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How to reduce your monthly expenses

Richard Eastwood
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Many workers have lost their jobs, accepted part-time hours or been put on furlough as a result of the economic disruption caused by COVID-19. According to the Centre for Economics and Business Research, British households will see a drop in their disposable...

The art of armchair travelling

Kimberley Sykes
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The Covid-19 outbreak has meant that it’s unlikely any of us will be travelling any time soon. However, virtual escapism remains on the cards for anyone with an internet connection. You can now see some of the world’s most amazing travel...

It's Always a Good Time to Look at Tax Planning

Richard Eastwood
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When considering inheritance most of us look to leave our home to a loved one or family member and in the midst of Covid-19 there has been some good news for those planning to leave a legacy behind, says Pearson’s Financial Partner , Richard Eastwood ....

How to spot fake news

Suzanne Wright
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Social media and online platforms are full of misinformation and fake news at the best of times so in the midst of a pandemic, the problem only escalates. Conspiracy theories, fake cures and scams abound – myths that 5G causes coronavirus, that...

May Market Commentary

Richard Eastwood
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Introduction  Right now, even a week seems a long time in the news agenda. Remembering the end of March, when we wrote our last Market Commentary, feels like looking back into a different era.  Reflecting back, how did we leave March? With the...

5 key points about becoming financially independent

Kimberly Davies
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Financial independence can seem like the holy grail. We may be striving towards it but feel bombarded by lots of conflicting messages on how best to attain it. These five points give an interesting perspective:     Income is not the same...

April Market Commentary

Richard Eastwood
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Introduction In March, the coronavirus outbreak seemed to steal all the headlines, giving us almost hourly updates as it transformed our lives, and made the word ‘unprecedented’ feel like an understatement. Inevitably, there has been a serious...

How long does it take to beat a bear market?

Richard Eastwood
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The current COVID-19 crisis has wiped billions from the world’s financial markets. In the world of investing, such markets where share prices are falling are known as bear markets.  Beating a bear isn’t easy, but you’ll be pleased to...

Be wary of Covid-19 email scams

Jayne Sibson
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Scandalous though it may sound, cyber-criminals are using the coronavirus crisis to prey on unsuspecting individuals.  Security experts have said they have seen an increase in email scams over the last few weeks, as if the world pandemic wasn’t...

Coronavirus Market Context

Richard Eastwood
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As the Coronavirus spreads across the UK there is increasing economic uncertainty.  As with previous health crises we think that financial markets will overcome in the long term.   The news this week that Coronavirus has started to impact daily...

So was it the Coronavirus Budget?

Richard Eastwood
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So was it the Coronavirus Budget, or the Infrastructure Budget? Or was it, as the Chancellor declared at the end of his speech, the ‘people’s Budget from a people’s government?’ It was certainly a Budget that was high on spending...

What's a RIO mortgage?

Andrew Rodbourne
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Sadly, this type of mortgage won’t help you jet off and buy a pad in Rio de Janeiro. It can, however, be a useful option to provide you with more flexibility in later years.       A RIO mortgage stands for...

March Market Commentary

Richard Eastwood
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Introduction  Not the election of Donald Trump, not the US/China trade dispute. Not even Brexit. We cannot recall a single issue having so completely dominated a month’s news – or threatened to have such serious consequences – as the...

Why timing the market doesn't work

Richard Eastwood
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Market timing is an investing strategy where investors move their money in and out of the market to try and avoid losses before they happen and buy-in at the bottom after the market has crashed. It’s the well known tactic of ‘buy low and sell...

Environmental investing themes to look out for in 2020

Kimberly Davies
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Although the financial markets have seen their fair share of volatility over the last decade, there has been a growth in opportunities for investors wanting to invest in environmentally conscious businesses. If you’re looking to make a more positive...

What can be done to free mortgage prisoners?

Andrew Rodbourne
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The term ‘mortgage prisoner’ refers to mortgage borrowers who find themselves unfairly trapped in old deals with high interest rates and with no prospect of remortgaging or paying back the loan. It’s thought there are currently 150,000 such...

