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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?

Jonathan Beardmore
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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?

Simon Taylor
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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?

Jonathan Beardmore
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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

Simon Taylor
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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,...

May Market Commentary

Richard Eastwood
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Introduction First the good news. None of the leading world stock markets on which we report in this Bulletin fell in April. With just one exception – China – all the markets made gains, with the German DAX index leading the way. Generally...

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

Victoria Marshall
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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?

Simon Taylor
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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?

Jonathan Beardmore
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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...

April Market Commentary

Richard Eastwood
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Introduction We have commented before on the difficulty of ‘hitting a moving target.’ Sometimes in writing this commentary you run the risk of what you write being overtaken by events, and that has never been more true than this month. In the...

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?

Jonathan Beardmore
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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?

Simon Taylor
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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....

March Market Commentary

Richard Eastwood
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Introduction February was another month when all the important news seem to happen in the last week of the month. President Trump delivered the annual State of the Union address on February 6th and announced a second meeting with North Korea’s Kim...

AE policy adds pensions for 10 million workers

Jonathan Beardmore
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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?

Simon Taylor
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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?

Jonathan Beardmore
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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...

February Market Commentary

Richard Eastwood
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Introduction The story of the US/China trade dispute was a thread running through much of last year. Some progress was made in resolving the dispute at December’s G20 summit and that appeared to continue in January with China saying it is...

Savers turning to watchdogs in the fight against pension scammers

Simon Taylor
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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...

January Market Commentary

Richard Eastwood
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A quiet wind down to Christmas? Everyone leaving their offices early and not much happening in the second half of the month? Nothing could be further from the truth: December was one of the most eventful months of the year and while there was some good...

How will equity release affect my family?

Simon Taylor
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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

Simon Taylor
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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...

December Market Commentary

Richard Eastwood
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Introduction It is always difficult writing a report like this, as you are always trying to ‘hit a moving target.’ While you can record the stock market levels at the close of business on, say,  30th November, there is always the...

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...

November Market Commentary

Richard Eastwood
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Introduction October was, to put it mildly, an eventful month. It was a month which saw the majority of markets on which we report down steeply, as fears of higher interest rates in the US combined with worries about the US/China trade war. There was,...

5 key budget takeaways

Jonathan Beardmore
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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

Simon Taylor
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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...

October Market Commentary

Richard Eastwood
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Introduction On Tuesday, 3rd November 2020 the United States will go to the polls to elect its next President. All the indications are that Donald Trump will stand for a second term and if the words of Bill Clinton – “It’s the economy,...

10 years on from Lehmans

Jonathan Beardmore
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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?

Simon Taylor
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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?

Simon Taylor
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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...

September Market Commentary

Richard Eastwood
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Introduction August used to be known as the ‘silly season’. Everyone who made the news was away on holiday, nothing happened and newspapers were desperate to fill their pages. So rather more obscure stories made it into print… That, of...

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

Simon Taylor
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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...

August Market Commentary

Richard Eastwood
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Introduction The news in July really could not have been much worse. The threat of a trade war between the US and China simmered throughout the month, and then on 31st July President Trump ramped up the tension with proposals of a 25% tariff on $200bn...

The end of LISA?

Simon Taylor
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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

Jonathan Beardmore
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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?

Simon Taylor
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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?

Jonathan Beardmore
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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?

Simon Taylor
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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?

Jonathan Beardmore
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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

Simon Taylor
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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

Jonathan Beardmore
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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'?

Simon Taylor
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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,...

The ISA deadline approaches: making the most of your allowances

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It may seem as though the year has barely begun, yet the month of March is already upon us. That means that spring is just around the corner. It also means that the ISA deadline of 6th April is rapidly approaching. Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) are...

Taxes set to rise for baby boomer generation?

Simon Taylor
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Recent research has suggested that those in the baby-boomer generation should be prepared to pay higher wealth taxes in order to pay for healthcare costs likely to climb steeply in the near future. According to think tank the Resolution Foundation, this...

Talking about your will - don't be one of the 93%

Sarah Finnigan
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A national saving and investment survey has shown only 7% of people have spoken to their parents about inheritance. One of the most important parts of planning to leave an inheritance is to talk about it. This is obviously not an easy topic and it may be a...

