In Focus: Tax Year End  

All hands on deck: How advisers prepare for the tax year end

All hands on deck: How advisers prepare for the tax year end

The "silly" season is upon financial advisers, which means all hands on deck at many businesses scrambling to make those last minute tax savings for their clients. 

"March is a very, very busy period of time for us despite all best intentions, despite trying to educate our clients to get things done early," said Martin Bamford, a chartered financial planner and head of client education at Informed Choice.

"There's always that small minority that leave things to the last minute and we really have to crack the whip and get things done in time."

The clients typically causing the biggest workload for advisers in March are the wealth accumulators, said Bamford, particularly business owners working towards the March end of business year.

"They are the ones that are all of a sudden on the phone in the last sort of week of the tax year saying, 'Can we put in a big pension contribution'," he added.

But it is not all about existing clients, there are new clients coming through the door looking for last minute financial plans too.

That is why Informed Choice has taken the step of not accepting new clients until May 1, according to Bamford. "We get lots of enquiries but we want to first and foremost give the best service to our existing clients," he said.

Helen Howcroft, managing director at Equanimity, said the important thing was to have a strategy in place to manage an adviser's workload throughout the tax year.

"There has to be a very clear strategy within the business to be very organised and actually knowing which clients are the disorganised ones so that you can stay on top of them and make them aware of the deadline being given." 

But it is not always the adviser's workload that is dictating the deadline, said Paul Stocks, IFA at Continuum.

"One of the first things I look at is when is Easter, because we've had a few years when there was turmoil in the market, tax year approaching and there was Easter as well and that can have a massive impact on timescales.

"It's [about] planning ahead... but it does come down to providers' timescales as well, which they'll often share in advance."

When it comes to product areas, there are some that are expected to feature on every adviser's agenda.

"If we haven't maximised Isas and pensions then we are going to be utilising general investment accounts and maximising capital gains tax planning with moving assets from a taxed environment into a non-taxed environment," said Howcroft.

She said she would also be looking at EIS at this time of the tax year, and traditionally at venture capital trusts. But as the latter are opening earlier and earlier in the tax year, planning around VCTs now typically starts around September, she added.

To hear more tips and tricks for dealing with the tax year end, as well as the advisers' assessment of what is to come in the chancellor's spring statement, click on the link above.