Europe

  • What is the skills shortage costing British business?

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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 ten respondents reported struggling to recruit workers with the correct skills within the last year. Thi...
  • Interest Rates and Inflation – a delicate recipe

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    I like to compare investment portfolios to recipes, not because I am a good cook - I have (without any exaggeration) made people retch with my dishes - but because I imagine they work in a similar way. This is because a tiny pinch of a powerful ingredient can make a huge difference. Starting in the kitchen, a slight increase in the amount of cinnam...
  • Dutch Pension plans – Changes for 2018

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    Corporate pension age The retirement age for occupational pension schemes will be increased from January 1, 2018 from 67 to 68 years. The increase on the pension age has consequences for the maximum allowed accrual rates in DC plans. These will be lowered with 4% to 6%. Maximum allowed age related premium based on 3% interest per 01-01-2018; Age  ...
  • The Consensus View

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    With the hung parliament following the UK election result - it turns out that there isn’t a consensus view!   But perhaps what the UK now has is a parliament that better reflects more of the views of the UK people, a generally well diversified bunch.  So what does this mean for investment markets? When you take a much wider view, considering the gl...
  • Travel insurance: what to look for in a good policy

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    It’s that time of year when you may be starting to think about booking a holiday. Travelling without insurance can be a gamble, particularly if you are going overseas, leading to many jet-setters now seeing it as an essential purchase before they leave. However, the variety of travel insurance policies out there can seem overwhelming, especially i...
  • PRE-ELECTION SUMMARY 2017

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    Polls, policies, Brexit and your finances: what to expect in the run up to 8th June November brought us the election of President Trump. Earlier this month, Emmanuel Macron became President of France. Apparently not wanting to be left out, Theresa May took to the Downing Street lectern reserved for important announcements and called for a UK Genera...
  • BREXIT TAKES OFF

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    Theresa May has formally notified the European Union of Britain’s intention to leave Sunday’s papers could not have been more divided. ‘This week the UK will throw into jeopardy 60 years of unparalleled European peace, security and prosperity’ warned the Observer. While a triumphalist Sunday Express declared, ‘EU laws head for the dustbin from next...
  • Should I transfer out of my final salary pension scheme?

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    Retirement consultancy Mercer recently revealed that the final salary pension deficit of the 350 largest companies listed in the UK had reached £137 billion by the end of last year, despite the FTSE 100 index closing 2016 at a record high. That figure is more than three times the corresponding deficit amount of £39 billion at the end of 2015. “This...
  • Are tax bills set to rise?

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    A recent report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) suggests that the amount of tax paid in the UK is set to rise to levels not seen for thirty years. Plans by the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, to increase tax rates and reduce public spending in order to fill the £34 billion hole in the budget, will mean that over 37% of the UK’s national inc...
  • Alexander Beard France are pleased to announce the launch of €uvest

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    Following the success of their USA facing SIPP – AMVE$T - for US based Brits with pensions left behind in the UK with no cross border transfer options other than QROPS. A similar scenario now exists in France with most UK pension providers refusing to transfer funds to French PERPS because they believe that they do not meet the QROPS rules. In resp...
  • UK to lose out this Christmas in VAT

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    VAT avoidance could cost the UK tens of millions of pounds this Christmas thanks to the increasing number of non-EU sellers on sites such as Amazon and eBay. The huge increase in traders from countries such as the USA and China is difficult to control, resulting in an overly complicated system which is open to abuse. The problem is caused by intern...
  • Remember this?: “RBS advised clients to brace for a ‘cataclysmic year’ ” (Telegraph 11 January 2016)*

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    It is an inescapable fact that all investment advisers must take a view on the future. Even a simplistic approach of avoiding ‘fund managers’ and using stock market index tracking funds relies on a view that stock markets will out-perform everything else in the long run. When RBS predicted a cataclysmic year for 2016, with US and EU markets predict...
  • Changes 2017 in employee benefit legislation