February Market Commentary

Richard Eastwood
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China grabbed the headlines again in January, but this time not for trade. On 31st December, the Chinese authorities had notified the World Health Organisation of an outbreak of pneumonia in Wuhan City, Hubei Province. Today the country is in lockdown, the...

Ready for the end of the tax year?

Kimberly Davies
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The tax year will end on April 5th. Are you confident that you have made appropriate preparations and maximised your tax allowances? Here are some of the allowances that you should consider:  The Marriage Allowance You can transfer £1,250 of...

What has survived from the original Pension Schemes Bill?

Richard Eastwood
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You may have read various headlines about the Pensions Bill which was first announced in the Queen’s Speech in October. Its progress was subsequently halted with the calling of the General Election but it has now been confirmed by the Queen and is on...

Key steps to maximise your allowances before the end of the tax year

Sarah Finnigan
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The tax year will be coming to an end on 5th April. With that deadline in mind, we wanted to remind our clients of all the allowances available to you during the tax year. It’s important to make sure you’re maximising your allowance in all areas...

January Market Commentary

Richard Eastwood
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The end of the decade saw the US/China trade dispute continue to make plenty of headlines. However with Donald Trump signing a long-awaited ‘phase one’ agreement on 15th January, it appears 2020 could see tensions ease. Trump is currently due to...

New year, new decade, new approach to your finances?

Kimberley Sykes
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You may have already made some New Year’s resolutions regarding healthy eating and exercise but could your finances do with slimming down too? The start of a new year, not to mention a new decade, is a great time to review your financial situation,...

A 'Stonking Majority' but what will Boris Johnson do with it?

Richard Eastwood
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Boris Johnson became Prime Minister of the UK on 24th July, defeating Jeremy Hunt in the Conservative leadership race and famously declaring that ‘do or die’ the UK would leave the European Union on 31st October. Parliament and the courts had...

4 savvy tips when Christmas shopping

Richard Eastwood
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Christmas seems to come round earlier and earlier each year. Retailers start tempting ‘early gifters’ as soon as the Back to School stock has disappeared. And competitive Christmas light displays begin appearing in some neighbourhoods from as...

Why it pays to shop around for insurance

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With so many options out there, it can be easy to become overwhelmed and remain with your current insurance provider. It can also be quite a hassle to trawl the internet for that perfect deal. However, recent research by the FCA has found that taking the...

How the gender gap even affects children's pensions

Kimberley Sykes
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We’re familiar with the gender gap in pensions for adults but there is evidence that this actually starts much earlier on. According to data from HMRC, parents and grandparents are more likely to save into a boy’s pension than a girl’s. A...

December Market Commentary

Richard Eastwood
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The beginning of November saw the World Trade Organisation authorise China to put $3.6bn (£2.8bn) of tariffs on US goods. The following week it was reported that a potential trade deal between the two countries could see tariffs ‘rolled...

November Market Commentary

Richard Eastwood
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The beginning of October brought us the Conservative Party conference and a plethora of promises and fiery speeches. Meanwhile world stock markets were tumbling on fears of a global sell-off and the US/Europe tariff war joining the US/China dispute. By the...

Making sure you're on track to retain your lifestyle in retirement

Richard Eastwood
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Do you feel like you just go to work day in, day out, with the weeks quickly turning to months and the months to years?     If that’s the case, you may be going through life with a vague notion that your pension contributions will...

Sandwich Generation: Financial Planning

Richard Eastwood
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Building wealth and reaching financial independence is not always easy to achieve and it gets more and more difficult when you’re sandwiched. Financial Planning on a Multigenerational Level We often hear the term sandwich generation but what does...

Back to 60 campaigners fight on

Joanne Jones
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The campaigning group, Back to 60, has lost their fight at the High Court to seek redress for the inequality around the state pension age, which affects women who were born in the 1950s.    The group was claiming that the increase in the...

The impact of climate change fears on ethical investing

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As pressure mounts on governments and financial institutions to do more to combat climate change, the demand for ethical investment opportunities is on the rise.  Triodos Bank’s annual impact investing survey has found that nearly half (45%) of...

October Market Commentary

Richard Eastwood
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Introduction  What goes down immediately comes back up? If only saving and investing were that simple…  That’s what happened in September. In August, we reported that almost all the major markets we cover in this Commentary had...

