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The Celtic Golf Society – Brittany

By Michael Doyle - Topics: France
This article is published on: 18th June 2021

18.06.21

The Celtic Golf Society
Domaine des Ormes, Brittany
Friday 11 June

Michael Doyle of The Spectrum IFA Group sponsored today’s event.

The Celtic Golf Society has been running for a few years now in and around Brittany. When Michael moved to Brittany back in 2015 he became an active member of the society, helping increase the number of participants.

The society is not a club, so there are no membership fees and it’s organised on a pay as you play basis.

Today’s event was attended by 27 competitors (both male and female) and another 8 partners who joined for lunch afterwards, with index ranging from 3 to 36. The atmosphere was fantastic and everyone welcomed the fact that we could have a meal together after the friendly round of golf.

Michael Doyle made sure there was a prize for everyone who attended.

If you’d like to join us for a round of golf at some point, then please feel free to drop Michael an email and he’ll put you on the email distribution list: michael.doyle@spectrum-ifa.com

Further, if there’s anything he can help you with by way of financial planning he’d be more than happy to have an initial informal chat with you about your situation.

The Celtic Golf Society
The Celtic Golf Society

Should I leave money in the bank?

By Michael Doyle - Topics: Assurance Vie, Bank Charges, Banking, France, Investments, Luxembourg
This article is published on: 22nd March 2021

22.03.21

For citizens living in France, assurance vie is known to be one of the safest ways to invest money and organise your inheritance. It is an insurance instrument that serves as a tax-efficient investment vehicle containing one or more underlying investments.

Why It’s Considered Better Than the Bank?
In November 2020, the Banque de France told us that the average interest rate on bank deposits is 0.46%, unchanged since August 2020.

Any gain on your deposit would be subject (in general) to a 30% charge between tax and social charges, leaving a return on investment of just 0.32%.

Couple that with the fact that inflation in France in 2020 was 0.46% (www.statista.com) and you are effectively losing money by leaving it in your bank account.

A well-managed cautious portfolio held within an assurance vie returned about 4% in 2020.

Benefits of Inheritance
When you set up this form of investment before you turn 70, each beneficiary is entitled to a tax-free deduction of €152,500 for money invested before you turn 70, with taxes limited to 20% for everything beyond that (although sums exceeding €700,000 per beneficiary are subject to a higher tax rate of 31.25%).

Why Should You Invest in Assurance Vie?
Investments held within an assurance vie grow income tax and capital gains tax free, so you have a gross roll up of any gains within the investment.

Tax and social charges are paid only on withdrawal, however as part of the return is capital much of these gains are offset.

Advantages for Foreigners
If you are a foreign national living in France, assurance vie should be a key investment, particularly if you expect to live there for the long term. As a British expatriate living in France, you have a host of international assurance vie policies at your disposal, most of which are Brexit-proof. Not only are these policies consistent with the European Union rules, but they also operate across borders in the United Kingdom, meaning you can take them with you if you change your home again or go back to the UK.

Moving to France from the UK: Figuring Out Where You’re a Tax Resident

By Michael Doyle - Topics: France, Moving to France, Tax residence
This article is published on: 18th March 2021

18.03.21

Is the dream of waking up every day to a breakfast of freshly-baked bagels as you look at the Eiffel Tower from your Paris balcony beckoning you? Okay, this might not be exactly what life for the average French resident is like, but living in France often holds appeal for those on the other side of the channel.

Just make sure that the new rules and regulations brought in after the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union don’t catch you out when you move and pay tax somewhere new.

In this series of articles, we’ll be covering a range of tax issues, starting with how to know where you’re a tax resident.

Being a tax resident in France

To be considered a tax resident in France, it must be your “main home.” If this doesn’t apply to you, there are four other conditions that determine whether you can be classed as a tax resident:

  • If you spend more than 183 days of the tax year there (which is the same as the calendar year)
  • If you spend more time in France than elsewhere in the world
  • If a substantial portion of your assets are in France
  • If your principal business activities are based in France
uk inheritance tax

Being a tax resident in the United Kingdom
The same basic principles apply for determining whether you’re classed as a tax resident in the United Kingdom. Your eligibility depends on where you fall in the Statutory Residence Test, which involves three parts: the automatic overseas test, automatic residence test, and sufficient ties test.