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    Retirement Every year several figures for pension plans in the Netherlands are updated. Please find the most important changes below. Offset Pension system Minimum required offset Final Pay € 14.850 Average Pay € 13.123 Defined Contribution € 13.123   The offset has to be taken into account because of the social state p...
  • Good news from the other side of the channel:

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    I am pleased to say that Alexander Beard (France) is out of the starting blocks and busily doing business. Obviously a significant part of 2016’s activities focussed upon establishing the legal and regulatory approvals for the launch of our French office in Lyon; since then the employee benefit side of the French office has secured our first two co...
  • Developments in Germany

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    Here’s a useful ‘heads-up’ from our Germany Country Manager – Rudy Blaich on possible developments in the German pension market that may affect our international corporate clients who have staff based in Germany. Germany might be on the way to copying some parts of the UK’s Automatic Enrolment, albeit slightly. On November 4th, last draft legislat...
  • US election – the outcome and implications for the UK economy

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    With Republican candidate Donald Trump defying both the polls and expectations across the globe and convincingly winning the US election over Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton, 2016 will undoubtedly go down as the year of the political upset. The US dollar took a considerable hit after Trump’s victory was confirmed, but bounced back to a thirteen-...
  • LOOKING BACK AT 2016: LOOKING FORWARD TO 2017

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    These notes were written on Monday 12th December, and all the information is accurate at that date: where quoted, stock market figures are as at 30th November. 2016 is a year that has seen some remarkable developments, but surely on 12th December we are now safe to look back over the year: nothing else can happen in the last two weeks of the year....
  • It’s not just the UK facing a steadily increasing retirement age…

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    Whilst the Brexit result of the EU referendum may have made many in the UK feel more distant from their European neighbours, it seems that the retirement proposals of a number of countries may be closer to our own than you might think. The Bundesbank, Germany’s central bank, recently made a muted proposal to raise the retirement age to 69 by 2060....
  • Eerste wijzigingen zorgpremies 2017 bekend

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    In vergelijking met 2015, toen er sprake was van een complete stelselwijziging rond de langdurige zorg, blijft het aantal wijzigingen in 2017 beperkt. Eigen Risico Het eigen risico stijgt dit jaar niet en blijft 385 euro. De vrijwillige eigen bijdrage blijft maximaal 500 euro per jaar. In 2015 heeft bijna 12% van de verzekerden vanaf 18 jaar gekoze...
  • Update Health Insurances

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    On September 20th 2016, the Dutch Government has published its spending plans for 2017. Also this year there are adjustments made to the level of the mandatory deductible and the package that is covered trough the basic coverage. Mandatory deductible (own risk) In 2017 the mandatory deductible will not increase. This means that the insured has to p...
  • “Brexit means Brexit.” But what does that really mean?

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    Introduction As everyone now knows, David Cameron’s promised referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the European Union was held on Thursday 23rd June. It resulted in a win for the ‘Leave’ campaign, with 51.89% of the votes cast. More than 17m people voted to leave the EU, with just over 16m supporting ‘Remain’. David Cameron duly fell on h...
  • Brexit: Keep Calm and Seize the Opportunities

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    Brexit: Keep Calm and Seize the Opportunities - A TAG Alliances Presentation Brexit: Keep Calm and Seize the Opportunities - A TAG Alliances Presentation from TAG Alliances on Vimeo. Learn about the various issues and more importantly, opportunities, stemming from this historic decision. An expert panel of TAG Alliances members will discuss such a...
  • I have money in property, what should I do post-Brexit?

