Stock Market Turmoil – February 2018

Following recent stock market falls, we thought it might be useful to set out some notes explaining what has happened and trying to put it into context.

Please click here to read the full summary.

Hopefully this will reassure our clients, but as always if you have any further questions, please contact your Cullen Wealth  Consultant.

February Market Commentary


The first month of 2018 was a good one for the major stock markets which we cover in this Bulletin. We report on 12 markets and 11 of them made gains in January – in some cases, spectacular gains, which many investors would regard as more than adequate for a full year. But sitting alone on the naughty step was the UK: as we shall see below there was plenty of good news for the UK in the month but, dogged by uncertainties over Brexit, continuing doubts about Theresa May and the collapse of Carillion, the FTSE fell 2% in the month. 

What does the nil rate band really mean for me?

Changes to inheritance tax (IHT) came in during 2017, affecting the allowance for those wanting to pass on their home to members of the family. But as the changes are being rolled out over the next few years up to the 2020/21 financial year, it can be hard to know if and how the changes will affect you.

The current amount you’re able to leave in your estate without incurring IHT is £325,000, known as the nil rate band (NRB). Anything above this amount incurs 40% tax, with certain exceptions, such as gifts to charities, being able to lower that percentage. Any transfers between spouses or civil partners are exempt from IHT even if your estate exceeds the NRB, with married or civil partnered couples having £650,000 – twice the NRB limit – to offset against their combined estate.

New Aviva Wrap Terms & Conditions

Select the links below to view the new Aviva terms and conditions applicable to your product.

January Market Commentary


Another year seems to have flown by in the space of about five months. December, in particular, seemed to go past in a blur.

It was, however, the month when some progress was, finally, made in the Brexit negotiations. It was also the month when Scotland used its tax-raising powers to increase income tax, when Germany worried about Chinese spies using fake LinkedIn profiles and when yet more sanctions were heaped on the North Korean regime, which were predictably condemned as an ‘act of war’.

Benefits of a Trust?

There are many different kinds of trusts; bare trusts, mixed trusts, interest-in-possession trusts, and accumulation and maintenance trusts. While they each differ slightly in the way they work, they all basically do the same job.  They allow the owner of an asset (the settlor), to distribute or donate it (or confer benefit from it) to…

December Market Commentary


November was a relatively disappointing month for world stock markets, with the majority of the markets we cover in this commentary losing ground in the month, however, the largest fall was just 3% so there were no real disasters. Pride of place went to the Dow Jones index in the US, which was up by 4% in the month as the President toured the Far East, intent on doing ever more trade deals.

The big event in the UK was Philip Hammond’s first Autumn Budget, but of rather more long-term significance might have been the launch of yet another missile by North Korea. The government in Pyongyang said that the ICBM brought “the whole of the USA” within range: back from the Far East, Donald Trump said that he “would take care of it”. The rest of the world watched on and worried…

Amending a Will?

You have at long last got round to preparing your Last Will and Testament, and that’s ‘job done’ – or is it?

If you write your will earlier in your life than at the last moment, it is highly likely that you will need to update it from time to time, as things change in your life and around you. 

November Market Commentary


What’s the saying? ‘Close, but no cigar’. That’s how it was in October as all but two of the markets we cover rose in the month. Brazil’s market did manage to stagger up by just 14 points, meaning it was unchanged in percentage terms, but the Russian stock market let the side down, falling back by 1% in October.

While the stock markets were having a good month, the Brexit talks were having another stagnant month. Having been to Florence in late September, Mrs May then went and pressed the flesh in Brussels, but the warm words soon gave way to more bickering about the UK’s divorce bill. With the date for the UK’s departure from the EU another month closer, talks about a post-EU trade deal are nowhere near starting.

Saving enough for your children’s university education?

Recent figures from the Institute of Fiscal Studies suggest that the average total debt incurred by today’s university students over the duration of their studies amounts to £51,000. The new figure comes as those in higher education see the interest rate on student loans rise to 6.1% in September, despite the Bank of England base rate remaining at its lowest ever figure of just 0.25%. The rise means that students will now typically have mounted up £5,800 of interest by the time they graduate.

Total student debt in the UK has now risen to £100 billion, a figure higher than the nation’s total credit card debt.