifestyle Financial Planning is like

- then get in touch on: 0121 705 1000 or info@lucentfinancialplanning.co.uk

Or visit our website, and check out our advisers: www.lucentfinancialplanning.co.uk 

 

Interested in finding out more about investments? – email us on:

 

If you would like to meet some of us first, but don’t want a full meeting yet then you can join one of our events:

Investment /Retirement Seminars at Crowne Plaza, Solihull.

  • Retirement Income 25th April / 27th June

  • Investing in Uncertain Times 28th March / 23rd May / 25th July

 

Or, one of our Walks. Be warned they are 5-7 miles!

Next one is 7th March.

 

You can find details of our events on our EventBrite page

 


Client Testimonials

We're proud to receive great feedback from our clients - so we thought we'd share some, so you can hear what they think!


We have used Lucent Financial Planning since 2009. They have have helped us enormously in consolidating pensions, managing investments and showing us that we could retire early and have enough money to live the life we want to with out feeling like we have to watch every penny.Lucent engage with their clients in a way that is more than just about "the numbers" but actively encourage interaction with their team and other clients to share knowledge, experiences and create wide ranging social group activities which expands their "value add".We are really pleased that the recommendation to join Lucent has been a great move for us and would highly recommend them to anyone looking to maximise their opportunities to retire earlier and live the life you want to. - Peter Hook (no, he wasn’t in New Order)

 

Having never had any financial advice before we were recommended to Lucent by a mortgage advisor. From our first meeting with Steve about 4 years ago he completely put us at ease and explained everything in layman’s terms so we could easily understand it. We quickly decided to sign up with him because he gave us the confidence to believe that by investing our money we could achieve our goals in retirement - something we had always been uncertain about. Steve and the rest of the Lucent team we have met since then are so friendly and can never do enough for you. They have indeed become more like friends and we never hesitate to call them if we have a concern or query about anything. We have recommended Lucent to several people since joining them and would have no hesitation in recommending them to anyone in the future. - Fran & Jeff Morgan

Thanks for reading, we hope you've enjoyed this month's article. We're here if you want to discuss any of the topics above in relation to your own individual circumstances, to see how we can help.

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