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New registration procedure for residents (TIE)

By Chris Webb - Topics: Spain, UK bank accounts
This article is published on: 6th October 2020

06.10.20

Well, summer is well and truly over. After a scorching few months, which at times was unbearable, we´re now being treated to what I always tell the kids is good old English weather. The heavens opened, the sky turned a miserable shade of grey and the temperature dropped from the mid 30´s to around 16 degrees in the space of 48 hours.

We had a little respite and it warmed up a bit, but as I´m writing this the rain is steadily falling again.

So far 2020 has been a strange year. We started off with Brexit at the forefront of our minds, but that quickly turned into a Covid 19 panic. Summer seemed more relaxed and it appeared we were through the worst but now Madrid is heading back into a type of lockdown, although not as severe as in March.

So what´s new? Well, the latest shock news to hit the front pages is the threat of UK banks closing down accounts for EU residents. On top of that there is the new registration procedure for residents (TIE) which came into force in July.

Do you have a bank account in the UK but live in Spain?

Do you have a bank account in the UK but live in Spain?

By now, I am sure you have all seen the headline news saying that a number of UK banks are writing to their clients living in the EU to close down their UK banks accounts.

The news is true, we have had clients that have already received notification, but this change affects different banks and different EU countries. You probably already know that the blame for this decision lies purely with Brexit!

Looking at the information available it seems that Spain may get off lightly with this as it doesn’t get a mention, but only time will tell whether we face the same issue.

Brexit has put these banks in a difficult position, leaving them to calculate the cost and inconvenience of managing EU resident clients. Once Britain is out of the EU marketplace, the banks will be forced to adhere to individual regulations which differ from country to country. If they want to continue to service clients in any EU state, they will need the relevant licences to do so. But if it is not viable for them to arrange this, it will lead to account closures.

This is going to cause all manner of problems for those that still rely on a UK bank account. It could be for rental income to be received, bills to be paid or just a spending account for when you visit family and friends. If you are affected by these closures there are no other UK options available to you, as you can´t open a new bank account if you´re not a resident there.

modelo 720

They may offer you an international bank account, but that is yet to be determined. If you find yourself in this position then get in touch; The Spectrum IFA Group have a great working relationship with Standard Bank who offer an international account in multiple currencies, which may be the ideal solution to your predicament.

There is a great article on Money Saving Expert that also has a useful graphic detailing the latest info from a number of banks. Click on this link to see more:
www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2020/09/thousands-of-british-expats-face-uk-account-closures/

The second “new thing” for us is the registration procedure for a residence card in Spain. We are all used to the green A4 or credit card sized document, but now we have the new TIE for British national’s post Brexit. We are being advised that making the change is optional and the green cards remain valid, but in my opinion it is only a matter of time before it becomes mandatory.

You can apply for the new TIE by following these three links:
EX23 – TIE Application Form
extranjeros.mitramiss.gob.es/es/ModelosSolicitudes/Mod_solicitudes2/index.html

Modelo 790-12 – Payment Form
sede.policia.gob.es/Tasa790_012/

Cita Previa
sede.administracionespublicas.gob.es/icpplus/index.html

I have already been through the process of changing to the TIE and I am happy to say it was the easiest piece of Spanish administration I have ever dealt with in nearly 8 years. If you want further information, I have a great article I can send on which was put together by CAB Spain and explains the exchange process as well as applying as a new resident.

The folder…

By Chris Webb - Topics: Inheritance Tax, Madrid, Spain, Succession Planning, Wills
This article is published on: 10th August 2020

10.08.20

I´ve been playing around with this article during the past few days, trying to fill in some spare time during the weeks of this long hot summer we have here in Spain. I realised quite quickly that writing things that will be of genuine interest could be quite hard so for this article I´ve decided to share with you what I personally am doing at home right now.

Considering some limitations of movement right now it would be a great time to give this some thought.

One piece of advice I always give to my clients is to prepare “THE FOLDER”. You´re immediately wondering what I´m going on about, let me enlighten you to what it is and why you should do it.

For me personally I am reviewing my folder and checking its updated. Interestingly I needed to refer to my folder yesterday and realised I still had some older information on there which isn’t relevant anymore, so tonight’s job is to review and update.

There are many scenarios where you´ll be thankful for making the folder. When I moved house two years ago I went straight to the folder and had all of the companies contact information as well as policies or account details which made informing them all much easier, on the flip side I´ve also lost a family member where finding their folder reduced the stress in dealing with their estate.

In moments of stress you find yourself trawling through endless pieces of paperwork to ascertain assets and account details, then you get that lightbulb moment…….. why wasn’t it all documented.

The Folder | Chris Webb | Spectrum IFA Group

What is THE folder?
It is a single file (digital or physical) where you keep all your important personal and financial information together. It allows easy access to these documents if you’re no longer around to help. It is even more important to have it in place where one family member takes the lead on the family finances. That includes paying bills, managing accounts and storing documents.

As a family we decided to do both a physical folder and a digital folder. The digital folder is password protected, both me and the wife have access to this, and we have shared the password with close friends should anything happen to us. In the digital folder we have shared as much information as possible for all our assets.

For the physical folder it is vital to only list information that would not create a problem should that folder end up in the wrong hands. So, we have only listed the names, telephone numbers, policy / account numbers of all our assets in this folder. It would give enough information for someone to be able to deal with our affairs with minimum hassle.

Is it worth the effort?
Well, I think it is worth the effort. A time of loss can be stressful enough without having to try and piece together the deceased’s financial affairs. This can be a really difficult time for family members.

However, preparing THE folder is much more than avoiding stress; if you leave behind an administrative nightmare you could delay access to inheritors’ access to funds and potentially cost a small fortune in legal fees.

