Does it make sense to combine your pension pots?

The days when people began their careers with one employer and stayed there until they retired are long gone. It’s estimated that depending where you live, people now have an average of between six and 11 different jobs during their careers. This can mean that over the years they end up with pension entitlements in several schemes with different providers.

In certain circumstances, it can make good financial sense to consolidate your pension into one new plan. This means you can manage all your retirement savings in one place, reducing the paperwork and administration. You might be able to save money on fees, and choose funds that are better suited to your investment outlook and attitude to risk.

However, there are circumstances where this might not be in your best interests. If you are in a public sector pension scheme, such as the nurses’ or teachers’ schemes, then the benefits they offer can be hard to replicate elsewhere. Or, if you have saved into an employer final salary scheme, you may find that it offers guaranteed retirement income or guaranteed annuity rates, valuable benefits that you would lose if you moved it elsewhere. You may be charged exit fees too.

If you are lucky enough to be currently contributing to a final salary scheme, it’s worth finding out if your employer will allow past contributions from other pensions to be moved into their scheme.

If you move jobs, you may be able to consolidate your previous pensions into your new employer’s scheme. You should think carefully before doing so; you will need to be sure that the benefits offered are as good as those in any scheme that you contemplate leaving.

GOOD ADVICE PAYS

Taking professional advice will help you weigh up your options and make the right choice for your financial circumstances. We are here to help you understand the costs, benefits and risks involved in moving any of your pension pots. So go on, dig out your pension paperwork and get in touch with us on 0161 718 8328.

Is A Snap Election Good Or Bad News?

Theresa May’s decision to call a snap election, initially felt like an attempt to throw a stone in the relatively calm ‘investment’ pond, as markets have had an unparalleled and unexpected period of low volatility and positive market growth.

Yet the sudden announcement didn’t create the feared market turmoil. Rather markets settled down and Sterling strengthened as a currency.

The main reason being financial markets, around the globe, saw the announcement as an opportunity for more stability and predictability.

On listening to and reading the various market updates from investment houses, they’re united in their view that Brexit could still create ups and downs for investors, yet the opportunity for a clear political direction for the upcoming five years is very welcome.

Plus, the various polls showing the Conservative’s should be in a strong position to negotiate with the EU over Brexit is also perceived as a stable and predictable outcome.

Equally, the French election has now been settled and reasserted some stability in Europe.

As always, we would add that very little is 100% predictable in life therefore there is still cause to consider all options. For our clients, we consistently look to ensure they’re diversified across various sectors, asset classes and geography.

Our aim is always to take advantage of investment growth opportunities yet being prudent to hopefully protect against harsh stock market falls. That objective seems more pertinent at the moment as ever.

Market Update – Brexit Has Started!

Only a year ago, our April 2016 market update was looking ahead at the referendum. Now Brexit is officially underway.

From a financial aspect, probably the greatest surprise for all pundits and financial managers is how consistent and bullish markets have been over the past 12 months.

On the build up to last year’s referendum, markets dipped, but since then there has been positive growth.

Earlier in the year, the US election looked to derail the growth, but once again pundits were caught out.

The market correction has failed to materialize, and the main indices have had 3 months of what is near record levels of low volatility whilst also surpassing previous market highs.

Where now is the key question?

As a result of the low volatility and a reasonable level of encouraging data, there is an air of optimism, despite the upcoming negotiations with Europe.

From an asset allocation basis, property continues to offer steady, if unspectacular, returns.

Fixed interest, such as gilts and corporate bonds, remain muted and are less favoured despite being an almost essential constituent of everyone’s portfolios. Equally absolute return funds, continue to offer the hedge or potential cushion if markets do take a surprising turn.

Equities remain the focus of most investment portfolios.

On a global view the US is still offering great opportunities as their economy looks to be moving into a growth phase. Other global markets are similar.

Regarding the UK and Europe there is an understandable wariness. Within both regions, it is important to focus on actively managed funds who make their investment choices based upon fundamentals rather than simply following the herd.

This type of value investing is something we agree with and has been a constant theme in helping us manage our clients’ portfolios.

Overall, we are positive and thing the long-term view is encouraging. For our clients, we are also keeping an eye on the short-term and will continue to adjust portfolios and investments accordingly.

As always, do not hesitate to get in touch with Platinum, and our team, if you would like to discuss your investment strategy or if you have any concerns.

Tax year end – time to take action

In the words of comedian Chris Rock, “You don’t pay taxes — they take taxes.”

