Six personal finance facts we all need to know

Knowing your numbers can do wonders for your money, helping you plan and manage your finances effectively.

Your credit score

If you’re thinking about getting your first mortgage or remortgaging, then it’s important to know your credit score. If it’s not as good as it could be, take steps to improve it before you make your mortgage application.

The rate of interest you are paying on your mortgage

As the monthly mortgage repayment is often a family’s major outgoing, it’s a good idea to review your mor tgage from time to time, as there may now be a better deal to be had by remortgaging, especially if you’re currently paying interest at your lender’s standard variable rate.

Your state pension age and how much you will receive

The state pension age is increasing, so if you’re not sure when you’ll receive yours, you can check the date and get a forecast of the amount you’ll receive on the government’s website.

Where all your pensions are

If you’ve moved jobs a few times, the chances are you may have paid into several pensions. It’s important to know what your entitlements are; we can advise you whether you’d be better off transferring them into one scheme to cut down on administration and charges.

How much you can save into your ISA

The ISA allowance for 2017-18 is £20,000. Don’t pass up this important opportunity to save or invest tax-efficiently. We can help you choose the right ISA for your needs.

What the sum insured is on your home contents policy

Don’t risk being underinsured. If you don’t insure your possessions for the right amount, you could find your insurance company will reduce your payout if you make a claim. It may be time to increase your sum insured in line with the value of your contents.

If you need any help with any aspect of your finances please contact us to make an initial (no charge) appointment with one of our advisers 0161 718 8328.

 

Words from Martin Hood, Director at Platinum

Why do we love what we do?

We get a buzz from offering a great service by encouraging people to seek financial advice in order to achieve financial security for their future, with our help. It is important to us that we keep it simple and guide clients through the process in a relaxed manner, as it can be confusing and daunting.

What do we want people to know about us?

We want potential clients to understand that we are real people, genuine and trustworthy. We are approachable and interested in clients and not just their money, we make people feel comfortable and relaxed and are always available to answer any queries they may have.

What do our clients get from us?

Clients benefit from our expert knowledge of pensions and investments and we work with clients to help them plan for their future. They gain confidence that they are taking control of their finances and it gives them peace of mind that we are managing their affairs on their behalf on an on-going basis.

More about the future of Platinum

We encourage everyone who has existing pensions, savings and investment plans to consider how they plan to ensure their policies are kept on track. With clear goals for the future and regular reviews and planning, we help to ensure your money is doing what you want it to do.

We want to ensure that we continue to move forward and to work hard to aspire to be the best we can be now and in the future. It is important to us that our business and the people within it take time to continue to develop personally and professionally and that our clients will always remain at the centre of everything we do. This is reflected in our company values and weaves through everything we do.

You are welcome to contact us on 0161 718 8328 if you need any help with organising your finances or have any questions. We are always happy to help!

Market Update – Much Noise, But Little Change?

As the evenings close in and leaves start to fall, it’s time to take brief look at the past and future months.

Most surprising is how little financial markets and the world situation has changed over the past few months.

The media has been full of stories of political infighting, stalling Brexit negotiations and certain world leaders attempting to outdo each other in posturing and false propaganda.

Despite all these recognized risks, the wider economy, both at home and overseas, has settled down. GDP figures have shown growth, and stock markets have continued their steady run.

The UK’s main index, the FTSE 100, recently had a slight wobble when exchange rates changed and Sterling strengthened against most currencies.

This improvement in exchange rates has been driven by the economic data and, in part, due to the announcement by the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, that they foresee a slight interest rate rise in the future.

Thankfully, the wobble was short lived and the main UK indices reasserted themselves. This is largely due to Mark Carney’s announcements not being unexpected, but also due to the strong position many UK companies are still seen as being in.

Given the record of the previous months we do not see substantial changes ahead in the short-term.

It seems unlikely that Brexit negotiations will resolve themselves in the next few months, nor do we anticipate many surprise changes in the upcoming budget.

That said, it is important to be vigilant and we will continue to look out for risks to our clients’ portfolios. Equally, we will watch for any announcements by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, in the run up to the budget announcement.

As with previous market updates, we remain focused on diversity. With most clients, we continue to build portfolio’s including all sorts of asset types within investments including equities, property, fixed interest, absolute return funds, and, most recently, infrastructure funds.

Long term we are confident clients will see real growth in the portfolio’s. Similarly, clients taking natural income should see their regular withdrawals continue in a sustainable manner.

As always, Platinum is happy to discuss matters with clients. Whether it is a review driven by concerns in financial markets, a change in legislation or simply an alteration in your situation or priorities, please contact us.

Coffee morning

Following the success of our last coffee morning, we are holding another one between 11am and 1 pm on Thursday November 16th 2017 to raise money for Alzheimer’s Society.

Pop the date in your diary and join us at our office on Marsland Road in Sale for coffee and cake and to meet the team.

If you have any questions, please call us on 0161 718 8328.

We look forward to welcoming you!

Who are we and what do we do?

At Platinum we focus on building lifetime relationships with our individual clients and their families and we cater for their changing needs at every stage of their life.