To give you an example of this, the UK Department of Work and Pensions estimate that there is currently more than £400 million sitting in unclaimed pensions pots in the UK. Imagine trying to find out if you have one.

chris webb Spectrum IFA

Which is best physical or digital?
As I mentioned, we have done both and I believe most people would do the same. Some people still love to have information in physical form, something you can get your hands on. The younger generation tend to rely solely on digital devices. I don’t think it matters which way you do it, as long as you do it.

What goes in the folder?
Its essential to list what assets you have, where they are and important contact information for each asset. Keep copies of any insurance policy documents, pension statements etc. I have put a small list below which would help most of you, but you do need to look at all your assets individually to make sure the list is right!

  • Life insurance policy documents
  • Personal pension documents
  • Employer pension details
  • Details of any entitlement to state pensions
  • List of bank accounts with account numbers, login details, passwords etc
  • Details of any credit cards
  • Property, land and cemetery deeds
  • Proof of loans made
  • Vehicle ownership documents
  • Stock certificates, brokerage accounts, investment platform details, online investment account details
  • Details of holdings of premium bonds, government bonds, investment bonds
  • Partnership and corporate operating/ownership agreements (including offshore companies)

How often should ‘THE’ folder be reviewed?
I would recommend reviewing the folder on an annual basis, but if you’re extra diligent with it you should review and update every time something changes. For example, if you change insurance companies then add the new details and delete the old. This is a continuous job, its not something you do once and never look at again.

Finally…
Tell someone about your folder. Someone needs to know you have made one and whether it´s digital or physical. There is very little point going to all this effort if know body knows it exists.

Now I´m off to review my own folder, and it needs reviewing. I noticed yesterday that whilst my financial assets are up to date, I haven’t updated our vehicle details and a few other things which had gone unnoticed. Lets do this!

If you have any questions about creating your own folder feel free to reach out!

The results are in…

By Chris Webb - Topics: Investment Risk, Moving to Spain, Spain, Tax, Tax Efficient Savings, Tax Relief, UK investments
This article is published on: 10th June 2020

10.06.20
Spectrum IFA Survey

I trust you are all safe and well and enjoying the additional bit of freedom that moving into Phase 1 has afforded us herein Spain. By the time you read this there is every chance we are into Phase 2 allowing even more freedom. It’s been a long haul for Madrid to get there and there are mixed feelings about how long it has taken…

Personally, I´d rather be safe than sorry, so whilst there have been frustrating times over the last few months, it is probably for the best. Recently I sent a survey out to my clients, who are based all over the community of Madrid. The survey was twofold:

Secondly, being in lockdown has given us all the time and opportunity to evaluate our personal situations. To address administrative tasks we had put on the back burner and to look at all aspects of our financial wellbeing, whether that be assessing emergency cash reserves, job security or even making sure an up to date will was in place.

The response to my survey was fantastic with many responses. Some just answered the questions but the majority also wrote additional comments, which gave a greater insight into their situation. It was interesting for me to read the results and compare the answers to how my family have felt and what we had looked at changing or updating.

Spectrum IFA Survey Results

I´d like to share some of the results from the survey, but I won’t detail all the questions as this Ezine would be never ending.

It might be beneficial for you to compare the data with your own situation or feelings.

1. Only 30% felt that lockdown was a struggle; the vast majority were not concerned by the restrictions.
2. 80% were comfortable with the transition to online communication, whether that be email or video calling.
3. 100% were concerned about their investments – completely natural when you were watching the fall out on the news.
4. 42% were concerned for their jobs.
5. 95% had sufficient emergency cash reserves to see them through – something we always encourage when dealing with our clients.
6. 50% had excess cash reserves sitting idle in the bank.
7. 62% believed that NOW was a great time to get invested and put more money into the markets. Of that number 55% proceeded and bought in at the discounted prices available.
8. 57% had an up to date will in place. Some admitting to doing it recently after my article titled “The Folder”.
9. 80% felt that their insurance policies were sufficient for their situation; however 40% of these people have requested further information and alternative quotes.

The results made for interesting reading and it was great to see that a lot of people had reviewed things and were keen to look at alternative options.

Tax in Spain and the UK

As a company we have a huge network of 3rd party companies that can assist our clients with all the points raised in the survey.

In Madrid I can recommend teams of lawyers who will offer a free initial

consultation and discounted rates, providing they come from me as a direct referral. This is great for anybody that needs to review their will – you can have the initial conversation at no cost and then pay for the will upon completion.I can recommend teams of accountants or gestors to assist with tax returns, inheritance, and other administrative issues.

During lockdown I also set up a collaboration with an expat insurance broker, which allows us to assist with health insurance, life insurance, car insurance, house insurance and more. The great thing about this relationship is that ALL quotations and policy documentation are in English. Whilst most of you will speak and understand Spanish perfectly well, there are times when something is easier “to get” when it’s in English.

If you want to review your insurances, or just obtain alternative quotes to compare with what you already have, get in touch – there is no charge for a quotation.

Do not delay reviewing your will, insurances, or investments.

Planning yesterday is better than today, which is better than tomorrow.

PS. If you did not receive the survey and want to complete it, send me an email and I´d be happy to share it with you.

Longer Term Perspective

By Chris Webb - Topics: Financial Review, Madrid, Spain
This article is published on: 22nd April 2020

22.04.20
The Show Must Go On

One of my favourite songs is, ‘The Show Must Go On’ by Queen, arguably one of the best bands ever. How apt the opening lines sound now. It’s day 41 of our lockdown as we bunkered down on the 11th of March, a little earlier than the national lockdown came into force and I wont lie and pretend its been plain sailing. Having two children home schooling and trying to run our businesses from home at the same time has been quite a challenge, but the overriding feeling has been and still is that the show must go on…

Emotionally this might just be the toughest period that we all have to go through. Every day is a new challenge. But as we all know, we can’t just sit and stare at the walls and feel sorry for ourselves.

All of us will have had different emotional barriers to face. They might be the feeling of confinement and reduced work capabilities; they might be a feeling of panic and anxiety trying to deal with the unknown situation we are in; they could be dealing directly with this virus, either having caught it themselves or having a loved one infected.

