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Duffy Financial Advisors

Fitzroy House, Castle Street, Mullingar, Ireland
Insurance Broker



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TEARS IN MY EYES I know it is a strange heading for a Financial blog but just today for the first time in over 33 years in this business I left a client meeting with tears in my eyes. A client of ours in his early 70s was in for an ARF review. After over 40 years in business all he had was the state pension and this ARF which was not very large. He came in to take a lump sum out of it to help pay for his wifes cancer operation. You see he had done the same over 12 months ago and at the time he confirmed that the funds taken from the ARF were for a life saving operation for his wife. He told me at todays meeting that she had the cancer back and needed these additional funds for another life saving operation. He said without these funds to pay for the operation she would not survive. At the meeting he was quite emotional and was very appreciative of his ARF. This was very powerful for me as it really hits home at the core what we as Financial Advisors do for our clients and the very important role we play in peoples lives!!!

What we do as Financial Advisors I have just got off the phone from speaking to a client of mine of 15 years. She is aged 39. A long time ago she asked me to arrange mortgage protection cover for her of €250,000. She recently rang me to advise she had a brain tumour and was receiving ongoing treatment in Dublin. She has a young family and has no choice but to continue working to pay the mortgage and put food on the table each week. She has been under a lot of stress between having to work and deal with the ongoing treatment. When she took out the policy with Zurich Life I advised her to also include serious illness cover as a very important extra on her policy. The bank only required life cover. However, she decided to go ahead with this advice. We assisted her with the claim documents for Zurich Life and I called her today to let her know her mortgage can now be cleared as Zurich Life are paying her serious illness claim. The client was so relieved to hear this and very appreciative of the advice. Sometimes we Financial Advisors need a little reminder of the very valuable part we play in our clients’ lives.

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DO YOU KNOW YOUR MAGIC NUMBER? Most people have a really good idea of some of the things they want to be able to do when they stop working. Very few people, however, know their magic number. This is the amount of money you need to have in your pot to give you the income you want when you retire. If you do not hit that magic number, the retirement you are planning may never become a reality. WORK IT OUT NOW At you will find a pension calculator that will help you work out what you need to be putting away to give you the retirement income you want. If there is a difference between the number from the calculator and your current pension fund value then you have a gap. BRIDGE THE GAP If you find the money in your pot is some way off your magic number, there is still time to take action. Sometimes, just a few small changes can make a big difference. You could start to pay a little more into your policy every month. If you get a windfall – like a bonus or inheritance – you could pay some of it into your pension pot. And if you have other pensions, it is easier and potentially more cost effective to transfer them into your pension pot – because everything is in one place. Pension transfers may not be suitable for everyone as valuable guarantees and protection may be lost. And remember, one of the great things about saving into a pension fund is that the tax man also helps by giving you tax relief. Please remember, tax relief on pensions may change and it does not to apply to transfer or employers payments. If you want to talk to someone about working out your magic number or paying more into your plan, please do not hesitate to contact Duffy Financial Advisors Mullingar on 087 2575736. You can increase your payments, make once of payments or transfer in other pensions.

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Self-Directed Pensions – The Opportunity for You When we think about a pension, most of us think in terms of regularly locking away money with a life assurance company and leaving the investment and administrative detail completely to professionals. For most of us this is a very sensible approach, as our knowledge of investment markets tend to be cursory at best. But for those with a greater savvy of financial markets, and the wish to exert greater control over how their money is invested, self-directed pensions (SDP) have become a favoured product choice with high net worth individuals and self-employed professionals. People used to running their own businesses and taking charge of their own finances like the appeal of control that these pensions give them. Company directors and professionals at partner level or who have risen to the senior ranks also fit the bill. Self-directed pensions are, in effect, a middle ground between traditional occupational and personal pensions and self-administered schemes. Essentially the key difference is the level of investment control and options that are available to the investor. The widest options are available through self-administered schemes, but they are not for just anybody since they have to be administered by a recognised administration provider and the scheme must also file accounts annually. Whereas money invested in traditional occupational and personal plans is pooled with that of lots of other savers and managed by professional fund managers, the self-directed route offers the individual control over what assets his or her money is invested in. Savers who choose the self-directed pensions (SDP) approach – which is also a life insurance product – can do the investment management themselves or they have the option of opening a stockbroker account. Typically, they might start out by putting their money into a standard managed fund until there is a fund of sufficient scale to go into more specialised funds or individual stocks. Self-directed pensions (SDP) typically appeal to individuals who want more control over their own pension. They are sophisticated and, invariably, have been buying and selling shares outside of their pension fund investments. They now fancy that they can do better than mainstream fund managers either on their own or through their stockbroker. But self-directed pensions are not really suitable for risk-averse people who are best advised to leave it to the fund managers. One of the advantages of self-directed pensions (SDP) over traditional pension plans that appeals to more active investors is the greater transparency this product offers. You have constant visibility of the assets your self-directed pensions (SDP) money is invested in, whereas clients of traditional schemes only get sight of this information once a year, while the information is invariably out of date. But the big difference is the investment choice. self-directed pensions (SDP) customers can invest in a range of asset classes that includes cash (deposits), listed company shares; unit trusts and UCITS quoted on a recognised stock exchange, Government stocks and listed Exchange Traded Funds. The good news is that when you invest these shares in your self-directed pensions (SDP) as a new contribution, you will receive tax relief on the investment at your marginal rate of income tax, assuming the contribution is within your allowable limit. For personal pensions, there is no limit to the amount that you can contribute to a personal pension plan, but tax relief is only available on amounts invested up to a certain level. At pension age, everyone has the option of taking some tax-free cash and of using the balance of the pension fund to buy an annuity that will guarantee an income for life. However, an increasing number of individuals have the additional option of using the balance of the pension fund to buy an approved retirement fund (ARF). This is a bond that allows you decide your own investment strategy, and from which you can draw an income if and as you wish. You should speak to your pension adviser regarding your options. And, as with all pension schemes, the full tax savings on contributions also apply to self-directed pensions (SDP). People who have existing share portfolios cannot simply transfer their shares into the self-directed pensions (SDP). However, they can replicate the shareholding by making a new contribution to their pension and instructing their SDP provider to use that contribution to buy the appropriate shares.

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