UK

  • Don’t get caught out by the lifetime allowance rule change

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    The total tax paid by those exceeding their lifetime pension allowance amounted to £36 million in 2015/16, 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 2012/13 to £19 million in 2013/14 and up again to £20 million in the following year. The increased revenue has...
  • Do you know how much your pension pot is worth?

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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 don’t know how much a lump sum payout of this accumulated pension would be worth, thanks to a lack of communication fr...
  • People who get financial advice are £40k better off

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    A recent study has revealed that people who seek the advice from an independent financial adviser (IFA) are on average £40,000 better off than those who don’t do this. The research has come from leading think-tank the International Longevity Centre, who have stated that both the ‘affluent’ group – wealthier people more likely to own their own homes...
  • Could the Buy-to-Let tax changes be the next pension crisis?

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    The National Landlords Association (NLA) has warned that the next pension crisis could be created by the impact of changes to the way buy-to-let properties are taxed, as many individuals are becoming increasingly reliant on funding their retirement through income generated by property. Recent figures suggest that around 77% of landlords rely on the...
  • Britons with second home in Paris could face a steep council tax rise

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    A proposal to free up properties in Paris was approved at the beginning of July 2017 and could result in a major increase in council tax payments for UK residents with second homes in the French capital. The changes would result in an average payment increase of over €2,000 (around £1,750), a hike surely likely to prompt some to think about selling...
  • Rise reported for top fixed-rate cash ISAs

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    Charter is also offering 1.41% on its new two-year ISA, pushing slightly ahead of that provided by UBL, which pays 1.36%. However, anyone wanting to withdraw from the ISA before the end of the term will lose 180 days’ worth of interest. The new two-year ISAs are considerably more attractive than those on offer in December last year, with Leeds Buil...
  • SUMMER ROUND-UP 2017

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    The children are back at school, it’s getting darker and you’re starting to think about the central heating. Summer is drawing to a close and we thought it might be interesting to reflect on some key events over the last few months – and see if they give us an idea of what might happen in the run up to Christmas… These notes were written on Monday...
  • Average price for first home reaches record high

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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 Buyer Review discovered that almost half (47%) of all house purchases with a mortgage made during the first...
  • Raising retirement age will not fill the ‘black hole’

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    Recent figures have suggested that the government will be forced to cut back on healthcare spending, raise taxes or increase borrowing to care for the UK’s ageing population, even if the retirement age was immediately raised to 75. An economic study has found that population growth slowing and the increase in cost for healthcare are likely to put c...
  • How long would your savings last?

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    A recent survey has found that the typical working person in the UK has around a month’s worth of savings to be able to maintain their current lifestyle should their income stop without warning. The data collected from 2,000 people found that the average person’s savings would support them for 32 days. More worryingly, 26% of those who responded sa...
  • 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...
  • Will interest rates ever rise?

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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, Mark Carney, and a member of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), were published in an interview in mid-Ju...
  • Putting the glamour back into air travel!

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    Once upon a time, commercial air travel was one of the ultimate luxuries reserved for the rich, famous and powerful, primarily because of the expense involved in doing so. The world where that was true now feels like one from a very long time ago, with ever-advancing technology making flying cheaper and easier and the rise of budget airlines making...
  • Insurance premiums set to rise due to tax change

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    Insurance companies have warned that a recent rise in tax could mean that the average family will end up paying £283 more for their premiums every year. The Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) has now increased from 10% to 12%, meaning that the cost of home, motor, health and pet insurance is set to go up. IPT has proven to be an attractive way for chancel...
  • 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...
  • Is uncertainty becoming the new norm?

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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 unexpected result and an uncertain future. June’s general election was no different: Theresa May began streets ahead in the p...
  • Falling house prices in the UK for the third month in a row

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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 first time house prices have fallen in three consecutive months since 2009. Following the drop of 0...
  • What does the current political climate mean for your savings and investments?

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    Whilst the country takes in the latest developments in the ongoing saga that is contemporary British politics, one question that many will be looking for answers to, is how the result of the general election is likely to affect them financially. It’s inevitable that savings and shares will be impacted upon in some way by Theresa May’s failure to co...
  • What’s happening with DB pension schemes?

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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 advisers in the UK have seen an increased demand for such transfers over the last twelve mo...
  • The financial pros and cons of self-employment

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    Studies show that being self-employed has an impact on family life due to the increase in pressure and stress it brings. According to the Centre for the Modern Family’s report ‘Self-employment and the Family’, a fifth of those related to self-employed workers admitted to their household experiencing higher levels of stress, thanks to their career c...
  • Should we be paid to exercise at work?

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    Following the findings of the British Heart Foundation that over 20 million UK people are classed as physically inactive, the discussion of just how to tackle this growing problem has emerged once again. One suggestion is that it’s now time for employers to make physical exercise part of the paid working day. Many tech companies, such as Google and...
  • 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...
  • What will the ‘hole in the wall’ of the future look like?

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    Whilst contactless payment may still feel like a relatively new phenomenon, the first card to offer this capability – Barclaycard’s OnePulse, which combined a credit card with the Oyster card used on London transport systems – celebrates the tenth anniversary of its launch later this year. Making a contactless payment for small purchases now feels...
  • Bill to the Bank of Mum and Dad could reach £6.5bn

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    A recent report has suggested that the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ will be lending their children over £6.5 billion this year in order to help them onto the property ladder. The projected figure is around £1.5 billion higher than the £5 billion loaned by parents to their offspring in 2016, demonstrating an increase of 30% and meaning that more than one i...
  • 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...
  • Where is the property market hottest in the current climate?

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    The latest figures from the housing market suggest that the Midlands is currently the hottest area for property, with price rises outstripping even those seen in the traditional hotspots further south. Rightmove’s most recent monthly price index has revealed that the average asking price for a home in the East and West Midlands during March increas...
  • The humble £1 coin 34 years on – what it could have made you

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    Tuesday 28th March 2017 saw the Royal Mint release 300 million new £1 coins. The updated design is dodecagonal (that’s the fancy word for twelve-sided), bimetallic like the £2 coin and, perhaps most importantly, impossible to fake according to the Mint, thanks to a closely guarded security feature. The old £1 coin will remain in circulation until S...
  • 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...
  • How will your spending habits change in retirement?

