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Avoid Shattering Financial Outcomes

On Saturday 14 November in the financial section of The Age, it was disturbing to read the following question from a distressed 88 year old man having to face self described ‘shattering’ financial problems due to an unsuitable Self Managed Investment Fund:

I am caught between a rock and a hard place and hope you can help me, as I feel completely distraught. I have had a Self-Managed Super Fund for years within the Dixon Advisory system. It includes a Term Allocated Pension (TAP) to complicate matters even more. Briefly, I have been with Daryl Dixon since he was a one-man operation. And, importantly, Daryl vetted every buy and sell throughout. My fear about the size and complexity of Dixon was allayed by this fact, as I trusted him. Daryl retired unexpectedly and it took me a while to discover that this was why I received no replies to my calls, about November last year. I have ended up with a portfolio that includes a proportion of the Masters property funds in trouble in the US; but also with two unlisted funds. I am 88 years old and have had my share of health difficulties and not observed the developments closely enough. I have no idea how long I will live and this loss feels shattering. Now I am looking for a way out. The industry funds do not accept TAPs and I have two assets – Fort Street Real Estate Capital Fund IV and Evolution Road Maintenance Group (ERMG) – that are unlisted and not saleable. It is a high-risk portfolio unsuitable for my means and age. So, there are two problems – 1. What to do with my very diminished funds, now $213,000 (a loss of about $200,000 in less than a year)? 2. How to go about seeking compensation from Dixons? A.S.

In responding to the question; What to do with my very diminished funds and How to go about seeking compensation? The financial editor, George Cochrane outlines a very lengthy process in which ASIC has begun launching civil proceedings. Further, a little depressingly he also states that “you are not Robinson Crusoe”, and there are many general themes highlighted in the above question that provide a cautionary tale for all of us:

• The failure of a clear succession plan to ensure that a client continues to receive the highest standard of advice and care that does not rely on anyone advisor, but a documented and cohesive investment structure and philosophy that can be managed by successive qualified advisers.
• The problems associated with Active Management over a passive Global Index Management. Active fund management and speculation has resulted in the purchase of Masters Property Trusts that are in trouble in the US and two unlisted funds.
• The stated fact that at 88 years of age and dealing with health issues you are not able to observe developments closely and poor advice that has resulted in a high risk portfolio that is totally unsuitable. This highlights the importance of meeting with your adviser at least one a year to review and adjust your investment portfolio to your changing needs together with a passive income stream that you can set and forget into the future.
• The financial editor detailing the conflict of interest involving the Financial planner Darryl Dixon, directly investing in Dixon owned and operated entities and products. Refer link to full article at the bottom of this page

While the situation highlighted is painful for the individual involved, it is reassuring both for Income Solutions and our clients that they are provided with the peace of mind that the financial structure and investment philosophy adopted at Income Solutions ensures that the above issues and conflict of interest could never occur, and the following table shows why:

We offer financial planning services that provide people with advice based on the best products and investments that are available. Income Solutions does not own or operate these entities but simply researches and recommends the best available options in the market place. The Contract Agreement for your investment is between yourself and the product providers with Income Solutions providing instructions and facilitation services to ensure everything is executed and managed to the highest of standards.
At Income Solutions we read the above question with regret that people have to deal with the financial scenario presented, however it reaffirms the processes, structures and investment philosophy in which we operate and we know with confidence that our clients will never be facing the issues presented in this article when they are 88 years of age (or ever). Click on the following link to access this full article:

https://www.smh.com.au/money/super-and-retirement/what-to-do-with-unsuitable-smsf-investments-20201112-p56e2r.html

The ‘Last Dance’ for active fund management?

In a recent Australian Financial Review article, Aleks Vickovich, Wealth editor makes a compelling case outlining evidence on why we might be seeing the ‘last dance’ for active fund management and speculation as the figures show consistently a passive investment global indexed model continues to outperform.

In this article he uses the analogy of the Netflix series “The Last Dance” that many sports fans will be familiar with and where one of the greatest athletes of our time Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan is portrayed leading a languishing and underperforming Chicago Bulls to a ‘golden decade’ of success that today NBA clubs still dream of achieving. While the series does a lot to highlight oversized suits with padded shoulders it also contains a very current lesson about managed funds.