It doesn’t matter what the factor is, it’s guaranteed that we have all been dealing with emotions far more during the last 5/6 weeks than we have ever had.

On top of dealing with our own family’s emotions, I am having daily conversations with my clients about their investments during this period and the emotional impact it is having. All it takes is to watch the news channel to clearly see how volatile the markets have been. This is an additional emotional crisis for some, particularly if they aren’t experienced investors.

All my clients will know that I talk a lot about the different hats you need to wear when investing in the markets. There is the investment hat and the emotional hat. The investment hat is the exciting one that drives your investment decisions; the emotional hat is the one that pulls you back a little and makes you consider your choices. In my opinion the emotional hat is the most important one. It only lets you make decisions that you are happy with and have thought through.

Here are my top tips for dealing with the emotional side of investing; hopefully it will help steer you through the coming weeks.

stay invested

The Rational, Irrational and Emotional Struggle
It is a challenge to look beyond the short-term variances and focus on the long-term averages.

The greatest challenge may be in deciding to stay invested during a volatile market and a time of low consumer confidence. History has shown us that it is important to stay invested in good and bad market environments.

During periods of high consumer confidence stock prices peak and during periods of low consumer confidence stock prices can come under pressure. Historically, returns trended in the opposite direction of past consumer confidence data. When confidence is low it has been the time to buy or hold.

Of course, no one can predict the bottom or guarantee future returns. But as history has shown, the best decision may be to stay invested even during volatile markets.

Declines May Present Opportunities
An emotional roller coaster ride is especially nerve-racking during a decline. However, the best opportunity to make money may be when stock prices are low. Buying low and selling high has always been one of the basic rules of investing and building wealth. Yet during these emotional and challenging times it is easy to be fearful and/or negative, so let’s turn to the wise advice of one of the world’s best investors, the late Sir John Templeton:

“Don’t be fearful or negative too often. For 100 years optimists have carried the day in U.S. stocks. Even in the dark ’70s, many professional money managers—and many individual investors too—made money in stocks, especially those of smaller companies…There will, of course, be corrections, perhaps even crashes. But, over time, our studies indicate stocks do go up, up and up”

upward stockmarket trends

Watching from the Sidelines May Cost You
When markets become volatile, a lot of people try to guess when stocks will bottom out. In the meantime, they often park their investments in cash.

But just as many investors are slow to recognize a retreating stock market, many also fail to see an upward trend in the market until after they have missed opportunities for gains. Missing out on these opportunities can take a big bite out of your returns.

Euro / Dollar Cost Averaging Makes It Easier to Cope with Volatility
Most people are quick to agree that volatile markets present buying opportunities for investors with a long-term horizon. But mustering the discipline to make purchases during a volatile market can be difficult. You can’t help wondering, “Is this really the right time to buy?”

Euro / Dollar cost averaging can help reduce anxiety about the investment process. Simply put, Euro / Dollar cost averaging is committing a fixed amount of money at regular intervals to an investment. You buy more shares when prices are low and fewer shares when prices are high, and over time, your average cost per share may be less than the average price per share. Euro / Dollar cost averaging involves a continuous, disciplined investment in fund shares, regardless of fluctuating price levels. Investors should consider their financial ability to continue purchases through periods of low-price levels or changing economic conditions. Such a plan does not assure a profit and does not protect against loss in a declining market.

financial check-up

Now May Be a Great Time for a Portfolio Check Up
Is your portfolio as diversified as you think it is? Meet with me to find out. Your portfolio’s weightings in different asset classes may shift over time as one investment performs better or worse than another. Together we can re-examine your portfolio to see if you are properly diversified. You can also determine whether your current portfolio mix is still a suitable match with your goals and risk tolerance.

Tune Out the Noise and Gain a Longer-Term Perspective
Numerous television stations and websites are dedicated to reporting investment news 24 hours a day, seven days a week. What’s more, there are almost too many financial publications and websites to count. While the media provide a valuable service, they typically offer a very short-term outlook. To put your own investment plan in a longer-term perspective and bolster your confidence, you may want to look at how different types of portfolios have performed over time. Interestingly, while stocks may be more volatile, they’ve still outperformed income-oriented investments (such as bonds) over longer time periods.

Believe Your Beliefs and Doubt Your Doubts
There are no real secrets to managing volatility. Most investors already know that the best way to navigate a choppy market is to have a good long-term plan and a well-diversified portfolio. But sticking to these fundamental beliefs is sometimes easier said than done. When put to the test, you may begin doubting your beliefs and believing your doubts, which can lead to short-term moves that divert you from your long-term goals. To keep from falling into this trap, call me before making any changes to your portfolio So that’s my tips for fighting your way through the emotional impact of investing. I hope it is beneficial to you. The main point to take away from this is that THE SHOW MUST GO ON.

Stay calm, stay invested, don’t make crazy rash decisions and in a short time, this will be a blip in the past. If you want to discuss the risk element or have a second opinion on your investments, I am happy to conduct an initial consultation and present any recommendations free of charge. You can get in touch using the contact details below.

Don’t delay your financial plans. For planning, yesterday is better than today, which is better than tomorrow

How much do I need for a comfortable retirement?

By Chris Webb - Topics: Madrid, QROPS, Retirement, Spain, UK Pensions
This article is published on: 18th March 2020

18.03.20

How much money will I need in retirement?

This is one of the most common questions I hear as a Financial Adviser in Madrid, Spain.

The answer to that question differs from person to person and the numbers I discuss with my clients vary massively. To some, having a quiet retirement with little requirements is the goal; others will want to continue playing golf and attend social events weekly. There is a huge difference in what you will need in your pocket with these different scenarios.