We have been offering independent financial advice to individuals and businesses for over 16 years. We always keep it simple and don’t bombard you with unnecessary jargon and terminology, providing you with the information you need and we stay on top of changes that matter and which affect your finances.

We are approachable and friendly and all members of our team are here to ensure you have an excellent experience that you can tell your family and friends about!

We offer financial advice on your personal matters including saving and retirement planning which covers Self Invested Personal Pensions (SIPP) and personal pensions, Drawdown and annuities. In addition, we can help you with your savings and investment needs whether you are saving for growth or to provide you with an income in the future by investing in tax efficient vehicles such as Stocks and Shares ISA’s and investment bonds.

We also offer mortgage advice including re-mortgages and buy to let mortgages, in addition to giving advice on your personal protection including life assurance, critical illness cover and income protection.

At Platinum we also help you with your business related financial needs by giving advice on Shareholder Protection and Key Person Assurance as well as workplace pensions. We are happy to liaise with your accountant too regarding tax planning and your solicitor in connection with issues such as divorce settlements, pension sharing and setting up trusts.

We encourage everyone with existing pensions, savings and investments plans to consider how they plan to ensure their policies are kept on track. With clear goals for the future and regular reviews and planning you can ensure your money is doing what you want it to do.

If you would like to get your finances in order with our help, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact us on 0161 718 8328 to arrange your initial (no charge) meeting. Feel free to share our blogs with your family, friends and colleagues you think may benefit from our services.

Wills and Power of Attorney – don’t leave it too late

Statistics from the Alzheimer’s Society show that there are around 850,000 people living with dementia and the number is expected to rise to over one million by 2025.

Charities that care for the elderly advise everyone to plan for a time when they might not have the mental capacity needed to handle their own financial affairs or deal with decisions about their care, and to make sure they make their Will.

A will is so important

Having a valid Will in place will ensure that after your death, your assets are distributed as you would wish. If you don’t leave a Will, then your estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy, and this could mean that those close to you who you would have wanted to benefit from your estate might receive nothing, while distant relatives you hardly know might benefit instead. You need to make your Will when you still have the mental capacity to make your wishes known.

Protecting your interests

Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA), or Continuing and Welfare Powers of Attorney in Scotland, are becoming much more widely used. They can be written to cover both financial matters and health care provision, and give you the satisfaction of knowing that you have nominated someone who can legally act on your behalf if you no longer have the capacity to deal with matters yourself.

Many people wrongly assume that their loved ones can automatically deal with banks and building societies or health authorities on their behalf. However, this isn’t how the law operates. If you lose mental capacity or become seriously ill and haven’t made an LPA, a family member wouldn’t have the legal authority to deal with matters on your behalf, and would need to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as your Deputy (Guardian in Scotland). This can be a lengthy and expensive process.

It is important to organise your affairs as soon as possible. Please contact us on 0161 718 8328 if you would like some guidance with choosing a suitable solicitor.

Can you afford NOT to take financial advice?

We’d happily pay for the skills of a lawyer or an architect, the same goes for some easier tasks too, such as cleaning our house and tidying the garden.

Paying for some financial advice might in fact be one of the best investments we can make and the value that comes from financial advice can take different forms:

·         Getting back more money than you invested

·         Future security

·         Peace of mind

·         Protection

·         Achieving goals

·         Avoiding mistakes

·         Opportunities

The whole point of taking financial advice is that you get back more than you put in. With its potential advantages like future security, your loved ones being catered for and the peace of mind all this brings – the question you should perhaps now ask yourself is – can you afford NOT to take financial advice?

Please get in touch with us on 0161 718 8328 to arrange your financial review. There is no charge for our initial meeting and we are happy to meet with you at your home, workplace or in our office.

We look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

The ‘Sandwich Generation’

New research from a major insurer shows that although as a nation we are happier than we were a few years ago, the picture differs markedly by age group.

Those in their 40s and 50s are likely to be less happy and more anxious. This age bracket often faces a variety of financial challenges such as raising and supporting their families, whilst at the same time looking after older family members too. For this reason, they have been dubbed ‘the sandwich generation’.

Facing the future

Although the sandwich generation earns more than other age brackets, it tends to save less. In many cases, those aged 45 to 54 could be looking at just 15 more years of employment before retirement, so it’s vital to keep track of how their pension pots are doing and save as much as possible to ensure a comfortable retirement. At the same time, many parents of this age are facing the prospects of their children going to university and needing help with the fees, or older children wanting money for a deposit for a first home. Whilst many are hoping that their own parents will leave them a reasonable inheritance, with life expectancy increasing and care costs rising year on year, this is by no means certain.

Taking advice pays

If you’re part of the sandwich generation there may be lots of calls on both your time and your cash, but it’s important not to lose sight of your own financial security. A financial review will help put things in perspective and ensure you have a realistic plan in place for the future. It’s important to remember that there are many tax-efficient ways to save and invest; even small sums saved regularly can make a real difference.

There is no charge for an initial meeting with one of our advisers, so just a little investment of your time can start the ball rolling. Call us on 0161 718 8328.