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    It will come as a surprise to nobody that retirement is one of the biggest lifestyle changes you’ll ever experience. But as your priorities shift and the free time available to you increases, what you might not be as aware of is the way in which your spending habits are likely to alter too. Research analysing the spending patterns of households in...
  • If we are all going to have to work longer, what do you need to consider?

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    The long-established state pension age of 60 for women and 65 for men is set to change over the next few decades. The pension age for women has been gradually increasing since April 2010: the age for women is set to be brought in line with that of men, increasing to 65 by November 2018, with a woman’s birth month determining the exact date the chan...
  • An extra year before Making Tax Digital becomes law

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    As part of the Spring Budget, the Chancellor Philip Hammond gave an update at the beginning of March on the plans for rolling out Making Tax Digital (MTD), the scheme by HMRC to make digital record keeping mandatory and implement a number of changes to modernise the tax system. The key announcement was that many unincorporated businesses will now h...
  • What does the 25% charge on QROPS transfers mean for your dream to move abroad?

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    In the Budget, the Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a 25% charge for people moving their pension abroad. If you’re planning to spend your retirement somewhere warmer and sunnier than the UK then the news may have worried you somewhat – will it end up stalling your dreams of life after work spent overseas? The charge will affect qualifying recogn...
  • UK Pension Rules

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    UK Pension Rules (or does it?) In the UK Budget handed down in March new rules relating to the transfer of UK Pensions were announced and subsequently legislated. The HMRC directive (stating UK pension transfers should only be made to the country in which the member resides) will now be enforced by new legislation introduced in the Finance Bill 201...
  • We are pleased to announce the launch of our new International Savings Plan

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    Why Might You Need It? Because; You want a savings plan with the option to add to your plan or make withdrawals at any time to suit your lifestyle. You would like to save, perhaps for a specific purpose. For example: Private education or university fees. A deposit to buy a property. A wedding. A gap year. The new Alexander Beard International Sa...
  • Will the first online-only savings bond mean savers will miss out?

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    The new government-backed savings bond from National Savings & Investment (NS&I) is set to launch in April this year, offering what Chancellor Philip Hammond has described as a ‘market-leading’ interest rate of 2.2% over three years. The bond is also set to become the first savings account offered by NS&I which will only be offered onli...
  • What do the changes in business rates mean for you?

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    One aspect of the Spring Budget which was welcomed by small businesses and pubs alike was the announcement by the Chancellor Philip Hammond that they will receive additional help with their business rates bills. All pubs whose rateable value is under £100,000 will receive a discount on their bills to the value of £1,000, meaning that nine out of te...
  • Women face gender gap in pension contributions as well as pay gap

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    Whilst the pay gap experienced by women in comparison to men is most likely a problem you’ve heard about, another gender gap has emerged which is just as concerning. Recent figures suggest that, on average, women are receiving smaller pension contributions from their employers than men. Between 2013 and 2016, women benefitted from pension contribut...
  • What financial wellbeing means for your health

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    The latest Financial Wellness Index has revealed that people with very little savings and those who are struggling to pay their bills are also those who are suffering from poor health. Conversely, those enjoying good health are more likely to experience a higher level of financial wellness. The findings raise the question of whether working to impr...
  • What is the ‘real rate of inflation’?

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    The current projected figures for 2017 see inflation set to grow by between 2.5% and 3%, but there are already reports surfacing that this figure is misleading, with most families set to experience much higher increases than this, thanks to the ‘real rate of inflation’. But what does that actually mean and why is the real rate so different to the p...
  • 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...
  • 4 steps to keeping track of your pension

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    A recent study has revealed the worrying statistic that over a fifth of all people with multiple pensions have lost track of at least one, with some admitting to have forgotten the details of all of them. With around two thirds of UK residents having more than one pension, this amounts to approximately 6.6 million people with no idea how much they’...
  • What could be the best way to provide for your grandchildren?

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    With both property prices and the cost of living continuing to rise, as well as low interest rates making it difficult to save, the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ is increasingly becoming a partnership with the ‘Bank of Gran and Grandad’. If you have grandchildren, it’s only natural that you’ll want to provide for them in some way as you move towards your r...
  • House prices to slump in 2017?

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    Recent figures suggest that house prices are set to slow during 2017. Property prices grew by 5.7% in the year to the end of January, slower than the annual growth of 6.5% in the previous month. In January, the average UK home was valued at £220,260. Whilst prices in the three months to the end of January were higher than in the previous three mont...
  • 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...
  • What will the new government-backed savings bond mean for savers?

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    Amongst a generally gloomy Autumn Statement, chancellor Philip Hammond offered a potential ray of hope for those looking to achieve better returns on their nest egg, thanks to the announcement of a new government-backed savings bond. Set to become available from spring 2017 through National Savings & Investments (NS&I) for those prepared to...
  • 4 things to do before the end of the tax year

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    The beginning of a new calendar year should serve as a timely reminder that we’re only months away from the end of the current tax year. It might feel at the moment as though there’s plenty of time until the beginning of April, but ensuring you make use of the remaining months before they disappear is always a good idea. Here are our top four tips...
  • 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...
  • BUDGET PREVIEW FEBRUARY 2017

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    Introduction Let’s start this preview of the 2017 Spring Budget by looking back to the Autumn Statement of 2016 – Philip Hammond’s first major statement after replacing George Osborne as Chancellor of the Exchequer. In his first Autumn Statement, Hammond announced… the end of the Autumn Statement. Declaring that, “no other major economy makes hundr...
  • LISA warnings highlight the need to make sure your investments are suitable

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    The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has recently voiced concerns that new Lifetime Individual Savings Accounts (LISAs), due to launch next year, could be putting some savers at risk if the product is not fully understood. LISAs are being sold as a way to earn bonuses if the money put into them is put towards the purchase of a home or saved for re...
  • The post-Brexit period

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    The post-Brexit period could already be having implications, particularly as relate to Franco-British relations, in the form of pension fund transferability. Indeed, the English tax administration, HMRC, has just officially announced the withdrawal of French PERs [retirement savings schemes] from the list of QROPSs. Until now, PERs had been preappr...
  • 31% of Britons have given up saving

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    A recent study has revealed that almost a third of the population are putting no money at all into savings. The report by the Social Mobility Commission found that 31% of people in Britain have nothing left to save at the end of every month, with 4% saving under £10. Around half save £100 or under, with only 23% saving more than £200. The alarming...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Tapered Annual Allowance

