September Market Commentary

Introduction

August used to be known as the ‘silly season’. Everyone who made the news was away on holiday, nothing happened and newspapers were desperate to fill their pages. So rather more obscure stories made it into print…

That, of course, was before Donald Trump. And Brexit. And Venezuela, Argentina and Greece. And…

August Market Commentary

Introduction

The news in July really could not have been much worse. The threat of a trade war between the US and China simmered throughout the month, and then on 31st July President Trump ramped up the tension with proposals of a 25% tariff on $200bn (£152bn) of Chinese imports.

China has already placed retaliatory tariffs on some American imports in response to the first wave of ‘Trump Tariffs’ (they even have their own page on Wikipedia now) and will surely do the same to counter this latest move. Small wonder that credit ratings agency, Moody’s, warned that there could ultimately be tariffs on 5% of total world imports if the trade war continues to escalate.

July Market Commentary

Introduction

Let us invite you to travel back in time to June 2016, to the day after the Brexit referendum. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, campaigning in the US Presidential election is in full swing.

You are offered two glimpses into the future. The first is that two years on, the UK has apparently made no real progress in the Brexit negotiations. The second is that Donald Trump has been elected President and has had a successful meeting with Kim Jong-un. You would have dismissed both of them as ridiculous and yet that is exactly what June brought us, as Theresa May called yet another Brexit crisis meeting and President Trump met the leader of North Korea in Singapore.

The most important insurance you can have?

The impulse to protect our loved ones is one of the most basic instincts a person can have. Yet the fact remains that many people don’t take out sufficient insurance to protect themselves and their family should something happen to prevent them from being able to work. And if the main breadwinner in a household suddenly becomes unable to earn a wage, it can very quickly lead to serious financial hardship.

June Market Commentary

Introduction

Harold Wilson famously said that, ‘a week is a long time in politics.’ A month is a very long time when we come to write this commentary.

Looking back to the first few days of May, the Royal Bank of Scotland was announcing plans to close 162 high street branches in the UK, Facebook said it was going to launch a dating service and, in Europe, there were rumours of a final, final (and this time they really meant it) deal on Greek debt.

Pension Freedoms – 3 Years on…

Believe it or not it is now three years ago since the introduction of the Pensions Freedom & Choice reforms. These reforms opened up a completely different suite of options for individuals with Money Purchase (a.k.a Defined Contribution) pension arrangements. The key changes made included: 

May Market Commentary

Introduction

It looked for a long time that the main headline for this commentary would be the opening salvos in a trade war between China and the USA. The International Monetary Fund published a bullish report on world trade, saying that global growth will hit a 7 year high of 3.9% this year, giving a stark warning at the same time that trade risked being ‘torn apart’ by a protracted trade war.

But then came the news of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s, historic visit to South Korea and his meeting with President Moon Jae-in. There followed a bromance which would have been impossible just a few months ago, and a commitment to rid the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons. The meeting would have been unthinkable at the beginning of the year when North Korea was boasting of being able to reach the US mainland with its rockets: now Pyongyang says it will invite US observers to witness the shutdown of its nuclear site in May.

New tax year – new limits and allowances

Start early with your planning

Why not use your ISA and Pension allowances at the beginning of the tax year rather than waiting until March 2019 at the end of the current tax year, any growth achieved will at least be growing virtually tax free.

ISAs

ISA allowances remain at £20,000 per individual, thus allowing a couple to invest £40,000 between them.

The allowances for a Junior ISA / Child Trust Fund have increased by £132.00 to £4,260 per child.

April Market Commentary

Introduction

To say that March was a busy month is an understatement.

Russia went to the polls to elect a new President and, in the least surprising result of the year, Vladimir Putin won another six year term. With the Chinese Communist Party removing the rules limiting Xi Jinping to two terms in office, two of the world’s three superpowers now effectively have presidents for life. North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, jumped on the train and headed to Beijing for talks, ahead of his meetings with Moon Jae-in, the South Korean leader, and with Donald Trump. Presumably Kim and Xi Jinping did not discuss sanctions: China is supposedly imposing harsh UN sanctions on North Korea – and yet Kim saw his economy grow by more than 3% last year. ‘Curious and curious-er’ as Alice would have said.

Co-habiting couples – what are the legal rights in the UK

There are a significant number of couples in the UK that choose to co-habit, rather than marry or enter a civil partnership.

If you are co-habiting, you may or may not be aware that you do not have the same rights as a married couple; and contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a ‘common-law marriage’.