Spring Statement 2018

Richard Eastwood
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Introduction In 2016 Britain voted to leave the EU and new Prime Minister Theresa May invited George Osborne to consider an alternative career and replaced him as Chancellor with Philip Hammond, the MP for Runnymede and Weybridge nicknamed...

The next steps in Auto-Enrolment

Simon Taylor
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A recent statement from the government has announced plans to extend the automatic enrolment scheme so that it applies to all workers aged 18 or over by the mid 2020s. Currently, the scheme ensures that workers aged 22 or older and who earn £10,000 or...

Time in the market, not timing the markets

Jonathan Beardmore
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With markets around the world continuing to prove unpredictable as momentous financial and political events continue to unfold, it’s perhaps not a surprise that investors are increasingly concerned about when the ‘best time’ for them to...

What is the pensions advice exemption?

Simon Taylor
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In general, pensions information and advice which employers provide to their employees – such as presentations which employees are invited to attend – are unlikely to result in a tax charge on an employee benefit. However, if an external provider...

5 key financial changes to watch out for in 2018

Simon Taylor
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As with any new year, there are a number of financial changes coming up in 2018 which are likely to impact on your monthly budget and long-term saving goals. Let’s have a look at five of the most significant and what they’re likely to mean for...

Millennials on target to enjoy inheritance boom

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A recent report has revealed that millennials are set to benefit from an ‘inheritance boom’ bigger than that experienced by any other generation in the post-war period. The Resolution Foundation, the think-tank which carried out the research,...

What exactly is Mifid

Richard Eastwood
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If you’re an investor, it’s likely that you’ll have heard discussions or read reports around the arrival of Mifid II. It’s just as likely that you won’t have had much idea of what Mifid II is or how it might affect you and your...

New Year Resolutions for Your Finances

Jonathan Beardmore
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After the festive season people are beginning to think about New Year resolutions, the usual boring issues relating to expanding waistlines, joining the gym, or even dry January. All of these are no solution to the underlying insecurity and problem that you...

Make Regular Savings Your New Year Resolution

Simon Taylor
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In the complex world of investment, timing appears to be crucial. However – unless you are gifted with foresight – you cannot predict what the stock market will do and this New Year is no exception. This presents a problem for investors: not only...

What does the freezing of indexation mean for buy-to-let investors?

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The Autumn Budget delivered at the end of November included changes to how gains are calculated, including the freezing of ‘indexation’ from January 2018. Indexation is a tax relief which means that gains are currently reduced based on the...

What the Paradise Papers teach us

Simon Taylor
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What the Paradise Papers teach us about tax evasion, tax avoidance and tax planning The release of the Paradise Papers last month offers an opportunity to think about how the issues raised relate to your everyday tax planning. With ‘tax...

Millennials leading the way in saving for retirement

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Recent data suggests that younger generations are on track to save more than their parents and grandparents, despite their earnings on average being considerably lower. Part of the reason for this is time: simply put, young people have more years ahead of...

Pensions Auto Enrolment - What Happens If I Don't Comply?

Simon Taylor
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After recognising that people in the UK are living longer and not saving enough for their retirement, the government introduced pension reforms through the Pension Act 2008 that requires all employers to offer their staff a workplace pension - this has...

What Does the First Interest Rate Rise in Ten Years Mean for You?

Simon Taylor
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After months of speculation, the Bank of England finally raised interest rates in the UK for the first time in over a decade. The increase from 0.25% to 0.5% might seem small, especially when you consider that the last time the interest rate was increased in...

The pros and cons of turning your home into a cash machine

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Recent figures have suggested that over 17,500 older homeowners took out equity release plans on their homes during the first six months of 2017, marking an increase of 44% compared with 2016. Equity release plans, also referred to as ‘lifetime...

What will be in the Autumn Budget?

Richard Eastwood
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Following the final Spring Budget delivered in March this year, the Chancellor Philip Hammond is set to deliver his second budget of the year – and the first to be delivered in the new Autumn slot – on 22nd November. Mr. Hammond’s speech...