When you are given an opportunity not to pay taxes, do you take it?

By planning ahead and taking financial advice you can ensure you are minimising the tax you pay now and in the future by taking advantage of the tax exemptions and allowances available to you.

Our clients know that we help them manage their tax affairs efficiently by utilising all the allowances and exemptions available, such as the following:

  • ISA’s are a savings account that is free from tax. The ISA allowance for the 16/17 tax year is £15,240.
  • Capital Gains allowances let you utilise gains of up to £11,100 without any liability to tax.
  • Pensions are a long terms savings plans with tax relief available. Your contribution will increase by at least 20% in the form of tax relief by just paying into a pension. You are allowed to invest a 100% of your earnings or £3,600 whichever is higher up to £40,000.
  • Inheritance planning gives you an opportunity to gift £3,000 per person for this tax year, and the previous tax year (if not used) without being liable for inheritance tax.

 

It is essential to seek financial advice for tax planning purposes as you save for your future. On the run up to the tax year end we welcome you to get in touch for a financial review to ensure you have taken advantage of tax incentives available to you.

We look forward to hearing from you.

How to search for a good financial adviser…

We always encourage our clients to share our details with their family, friends and colleagues, to ensure they too receive the same trusted financial advice from Platinum.

If you are starting from scratch though, where do you start in the search for a good financial adviser? Here are some tips to help you.

  • Draw up a list of what is important to you – maybe you want them to be local to you or to be able to advise you in a specific area of advice.
  • Call several advisers before you choose to find out how their process works – the adviser should be able to explain what they do in language you understand
  • Find out whether you can get a free initial consultation – many advisers will offer you a no obligation meeting without charging.
  •  Ask how you can pay – All financial advisers (whether they are independent financial advisers or restricted advisers) who deal with investment products and pensions have to charge you for advice.  However, there are different ways that you can pay an adviser (for example, an hourly fee, a fixed fee or a percentage of the money you’ve asked them to invest).
  • Ask what you can expect for your money. If the financial adviser takes an ongoing fee to manage your money what will you get for this?
  •  Check out the adviser’s website so you can learn about the adviser and the company you will be dealing with. Do they use social media too? This is a good way to connect with the adviser, learn more about the company and get a feel for what they do and how they do it. There will probably be client reviews on there too

 

We are always happy to discuss your circumstances and answer any questions you may have. We invite you to get to know us better by connecting with us on social media

Visit our website http://www.platinumifs.co.uk/

Visit our blog at http://blog.platinumifs.co.uk/

Follow us on Twitter https://twitter.com/platinumifs

Like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/platinumifs/

Are you using your tax breaks?

In the view popularly attributed to Benjamin Franklin, nothing is certain except death and taxes. By planning and taking advice you can ensure you are minimising the tax you are paying by taking advantage of the tax exemptions and allowances available to you.

At the basic level, there is a personal income tax allowance, an annual exemption from capital gains tax plus numerous tax credits dependent on your circumstances. Schemes like Gift Aid offer tax relief on donations to charity and there is also an Inheritance Tax (IHT) threshold below which nothing is due.

In additon, there are tax efficient investment products such as Individual Savings Accounts (ISA’s) and pensions that provide relief from both income and capital gains tax (CGT) and some individual assets such as your home, your car and UK Government Bonds (gilts)  that are specifically exempt from CGT.

It is equally important to seek financial advice for tax planning purposes as it is for saving for your future. On the run up to the tax year end we welcome you to get in touch for a financial review to ensure you have taken advantage of tax incentives available to you.

 

Market Update – Stock Markets Continue to Defy Pessimists

2016 was a torrid year dominated by political tensions, global changes and a rebuff of the status quo. Yet at the end of the year the main stock market indices maintained their surge and finished the year in positive territory.

As 2017 gets underway the FTSE 100 has again pushed its way upwards.

Despite this optimism, 2017 still looks like a challenging year for investors as Brexit negotiations continue, President Trump takes office and European countries face key elections.

Arguably one main reason for the FTSE 100 maintaining it’s high level is the strength of the pound. Whilst Sterling exchange rates remain poor compared to other currencies the larger companies look forward to greater profits which in turn boosts their share prices. Sterling though is likely to recover over the long term which would then put pressure on those same FTSE 100 firms.

That said, investors shouldn’t panic and the outlook need not be gloomy for diversified investors.

