Winter 2019

We’ve nearly made it to the end of a tumultuous year and the turmoil isn’t over yet. Our latest newsletter went to print just before the general election, the outcome of which will have a profound effect on the future direction of the country.

Political uncertainties on both sides of the Atlantic are symptomatic of the strange behaviour analysts are seeing in the stock market. In our feature for this edition we look at the peculiar case of the behaviour of UK shares versus government bonds. The last ten years have seen a reversal in previous trends, with dividend yield on UK shares overtaking the returns on government bonds. There are similar scenarios across other world markets, as lower interest rates look set to become the new normal. Guidance on selecting suitable funds may be more important than ever.

As we all brace for the seasonal tradition known as holiday shopping, we offer a few strategies to help you keep a check on spending. With credit cards and contactless payment lessening the ‘pain’ of handing over money, some forethought could help you set up some better spending habits into the new year

Our other stories include:

  • Caught in pension allowance tax traps? Over the last ten years the standard lifetime allowance has been almost halved, and the annual tax relievable pension contribution allowance slashed to just 15% of its former size. Some earners are now finding themselves with unexpected tax bills.
  • All change on company car tax: The introduction from April of new WLTP car emission standards mean the company car benefit tax system will receive a considerable overhaul.
  • It’s easier being green: investing on principle As climate change has topped the international agenda, increasing numbers of individual investors seek to invest in line with their principles and focus on environmental, social and governance-based funds. It’s your money and you can make a difference.
  • It won’t happen to me: protecting your income: Income protection may seem an unnecessary expense for a fit, successful employee, but with another wave of big high street retailers failing, it could be prudent to make sure you have a back up plan in place.
Download Winter 2019

Autumn 2019

We are living in very peculiar times. This might even be an understatement after what has happened in the news recently. Political news does not seem to slow down especially with a new and upcoming Brexit deadline. It is fair to say that the uncertainty about what will happen in the coming months has increased dramatically. Such major events make it easy for other important regulatory changes to slip under the radar.

‘Holding steady in volatile times’ would be an appropriate statement and, in this newsletter, we hope to shine light on other important issues which could impact your financial planning and in general taxpayers across the country such as proposals to simplify Inheritance Tax, growing criticisms of university fees and the impact workplace pensions has had since its inception.

Whilst not every article may be relevant to you, we hope you find the contents of this newsletter useful and informative and, as always, let us know if you think you may be affected by any of the topics in this edition.

Our other stories include:

  • Simplifying the inheritance tax rules – Major changes to inheritance tax (IHT) are proposed by the government’s Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) which could alter your estate planning.

  • Taking the long view on your investments? – Trade wars between the US and China, as well as Brexit and tensions in various parts of the world have all made markets more volatile in recent months. Unsurprisingly, private investors have become more nervous.
  • Time for a university fees shake-up? – A review of post-18 education in England has put student financing under the spotlight yet again – and could be the subject of another bout of reform.
  • Workplace pensions – good start but not enough – This October marks the seventh anniversary of the start of workplace pension auto-enrolment, perhaps proving that some grand government schemes can be a success.

Download Autumn 2019

Summer 2019

Expectations and planning are two words which appear to have wandered into the long grass in 2019 so far. With continuing political uncertainty and now a leadership election in full swing, you might be forgiven for sitting back and putting everything on hold.

While John Lennon famously sang that ‘Life happens when you’re busy making other plans’, the reverse is also true. It continues when you’re making no plans at all. As far as financial planning is concerned, some things can’t wait.

Our feature in the Summer edition of our latest newsletter focuses on the perennial issue of pension contributions. As we all know, the earlier we start to save towards retirement, the better off we’ll be. With the latest increase to auto-enrolment contribution rates from April, you may think you’re in a much better position. But as our title asks ‘How much is enough for pension contributions?’ The answer may surprise you

Our other stories include:

  • Dividends riding high, but...: Investors in UK-listed companies enjoyed record level dividend payouts in early 2019, but recently announced cuts from some high profile companies have clouded the picture.
  • Pensions and divorce – not just about the split: With the emotional turmoil and complexities surrounding divorce, the most valuable asset – your pension funds – can easily be overlooked.
  • Balancing the school fees equation: The cost of private education in the UK is increasing at nearly double the rate of inflation. Despite this, record numbers of pupils are attending independent schools. We offer strategies to make sure you stay on top of rising costs.
  • New headaches for landlords: Property owners may be feeling under siege with profits squeezed as income tax relief has been curtailed and now new legislation around evicting tenants. Will the changes protect vulnerable tenants from unscrupulous landlords, or make evictions of problem tenants more difficult?
Download Summer 2019

Spring 2019

It’s almost impossible to predict the near future with any certainty, particularly in this final month before the UK’s planned exit from the EU. We focus in this edition of our newsletter on what we do know will be happening and how steer a steady course.

Our feature article is about preparing for the new 2019/20 tax year – one of the few certainties this year. We highlight the rise in the higher rate income tax threshold for taxpayers outside Scotland, as well as the impact rises in the NIC threshold and auto-enrolment contributions will have on disposable income across the UK.

