State pension age, surging inflation, & Norwegian happiness

Welcome to the latest roundup from our experts and thought leaders here at Informed Choice, with latest news and unique insights from our team.

Nick Bamford – State pension age must rise again
The publication of a much anticipated independent report has suggested millions of people will be working for longer before claiming their state pension.The report authored by John Cridland, former director-general of the Confederation of British… Read more

Martin Bamford – Informed Choice at the Master Investor Show
We are looking forward to attending the Master Investor Show in London on Saturday.Around 4,000 investors are expected to attend the one-day event, to hear from 46 guest speakers and visit stalls from a range of exhibitors.Informed Choice will be… Read more

Nick Bamford – One in seven have made no retirement provision
Start early, save regularly. That seems to be the secret to successful retirement planning.This new research from Prudential has found nearly one in seven people retiring this year have made no financial provision for their retirement.More than… Read more

Shelley McCarthy – Price inflation surges to 2.3%
The economists got it wrong, again.Despite widespread predictions of inflation rising to 2.1% for the year to February, the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) has instead ‘surged’ to 2.3%.’Surged’ might be overstating the increase, which was up from 1.8%… Read more

Martin Bamford – Care fees regional lottery
This new analysis from Royal London has found that the typical person entering residential care in later life will face total bills between £50,000 and £93,000.This of course all depends on where the person lives, which largely determines the cost… Read more

Shelley McCarthy – Don’t let the tax tail wag the investment dog
Within the world of Financial Planning, this is a popular expression; don’t let the tax tail wag the investment dog.It means that investment decisions should never be dictated solely by the opportunity for tax saving.Despite the chance to save on… Read more

Martin Bamford – Happy as a…Norwegian?
Today is the United Nation’s International Day of Happiness and they have published their latest World Happiness Report.This annual report measures “subjective well-being” – how happy the people are, and why.As always, Nordic countries dominate… Read more

Nick Bamford – How to develop a fulfilling retirement
This article in the Guardian is excellent and recommended reading for anyone approaching retirement.We often tell people that retirement planning is about so much more than money.Yes, having the necessary income in place to support your life in… Read more

Our latest podcast episodes

ICR189: Paul Mumford, The Stock Picker

ICR190: Tasneem Clarke, Money & Mental Health

ICR191: Key assumptions to make in your Financial Plan

Informed Choice in the press

Invest for income and reap dividends
Martin comments for The Times   Read more

Why there is a need for fintech innovation
Martin comments for FT Adviser   Read more

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U-turn, gin & discretionary nil rate band trusts

Welcome to the latest roundup from our experts and thought leaders here at Informed Choice, with latest news and unique insights from our team.

Nick Bamford – How to develop a fulfilling retirement
This article in the Guardian is excellent and recommended reading for anyone approaching retirement.We often tell people that retirement planning is about so much more than money.Yes, having the necessary income in place to support your life in… Read more

Martin Bamford – If possible, make a u-turn ahead
You can call it a u-turn, climb-down or chaos. What seems clear is the Chancellor has egg on his face after cancelling proposals made in the Budget to increase National Insurance contributions for the self-employed.The NICs rise would have… Read more

Nick Bamford – Gin, bike helmets and adult jigsaws
The basket of goods and services used to calculate price inflation is changing.The latest updates made by the ONS see the addition of dairy-free milk, gin, cycling helmets and jigsaws for adults.Leaving the inflation basket were basic mobile phone… Read more

Shelley McCarthy – Did you include a discretionary trust in your will?
People who added a discretionary nil rate band trust to their wills are being warned they could miss out on the new family home allowance.From 6th April this year, the inheritance tax nil rate band is being gradually supplemented with a main… Read more

Martin Bamford – Another Scottish independence referendum?
I’m a big fan of Scotland. One of my first jobs was working for the Scottish insurer Standard Life, which meant regular trips to their head office in beautiful Edinburgh.Before that, as a child, we visited Scotland on holiday several times. Just… Read more