So, what do the experts think?
Researchers have calculated how much money a person needs per year in order to enjoy a comfortable retirement. The numbers were calculated by Loughborough’s Centre for Research in Social Policy (CRSP), The Pensions & Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) and Retirement Living Standards (RLS). A report from Loughborough University and the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association aims to help people understand how much they will need for a minimum, moderate or comfortable quality of life once they retire.

In the UK a full state pension comes in at just over £8,500, but it’s the other savings you accrue over your working life that will make the difference in people’s post-work years.

Experts found that a single person will need about £10,200 a year to achieve the minimum living standard, £20,200 a year for moderate living standards and £33,000 a year for comfortable living standards. For couples, the minimum standard came in at £15,700, moderate was £29,100 and comfortable worked out as £47,500. The results are based on consultations with members of the public and consider what is needed in retirement for home DIY and maintenance, household and personal goods, holidays, food, transport, clothing and social engagements.

The new Retirement Living Standards describe three different standards of living with associated costs for each – all established by what the public considers realistic and relevant expectations. Associated costs are made up of household bills, food and drink, transport, holidays and leisure, clothing and personal and helping others. The standards cover a range of goods and services that are relevant to most people. These and other costs, such as tax on pension income, may need to be added depending on individual circumstances.

A series of profiles and infographics have been created on the PLSA website to help people calculate their own finances. The research for the Retirement Living Standards was adapted from the approach used to produce the Minimum Income Standard – a calculation of what the public thinks is an acceptable minimum standard of living. The data was gathered through 26 group discussions with around 250 members of the public already retired or approaching retirement, from a wide range of backgrounds. Expert views were taken into account for some areas, such as transport, energy usage and food costs.

The discussions set the parameters for how higher living standards should be described and defined. Through these discussions, three retirement living standards were agreed: minimum, moderate and comfortable.

The standards:
At a cost of £10,200 per year for a single person and £15,700 for a couple, the minimum lifestyle covers all your needs plus enough for some fun – including social participation and social occasions.

The moderate lifestyle (£20,200 a year for singles and £29,100 for couples) provides, in addition to the minimum lifestyle, more financial security and more flexibility.

At the comfortable level (£33,000 a year for singles and £47,500 for couples), retirees could enjoy some luxuries like regular beauty treatments, theatre trips and three weeks in Europe a year.

Breaking down the RLS:

House: Household utility bills, decorating and maintenance, furniture, cleaning supplies, lightbulbs, cooking utensils, appliances (e.g. fridge, washing machine), garden supplies, towels, bedding, gardener/cleaner/window cleaner & funeral plan.

Food and Drink: Household food shopping, eating out, beer & wine.

Transport: Car running costs, railcard/train travel & taxis.

Holidays and Leisure: TV, DVD player, laptop, printer, speakers, CDs, stationery supplies, TV license and subscriptions, internet, activities & holidays.

Clothing and Personal: Clothing, footwear, cosmetics, toothbrush, toothpaste, shaving supplies, hair styling, beauty treatments, dentist, opticians, podiatry & minor first aid supplies.

Helping Others: Gifts, helping others (if applicable) & charitable donations

Planning early is key to getting your retirement plans in order. You can look up another of my articles here on this subject titled “It Is Never Too Early

Don’t delay your financial plans. For planning, yesterday is better than today, which is better than tomorrow. Contact me, Chris webb on 639 118 185 or chris.webb@spectrum-ifa.com if you want to discuss your own circumstances.

Sources:
Loughborough’s Centre for Research in Social Policy (CRSP).
Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA)
Retirement Living Standards (RLS)

One kind of hangover is enough………

By Chris Webb - Topics: Financial Planning, Madrid, Spain
This article is published on: 2nd December 2019

02.12.19

If you´re anything like me, you´ll be busy planning Christmas. Anything from where to see the best festive displays in Madrid, to trying to get your family EVERYTHING they want.

Christmas is an exciting time of the year for all of us. As a parent I still love that my children think Santa will make a personal appearance to our house and that he will be parking his sleigh right in the back garden (I have some doubts that they´re now just stringing me along, but I will continue to enjoy it while I can).

We´re all busy fitting in lots of social occasions, handing out gifts and cards and trying to squeeze in a party or two. However, there is also a serious side to the festive season: it’s very easy to overspend and overindulge and end up paying for it well into the new year.

Statistics show that most of us use credit cards to fund Christmas present purchases and to attend occasions we might not normally attend. Unfortunately, many people have problems paying back that debt after Christmas.

I have put together some tips to make sure you start 2020 on the right financial foot, and hopefully this will help you get through the festive season without a financial hangover.

1. Plan your shopping
Always write a list! My wife will laugh aloud at this as I am useless at writing lists BUT it is one of the most important things to do. Never just hit the shops; always write a list of who you want to buy for, an idea of what you want to buy and how much you want to spend. Without your list you´ll shop aimlessly and make purchases on a whim. You´ll lose track of your budget and spend unnecessarily.

Planning and making a list also means you can do some internet research to see what shops have the best sales, or if you could buy the gift online cheaper and save some money.
Research shows that people spend more than they can really afford on Christmas presents each year and end up with a credit card debt they didn’t anticipate after the ¨silly season¨ ends, so it is important to plan and make sure you know how much you can afford to spend.

2. Establish some ground rules
This is an important tip. Too many people get caught up gift giving. It’s nice to give and receive gifts, but it’s helpful to have ground rules. Have the conversation up front with family and friends to make sure everyone is on the same page. Agree on spending limits and who you will and won’t be buying for. This avoids offending anyone or any awkward moments at the Christmas table.

Being part of a big family, we decided to make it about the kids. If we didn’t it would mean buying a lot more presents and spending a whole lot more. When the whole family do get together for Christmas, which is rare due to the geographical situation of our family, then we do a Secret Santa for the adults where limits are set so everyone is on the same page.

3. Focus on personal value rather than financial value
All too often, people get caught up in spending money on gifts at Christmas and focusing on the financial value of those purchases. Instead, focus on the personal value.