Like the scoreboard at the end of a tightly contested Michael Jordan lead championship NBA game, the following chart demonstrates that the figures do not lie:

T

The above figures make us ask the question; are we seeing the ‘last dance’ of active fund managers that claim to have the skill to select stocks that generate above average returns for clients? or value fund managers that select stocks based on the assumption that they are overpriced? Again, the figures show a continued underperformance when compared against an indexed model.

In this Financial Review article, Vickovich also states that the Global Financial crisis and COVID19 have further compounded the reasons why active fund managers might really need the superior skills akin to Michael Jordyn to compete with the Global indexed figures providing returns for passive investors.

This Financial Review article can be accessed via the Income Solutions facebook page at
https://www.facebook.com/incomesolutions

BUDGET LIKE A BUSINESS

A budget is key to running a financially responsible business and equally a budget is key to running a financially responsible household. It is irrelevant whether you are a single person living alone or a parent with a large family, or if you are a well remunerated executive or getting by on a students allowance, the fact remains the best way the manage your finances is to know exactly what money is coming in and what money is going out.

Reviewing your budget every few weeks allows you to monitor what money you have coming in against what money you been spent for that period, clearly showing you if these figures are in line with the projected figures you budgeted for at the beginning of the financial year. This approach allows you to adopt a mindful and considered approach to the money you are spending and categorizing what may be viewed as essential such as electricity and car insurance against what expenditure may be seen as a discretionary, such as a choice to enjoy an expensive dinner, buy an item of clothing or for those on a limited budget to decide whether they buy their lunch each day or make their own.

Being mindful of the money we spend allows us to make informed decisions about the choices and lifestyle we want to live both now and into the future. We can choose whether we want to save and travel in 2 years or whether we would prefer to purchase a membership to the AFL Club that we support. Either is fine, but by mapping a budget we can make decisions that we have thought through and provide us with the best use of our funds, without a budget we might simply bounce around from option to option and make decisions that we really haven’t thought through in any detail.

Monitoring the budget we put in place each financial year empowers us to see if our expenses are gradually creeping up in any one area and may prompt us to make that call to the bank to get a better rate on our mortgage or shop around for a better rate on electricity. To be able to accurately detail the income we have coming in to our individual household may inspire us to look at ways that we can increase this amount by perhaps investing in further education or look at the business or job opportunities which could be available to us. Otherwise, a budget can simply give us peace of mind knowing our finances are on track!

One of the many benefits of a budget is that it provides us with a format to think logically and clearly about the ‘business’ of running our households and by dedicating a relatively small amount of time each financial year to set and detail a budget, together with a few moments each fortnight to track income and expenditure, we are providing ourselves with the information that we require to make well thought through everyday financial decisions.

Click on the following link to be inspired by Income Solutions client Wayne Lucas speaking on how he Budgets, the tools he uses and the benefits it has provided:

FAMILY TREE RESEARCH PROVIDING LESSONS OF THE PAST

Today, researching our family tree has become a popular past time, especially in retirement powerful new software is allowing people to ‘dig for gold’ among the many branches of their past relations and tracking many untold stories that often commenced in far off places on the other side of the world. As new ‘branches’ of their tree are explored, and new stories reveal themselves it is not uncommon to discover that many families had wealth and assets that somehow failed to pass down to future generations. Individuals amid researching their family tree often wonder why? How did this happen? And while the reasons for this failure to transfer assets down the generations may be varied it can provide us today with the motivation to ensure that the lessons of the past are learnt, and that in many years to come our future relations are not left wondering why we did not correctly plan for the transfer of assets between generations.

In the past, the most common problem was that there was no clear financial structure in place for people to follow, it relied on those inheriting assets and wealth to apply their own, often ad-hoc investment strategy. Today we are fortunate that individuals have the power to correctly transfer asset and wealth through a number of legal vehicles, one of which is a Testamentary Discretionary Trust. Broadly speaking this structure allows for all wealth and assets to be held in a Trust which will provide your family members or nominated beneficiaries with an income stream from the assets that are held in the Trust. This structure not only provides an income stream for your nominated beneficiaries it provides a structure that can be kept in place for future generations too. You are not only providing a heritance you are providing a financial ‘road map’ your beneficiaries can choose to follow and pass on to their own beneficiaries.