Protecting your home from care home fees

Joanne Jones
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As you grow older, one of the things you might be most concerned about is the entire value of your home disappearing on paying care home fees. Care from the NHS is free, but if you need social care because you are physically or mentally frail, you will have...

The Help to Buy ISA deadline is looming

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After 30th November 2019, potential first-time buyers will no longer be able to apply for a new Help to Buy ISA.    Savers who already have an account will be able to keep saving into it until 30th November 2029, regardless of when the ISA...

The tapered Annual Allowance and why reform will help the NHS

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According to the NHS Confederation, the Chancellor Sajid Javid could address the NHS pensions crisis by scrapping the tapered Annual Allowance.  The Confederation claims that the current crisis is due to the introduction of the tapered Annual Allowance...

The generational gap in savings might be wider than you think...

Kimberley Sykes
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A new report by Scottish Widows (SW) has found that savings habits among younger people are rather lacking when compared with older generations.  14% of people aged 20-29 are not saving any money, whereas 20% are saving between 0-6% of their wages and...

How to find the right investment for you

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In the wake of the  Woodford debacle , there’s a lot of buzz around investments and the rationale for choosing them. So we thought it would be useful to outline what you should be thinking about when it comes to choosing an investment to enable...

Blockchain: What is it?

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If you’ve been following the advance of technology in the financial sector over the past decade, you’ve no doubt heard of blockchain, the record keeping technology which had its first real world application with  Bitcoin . It is often...

September Market Commentary

Richard Eastwood
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Introduction  August is traditionally known as the ‘silly season’. The great and the good are on holiday. Nothing is happening: there are no world events. So the newspapers have to resort to any number of peripheral and not-at-all-serious...

August Market Commentary

Richard Eastwood
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Gold hit a six-year high as nervous investors looked for alternatives to stock markets. The IMF cut global growth forecasts amid continuing trade tensions. In any normal month these would have been a perfectly normal introduction, but July was not a normal...

How to stay safe online

Jayne Sibson
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As we venture further into this new digital age, the security of your personal data grows more and more important. That’s why, for this article, we’ve decided to delve into the world of online security. Below you’ll find a series of...

Risky business; volatile investments and you

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It’s fair to assume that the bigger the risk the greater the reward. Though you could end up with nothing at all, or could even owe money. That’s why it’s worth looking into the different high risk products and what exactly makes them so...

Cash versus bonds, which is safer?

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Protecting and growing wealth is often one of the main objectives clients have. There are many investment opportunities out there that are described as ‘safe,’ but many individuals feel that cash is the safest option for them. Keeping your money...

July Market Commentary

Richard Eastwood
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Introduction Many of you will know the old stock market adage: ‘Sell in May and go away, and come on back on St. Leger’s Day.’  The theory was that with everyone out of London for the summer season there was little business to be...

What is the open banking revolution?

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Over a year and a half ago, a digital revolution introduced a new way for people to handle their money: open banking. All of a sudden at the touch of a button, you could compare household bills, control direct debts and track payments across each of your...

20 years after the ISA was launched, what does the future hold?

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Savers are set to deposit up to £4bn into ISAs in the week leading up to the new tax year, according to the Yorkshire Building Society. Their figures revealed that £4.3bn was deposited into ISAs in the final week of the 2017/18 financial year,...

Drawdown tax and flexible retirement income. What does it all mean?

Richard Eastwood
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Once you reach 55, a whole spread of opportunities will open themselves up to you. One such bonus is the fact that you can finally access that hard-saved pension fund. Up to 25% of your savings can be taken tax-free, with the remaining 75% being subject to...

What does it take to retire early?

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The idea of retiring in your 50s or even your 40s sounds like a pipe-dream to most, what with the increased cost of living, inflation and other economic factors slowly eating away at your predicted earnings. This hasn’t stopped the rise of the FIRE...

How understanding pension fund charges could save you money

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Dubbed a ‘slow, lethal killer’ by many financial advisers, pension fund charges can potentially limit your overall pension pot without you even noticing. All pension plans comes with charges, but the impact they have on your pension savings...

