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What to know about ISAs in 2019/2020

The rules around ISAs (or individual savings accounts) change relatively often and different types of ISA rise and fall in popularity depending on where savers consider the most competitive place to put their hard earned money.

ISAs are a great way to save because of their tax efficiency. You don’t pay income tax or capital gains tax on the returns and you can withdraw the amount any time as a tax free lump sum. Because of their tax efficiency, there are set limits on how much you can save using ISA accounts.

The 2019-20 tax year is an interesting year for ISAs because the main annual allowance isn’t increasing. The yearly total you can invest in an ISA remains at £20,000. This means that the ISA limit remains unchanged since April 2017.

Remember that all ISAs don’t have the same allowance. For Help to Buy ISAs, you can only save a maximum of £200 a month, on top of an initial deposit of £1,200. Lifetime ISAs (LISAs) have a maximum yearly allowance of £4,000, on top of which you benefit from a government top-up of 25% of your contributions.

One ISA allowance that is rising (slightly!) is the Junior ISA, increasing from £4,260 to £4,368. This means that relatives can contribute slightly more to a child’s future, in a savings account that can only be accessed when they reach 18. Junior ISA accounts are rapidly gaining in popularity, with around 907,000 such accounts subscribed to in the tax year 2017/2018. Great news for the youngest generation!

Stocks and Shares ISAs are also gaining more popularity, with an increase of nearly 250,000 in the last tax year. On the whole, though, the number of Adult ISA accounts subscribed to in the last year fell from 11.1 million in 2016/17 to 10.8 million in 2017/18.

For investors with Stocks and Shares ISAs, Brexit uncertainty has understandably created cause for concern. In this scenario, your best course of action is to make sure that your investments are properly diversified around the globe. Speak to us if you are unsure about what you can do to reduce risk during any post-Brexit turbulence. We’ll be more than happy to help.

Sources
https://blog.moneyfarm.com/en/isas/annual-2019-isa-allowance

The perks of saving into a junior ISA

There are so many factors for a parent to consider in doing their best to make sure their children are prepared for the world when they reach adulthood. A lot of those things will be out of your control, but one thing you can consider that could make a real difference is investing into a Junior ISA. If you start early you could accumulate a pot of over £40,000; that’s a birthday present that no 18 year old would be disappointed with.

Entering adulthood with that level of finances comes with life changing opportunities and great freedom of choice. Depending on their priorities, your child could put down a deposit on a property, start a business, pay for training or tuition fees, or even travel the world to their heart’s content.

On April 6th 2019, the amount that can be saved annually into a Junior ISA or Child Trust Fund account will increase from £4,260 to £4,368. Just like an adult ISA, your contributions are free from both income and capital gains tax and often come with relatively high interest rates. For example, Coventry Building Society offer an adult ISA with an interest rate of 2.3% per annum, whereas their equivalent Junior Cash ISA comes with a 3.6% per annum interest rate. Junior ISAs are easy to set up and easy to manage: as long as the child lives in the UK and is under the age of 18, their parent or legal guardian can open the ISA on their behalf. On their 18th birthday, the account will become an adult ISA and the child will gain access to the funds.

Both Junior Cash ISAs and Junior Stocks and Shares ISAs are available, and you can even opt for both, but your annual limit will remain the same across both ISAs. When making that decision there are a few considerations to make; cash investments over a long period of time are unlikely to overtake the cost of inflation but come at a lower risk than their stocks and shares equivalent. With a Junior ISA, however, you can benefit from a long term investment horizon. Although the stock market comes with a level of volatility, you can ride out some of the dips and peaks over a long period. Combined with good diversification, it’s possible to mitigate a fair amount of risk.

Taking a look at potential gains, had you invested £100 a month into the stock market for the last 18 years, figures from investment platform Charles Stanley suggests that a basic UK tracker fund would have built you a pot worth £39,313. In comparison, had you saved the same amount into cash accounts, you’d be closer to £24,000, a considerable difference of nearly £16,000.

With this latest hike in the saving allowance, it’s time to make the most of Junior ISAs and prepare to swap bedtime reading from Peter Rabbit and Hungry Caterpillar to stories of how a stocks and shares portfolio can secure your child’s future.

Sources
http://www.cityam.com/273196/saving-into-junior-isa-great-way-new-parents-invest-their

Mary Poppins returns: Can a tuppence really save the day?