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    What is the tapered annual allowance? The tapered annual allowance has been designed to reduce the annual allowance for individuals with adjusted incomes over £150,000.  This will reduce the annual allowance by £1 for every £2 of income above £150,000.  The maximum reduction is £30,000 where individuals with incomes of £210,000 or over, will have t...
  • Slow start to housing market predicted for 2017

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    The housing market is set for a slow start in the new year due to a shortage of homes for sale, according to a survey by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Although property transactions may increase at the beginning of 2017 after slowing since the spring, the survey suggests that any acceleration is likely to be modest at best. The...
  • 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....
  • Millions have less than £100 in savings

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    A recent survey has revealed the startling statistic that over 16 million people in the UK have less than £100 of savings. In five areas of the country – Northern Ireland, the West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber, North East England and Wales – over 50% of the adult population has savings amounting to less than that amount. The South East had the lo...
  • The ‘cost of dying’ is now racing ahead of the rate of inflation

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    Recent research has revealed that the cost of dying is now the fastest rising fixed cost in the UK, ahead of costs of living including rent, utilities and food. Funeral costs are also now rising faster than inflation, wages and pensions. The average cost of a funeral within the UK is now £3,897, which is 44% of the current total cost of dying per p...
  • When’s the best time to do your Christmas shopping?

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    Are you one of those people who started planning their Christmas shopping for this year after the last mince pie of 2015 had been devoured? Or are you more of a last-minute gift-buyer who’ll be relying on pure adrenaline and whatever’s left in the shops on Christmas Eve? According to research from PricewaterhouseCoopers, more people are closer to...
  • The next generation’s need for planning may be even greater than our own

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    Research from the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) surrounding wealth in the UK has been making headlines in recent months. The study has found that people born during the 1980s are now half as wealthy as those born in the 1970s were at the same stage in their lives. This makes children born during the Thatcher era the first generation since the S...
  • How’s global growth doing?

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    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently published its ‘World Economic Outlook’ report which suggests that whilst global growth in 2016 has been substandard, this is set to improve somewhat during 2017. The IMF’s report states that stifled global growth this year has been caused largely by the Brexit vote and the economic slowdown in the US,...
  • Does buy-to-let still pay?

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    The popularity of investing in property to fund retirement remains prevalent, in spite of the government’s attempts to make buy-to-let less and less attractive. But is buy-to-let investment really a viable alternative to a pension pot, for example? A recent study has investigated the numbers behind each option. The research looked at how £100,000 w...
  • New lifetime allowance could hit more than just ‘pension millionaires’

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    The latest figures surrounding the pensions lifetime allowance (LTA), which governs how much your pensions can be worth without triggering an extra tax charge, suggest that a considerable number of middle-income earners are being hit by the lower threshold. The amount collected from pensions exceeding the LTA by HMRC during the 2015-16 tax year cam...
  • 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....
  • Triggering pensions freedoms without a plan could be costing you money

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    According to recent research, the introduction of pension freedoms has led to many thousands of people taking out large sums from their retirement funds, then leaving it earning them next to nothing in low-interest accounts. The figures from Citizens Advice who carried out the study suggest that around three in ten people are currently doing this,...
  • Fireworks

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    One aspect of investment management that never fails to amaze me is that events don’t take a ticket and wait in line.  Any number of crises or threats can run simultaneously and there is nothing to prevent a number risks from all blowing up at the same time like a well-coordinated firework display. Another aspect of investment management that const...
  • The scammers won’t go away, so be careful out there!

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    It’s an unfortunate truth of the computer age that, as the software developed to protect your identity and sensitive information improves, so the methods of those trying to defraud you become ever more effective. It’s an ongoing battle between both sides, which means it’s just as important to be aware of scam emails now as it ever has been. The pra...
  • Where now for interest rates after Brexit?

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    Whilst the Bank of England initially seemed to be holding steady at a rate of 0.5% in the wake of Brexit, the announcement at the start of August that not only was the rate to be cut further to 0.25%, but also that there may well be further cuts in future, wasn’t all that surprising to many in the financial sector. In the wake of the turmoil follow...
  • “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...
  • Update: the knock on effect of the interest rate cuts

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    Following the Bank of England’s decision to cut interest rates to a record low of 0.25% at the beginning of August and the initial reaction to that from within the financial sector, the resultant effects continue to be felt over a month later. Cash savings accounts have been hit the hardest, with some banks making cuts to their interest rates five...
  • 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...
  • Understanding pensions – what is drawdown?

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    Drawdown is a way of achieving greater flexibility with your pension funds. Every time you move your money into drawdown, you’re allowed to take 25% of this as a lump sum, which is exempt from tax. The rest continues as an investment, with taxable income able to be drawn straight from your pension whenever you choose. The tax-free lump sum must be...
  • This summer’s market trends insight - from Investec

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    Sterling fell sharply immediately after the UK’s 23 June vote to leave the EU. GBPUSD slumped from $1.49 the day of the Brexit vote to $1.32 the following Monday. We think that the decline reflects two factors. First, heightened uncertainty about the UK’s future economic relationship with the EU has raised the risk premium associated with UK assets...
  • 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...
  • The value of mortgage advice

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    Mortgage advice might not be for everyone, but for those clients who seek it out it can be an invaluable service in helping them to strike a better deal than they could have achieved on their own. The role of a mortgage adviser is to work with a buyer in order to find them the best option for their circumstances. The main way in which a mortgage ad...
  • Retiring in England? Here are the top destinations

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    Whilst the impact of Brexit is yet to be known, one thing that may become trickier is relocating to the continent after Britain leaves the EU. It’s a change that will affect those at the end of their working life as well as those near the start, as in the past many have chosen to live outside the UK for their retirement years. Thankfully, whether y...
  • Negative interest rates and how they might affect your finances

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    With the Bank of England cutting UK interest rates this month for the first time since 2009 to just 0.25%, it looks more likely than ever that Britain could experience negative interest rates. The idea of negative interest rates has moved from theory to reality following the 2008 financial crisis, with several central banks in Europe introducing ra...
  • 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...
  • The London bubble: capital pays a third of UK tax

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    The latest findings of Centre for Cities, a think tank focused upon understanding and improving UK city economies, suggest that London now pays almost a third of all UK taxes. The capital increased its share of “economy taxes” by five percentage points to 30% since the 2004-05 financial year, and now generates nearly as much as all the tax combined...
  • Gender pay gap reporting is coming in October – what do you need to know?

