What I do
I work with both individuals on an advisory basis or couples on an information basis.
For individuals, we start helping right at the beginning of the process. The first step is to collate your financial information so that you can exchange your financial information with your ex. This is known as financial disclosure and usually means completing a “Form E” with all your financial information, confirmed by evidence, such as bank statements, pension information and mortgage redemption statements, etc. At this stage, we will also help you to understand what your lifestyle costs now and may cost in the future, so that we can see how any settlement may work for you.
Many of our clients need to better understand their finances, during and post divorce. We help by providing financial education to understand pensions, investments and spending plans.
Once your financial disclosure is complete, it is common for one party to make an offer to the other. We can help you to understand what an offer means to you in the context of your lifestyle (either one your lawyer suggests or one you receive from your ex). It may be that there are some small changes that might be appropriate to make to the offer to make it acceptable to you. We find that this part of the process can help to resolve the financial settlement without the need for court, although there is no guarantee of this as it depends on your ex as well as you.
Divorce Specialist Financial Planners are experts in pensions. We are often brought into the process by a lawyer to provide information on the pensions or to help to understand the actuarial report and advise on how the recommendations impact you. We can also discuss the options available from pensions on divorce.
Once you have reached your financial settlement and the orders have been sealed by the court, we can implement the pension sharing orders if you need to transfer your share externally. This means either setting up a new pension, or if appropriate using one you already have, to transfer the benefits into.
In some cases, a lump sum will be ordered to be paid. It may be that this money needs to provide income for you instead of spousal maintenance, or instead of a pension. We can help you to invest this for income, or to grow to be available in the future.
After your divorce is completed, you will want to begin to plan for your future. We work with you to understand what your plan currently looks like and the steps you need to take to rebuild your wealth and achieve the lifestyle that you want. There may be personal aspirations that you have, perhaps to live abroad, retire early, or just travel more. We can help you to work out how to make this happen.
For couples, we work slightly differently, as we only provide information, to avoid conflicts of interest. Our work is as a “financial neutral”. We provide information on financial products, so that both parties hear the information from the same source. We explain the pension benefits that you each have and then explain the options for these pensions. We can also explain the information provided in your actuarial report
What I don’t do
I don’t provide capital gains tax calculations. These would need to be provided by a Tax Adviser.
I don’t provide actuarial reports. These are written by an actuary. There has been some confusion around Pension On Divorce Experts, or PODEs since the seminal PAG report was released in July 2019. Financial Planners can be PODEs but can still not write an actuarial report.
I don’t provide legal advice. I am not a lawyer and so strongly advise that you seek this from a family lawyer or solicitor.
I don’t provide counselling or therapy. Although many financial planners are great listeners, we are not trained to provide you with the emotional support that most people going through divorce will need. There are some excellent divorce coaches and therapists, who should form part of your divorce team.
What qualifications, memberships and experience to look for
You should always look for a divorce specialist, preferably one who holds the Resolution Accreditation as they will have been tested on the areas that are most important for those going through divorce. You should also look for Chartered or Certified Financial Planners, who will additionally hold advanced level exams.
Top tips for getting the most out of my profession
Remember it is a partnership and so there will be information that you need to provide.
Be honest and open, as this will help us to help you to live the life that you desire.
Allow us to speak to your lawyer, even if there is a cost involved as the team work will save you money in the long run.
Postscript. There are some very informative and thoughtful articles on this hub about appointing professional support. This is one such example.