From my own experience, I´ve had many a ¨nice¨ item bought for me, but the one present that means more to me than anything else is a framed picture where my kids used their hand prints to make a picture of two robins sitting in a tree (it has a very personal meaning). It has pride of place in my office and is appreciated far more than anything new, shiny or tech related.

Remember, it’s the thought that counts.

4. Avoid the financial hangover of festive season events
Festive season events can cause more than one hangover and let´s be honest, we don’t really enjoy any hangover.

Additional and sometimes unexpected events can really hurt the finances, as we never tend to factor them in to our regular spending habit´s but everyone thinks it’s ok to do it because it’s Christmas. Its amazing how these additional costs add up. Tickets to events, food & drinks, transport, new outfits…the list goes on and on.

If you are planning on being a social animal, think about the event before you go. Plan your whole evening and understand the whole cost of the event, not just the ticket price.

If your budget is a bit tight, be selective and choose the events you can afford to go to. You don’t have to go to everything. Don’t be pressured into attending something just because it’s Christmas. And remember, it’s ok to say no and you don’t need a new outfit for every event!

Finally, if you´re the host don’t be afraid to ask people to bring something to share. Whenever we plan an event, we always ask people to either bring a plate or bring a bottle. People are more than happy to help and generally aren’t expecting a free ride.

5. Make room for the new by getting rid of the old
This is probably more important when kids are involved. Why? Because they seem to have everything already and as they get older it becomes a struggle to know what to buy them. Generally, kids are going to get a lot of gifts. If you have children, you´ll know exactly what I mean. Don’t be afraid to ask them what they don’t play with anymore or what they don’t want anymore.

Look to see what you can dispose of. That’s a harder job before Christmas but can help financially if you can offload unused toys to offset new toys. I had this exact conversation with my daughter, Christmas 2018. All she wanted was a new iPhone, so after first agreeing with the wife to splash out on a new model, we then agreed that the old one was ours to do what we wanted with. A quick online sale gave us €200 which made the new purchase a lot less painful.

We also donate some items to charity; whilst that doesn’t help us financially, it makes a huge difference to others.

6. January sales
Post-Christmas sales can be a great opportunity to get a bargain, but they can also be a good opportunity to get sucked in and enhance the Christmas hangover. Do you really need to go out splurging cash just because there´s a sale? If so, then it’s important to go into the sales with a plan, just like in tip 1. Have a list of what you need so that when you go to the sales you go looking for specific things.

And remember, if you’re planning on hitting the shops with your credit card, you have already put pressure on that pre-Christmas.

7. Survive the school holidays with budget-friendly activities
This is important throughout the year but is still a big part of the silly season. Kids are about to start school holidays and it’s important to budget for entertaining them during that time.

There are so many free things to do with kids in and around Madrid. Most of this can be researched online and within our many local Facebook groups. You don’t need to spend a fortune. We´re lucky enough to have some fantastic parks nearby, some amazing countryside within a short drive and all at no cost.

Planning is crucial. If you plan the money you have available for the period it needs to last, you are less likely to feel the strain of not having enough money.

No Financial Hangover!

8. Plan now for 2020
Planning for 2020 and next Christmas is very important. Talk to your family early about the plan for next year and get the ball rolling straight away so you can be prepared well in advance. Plan birthday and Christmas presents so you can buy in advance and save spending more on less just because it was last minute.

The most important thing to take away from all our tips is to PLAN. Planning plays an important part in being in control of your finances and aware of what you can afford and how much you are spending.

I make no apologies for writing a sensible guide to avoiding the Christmas hangover. Most of us are too focused on the here and now, ensuring we have a great time, only looking at the implications of that good time when the bills start to roll in come January. I hope this will help you to enjoy the festive season, allow you to spend what is right and celebrate without any financial regrets.

Wishing you all a great Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

To book your personal financial review call me on 639118185 or drop me an email at chris.webb@spectrum-ifa.com

Common Investment Mistakes

By Chris Webb - Topics: Investment Risk, Investments, Spain
This article is published on: 15th March 2019

15.03.19

1. Failing to plan
I believe the most common mistake is not having any type of financial plan along with clear investment objectives. Research has shown that investors who plan for their financial future are more confident, relaxed and optimistic about the future. They tend to save more and have less financial anxiety.
Expert advice is essential to financial planning. Not discussing your investment needs with a professional can have a negative impact on your overall results. Financial advisers help you to identify your financial needs, analyse your level of risk, and recommend appropriate solutions. They are there for your financial journey, offering advice and guidance to smooth the path ahead.

2. Not understanding what your risk profile is
It is important to analyse and understand your tolerance for risk. As an investor, you will typically fall into one of the following categories:

Defensive / Conservative – you are very risk-averse, and not comfortable with watching markets fluctuate as they do. You do not want to risk your capital for a potential gain.

Balanced – you have some appetite for taking risk and appreciate how markets can fluctuate daily. You can tolerate moderate levels of volatility in order to get a better return but again you want security with your capital.

Aggressive – you are looking for high returns and you are not concerned about short-term volatility. You probably have a long time to invest, so any capital loss in the short term can be caught up in the future and you are fully aware that what happens one year shouldn’t affect your long-term goals.
Understanding your risk tolerance will help you choose investment goals that are appropriate for you. It will shape the investments you make in your portfolio as part of your financial plan.

3. Lack of understanding
It sounds obvious, but you should never invest in anything you don’t really understand. If it’s been explained and you still don’t “get it” then ask more questions and don’t move forward until you do. If you fail to understand it properly then you should look for an alternative. If you are going to invest in a specific stock, make sure you take time to learn about the company and do enough due diligence. If you’re looking at various types of funds, then make sure you understand the geographic and sector allocations within the funds. Make sure each choice is within your risk tolerance, this information is readily available to you.

