Monthly Archives: May 2018

What will leaving the Customs Union mean for my business?

When we leave the European Union we will also leave the EU customs union. The question we all want to know the answer to is ‘what does that mean for me?’ Well first, let’s have a quick reminder of what the customs union is. In short, it’s an agreement between European member states that there will be no internal tariffs on goods that move between them. Once goods are within the EU, they can also travel freely. This means that administrative and financial barriers to trade within the EU are massively reduced. Continue reading

Record numbers make the most of pension freedoms

Hand writing the text: Whats Your Plan for Retirement?

The people have spoken and they love freedom! Recent figures show withdrawals in the 2017-18 year were worth £6.7bn, the highest figure since the pension freedoms reforms were introduced in 2015.

Before the change in legislation, the majority of pensioners would purchase an annuity with their pension pot, which would guarantee them an income for life.The pension freedoms now mean that those over the age of 55 have access to their savings and more choice and flexibility over how they fund their retirement. Continue reading

Why it pays to retire early

Sound financial planning is not only good for your bank account – it could actually improve your life expectancy. If you’re reading this then you probably don’t need to be convinced of the benefits of looking after your money, but here’s another reason to add to the list.

The idea of retiring early can be most appealing. For some, it will already be a reality, while wise saving and investment may mean it’s perfectly achievable for those at the consideration stage. Research now suggests that an early retirement can actually also lengthen your life. Economists from the University of Amsterdam published a 2017 study in the Journal of Health and Economics which confirmed that male Dutch civil servants over the age of 54 who retired early were 42% less likely to die over the subsequent five years, compared to those who continued working.

Researchers put this life-extending phenomenon down to two main factors. First, when you retire you have more time to invest in your health. Whether that means you find more time to sleep, more time to exercise or simply more time to visit a doctor when an issue arises, you’ll see the benefit.

Secondly, work can be a great contributor to stress, creating hypertension which is in turn a huge risk factor for potentially fatal conditions. In the study, retirees were shown to be significantly less likely to fall victim to cardiovascular diseases or strokes.

Of course, there can be benefits to staying in work too. Participating in a work environment is a good way of keeping your mind and body active. On top of that, being part of a team helps develop and maintain a sense of purpose and belonging that is essential to cognitive health and development.

That’s not to say that all these benefits can’t be achieved outside of work; the key is to find a hobby, interest or cause to involve yourself in. As is so often the case, there’s no single solution. It’s important to find the best path for you, whether that’s staying in work, retiring early or going part-time. Whatever you choose, spend your time wisely as it could have a major impact on how long your retirement turns out to be.

Cutting through the noise – how does a financial adviser help?

‘Stock market closing at an all time high’; ‘The bubble’s burst’; ‘The stock market is crashing’; ‘Shares have gone through the roof – how could they go any higher?’; ‘House prices plummet by 30%’; ‘UK economy in weakest growth’; ‘The end is near for the bear market’; ‘Stocks dangerously close to unique kind of bull market’; ‘Not seen such market volatility since the 1987 crash’; ‘Warnings of market correction ahead’.

Don’t worry, these are just examples taken at any point in time. But you know what it’s like – you listen to the radio and hear one thing, then open a newspaper and read the opposite. You go on social media and hear all manner of contradictory views and opinions. You chat with friends in the pub who’ve got as many different pieces of advice as there are types of beer or artisan gins on offer!

Noise, noise, noise!

Everyone’s an expert. Everyone’s telling you what to do. But how do you know who to trust?

The good news is that if you’re working with a financial adviser, you don’t need to listen to that all clamour around you. The right adviser will help you understand what you can control and give you a sense of perspective.

For example, a recent study showed that investors value the following from their relationships with their advisers:

35% sense of security/peace of mind

23% knowledge of personal financial situations

20% progress towards their goals

14% investment returns

As financial advisers, we’re only too aware that markets will go up and markets go down but we can help you take a long term view. By gaining an understanding of your overall goals and objectives, we can give you reassurance over short term fluctuations. We’ll discuss your risk profile with you and adjust it as market conditions and your own particular circumstances change. The regular reviews we’ll have with you will keep your plan on track. As a result, you’ll find that because your decisions are now part of a strategic financial plan instead of isolated choices, you won’t feel so bombarded by every single news item.

By working with a financial adviser, you’ll know that we can cut through the conflicting messages and help you see past the headlines to the hard facts you need. It’s our job to be able to give you a sense of perspective when the markets may seem in turmoil. So when others may be tempted to made sudden withdrawals or changes, we’ll give you the ressaurance to stay invested. Alternatively, when it’s right to move, we’ll give you the confidence to change. It’s this kind of discipline that can make all the difference in terms of investment performance.

So rather than being swayed by sensationalist headlines or being worried by the ups and downs of the markets, use your financial adviser to help you ‘keep your head when all about you are losing theirs’.

May Market Commentary

It looked for a long time that the main headline for this commentary would be the opening salvos in a trade war between China and the USA. The International Monetary Fund published a bullish report on world trade, saying that global growth will hit a 7 year high of 3.9% this year – giving a stark warning at the same time that trade risked being ‘torn apart’ by a protracted trade war.

But then came the news of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s, historic visit to South Korea and his meeting with President Moon Jae-in. There followed a bromance which would have been impossible just a few months ago, and a commitment to rid the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons. The meeting would have been unthinkable at the beginning of the year when North Korea was boasting of being able to reach the US mainland with its rockets: now Pyongyang says it will invite US observers to witness the shutdown of its nuclear site in May.

By the end of the month even the China/US threats and counter-threats seemed to have receded a little and most of the major stock markets which we cover made up losses suffered early in the month on fears of a trade war. There was, however, one significant fly in the ointment as the price of oil continued to climb: Brent crude went past $72 a barrel in light of the continuing troubles in Syria and the instability in the region. Continue reading

Imagine a world…

The future of money is upon us and it’s exciting. We’re expecting to see 2018 as the year that cash is overtaken as the major form of payment in the UK. Whether it’s through cards, apps or even the swipe of a hand, the time of contactless payments has arrived.

Right at the forefront and keen to embrace these technological advancements is the travel industry. Welcoming tech, such as virtual reality, with open arms means that travellers may soon see their shopping experience streamlined. Imagine placing your mobile phone into an in-flight virtual reality headset – you look through the headset and see menu options for you to build your perfect meal and duty free items such as aftershave and alcohol to stock up on before you land. Part of the beauty of it all is that it would know which seat you were in for easy delivery and your payment details would be loaded onto your phone, making checkout seamless. Continue reading

Three important ways to use equity release

Row of typical English terraced houses in West Hampstead, London

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 opting for these plans saw a 40 per cent increase year-on-year in 2017, with a record breaking £3bn being borrowed. It seems using your house to fund your lifestyle is becoming increasingly popular.

Continue reading