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'Go and spend': How this IFA helped wean a couple off saving

12 November 2019

Going from saving to spending is not an easy switch to make, especially for Dutch couple Rolf and Saskia Horst, but the coaching of Capital Asset Management’s Graham McCulley has eased the transition...

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Rolf and Saskia on Graham...

Rolf, 72, and Saskia Horst, 65, emigrated to the UK 46 years ago and have lived in East Horsley, Surrey, for more than 20 years, where they are now enjoying a carefree retirement…

Saskia: Our first experience of financial advice was when our daughter was born and our neighbour, a financial adviser, spoke to us about taking out a school fees policy. I would see kids walking to a lovely local pre-prep school, so we started saving £100 per month and increased that to £150 when our son was born.

Rolf: I worked as a reinsurance broker in the City – initially from 1969 to 1971 and then we moved here for good in 1973. Saskia worked for the Dutch Embassy in London until our children came along. We paid their school fees from my salary and bonus and left the policies to grow until they were aged 16 to 18 – that’s when it’s most expensive.

Rolf: Financial advice really started when our old adviser sold his business to Capital Asset Management. Capital then took over and arranged our mortgage and consolidated company pensions into my SIPP to plan for my retirement in the ten years’ time [aged 67]. They have given us the lifestyle and security we wanted in retirement.

Rolf: A new adviser is a bit of a gamble, but I took an immediate liking to Alan [Smith, chief executive] and Graham. Capital has invested a lot in technology and the whole thing was computerised – that brought greater transparency and efficiency to the process.

Saskia: When Rolf was two years from retirement, we started meeting with Alan and Graham every six months – I would go up to London to join those meetings. They have taken a lot of time to get to know us as people – what our interests are, what we want to achieve – and establish how much money we’d need on a monthly basis. It’s very much a bespoke service.

Saskia: Capital advised us to invest in Rolf’s pension, and whenever he got a bonus half of it would go into the pension pot. We’re now reaping the rewards. We have been careful in saving all of our lives so it’s a big change to be told ‘go and spend’, but if there’s something extravagant that we really want to do, we can – rolf bought a share in wisley golf club, for example.

Rolf: They call me the frugal Dutchman, but when we do things, we do them properly. Graham said: ‘Whatever you want to do, do it when you’re between 65 and 75.’ He’s encouraged us to enjoy our retirement – don’t fly economy so your children can fly club class when you’re no longer here. If we go on holiday, we want to do it in luxury. Next year, we’ll go to South Africa from February to March, France in May and the Norwegian fjords in August.

Saskia: We both grew up in The Hague and thought we might like to retire to the sea, but graham advised us to think carefully about it. In the end, we decided we love our village. We have so many friends here – we didn’t want to start all over again.

Rolf: We trust Capital implicitly. I have recommended them to colleagues and friends over the years – most recently to one of my golfing friends – and our son has been a client for a number of years now.

Rolf: Capital has brought tremendous value to our lives. We’re not restricted in our retirement – it’s lovely to be able to say that. It’s really nice that, with Graham as our adviser, we can sleep easily. It’s his profession – he knows exactly what he’s doing.

Graham on Rolf and Saskia...

For Graham Mcculley, a director of London-based Capital, retirement planning is more than a numbers game…

Alan Smith bought the business in 2004, I joined at the end of that year and started working with the Horsts from the start. In the few years before Rolf retired, I became their main adviser. They were very long-standing clients of their previous adviser – they trusted his judgement – but as with any change it gives you the opportunity to re-evaluate.

I particularly like helping people planning for or at retirement – gearing up their finances and having serious conversations about what retirement will actually look like. It’s about Rolf, it’s about Saskia and how they want to live their lives.

Coaching people to deal with the psychology of retirement can be just as important as making sure they have the finances in place. Retirement is a life stage, but it’s not necessarily a positive one for everyone. You can lose your identity – psychologically, it can be quite a challenging time for people. We are here to help them prepare mentally as well as financially so we can remove a lot of the stress that people go through at that moment.

I like to ensure the partner is involved – so I asked Saskia to join Rolf at the meetings. I wanted to ask her how she felt about her husband retiring. You can be happily married but if one party has never worked or retired early, they have their interests and their network, so it can be a huge change.

The Horsts were worried about how they would get their money each month – the practicalities of replacing the salary they need. Rolf went from a five-day week to a shorter week. He knew each month that a certain amount of salary was going to be paid into his bank account. There’s something nice about that.

Retirement is a project – you cost it out and factor in a 10-20% overspend, depending on the lifestyle. Each client tends to only retire once, but I’m on my 100th time. It’s this experience that I aim to pass down to my clients.

The Horsts are in what I call the ‘doing years’ – the first 10 to 15 years of retirement when they can do the exciting stuff. They are enjoying travelling, playing golf and spending time with their children and grandson.

They have started to understand the heartbeat of their retirement. They’ve got friends in South Africa, so like spending a couple of months there every year to get away from the British winter. Things can and do change though – they want to continue going to South Africa for the next few years as they enjoy the culture and climate but at some stage they might not do as much long-haul travel – so it’s an ongoing conversation.

Once people have accumulated their pension pot, a lot of them don’t want to spend it. Once you’ve built something you don’t want to lose it. As a financial planner you’re often fighting the irrationality of the human mind.

Rolf and Saskia always want to know ‘do we have enough money?’ ‘Are we spending too much?’ I am happy to tell them that it’s going to be okay – that spending money is part of the plan. Our client survey shows that the overwhelmingly number one thing that clients value from us is peace of mind. The Horsts value what we do. They’re really big advocates of ours. They’re very humble and very grateful.