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    New regulations on gender pay gap reporting are set to come into effect at the start of October 2016. Whilst this can only be a good thing to reduce the discrepancy between the pay received by men and women in the UK (the current pay gap is 19.2%), it also means additional expectations of affected employers to publish the numbers on their gender pa...
  • What is pension salary sacrifice and can you still do it?

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    A recent report in the Financial Times discussed the changes to pensions tax relief that could be on the horizon, one of which is the potential for pension salary sacrifice to be abolished by the government. But, unless you’re someone currently either offering or receiving salary sacrifice, it’s quite likely that you’re unaware of both what it is a...
  • The widening gap between the lifespans of rich and poor people

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    For the first time since the 1870s, the gap between the expected lifespan of the rich and the poor is getting wider in England and Wales. A study by City University London confirms that, whilst people are living longer overall, the lifespan of rich people is expanding faster. Using statistics from the Human Mortality Database, the researchers looke...
  • Don’t worry: there will be no stamp duty rise on your ‘granny flat’ after all

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    November 2015 saw Chancellor George Osborne announce a significant rise in the amount of stamp duty for second home and buy-to-let properties. The new level, which came into effect in April this year, is higher than that on residential property by three percentage points. What this means is that buying a second home for £200,000, will now have £6,3...
  • 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...
  • The new state pension and how it will affect you

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    The new single-tier state pension, also referred to as a ‘flat-rate’ pension, came into effect at the start of April this year. Whilst it makes the system simpler, as well as increasing the basic state pension from around £120 per week to a starting figure of £155 per week, the new system is not set to benefit everyone. To find out whether you’re o...
  • The unexpected financial influence of “The Bank of Mum and Dad”

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    Recently released data suggests that “The Bank of Mum and Dad” will lend out £5 billion this year to children looking to get on the UK property ladder. Parents will therefore be assisting in financing one in four of all UK mortgage transactions in 2016. The average loan amount will be £17,500, around 7% of the average purchase price, and parents ar...
  • Help To Buy vs Lifetime: Which ISA is best?

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    Set to be introduced in April 2017, the Lifetime ISA essentially offers an alternative to the Help To Buy ISA. With two competing options on the table, it’s important to know which is best for you and your needs, as whilst they have some similarities, there are also key differences between the two. The Help To Buy ISA allows you to save up to £200...
  • 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...
  • The enigma of Premium Bonds

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    Earlier this month, the top Premium Bonds prize of £1 million was won for the first time since the investment limit was increased to £50,000 in June 2015. The winner, from West Scotland, only the second ever top prize winner from that region, had invested the maximum amount, whilst a second investor from Surrey was also made a millionaire in the sa...
  • 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,...
  • Retirement plans on hold for many over 50s

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    A third of people aged over 50 who are employed in the private sector are now planning to retire later than they previously hoped, Aviva’s latest Working Lives report reveals. The 2016 report – which comprises research among UK private sector employers and employees – has a particular focus on employees aged over 50, following the end of compulsor...
  • 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...
  • When was the last time your friends and family reviewed their pension?

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    A survey carried out by YouGov only a few years ago found that over half the respondents who contributed to either a personal or workplace pension scheme had not reviewed their pension in the preceding three years. More worryingly, many of these people admitted that they had never carried out a pension review. If this sounds like you, then it’s po...
  • Pension Freedoms: the first twelve months in numbers

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    It was a year ago that the biggest pension shake-up seen this generation came into force. Whilst there hasn’t been quite the stampede of people determined to withdraw every penny from their pension early, to splash out on a hot tub or luxury cruise, the statistics from the last twelve months suggest that those who have taken advantage of the change...
  • What's new in the new tax year?

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    In this article we provide a reminder of the various changes that have taken place from 6th April which will have an impact on the financial planning world. This includes changes in the areas of pensions, taxation and savings. Pensions Lifetime allowance – has reduced from £1.25m to £1m. Two new protections are available (Individual Protection 201...
  • P2P Lending online

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    Peer-to peer or P2P is the new kid on the block for most investors. Peer-to-peer lending websites are offering very attractive rates compared to banks & building societies. In these times of very low bank rates this can appear very tempting. However, these attractive returns come with risks. Peer-to-peer websites, which appeared in Britain abou...
  • 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...
  • How long before pension tax relief fills the ‘Black Hole’?

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    Before the March 2016 Budget there had been much speculation that the Chancellor was planning big changes to the tax relief on pensions. However, just before the Budget, the Treasury scotched rumours of such changes and subsequently there were no changes to pension savings tax relief in the forecast Budget. But then came the ‘Black Hole’ when the o...
  • Will we get a fairer state pension deal for women?

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    A recent Saga article claims that the battle to give women a fairer deal over their state pensions scored a significant victory early in January, when it was the subject of a House of Commons debate. Although the debate had no power to directly alter government policy, it represented yet another important step in bringing the campaign into the publ...
  • 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...
  • Three ways accelerated tax payments are likely to affect you

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    George Osborne announced last year that the tax system as we currently know it will be phased out by 2020, after the Treasury described the system of tax returns as “complex, costly and time-consuming.” In its place, a new digital system will be rolled out by the government which purports to be easier to use and manage for both individuals and busi...
  • Could changes in pension tax relief spell the end of the pension itself?

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    There’s a lot that’s likely to change about your pension in the near future, which in turn will have an impact on all sorts of other factors regarding savings for your retirement. Depending on what changes the government imposes on how pensions are taxed and the amount of tax relief allowed on pension contributions, you may end up needing to pay co...
  • Brits resident in the USA – QROPS pensions

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    You may or may not have heard of a QROPS but if you have a UK personal pension, as many ex-pat Brits do, this article may be of some interest to you. There is much uncertainty surrounding this subject for individuals that are now considered as US tax resident/citizens. Although this short article is by no means comprehensive, it will aim to make cl...
  • 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...
  • Basic Bank Accounts Become ‘Fee-Free’

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    Millions of bank customers across Britain stand to benefit by hundreds of pounds as nine major banks launch fee-free basic bank accounts. The accounts will be available to anyone who doesn’t already have a bank account, is ineligible for a standard current account or who can’t use their existing account due to financial difficulty. For the first ti...
  • The new decluttering craze. Could it apply to your office… or your finances?

