5 March 2024

Spotlight Series - Polly Milne

Talk us through your career to date

Bit of an unusual route into Financial Planning for me, but one I am glad to have experienced. I studied Physiology at university as human biology was a favourite of mine at school, but on graduating didn’t see myself as a scientist! So instead, I decided to train as a Chartered Accountant with Audit Scotland, where I spent time in financial and performance audit for several years. After obtaining my CA qualification, I moved to Lloyds bank where I spent time in the central finance team, but this made me realise I wanted to work directly with individuals to help them achieve clarity around their finances, and so here I am!

Tell us about your role and Carbon and why you wanted to work for the business?

I am a financial planner at Carbon, based in our Edinburgh office looking after a range of clients across the country, including those with pre- and post-retirement issues, and individuals going through major life changes such as divorce and bereavement.

When applying my role at Carbon, I met with our MD Gordon Wilson, as well as Matt Duncan and Iain Harper from the planning team, who gave me an overview of the business. What drew me to Carbon was the values and culture within the company, I could clearly see that clients and staff were at the forefront of everything, and this was important to me. I wanted to work for a company that takes time to really get to know their clients, and encourage them to realise their goals and dreams, rather than simply asset building. It is great seeing clients achieve various goals and tick off bucket list items with our help, and the relief and reassurance they get when answering that all important question of “am I going to be ok?”

What is it about your role that excites and inspires you?

Every day is different. Not one client situation is the same, and I love the variety my role offers me. What excites me most, is getting to know clients and hearing about their backgrounds and plans for the future. We have a lot of inspiring clients at Carbon who have actually given me some useful advice over the years!

Being able to help provide clarity around clients’ positions, whether that be retirement date, spending capacity or just telling them they will be ok using cashflow modelling, is really rewarding. And seeing the impact good financial planning advice can have on people’s lives gets me up every morning.

From your perspective, what are the key financial issues to be aware of over the next 5 years?

We’ve recently seen in the news that with the cost of living crisis, the average income required for a single person to have a moderate retirement income is around £31k p.a. I think pensions and saving into pensions during the working years are, and will continue to be, a hugely important planning issue for people looking ahead to retirement. Income requirements in retirement will, ultimately, vary from person to person, and a good financial planner can help establish what that number will be, and what you need to do to get there.

A lot of people avoid looking into their existing pensions either because they might seem too complex to navigate, or, often, there is a sense that the default workplace pension is taking care of things just fine. But it is never more important than now to get a second opinion on things, to ensure things are set up in the most efficient way for the future.

Pensions are ultimately there to save for your retirement. Most commonly, individuals make contributions into a pension, and those contributions are invested in the stock/bond market to grow long-term. However, there are some additional ways to invest in pensions, and recently I’ve dealt with a few business owners who have expanded their operations by using their pension to purchase and hold commercial property to be used by the business. Pensions are an excellent way to reduce your personal tax burden but also in some cases a company’s, whilst having the added benefit of saving for your future in a tax efficient way.

What is the most important piece of advice you give to your clients?

A couple of things here. Number 1 being ensure you always have a sufficient emergency cash reserve available for unexpected events, whether that be a new roof, losing income, or perhaps in the event of a market crash. Basically, money to fall back on and keep you afloat in the short-term.

Secondly, don’t focus too much on the numbers. Most of us fall into the trap of thinking investment performance is the most important thing and focus on this, but investment markets will fluctuate all the time. Actually, the most important thing to us is that clients can enjoy the life they want, without worrying about money, and with appropriate planning and an efficient investment strategy, individuals can get on with life and have fun!

If you would like to discuss your personal situation with Polly directly, she can be contacted here.

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