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    Many predicted before the EU referendum that a vote to leave would have a negative effect on the property market. Now that Brexit is set to become a reality, that has transferred into worry amongst many with a stake in property, which in turn could make the predicted negativity become a self-fulfilling prophecy. But is Brexit really a cause for con...
  • Travel insurance: what to look for in a good policy

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    The summer months mean we’re at the peak of the holiday season, with countless families, couples and individuals jetting off for a break during July and August. Going on holiday without insurance can be a gamble, particularly if you are travelling overseas, leading to many jet-setters now seeing it as an essential purchase before they go away. Howe...
  • Changes from January 1st 2017 in the Netherlands

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    Due to the Wet Beperking Ziekteverzuim (Law Limitation Absence Through Illness) and Arbeidsongeschiktheid Vangnetters (Disability Safety Nets), or BeZaVa. Employers pay annual premiums to the Tax Authorities for permanent and temporary employees for the cost of long term disabled employees. The differentiated Whk (employment continuation funds) pre...
  • Alexander Beard Group’s EU Referendum summary and viewpoint

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    Britain Takes Back Control. Or Does It? This somewhat, necessarily, lengthy note covers the likely consequences of Britain’ historic decision. It our attempt to give you an overview of how things currently stand following the Leave campaign victory; but you will appreciate that events are moving very quickly. ‘I declare that the total votes cast f...
  • Brexit the Movie...

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    Sliding Doors Yesterday we saw a rising pound and markets shored up by polls indicating that Remain was likely to prevail.  Then, like the plot in “Sliding Doors”, an alternate reality took over.  The vote to Leave sent markets sliding, the pound tumbling and the movement was all the more extreme because of the about-turn from last minute polls to...
  • May’s Brexit update

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    In little more than a month, the referendum on ‘Brexit’ – that is, whether the UK should remain part of the European Union – will have taken place. But until 23rd June, ever more ammunition is being fired from both sides every week, much of which has a particularly economic and financial flavour. In his latest warning against leaving the EU, Prime...
  • IN OR OUT?

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    'IN OR OUT?' - A special report on the EU Referendum Depending on when you read this article, there’s a month – or less – to go until the UK votes in the EU Referendum. The exact question, proposed by the Electoral Commission and accepted by the Government in September 2015, will be: Should the UK remain a member of the European Union or leave the...
  • Four new laws and how they’ll change the way you live

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    2016 has seen a number of new laws introduced by the government, and whilst some were widely reported, others feel conspicuous by their absence in the media. Here are four which could have a major impact on how both you and the British public in general live day to day: Immigration rules for working people have got stricter – From April this year,...
  • Four European destinations to make your pension go further

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    If you’re looking for ways to ensure you can enjoy as much of your hard-earned pension as possible when you retire, then moving elsewhere in Europe could be your best bet. The benefits aren’t limited to a different culture to explore and better weather than the UK; all the retirement destinations we discuss below offer a range of financial advantag...
  • News and info from our Dutch office

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    Defined Contribution plans in the Netherlands In a DC pension scheme the employee accrues a pension capital based on the invested capital. The capital must be converted to an annuity on or before the retirement date. In principle, the investment risk and the interest rate risk (the risk that the rate for purchasing an annuity changes) rest with th...
  • Investment Portfolios and the EU Membership Referendum

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    Good news - the impossible task of predicting the future just got easier! Usually there are many different potential outcomes to events making it hard to say exactly what will happen in the future.  With the EU Membership Referendum there’s only two possible outcomes: LEAVE or REMAIN.  So you have a 50/50 chance of calling it right.  The value of y...
  • The ‘Brexit’ impact on your pension

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    In the lead up to the budget announcement, George Osborne seemed to bow to the pressure David Cameron and other members of the Conservative Party were putting on him to soften his approach when it comes to pensions and tax relief. Ahead of the announcement, treasury sources suddenly began to indicate that now is ‘not the right time’ to make such bo...
  • Davos 2016: what you might have missed

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    The 46th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum took place from 19th January for four days in Davos, Switzerland. The main agenda was entitled “Mastering The Fourth Industrial Revolution”, with many of the delegates discussing the impact of rapid technological shift on many industries. The mood was uncertain – some might even say gloomy – with...
  • To Brexit or not to Brexit? – that is the question

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    If you have any views on the following please do engage with me through pdb@abg.net 1. How did we arrive at the present situation? The glib response would be “have you got a week?” but to bring it down to its basic level, it seems to be a case of “realpolitik“, at the recent General Election David Cameron had little choice but to offer the citizens...
  • February Market Commentary

