WHAT would you like to get out of this column?

The answer, I would presume, would be ‘what should I do with my finances in the next year, given the current state of flux?’

As I have said many times, the biggest concern surrounding people’s personal finances is a change in the system on which they have based their future plans.

It therefore pays to have a flexible financial plan that is not dependent on just one outcome.

I do hope you all have a plan in place. For example, have you considered how much money you are you going to have to retire on and when you are going to retire?

If you don’t already have a plan, putting one in place should be your first step. The second should be to make sure it is flexible.

As part of this it is vital to ensure you always diversify your tax risk.

Start by ensuring that you are not dependent on any one area to give you a retirement fund that will allow you to play an eternal round at Carnoustie or buy a holiday home in sunnier climes - North Berwick perhaps.

The Overton Window - a political window where the current views sit - has moved, meaning that a higher tax regime is likely, regardless of what the next government may look like.

My view is the tax system will change, so it pays to look at the three areas that are likely to change and try to plan accordingly.

First, the tax relief on pensions and the level of contributions are likely to change.

The lifetime allowance may also decrease from just over a million pounds, although no one is going to march on the Scottish Parliament for the millionaire pensioners.

Additionally, you may want to consider whether it might be worth taking your 25 per cent pension commencement lump sum (PCLS) if you are eligible to do so.

This used to be known as tax-free cash, but that term has not been used since the last Labour Government in 2010.

It is therefore worth asking yourself why the Government would remove the term tax-free cash if it was not going to remove the tax-free status, and then ask yourself what this would mean to your financial plans if it did?

Secondly, be careful about trusts at the moment. If you are looking to tax the rich, this is the perfect target - not many poor people have a trust (Vulnerable Persons Trusts would be excluded).

This leads to being careful about esoteric investment ideas that offer tax efficiencies.

There is nothing new here, and loopholes will not just suddenly close, but may chop you in half when they do.

It is worth keeping in mind that the Panama Papers have already raised £190 million for HM Revenue & Customs - if you cannot explain your tax affairs in a few sentences then you might start to worry.

My mantra has always been, pay the tax you need to pay but no more.

Tax is actually a really good thing and if you do not pay any you are either not making any money, or will shortly be held at Her Majesty’s pleasure.

Thirdly, as I mentioned above, make sure you use all your allowances so that if one investment becomes tax inefficient the others can compensate.

Use pensions, your capital gains allowance and Isa and dividend allowances. It is also worth looking at Enterprise Investment Schemes and Venture Capital Trusts although it is important to ensure you are investing in them for the right reasons rather than for the tax efficiencies they offer. Also remember that they are very high risk.

The Government does not give us many ways to save tax, so make sure you use as many as you can before they are taken away.

Additionally, higher earners are likely to be hit as part of the tax changes.

This is a difficult one to manage so do not look to earn less money to pay less tax, the maths just does not add up.

The reality is that you cannot really be ‘future proofed’, but you can try to be as robust as possible.

You probably didn’t get an answer to the initial question that was posed, but sadly, I am not Nostradamus.

Michael Martin is private client manager at 7IM.