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    Two books are first and third in the current US Best Sellers list – both by Japanese-American tidying guru, Marie Kondo. Her tidying wisdom has swept the US as a way to feel better about yourself and your home and it’s now heading to the UK. She recently shared her top tips for ‘decluttering’ and it made us wonder whether her new form of ‘healthy l...
  • Will we get a fairer state pension deal for women?

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    A recent Saga article claims that the battle to give women a fairer deal over their state pensions scored a significant victory early in January, when it was the subject of a House of Commons debate. Although the debate had no power to directly alter government policy, it represented yet another important step in bringing the campaign into the publ...
  • Early Budget teasers, as the Prime Minister lays out plans for ‘an all-out assault on poverty’

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    Reported recently across the media, David Cameron has promised an ‘all-out assault on poverty’, with a series of social reforms to include better mental health services and mentoring schemes. The PM said new mothers and teenagers with anorexia were among those who would benefit from improved services. He also promised to flatten ‘sink estates’, hel...
  • More debate on care costs, as four out of ten say they would deplete wealth to avoid paying

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    Forty-three per cent of people in England would deliberately deplete their wealth to avoid paying for care, leading to more pressure on state finances than ever before, statistics from the latest Partnership Care Report show. Findings in the report show the number of people prepared to reduce their assets below the £23,250 annual threshold to ensur...
  • Pension tax changes: Should you pay more before relief rates are curtailed?

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    Given recent comment from George Osborne, and mentions of the same during the Autumn Statement, it appears as though pension tax is set for a shake-up in 2016. With that in mind, there appears to be a potential opportunity for higher-rate taxpayers to make the most of their savings while the good times last. Though not confirmed at this current tim...
  • 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...
  • Seven suggestions made to the government during the consultation on pension taxation

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    The Government has recently finished a consultation looking at how pension taxation could work in the future. The Chancellor, George Osborne, has said that he expects to reveal the findings and the direction he is going to take during the March Budget. But is there any way to take an advance look at the situation? What has the Chancellor considered...
  • BUDGET PREVIEW FEBRUARY 2016

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    Previewing the 2015 Budget almost exactly twelve months ago, we wrote: What now for the Chancellor as he starts to prepare for the Budget on March 18th? On the one hand, the UK is growing faster and recovering better than any other major economy. On the other, there are worrying clouds on the horizon. The victory of the left-wing, anti-austerity p...
  • The Old Year

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    The Arab Spring is turning into an Islamic Winter for the middle east, with some added cold wind, reminiscent of the Cold War. Russia and Iran are seemingly aligned against a US-backed Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The intricacies of the religious, political, military, and historical events taking place are complex to say the least. “Outrageously unstab...
  • A timely reminder about the importance of making a will, from Lesley Stevens

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    So what happens if I die without a Will in place? Figures show that over 50% of adults with children in the US and UK do not have a Will in place. You are said to have died 'intestate'. If you die intestate the results could be catastrophic for your family. Should this happen, the state sets out who should deal with your affairs and who should inhe...
  • Should I leave my investments, assets and pensions in the UK, or liquidise and move them to the US?

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    If you are moving to the US from the UK then, at some point, you will come across the question of what to do with your financial assets. Assuming you have worked and lived in the UK for some time then it is likely that you will have accrued savings and other assets. You might have contributed to a private or workplace pension, for example, saved so...
  • The Pensions Regulator takes action on non-compliance

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    The Pensions Regulator (TPR) publishes annual and quarterly commentary and analysis on automatic enrolment and the powers they have used to ensure employer compliance over the relevant period. The data gives a breakdown of which of the several compliance enforcement actions have been applied. The analysis and data published in the TPR June 2015 rep...
  • Millions given freedom over their pension as government outlines new secondary annuity market

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    This summarises the UK Government’s proposal to allow people in receipt of an annuity in payment to exchange income for capital….. We have summarised what we believe to be the main challenges of this proposed change at the end of the note and would be happy to address any questions that you may have. From 6 April 2017 more than five million people...
  • George Osborne uses Autumn Statement to spell out clear policy messages

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    According to George Osborne’s Autumn Statement and Spending Review, we all look set to face a galvanised HMRC, with an increased war chest for tackling tax evasion and avoidance. The Chancellor believes £5bn of additional revenue is expected to be raised by his new range of initiatives. Measures are planned to introduce new penalties for the Genera...
  • The Autumn Statement 2015 Overview

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    Just over four months ago, George Osborne delivered his second Budget of 2015, following the Conservative Party’s outright victory in the May general election. At that moment, the view from 11, Downing Street must have looked remarkably pleasant. Osborne’s handling of the economy was widely credited with playing a large – if not pivotal – part in t...
  • Tapering Annual Allowance and Pension Input Periods

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    The government announced on 8 July 2015, that for 2016 to 2017 onwards the annual allowance for tax relieved pension savings will be reduced for those with incomes of over £150,000. Their annual allowance will be reduced by £1 for every £2 of income they have over £150,000, with a maximum reduction of £30,000. In advance of the introduction of this...
  • 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....
  • Autumn Statement 2015 – 9 points to note

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    On 25 November 2015, the Chancellor of the Exchequer delivered his Autumn Statement and spending review. This event allows the government to outline its taxation and spending plans, based on economic projections through to the tax year 2020/21. The Chancellor covered a wide range of issues. Below we provide comment on news relevant to savers and th...
  • Car sharing deserves better tax incentives

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    A recent report, ‘On the Move’, published by Policy Exchange Think-Tank researchers, explores ideas and policy proposals on how to create a more mobile workforce. One of the key policy ideas in the Report is about offering tax benefits to commuters who use ride-sharing schemes and free parking in city centres for care sharing. Drivers who offer fel...
  • Everyday financial concerns for Brits in the US

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    In our guide, ‘The Only Financial Guide You Need as a Brit Living in the USA’ , we talk about a range of financial considerations that are important for any Brit emigrating to the US. For those heading off to a new life in the States, a key concern will be your everyday finances; things like banking, paying rent and generally knowing what you shoul...
  • Emigrating to Florida? Top 4 Considerations for Brits

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    If you’re moving to the US then Alexander Beard Group’s The Complete Guide for Brits Moving to the US has all the information you need relating to finances; from the everyday, to larger concerns such as house buying and moving large investments. Each American state is different, however, so we’ve put together our Top 4 tips for those moving to Flor...
  • Have you stranded your pension in Malta?