Martin Bamford – Would you date someone with debt?
To what extent does debt influence relationship success?According to this report from the New York Post, 58% of Americans wouldn’t marry someone with significant debt.The study, from legal industry site Avvo, also found that most people would feel… Read more

Our latest podcast episodes

ICR186: Malene Rydahl, Happy as a Dane

ICR187: Jo Thresher, Better With Money

ICR188: The Importance of Investor Sentiment

Informed Choice in the press

Investors advised to avoid Standard Life and Aberdeen Funds
Martin comments for the Financial Times   Read more

‘Delusional’ consumers expecting high returns and low risk
Martin comments for Professional Adviser   Read more

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Scammers, probate fees & Aberdeen Standard?

Welcome to the latest roundup from our experts and thought leaders here at Informed Choice, with latest news and unique insights from our team.

Martin Bamford – Young Girl Facing Wall Street’s Famous Charging Bull
One of the most iconic symbols in the world of investing is the charging bull on Wall Street. Originally guerilla art, installed in 1989 by Arturo Di Modica, the popularity of the 3,200 kg bronze sculpture led to it being a permanent feature.Now… Read more

Shelley McCarthy – How low will the scammers go?!
I received an email the other day from a client, asking for my opinion about an investment opportunity she had read online.She had come across an article about a new investment strategy, apparently from Bill Gates.It purported to ‘equalise the… Read more

Shelley McCarthy – Are you ready for £20,000 probate fees?
Probate fees are due to rise sharply at the start of May.For the highest value estates, it will cost £20,000 for a family to execute the wishes of the deceased’s will.This is a huge increase compared to the current flat fees; £155 or £215… Read more

Martin Bamford – Choosing your own path
On Saturday evening, as part of the Informed Choice sponsored Cranleigh Literary Festival, I attended a talk about WWII heroine Violette Szabo.Her daughter Tania spoke for more than an hour about the life of her mother Violette, who was the… Read more

Martin Bamford – Aberdeen Standard or Standard Aberdeen?
News broke over the weekend of a proposed merger between Standard Life plc and Aberdeen Asset Management plc.If shareholders and the regulator approve this merger, it will create the largest asset manager in the UK, responsible for funds worth… Read more

Our latest blog posts

Financial advisers for people living with dementia
Can a financial adviser go into a care home or approach adults with dementia in their own homes to drum up business?  Read more

Helping tidy up Cranleigh
On Saturday morning, four members of the Informed Choice team joined volunteers from Cranleigh in Bloom to take part in the Great British Spring Clean.  Read more

Budget 2017 Briefing Note
Following the Budget at lunchtime today, Martin and Shelley have produced a free briefing note for our clients and professional contacts.  Read more

Our latest podcast episodes

ICR183: Andy Agathangelou, Transparency Task Force   Listen now

ICR184: Diana Chambers, Family Wealth Mentor   Listen now

ICR185: Everything you need to know about the final Spring Budget   Listen now

Informed Choice in the press

EU demands prediction of fund performance in crisis
Martin comments for the Financial Times   Read more

Standard Life star fund manager Cumming quits
Martin comments for the Financial Times   Read more

Three ‘exceptions to the rule’ from last year’s most disappointing sector
Martin comments for FE Trustnet   Read more

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Budget 2017 Briefing Note

Budget 2017 Briefing NoteFollowing the Budget at lunchtime today, Martin and Shelley have produced a free briefing note for our clients and professional contacts.

Within this briefing note we have described the main Budget announcements as they relate to personal financial planning.

Download the Budget 2017 Briefing Note

Hammond started his Budget speech by explaining we have economic growth which is confounding the experts, with employment at a record high.

There was, however, no room for complacency, as the Chancellor continued to tighten his belt and take the next steps in preparing Britain for its new global future.

The self-employed and business owners are likely to feel unfairly treated in this Budget, as a result of National Insurance contribution rises for the self-employed and a dividend tax allowance reduction for shareholders.

As with every Budget and Autumn Statement, the devil is often in the detail.

