Healthcare planning for newly qualified and younger professionals
In Part 2 of our planning for retirement series, Senior Financial Planning Consultant, Rob Houghton discusses what early stage retirement planning healthcare professionals can adopt.
When it comes to financial planning, what never fails to astound me is the absence of any financial training for individuals as they complete their studies to become healthcare professionals. Given that you may become a sole trader, partner or director of a limited company, finance is going to be a big part of your life.
Regardless of the position held within the healthcare sector, there are basic principles of financial planning you just can’t get away from. My feelings are there is one obvious rule by which every individual should run their personal and business finances: housekeeping, housekeeping, housekeeping!
What does this mean? Initial conversations will include the stereotypical “what, why, when, who & how” questions and the responses often result in “erm, I’m not sure, I’ll have it somewhere or I’ll have to come back to you on that.”
The key with anything, is to know what you have and where you are up to. So how can I do that? Keep it simple!
The first thing I do when working with clients is to start by setting out their affairs in terms of income & expenditure, assets & liabilities, and assistive instruments such as partnership agreements, wills, power of attorney documents etc. This makes us more aware of what you have in a recallable fashion.
The second thing I do is to put together a list of your expenditure. As a financial planner, this provides telling information about what is classed as essential/luxurious spending. Given the current economic state, this is perhaps more important than ever. My own utility bills, for example, have trebled in the past 18 months. It is important to understand how such events may be managed to maintain focus on providing for long-term future events such as retirement.
What information should I be getting hold of?
Every year, you should at least update your templates or more frequently depending on the fluidity of your circumstances and have this supported by having vital records close to hand.
Not all items listed here will be relevant to all healthcare professionals; however, I have tried to be descriptive of when an item is pertinent and to whom:
You may only need to retain these for a certain period for tax purposes, but they remain of value when considering financial planning.
Tax payment, tax mitigation, tax coding corrections, in year income payments are all key issues which regularly affect those in the healthcare industry and may not be possible without these papers.
Savings and investment statements
Apart from the provider and form of investment, these documents will often confirm the manner of their management, the costs involved and will highlight previous efforts to better manage your tax position through the use of ISA’s bonds, pensions etc or through tax allowances/exemptions.
Insurance policy documents/statements
This is often a repeatedly neglected area of financial planning.
The absence of any or of insufficient levels of protection can leave your family financially vulnerable. For those with protection already in place, the structure of that cover is important to understand in order to mitigate any tax liability.
For healthcare professionals, this could mean an array of NHS pensions and personal pensions.
The blend of using defined benefit (NHS) and defined contribution (personal) pensions is an interesting one as it touches on tax planning and retirement strategy.
The recent elevation/removal of certain tax allowances mean that there are further opportunities for healthcare professionals to capitalise on these benefits.
If you have not registered to obtain a TRS (Total Reward Statement) with NHSBSA and obtained a service history, you should do so, and have a regular date each year to apply for new ones. With these, you can spot gaps in income and service, allowing you to update NHSBSA/PCSE in a timely fashion.
Remember – if your TRS isn’t up to date, you may have outstanding Annual Allowance tax liabilities, and interest on such charges if paid late.
Also, request annual Pension Savings Statements from NHS Pensions to assess the annual allowance position, whether you think you may have an issue or not.
Guide to retirement planning for the healthcare sector
Our planning for retirement hub includes a variety of helpful insight pieces for every stage of healthcare professionals, whether you are early in your career, or looking to advance your plans to retire within the next few years.
What else do I need to be aware of?
Pension protection certificates
Despite the Chancellor’s recent statement highlighting the removal and subsequent abolition of the lifetime allowance, there may be further planning opportunities to exploit for those with existing protections in place (Enhanced Protection, Fixed Protection etc).
Debt is a part of most people’s life, and it is important to focus not only on paying it each month, but also exploring how it may be paid down earlier, potentially saving thousands, if not, tens of thousands of pounds in interest, or obtained more cheaply. It is also key to understand how these fit in with certain tax planning.
It pays dividends to have a bespoke agreement drafted to best suit you, your business and its needs. It is also important as a financial adviser to understand the structure of a partnership and company to be aware of liabilities and tax planning for both the business and you.
Wills & Powers of Attorney
The majority of UK adults today fail to have these legal instruments. The absence of a will invokes the rules of intestacy, meaning your estate may not pass to the individuals you would prefer to benefit from it. With the right kind of will, tax mitigation and asset protection can be effected to protect loved ones from beyond the grave.
Powers of Attorney are instruments which many feel aren’t needed until old age. In my opinion, they are vital regardless of age or health status, given that we can all die or fall ill at any point in our lifetime.
Hopefully the above will assist with how you can structure your record keeping helping you and your advisers. Further upcoming pieces will consider additional aspects such as:
- Your roles within the sector, focussing on the practitioner, office, sole trader and Ltd Co status
- The opportunities for holistic financial planning
- How a specialist accountant and financial planner can add value
The world of healthcare contracts, business arrangements, roles and structures, particularly in primary care, is clearly changing rapidly. Ongoing specialist support through all of that is therefore vital.
My key message is to employ the services of a solicitor, tax adviser and financial adviser who are well-qualified and specialists within the healthcare sector. They can make a big difference.
This article should not be construed as a personalised recommendation. No action should be taken without seeking further formal advice.
MHA Moore and Smalley is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, FCA registration number 448716.