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    Due to the historic inability to move a pension from the UK directly to the US, many UK expats, who are now US residents, moved their pensions to Malta. Malta has a favourable tax treaty with the US and allows pension access from that country, so a move to Malta may have made sense in the past. Now, however, with the advent of FATCA and the knock-o...
  • Keeping your money safe by avoiding identity theft

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    Experian’s expertise and insight on data security, in a report published recently, has highlighted a gender imbalance. Men are now victims in two out of three ID thefts (63%) across all financial product applications. The report tells us that criminals making bogus current account applications have been targeting men aged between 50 and 59 (up 3.4%...
  • State Pension changes in 2016 – can I top up my pension?

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    A new initiative allows people who reach the state pension age before April 2016, to top up their pension. This includes those that are already drawing the state pension. The Government is allowing retirees to buy extra state pension by paying so-called Class 3A voluntary National Insurance contributions between October 2015 and April 2017. This wi...
  • Is university a good investment? Just how much does it cost to study at a UK university?

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    An April 2015 article reviews the cost of studying at university in the UK, giving food for thought for would-be undergraduates and their families. UK tuition fees are frequently under the media spotlight, following price hikes for home students in recent years. But the overall cost to study in the UK, according to an April 2015 topuniversities.com...
  • 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...
  • Pension Death Benefits - The New Rules

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    Major changes to the tax charges that apply to benefits paid on the death of a pension scheme member have taken effect from 6 April 2015. These changes affect uncrystallised pensions, drawdown pensions and annuities. Under the new rules the key factor is the age at which a member dies. OPTIONS AND TAXATION Member’s age at date of death & Optio...
  • What not to forget when leaving the UK

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    When moving overseas the more tangible issues people tend to face are arranging Visas, transport of possessions, arranging employment and selling property. There are however things that are often forgotten and can come back and haunt you in the future! The three main areas that people should address before leaving the UK are cross border financial,...
  • Devon tops the table for pensioner well-being

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    The South West of England appears to be the place to live if you want a long, healthy and safe retirement, according to a new league table of pensioner well-being developed by Prudential. The league table, which uses a combination of census data and results from the insurer’s own retirement research, ranks the top 20 counties in England and Wales a...
  • Wedding costs challenge the marital bliss of guests, as well as bride and groom

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    Experian’s latest survey suggests that the rising cost of weddings is rocking the boat for many couples, and not just for the bride and groom. In fact, almost a quarter of Britons (22%) have argued with their partner about the cost of witnessing others tie the knot. The findings also reveal that one in six people (17%) who are in a relationship ar...
  • 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...
  • Finding Funding for SME start-ups

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    Whether you’re a start-up seeking your initial capital or you’ve just taken on a small business and are looking for money to grow, you’ll need that initial injection of funds to turn your ideas into a reality. According to statistics from Companies House, Britons are embracing the entrepreneurial spirit. Research from the national enterprise Start-...
  • Will dividend tax keep rising?

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    The Treasury revealed in July that the dividend tax credit would be replaced with a new tax-free allowance of £5,000 of dividend income for all taxpayers, which takes effect from April 2016. The Chancellor said at the time that the move would “simplify the taxation of dividends”. But is this just the start of increased dividend taxation? Smaller fi...
  • What’s really on the bucket list of the UK over 55s?

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    Consumer Intelligence conducted an independent online survey for Prudential between 6 and 10 July 2015, among a sample of 1,157 UK adults aged 45+, including 645 aged 55 or above, asking respondents what made up their own personal ‘bucket list’. Travel dreams make up seven of the top 10 wish-list experiences and activities that most over-55s would...
  • Emigrating to New York? Top Four Considerations for Brits

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    New York is one of the most popular destinations that Brits emigrate to. With plentiful international companies making the city their home, and an exciting city environment in which to live your life, it’s little surprise that many choose to make ‘the big apple’ their home in the US. If you’re heading to New York from Britain, your main questions a...
  • 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...
  • Personal savings shortfall? The state pension may not be the answer to bridging it.

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    The typical working over-45 year old faces a £8,955 annual retirement income gap based on their current savings and investments – meaning they will rely heavily on a state pension that will still leave them short, the latest Aviva Real Retirement Report shows. The report reveals that over-45s, who are not yet retired, typically expect to need an 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...
  • Should your Junior ISA be in Cash or Stocks and Shares?

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    Children born after 3 January 2011 – or those aged under 18 and born before 1 September 2002 – can open a Junior ISA. This also applies for those children born between 1 September 2002 and 3 January 2011 who are not eligible for a Child Trust Fund (CTF). Cash ISAs are a good savings option because you pay no tax on the interest or return. If you d...
  • Currency update from TorFX

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    GBP/USD Exchange Rate News and Short-Term Forecast Over the last month the Pound Sterling to US Dollar exchange rate has been stuck trending in a fairly narrow range, moving between lows of 1.5435 and highs of 1.5677. Mixed economic reports from both the UK and US, a dramatic selloff in commodities and global economic concerns have conspired to pre...
  • UK Non Resident ? UK Home Owner? This could affect you !!

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    From 6th April 2015 we saw the introduction of new Capital Gains Tax Rules for Non-Resident UK Property Owners. Prior to this date UK non-residents were not liable to Capital Gains Tax on the sale of UK property. However the UK Government has introduced new rules whereby non-resident property owners will now have to pay Capital Gains Tax when they...
  • Strong investment demand for retail warehouses continues

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    International real estate advisor Savills has reported that total transaction volumes in the UK retail warehouse investment market totalled £1.264 billion in the first half of 2015, marking a 28% increase on the £981.95 million transacted in the same period last year. The firm highlighted a significant increase in deals over £50 million, with nine...
  • How the Summer Budget changed the landscape for SMEs

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    Those who listened to the Summer Budget on 8th July for news affecting small businesses will no doubt have been glad to see corporation tax slashed and the employment allowance increased, but an article recently published by KPMG asked, did the Summer Budget go far enough in announcing measures to help small businesses grow? In the lead up to the...
  • Budget 2015: Are taxpayers really winners?

