French Duncan (Financial Services) Ltd (FDFS) are a wholly owned subsidiary of French Duncan LLP and are an Independent Financial Advisor service dedicated to providing bespoke advice to clients.
Chartered Financial Planners
FDFS have recently been awarded Chartered Financial Planners status, which is regulated by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII). This is the industry’s gold standard for firms of financial planners and confirms that we have satisfied rigorous qualification criteria by retaining highly qualified staff who subscribe to the membership conditions of the CII.
Only the UK’s premier financial planning firms qualify for Chartered status as it involves a commitment to continuing professional development and adherence to an industry standard Code of Ethics. You can view the Code at www.cii.co.uk/code. If you wish to know more about how using a Chartered firm can ensure you get the best possible advice, service and support, please do not hesitate to contact us.
FDFS specialises in providing advice in a wide range of areas including:
The department is led by Zane Hunter, who has over 25 years’ industry experience, the vast majority as an adviser within professional practices. Zane is assisted by Peter Haveron, who has been providing financial advice to clients for 25 years, and Elaine White and Isobel Noonan, both of whom have also been in the industry for over 25 years. Peter McGowan recently joined the department to provide technical guidance and paraplanning support.
Whilst all independent financial advice is now remunerated on a fee basis, FDFS will always conduct any introductory meetings on a no-charge basis.
Our vast experience in the provision of bespoke financial advice to personal and business clients alike, ensures we always understand all objectives and requirements, setting us apart from our competitors. We pride ourselves on the delivery of a dedicated hands-on service that achieves results.
Retirement planning for individuals
Retirement planning for individuals is initially based around finding out about your current financial circumstances (we refer to this as your 'gots') and your financial objectives (known as your ’wants‘). This part of the process is achieved by our adviser completing a thorough fact find which records your own personal details.
At this point in the process your objectives can be prioritised and a report on how to achieve your needs will be produced.
Every client will be at a different stage in their life cycle and advice is given not only to sort out short term needs, but is structured to be reviewed and adapted as you progress through life.
Retirement planning for companies (directors and their staff)
Company directors or partners may have additional requirements with regard to retirement planning than merely providing for the future. Given that these individuals are often remunerated directly via the profitability of their company, there are personal and corporate tax advantages available via contributions to pensions and other retirement planning instruments.
The new mandatory legislation regarding ’auto enrolment‘ means that all companies have to put a scheme in place to accommodate the compulsory enrolment of their staff into a pension plan. The state will provide a default option but this comes with a limited set of funds and does not provide any advice or guidance. Many employers are opting to put a recognised scheme in place which will ultimately provide a satisfactory arrangement for their members; and one which comes with advice on how to set it up and operate it on an ongoing basis.
FDFS can help with both of these matters.
Retirement benefits planning for the retiring
Arranging to take the benefits from your retirement arrangements can be a complicated process. In most cases you will be asked to make decisions which cannot be altered and will be relevant to you for the rest of your life. It is important to make sure these are taken correctly or the consequences may damage your retirement plans.
Some of the planning decisions you might have to consider include:
- Do you require the tax free cash available, or do you prefer a higher level of income?
- In the event of your death, do you need an income to carry on for your partner or spouse?
- Is inflation an issue and do you need your income to increase each year?
- Do you want your income to be guaranteed over a specific period of time?
- Does your existing pension arrangement include valuable guarantees?
These questions all need to be taken into consideration before a suitable arrangement can be recommended to suit your own personal requirements.
On February 11th 2013 the government announced that the nil rate band for inheritance tax should be frozen at the current rate of £325,000 until the tax year 2017/2018. Its reasoning for this is to use the extra revenue to fund reforms to the social care system. It is estimated that this will bring an additional 5,000 estates into the inheritance tax net by the year 2019.
The rate of inheritance tax which has to be paid is 40% on all assets over this level. Many individuals and couples are finding that they are already over the limit with their property alone.
However, there are ways in which such a tax can be avoided by careful planning. By rearranging assets or by considering trusts, estates can be reduced whilst still allowing clients valuable access to their assets.
If you would like to discuss the options available to you, please contact us for a consultation.
Investment advice for both regular and single premium saving
The rates of return from banks and building societies are at a very low level. Given the current rate of inflation, funds held in many accounts with these institutions will in fact be losing money in real terms.
There are many alternative opportunities for investment and we believe that our clients should plan ahead with a diversified portfolio to take advantage of a spread of assets to dilute risk.
Our investment philosophy is to ascertain each individual’s objectives and their acceptable risk threshold. Once these details are established, an investment plan is recommended, taking into account short, medium and longer term requirements.
It is also important whenever a plan is set up that it is regularly reviewed to make sure the balance of investments still meets each client’s objectives.
Protection advice for individuals and businesses.
This can range from life cover to critical illness and income protection
Businesses rely on their people to make them successful; whether it is the owner, director, key individual or a member of the staff team. Once an illness, or worse, a death, occurs, the balance of the business can be affected, often placing the business in a position from which a recovery may not be straightforward. In such a situation, FDFS can assist your company to make sure that it can continue successfully.
Areas of advice which you may require include:
Directors Share Protection: This allows the remaining directors in a company to buy out a deceased or critically ill member’s share of the company. By providing these funds, the members of the deceased family will be able to benefit from their share of the company whilst the remaining directors can carry on taking their company forward.
Income Replacement: A long term illness can provide a strain to either the individual who has had a drop in his or her income or to a company if they are attempting to continue to provide remuneration during the illness. Permanent Health Assurance can replace an income until such times as a recovery or retirement takes place.
Death In Service Benefits: Valuable staff can often be enticed away by what they perceive to be more valuable packages from other companies. A benefit which many companies like to put in place for their workforce is a death in service arrangement.
For further details on any of the above please contact us.