Could the Budget be a Hit for Older Workers - but not as expected?

Simon Taylor
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Things are not looking good for both older savers and workers, with a rumoured hit planned in next months budget , proposals on the table include slashing tax relief on pensions for older workers in order to pay for lower taxes for the young. With one...

Half of Britons expect young to be worse off than parents

Jonathan Beardmore
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A recent survey by the think tank, the Resolution Foundation, has found that almost half (48%) of respondents expected people born between 1981 and 2000, categorised as millennials, to have a standard of life worse than their parents due to economic...

Too Late to Start Saving?

Simon Taylor
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Not saving towards your retirement until you reach your fifties would not so long ago have been considered leaving matters far too late to put anything meaningful away for your life after work, but did you know the last ten years of your working life...

The UK drops in the buy-to-let rankings

Victoria Marshall
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The UK has fallen ten places in the rankings of Europe’s best countries for property investment. The list is created by payments firm,WorldFirst, which ranks the average available yields on buy-to-let investments measured by rent as a percentage of...

Do You Know How Much Your Pension Pot Is Worth?

Simon Taylor
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Recent research from Royal London has found that around five million people in the UK have ‘forgotten’ pension pots from final salary schemes of former employers. What’s more, many of these deferred members of defined benefit funds...

Businesses Hit by Rising Employment Costs

Joanne Ormston
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Recent statistics from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) show that changes to employment legislation has resulted in four out of five UK businesses experiencing rising costs. The data comes from the BCC’s annual workforce survey, created from...

Don't Get Caught Out by the Lifetime Allowance Rule Change

Jonathan Beardmore
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The total tax paid by those exceeding their lifetime pension allowance amounted to £36 million in 2014/15, climbing steeply from £20 million in 2014/15 and equating to an 80% rise. The figure has climbed in recent years from £12 million in...

Children Can Now Have a Pension!

Richard Eastwood
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Yes, it's true - you can open a pension for your child or grandchild. There are various options where a child's pension can be opened and a maximum of £2,880 per annum can be paid in, net of income tax, in a single tax year. The plan...

Will interest rates ever rise?

Jonathan Beardmore
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The deputy governor of the Bank of England has stated that the bank should not be tempted to increase interest rates due to “imponderables” within the UK economy. The comments from Ben Broadbent, an ally of the governor of the Bank of England,...

What is the skills shortage costing British business?

Simon Taylor
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New research by the Open University has found that the cost of Britain’s skills shortages amounts to more than £2 billion annually due to higher salaries, temporary staffing bills and recruitment costs. The survey of 400 firms found that nine in...

Average price for first home reaches record high

Richard Eastwood
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A recent study has found that the average deposit first-time buyers need to pay on a home has now risen to nearly £33,000. This is thanks to the average price of a first home now climbing to a record figure of £207,693. The Halifax First-Time...

Top tips to Improve Your Business Over Summer

Christopher Burke
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Summer's here - and we have some top tips for you to consider if your business is quiet over the holiday period. If your business is quieter over the summer months, use the time to review your business procedures and do some housekeeping....

Why retirement is worrying millennials

Richard Eastwood
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A recent study by HSBC has revealed the main financial worries of the ‘millennial’ generation, recognised as those born between 1980 and 1997. As its title suggests, the ‘Future of Retirement’ survey focuses primarily on how...

What's happening with DB pension schemes?

Simon Taylor
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Defined benefit (DB) pension schemes continue to be a hot topic in the business and financial worlds as an increasing number of people seek to transfer their pensions from a DB scheme. Recent figures suggest that more than four out of five (83%) of financial...

Is uncertainty becoming the new norm?

Jonathan Beardmore
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No matter how often we might have heard soundbites such as ‘strong and stable’ and ‘Brexit means Brexit’ which are intended to reassure us, it seems that every major political event of the past twelve months has delivered an...

Falling house prices in the UK for the third month in a row

Simon Taylor
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Recent figures have shown that house prices in the UK fell again in May this year, making it the third month in a row which has seen prices go down. Nationwide, the UK’s biggest building society which carried out the research, stated that this is the...