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     An analysis of the Chancellor’s Summer Budget recently published by ‘This is Money’ presents the outcomes for individuals and families in relation to broad categories of ‘Winners’ and ‘Losers’. One category labelled as winners are Taxpayers. The threshold at which workers start paying higher rate tax will rise for the first time in five years, li...
  • Currency exchange and more to help with your move to the US

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    Working with a specialist currency exchange According to research quoted in The Telegraph, the average UK family move abroad with £250,000 of assets, likely to be fairly liquid due to the sale of a house and/or a car. If you were to take a fairly poor market exchange rate, with just $0.05 difference from a better rate then you could end up thousand...
  • The Summer Budget implications for ‘Buy-to-Let’ housing

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    A major shake-up of the buy-to-let housing market could be about to take place, after the Chancellor announced plans to change mortgage tax relief for landlords. In his Summer Budget speech, the chancellor said that the relief will be cut to 20%, from 40-45%, in an effort to “level the playing field” between buy-to-let landlords and ordinary house...
  • What is the New State Pension?

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    The so-called ‘New State Pension’ will come into force on April 6th 2016 and will affect all pensioners who reach state pension age from that date onwards. For women, this means that you will be affected if you were born on or after 6th April 1953. For men, you will be affected if you were born on or after 6th April 1951. The New State Pension is...
  • Infographic: What could you buy with the average UK pension pot?

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  • 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...
  • Discriminatory expat state pensions

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    Retiring abroad is a common desire for many in the UK. For those that move to the sunny Mediterranean countries of the EC their UK state pension is preserved and increased each year. If you move to the United States, it is preserved and again increases each year in line with state pensions paid in the UK. This is not the case for every destination...
  • Connected rather than protected?

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    Brits consider an internet connection and mobile phones to be greater financial priorities than protecting mortgages and incomes, according to new research in the latest Scottish Widows Protection Report. Only 39% considered providing financial security for their family in the event of death as essential – which has dropped from more than half in f...
  • 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...
  • Latest ‘Retirement Readiness’ report shows the UK still has a major savings problem

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    New research in Spring 2015 from Aegon UK reveals that just 7% of the UK population are on track for the retirement they aspire to, exactly the same percentage as in April 2014. Aegon’s third UK Readiness Report – the latest in a series of reports that looks at attitudes towards retirement – has a particular focus on levels of engagement with workp...
  • New tax threat to those moving a pension abroad

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    The new pension freedoms, which came into force on April 6th 2015, have highlighted a potential problem for UK nationals looking to emigrate abroad and take their pensions with them. Whilst the new pension freedoms create greater flexibility for those accessing their pensions, they do not allow access to pensions before the age of 55. This has caus...
  • What did the Budget 2015 change for ISAs?

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    ISAs have been a hot topic for politicians recently, with multiple changes to the savings vehicles made over the last few years. The most recent major announcement, George Osborne’s 2015 Budget, was no exception, with several interesting new developments for ISAs announced as part of the Budget document. Help to Buy ISA Arguably the biggest ISA cha...
  • Second 2015 Budget Announced for 8th July

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    Chancellor George Osborne has surprised voters, political and business leaders alike by announcing that he will take the unusual step of delivering a second 2015 Budget on 8th July, just one hundred and twelve days after the Budget of 18th March. With an Autumn Statement also due later in the year, the second Budget will mean the Chancellor will de...
  • New civil penalties announced for those who facilitate tax avoidance

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    Revealed during the 2015 Budget, the government has introduced new measures to discourage tax avoidance. Headlining these measures are two new criminal offences and higher penalties, which cannot only be brought against those who avoid tax, but also those who enable tax avoidance. The two new headline measures introduced by the government include a...
  • Busy Brits regret rushing decisions

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    Time-poor people around the UK risk rushing important long-term decisions, with 9 out of 10 (90%) regretting rushing their career choice and 87% feeling regret over hurrying financial decisions, new research from Scottish Widows has revealed. The study into managing time and life administration priorities found that people in the UK are becoming bu...
  • The new ‘Google tax’ and what it means for business

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    The government’s new Diverted Profits Tax (DPT), commonly known as the ‘Google tax’, formally came into force on 1st April. Detailed initially during the 2014 Autumn Statement, the tax is an attempt by the government to stop large firms from paying comparatively small amounts of tax in the UK by ‘diverting’ their profits to be reported overseas. A...
  • Consumer Frustration with Financial Application Processes

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    New research from Experian has revealed key factors driving people to pull out of an application for a financial product or service. A lengthy application process is the number one frustration felt by over half (51 per cent) of UK adults applying for financial products and services, according to new research by Experian, the global information serv...
  • New Steps for Regulating the UK Banking Sector from the FCA

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    The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), on the 16th March 2015, outlined how it will implement new regulatory regimes to preserve the integrity of the UK finance industry and financial markets. The FCA stated that the new framework comprises two regulatory regimes, a ‘Senior Managers Regime’ and a ‘Certification Regime’, both of which are underpinne...
  • UK and Cross Border Pension Sharing service

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    At Alexander Beard, we offer a UK based, FCA regulated service to individuals who are to receive pension funds when instructed by a court order. It is quite simple for the order to be made, however the actual facilitation of the request can be very difficult to complete, especially if the beneficiary is non UK resident. An example of the service we...
  • Lesley Stevens - Quarterly Newsletter (May 2015)

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    Changes to UK State Pension are imminent It will be called “The New State Pension.” The change will affect people who reach retirement age on or after 6th April 2016 – This is men born on or after 6th April 1951 and women born on or after 6th April 1953. 35 years of National Insurance contributions will ensure a full New State Pension, currently gu...
  • Protecting your savings: Pull up the drawbridge and drop the portcullis!

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    We are hearing a lot through the media about the attacks we may experience under the new UK Pension Reform arrangements and regulations, when we gain access to our pension pots and can choose to do what we like with them. What an opportunity for fraudsters who right now are ready to assault our new wealth castles! We will have all seen stories in t...
  • With Pension Reform come Pension Pot Scams!

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    One in ten pensioners has been approached by a fraudster looking to gain access to their cash, according to recent research. The study from MetLife found people in South West Britain were most vulnerable to scams with 14% of retirees targeted, compared to just 3% in the East and 5% in Scotland. In a Pension Professionals article, it was reported th...
  • How good is the prospect of retirement security in the UK?