Our other stories include:

  • Planning the 100-year life: Be prepared: statistics show that the younger you are, the older you are likely to become and the more money you will need to fund your retirement.
  • Building your assets with infrastructure funds: Previously less accessible to retail investors, new energy and infrastructure funds offer investment opportunities not closely linked to the values of most other shares or bonds.
  • Keeping your head – the psychology of investment: Surprisingly, people’s investment instincts are often governed by confirmation bias rather than detached logic. How aware are you of what might be driving your decisions?
  • Just in case: protecting against income cuts: As the roll-out of universal credit slowly continues you may wish to insure against potential income loss so you don’t experience a drop in lifestyle if your circumstances ever come under pressure.
Download Spring 2019

Winter 2018

Welcome to our winter newsletter, which brings you fresh news and advice on your money and investment opportunities.

Our feature story this time looks at the details of the 2018 Budget, and how those headline increases play out across the rest of the tax system.

Alongside that we look at the booming US stock market and the growing
market for ethical and socially responsible investment funds.

With recent data showing increasing life expectancy we offer some guidance on using annuities to guarantee an income in retirement.

We also cover the key facts for your credit rating, and offer some tips on how to manage your data.

Our other stories include:

Lessons from a record bull run: The record run, and ongoing strong performance, of US markets offers some food for thought on investment allocation strategies.
Don’t ignore your credit report: With high-profile data breaches affecting millions, keeping a good credit rating could be about more than paying bills on time.
Growing ethical investment for sustainable returns: The data shows interest in ethical investment options is growing rapidly, and new rules for fund trustees could accelerate that trend further.
Annuity options for long-life planning: With life expectancies dramatically increased over the last 20 years, we look at the role of annuities in guaranteeing an income throughout your retirement.

Download Winter 2018

Autumn 2018

Welcome to the autumn edition of our newsletter, covering the latest developments as the country moves towards winter and the next Budget.

Our feature story is about the lifelong journey of supporting children financially.

We also look at lifetime gifts and possible changes to inheritance tax. For pensions we have essential advice for anyone planning their first lump sum withdrawal, and a look back at six years of auto enrolment.

And for investment we offer help on decoding fund fees, and how to use market indexes in your investment planning.

Our other stories include:

  • Don't be caught by the pension tax trap: You may be over-taxed on your first pension lump sum withdrawal.
  • Financing a child's future: Supporting children financially is a long-term task that could need careful planning.
  • Auto enrolement six years on: Workplace pension membership is rising, but will your savings be enough in retiement?
  • Shedding light on fund fees: Despite efforts to improve the situation, fund fees are still complex to understand.
  • Thinking of making lifetime gifts?: The current generous treatment of gifts could be changed in the next budget.
  • The ins and outs of market indices: Successful investment strategies should remember that companies in indexes can change regularly.
Download Autumn 2018

Summer 2018

Welcome to the summer edition of our newsletter where, as the year starts to flourish, we continue to look for ways to help your money do the same. Amongst the many planning opportunities open to you we look this time at the ISA family and how you can make the most of your regular savings. With savings in mind, we take a look at market investments across UK dividends and the changing environment for VCTs and investing in enterprise businesses. We offer thoughts on interest rates, which are pegged to rise this year, as well as the impact of inflation on frozen tax thresholds. We understand these are complex and unpredictable times, and are on hand to help you plan your path through them.

Our other stories include:

  • A new era for VCTs and EISs: Investment in venture enterprises has been overhauled with new ‘risk-to-capital’ rules coming into effect.
  • Reduced protection for mortgage payments: Support for Mortgage Interest became a loan – instead of a benefit – from April 2018.
  • Stuck in frozen tax thresholds?: The Exchequer doesn’t need to raise taxes to cost you money. We look at ways of dealing with inflation increasing your costs.
  • Interest rates are set to rise: With increases to the interest rate expected during 2018, what effect will this have on your savings and investments?
Download Summer 2018

Spring 2018

With the new tax year about to begin everyone is focused on the here and  now. Annual allowances are about to expire, meaning decisions need to be made.
But our eyes are also on the future, with key changes affecting pensions. As well as the lifetime allowance increasing after a long break, there are the forthcoming increases to the state pension age and automatic-enrolment contributions. Closer to, we also look at the changes to tax relief affecting buy-to-let mortgages and the potential savings from relevant life policies. As ever, if you are affected by any of our stories get in touch so we can discuss your circumstances.

Our other stories include:

  • Tax relief reductions affecting Landlords: The phased reduction of tax relief on interest for buy-to-let landlords could mean your costs change significantly.
  • The new tax year begins:
  • Time is running out: For you to make the most of your allowances and exemptions.
  • The lifetime allowance increases: At last, what does the first increase to the allowance
    since 2012 mean for your pension planning?
  • The savings from relevant life
    policies: Could you be taking advantage of this taxefficient
    form of insurance?
  • State pension age continues to rise: Retirement moves further away for the younger generations, so are your plans still right for you?
Download Spring 2018