Gifting rules and inheritance tax, what you might not know

Sarah Finnigan
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Following an in depth study conducted by the National Centre for Social Research (NCSR) and the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), it has been discovered that only one in four people making financial gifts are aware of the risks of inheritance tax. Further...

June Market Commentary

Richard Eastwood
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Introduction May was a relatively quiet month, virtually nothing of any importance happened at all. Well, apart from the European elections, Theresa May’s decision to stand down and the re-escalation of the US/China trade war. Not content with that,...

The popularity of equity release is growing, but is this a good move?

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Equity release is no longer the niche lending area it once was. More and more homeowners over 55 are choosing to release cash tied up in their homes and there are few signs of this trend subsiding. Lending in 2018 increased by 27% compared to the previous...

The UK is struggling to save; what are the implications?

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A  study  found in 2018 that one in four adults have no savings. Many residents in the UK wish that they had cash to save, however high monthly outgoings and debt clearance seem to take priority. Saving for the little curveballs that life throws...

Defined Contribution vs Defined Benefit- what's the difference and what's the trend?

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As defined contribution pension plans overtake defined benefit (in terms of money paid into schemes) for the first time ever, more and more people are taking an interest in how the two differ and the relationship between them. The Office of National...

Alleviating your inheritance tax bill shouldn't be a worry

Sarah Finnigan
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Inheritance tax (IHT) can be an incredibly punitive tax on your estate. However, by making the right choices, you can vastly reduce the amount of your estate liable for IHT. While other tax free allowances, such as the ISA allowance, have risen in recent...

How safe are your savings?

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With your capital tucked away in savings accounts, investments and mortgages, you’d assume that there is some kind of protection in place. But exactly how safe are your savings in the event of, for example, an authorised financial services firm going...

Is it time to cut out the jargon from pensions?

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People simply aren’t saving enough into their pension funds. Despite the relative success of the auto-enrolment rollout and the increase of minimum contributions from 5% to 8%, there’s still a culture of misunderstanding surrounding pensions....

AE policy adds pensions for 10 million workers

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The Department for Work and Pensions has hit its target of bringing 10 million workers into occupational pensions, a year ahead of schedule. To give that figure a sense of perspective, 10 million is pretty much the entire population of Sweden. The final...

A snapshot of average weekly household spending

Richard Eastwood
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In January, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released their latest Family Spending Survey, revealing the intimate details of British spending habits. In its 61st year, the report provides an insight into family spending habits, as well as showing how...

What is a partial transfer?

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You may have a defined benefit pension and be aware of pension transfers but not have heard of partial transfers. A partial transfer is a pension option that allows you to cash in a portion of your retirement fund, while still retaining the rest as a...

What does the disclosure of investment charges mean under Mifid II?

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Mifid II came into effect over a year ago on 3 January 2018. It’s an acronym for Markets in Financial Instruments Directive 2 and, at over 30,000 pages, it’s far from a bit of light reading. Mifid II was designed to offer more protection for...

Savers turning to watchdogs in the fight against pension scammers

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For those who want to stay safe from the efforts of pension scammers, help is out there. It’s just as well because such help is in high demand. Between August and October alone last year, the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) ScamSmart website...

Converting a Help to Buy ISA to a Lifetime ISA

Richard Eastwood
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With help-to-buy ISAs being phased out on 30th November 2019, many people are considering transferring their funds into a Lifetime ISA. You’ll still be able to access existing help-to-buy accounts until 30th November 2029, but it’s worth knowing...

Gold Visas Scheme Relaunch With Vetting Proposed

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The Government has taken steps to halt the 'Tier 1 Investor' visa scheme after it became clear that it was being used to launder the proceeds of criminal activity and tax evasion. The scheme allowed wealthy individuals to enter the UK and obtain...

How will equity release affect my family?

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The choice of whether or not to release equity from your home ultimately rests with you. However, the decision will have wide reaching consequences for your family. It’s sensible, before releasing equity, to see a financial adviser who will explain the...

Inheritance Tax - Could there be a better alternative?

