Banking on the good times?

When I meet most business owners and help them to think about their future, I am often told that “my business is my pension”. This is a perfectly reasonable thing for many business owners to say if they have a business that has a value and someone else will pay cash for it. In fact, one can make a very strong case for a business to act like a pension – with the option of providing an ongoing income for life and/or a capital sum.

Of course there is a “but”.

Life doesn’t always work out as planned. Business owners have more financial options to consider than most people, but there is a still a genuine limit on what they can control. Technology and competition can make life very difficult for the business owner, particularly for those competing on price. If the technology pundits are to be believed many jobs will give way to “errorless” computers. So the challenge will always be to not simply keep up, but stay ahead – which requires some insight and probably some luck.

Stress is the normal

Then there are the normal real world problems of economics, taxation, changing political policy and also changing consumer sentiments and behaviours – just consider what has happened to retailers over the last 20 years. These are very real concerns for business owners and many will reflect on the implications of Brexit as it begins to unfold, some will survive and some will not.

Are you being squeezed?

So the news that RBS has been squeezing businesses who are vulnerable, experiencing stress and you can add another problem to the growing list. Banks are of course meant to make money and have a responsibility to their shareholders (currently most of us) to do so, however a deliberate attempt to squeeze the life (and assets) out of small businesses is arguably not what most shareholders require. Certainly badly run businesses should be allowed to fail (that’s simply the law of capitalism) but those merely experiencing a temporary cash flow problem could be nurtured back to health. The saying that a bank lends you and umbrella when its sunny and wants it back when it’s raining, is sadly very much the case.

Reality bites optimism

Most business owners are optimistic, believing that their own hard work will reap returns. Few think that their venture will end is disaster and even fewer plan for such an event. When things are going well it is easy to forget or overlook the risks. All business owners insure their own cars, but very few insure themselves or key staff – without whom the car payments and everything else quickly grinds to a halt and don’t’ expect the Banks to rush to the rescue.

You are your biggest asset

Of course planning your retirement is part of the process – being able to sell your business at the right time for the right amount requires a lot of preparation. Don’t leave it to chance and above all, don’t rely on Banks being supportive to your own plans.

If you own a business or are married to (or know) someone that does, why not arrange a meeting at our expense to help you fully understand the risks within your business so that they can be addressed, just send me an email or pick up the phone.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email