Perhaps you’re excited by the idea of Britain leaving the EU. Alternatively, perhaps you’re tremendously worried or uncertain about how to feel.
Regardless of your political views, Britain’s scheduled departure from the EU on 29th March 2019 is bound to have a big impact on the UK economy and on people’s finances.
At the time of writing, the UK is still in discussions with the EU about the exact terms of Britain’s withdrawal. It’s still unclear whether Britain will leave on the terms of Theresa May’s current Withdrawal Agreement, on different terms or without a formal deal (“no deal”).
In light of this, how can you prepare your finances for the uncertainty ahead? Is there a way to “Brexit-proof” your financial plan?
Let’s take a look at some of the key areas of financial planning which might affect you.
There have been no announced changes to the triple lock in light of Brexit, although this could come under pressure further down the line.
Due to the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, fears have been expressed in the media that non-resident British nationals might lose their triple lock benefits. However, the UK government has stated that even in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the triple lock will continue to apply to British expats who are living in EU countries.
One area of concern, of course, is what might happen to the stock market, should Britain leave the UK without a deal. After all, a stock market crash would likely cause many private pensions to lose value in the short term. Should this happen, those approaching retirement would likely take a financial hit.
Predicting the stock market is, of course, impossible and you should be very careful about trying to time the market. A no-deal Brexit could, for instance, lead to a short-term dip in your investment portfolio and then a correction as markets adjust to the new economic reality.
With that said, however, given the uncertainty here it’s a good idea to speak to your financial planner about your retirement plan - especially if you’re looking to retire soon. That way, you can put appropriate contingencies in place and better prepare for different eventualities.
For British people living abroad, the value of Sterling post-Brexit is likely to affect your pension - especially if there is an upheaval in the exchange rate. Again, we encourage you to speak to your financial planner if you have any concerns about this.
The housing market
Once again, nobody knows for certain what will happen to mortgages and property markets across Oxford (or the wider UK) after Britain leaves the EU.
It would be fair to say, however, that many industry experts currently predict that house prices and sales will stall over the next few years. Indeed, property prices might even fall in Oxford - which they’re currently doing across London at the moment.
Should this occur then it would certainly be good news for first time buyers, although not the best news for those looking to sell and move.
A potential rise in interest rates is difficult to predict. In 2018 the Bank of England raised interest rates from 0.50% to 0.75% - the first rise since March 2009. Currently, the consensus seems to be that the UK government is likely to keep interest rates low in the short term - even in the event of a no-deal Brexit. However, they might well rise further down the line.
As mentioned above, a no-deal Brexit is likely to produce turbulence in the UK stock market. The value of investments would almost certainly be affected, and would likely therefore go down in the short term.
Does that mean that you should pull out of your investments? Our view reflects the prevailing wisdom in the investment community - stock markets do recover and, historically speaking, eventually surpass their previous value, although past performance is no guarantee of the future.
Household bills such as your weekly food shop, energy bills and fuel expenditure are likely to rise following Britain’s departure from the EU.
Although this prediction is not set in stone, it seems likely that the value of the pound will decline against the US dollar. Since oil prices are quoted in dollars, a weakened pound would result in higher costs when purchasing oil.
For the ordinary citizen, that would translate to higher petrol prices and higher costs for heating/electrifying your home.
In light of this, it would be wise to review your monthly budget and identify any areas of unnecessary spending that could be optimised.
Digital subscriptions are typically a good place to start. Monthly subscriptions to Audible, Now TV and Netflix are great if you use them. However, they amount to dozens of wasted pounds per month if you hardly ever watch or listen to them. We’ve put together a list of 11 easy ways to save money – take a look.
If interest rates do eventually rise then this would clearly be a positive development for savers. However, if mortgage rates and living costs also increase, then this would offset the value of the extra savings you’re able to generate.
Every year holds the prospect of economic turbulence, investment risk and financial uncertainty. However, Britain’s anticipated departure from the EU on 29th March 2019 brings these things into much sharper focus in people’s minds.
Ideally, your financial plan should account for a range of possible outcomes in different areas of your financial life (e.g. pensions, housing, investments etc.), regardless of the Brexit outcome. That way, if events and developments in 2019 produce a more negative outcome, you are prepared for it and able to move forward with a greater peace of mind.
It’s not too late to start getting your affairs in order. If you’d like to speak to a specialist about your financial plan, then we invite you to get in touch to arrange a free, no-commitment consultation with one of our financial planners.
Punter Southall Focus is an experienced financial planning business based in Oxford. We help private clients grow and protect their family wealth through retirement planning, life assurance, mortgage advice and wealth management. Get in touch today to speak to book a free, no-commitment financial consultation with one of our team in Oxford.
Topics: Insights & Advice