Since the release of the film Mary Poppins Returns in December, it’s taken over $250m, making it a financial success. The story of the film itself however seems to recommend a few ways of making your own personal finances successful too. With the original set in 1910, the sequel takes us to 1935 where Michael, just a boy in the first film, is now a man with children of his own. Unfortunately, due to him being unable to repay a loan, he finds himself face to face with the frightening possibility of having his home repossessed.

Thankfully for Michael, in the original film his father gives him shrewd advice to invest his pocket money of a tuppence, rather than giving it to the women selling bird food. Quick reality check; even over the course of 25 years, the compound interest on a mere tuppence is extremely unlikely to have been enough to help Michael out of his rut in the real world. Realistically, with an average interest rate of 6%, saving two pennies wouldn’t even bring you in a single pound. Perhaps his father invested it particularly wisely, finding the unicorn company of his day, perhaps putting it into oil stocks, but even then it would require a huge return. It’s a film, after all, and the overriding message of being responsible with your finances is a noble one, so we can allow them a bit of creative licence.

Beyond taking the advice of investing two pence too literally, there are some positive messages and useful takeaways from Mary Poppins Returns. Ultimately, the tone is optimistic; the suggestion being that even if you’re in a particularly difficult financial position, there’s always a solution. It also suggests that these solutions are easier to come by with a bit of forward planning.

Sound investments are as beneficial now as they were in 1910, so seeking and listening to advice about how and where to put your money can be as helpful for you as it was for young Michael. Keeping on top of your financial situation and making conscious efforts to plan for the future will put you on steady ground and allow you to plan for a future that, in the words of Mary Poppins herself, is “practically perfect, in every way!”

Sources
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46741343

one in seven widows are missing out on valuable tax breaks

New data reveals that thousands of widows are missing out on valuable tax breaks on money inherited from their late husbands or wives.

In 2015, the government introduced a new rule that allows spouses to claim an extra ISA allowance. This allowance, known as an Additional Permitted Subscription allowance (APS allowance), is available to the surviving spouse or civil partner of a deceased ISA investor, where the investor died on or after 3 December 2014.

According to the Tax Incentivised Savings Association (an ISA trade body), around 150,000 married ISA savers die each year. However, just 21,000 eligible spouses used their APS allowance in the 2017-18 tax year, meaning they may be paying more tax than they need to pay.

Many bereaved spouses are unaware of the extra protections they can claim on, while others find the process difficult and confusing.

It is thought that many of those who lose out are widows whose husbands pass away without informing them of the exact nature of their financial affairs. In some cases, widows only discover large sums of money long after their husband’s death.

Situations like this have led to many to call for greater transparency between spouses around their financial affairs. A culture of privacy around financial matters is rife among the ‘baby boomer’ generation, where the higher earner often manages the money and investments. This can leave the bereaved in a precarious position, especially if they don’t know what bank accounts, investments and companies their spouse may have managed.

If your partner has left funds held in an ISA to someone else, you’re still entitled to APS. For instance, if your partner left an ISA of £45,000 to their friends and family, you can use your APS allowance to put an extra £45,000 into an ISA of your own.

Think you might be able to claim? You can apply through your late partner’s ISA provider. You will need to fill in a form, similar to when you open an ISA.

Sources
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/personal-banking/savings/one-seven-widows-missing-valuable-tax-breaks/

Kids off to Uni? Congratulations – but have you been saving enough?

The Institute of Fiscal Studies suggests that the average total debt incurred by today’s university students over the duration of their studies will amount to £51,000. This figure comes as those in higher education saw the interest rate on student loans rise to 6.3% in September. Total student debt in the UK has now risen to £105 billion as of March 2018, a figure £30 billion higher than the nation’s total credit card debt.

The rising cost of higher education perhaps makes it unsurprising that 40% of parents are now beginning to save towards future university costs before their children have even been born, with one in five hoping to have saved £2,000 by the time the baby arrives. Frustratingly, however, around two thirds of those who are saving are doing so by simply placing the funds in an ordinary savings account, meaning their money is earning them very little in interest.

An alternative option to consider is a Junior ISA (JISA) in the child’s name, which they can then access when they turn 18. The account currently allows £4,128 to be saved every year, and the best rate market rate for a cash JISA offers 3.25%. Saving the maximum amount at that rate for ten years would result in a nest egg of £49,427 tax free to cover university fees with plenty left over for other expenses.

