Category Archive Ongoing Reviews

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Group Pensions

Group Personal Pension Plans (GPP) or Group Stakeholder Plans (GSHP) are a relatively straightforward method of providing employees with a pension arrangement. As they are not classed as occupational schemes, they are not subject to the more onerous rules and regulations applicable to such schemes. Instead, they are made up of a series of individual personal pension policies, with each employee having their own policy.

Group pensions are money purchase schemes allowing both the employer and employee to contribute. On leaving the employment, the accrued pension will cease to be part of the scheme and will be an individual plan the employee can continue funding to if they wish.

An employer can make contributions into a regulated pension scheme without limit subject to the wholly and exclusively accounting rules. To be eligible to make contributions and receive tax relief on personal contributions, employees must be under 75 years of age and be resident in the UK (there are some exemptions for individuals who work for the UK Government or have left the UK in the last few years).

The minimum contribution will vary between providers but is usually around £20 per month, and they can be stopped or started at any time. Given the many tax advantages that are available with regard to funding a personal pension, there are limits to the tax-relievable contributions that can be paid. Individuals are able to make contributions of up to the greater of £3,600 or 100% of their annual earnings to all of their pensions each tax year and receive tax relief on them.

There is also an annual limit, the Annual Allowance, on the total amount of pension contributions that each person can make without incurring a tax charge (this includes employer and employee contributions). Where the total employer and/or employee contribution exceeds the Annual Allowance a tax charge will apply, this will be added to the individual’s taxable income to determine their tax liability. Alternatively, the scheme may agree to pay the charge from the pension benefits if it is over £2,000.

For the 2019/20 tax year, the Annual Allowance is £40,000. It may also be possible for contributions in excess of the Annual Allowance to be paid in some circumstances under the rules which allow unused Annual Allowance from the three previous tax years to be brought forward and added to the current year’s Annual Allowance.

Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results

Bymapfinancesadmin

Self-Invested Personal Pensions

Self-Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs) are subject to the normal rules and regulations for registered pension schemes, but offer the freedom of choice over investment management, whilst keeping the administration in one place.

This means you are able to change the investment manager when you wish, without incurring the expense of changing the provider of the administration. Additionally, you can achieve greater flexibility in the benefits you can take during retirement without necessarily having to transfer your funds again.

You can elect to purchase an annuity or follow the route of phased retirement and/or drawdown pension. There is now no upper age limit at which benefits must be taken.

SIPPs are money purchase schemes with contributions receiving tax relief. An employer may contribute to an individual’s SIPP but this is not obligatory (unless being used to meet auto enrolment obligations). SIPPs can move with individuals when they change jobs, as they are personal to them.

You are free to give direct investment instructions, or more typically, indirectly via an appointed investment manager or adviser. Most types of conventional investments are freely permitted including quoted stocks and shares, unit trusts, insurance policies and commercial property but there are some restrictions designed solely to prevent abuse.

Any SIPP holding prohibited assets directly or indirectly will have all tax advantages removed which will broadly mean that it is at least no more advantageous to hold such assets in a pension scheme than it is to hold them personally. Prohibited assets include direct or indirect investment in residential property and certain other assets such as fine wines, classic cars and art & antiques. SIPPs can also be used to purchase commercial property, albeit this can involve considerable costs.

To be eligible to invest in a PPP and receive tax relief on personal contributions, an individual investor must be under 75 years of age, and resident in the UK (there are some exemptions for individuals who work for the UK Government or have left the UK in the last few years). Contributions can also be made by your employer or a third party e.g. parent or spouse.

The minimum contribution will vary between providers but is usually around £20 per month, and they can be stopped or started at any time. Given the many tax advantages that are available with regard to funding a personal pension there are limits to the tax-relievable contributions that can be paid. Individuals are able to make contributions of up to the greater of £3,600 or 100% of their annual earnings to all of their pensions each tax year and receive tax relief on them.