For example, the sustained period of low interest rates and exchange rates is helping the smaller companies, i.e. those outside the FTSE 100. These companies take some time to benefit from the economic conditions and this is slowly starting to filter through.

Equally other asset classes such as property continue to generate steady returns. Property can be a complicated investment, yet as a minor portion of any portfolio it is now showing ‘reliable’ returns in a very uncertain world.

There will also be some good opportunities arising for corporate bond investors, although the sector will continue to be punished in the short term by low interest rates and a weak pound.

Looking at the year ahead it is important not to get distracted by the media. We seem to be inundated with in-depth negative analysis of every slight comment and tweet.

Long term investors and financial markets will return to what is described as value investing, which is selecting investments based upon long term profitability and fundamentals.

This value style investing lends itself to a balanced investor who has a diversified portfolios of different asset classes and funds. Investors also benefit from selecting fund managers capable of picking out the quality investments rather than a scatter gun approach designed to follow the average index.

As always it is important to continue to review any investments on a regular basis. For our clients, we are constantly mindful of the pitfalls ahead and will help to alter your portfolios to benefit from future opportunities.

We look forward to helping review your plans. However, in the meantime, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Platinum if you would like to discuss your investment strategy or if you have any concerns.

Financial Health Check

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If you have pensions, savings or investment plans already in place we would encourage you to consider how you plan to keep track of them to ensure they are being monitored going forward.

In 2017 we invite you to take advantage of a review meeting (at our cost) which can be arranged with one of our advisers at your home or at our office in Sale. The main benefits of a financial review are:

  • you get a clear picture of where you stand with your finances
  • we check your current plans are still meeting your objectives
  • you get the opportunity to identify your goals for the future
  • we set up a plan to help you achieve your goals
  • we work together with you through life’s journey

 

We have been offering independent financial advice to individuals and businesses for over 15 years and our clients know that we always act in thier best interest, whatever their circumstances. We are approachable and friendly and we keep it simple for you – we take the pressure off and don’t bombard you with unnecessary jargon and terminology.

Please contact us on 0161 718 8328 to arrange a review meeting. Just remember it is really important to consider the ‘value of financial advice’, not just in monetary terms but also for its role in bringing peace of mind, reducing stress and saving time.

Please note our office closes on Thursday December 22nd and re-opens on Tuesday 3rd January 2017.

Wishing you a restful Christmas and all the very best wishes for the New Year.

Update from the Platinum Team

Well, it’s been a really busy couple of months here at Platinum…

Since the summer we have been working towards a new fresher look on the outside of our office. After moving into the premises 10 years ago we thought it was time to modernise the windows and signage and are thrilled with the final result.

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At the beginning of October Martin and one of our other advisers Eeshan decided to study and sit more exams to work towards Chartered status. We’re pleased to say that when the results arrived last week they were relieved to hear that they had passed. Well done to them both!

Finally, huge congratulations also to Eeshan on his recent marriage to Aprajita in India last month. Martin, Jenny and Jon were delighted to join them in India and particularly enjoyed wearing traditional Indian clothing. I’m sure you agree that we look the part!

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Thank you for reading our news. We will in touch with further information on the run up to Christmas.

 

US election: what happens next?

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After months of increasingly controversial and bitter campaigning, the 2016 US Presidential Election reached a dramatic climax, culminating in a surprise victory for Republican Party candidate Donald Trump. The Republican Party retained control of the US Senate and the House of Representatives. Generally, investors had been expecting a narrow victory for Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton; therefore, Trump’s unexpected victory initially threw markets off balance.

The price of oil fell and equity indices initially dropped in response to the news that Trump was the new President-elect, although their fall was generally less pronounced than it was in the wake of the Brexit vote in June. Then we saw markets make a swift recovery later that day.

A few days later and there still seems to be some uncertainty. Overall our client’s portfolio valuations have seen fluctuations but on average they have remained positive.

Looking at the short-term future, the rollercoaster ride looks as though it may continue. Especially as the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, prepares his Autumn statement in a couple of weeks, shortly followed by the next meeting of the US Federal Reserve (Fed), in December, when policymakers decide whether to implement a rise in US interest rates. Overall though, our clients’ portfolios are very diversified and well positioned to ride out the uncertainty. Looking ahead, as the world heads further into uncharted territory, we would encourage investors to take a “wait-and-see” approach.

As the wind direction becomes clearer we will continue to ensure our clients are well positioned for the future.

As always we are here to help. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any concerns or queries regarding your financial plans.