As more details come to light, we will add blogs on specific planning topics to our website at www.icfp.co.uk.

Do call us on 01483 274566, email hello@icfp.co.uk, or follow us on Twitter @informedchoice if you would like to discuss your own investment, pension or Financial Planning as a result of the Budget today or any of the contents within this free briefing note.

Download the Budget 2017 Briefing Note

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Helping tidy up Cranleigh

On Saturday morning, four members of the Informed Choice team joined volunteers from Cranleigh in Bloom to take part in the Great British Spring Clean.

Martin, Andy, Nick and Lizanne grabbed a rubbish bag each and collected as much litter as possible from around the village, as part of a team of sixteen enthusiastic volunteers.

The Great British Spring Clean is a campaign with one simple ambition; to bring together people from across the country to clear up the litter that blights our towns, villages, countryside and coastline.

In 2015, one enthusiastic individual – Melissa Murdoch – had an idea to get people from all walks of life together in cleaning up the rubbish that surrounds us.

Together, with Adrian Evans, Keep Britain Tidy, Country Life Magazine and a range of supporting partners the Clean for The Queen campaign inspired 250,000 people to get involved in local clean ups through March 2016.

During March 2017, the Great British Spring Clean aims to to inspire 500,000 people across the UK to get outdoors, get active and help clear up the rubbish that lies around us.

Martin, who is Chairman of Cranleigh in Bloom, organised the Great British Spring Clean in Cranleigh, arranging for the volunteers to spend more than an hour collecting litter from around the village, including the Downs Link, Snoxhall Playing Fields, The Common and High Street.

The team collected more than 20 bags of litter from around Cranleigh, making a small contribution to improving the local environment for the enjoyment of all.

Did you take part in the Great British Spring Clean where you are?

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Financial advisers for people living with dementia

Financial advisers for people living with dementiaCan a financial adviser go into a care home or approach adults with dementia in their own homes to drum up business?

This was the question leading an article on the front page of the Money section in the Sunday Times yesterday.

The article was prompted by a Financial Ombudsman Service ruling, which found restricted adviser St James’s Place had provided unsuitable advice to a client living with dementia, in respect of an ISA transfer. You can read the final decision here.

The article in the Sunday Times raises some important points about financial advisers who are working with vulnerable customers, especially those who are living in residential care home or who have Alzheimer’s disease.

As an independent financial adviser who specialises in care fees planning, and is often working with vulnerable adults and their families, I want to share a few thoughts on this important subject.

The Sunday Times article was published at an interesting time, as on Friday afternoon two more of my team had attended a Dementia Friends information session in Cranleigh.

We are encouraging all of our Financial Planners and back office team to become Dementia Friends after attending these one hour awareness courses which are designed to offer an insight into what it is like to live with dementia.

Something else we do at Informed Choice is to publish a set of Later Life Client Procedures, which we share with every later life client.

Later Life Client Procedures

As you will see from the 15 points described in this document, the procedures are designed to make sure our most vulnerable customers are treated fairly, and with the dignity and respect they deserve.

Our regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), has been doing some good work in this area too.

Back in February 2015, the FCA asked us to participate in a video about financial services and vulnerable customers, created to launch an an Occasional Paper on Consumer Vulnerability.

The video, which features Informed Choice’s Nick Bamford, highlights that some vulnerable consumers seeking help from financial providers are meeting ‘a computer says no’ approach, putting them at risk of further detriment.

Also featured in the the video were the FCA’s Martin Wheatley, Macmillan’s Lynda Thomas, Nationwide’s Graham Beale, MoneySavingExpert’s Martin Lewis and Barclays’ Ashok Vaswani.

After reading The Sunday Times Money article about St James’s Place and customer vulnerability yesterday morning, I noted a few questions I believe are important to ask whenever a financial adviser is working with someone living with dementia.

1 – Is the adviser an Accredited Later Life Adviser?

LLA Accreditation is a recognised benchmark of the advice skills of advisers who advise in the older client market.