4. Overlooking fees
Investors often focus on a fund’s performance, which is very important, but they overlook fees when considering how well their investment has done. It is important to be aware of and understand the fees on your investment. Fees are deducted from the performance figures to give you the net result. Some investment funds have entry and exit fees, performance fees, as well as standard management fees. Reducing these fees is a simple way to get more out of your investment.

You can measure the fees on a fund by referring to the fund’s Total Expense Ratio (TER), which is a measure of all the fees for that fund expressed as a percentage.

5. Getting diversification wrong
Diversification simply means selecting not putting all your eggs in one basket. It is a simple way of creating a portfolio that includes different types of investments to reduce your overall risk. Investments don’t perform in the same way during certain economic conditions. When one investment doesn’t perform well, other investments may outperform to give you overall good returns.
A typical portfolio will contain a blend of equities, property, bonds and cash based on your investment risk profile:

Equities – Often provide the highest growth levels over the longer term
Property – Protects against inflation and gives an alternative to stock market returns
Bonds – Usually lower risk than equities, and therefore usually a lower return over the long term
Cash – Provides security and stability within a portfolio. It has the lowest long-term return potential, effectively zero.

6. Having unrealistic expectations of investment returns
The most important expectation for any returns should be aligned to your own financial plan, which is unique to you. The investment return you are looking for will differ greatly from that of other investors, as their requirements, risk profile and time horizon will be different.
You also must look at what is happening in the wider economy. The investment returns you can expect will be different depending on market conditions.
The most important measure of an investment return is whether your investment is keeping up with inflation. Regardless of the risk profile, your investment should keep pace with inflation to protect the “real” value of your money. This won’t necessarily happen every year but over a certain time horizon, the average figures should do.

7. Withdrawing your investment at the wrong time
Investors tend to withdraw monies from the market for two main reasons: they need money, or they are reacting to market movements. Making a withdrawal because you need access to money comes back to the initial financial planning that was conducted. With a well-defined plan in place you will have ensured there was enough money readily available, meaning you don’t need to exit your investments when it may not be the best moment to do so. Reacting to market movements, maybe due to anxiety about the market performance is a common investment mistake. Many investors sell when the market is at a low point. They are only realising those losses, making it more difficult to recoup them, as they might if they had stayed invested. When markets are down and your investment is stagnating, it is difficult to stand your ground; that’s human nature. It is important to remain focused on the bigger picture. Markets generally move in cycles and will recover, given time. Remaining in contact with your financial adviser will help you understand the markets and what to expect in times of volatility. At no point should your adviser be recommending any investments that don’t fit within your risk profile.

8. Not monitoring your portfolio appropriately
Many people make an investment and then go one of two ways. They either decide not to look at the performance figures or worse monitor it too regularly and feel the need to make short-term reactive changes. These changes are rarely beneficial; it is “time in the markets and not timing the markets” that counts.

Your investment profile changes over time, which means how you feel about your investments in your 20’s or 30’s will be very different to how you feel in your 40’s and 50’s. Whilst it’s important to review the performance of your investment, it is also essential to review your risk profile as time goes by.

9. Waiting too long to invest
The younger you are when you start investing, the better off you will be. Waiting too long means that you miss out on the significant benefits of compound interest. Essentially, starting younger allows you to look for more opportunity and benefit from market cycles, possibly take on more risk and it build up discipline to continue to save in the future. See my alternative articles on compound interest and starting early for greater detail.

10. Not recognising that time affects the value of money
The main principle of investing is to make a positive return in order to increase the purchasing power of your investments in the future. Many savers make the mistake of keeping their money in traditional bank accounts that pay them rates well below the rate of inflation. Typically a high street bank will be offering anywhere from zero to 1% maximum on a savings account. In reality you are losing money if it is kept in the bank! It is best to invest your money while also making sure that your investment keeps up with inflation.

Ethical investing – what exactly does it mean?

By Chris Webb - Topics: ethical investing, Madrid, Spain
This article is published on: 21st February 2019

21.02.19

Ethical, SRI, ESG?

For the average investor, deciding where to invest can be a complicated business. There are many factors and questions to consider, such as risk and return, potential taxes, inflation, dividends, and diversification. Yet now there is a new investment arena becoming more and more popular adding a different question into the mix:

How do you feel about where your money is invested?
I say it’s a new investment arena, and to many people it is, but ethical investing has been around for centuries in one form or another. As early as the 1700s, the Religious Society of Friends, probably better known by the name “Quakers”, refused to participate or invest in the slave trade or invest in weapons of war. But it was during the 1980s that ethical or socially responsible investing (SRI) began to attract the interest of mainstream investors.

It was then that the question of whether the investment is in a company that helps to make the world a better place became more prominent and, to some, just as important as the stock price.

Socially responsible investing (SRI) is the act of choosing your investments on the basis of social good as well as looking for financial gain. The main points investors look for are known as ESG, which stands for Environment, Social Justice and Corporate Governance, and although most investors aren’t socially responsible investors yet, their ranks are growing. As at 27 September 2017, UK investors were estimated to have more than £19bn invested in green and ethical funds.

SRI is choosing investments that are in line with your own personal values. However, those values aren’t the same for all investors. There are many areas to consider, the most common being:

Cleaner Environment: “Green” investors prefer companies that don’t pollute the environment. Some refuse to invest in traditional “dirty” fossil fuels and lean towards companies specialising in renewable energy, while others look for companies that focus on reducing the carbon footprint of their products and services. Interestingly, some of the world’s largest oil companies are focusing more and more on green, clean distribution channels.

Social Justice: Some investors refuse to do business in countries with a record of human rights violations. Others look for companies that provide their workers with a fair working wage and appropriate working conditions.

Health: Many SRI investors refuse to invest in companies that sell tobacco or alcohol. Others refuse to invest in products that they think pose a threat to human health, such as genetically modified organisms and chemical companies.

Morality: Many socially responsible investors will attempt to avoid all “sin industries” such as alcohol, tobacco and gambling to name a few.