 

REMARRIAGE – WHY YOU NEED TO UPDATE YOUR WILL

If you want to be sure that your wishes concerning your money and possessions will be met when you die, then it’s vital to have an up-to-date Will in place.

Drawing up a Will is a straightforward process and prevents disputes between relatives, enables you to pass your assets on to future generations and can help you cut the Inheritance Tax bill on your estate after your death. If you have already been married and are embarking on a second or subsequent marriage, then it’s important to think about the terms of your Will and how you’d like your assets to be distributed now that your circumstances have changed.

The Laws in England and Wales

In England and Wales, a Will is automatically revoked on marriage (unless it is made specifically in anticipation of marriage). This means that when you remarry you no longer have a valid Will in place. So, if you die, your estate will be dealt with under the rules of intestacy.

Under these rules, the estate of anyone who dies without a Will who is in a marriage or civil partnership where there are no children, passes entirely to the surviving spouse or civil partner and other relatives will receive nothing.

If the spouse or civil partner dies without a Will and there are children of that relationship, a surviving spouse or civil partner will receive £250,000, plus half of the balance absolutely, with the remainder going to the children.

The Law in Scotland

In Scotland, marriage does not invalidate a Will as it does in England and Wales. This means that making a new Will is essential if you get married again; if not, your former spouse could inherit if that was what your old Will stipulated. Distributions under intestacy also differ in Scotland, where The Succession (Scotland) Act 2016 has introduced a number of other changes upon which advice from a Scottish solicitor may be needed.

Points to consider

Following remarriage, thousands of UK households are now made up of blended families, often comprising children belonging to different partners, grown-up offspring, new babies, aunties, uncles and multiple sets of grandparents. If you’re part of an extended family you will need to consider carefully how you would like your estate to be distributed on your death.

If you were to leave your estate to your new spouse, it automatically becomes part of their assets. So, if you want to ensure your children from a previous marriage benefit, then you will need to write your Will accordingly. Many people in this position find that the best way to proceed is to create a trust in their Will allowing the spouse to use the assets during their lifetime, with the assets distributed amongst the children on their death.

Planning your estate can be a complex matter, so taking legal advice is essential.

We can help you by pointing you in the right direction, suggesting professsionals who can help you to put a will in place. Give us a call on 0161 718 8328.

 

WHY THE SELF-EMPLOYED NEED A PENSION NUDGE

Working for yourself has never been so popular. According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, there are around 4.8 million self-employed workers in the UK. Whilst many of this number are young people seizing the opportunity to go it alone, some are in their 50s, 60s and even 70s.

Being your own boss has many advantages, including the freedom to choose what type of work you do and when and where you do it. But it does mean that you need to make your own arrangements for your pension. Currently, four out of five self-employed people are approaching retirement with no pension provision in place.

MAKING PENSIONS A PRIORITY

If you’re self-employed, the day-to-day pressures of working for yourself can put saving for retirement at the bottom of your ‘to do’ list. However, it’s worth remembering that the new flat-rate state pension only adds up to around £8,000 a year, so if you want to enjoy a more financially-comfortable retirement, you will need to make your own pension arrangements too. The sooner you can start saving for a pension, the longer the money invested in your plan will have to grow.

It’s worth considering the tax breaks currently available on pension savings. For example, you’ll get tax relief on your contributions usually up to £40,000 a year. If you are a basic-rate taxpayer, when you pay £80 into your pension, £20 will be added by HMRC giving a total gross contribution of £100 added to your pension. Higher-rate taxpayers can apply for relief at their highest marginal rate. Being self-employed can mean that your income is unpredictable, however the good news is that you can carry forward any unused tax allowance from the last three tax years.

How much should you aim to put aside to ensure you build up an adequate pension? The simple answer is probably as much as you can reasonably afford. If you were in an employer scheme, your employer might typically contribute 4% and you might be contributing a further 3% yourself. Under auto-enrolment the full rates (from April 2019) will be 3% minimum employer contribution and 5% employee, plus tax relief.

Everyone’s circumstances differ, so it makes sense to get advice on the level of contributions you can make and the likely returns they would produce for you.

EXPLORING THE BENEFITS OF SAVING REGULARLY

As an investor, sometimes it’s hard to cut through the noise of bygone or upcoming political and economic events, we’ve certainly had our fair share lately. There are always investment opportunities, even in times of uncertainty.

The benefits of saving regularly make a compelling long-term investment story. Not only does regular investment suit some people’s income streams but it also instils a great discipline. Committing to investing a small, affordable amount each month helps build future financial security.

Investing in a pension or a tax-efficient product such as an ISA can provide an opportunity to kick start a regular investment discipline.

Phased investment, such as pound cost averaging, can smooth returns over the longer term, and can reduce the impactof market timing and volatility on purchase prices.

This strategy enables the investor to average-out the peaks and troughs of the share or unit price, smoothing out purchase prices because of the regular contribution throughout the varying market conditions.

So, if you are self employed and need some guidance with starting your retirement planning, feel free to contact us on  0161 718 8328.