There is an annual limit on the total amount of pension contributions that each person can make without incurring a tax charge (this includes employer and employee contributions). This is called the Annual Allowance. Where the total employer and/or individual contribution exceeds the Annual Allowance a tax charge will apply. Depending on your taxable income the excess pension savings can be charged to tax in whole or in part at 45%, 40% or 20%.

It may be possible for contributions in excess of the Annual Allowance to be paid in some circumstances under the rules which allow unused Annual Allowance from the three previous tax years to be brought forward and added to the current year’s Annual Allowance.

Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results

Bymapfinancesadmin

Personal Pensions

Personal Pension Plans (PPP) have now been around since mid-1988. They were introduced by the UK government to enable the self-employed, and employees working for companies not operating a group pension scheme, to build up a pension fund for retirement.

PPPs are money purchase schemes with contributions receiving tax relief. An employer may contribute to an individual’s PPP. Such plans can move with individuals when they change jobs, as it is personal to them.

To be eligible to invest in a PPP and receive tax relief on personal contributions, an individual investor must be under 75 years of age, and resident in the UK (there are some exemptions for individuals who work for the UK Government or have left the UK in the last few years).

Contributions can also be made by your employer or a third party e.g. parent or spouse. The minimum contribution will vary between providers but is usually around £20 per month and they can be stopped and started at any time.

Given the many tax advantages available with regard to funding a personal pension, there are limits to the tax-relievable contributions that can be paid. Individuals are able to make contributions of up to the greater of £3,600 or 100% of their annual earnings to all of their pensions each tax year and receive tax relief on them.

There is an annual limit on the total amount of pension contributions that each person can make without incurring a tax charge (this includes employer and employee contributions). This is called the Annual Allowance. Where the total employer and/or individual contribution exceeds the Annual Allowance, a tax charge will apply.

The rate of tax will be determined by your taxable income in the tax year. It may be possible for contributions in excess of the Annual Allowance to be paid in some circumstances under the rules which allow unused Annual Allowance from the three previous tax years to be brought forward and added to the current year’s Annual Allowance.

Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results

Bymapfinancesadmin

Why Accountants should do Tax Planning

As an accountant myself, I know that many accountants don’t want to stray into the financial advice market in case it goes wrong. It doesn’t need to be as black and white as that though.

When doing clients’ accounts and tax returns, it is easy enough for an accountant to recommend that someone see an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) and potentially concentrate on pensions. You may have noticed when doing their accounts, that their tax bill has increased, and just about the only way to reduce that is contributions into pensions. This means you are at least helping your clients whilst not actually giving advice. They get the best of both worlds and is something that you won’t be held accountable for, but may get an income yourself from.

Accountants today should only recommend independent advisers, and that’s what MAP are. Moreover, the way we do our investing process keeps it that way, because we don’t outsource our investment process. What we invariably do for each client is invest in a spread of 10 investment funds through an investment platform, and then monitor those funds quarterly thereafter to ensure the client is always invested in funds on our approved Recommended Funds List.

In other words, we don’t let things drift, which is important when doing anything like this. Most people – even those that do their own investing – will treat investing as a one-off exercise, when in fact it needs to be a continuous exercise. MAP looks at all the funds that clients use every quarter, and if we are not happy with any fund, we will look to switch to others that we are happy with; so it is constant reviewing.

What could be better for your clients than using this kind of process, and your clients will love you for recommending this to them. They will then feel you are really looking after them with this kind of recommendation, and this will increase loyalty and client retention. Bear in mind we will also give you a percentage of the initial fee so that you can benefit from this as well as your client, and enable you to build an additional income stream for your business.

If you would like to find out more information or would like to start investing today, please contact Money Advice & Planning Ltd on 0345 241 1808 or e-mail us at enquiries@mapfinances.co.uk.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Links to external sites are for information only and do not constitute endorsement. Always obtain independent professional advice for your own particular situation. Money Advice & Planning Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Bymapfinancesadmin

October 2018 Budget

I know that when it comes to Budget time, I sit very close to the radio and try to gather as much information on changes as I can. The last one on Monday 29th October 2018 was no different.

