Monthly Archives

September 2021

Employee Spotlight – Lesley Irwin

Each fortnight we will be spotlighting a member of the team so that you can get to know the people behind the Pacem brand. This week we feature one of our accounting & tax directors, Lesley Irwin. Lesley, based in our North Coast office, ran her own practice for over 15 years and has recently merged her firm, Irwin-McAfee Chartered Accountants, with Pacem. Lesley is a Chartered Accountant and a Chartered Tax Advisor and plays a key role in servicing our accountancy clients.

Lesley tells us a bit more about herself below.

Your name:
Lesley Irwin

Your role at Pacem:
Director of Accounting and Tax – based in the North Coast office.

How long have you been with Pacem?
I’ve been part of Team Pacem for almost 5 months. I ran my own practice for over 15 years when a chance phone call with Elizabeth Crossan lead to a merger with Pacem.

What does your day-to-day role entail?
I oversee the provision of a wide range of compliance and advisory services for my clients including annual financial accounts, personal tax returns, payroll, VAT returns and corporation tax.

How would you describe yourself in three words?
Determined, organised, control-freak.

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
I have a full-on obsession with Formula 1 and have done since I was ten years old. Twenty-two weekends a year are filled with watching fast cars racing all over the world. I do not maintain an allegiance to any team but avidly follow a couple of drivers each year based purely on who seems the most fun, their social media posts and the livery of their cars. At the minute it’s all about McLaren.

What do you like most about your job?
I deal directly with the owners and decision-makers within the business. As an accountant I get to see the internal workings of all types of businesses and all sizes of businesses. There is a wide diversity of clients – from farmers to personal trainers, engineers to close-protection officers and opticians to mechanics. It is absolutely fascinating to see how clients in the same businesses with the same circumstances make completely different decisions, have different goals and different levels of tolerance to their tax bills. Over the last 15 years I’ve been able to see some businesses move on to the next generation when directors or partners retire, and new partners join. Other clients have started their businesses around the kitchen table or spare bedroom and quickly grown to be a success. I get to help and advise clients through pivotal moments for their businesses such as the property boom, recession, Brexit, HMRC digitalisation and now Covid-19. I really enjoy the fact that no two clients have the same approach or outcome. Every workday really is different.

If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?
Part of me thinks the first thing I would do is speak to Daniel and invest the winnings through Pacem wealth – planning for long-term security and growth while providing a solid income. The more realistic part of me thinks I would book some time off work to interview for a personal assistant, chef, chauffeur and glam squad. Then we need to consider the more practical things like mansion on the beach or apartment in a Mediterranean city? Yacht or plane ? Aston Martin or McLaren ?

What would you do (for a career) if you weren’t doing this?
I am doing my dream job at the minute 😊. However, if it doesn’t work out, I’d like to either drive a supercar for a living or become a pilot [preferably of a fighter jet].

Favourite song
Everything by Avicii or Coldplay or Kygo !

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
I would love to be able to speak another language fluently.  This has been on my list for years but with little progress.

What is something you learned in the last week?
I have less patience than I thought.

What interests/hobbies do you have outside of work
Covid-19 highlighted that my daily life had become not all that different from lockdown as a busy home life and work life had left little time for other things.  I enjoy reading a good book, swimming or a walk with the dog.  I really look forward to our Summer family holiday each year – it’s great to get all four of us away from the routine and emails to enjoy each other’s company and try out new places, new food and new activities.

Retirement Rule 1

Don’t run out of money

Of all the financial challenges and concerns that we face over our lifetimes, avoiding running out of money in retirement probably sits at the top of the list.  No-one wants to end up relying on meagre state benefits and eating own-brand baked beans every day.  Retirement Rule 1 is crucial but not guaranteed.  As Warren Buffett might say, Retirement Rule 2 is not to forget Retirement Rule 1!

In the good old days, retirees could rely on defined benefit pensions and/or annuities to provide lifelong retirement income. Today, many retirees rely, to a varying degree, on taking money from accumulated pension pots for their retirement income.  That makes outcomes less certain and decisions far tougher.

From time-to-time scary data surface about the state of retirement planning in the UK. Recently, LV – the insurance company – published the results of a survey of 4,000 people relating to how they intend or are handling their pension arrangements[1].  LV estimate that there are around 30 million pension holders in the UK.  The results are a little startling, to say the least. Take a look at the chart below.

As one third (or effectively 10 million people) do not know how to make their retirement pot last, it implies that two thirds apparently do know.  Perhaps these are the two thirds who plan on taking advice!  Not running out of money is a complex problem that taxes even the best financial brains.  It would seem that many people may be overconfident in their assessment of how much they truly know about retirement planning.

The figure below provides an overview of just how tricky this process is and how it must be an ongoing, dynamic process, not a one-off decision at retirement. Knowing what you cannot control and understanding what you can, provides some insight into the complexity of – and solutions to – retirement planning.

Retirement is meant to be a time of financial freedom allowing you to do the things you want to do, when you want to do them and who you want to do them with.  It is a great shame that many people in the UK will fail to achieve even a modicum of financial freedom and lifestyle choice.  As a broad rule of thumb, today, £1 million will buy an inflation-linked annuity income of around £27,500 a year[1].  Yet the median UK pension pot is around £91,000[2] (for those 55-64 years old), which on the same basis will deliver only £2,500 a year.

Taking an income from an investment portfolio may allow a withdrawal rate that is potentially a little higher but needs a lot of care and attention to reduce the risk of running out of money.  Making sure that you optimise the decisions that need to be made – and control all the things you can control – will allow you to maximise the stability, level and longevity of retirement income you need.

That is what a good adviser will help their clients do and where they earn their fees.  The best way to achieve Retirement Rule 1 is to take proper financial planning advice.

If you have any questions, thoughts or actions relating to the content of this article please get in touch with us by calling us on 028 9099 6948 or by emailing


[2]     Office for National Statistics.

[1] 10m pensioners risk running out of money, 26th August 2021