Traditionally, ethical investments have been seen as feel good investments and many investors are turned off by the idea of investing ethically because they believe that it may mean sacrificing returns. However, this isn’t necessarily the case.

While it is possible to invest directly into ethical companies, putting your money into individual shares is a comparatively risky strategy. Many investors prefer instead to opt for ethical mutual funds, which invest in a broad range of socially responsible companies.

Some of the funds will utilise a negative screening model, this means simply refusing to invest in companies, jurisdictions or asset classes that don’t meet the required standards. It’s a blanket decision to avoid them. For instance, many socially responsible mutual funds screen out tobacco companies. An alternative method is positive screening, which is actively choosing companies due to their responsible working conditions. An example of this would be to choose companies that have signed the CERES principles – www.ceres.org/about-us

So how do you get involved?
Putting your money into an SRI fund isn’t all that different from making any other investment. All you’re really doing is adding an extra step to the process. There are two areas to consider during the decision-making process.

What is your social goal? What is really important to you?

What is your financial goal? What do you expect to get out of it?
So, you need to decide what your social goals are, what your values are and what is important to you from an emotional perspective; then you need to add the second layer, which is your financial goal and explore whether it fits within your attitude to risk and whether the potential returns are acceptable to you. You may find that this limits what options are available to you, but there are some great funds out there that will diversify across multiple asset classes and jurisdictions whilst maintaining an ethical overview across the board.

Moving your money into socially responsible investments is a win-win for some investors. It lets you make the most of your money in two different ways. You have the potential to earn good returns, and at the same time promote values that are important to you. The only real downside is that it takes a bit more work to find the right investments to meet two sets of goals, social and financial, instead of just one.

Do you engage in socially responsible investing? Is this something that interests you?

To discuss how and where to get involved in ethical investments, get in touch on 639118185 or by email to chris.webb@spectrum-ifa.com

Exchange of Information – CRS

By Chris Webb - Topics: Exchange of Information, Spain
This article is published on: 30th August 2018

30.08.18

It surprises me that today I am still meeting with people who are blissfully unaware of the global exchange of information, or common reporting standards, that started back in January 2016, with the first actual exchange of information taking place in 2017.

Why am I surprised? Well, for starters, I meet with and hear of people who still attempt to keep their assets under the radar of the relevant tax office, in the belief that if they haven’t declared it or aren’t actively using the asset it won’t appear on any tax or government system.

In Spain, this immediately brings the Modelo 720 reporting requirement to mind, but that’s another topic, which I have already written an article on and which can be found on our website. The CRS is bringing AUTOMATIC exchange of information to the table…

Ultimately, this means that it is now more important than ever to make sure you have reported and are declaring income and assets in the right country.

From January 2016, financial institutions in around 50 countries began collecting information on their clients and their accounts. The purpose of collecting the data in 2016 was to share it with the client’s country of residence in 2017, which was the start date for the actual sharing.

This is not a one-off thing; the exchange of information will be repeated every year, and every year more and more countries are joining the group. According to the Gov.UK website another 53 countries started collecting the information in 2017 to report it in 2018, and in 2018 another 4 countries will begin the process and fulfil reporting to the relevant authorities in 2019.

Looking at the list here: www.gov.uk/guidance/automatic-exchange-of-information-introduction you will see that most countries of any relevance to the majority of us are listed. Refer to the note relating to the US as the US exchanges information globally under its FATCA initiative – the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.

In fact, I only know of one person who could possibly be in the section where no agreement is in place… yet.

It is important to note that this is a regulatory procedure and there are no choices. It is carried out under the Common Reporting Standard (CRS), developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Quite simply, this means that there is nowhere to hide anymore; this loss of financial privacy affects us all. If you live in one country and have assets in another, your information WILL be shared between countries. Your local tax authority will automatically receive information on the financial assets you own overseas.

One potential client fully believes that this will only happen if your tax affairs are being investigated or if the tax office is querying a specific asset. This is not true, they do not have to request the information because they will receive it automatically.

As an example, if you are a tax resident in Spain and have bank accounts in the UK and investment portfolios in the Isle of Man, the Hacienda will automatically receive the information on these accounts / portfolios from the tax authorities in the countries where the assets sit.

You will probably have noticed that your banks or financial institutions, from outside your country of residence, have been sending you forms to complete to confirm your tax residency. This is a legal requirement on their part. Even not returning these forms doesn’t help you as they will simply assume you are still a resident of the country that you last registered with them, therefore will still report to that tax authority.

The information they will be sharing about your financial assets includes personal data such as your name and address, country of tax residence and tax identification number. They will also be reporting information relating to your accounts such as account balances, investment income, interest earned, dividend payments, income from certain insurance policies and any proceeds from the sale of assets.

As you will have seen above, this sharing / reporting requirement is now firmly in place. In September 2017 the first jurisdictions exchanged their data. Importantly for my clients this list of Jurisdictions includes the UK, Spain and most other EU countries. It also includes the Isle of Man, Jersey and the Cayman Islands which were, historically, places people looked at when placing their financial assets.

Hopefully you can see the importance of understanding exchange of information, or CRS. Think about the complications that could arise… When the local tax office receives information about your assets or income abroad, they will automatically be able to cross reference whether you have accurately reported total global income on your tax return.

For residents of Spain it has taken the Modelo 720 reporting requirement to another level. The Hacienda will now be able to compare the data they are given with your Modelo 720 declaration. In my opinion, it makes the Modelo 720 redundant, BUT it is still a legal obligation to file it!

Tax residents of Spain are liable to pay Spanish tax on their worldwide income, gains and wealth. This includes most income which is also taxed elsewhere, although double taxation agreements mean you aren’t taxed twice. It is still a common misconception that if you have income taxable in the UK then it doesn’t need to be declared in Spain. I can’t reiterate enough how wrong this is. Even if you have made a tax declaration in another country you still need to make the declaration in Spain.