Offered by the Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA), the accreditation has been shaped following consultation with consumer groups and those actively involved in advising in the older client market.

My professional opinion is that no financial adviser should work with an individual living with dementia unless they are a full member of SOLLA, holding the Later Life Adviser Accreditation.

2 – Is the adviser a Dementia Friend?

A Dementia Friend learns a little bit more about what it’s like to live with dementia and then turns that understanding into action.

Whilst the information session only lasts one hour, it is a powerful experience and a good starting point for developing a deeper understanding of some of the issues associated with living with dementia.

If a financial adviser is working with someone living with dementia and they are not a Dementia Friend, it raises some serious questions about their commitment to delivering suitable advice to that individual and their family.

3 – Is the adviser an independent financial adviser?

Financial advice firms can be either independent or restricted.

In order to call yourself an independent financial adviser, you need to provide unbiased and unrestricted advice based on a comprehensive and fair analysis of the market.

Because only independent financial advisers can act in the best interests of their clients, you should always choose an independent financial adviser to work with someone living with dementia or in an otherwise vulnerable situation.

Restricted advisers can only recommend certain types of product, or advise you on products from one or a limited number of providers, and therefore working with a restricted adviser severely limits the ability of the adviser to deliver advice which is in the best interests of the client.

4 – Does the adviser charge fees for their services?

Since the start of 2013 and the abolition of commission payments for retail investment products, all financial advisers (independent and restricted) should be charging fees for their services.

However, some restricted advisers continue to operate with a so-called ‘vertical integration’ business model, where one charge covers the cost of the product and advice.

Some independent financial advisers have failed to move very far from the old commission remuneration structure, charging a percentage of any investment amount or a fee which is contingent on the sale of a financial product.

The way in which you pay for financial advice can have the unintended consequence of influencing the outcome of that advice, so consider this very carefully.

Only an independent financial adviser charging a genuine fee for their advice (and not contingent on the implementation of a financial product) should be working with vulnerable customers and those individuals living with dementia.

 

These four simple questions, which should be asked in addition to the usual due diligence questions about regulatory status and financial standing of the firm, should help to identify a financial adviser who is able to provide suitable advice in the best interests of a vulnerable customer or someone living with dementia.

We hope to see more from the Financial Conduct Authority in the near future to describe best practice when working with vulnerable customers, in terms of the status and approach taken by the adviser.

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Shattered retirement dreams, Monthly Investment Update, & PPI claims deadline

Welcome to the latest roundup from our experts and thought leaders here at Informed Choice, with latest news and unique insights from our team.

August 2019 deadline for PPI claims
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has set a deadline of 29th August 2019 for making payment protection insurance claims. This leaves consumers who were mis-sold PPI with a little over two years to claim for compensation.UK banks set aside… Read more

Introducing Informed – the new client magazine from Informed Choice
Over the past few months, the team have been busy putting together the first edition of a new client magazine from Informed Choice.Informed is our bi-annual printed magazine written for our clients, professional contacts and advocates.It is… Read more

Retirement dreams shattered for millions
Millions of people are being condemned to work into their 80s because of inadequate retirement savings. A new report from insurer Royal London is warning that the four million people automatically enrolled into workplace pensions have been lulled… Read more

Our latest blog posts

Monthly Investment Update March 2017
In our latest monthly investment update for March 2017, we look at how the investment markets, global economy and commodity prices are performing.   Read more

U3A Investments & Money Matters Group
Nick gave a presentation to the Investments and Money Matters Group at U3A Cranleigh, talking about choosing an investment platform.   Read more

Our latest podcast episodes

ICR180 – Vicky Eves, I Beat Debt   Listen now

ICR181 – Kelly Eroglu, Reduced Grub   Listen now

ICR182 – Warren Buffett’s Annual Shareholder Letter   Listen now

Before you leave!

We are pleased to be the headline sponsor of the Cranleigh Literary Festival which is taking place at Cranleigh Arts Centre all of this week.