The road map provided by the setting up of a Testamentary Trust can be an important tool that allows generations to navigate a financial pathway that leads to the transfer of wealth through generations. In fact, here at Income Solutions we are seen firsthand how people have benefited when their family members set up a sound financial structure that allows the beneficiaries to have peace of mind, knowing that while they are grieving the death of a parent and loved one they do not have the stress of trying to make often complex financial decisions during this time, the road map their parents have left behind for them to follow is sound and will serve them well into the future!

Obviously, there are a variety of different legal and financial structures to ensure the transfer of wealth between generations that may or may not suit you according to your own individual and unique circumstances, but what we can learn from previous generations and what those that research their family trees have had insight into, is that those who simply leave wealth through a standard will to individuals that provides no clear financial structure or pathway for beneficiaries risk that the wealth and asset ‘branch’ of their family tree will be lopped off.

At Income Solutions we are passionate and committed to ensuring your wealth and assets never go missing off your family tree and provide a continuous and worry-free income stream into the future for your beneficiaries. Please contact us at contactus@incomesolutions.com.au to speak to an advisor and access the many tools and advice available to start planning for or reviewing intergeneration wealth creation.

LIFE INSURANCE TO PROTECT YOUR SPOUSE, CHILDREN……. and PARENTS

For over three decades, we have been providing advice about building and protecting the wealth of our clients.  One of our client service offerings is a “family tree” discussion.  On the surface, this discussion addresses the correct transfer of wealth to beneficiaries.  Following the tree imagery, this is the money transferring from the top of the tree down into the branches, or family members.

In this article we want to explore what happens when money flows in the opposite direction, from the bottom branches and works it’s way up to the top of the tree.  This can be a devastating destroyer of wealth that is often triggered by sudden events that are full of emotion.  It can have as much impact upon a client’s retirement as a bad investment decision or an economic downturn.

We often hear of situations where one child suffers from an addiction or illness and grandparents suddenly becoming full time carers for their grandchildren.  Other times, it will be providing financial support for one child who repeatedly makes bad financial decisions and always needs to be bailed out.  Sometimes it might be a child applying emotional pressure on a parent to become guarantor on a home loan or to supply a lump sum for a home loan deposit.    Some of these situations can be avoided others cannot, but they are obvious examples of people placing financial strain on their extended family members and parents.

However, what we often do not hear about is the less obvious which was highlighted when a client contacted Income Solutions to make a withdrawal from their retirement savings.  Their son’s wife had died unexpectedly.  The son and his wife had a mortgage and three small children.  Their son was a stay at home father and as a result, there was no income coming into the family now.  Upon investigation, it was discovered that the son had a medical condition making it unlikely he would be able to secure work.  The son’s income needs therefore extend beyond the time frame of caring for young children and expanded to the full term of his working life.  The daughter in law had earnt an above average salary and was on a steady career projectory, allowing the family to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle.  This had provided our clients with the illusion that their son and his family were financially secure.  As it turns out, the son did not have any significant savings and as a family they had never put in place any additional protection cover.  Their theory was that they would put every spare cent they had into reducing their mortgage and they did not want to be paying money on insurance premiums they’d likely never need.  The wife had a small amount of life insurance held within her employer super fund, based at the default amount of cover for her age, and a modest account balance held within the employer super account.  This was enough to partially pay down the mortgage, leaving a much smaller debt but no ongoing income support for the surviving husband to pay down the remaining balance, let alone cover the family living costs. 

Retired parents should consider asking about the financial protections adult children have put in place for themselves.  This is especially relevant when they have a young family of their own.  Often pride dictates an answer “my son is doing really well, he’ll have that sorted”.  Other times, our clients don’t know, haven’t thought to have the conversation with their children or feel they are over-stepping the mark if they ask their children about their finances.   Our client in this example fell into the “doing well and will have that sorted” category when we asked about their children’s personal protections.  It is not our place to take things further and that’s where it lay. 

