By Gerard Visser, Financial Planning Consultant at Alexander Forbes
There are a number of ways to save and a retirement annuity fund, is one of the potential investment tools which offer a tax efficient way to save towards retirement.
You can invest lump sums or make regular contributions into your own investment portfolios within a retirement annuity. The earliest age you can retire from the fund and make withdrawals is 55 years old.
At retirement you can take up to one third of your fund value in cash, subject to taxation, and the remainder can be used to either invest into a living annuity or purchase a fixed annuity, to pay yourself an income at retirement.
When choosing your investment portfolios for your retirement annuity, it is important to understand that a retirement annuity, as well as any other pre-retirement investment vehicles, follow Regulation 28, which limits the amount of exposure in certain asset classes. For example, you cannot have more than 75% in equities (includes local and offshore equities). This is to decrease risk for the investor and help protect and diversify portfolios.
What happens to your funds when you pass on?
The trustees of the retirement annuity fund will allocate your fund value to your dependents and nominated beneficiaries as is required by law. You can nominate beneficiaries for consideration with a retirement annuity and this nomination will assist the trustees of the fund in allocating the funds on your death. Typically, people whom are financially dependent on you will receive funds. Always ensure that you list all your beneficiaries for your retirement investments or contact your adviser for the necessary forms to have them listed.
Why save towards a retirement annuity?
Some of us might already have pension or provident funds which we use to save towards retirement and it might seem like you and/or your employer are making sufficient contributions, but in many cases this alone might not be enough to retire on, depending on your specific need.
When your contributions for your pension or provident funds are calculated, it is based on your pensionable salary and not your cost to company. The rule of thumb is that if you save 15% of your salary over 35 years, you could potentially receive 75% of your salary as a pension, as long as you received reasonable investment returns.
The problem is that your pensionable salary is usually only about 70% of your cost to company (depending on the company you work for). For example, if your monthly package is R15 000, you would need to retire on the equivalent of R11 250 (75%). However, your pensionable salary which your contributions are based on, is less at R10 500 (R15 000 x 70%). If we use the general rule of thumb it provides a pension income of only R7 875 (R10 500 x 75%), which is much lower than you might have thought.
You can make up the shortfall by investing additional contributions of your non-pensionable income into a retirement annuity.
Besides making up shortfalls, probably the biggest benefit of a retirement annuity are the tax benefits and deductions individual tax payers get for investing in a retirement annuity. With a retirement annuity you can deduct your contributions from your taxable income. Currently the limit you can deduct is 27.5% of the greater of remuneration or taxable income limited at R350 000 per year. Excess contributions are carried forward to the next tax year.
Other advantages of a retirement annuity are:
- Compound interest – as you are investing over a long period, you earn growth on the growth.
- Supporting your dependents – you can provide for those you leave behind. Your RA benefit is not subject to estate duty, and creditors cannot access your hard earned retirement funds.
- Long-term stability - you can ride out short-term fluctuations in the market in order to target long-term real growth, which pays off when you retire.
- Freedom of choice subject to regulation 28 mentioned above – you can choose your underlying investment portfolios, giving you flexibility in how your contributions are invested and how they grow.
- Disciplined savings – not being able to access your retirement savings before age 55 is a good thing.
- There is no tax on interest or capital gains on your investment in the fund.
According to Alexander Forbes Member Watch, only 6% of members retire with a replacement ratio of 75% or more. What this means is that if your pensionable salary is R20 000 then a 75% replacement ratio means an income of R15 000 in retirement. Therefore, keeping up with your contributions and preserving your benefits should be at the top of your list when it comes to saving for retirement.
HOW TO MANAGE YOUR CASH FLOW IN UNCERTAIN TIMES
While the world is constantly changing, probably at a faster pace now than ever before, businesses need to manage cash flow and costs to drive success in uncertain times, says Matthew Thorpe, partner at Haines Watts Essex.
Managing people and expenses
There are certain costs that you just can’t avoid as a business – to keep your operation running seamlessly, but scrutinise the detail and cut down on any non-essential expenses. Check things like your SaaS subscriptions and look out for costs that auto-renew and if you do cancel, remember to also cancel your direct debits too.
You might want to put a freeze on hiring new people, but ensure that other roles and responsibilities are clearly and efficiently assigned across your team. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been introduced by the Government to help UK employers access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary to avoid redundancies. Affected employees are classed as “furloughed workers”.
Once furloughed, the employee cannot work or they will not qualify for the scheme. For businesses that perhaps need to go further, there may be some roles they don’t need any more, but businesses should work sensitively with people to manage this.
Cash is king
In uncertain times, owner managers will need to keep operations going to ensure financial stability. You should look to manage debt more efficiently by negotiating extended payment terms with creditors. You could also renegotiate loans for longer repayment terms to give yourself a lower monthly payment, helping the business to set some cash aside each month.
As a business owner, you need to create a cash flow projection and update this regularly if you are to improve things. You can do this using financial information to create a picture of how the business will look in the next 12 months. The forecast needs to show revenue sources and expenses, which will show the ups and downs of business income and can be used to make sure that enough finance is in place.