These first two tests are pretty simple and involve a few components assessing how many days you spend in and out of the country. However, the sufficient ties test is a little more complex, with various conditions that can be classed as your ties:

  • How much you’ve worked in the UK
  • Having family in the UK
  • Available accommodation in the UK
  • Spending more than 90 days in the UK over the last two years
  • Spending more time in the UK than anywhere else

These aspects all have their own complicated definitions, so it’s best to consult a specialist for more specific advice.

Where are you a resident?
Thanks to the Double Tax Treaty between the UK and France, it’s only possible to be a tax resident of one country at any given point. Plus, in addition to both countries’ criteria, the Tax Treaty has its own “tie-breaker” rules.

Relying on your own interpretation of the criteria or your predictions for where you’ll spend the most time in the future is riskier than you might think. Unexpected circumstances like illness can alter your plans, and you may misinterpret the rules or definitions set by authorities.

As you can see, although figuring out where you’re a tax resident sounds simple, it can be complicated if you’re frequently moving between and conducting business in both countries. To protect your finances and your peace of mind, it’s best to arrange an appointment with a professional.

Investing 101 for Expats Living in France

By Michael Doyle - Topics: France, investment diversification, Investment objectives, Investment Risk, Investments, Luxembourg
This article is published on: 16th March 2021

16.03.21

With today’s economic environment of record low interest rates and high inflation, it’s crucial to understand your investing options. This article will clarify what you need to know about investing as an expat living in France and how we are here to help you.

First, what are your investment objectives? Do you want to preserve your wealth and continue its growth trajectory? Then we recommend reviewing tax efficient savings and investment insurance policies. These can be linked to a whole range of investment assets, from fixed interest securities and bonds, to developed or emerging market equities, specialist funds investing in soft commodities like agriculture or hard commodities like gold and silver, and lastly, alternative investments.

Which investments fit your portfolio best depends on the amount of risk you are willing to take and what kind of returns you are seeking. So, let’s break down the specifics you need to know when thinking about your portfolio.

Market volatility

Fixed Interest Securities and Bonds are a form of lending that governments and companies may use as an alternative way to raise funds. When you buy a share in a company you own a small part of that company, when you buy fixed interest securities, you become a lender to the issuer. The benefits may include protection during market volatility, consistent returns and potential tax benefits. Some downsides include potentially lower returns, interest rate risk, and issues with cash access.

Developed Market Equities are international investments in more advanced economies. The benefits include investing in a mature economy that has greater access to capital markets. Drawbacks include more expensive market valuations and potentially less upside.

Emerging Market Equities are international investments in the world’s fastest growing economies. Some benefits include the potential for high growth and diversification. The potential downsides include exposing yourself to political, economic, and currency risk depending on which countries you choose to invest in.

Specialist Fund Investing is ideal for investors seeking exposure to specific areas of the market without purchasing individual stocks. One popular area is natural resources, with the three major classifications of agriculture, energy, and metals. A benefit to investing in commodities is that they’re completely separate from market fluctuations so it diversifies your portfolio and offsets stock risks while providing inflation protection. However, commodities can be exposed to uncertain government policies.

Alternative Investments are financial assets that do not fall into one of the conventional equity, income, or cash categories. Examples include: private equity, hedge funds, direct real estate, commodities, and tangible assets. Alternative investments typically don’t correlate to the stock market so they offer your portfolio diversification but can be prone to volatility.

Multi asset funds

Overall, it’s important to have a diversified and balanced investment portfolio so understanding each category is key. Keep in mind that when it comes to investing, advice is not one-size-fits-all. That’s why we are here to help personalise your investment portfolio to match your specific needs.

In today’s financial climate it is vital to understand your investing options. Many experts have a positive outlook as vaccine distribution increases and fiscal stimulus boosts economies. Intelligent investing is essential when building and maintaining wealth so consult with your Spectrum IFA financial adviser and start planning today!

Assurance Vie, an Alternative Way to Save For Your Retirement

By Michael Doyle - Topics: Assurance Vie, France, Luxembourg, Retirement
This article is published on: 15th March 2021

15.03.21

Many people are looking for an alternative to setting up a regulated pension for their retirement savings. Whilst there is tax relief on pension contributions in the savings phase, they are happy to give this up for more flexible and tax-effective income during retirement. In France, the most popular vehicle used for long-term savings is a contrat d’assurance vie, in which investors have the opportunity to invest regular premium savings or a temporary amount.
What Is an Assurance Vie?