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    Twelve green bottles, standing on the wall Twelve green bottles, standing on the wall And if one green bottle, should accidentally fall… Yes, yes, we know the song is really ‘ten green bottles,’ but in January 2016 the world’s leading stock markets resembled nothing more than the row of proverbial bottles. As one fell, so they all fell – with one...
  • November Market Commentary

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    Introduction Well, what a splendid month October was, with all the major world stock markets that we cover in this Bulletin skipping merrily upwards. Germany and China led the way with gains of 12% and 11% respectively, and if you only looked at the figures you’d be quite justified in thinking that everything in the world economic garden was rosy....
  • October Market Commentary

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    The end of September, and the end of the third quarter of 2015 – a quarter which, as all the financial press reported, was the worst for global equities since 2011. As CNBC put it: A sustained collapse in commodity prices, China’s stunning market rout followed by its shocking currency devaluation as well as fears of a Greek default and a US interes...
  • First premium levels 2016 Dutch Healthcare system published.

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    On September 15th, the Dutch Government has published its spending plans for 2016. Also this year there are adjustments made to the level of the mandatory deductible and the package that is covered trough the basic coverage. Mandatory deductible (own risk) In 2016 the mandatory deductible is increased with 10 euro to 385 euro. This means that the...
  • The EU Referendum is on the horizon. What impact might it have on UK SMEs?

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    The UK is set to have a referendum by the end of 2017 which will determine whether or not we will remain a member of the European Union. In this referendum everyone of voting age will take part, answering “Yes” or “No” to the question of whether they wish to remain a part of the EU. There’s no doubt that leaving the European Union would bring about...
  • Eerste wijzigingen zorgpremies 2016 bekend

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    In vergelijking met vorig jaar, toen er sprake was van een complete stelselwijziging rond de langdurige zorg, blijft het aantal wijzigingen in 2016 beperkt. Eigen Risico Het eigen risico stijgt met 10 euro tot 385 euro. De vrijwillige eigen bijdrage blijft maximaal 500 euro per jaar. In 2015 heeft bijna 12% van de verzekerden vanaf 18 jaar gekozen...
  • Cheaper holidays and breaks in the Eurozone?

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    The strong Pound, with the Euro at a historic low in Europe, suggests that this is the time for you to travel from the UK to Europe, when time there will be less expensive than it has been in years. One Euro in summer 2014 exchanged at around 80p sterling, but this summer this has come down to around 70p per Euro – 12.5% less. The pound now goes a...
  • September Market Commentary

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    Introduction “Markets can fall as well as rise…” Never was that statement more true than in August, when virtually all the major world markets headed down, led by the plunging stock market in China. It became virtually impossible to watch a news bulletin without seeing a shell-shocked fund manager or a weeping private investor. It is, however, impo...
  • August Market Commentary

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    July was a dramatic month. Greece held a referendum and emphatically rejected the austerity package offered by its creditors. Motor-cycle riding Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis resigned,  calling the creditors “terrorists”, and the new finance minister, Euclid Tsakalotos, was seen going into yet another final, final crisis meeting with his negoti...
  • July Market Commentary

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    An essential part of writing this bulletin each month is making daily notes on the main business and stock market news. This month we have comfortably broken our record – more than six pages of notes. And as you might expect, about half of those pages are about Greece and its debts. ‘An agreement was in sight’ on the debt repayment – but then the f...
  • The Greek Election: The 10 Key Questions Answered

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    Over the past few months we’ve written extensively about the financial and political situation in Greece and the possible implications for the country – and for Europe – if Syriza won the General Election that was held on January 25th. We now know the result of the Election: Greece has a new government and it appears that we’re about to have a peri...
  • Where do we go from here? Greece, the Eurozone and the future of the British Economy

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    I was never a fan of Mr. Brown as either Chancellor or Prime Minister, but he must be given enormous credit for one decision and that was to persuade Mr. Blair to drop the idea of Britain joining the Euro. I agree with the general consensus amongst political commentators and financial journalists that this will now never happen (or, at least, not i...