Sarah Finnigan
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Inheritance tax is enormously unpopular to say the least. A YouGov poll found that 59% of the public deemed it unfair, making it the least popular of Britain’s 11 major taxes. What’s more, the tax has a limited revenue raising ability, with the...

The ban on pensions cold-calling is finally coming into force

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From January 9 2019, the cold-calling of savers about anything to do with their pensions will become illegal. The new law doesn’t just cover phone calls. Any unsolicited emails or text messages about your pension will also be illegal. As it stands,...

5 tips not to lose out by shunning annuity guarantees

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Since increased pensions freedoms were established in April 2015, the FCA says that £3 billion worth of annuities have been rejected by over 55s. Now, nearly three in five over 55s are refusing the guaranteed annuity rate (GAR) offered to them by their...

Returnships: The hiring programmes helping mums return to work

Joanne Ormston
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For women returning to the job market after a long career break, getting back on track can seem daunting. Many are reduced to applying for graduate-level and admin work, far below their level of experience. They feel that their skills are outdated or they...

Pension drawdown in an era of long life expectancies

Richard Eastwood
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Retirement planning means taking into account a whole host of factors. You have to navigate tough questions like, ‘What will the impact of inflation be?’ or ‘When will interest rates start to creep up?’ As well as these, there is...

An Alternative 12 Days of Christmas

Richard Eastwood
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It’s the season of goodwill to all men and women, even financial advisers and although a pension may not be top of your Christmas wish list here’s a tongue in cheek look at what your financial adviser could be giving you this festive season: On...

5 key budget takeaways

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This year Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered his autumn budget a few weeks earlier than usual. Normally the budget is released in mid-November, but this year he gave the budget on 29 October. In the run up to Brexit, Hammond didn’t release any huge...

The longevity challenge and how to tackle it

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In the UK, we are faced with the challenge of an ageing population. Many of us will live longer than we might have expected. Already, 2.4% of the population is aged over 85. Because of improvements in healthcare and nutrition, this figure only looks set to...

What do ESG and impact investing mean for investors?

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Sustainable investing has grown rapidly over the last couple of decades. Investors are increasingly committed to the social and environmental impact of where they put their hard- earned money. Getting good financial returns and having a positive impact on...

Autumn 2018 Budget - Overview

Richard Eastwood
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Introduction A Budget for “Strivers, Grafters and Carers” Budgets, as we all know, take place on Wednesdays. After the excitement of Prime Minister’s Questions, the Deputy Speaker calls ‘the Chancellor of the Exchequer’ and he...

Looking ahead to the budget

Richard Eastwood
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At this time of year our minds inevitably turn to the government’s budget, now set for October 29th, and any likely new measures that could impact your financial goals. The chancellor of the exchequer, Phillip Hammond, has stressed that any major...

10 years on from Lehmans

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What has the financial services sector learnt? The financial crash after the Lehman Brothers collapse saw the biggest global monetary crisis since the end of WW2. It led to a lost economic decade for many – average incomes in the UK still languish...

What might be in the Autumn Budget?

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In normal years, the Autumn Budget (formerly the Autumn Statement) is announced in November. However, with less than 6 months left on the countdown to Brexit, this year is far from a normal year. At the end of September, Chancellor Philip Hammond revealed...

What to consider before buying health insurance

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Taking out health insurance is a big financial commitment. However, private healthcare is an attractive option to some because it allows you increased choice, private hospitals, reduced waiting times and more personalised care compared to free NHS treatment....

What do you need to consider regarding a DB pension transfer?

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Pensions freedoms introduced three years ago mean that people are able to do what they like with their retirement savings. If you are on a defined benefit (DB) pension scheme you may be offered the opportunity to transfer out of your pension scheme in return...

What's a better way to help my grandchildren through university?

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As autumn approaches many students are preparing to start university for the first time. For most, this will mean leaving the place they grew up in behind as they embark on a life far from their home comforts. This will bring with it plenty of new academic...

4 top tips to protect yourself against pension scammers

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You may well have seen the headlines that victims lost an average of £91k each in pension scams last year. Worryingly, in a recent survey, 32% of pension holders aged 45-65 said they were unsure how to verify if they were speaking to a genuine pensions...

The end of LISA?

