Some of my happiest and rewarding moments in my business life have been when I have been communicating and exchanging business ideas with other people. This was something I learned from attending meetings and communication with people from around the world at MDRT meetings. The MDRT is a worldwide association of financial advisors and its ethos is the sharing of business ideas so that everyone leaves the meeting with new ideas and loads of motivation.

I went for many years to MDRT meetings all around America and Canada with my good friend Michael Sheehan who sadly passed away last year.  From time to time I gave talks at these meetings and I just loved to do that work as I so enjoy what I do every day which is helping people plan their financial affairs. To be given the opportunity to share my business ideas with other people is a real privilege

Some years ago I wrote a book called “Don’t be afraid to dream”. Today I am still dreaming and still enjoying the work I do.  I also undertook with my brother and sisters the publishing of a book on our old family business Dwyer & Co that closed down in the 1980’s having traded for 160 years. That gave us all great satisfaction and a kind of closure on some sad memories too.

I had been toying with the idea of doing another book with my son Eamon on succession in a family business such as ours but then about 18 months ago I met Greg Canty who does some PR work for us who told me that I should do a regular blog instead. So with his help and advice I started one. Thanks also for her help to Michelle who works here with us at City Life.

I suppose I like writing and telling stories and taking photos and as I said I also enjoy sharing business ides with other financial advisors. Posting a blog more or less every week seems to work well for me and helps me to keep in touch with some wonderful people all over the world.

So far I have posted 71 blogs and my blogs have been read more than 10,000 times which I find a little flabbergasting! Not only have they been read more than 10,000 times but by people from 69 countries scattered all over the world.

Naturally most of the reads have been from people in Ireland at over 7,000. Next the USA at close to 1,000, the UK follows at over 700, then France (thanks to brother Martin!) then Canada  and Australia so they are the countries that read my blogs the most. Thank you for reading wherever you are and for your mostly positive feed back!

The statistics that can be gleaned from WordPress the blog engine are amazing and from them I can also see which blog is the most read one.

The top blog was one I posted on 27th of May last year which discussed the extra tax people in Ireland pay by not having a pension in place called “Why Not pay some money to yourself each month rather than to the tax man”.

The second most read was posted on 25th of Feb 2014 called Daylight Robbery which called on the Minister for finance Michael Noonan to get rid of the disgraceful levy on accumulating pension schemes. Thankfully good sense has prevailed here. Was my blog important?

The third most popular was posted on Oct 29th 2014 on one of my sporting heroes of all time the wonderful rugby player Jack Kyle, which I wrote after reading his daughter Justine’s wonderful book on his life story. Sadly Jack died soon afterwards but I was so pleased I made contact with him and Justine before he passed away.

The blog that came 4th was again a sporting one posted on 15th of Jan 2014 “Would you like a present of a racehorse” with a few stories about the wonderful character and good friend of my dad’s Dr PK Kiely. I am sure with the annual Cheltenham festival looming that we will have our usual few winners for the racing crowd before the racing begins. Keep reading Ted’s blog!!

I have decided to publish my most read blog again because in Ireland over 50% of all working people have no pension provision in place.  Our goal at City Life for this year is to highlight this fact and to do what we can to get people to start putting some money away each month so that when they come to retirement age they will have enough money accumulated to  have the financial freedom, to decide whether to retire or keep working.

Most read blog reprinted below:

“Why Not pay some money to yourself each month rather than to the tax man”

I have been a financial advisor now for more than 45 years and have always taken my responsibilities seriously.

As I see it there are three vital issues that we have to address and help our customers to understand

1- They need us to be there for them with money should they have a serious illness or accident that prevents them for working

2- They need us to provide money for their family so that their family can go on living in the style that they have become acustomed to, if they are no longer around to provide the income themselves

3- They need us to help them to have sufficient money at their selected retirement age so that they will have the financial independence to decide whether they want to retire or continue to work at that time.

When rearing a family there is very little if any surplus cash and the money to buy the vital insurance covers are sometimes hard to find. The cost of not buying the cover can however be catastrophic to the family so most times this money will be found.

To get our customers to pay money into a retirement fund which they cannot touch for maybe 30 or 40 years is however much more difficult to get a decision on.

Over the years I have used a very simple concept that helps people to make a decision to start putting a little money away each month into their retirement savings pot.

Irish people absolutely hate paying unnecessary taxes. I know that this is very different in countries like England and America and understand that it is just an Irish thing! In fact I was recently reading about my hero Warren Buffet who suggested that the USA tax people should raise the tax rate for him and other similar people. Can’t see that happening in Ireland!

When I have suggested to a new customer of mine that it would be a good idea to start a little retirement savings plan and I sense a reluctance to make a decision I say to them, “surely it is much better to pay some money to yourself each month rather than pay it to the tax man?”

I can tell you that this grabs their attention like no other statement I have ever made. The reaction is always the same” What do you mean?” And so I explain.

In Ireland our top rate of tax is 41% and people pay tax at these rates on ridiculously low incomes. So if I had been suggesting a payment of €500 per month it could mean that tax at 41% of €500 an amount of €205 per month would be saved. If my customer was aged 40 and was planning to retire at 65 we are now talking about tax relief of €205 per month which is €2,460 per annum or a massive €61,500 to their retirement age.

We now have created the situation that your customer understands that if they don’t do as we have suggested they will be paying unnecessary taxes to their retirement age of over €60,000.  This is a step too far for most Irish people and their next question tends to be if I do what you suggest what will it do for me at age 65? We are now in a closing situation.

The situation becomes even more interesting if your customer operates a limited company.

Let me explain;

Let’s assume your customer takes a salary of €50,000 a year from his business and at the end of each year has a surplus of €25,000 in the company which can be taken as salary or put into a company retirement plan in their name.

If taken as salary tax will be paid at the current rate of 41% on the €25,000 which is €10,250 of tax every year which is a total of €256,250 of tax to be paid to retirement age. Perhaps better to pay the money to themselves each year than pay it to the tax man!

Over the years I have got great satisfaction in seeing our customers reach retirement age and to see the substantial funds they have accumulated with our help to give them income in their retirement. I call it pay back time! Many of these funds were started initially with very small monthly investments that we helped them to increase over the years.

My rule of thumb is simple if they told me they wanted €50,000 a year at retirement age I would say without blinking that they would need a million available at that time and then showed them how much they needed to invest each month to get to their target assuming modest rates of tax free growth, a status that retirement funds in Ireland enjoy!

If they could not afford to do what was needed at that time then I would break it down and maybe start their funding at a level at a quarter or a third of what they needed to do. Then the next year we would talk about their retirement plan again and bit by bit they would bring their funding levels to where they told me they wanted them to be when they were ready to retire.  Their plan for their retirement not mine!

They had now taken ownership because they understood where they wanted to go. Our job will be just to help them along the way and try to keep them on track.

Ted Dwyer Family Business

February 2015