What we’ve learned in 2020

It’s no exaggeration to say that 2020 has been one of the strangest years that you and your clients will have lived through.

Your liberties have been curtailed for months as we observed strict lockdown and social distancing measures. Your clients may have unexpectedly started working from home, been furloughed, or spent months struggling to keep their business afloat.

On top of this, many thousands of people have felt the impact of coronavirus personally, or through the ill health of loved ones.

In such an uncertain, unpredictable, and volatile year, we have learnt plenty of lessons – particularly when it comes to helping clients to manage their finances. Here’s a look back at the lessons we can take from 2020.

Working hard to maintain service levels

The sudden move to remote working, the closure of many offices, and the consequent backlogs in processing have all led to challenges to ‘business as usual’ in 2020.

From our perspective, there have been two major issues caused by Covid-19 in relation to the production of Pension Sharing reports: valuations and administration.

Considerable stock market volatility has meant that reports composed within the last few months are possibly out of date and need reviewing. For different reasons, this applies to both money purchase and final salary schemes.

Restrictions on movement have also meant that it has taken longer to get pension valuations from insurance companies and pension trustees.

2020 has been a challenge for everyone involved in this process. So, this year, we have worked hard to ease the process of obtaining a Pension Sharing report.

  • We produced a Quotation Request Form designed to improve our response time to your quotation requests, and improve the accuracy of our fee quotation
  • We designed a checklist for submitting a letter of instruction and attachments to BlueSKY
  • We have taken on a new paraplanner to ensure that everything runs smoothly, from collating information to creating reports, and to ensure you receive the level of service you need for your clients
  • We hosted a webinar which provided some tips and tricks to help make requesting a Pension Sharing report from BlueSKY even easier.

At a time of increased demand and longer delays as far as pension providers are concerned, we’ve all had to streamline our processes. Hopefully these improvements will help you and your clients.

Tax changes are on the way

Over the last few months, the government has provided unprecedented support to the economy. The Chancellor’s recent Spending Review confirmed that borrowing is set to reach an eye-watering £394 billion in 2020 to fund everything from the furlough scheme to PPE for key workers.

In time, it’s likely that taxes will have to rise to fill the black hole in the public purse. Earlier this year we looked at the parallels between 2020 and the end of World War Two, and we’ve also highlighted some steps you and your clients can take now ahead of any potential tax changes.

With potential changes to Capital Gains Tax, pension tax relief, or Inheritance Tax on the horizon, it’s vital that clients get the right advice now. We can help clients to make the most of their allowances or exemptions before any reforms come into effect.

2020 at BlueSKY

Along with many millions of others, we’ve also had to work differently in 2020. Just as you have adapted to working remotely and meeting clients by video conferencing, we’ve faced the same challenges. Pets and children appearing on Zoom has become an occupational hazard!

Earlier in the year we looked at the BlueSKY investment theory which believes that the best way to achieve investment success is to hold a broadly diversified portfolio of UK and global assets for the long term. We found that our approach works – and your clients can even see the figures to prove it.

We also explained why we believe keeping BlueSKY under the control of our management team rather than external shareholders is the best thing for you and your clients.

In 2020 we have also been nominated for a prestigious financial planning award, and spent the year raising money for our chosen charity, MIND. With fundraising efforts including a towering sunflower challenge we’ve so far raised 105% of our target. Thanks to everyone that has supported our efforts.

And, if you fancy entertaining yourself and your family on Boxing Day, you could try our famous Christmas Quiz. Compiled by our own Lesley Harker every year, it’s become a BlueSKY tradition, so please download it (and the answers!) from our website – and support MIND with a donation in the process.

Finally, we asked our clients what their experiences of working with us this year have been. While it’s easy for us to tell you what a great firm we are, hearing it from the people we work with directly highlights the enormous benefits that your clients could get from working with BlueSKY. Here’s what they told us.

Get in touch

If you have clients that would benefit from financial planning, you need a Pension Sharing Report, or you’d simply benefit from a chat with one of our Chartered and Resolution-member planners, please get in touch. Email info@blueskyifas.co.uk or call us on 0118 987 6655.