An assurance vie is an insurance-based investment that can be as straightforward or as nuanced as you like. The following are the benefits of assurance vie for French residents:

  • While the funds remain within the assurance vie, there is usually no tax on any income or gains (i.e., the tax is deferred). However, social contributions are now withheld on an annual basis (rather than when the funds are withdrawn) for sums invested in a fonds en euros portfolio, just as they are for French bank deposits
  • A portion of any withdrawal is regarded as a capital withdrawal and is tax-free
  • An assurance vie becomes more tax-effective over time, and after eight years, the income can be offset against a tax-free allowance of (currently) € 9,200 per year for a couple submitting a joint tax return or €4,600 for an individual
  • You have total control of your money and may obtain monthly income payments from the insurance provider. However, withdrawals in the policy’s early years you can incur penalties, depending on the contract you select
  • If your circumstances or attitude toward investment risk changes, you might be able to change the funds in which you invest
  • For inheritance purposes, assurance vie is extremely tax-efficient
Assurance Vie

Assurance vie is the traditional form of saving for millions of French citizens. Several billions of euros are invested by French banks and insurance firms that sell their own branded products.

Additionally, a much smaller group of non-French companies have designed French-compliant policies for the expatriate market in France. These businesses are generally located in heavily regulated financial hubs like Dublin and Luxembourg.

However, before selecting such a firm, make sure that it is a product completely compatible with French law to get the same tax and inheritance benefits as the French equivalent product.

Below are some of the benefits of a foreign assurance vie policy over a French assurance vie policy:

  • Other currencies, such as sterling, US dollars, and Swiss Francs, may be used to save
  • There is a wider variety of investment options available, including access to top investment management firms and capital-guaranteed products and funds
  • The report is written in English, making it easier for you to comprehend the terms and conditions of the assurance vie program
  • The assurance vie policy is generally portable, which is beneficial when travelling within the EU (or many other countries in the world)

When it comes to EU countries, the taxes can be confusing. In these jurisdictions, the plan is often accepted for its beneficial tax performance.

How Does Assurance Vie Work?
Your one-time or regular investment or premiums are paid to an insurance firm, which then invests the funds with the investment managers of your choosing. These are typically unit-linked investments, such as equity or bond funds, but they may also be deposits or unique products sold by different financial institutions.

You may invest in a range of funds which the insurance provider can pool together to create a mutual bond, which is your assurance vie policy. The value of the units you keep in managed funds is likely to increase over time if you have selected your investment wisely.

As a consequence, the value of your assurance vie policy will grow accordingly. You must, however, be fully conscious of and comfortable with the level of risk you are taking. As with any unit-linked investment, your fund’s value will go up or down depending on what is happening in the investment markets. Short-term market instability, on the other hand, typically has a lower impact over time

Smoothing out the bumps of market volatility

How Do I Choose What to Invest Inside My Assurance Vie?
You may hold strong opinions on the subject or have no opinions at all. In any case, having an excellent financial planner on hand is helpful. His or her job is to help you comprehend the full definition of investment and decide your attitude toward investment risk.

Without acknowledging any risk, there is little reasonable chance of making a significant return on your savings. Even leaving your savings in a bank these days carries the risk of not receiving a ‘real’ rate of return, i.e., one that keeps up with inflation.

An adviser can show you various types of investment options, clarify how they operate, their track record, and the nature and level of risk that the investment entails. Although you make the ultimate decision, his or her support may be helpful.

Following the initial investment, there should be regular follow-up meetings to assess your investment’s success and make any appropriate adjustments. This may be because your circumstances have changed or because certain funds aren’t performing as well as anticipated, and you’d like to replace them with funds that are.

Can Capital Be Guaranteed Via a French Assurance Vie?
The willingness to invest in a fonds en euros is a common feature of the French assurance vie (though this is also available, in limited circumstances, from insurance companies outside France).

Since your money, as well as any interest and year-end bonus applied to it, is guaranteed, this unique type of fund is structured to shape a very conservative base for your overall investment.

The majority of foreign companies that supply these forms of funds also provide sterling and US dollar equivalents. Intending to increase returns, the funds invest mainly in government and corporate bonds, with some exposure to equities and assets (real estate). Your money will earn interest over the year.

The insurance firm is allowed by statute to refund the bulk of the funds to your account in the form of a year-end bonus. The remaining portion of the fund’s return is kept in the insurance company’s reserves to smooth out potential investment gains, such as in periods of weak market results. However, the rate of return on the fonds en euros is ordinarily low due to the quality of the guarantees. Still, it is generally better than the interest received on a bank deposit account with immediate access.

However, the French tax authorities consider this form of a fund to be so without risk that annual social charges are imposed on the gain, potentially lowering the return rate over time.