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    The UK has slipped by four places to 22nd in a global survey looking at the countries with the best – and worst – retirement security, according to a recent Professional Pensions article. Switzerland was named the top performer in the Natixis Global Asset Management CoreData Global Retirement Index (GRI), followed by Norway, Australia and Iceland....
  • Video: Looking ahead to the 2015 Budget

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    George Osborne will deliver the Government’s 2015 Budget Statement on March 18th, in just a couple of days time. What can we expect the statement to reveal or announce? Can we look forward to pre-election tax giveaways, or is the government likely to keep its line on reducing the deficit through austerity? In this short video, we look at some of th...
  • 2015 Budget Preview

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      It’s only two months ago – on December 3rd – that Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne delivered his Autumn Statement. But we’re now just a few weeks away from his last Budget before the General Election, which will be held on May 7th. When Osborne delivered his Autumn Statement he was relatively optimistic. Britain was recovering from...
  • British Expats in USA – Do you still have any financial assets in the UK?

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    A large majority of British expatriates living in the US tend to have left some form of financial asset back home. This article aims to discuss some of the more common assets that individuals typically leave, or indeed forget about, in the UK and will provide a general outline of how they are viewed and treated once you become a US resident or cit...
  • 10 New Year’s Resolutions for your Financial Planning

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    With recent reports from the Autumn Statement suggesting most of the UK economic indicators are moving in the right direction, it doesn’t mean we can suddenly afford to ignore our personal financial planning. So in the best traditions of New Year here are ten financial planning resolutions that will hopefully help make 2015 a prosperous and secure...
  • Gender gap in pension savings narrow, as women benefit from Workplace Pension changes

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    The number of women saving adequately for retirement has shifted from a record low to a four-year high in the last 12 months, according to Scottish Widows’ annual Women and Retirement Report. Half of the UK female population is now preparing adequately – the first increase recorded since 2011 – a leap of 10 percentage points from 40 to 50 in the pa...
  • Two weeks on: the other outcomes from the Autumn Statement

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    Many clients will have already seen our Autumn Statement Summary, which analyses in detail the main points from The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, made on 3rd December. Like many major government announcements though, the real headlines and many of the outcomes from the statement only became clear in the weeks after George Osborne stood in parliame...
  • Christmas Shoppers leave it later than ever in important year for high street and online economies

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    Online shopping is booming and online retailers should brace themselves for the busiest December on record, as UK shoppers plan to leave their Christmas shopping later than ever. That’s the verdict from Experian, which revealed its predictions for the 2014 festive season this week. In 2013, ‘Manic Monday’ – 9th December 2013 – witnessed a huge spik...
  • Homes worth £3 million or more to be hit hardest by proposed ‘Mansion Tax’

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    Those owning properties worth more than £3million will be hit with tax bills starting from £10,000 under a Labour government, according to research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). Under the party’s mansion tax plans, homes worth between £2m and £3m would attract around £3,000 in liabilities, but properties worth above £3m will take a far...
  • Pensions in 2015: a brief update on what to look out for

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    2014 was a momentous year for pensions. Changes around how pensions could be drawn at retirement and how death taxes on pensions would be improved were both announced in the year, with the intention that all these new rules will be in place by 6th April 2015. For a pension saver, the landscape has changed and will continue to do so, resulting in ma...
  • Stock Market Falls – October 2014

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    On 3rd September this year, the FTSE 100 index briefly touched 6,898.62: this was within 52 points of the all-time high of 6,950 reached in the final trading session of 1999. Since then the FTSE has fallen significantly. At the time of writing this update, it stands at 6,367 – down more than 500 points (nearly 8%) from September 3rd. Not surprising...
  • House purchase lending in August down 3% on July

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    New Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) data published on the 9th October, on the characteristics of lending in August, show that lending declined slightly compared to July, the first month-on-month drop in house purchase lending volume since February this year. Total gross lending in August was £18.1 billion. This was 8% lower than July (£19.7 billi...
  • Pension planning for Brits in the US – QROPS vs UK pensions.

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    By Philip Teague, Divisional Director - Expat and Emigration Division, Alexander Beard For a long time now, the appropriate use of QROPS for British expats who are resident in the US, has been in debate. Some see it as a credible solution whilst others say that the risks far outweigh the benefits. QROPS are a legitimate pension solution to a great...
  • New tax threat for UK expats

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    Measures announced in the 2014 March Budget could impact UK expat’s tax position and earnings potential if, as indicated, George Osborne pushes forward with making them legislation. Originally speaking during the Budget announcement, Mr Osborne’s plans involve revoking UK expats’ rights to offset income earned in the UK against the current £10,000...
  • Expat pensioners cash in as pound value soars

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    Retired British expats who choose to live in the Eurozone have seen the income from their basic State Pension rise by nearly 10 per cent in the past year according to new analysis by the Prudential. UK Pensioners living in the Eurozone now find their annual income from the basic State Pension at €7,344.44 – a rise of €661.24 since this time last ye...
  • UK tax regime attracts business takeovers from abroad

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    Further hostile takeover attempts, similar to that of AstraZeneca attempted by US pharmaceutical Pfizer earlier in the year, are likely to take place as foreign businesses seek to take advantage of the UK’s attractive corporate tax regime. The UK’s headline rate will be 20% from next April, compared with 35% in the US. Meanwhile, the government has...
  • The changing mortgage interest rate future

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    Legal & General’s latest quarterly Mortgage Mood survey has revealed that 68% of homeowners surveyed fear a mortgage rate rise in the next 12 months, but the majority of that group (45%) believe that rates won’t increase by more than 1%. Looking forward two years, over half of the homeowners (52%) feel that rates still won’t increase by more th...
  • House buyers count the cost of quick viewings

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    People looking to buy a house in a highly competitive market are spending less time on property viewings and potentially missing out on signs of maintenance issues that could cause them financial pain down the line, according to new research from Aviva. Home buyers in the past year spent on average just over half an hour in total looking round a pr...
  • Announcing the Complete Property Investment

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    Alexander Beard Group are today delighted to announce a new service designed specifically for UK expatriates who want an easy way to invest in property back in the UK. Our specially designed Complete Property Investment Service contains all of the elements required to make investing in a property in the UK as simple as possible, so you can get on w...
  • Who’s coming to the UK, who’s going, and why?

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    Visits to the UK by overseas residents rose in February 2014, continuing the pattern noted at the end of 2012 and 2013, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) in an April 2014 report. The number of visits to the UK in the three months December 2013 to February 2014 was 5% higher than a year earlier. Holiday visits to the UK continue t...
  • 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...