Whilst a cash JISA offers dependability, a stocks and shares JISA is also worth considering as the potential reward on your investment can be higher. Both types of JISA can be opened at the same time with the allowance shared between them, so spreading your savings between the two can pay off in the long run.

Using your pension to save towards your child’s university education is also an option, thanks to the pension freedoms of recent years. With the ability to take a lump sum to put towards fees and other costs when you turn 55, pensions offer a tax-efficient way of putting away for both your child’s future and your own. This is an option which needs careful planning, however, as you’ll need to make sure you have enough for your retirement before paying for your child’s education.

For those able to do so, it may also be worth speaking to your own parents about helping towards their grandchildren’s university costs. Rather than leaving money to a grandchild in their will, a grandparent might consider gifting towards fees and other expenses or placing the money in a trust, reducing their inheritance tax liability and allowing their grandchild to benefit from their legacy when they really need it.

http://www.independent.co.uk/money/spend-save/parents-university-fees-saving-children-born-student-loans-college-fund-tuition-51000-a7895951.htmlhttps://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2018/04/student-loan-interest-rates-expected-to-rise-in-september—but-dont-panic/researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN01079/SN01079.pdfhttps://www.moneyexpert.com/debt/uk-personal-debt-levels-continue-rise/

 

Agent Million visits London and Dorset this October

Summer travels may be over, however NS&I’s Agents Million continue their tours, spreading
news of £1 million jackpot wins to two lucky Premium Bond holders in London and Dorset.

October’s first jackpot winner, a man from Inner London, becomes the 51st jackpot winner in
the whole of London. His winning Bond was purchased in February 2016 when he
purchased the maximum investment of £50,000 (Bond number: 267FW537456).

Another man, this time from Dorset, has also hit the jackpot, winning the £1 million from a
£25 prize that was won in October 2010’s draw and reinvested into his total Premium Bonds
holding (Bond number: 173HT264915). He has £19,725 invested and becomes the ninth
jackpot winner in the county since the jackpot was introduced in 1994.  Agent Million last
visited the region in April 2018.

The pair become the 395th and 396th winners of the £1 million jackpot prize.

Jill Waters, Retail Director at NS&I, said:
“Re-investing Premium Bond prizes can be a great way of saving and it has paid off this
month for Dorset’s jackpot winner, scooping the £1 million jackpot from a £25 reinvested
prize. While the London winners’ savings habit has proved particularly fruitful, winning the
top prize just over two and a half years after investing.”

Customers can opt to have their prizes paid directly into their bank account, or to have their
prizes automatically reinvested into their Premium Bonds account, as long as the total
holding is below the maximum threshold of £50,000. More information about these options is
available on nsandi.com.

Do you have an unclaimed prize?
There are over 1.5 million unclaimed prizes worth just over £60 million.
In Inner London, there are over 119,000 unclaimed prizes worth nearly £4.8 million. These
prizes date back to June 1960, with a prize of £100. The highest unclaimed prize in the
region is £50,000, having been won in May 2016. The customer has £9,175 invested in
Premium Bonds and the winning Bond number is 33XT435809. There is also one £25,000
prize and four prizes of £10,000 waiting to be claimed.

In Dorset, there are over 18,000 unclaimed prizes worth £672,000. These prizes date back
to February 1964 with a prize of £25. There are also 17 prizes worth £1,000 each in the
region, with seven of these being won by customers with less than £10 invested in Premium
Bonds.

October 2018 prize draw breakdown

Value of prize & number of prizes

£1,00,000  – 2
£100,000 – 5
£50,000 – 10
£25,000 – 20
£10,000 – 49
£5,000 – 99
£1,000 – 1,795
£500 – 5,385
£100 – 24,622
£50 – 24,622
£25 – 3,083,096

Total prize fund value
£89,743,200
Total number of prizes
3,139,705

In the October 2018 draw, a total of 3,139,705 prizes worth £89,743,200 will be paid out.
There were 76,922,736,910 eligible Bonds for the draw.

Since the first draw in June 1957, ERNIE has drawn 416 million winning prizes, to the value of around
£18.7 billion.

Customers can find out if they have been successful in this month’s draw by downloading
the prize checker app for free from the App Store or Google Play, or visit the prize checker
at nsandi.com. The results are published in full on Tuesday 2 October.

