Intergenerational wealth planning is likely to become an even more important part of an adviser’s work over the next decade. The “baby-boomer” generation is set to transfer a huge slice of property and other wealth to the next generation – and it will be up to financial advisers to manage this often highly complex process.
The best way to achieve that transfer of wealth will be down to the individual client and their adviser, but it is likely that they will need to keep their options open in terms of the types of investment products they use. Standard options such as pensions, offshore bonds and ISAs will all be part of the armoury, but more complex arrangements, such as Aim investment portfolios (for inheritance tax mitigation) may also play a part.
Crucially, the underlying investment engine has to be flexible and effective within all of these approaches so as to be most tax efficient.
Our role is to ensure that client assets are working as hard as possible within the parameters set by each generation – and in the most tax-efficient way. This can be demanding. Often an investment strategy designed to generate an income to support the older generation in retirement is not the strategy that will suit their heirs. The older generation needs income: the children generally have a long-term growth horizon.
This requires an important conversation, and in many cases provides an opportunity for advisers and planners. They need to establish the extent to which the older generation is willing to compromise their income, for example, to support the capital requirements of the next generation. The level of income that can be consistently – and sustainably – withdrawn from an invested portfolio has undergone reappraisal in our post-crisis era of long-term ultra-low yields.
Striking a balance between the two generations' needs
There is a balance between the older generation’s well-being and ensuring sufficient growth in their assets to maximise their bequests.
Advisers will be able to manage client expectations, discuss outcomes for their wealth on their journey, assessing risk both in the short and – arguably for the benefit of their heirs – longer term. The transition needs to be carefully managed. Working closely with external planners, our priority is to ensure on the portfolio best matches clients’ individual journeys.
Any transitions may have implications for the distribution of client assets across tax wrappers. For the older generation, income assets may be best placed in a gross environment, while assets more likely to generate capital gains may be “unwrapped”. Younger generations may have less use for income, but it will still be important to maximise the use of tax incentivised saving schemes such as ISAs or pensions. Looking at family wealth holistically to maximise all allowances is vitally important. It also naturally leads the adviser to speak with younger members of a client’s family, where appropriate.
Pension "freedoms" bring greater planning opportunities
Various changes to the pension and inheritance tax rules in recent years have made it easier to pass wealth between generations tax effectively. At the same time, they have brought more planning complexities. ISAs can be passed from husband to wife, for example; while pensions can be more readily transferred to children.
We believe the investment strategy needs to adapt with these changes, making sure the those managing the investments are adequately resourced to build these flexible solutions. Investment managers need the widest possible toolkit, incorporating – where appropriate – access to alternative assets, Aim portfolios, structured products and private equity. This provides ways to moderate the volatility, or potentially maximise the efficiency, of that journey.
Of course, capital preservation itself is vital. Clients have spent a lifetime building their wealth. Even where clients could take more risk, many are reluctant to do so – and we understand that.
We work with external advisers and planners in many ways, but our ultimate role is always to facilitate the plan devised and agreed between the adviser and their client. The financial adviser makes the strategy and we – bringing to bear our experience, global resources and full suite of products – implement it in the most effective way.