Time to Brexit proof your finances

Jeff Prestridge

Jeff Prestridge

What interesting days we live in.

Certainly, the past three weeks have been some of the most exciting and troubling times I have experienced as a consumer money journalist.

On 23 June, the day of the EU referendum vote, I wrote a personal finance column for The Mail on Sunday stating that on the back of a ‘remain’ win, it was crucial for the government to get back on track and carry on with its day job of ensuring the economy remained in growth mode.

Of course, the next day, at 5.30am, when my radio clock rang out like a shrill gull on acid and Radio 4 alerted me to the fact that the Brexiteers had won against all the odds, my column was redundant (I have kept a copy for posterity’s sake).

Within an hour of scurrying out of bed and getting on a Boris Bike to hurry to work, I was told by the editor that I had a 16-page special to produce on how Brexit would impact our finances. Hairy stuff; but by Saturday afternoon, the job was completed – albeit with little sleep and enough stress to induce hair loss, and stomach cramps which have yet to go away.

There is no doubt that the fallout from – and response to – the Brexit vote will have a major impact on the UK economy in the months and years ahead.

The political landscape is shifting all the time, with tectonic plates regularly colliding against each other while the financial markets are in a volatile mood.

Sterling remains subdued, gilt yields are tight, and the UK stock market resembles a yo-yo. Worryingly, some of the country’s biggest property funds have pulled up the drawbridge, suspending withdrawals and stoking fears of a commercial property crash.

Although the anointment of Theresa May as Prime Minister may bring a semblance of calm, I doubt it. While uncertainty remains, we are in for a rocky ride.

Against a frothy political, financial and economic backdrop, I have been able to send out some simple messages to readers in recent weeks and days.

1. Lock down your mortgage payments with a fixed-rate loan (preferably a five-year one).

2. Ensure your cash savings are earning a half decent rate of interest.

3. Utilise your tax-friendly savings allowances and tax reliefs (Isas, pensions and personal savings allowance).

4. Be wary of locking into a rock-bottom pension annuity rate, ensuring you shop around for an annuity that suits your circumstances and takes into account any health issues.

5. Be careful not to denude your drawdown pension pot with punishing withdrawals.

6. Keep investing through thick and thin and through monumental stock market gyrations.