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Time to get your lifetime ISA before it disappears? The new girl on the block, in terms of saving products, seems like she may not actually be around for much longer. LISA, or the lifetime ISA, is being threatened with abolition by a Treasury committee,...

Interest rate rise: What does this mean?

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The Bank of England has raised interest rates from 0.5% to 0.75%, only the second rise in a decade. Currently, interest rates stand at their highest since 2009 and reflect what the Bank of England perceive as a general pick-up in the economy. The Bank said...

Post Brexit trade uncertainty

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A difficult time for British exports For British companies who rely heavily on the E.U. export market, Brexit has been a nightmare, to say the least. Until recently, though, the full effects on British exporters have been unclear. Some versions of Brexit...

Are you keeping track of your pension pot?

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Keeping track of your pension pots can feel like a full time job at times, particularly as we head towards a world where the average person will have eleven different jobs over the course of their career. It’s becoming increasingly uncommon for people...

Can we make inheritance tax simpler?

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Inheritance tax (IHT) has existed in the UK for over 300 years. In its current form, it was brought in to replace the old Capital Transfer Tax; a measure that was brought in itself as a form of wealth distribution in order to regulate disparity between rich...

Can a lack of knowledge of tax rules ever save you?

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Staying on top of the latest tax legislation probably isn’t at the top of the to-do list of the majority of UK citizens, and that’s understandable. If you were to miss something though, would you be let off? Or would your ignorance turn out to be...

Can I use equity release to pay for care?

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It’s one of the scary things about growing old, isn’t it? We’re all living longer, thanks to medical science but does that mean more of us are going to end up in a care home, struggling to find the means to pay for it? A year in a care...

A cautionary tale: The Lazio case

Joanne Ormston
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Cyber-security is more important than ever before, as Serie A football club, Lazio, found out the hard way in March. After signing Dutch centre back Stefan de Vrij in 2014 from Feyenoord, Lazio agreed to pay his £6.8m fee in installments. Nothing...

Are mini-bonds a good alternative to savings?

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You may have seen mini-bonds advertised, offering as much as 10% returns over reasonably short timeframes. Companies such as John Lewis, Hotel Chocolat and Naked Wines have famously employed them as a way of accruing debt-based funding. If you’re an...

Could you be eligible for a power of attorney fee refund?

Joanne Jones
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Between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2017, the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) generated a surplus of £89m from Lasting Power of Attorney fee overpayments. This happened because the OPG’s operating costs were reduced, but LPA application fees...

Three important ways to use equity release

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Equity release plans, also known as lifetime mortgages, allow those over the age of 55 to borrow against their home. Thanks to decades of rising house prices, for some older homeowners this can mean there is plenty available to borrow. The number of people...

What is pound cost averaging?

Richard Eastwood
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If you’re unclear on what the term ‘pound cost averaging’ means, the simplicity of what it describes is perhaps best demonstrated through an example. Abbie is an investor who has already decided where she wants to make a long-term...

Emerging markets: looking back on 2017 and forward on 2018

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2017 was a good year for Emerging Markets, which continued their recent strong run, keeping them on track to outperform Developed Markets in back-to-back years for the first time since 2009/10. Compared to 2016, which offered only marginal outperformance...

How the gender gap hits women's retirement savings as well as pay

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A recent study has found women are generally less well prepared for retirement compared to men. The research, carried out by savings company Standard Life, reveals that whilst over half (55%) of men own a pension, this figure falls to just over a third (36%)...

What is a 'market correction'?

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The start of 2018 has been an eventful time in the world of the stock market. After hitting highs at the end of January, both the Dow Jones and Standard & Poor’s 500 saw a considerable drop at the start of February, a fall from which the markets...

Reminder for employers: Are you contributing to your employees' pension?

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Employers have a statutory duty to make contributions to certain employees' pension funds. Failure to do so can lead to a substantial pension bill later on as well as a heavy fine and court costs. The Pensions Act The Pensions Act 2008...

The mental and physical health issues caused by debt

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A recent report, “ Life on Debt Row ”, acknowledges what many people know all too well: debts are bad for a debtor’s physical and mental health. Debts also have a negative effect on a debtor’s family and friends. The RSPH report,...