Some Premium Bond Facts

1. All Premium Bonds prizes are free of UK Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax.
2. NS&I is one of the largest savings organisations in the UK, offering a range of
savings and investments to 25 million customers. All products offer 100% capital
security, because NS&I is backed by HM Treasury.
3. The annual Premium Bonds prize fund rate is currently 1.40% and the odds of each
individual Bond number winning any prize are 24,500 to 1.
4. Customers can buy Premium Bonds online at nsandi.com and over the phone by
calling 08085 007 007. This is a freephone number and calls to it from the UK are
free from both landlines and mobiles. Calls may be recorded. Customers can also
buy by post. Existing customers can also buy by bank transfer and standing order
and each investment must be at least £50 for bank transfers and standing orders.
5. Further information on NS&I, including press releases and product information, is
available on the website at nsandi.com. Follow us on Twitter: @nsandi or join the
conversation on Facebook: Premium Bonds made by ERNIE

interest rate rise: what does this mean?

goldfish jumping from small bowl to big bowlThe Bank of England has raised interest rates from 0.5% to 0.75%, only the second rise in a decade. Currently, interest rates stand at their highest since 2009 and reflect what the Bank of England perceive as a general pick-up in the economy.

The Bank said that a rise in household spending has strengthened the British economy. Economic growth for the year is predicted to be 1.4% this year and the unemployment rate is expected to fall further below 4.2%, where it currently stands.

How does the rise affect you?
If you are on a variable rate ‘tracker’ mortgage, your repayments will increase. For example, if you have a £100,000 mortgage, this will add £12 to your monthly repayments.

It’s important to highlight that if you are on a fixed rate mortgage, your payments will stay the same until your base rate comes up for renewal. The Bank of England’s announcement does not mean that your rates immediately rise.

For prospective borrowers, the interest rate rise signals a change in the Bank of England’s tone. Further rate rises are a definite possibility. However, the Bank’s governor took a rather cautious tone which indicates that there are unlikely to be any more rises until 2019.

For the time being, base rates on mortgages are unlikely to rise above 3%. That said, the demand for rate fixes will be higher than usual this year.

Unfortunately for those of you going on holiday, after the announcement the pound fell by 0.9% against the dollar. This is due to the extreme political uncertainty surrounding the sterling with Brexit taking an unchartable track.

Reactions from U.K. businesses have been a mixed bag. The Institute of Directors, which represents about 30,000 members in the U.K., has said, ‘the Bank has jumped the gun’, whilst the British Chamber of Commerce similarly described the decision as ‘ill-judged’ at an uncertain time.

This negative perspective wasn’t unanimous among all lobbying groups. The Confederation of British Industry, the country’s biggest business lobby, welcomed the rise saying the case for higher rates had been building.

A small rise of 0.25% is likely to have a minimal impact on your finances. However, larger hikes down the line could have a substantial effect on the British financial landscape.

Sources
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-02/pound-fails-to-shake-off-blues-despite-unanimous-boe-rate-hike
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/aug/02/how-will-interest-rate-rise-affect-mortgages-savings-and-property
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-02/-mark-carney-what-have-you-done-cry-u-k-business-bodies?utm_source=google&utm_medium=bd&cmpId=google

is the Bitcoin bubble close to bursting?

You may have seen Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson make the news at the end of January after becoming a Bitcoin millionaire. The rapper, actor and businessman made his 2014 album, Animal Ambition, available for purchase for a fraction of a Bitcoin upon release, making around 700 Bitcoin from sales. 50 Cent has admitted that he had forgotten about the earnings, which have sat untouched since 2014 and are now reportedly worth somewhere between £5 million and £6 million thanks to the meteoric rise of the cryptocurrency’s value in recent months.

Despite 50 Cent’s good fortune, those in the financial sector continue to warn against Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a sound investment. Alex Weber, chairman of global financial services company, UBS, is one of the latest figures to lend his voice to these warnings, describing cryptocurrencies as ‘not an investment we would advise.’

There have also been warnings from consultancy firms that initial coin offerings (ICOs), which raise funds by providing cryptocurrency tokens, are prime targets for cybercriminals. Ernst & Young analysed 372 ICOs which had raised $3.7 billion in total and found that hackers were taking as much as $1.5 million in proceeds from these each month with approximately $400 million stolen in total.