What you should not do however is merely listen to it to see how it affects you today, and nothing else. You need to sit back after the event and decide what planning you need to do as a result.

What I will be looking at for clients is:

  • Where clients are withdrawing money from their pension and merely using up their allowances, then from April 2019, the basic allowance we all get changes from £11,850 to £12,500. This is a change from £987.50 per month to £1,041.67 per month, so why not take advantage of this. After all, it’s tax-free money.
  • The other big change in income tax is that the basic rate band which started at £46,350 is now pushed up to £50,000, and for those liable, this is a saving of £730 per year. So, before this change you would get £3,862.50 per month taxed at 20% before you were moved onto 40%, and now this is changing to £4,166.67 a month. That allows you another £304.17 taxed at 20% that previously was taxed at 40%.
  • National Insurance thresholds, which wasn’t really covered in the budget, will also rise as well.

We need to remember these rates will apply to the bulk of the UK but not to those who live in Scotland, as the Scottish Government have still to declare how much they intend to deviate from the UK Government. Once we have the rates from the Scottish Government, then we all need to sit down and see how much more we can get out of the system without tax, or before we get to 40%. Thereafter, it’s time to sit back and see what tweaks you can make to your own situation, to squeeze the maximum benefit out of the system.

One thing mentioned in the Budget was that pension cold calling will be made illegal from this Autumn, so if you are contacted by anyone asking you to move your pension, take down their details and we can inform the regulator about this, as this should not be happening.

Finally, the annual ISA allowance is staying at £20,000 per year, so no change. If you can afford a wee bit more into your ISA, as long as you don’t go over the £20,000 limit, this is worthwhile doing. Maybe even divert some of the tax savings above?

If you would like any advice or assistance in planning out how the budget has affected you, for good or for wose, contact Money Advice & Planning Ltd today on 0345 241 1808 or e-mail us at enquiries@mapfinances.co.uk.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Links to external sites are for information only and do not constitute endorsement. Always obtain independent professional advice for your own particular situation. Money Advice & Planning Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Bymapfinancesadmin

How long will your pension last?

From April 2015 when the then Chancellor George Osborne changed the rules and brought in pension freedoms, people have suddenly switched from buying an annuity to flexible drawdowns, where they can take out what they want when they want.

Now the FCA doesn’t have a problem with this, but they do have a problem with education more than anything else. They reckon that people are just walking into a nightmare, as there could very well be a problem at some time in the future when they will run out of pension money.

What on earth do these people do then, apart from telling a tale of woe? Pensions, as the FCA see it, are for when you retire, and if you take out a lot of money before you retire, then you won’t have it later. You can only spend it once after all!

If you run out of pension money in retirement – what are you going to live off? The State pension is certainly not enough for a comfortable life-style. How long are you going to live? Have you taken into account housing costs? What about care costs?

What we attempt to do at MAP is create a simple spreadsheet that shows your pension fund through the years to come, taking into account modest growth and withdrawals. Based on this information, we give a best effort at telling you how many years it might last. We only ever use low rates of growth to be pessimistic – 3% for cautious investors, 5% for middle risk investors and 7% for high risk investors – and we tend to work on an average of 6% withdrawals per year. So if you are a cautious investor, you can expect your fund to go down by about 3% per year, and therefore we need to look at longevity.

What we do in these spreadsheets is put in an estimate based on the information we have of how many years we think you have left to make your pension last. Having this kind of information is priceless to our clients and helps them to plan things out a bit better than they were before.