If you haven’t been doing this, I strongly recommend that you regularise your tax affairs as soon as possible. This would also be the right time to look at all your financial affairs.

Most people I meet have several bank accounts and sometimes several investment portfolios and products. When asked they don’t really know why they are set up the way they are, it has just been that way for years. Streamlining your financial affairs can ease the administrative burden now and certainly later in life.

Living in Spain makes it even more important to review your financial assets. What may be “tax free” in the UK is not necessarily “tax free” in Spain.
Are your financial assets approved here in Spain? You probably wouldn’t know unless the differences had been explained to you.

In Spain we have what are deemed compliant products. If you have a compliant bond you will find it is EU based; if you discover your financial solution is based in The Isle of Man, Jersey or Guernsey it is deemed non-compliant. This isn’t meant to be confusing; they are not illegal, but they must be reported to Hacienda and please note that they are taxed differently to a Spanish compliant bond.

The Spectrum IFA Group will only ever recommend a solution that is compliant and tax efficient in your country of residence. In Spain we will not recommend solutions outside of the “approved area”. This is for your benefit!
For a free, no obligation review of you financial assets please get in touch at chris.webb@spectrum-ifa.com or 639118185. If you are in the Madrid region I will personally meet with you, if you live in any other part of Spain OR Europe let me know and I can put you in touch with our local office there.

Emotional Challenge

By Chris Webb - Topics: Investment Risk, Investments, Madrid, Spain
This article is published on: 28th February 2018

28.02.18

THE RATIONAL, IRRATIONAL AND EMOTIONAL STRUGGLE
In such challenging times, emotions may play a significant role in investment decisions. Investors feel the variances in their portfolios’ performance much more than the average return over the life of their investments. Rationally, investors know that markets cannot keep going up indefinitely. Irrationally, we are surprised when markets decline.

IN VOLATILE MARKETS STAYING INVESTED MAY BE CHALLENGING
It is a challenge to look beyond the short-term variances and focus on the long-term averages. The greatest challenge may be in deciding to stay invested during a volatile market and a time of low consumer confidence. History has shown us that it is important to stay invested in good and bad market environments. During periods of high consumer confidence stock prices peak and during periods of low consumer confidence stock prices can come under pressure. Historically, returns trended in the opposite direction of past consumer confidence data. When confidence is low it has been the time to buy or hold.
Of course, no one can predict the bottom or guarantee future returns. But as history has shown, the best decision may be to stay invested even during volatile markets.

DECLINES MAY PRESENT OPPORTUNITIES
An emotional roller coaster ride is especially nerve-racking during a decline. However, the best opportunity to make money may be when stock prices are low. Buying low and selling high has always been one of the basic rules of investing and building wealth. Yet during these emotional and challenging times it is easy to be fearful and/or negative so let’s turn to the wise advice of one of the world’s best investors, the late Sir John Templeton:

“Don’t be fearful or negative too often. For 100 years optimists have carried the day in U.S. stocks. Even in the dark ’70s, many professional money managers—and many individual investors too—made money in stocks, especially those of smaller companies…There will, of course, be corrections, perhaps even crashes. But, over time, our studies indicate stocks do go up…and up…and up…Chances are that certain other
indexes will have grown even more. Despite all the current gloom about the economy, and about the future, more people will have more money than ever before in history. And much of it will be invested in stocks. And throughout this wonderful time, the basic rules of building wealth by investing in stocks will hold true. In this century or the next it’s still ‘Buy low, sell high’.”

Watching from the Sidelines May Cost You
When markets become volatile, a lot of people try to guess when stocks will bottom out. In the meantime, they often park their investments in cash. But just as many investors are slow to recognize a retreating stock market, many also fail to see an upward trend in the market until after they have missed opportunities for gains. Missing out on these opportunities can take a big bite out of your returns.

Euro / Dollar Cost Averaging Makes It Easier to Cope with Volatility
Most people are quick to agree that volatile markets present buying opportunities for investors with a long-term horizon. But mustering the discipline to make purchases during a volatile market can be difficult. You can’t help wondering, “Is this really the right time to buy?” Euro / Dollar cost averaging can help reduce anxiety about the investment process. Simply put, Euro / dollar cost averaging is committing a fixed amount of money at regular intervals to an investment. You buy more shares when prices are low and fewer shares when prices are high, and over time, your average cost per share may be less than the average price per share.

Euro / Dollar cost averaging involves a continuous, disciplined investment in fund shares, regardless of fluctuating price levels. Investors should consider their financial ability to continue purchases through periods of low price levels or changing economic conditions. Such a plan does not assure a profit and does not protect against loss in a declining market.

Now May Be a Great Time for a Portfolio Checkup
Is your portfolio as diversified as you think it is? Meet with me to find out. Your portfolio’s weightings in different asset classes may shift over time as one investment performs better or worse than another. Together we can re-examine your portfolio to see if you are properly diversified. You can also determine whether your current portfolio mix is still a suitable match with your goals and risk tolerance.

Tune Out the Noise and Gain a Longer-Term Perspective
Numerous television stations and websites are dedicated to reporting investment news 24 hours a day, seven days a week. What’s more, there are almost too many financial publications and websites to count. While the media provide a valuable service, they typically offer a very short-term outlook. To put your own investment plan in a longer-term perspective and bolster your confidence, you may want to look at how different types of portfolios have performed over time. Interestingly, while stocks may be more volatile, they’ve still outperformed income-oriented investments (such as bonds) over longer time periods.

Believe Your Beliefs and Doubt Your Doubts
There are no real secrets to managing volatility. Most investors already know that the best way to navigate a choppy market is to have a good long-term plan and a well-diversified portfolio. But sticking to these fundamental beliefs is sometimes easier said than done. When put to the test, you sometimes begin doubting your beliefs and believing your doubts, which can lead to short-term moves that divert you from your long-term goals. To keep from falling into this trap, call me before making any changes to your portfolio