What do ESG and impact investing mean for investors?

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 the world are not mutually exclusive. Impact investing and ESG investments allow investors to ‘kill two birds with one stone’, as they say

American financial association SIFMA estimates the market size of sustainable investments to be $8.72 trillion. That figure was calculated in 2016, so it’s likely to be substantially larger than this now. Continue reading

The longevity challenge and how to tackle it

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 rise.

The Office of National Statistics currently estimates that 10.1% of men and 14.8% of women born in 1981 will live to 100. A demographic shift to an older population brings unprecedented change to the way the country would operate, from the healthcare system to the world of work.

In addition, a long life and subsequently a long retirement, bring challenges of their own from a personal financial planning perspective.

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Could your business be claiming more tax relief?

Whatever your business, you might be eligible to claim more tax incentives than you currently do. Sometimes tax incentives are available on things you might consider to be mundane in your business, so it would be wrong to assume that your business won’t qualify.

Here is a list of the most common incentives you could be missing out on:

Research and Development

You might think this would only apply to companies with multi-million pound research operations, but this is often not the case. As long as your business researches or develops new processes, products or services in science or technology, you might be eligible.

SMEs with less than 500 staff and a turnover of under €100m or a balance sheet total under €86m can be eligible for R&D tax relief. If you qualify, you can deduct an extra 130% of your qualifying costs from your yearly profit, as well as the normal 100% deduction, to make an overall 230% deduction. As well as this, you can claim a tax credit if your company is loss making. This is worth up to 14.5% of surrenderable loss.

Annual Investment Allowance

You can get tax relief on the plant and machinery you purchase in the year before you purchase them. If you’re eligible, relief will be on 100% of the cost. You can also claim on the demolition cost and alterations to plant and machinery. It’s important to note that this tax relief doesn’t apply to repairs.

In his recent Budget, Philip Hammond announced the annual investment allowance has increased from £200,000 to £1 million. This comes into effect on January 1 2019 and is aimed at preventing investments in British businesses stagnating because of Brexit.

Tax relief on green equipment

In order to encourage businesses to be greener, the government’s Energy Technology List (ETL) and Enhanced Capital Allowances (ECA) offer relief on high-performance energy efficient equipment. Products on the ETL deliver a high standard of efficiency, defined as performing within the top 25% of all similar equipment available in the UK market. ECA lets you claim 100% capital allowance on products on the ETL.

Employment Allowance

Employers can get up to £3,000 a year off their National Insurance bill. The allowance will reduce your (secondary) Class 1 National Insurance payments each time you run your payroll until the £3,000 has gone or April, when the tax year ends (whichever is sooner).

Speaking to a qualified accountant will give you your best bet of finding what relief applies to you. Often the processes for claiming aren’t very transparent, so getting some expert help is recommended.

10 years on from Lehmans and 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 far behind their 2008 peak.

15 September 2008, the fall of Lehman sent shockwaves around the world. It was (and still is) the largest bankruptcy of all time. The colossal investment bank fell with $639 billion in assets and $619 billion in debt.

Founded in Montgomery, Alabama by German immigrants in 1850, the firm grew towards the end of the 19th century as America became an economic powerhouse. For an investment bank that survived the railroad bankruptcies of the 1800s, the Great Depression of the 1930s and two World Wars, it was a reckless rush into the doomed subprime mortgage market that proved a fatal error. Continue reading

What do you need to consider regarding a defined benefits pension transfer?

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 for a fixed sum.

DB schemes promise savers a certain level of income after retirement, such as a final salary. Transferring out means that you will usually be offered between 25 to 30 times your annual pension value as a lump sum. However, it could be as much as 40 times. For instance, someone on a £10,000-per-year pension could be offered between £250,000 and £400,000. Continue reading

Aretha Franklin: The ‘Queen of Soul’ who died without making a will

On 16 August, Aretha Franklin passed away, aged 76, in hospice care after battling pancreatic cancer. She didn’t leave a will. This leaves her four sons and other family members to work out her total assets and divide them amongst themselves.

After the mourning process, the practical concerns around a death take hold. When someone dies without a will, these are much more complicated to resolve. And when the person concerned is a celebrity, these complications have an unfortunate tendency to play out on the public stage. Continue reading

October Market Commentary

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, stupid” – are to be believed, he will win.

While not wanting to make a political comment or endorse his policies in any way that be welcome to some extent – he does provide plenty of news and entertainment for these commentaries, after all. September was no exception, as he ramped up the trade war with China, ordering tariffs on a further $200bn (£154bn) of Chinese imports, which will include electronic products and consumer goods such as handbags. Continue reading

Funding care home costs with a care home ISA

If you’re under 60, funding your future care might not be top of your agenda. Garden improvements, good restaurants and holidays probably rank slightly higher, as well as saving for your pension if you’ve not yet retired.

However, the government could be proposing a new ISA in order to encourage people to start saving for their later life care. Recent leaked government documents suggest that the government is considering a Care ISA as part of its forthcoming green paper on social care. Continue reading

What might be in the Autumn Budget?

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 that the Autumn Budget would be released on 29 October which is also, unusually, a Monday – traditionally budgets are announced on a Wednesday. Since the Wednesday would’ve been Halloween, perhaps the Chancellor moved the budget forward by two days to avoid a potential Budget horror show. Continue reading

END OF SUMMER REVIEW 2018

This time last year we produced our first End of Summer Review. We described it as a ‘reflection on some key events over the last few months’: would they, we wondered, ‘give us an idea of what might happen in the run up to Christmas?’

First of all, let’s reflect on what the world looked like 12 months ago. Continue reading