It is also possible to invest in structured bank deposit offerings through some foreign assurance vie policies. The investment return is related to the stock market, but the capital invested is guaranteed.

French Tax Changes 2019

How Is an Assurance Vie Taxed?
Only the benefits portion of every amount you withdraw is taxable, and after January 1, 2018, the tax treatment differs depending on whether premiums were charged before September 27, 2017, or after that date.

Premiums paid before September 27, 2017
You may either be taxed at the set prelevement rate or file an annual income tax return, depending on your tax situation. The following is how the prelevement scale works:

  • Withdrawals made within the first four years are taxed at a rate of 35 percent
  • Withdrawals made between years four and eight are taxed at a rate of 15 percent
  • After eight years, withdrawals are taxed at a rate of 7.5 percent

Furthermore, social charges are imposed on the benefits portion of the amount withdrawn, at a rate of 17.2 percent. People prefer the progressive rate tax if it is lower than their marginal rate of income tax.

In France, the highest income tax rate is officially 45 percent. As a result, even though 35 percent appears to be a high rate, it is still the best choice for higher-rate taxpayers. After four years, you’ll have to reconsider which form to use. If your marginal tax rate is at least 30 percent, a prevelement rate of 15 percent is a better choice.

If you are a non-taxpayer (as more people are now since the 5.5 percent tax bracket was eliminated), you can opt to report the withdrawal on your annual income tax return.

After eight years, there is an extra income tax incentive to encourage people to save more for the long term. A single taxpayer is entitled to a €4,600 income tax credit against the benefits portion of any withdrawals made during the tax year. This is raised to €9,200 for married couples who are subject to joint taxation. There will be no income tax to pay if the benefits portion of total withdrawals made during the year does not surpass the allowances.

This might not seem like much, but it’s a valuable allowance, as shown by this example of Peter and Pam’s assurance vie policy, which they began nine years ago with a €100,000 investment. They have not taken any withdrawals, and the account is now worth €160,000. They want to buy a new car and need €15,000 to help pay for it, so they withdraw this amount. They receive a tax certification from the insurance firm when they make this withdrawal, showing how much gain is included in the amount withdrawn. The guaranteed value has risen by 60%, but the taxable benefit factor is only 37.5 percent (or €5,625) in this case. Since they have a tax-free allowance of €9,200 and they are subject to joint taxes, there is no income tax to pay.

Premiums paid from September 27, 2017
The tax rate varies based on the contract’s duration, plus whether capital remaining in the contract as of December 31 of the year before the withdrawal was above a threshold sum for contracts longer than eight years. The threshold amount is €150,000 per person (across all assurance vie policies), measured by the amount of premiums invested minus any money already withdrawn, rather than the contract’s value. Couples taxed as a household cannot share each other’s threshold because the threshold is not cumulative between individuals. As a consequence, one spouse can meet the threshold while the other does not.

On January 1, 2018, France adopted a 30 percent flat tax,’ consisting of 12.8 percent income tax and 17.2 percent social charges. As a result, for contracts that are less than eight years old, a flat tax is levied on gains in withdrawals which are deducted automatically by the insurance provider. The flat tax replaces the pre-September 27, 2017 rate of 52.2 percent (35 percent tax plus 17.2 percent social charges) for contracts of up to four years and 32.2 percent (15 percent tax plus 17.2 percent social charges) for contracts of four to eight years.

After eight years, the tax rate is 7.5 percent. In addition, there is 17.2 percent social charges to pay. The tax free allowance of €4,600 for a single taxpayer or €9,200 for a couple is still in place after eight years. When filing their French tax return, taxpayers can also choose to pay tax at their marginal rate in the ordinary income tax brackets (rates varying from 0-45%) plus social charges. Any excess tax already charged would be refunded after processing the tax declaration made in the year after payment of the withdrawal since the insurance provider will have already deducted 12.8 percent or 7.5 percent.

However, taxpayers should be mindful that if ordinary band taxation is selected for assurance vie dividends, this will extend to all other sources of investment profits, such as interest and persons, as well as capital gains from the selling of shares.

livret A

Does Assurance Vie Have Other Advantages?
Without question, assurance vie is also a powerful tool for estate planning, both in reducing French inheritance taxes and giving you leverage over who inherits your properties after you die. This form of investment is considered outside of your estate for

When you set up this form of investment before you turn 70, each beneficiary is entitled to a tax-free deduction of €152,500 for money invested before you turn 70, with taxes limited to 20% for everything beyond that (although sums exceeding €700,000 per beneficiary are subject to a higher tax rate of 31.25 percent).