The one thing that is commonplace amongst all parents we see is that they love their children and grandchildren.   Of course, our client stepped up to help their child in need.  The result is that our client has steadily withdrawn funds to improve their son’s situation.  The issues that stem from this one, unexpected event are many:

  • Our clients were just on target to meet their financial retirement goals.  They no longer are on target and needed to reduce their personal spending accordingly.  Their living costs have risen however, because they are no longer just supporting themselves but are also buying necessities for their grandchildren, such as new clothes and covering costs for school excursions. 
  • Our client’s lifestyle goals in retirement are now changed because they need to provide additional help to their son and his young children.  They love all of their grandchildren equally and it ways heavily upon them that they have limited time available to spend with their grandchildren from their other children. 
  • Our clients have 5 children in total and always intended to distribute their estate equally between all 5.  However, now they know they have provided a large benefit to one child, which is to the financial detriment of their remaining children.  They are retired and they have no way of replenishing these funds to compensate their remaining children.  They are fearful that this will cause resentment amongst their other children.

Ensuring that you have invested in adequate Life Insurance in its many forms does not just protect yourself, your children and spouse, it protects your extended family members too.   It is important as adults with dependants and financial responsibilities that we do everything within our power to ensure we do not place an unfair financial burden on our older parents or family members.   Taking out comprehensive life cover according to our individual needs is core to achieving we never place our wider family members or parents in a financially precarious position.

Income Solutions offers a 4 step process that is free of charge and allows us to demonstrate the advantages of obtaining financial advice.  If you or a family member would like to find out more, please contact Income Solutions at www.incomesolutions.com.au  

COVID CREATES AN EXTRA-ORDINARY 2020

As we head towards the end of the year it really is a time to reflect on the extra-ordinary times in which we have continued to live, work, learn and view the changes that COVID has provided to our everyday lives and global perspective.

Here at Income Solutions we have seen first hand the inspiring job our clients have done in continuing to ‘attend’ their individual financial reviews and meetings, often having to adapt to new online technologies to ensure that these meetings can go ahead.    On a national level, we have seen Year 12 students completing their VCE online without direct access to teachers, and small prep aged children attending school for only 9 weeks of the year and the remainder of the time having to be home schooled by their parents, while teachers have had to quickly learn to offer a full online curriculum for the first time.  

On an international level we have watched many countries being hit by COVID a lot harder than in Australia, with health systems being flooded and health workers risking their lives and having to work and make decisions that they could never have envisaged.    In this global landscape, our lifestyle decisions concerning travel are continually fluid, reflecting the pace of restrictions that seem to change daily in line with COVID statistics and infections.

Small local businesses such a cafes and restaurants never fail to inspire with their willingness to reinvent their menus and offerings such as high end classy takeaway, in fact one well known fine dining Melbourne restaurant is now offering delivery to Geelong, providing local foodies with the opportunity of eating ‘at’ this restaurant without having to leave their house!

Closer to home, one of our Financial Planners very recently had a baby which has prompted us to reflect on how different it is for new parents giving birth.   No longer the endless visits from family and friends bearing armfuls of presents and flowers, but simply the easing of restrictions allowing for partners to be present too.     At the other end of the age scale is the bravery and courage shown by workers and residents in aged care who are threatened daily by COVID but still celebrate birthdays, often sharing moments with family through glass windows and gently touching hands only divided by a narrow pane.

There is no doubt that COVID has caused much pain and suffering and people have been forced to live differently, but within this framework we need to acknowledge that there have been hard won gains and insights, such as:

  • Year 12 students have shown us just how wonderfully resilient their age group is, getting on with the job of achieving the best results possible 
  • Parents assisting their children to learn at home have a far better understanding of their children’s curriculum and what the job of teaching small children involves
  • People have a greater insight into the health system that we benefit from in Australia and the health workers that work tirelessly within it.
  • In recalibrating travel plans, people are beginning to consider getting better acquainted with the country in which they live.
  • That people who have never considered a zoom meeting have now adapted and learnt new skills that they will now continue to use into the future.

Obviously, the above are just a few examples but moving forward it may be impossible to predict how the changes wrought by COVID will impact our lives into the future or the timeline for a return to normal business as usual operations.      It has become evident that predicting when a vaccine will become available is a little like predicting fluctuations in the share market, but it is heartening to be living in Geelong at the moment and visiting local cafes to enjoy a coffee for the first time in months and know that while our Grand Final will be interstate there will be a Grand Final none the less and see images of people enjoying Melbourne beaches being opened again.      People are adapting and changing and doing their best according to their individual circumstances which is something we can open our hearts to.