Tonight features Edinburgh Fringe hit Chopping Chillies, written by and starring Clair Whitefield, and directed by Olivier Award winner Guy Masterson.

On Saturday there is “Wings!” craft session and live storytelling in Cranleigh Library, especially for children.

On Saturday evening at Cranleigh Arts Centre, Tania Szabó will talk about her mother Violette Szabó GC, CdeG – her life, her missions in occupied France during World War Two, her incontestable bravery at all times and her relevance to our world of today.

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U3A Investments & Money Matters Group

U3A Investments & Money Matters GroupThis morning I gave a presentation to the Investments and Money Matters Group at U3A Cranleigh, talking about choosing an investment platform.

U3A, the University of the Third Age, is a fantastic national organisation formed of local groups across multiple subject interests.

Martin and I have both presented a number of times now for the U3A personal finance groups in Cranleigh and Camberley, to discuss investments, inheritance tax and care fees planning.

Investing has come a long way since the times when people would invest directly ion shares or funds, often selected in the newspaper and then executed over the telephone or through the post with a stockbroker.

These days, it’s all about choosing the right investment platform on which to invest in order to achieve your financial goals.

An investment platform is a service which allows investors and financial advisers to check on their portfolios and make investment instructions.

From the adviser’s perspective, we can see the transaction history, valuations and dealings. This information allows us to make sure that your financial goals remain on track.

Most modern investment platforms offer access to the full range of tax wrappers, including Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) and personal pensions. Some also offer access to onshore and offshore Investment Bonds.

It’s important to get the best possible value for money when choosing a suitable investment platform.

To make sure you are not paying over the odds, you need to be able to understand all the fees and charges attached to financial products.

Other fees which you need to assess are adviser fees, fund management fees and product fees, all of which can be deducted from your investments on the chosen platform.

I would never recommend to constantly check on your investment portfolios. Doing this will simply just raise your blood pressure.

The most important thing to remember is when it comes to investing, make sure you align that investment with your financial plan.

If your plan tells you that you don’t need to invest then don’t!

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Monthly Investment Update – March 2017

Monthly Investment Update – March 2017In our latest monthly investment update for March 2017, we look at how the investment markets, global economy and commodity prices are performing.

The FTSE 100 index of leading UK company shares finished February at 7,263.44 points, rising by 164.29 points or 2.3% during the month.

European markets finished the month with a quieter period of trading, as investors waited for President Trump’s first address to Congress overnight on Tuesday.

During February, European stock markets performed well against the positive backdrop of the European Commission’s Winter 2017 Economist Forecast.

According to the forecasts, the Eurozone is expected to grow by 1.6% in 2017 and 1.8% in 2018. Advanced economies outside the United States are forecast to benefit from the spillover effect of economic activity in the US. European exports are also expected to get a boost from the rising interest rate and the US dollar.

In the latest quarterly reshuffle of the FTSE indices, Dixons Carphone is expected to be demoted from the FTSE 100 index, replaced by Scottish Mortgage, the investment trust run by Baillie Gifford.

Also set to leave the top flight, based on its market capitalisation at the end of February, was Capita, Easyjet and Intu Properties. Rentokil Initial and the packaging company DS Smith could both be promoted.

The UK manufacturing sector continues to grow in February, putting it on track to deliver its strongest quarterly performance in three years. The latest Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Index reading was 54.6; this was down from 55.7 in January and slightly below the City of London consensus forecast of 55.6. An index reading above 50 represents growth.

According to Rob Dixon, an economist at Markit, the readings in January and February were consistent with first quarter manufacturing sector growth of 1.5%, which would represent the strong quarterly expansion since the first quarter of 2014.

Investors in the US are pricing in an interest rate hike this month, with dollar and US Treasury yields trending higher. Comments from some Federal Reserve policymakers suggested rate-setters are worried about waiting too long to raise interest rates, in light of pending economic stimulus out of Washington.

According to Reuters, investors have priced in a 68% probability of an interest rate rise in March, up from 30% the month before.