The announcements from governments worldwide that cryptocurrencies will soon be regulated has resulted in huge price fluctuations, with Bitcoin dropping from its high point of almost $20,000 in December 2017 to around half that towards the end of January 2018. The steep drop is due in part to the announcement by the government of South Korea, the third largest cryptocurrency market in the world, that its planned ban on the use of anonymous bank accounts in cryptocurrency trading would be implemented from 30th January.

Another concern surrounding cryptocurrency technology is the continued hype surrounding it, with companies taking advantage of investor buzz. The US Securities and Exchange Commission has warned that companies will be scrutinised over name and business model changes which have been made to capitalise on the hype.

Due to these developments in recent months, many economists are now predicting the cryptocurrency bubble could be about to burst. When, or if, this will happen remains to be seen, but the risks surrounding these relatively new forms of investment continue to be a worrying reality.
Sources
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jan/23/bitcoin-ubs-chairman-warns-against-cryptocurrency-investment-currency-falls
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2018/01/25/50-cent-becomes-accidental-bitcoin-millionaire-forgotten-investment/

4 savings habits of millionaires

There are no shortcuts or guarantees when it comes to achieving self-made millionaire status. That said, it can’t hurt to look at the financial habits of those who have managed to do just that to try and boost your own coffers. Here are our top tips from looking at those who’ve become millionaires by age 30. Who knows, they might just lead to you being worth seven figures in the future.

  1. Don’t rely on your savings – The current economic environment makes it very difficult to become wealthy through saving, so increasing your income is an obvious but good way to boost your bank balance. Whilst increasing your main salary can also be a challenge, you might think about other ways to achieve this such as earning passive income through property rental, or taking on freelance or consultancy work on the side (just keep an eye on any tax repercussions).
  2. Invest, invest, invest – Instead of saving for a rainy day, put your savings into investments. If you choose investments and accounts with restricted access to your funds, not only will this ensure your investments pay off, but it will also help you to focus on increasing your income rather than relying on money you’ve put away.
  3. Change your mindset – Nobody has ever become a millionaire without believing that it’s something they themselves can both achieve and control. The best way to do this is to invest in yourself. Spending time educating yourself about both your business area and the financial world in general will help you to understand how to capitalise on opportunities and genuinely believe you can increase your net worth.
  4. Make plans and set goals – You’ll only boost your wealth if you actually plan out how you’re going to do it. Before you can make a plan, however, you need to decide what you’re aiming for. If you really do want to become a millionaire, then think big: if you have a certain figure you want to achieve, aiming higher will help ensure you reach it or even surpass it.
    Sources
    http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/9-things-to-do-in-your-20s-to-become-a-millionaire-by-30-a7377801.html

millennials on target to enjoy inheritance boom but not until they’re 61

A recent report has revealed that millennials are set to benefit from an ‘inheritance boom’ bigger than that experienced by any other generation in the post-war period. The Resolution Foundation, the think-tank which carried out the research, defined millennials as people currently aged between 17 and 35, and found that those within this age bracket will be left record amounts of wealth by their ‘baby boomer’ parents and grandparents.

The report found that inheritances will double in size over the next twenty years, peaking in 2035, as baby boomers who generally have high levels of wealth move through old age. Additionally, nearly two thirds of millennials have parents who are property owners, of which they may receive a share in the future. This is a stark difference to adults born in the 1930s, of whom only 38% received an inheritance.

However, the Resolution Foundation also stressed that the inheritance boom will not be a ‘silver bullet’ which allows millennials to get on the property ladder or address the wealth gaps which are currently growing in society, as most will only benefit from their inheritance when they themselves are nearing pension age. The average age at which people lose both parents is getting later; people who are currently between 25 and 35 are expected to be 61 years old when this happens.

Another key finding of the report was the strong correlation between the property wealth of millennials and the amount they are set to inherit from their parents, with those who were able to get on the property ladder during their early 20s, destined to benefit the most from the inheritance boom. The new inheritance tax housing allowance will also be fully implemented in 2020, meaning that as much as £500,000 per person will be able to be passed on without incurring tax, allowing millennials whose parents own valuable homes to cut their average tax burden in half.

In comparison, those millennials who do not own their own home by their mid thirties are much less likely to receive a large inheritance from their parents. Additionally, if they inherit this when in their 60s, they’ll then be much less likely to be able to secure a mortgage, meaning that some may struggle to climb onto the property ladder throughout both their working and retired lives.

Sources
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/12/30/millennials-will-pensioners-receiving-inheritance/
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42519073