The Difference between Investment and Speculation

https://vimeo.com/467957171

At Income Solutions we believe that owning an investment forever with an income stream for life is a financial strategy that, in the long term, will serve you better than speculation. 

If you invest in the share market with a focus on achieving a year after year income you are an investor, but if you speculate in the share market to buy a share at one price and then sell at a higher price you are a speculator. 

Please click on the following video with David Ramsay, Financial Adviser at Income Solutions outlining Investing vs Speculation : https://vimeo.com/467957171

2020 FEDERAL BUDGET SUMMARY

What the 2020 Federal Budget means for you.

Fast-tracked tax cuts and wage subsidies for younger workers underline the
Federal Government’s budget.
Note: These changes are proposals only and may or may not be made law.

Personal tax cuts brought forward:

– Immediate tax relief: ’Stage two’ personal income tax cuts will be brought forward two years, and backdated to 1 July 2020.
– Raised tax brackets: The upper threshold of the 19% tax bracket will rise from $37,000 to $45,000 and the upper threshold of the 32.5% tax bracket will rise from $90,000 to $120,000. This will be worth the equivalent of $41 a week to those earning between $50,000 and $90,000 a year, and about $49 a week to those earning more than $120,000 a year (source:
https://budget.gov.au/calculator/index.htm).
– Boost for workers on lower incomes: Workers on lower incomes will gain from an extension of the Low and Middle Income Tax Offset for a further 12 months until 30 June 2021, and increase in the Low Income Tax Offset.
Support for pensioners, low income earners, welfare recipients and job-seekers
– Two cash payments: Aged pensioners, carers, disability support and concession cardholders will receive two $250 payments. The payments will be made progressively from 30 November 2020 and early 2021.

Incentives for employers to hire:

– A JobMaker Hiring Credit will be paid for a year to businesses who hire an eligible unemployed worker aged 16 to 35. The rate will be $200 a week for people under 30 and $100 a week for people between 30 and 35, and they must work at least 20 hours a week. The JobMaker Hiring Credit is aimed at filling the gap when the JobKeeper scheme ends next March.
– Support to businesses employing apprentices and trainees: A wage subsidy will reimburse eligible businesses up to 50% of a new apprentice or trainee’s wages. Subsidies are capped at $7,000 per quarter, per eligible apprentice or trainee, capped at 100,000 places Your Future, Your Super package commencing 1 July 2021.


Making it easier to choose a super fund:

– Super fund members will have access to a new interactive online comparison tool, YourSuper, aimed to encourage funds to compete harder for members’ savings.
– Transparency around under performing funds: To protect members from poor outcomes and encourage funds to lower costs, the Government will require superannuation products to meet an annual objective performance test. Those that fail will be required to inform members and refer members to the YourSuper comparison tool. Persistently under performing products will be prevented from taking on new members.
– Additional trustee obligations: Super fund trustees need to ensure decisions are made in the best financial interest of members and provide better information on management and expenditure.


Business tax changes:

– Immediate tax write-off: Businesses with annual turnover of up to $5 billion can write off the full cost of eligible capital assets acquired from 7 October 2020 and first used or installed for use by 30 June 2022.
– Loss carry-back: Companies with aggregated annual turnover of less than $5 billion will be able to apply tax losses from the 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22 income years against previously taxed profits from the 2018-19 and later tax years by claiming a refundable tax offset in the loss year.
– Specific changes for small business: Small businesses with a turnover of up to $50 million will be able to access up to 10 tax breaks, with fringe benefits tax scrapped on car parking, phones or laptops, simpler trading stock rules and easier PAYG instalments.


First home buyers:

– Purchase cap lifted: Up to 10,000 more first home buyers will be able to get a loan to build a new home or buy a newly built home with a deposit of as little as 5% (source: https://budget.gov.au/2020-21/content/overview.htm). The purchase cap will also be lifted and varies depending on the State and regional area.
Any questions?
If you have any questions, please speak with your financial adviser or
call us 5229 0577 between 8.30 am and 5.30 pm, Monday to Friday.

Further information on the 2020-21 Federal Budget, Click here:

https://eread.com.au/incomesolutions/121419?fbclid=IwAR2KlWIoeknfnVnugltGJPzTXdvLyHZqEdZC8w7ImQCzNo-V8a6S20iwV7U

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