In Japan, capital spending by domestic businesses rose by 3.8% year-on-year in the final quarter of last year. The government figures show this marking a turnaround for Japanese companies as they seek to boost output. Capital spending has long been a weak point for the Japanese economy, with businesses reluctant to invest when the economic outlook is uncertain.

In the UK, price inflation has risen to its highest rate for two and a half years. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) measure of price inflation rose to 1.8% for the year to January, up from 1.6% in December. This is the fourth consecutive month of inflation rises and takes CPI inflation to its highest level since June 2014.

Price inflation in the UK remains below the Bank of England target of 2%, last reached in December 2013. The Bank is expecting inflation to reach 2.7% next year.

Consumer inflation as measured by the Retail Prices Index (RPI), which includes some housing costs, rose to 2.6% in January, up from 2.5% in December.

House price growth accelerated in February, according to the latest Nationwide survey. Average property values rose by 4.5% during the year, up by 0.6% compared to the previous month. This makes the average cost of a home £205,846. Nationwide has forecast an uncertain outlook for house prices in 2017, with modest 2% annual growth.

The Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee kept interest rates on hold at 0.25% during their meeting at the start of February. A forecast from accountancy firm Moore Stephens suggested that an extra 18,000 people could face insolvency by 2020 if interest rates were to rise by 1%.

Most economists expect the Bank to keep interest rates on hold at least until the end of next year, although they could face growing pressure to hike up interest rates should price inflation continue to rise.

Oil inventories in the US reached a new high at the end of February, with the American Petroleum Institute reporting a build of 2.502 million barrels. Despite this US inventory build-up, the OPEC agreement to cut output appears to be holding, with compliance of 94% in February.  Brent Crude Oil Futures were $56.81/barrel at the start of March.

The benchmark 10 year UK Gilt yield stands at 1.185% at the start of March, falling during February.

£1 buys $1.23720 or €1.17410.  The Forex Gold Index is $1,255.60/oz and the Silver Index is $18.28/oz.

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Grandparent army, bin collection cuts & Cranleigh Literary Festival

Welcome to the latest roundup from our experts and thought leaders here at Informed Choice, with latest news and unique insights from our team.

Martin Bamford – Grandparent Army save billions in childcare costs
If it wasn’t for the support of my parents and mother-in-law, our childcare costs would be astronomical.Becky and I both work full-time, with Becky holding down two part-time teaching jobs. Her working hours fit nicely into school hours, most of… Read more

Nick Bamford – Nick & The Silverback
My good friend Paul Miles and I often discuss financial planning matters and try to put the world to right. Paul runs the consultancy firm Silverback Consultancy and I invited him to Cranleigh to eat some bananas and chew over some current… Read more

Martin Bamford – Bin collections cut to fund social care
The Local Government Association, which represents local authorities, is warning of cuts to services in order to plug the growing shortfall in adult social care.Services including road repairs, parks, children’s centres, leisure centres and… Read more

Martin Bamford – Cranleigh Literary Festival
Informed Choice is delighted to be the headline sponsor for the Cranleigh Literary Festival this year.This packed literary festival starts on Tuesday 28th February with a Spoken Word Night offering a special showcase of spoken word, poetry and… Read more

Martin Bamford – Lower fees for registering a Lasting Power of Attorney
Some good news this afternoon from the Office of the Public Guardian.The fees they charge to register an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) or Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) are being reduced from 1st April 2017.The change is cited as The Public… Read more

Our latest podcast episodes

ICR177 – Ann Pettifor, The Production of Money

ICR178 – Kalpana Fitzpatrick, Mummy Money Matters

ICR179 – 5 Investment Themes for the Next Decade

Informed Choice in the press

Martin in FT Adviser – Bond markets under Brexit cloud

Martin in Money Marketing – Advisers and FCA struggle with DB transfers

Before you leave!

Informed Choice is exhibiting at the Master Investor Show in London on Saturday 25th March 2017. Find out more at masterinvestor.co.uk/show and used the code INFORMEDCHOICE to claim one of 100 free tickets to the event.

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