So, if you need some help in planning your retirement, please ask us for a forecast tailored for you. If you would like to discuss any aspect of retirement planning with Money Advice & Planning Ltd, please contact us today on 0345 241 1808 or e-mail us at enquiries@mapfinances.co.uk.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Links to external sites are for information only and do not constitute endorsement. Always obtain independent professional advice for your own particular situation. Money Advice & Planning Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Bymapfinancesadmin

Global Fund Markets

At the beginning of October, the tariffs Mr Trump hit China with finally had their effect on fund prices and values. To be honest, these tariffs had been in existence for a wee bit of time, so it wasn’t a surprise that they now hit home. What was a surprise was that the Dow Jones fell as well.

Admittedly. the Dow Jones fell because of people’s fears about interest rate rises, but there must have been an element of worry about global trade, which the USA plays a big part in. Personally, we think what Mr Trump is doing is wrong, and we reckon this will come back and bite him at some stage.

All of this however merely reinforces what we have said a few times now; that we reckon for the next few years, the world markets will be more unsettled and therefore more volatile. At the time of writing this article, we haven’t got a deal on Brexit agreed and through Parliament, Mr Trump is fighting with the Chinese, and we know we are in for a hard time when the current bull run finishes. The current run has gone for about 3–4 years more than it should have done; an end is inevitable, but we don’t know when.

These factors are over and above all ‘normal’ trading challenges, so as you can imagine, there is a lot going on at the moment to unsettle investments.

At MAP we will watch the markets carefully on our clients behalf, but there is no need at all for knee-jerk reactions. Everything will be planned and organised. The funds we put in our Recommended Fund Lists (RFL) are those with a reasonable amount of consistency, which is by far the best way to go.

There are no guarantees that this consistency will be maintained, but in using such funds and monitoring their ongoing performance, to ensure the consistency remains, there is in our eyes, no better approach to investing in the current climate.

If you would like to discuss any investments with Money Advice & Planning Ltd, please contact us today on 0345 241 1808 or e-mail us at enquiries@mapfinances.co.uk.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Links to external sites are for information only and do not constitute endorsement. Always obtain independent professional advice for your own particular situation. Money Advice & Planning Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Bymapfinancesadmin

Tax Planning and The Markets

When we invest client money at MAP, we always take the markets and the current situation into account…you have to!

First of all, when we put money away for a client, we always use accumulating funds, as opposed to income funds, where possible. But why?

If you invest in a company or fund on an income basis, you are looking to receive dividends from them. Everyone gets £5,000 a year with no tax but after that, it is taxable and can amount to a fair bit. If on the other hand you invest in accumulating funds, you are working on increasing the value and getting growth. Growth isn’t taxable to income tax, but any gains are subject to Capital Gains Tax which is a bit more lenient than income tax. Every year a person can make gains of £11,700 and pay no tax at all. If you had made this in income funds, you would get the first £5,000 free and the balance would be taxable.

What we do for the bulk of our clients is invest in accumulation units to maximise growth. Then, if someone needs money and withdraws it, the withdrawal is subject to Capital Gains Tax which is slightly more generous to the individual. From experience, we probably only deal with about two or three capital gains tax assessments a year. That will give you some indication of the scope of this, and shows you can legally avoid paying tax here.

When saving or investing, always bear in mind that if you have income, it will be subject to income tax, whereas if you have capital gains, it is not always liable to Capital Gains Tax.

As well as this basic measure, there are plans which specifically cater for tax:

  • Pensions: these are long-term savings contracts which gives full tax-relief when paying into. Always remember however that you will inevitable pay tax when you take the money back out. You can take out 25% of a pension as a tax-free lump sum, but you pay tax on the rest.
  • ISAs: There are small income tax savings in ISAs but there is no Capital Gains Tax on selling ISAs. So if for example, you used it to pay off a mortgage such that when you cash it all in there are big gains, there will never be any capital gains tax. For those under the age of 18, don’t forget adults can pay into a Junior ISA (JISA) for them.
  • Trusts: We use trusts for Inheritance Tax (IHT) planning, as they can save significant amounts of IHT. Quite a complicated area which we won’t go in to detail here – we don’t want to bore you!