While banks and other finance providers recognise that the cashflow of a business may be disrupted by the impact of Covid-19, they are still going to want to see that you are viable and continue to trade in these uncertain times. Make sure your business is organised and don’t let disorganisation cause unnecessary issues. You can evidence this by having detailed forecasts; current order books and projections (as best as possible).
Having instantly accessible, accurate financial information allows you to plan effectively, spot issues before they become problems and manage your money in the most efficient and rewarding way.
Software is now incredibly user-friendly and accessible from anywhere. For a business owner embracing the technology, this means:
- Invoicing can be done instantly when a job is complete, emailed to the customer with an easy to use link to a payment platform.
- Comparison websites can automatically monitor and help maintain lowest cost for things such as light & heat, insurance etc.
- Technology can be used in place of face-to-face meetings. It can also enable them to adapt production lines to different demands.
All of these things and more, used properly, can make managing your business finances quicker, easier and often cheaper. You will also be able to bring clarity to where your business stands and prepare for the next steps.
HOW FINANCIAL SERVICES CAN GET TO GRIPS WITH RISING SUPPLY CHAIN RISK
By Alex Saric, smart procurement expert, Ivalua
UK businesses have never been more dependent on their suppliers to help them deliver goods and services to their customers. Be it retail, manufacturing or financial services, suppliers have a vital role to play when it comes to innovation and meeting customer expectations. However, as supply chains become increasingly global, businesses are potentially exposing themselves to more risk than ever before.
This is especially true in financial services. Whether it’s the impact of geopolitical events like Brexit or global tariff wars, supply shortages, security or the businesses impact on the environment, an organisation’s failure to identify and mitigate risk could see millions wiped off its share price, and its corporate reputation left in tatters. Risk can present itself anywhere and at any time, so financial services firms must be ready to address it. However, many simply don’t have the ability to evaluate suppliers for risk factors, leaving them wide open to business operations being hindered, or being slapped with financial penalties.
More suppliers, increasing risk
One reason why financial services firms aren’t able to evaluate suppliers is the breadth and scale of today’s supply chains. For example, French oil company Total said in in a recent human rights briefing paper that they work with over 150,000 direct suppliers worldwide. This is just one example of how large and varied the roster of partners has become. Research from Ivalua has found that financial services businesses on average are working with around 3,600 suppliers annually, which is evenly split between UK-based and international partners. That number is expected to rise, with 60% expecting the number of suppliers they work with to rise.
The expanding nature of suppliers is only going to expose financial services firms to more potential risk than ever before, yet 78% say they face challenges gaining complete visibility into suppliers and their activities.
A lack of supplier visibility leaves businesses unable to identify and mitigate against supply chain risk. In fact, almost three-quarters (73%) of financial services firms have experienced some type of risk during the last 12 months. These include; supplier failure (43%), environmental impact, such as pollution or waste (35%) and supply shortages (45%). Supply shortages can be among the most damaging to a business, as seen by both the KFC chicken shortage which closed stores, and the summer 2018 CO2 shortage which caused companies such as Heineken and Coca-Cola to pause production, impacting supply across Europe during the World Cup.
Businesses unprepared for the worst
One way financial services firms can better prepare for risk is to ensure they know what to plan for to reduce the impact. However, whilst some say they have a contingency plan in place to deal with risk, many of them are unprepared. Financial services firms admitted to not having comprehensive and deployed contingency plans in place to prepare the supply chain for risk such as; natural disasters (68%), supply shortages (67%), geopolitical changes (65%), environmental impact (63%), supplier failure (62%) and modern slavery (50%).
In order to effectively prepare for these types of risks, it’s vital that financial services businesses fully understand their suppliers, their business environment, global variations in regulations, geopolitics, and a host of other factors. But for many, there are multiple challenges when it comes to gaining this understanding. A prevailing factor is an inability to gain visibility into all suppliers and activity because supplier management data is stored in multiple locations and formats, making insights difficult to access. This leaves teams unable to review supplier activity and assess compliance.
Making supplier management smarter
It’s imperative that financial services businesses are able to respond or prepare for supply chain risk. Clearly, much more needs to be done to ensure they have complete visibility of suppliers, especially in an era where regulators can levy heavy fines for GDPR breaches and scandals spread in minutes over social media. These types of risks can be reduced in the future if procurement teams have a 360-degree view of suppliers which will help with contingency planning and risk management.
For example, in the instance of supply shortages, plans could be put in place that identify alternative suppliers to ensure any shortages do not impact end users. This type of supplier collaboration is paramount when it comes to managing and mitigating against supplier shortages. When it comes to regulations, financial services firms can’t allow a lack of visibility to limit their ability to ensure all suppliers are compliant.
To do this, teams must take a smarter approach to procurement that gives complete visibility into suppliers throughout the supply chain. This will allow financial services firms to identify and plan for risk, reducing the potential damage, and ensuring they are working with and awarding business to low-risk suppliers. Supply chain risk is rapidly becoming an overarching concern for financial services firms, but by providing the ability to assess suppliers, they will have all the insights they need to mitigate the impact on business operations.
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