Category Archives: financial decision

Inheritance Tax – Could there be a better alternative?

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 ‘well advised’ often using gifts, trusts, business property relief and agricultural relief to avoid paying so much.

 

As it stands, the tax affects just 4% of British estates and contributes only 77p of every £100 of total taxation. This puts the tax in the awkward position of being both highly unpopular and raising very little revenue. At the moment, the inheritance tax threshold stands at £325,000 per person. If you own your own home and are leaving it to a direct descendant in your will, this lifts the threshold by an additional £125,000 in the 2018-19 tax year (the nil-rate band), to £450,000. Anything above this is subject to a 40% tax.

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Saving for retirement: what’s the magic number?

It’s easy to push saving for your retirement to the back of your mind. Future events have a habit of feeling very distant, until they arrive. It can be a difficult thing to keep track of too; with nobody helping you along the way or checking up on your savings, putting a retirement plan in place can be a lonely experience. Continue reading

November Market Commentary

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, however, one market that went up sharply: Brazil elected a new president – a man who, I suspect, will feature prominently in future commentaries.

In the UK, the Prime Minister survived the latest round of calls for her head, and the Chancellor delivered his Budget a month earlier than everyone had expected. Continue reading

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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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

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

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