It goes without saying that if you can reduce the effects of taxation by as much as you legally can, you will keep more of your money. Therefore, you should always plan your money and spending out.

If you would like to discuss any investments or tax planning with Money Advice & Planning Ltd, please contact us today on 0345 241 1808 or e-mail us at enquiries@mapfinances.co.uk.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Links to external sites are for information only and do not constitute endorsement. Always obtain independent professional advice for your own particular situation. Money Advice & Planning Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Bymapfinancesadmin

Brexit – How to approach it?

Quite a few of our clients are asking us what is going to happen with Brexit. The simple answer is, we haven’t a clue, but then again no-one does.

What we would add though is that where clients have money invested on a platform, the challenges presented by Brexit are no different than any other market changes, albeit this is on a larger scale.

What we all need to do is sit back and see where we want to invest our money – whether Europe, UK, Asia, America, Japan, Global, etc. Our view is that we believe trading arrangements will be made, and yes, they are taking their time getting there. However, European countries need the UK market just as much as the UK needs European markets. Just think how many German cars are sold in the UK!

We are not for one minute going to fall off a cliff edge at any time. That’s why we believe they will come to some agreement eventually, but this is all about politics, and the EU getting as much money from the UK as they can before the break.

If someone is very nervous about Brexit, the obvious thing is to reduce your levels of risk. If you have category four funds, you may wish to switch these for category three funds. Similarly with category three funds; switch for category two funds. We wouldn’t suggest any drastic changes though because you don’t know how all the companies you are invested in actually trade. A lot of blue chip companies for example get the bulk of their income from overseas, and you just do not get companies which only trade in the UK. So unless you know all the underlying agreements and areas of business, you could very well be jumping from the frying pan in to the fire.

In situations where we are dealing with the unknown – as is the case here – the best way to proceed is to do nothing or only small changes. Once you know what you are facing, then you can easily change things to adapt; that is the approach we would recommend.

This after all is why we use investment platforms – so your investment portfolio can be easily adapted to meet changing circumstances. You could do something now and repent at leisure, so we would advocate that you only do something when you are in full possession of the facts.

If you would like to discuss any investments with Money Advice & Planning Ltd, please contact us today on 0345 241 1808 or e-mail us at enquiries@mapfinances.co.uk.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Links to external sites are for information only and do not constitute endorsement. Always obtain independent professional advice for your own particular situation. Money Advice & Planning Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Bymapfinancesadmin

Why involve an IFA when dealing with probate or confirmation?

The majority of people use a solicitor to deal with probate or confirmation on a will, but fail to combine the assistance they are receiving from their solicitor with the advice they should be taking from an IFA to help save them money and reduce the potential tax bill on an estate.

For solicitors that work alongside a trusted IFA, this can be a real value-added service they can offer clients, and is also a real opportunity for both solicitor and IFA to secure new clients from the next generation of the family they have both helped.

There are many ways an IFA can help in probate cases, such as:

  • Posthumous applications to HMRC, to avoid tax charges on large pensions;
  • Highlighting any government benefits that the surviving spouse might be eligible for; or
  • Arranging for an additional ISA allowance where savings are involved.

Once probate has been carried out, the IFA will then be able to advise the family on the best way to maximise investment returns on any money inherited, and hopefully secure future business for both solicitor and IFA from the next generation of the family.

With more and more businesses looking at how they can keep in contact with the intergenerational transfer of wealth and future business when probate is carried out, this is a model of working together which can produce growth, profitability and sustainability for both IFA and solicitor.

If you would like to discuss how Money Advice & Planning Ltd can add value to your clients and enable you to offer an additional service to them then please contact us today on 0345 241 1808 or e-mail us at enquiries@mapfinances.co.uk.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Links to external sites are for information only and do not constitute endorsement. Always obtain independent professional advice for your own particular situation. Money Advice & Planning Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.