Spring Statement Overview

The Chancellor, Philip Hammond delivered his Spring Statement to Parliament yesterday.

We have produced a summary for you, looking at the broad areas of the economy and the numbers, the Written Ministerial Statement, plans for a ‘no deal’ Brexit, spending plans, the UK as an open economy, housing and the environment.   You can download our Spring Statement Overview by clicking here.

March Market Commentary

Introduction

February was another month when all the important news seemed to happen in the last week of the month.

President Trump delivered the annual State of the Union address on February 6th and announced a second meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. The two duly met up in North Korea three weeks later, only for the talks to break down without agreement, as the US refused North Korea’s demands for sanctions relief.

Meanwhile back in the US Michael Cohen, the President’s former lawyer, was testifying to Congress and claiming that the leader of the free world is a “racist, con man and a cheat.” With Trump already having confirmed that he will run for President again in 2020, the Democrats must have been licking their lips…

What is ‘scheme pays’? (for tax charges on personal pensions)

We’ve received a few questions from clients on how “scheme pays” works for those that have exceeded contributions above their designated allowances. Scheme pays is a method whereby as the name suggests, the tax charge can be paid by the pension scheme.

If an individual exceeds the annual allowance (AA) and an AA tax charge is due, they can ask their pension scheme to pay the charge on their behalf with a corresponding reduction in benefits. The pension scheme is only obliged to facilitate the payment of the charge if certain conditions apply.

February Market Commentary

Introduction

The story of the US/China trade dispute was a thread running through much of last year. Some progress was made in resolving the dispute at December’s G20 summit and that appeared to continue in January with China saying it is ‘ready to work’ with the US. Donald Trump confirmed this, describing a telephone conversation with Xi Jinping as leading to ‘big progress’.

Despite a rocky start over fears of a slowdown in China, this helped world stock markets to enjoy a good month, and we started the year with a clean sweep: all the markets on which we report were up in January, although many of them have a way to go to make up the ground they lost last year, with 2018 the worst year in a decade for global markets.

The financial year end is fast approaching

With the end of the tax year on 5th April fast approaching, now is the time to consider a few financial planning steps.

Making the most of your tax allowances for Pensions, ISAs, CGT, IHT and Income Tax, is vital to ensuring your financial affairs are organised as efficiently as possible. 

Looking Back | Looking Forward – Our review of 2018 and look forward to 2019

We have put together a review of 2018 and a look forward into 2019.  We look at all the numbers that made headlines last year and make some predictions for the year ahead.   Please click here to read the report.

We hope you find this of interest and as ever, we will be here to update you as the need arises throughout 2019.

January Market Commentary

Introduction A quiet wind down to Christmas? Everyone leaving their offices early and not much happening in the second half of the month? Nothing could be further from the truth: December was one of the most eventful months of the year and while there was some good news, it was eclipsed by falling stock markets…

December Market Commentary

Introduction

It is always difficult writing a report like this, as you are always trying to ‘hit a moving target.’ While you can record the stock market levels at the close of business on, say,  30th November, there is always the risk that the commentary is overtaken by events.

That has never been more true than this month: we wrote these notes on Monday 3rd December and, of course, you have to press ‘publish’ at some stage. However, we are very conscious that the situation regarding Brexit, and perhaps also the civil unrest in France, may have moved on by the time you read this.

Understanding pensions – what is drawdown?

Drawdown is a way of achieving greater flexibility with your pension funds. Every time you move your money into drawdown, you’re allowed to take 25% of this as a lump sum, which is exempt from tax. The rest continues as an investment, with taxable income able to be drawn straight from your pension whenever you choose. The tax-free lump sum must be taken at the start, but as you don’t have to move your whole pension at once, multiple lump sums can potentially be taken.

November Market Commentary

Introduction

October was, to put it mildly, an eventful month. It was a month which saw the majority of markets on which we report down steeply, as fears of higher interest rates in the US combined with worries about the US/China trade war. There was, however, one market that went up sharply: Brazil elected a new president,  a man who, I suspect, will feature prominently in future commentaries.

In the UK, the Prime Minister survived the latest round of calls for her head, and the Chancellor delivered his Budget a month earlier than everyone had expected.