The inheritance benefits are limited for sums invested after the age of 70. There is a €30,500 tax-free exemption in this situation (plus the investment return on the total invested) for all of the people who profit from it. Any portion of the premium that reaches €30,500 is subject to regular French inheritance allowances, which differ based on the beneficiaries’ connections to the policyholder. Any gain in the scheme paid out as a death benefit is also subject to social taxes at the current rate of 17.2 percent.

Assurance vie can be a valuable tool for estate planning and providing a tax-efficient source of income for the policyholder over his or her lifetime.

Time not timing – investing for the long term

By Michael Doyle - Topics: France, Investment Risk, Investments, Luxembourg
This article is published on: 8th March 2021

08.03.21

We often get asked the question, “When is the best time to invest my money?” Our answer is never based around when you should invest, but rather how long you can invest for.

• No one can predict the top or bottom of any market.
• The market has always exceeded its previous high when it has recovered.

So the question is not when you should invest your money in the market, but how long can you stay in the market to achieve your financial goals? Or to put it more simply, time is more important than timing.

During periods of stockmarket volatility, investors often become uncertain and lose sight of their initial long-term investment view. They often find themselves postponing a new investment, or even selling their current holdings with a view to re-invest when the markets stabilise.

What often happens in times of trouble, however, is that investors sell at a lower price than that which they bought at.

A study by Dalbar in Boston USA, highlighted a key area for private investor’s underperformance:

• According to Dalbar, from 1985 to 2004 the average personal investor achieved an annualised return of just 3.7% while the S&P500 returned 11.9% and inflation averaged 3%

A further study showed that playing the waiting game could cost you dearly. Investors who remained fully invested in the UK market over the period March 2003 until March 2008 would have received returns in excess of 60%. However, those investors who tried to time the markets would have had their returns cut to 40% if they missed out on the best 10 days of the market and those who missed out on the best 40 days would have seen returns of 4%!

This applies across other major markets as the table below shows:

MARKET INDEX FULLY INVESTED MISSING BEST 10 DAYS MISSING BEST 40 DAYS
UK FTS All Share 63.4% 40.0% 3.9%
US S&P 500 56.4% 11.6% -39.2%
GLOBAL MSCI World 63.7% 21.6% -26.2%

Sources: JP Morgan Asset Management/Bloomberg/Datastream

What we do know is that historically the markets have always recovered, as the table below shows.

EVENT DATE RESPONSE AFTER 4 MONTHS
Pearl Harbour* December 1941 -6.5% -9.6%
Korean War June 1950 -12% +19.2%
JFK Assassination November 1963 -2.9% +15.1%
Arab Oil embargo October 1973 -17.9% +7.2%
USSR in Afghanistan December 1979 -2.2% +6.8%
1987 Financial Panic October 1987 -34.2% +15%
Gulf War December 1990 -4.3% +18.7%
ERM Currency Crisis September 1992 -6% +9.2%
Far East Contagion October 1997 -12.4% +25%
Russia Devalues Rouble / Long Term Capital Management Crisis  

August 1998

 

-11.3%

 

+33.7%

 

World Trade Centre September 2001 Dow        -14.3%

Nasdaq  -11.6%

+5.9%

+22.5%

*(The markets rose 8% during the year following Pearl Harbour)

upward stockmarket trends

Essentially what we can conclude is that most investors do not buy and hold for extended periods of time. Thus getting in and out of the market at the wrong times or switching funds with a view to chasing the top performers, unfortunately at a time when these ‘top performers’ have reached their peak.

Almost without exception, successful investment strategies rely on discipline, patience and taking a long-term view. Successful investors typically neither react to short market events, nor try to pre-empt short term market direction.

For advice on an investment solution aligned with your personal objectives and risk profile, feel free to contact me for an initial discussion.

Your Expat Guide to Pension Planning

By Michael Doyle - Topics: France, Luxembourg, pension transfer, Pensions, QROPS, UK Pensions
This article is published on: 4th March 2021

04.03.21

Are you planning on retiring in France or Luxembourg but have a pension in the UK?

Look no further than this article as we guide you through your options. Pensions are a pinnacle part of your retirement plan but can be a complex topic for British expatriates with rules frequently changing, so always consult with your financial adviser when deciding which plan best suits your needs.

First off, you can leave your pension as is in your existing UK pension scheme if you want. However, with the Brexit decision, you should check with your UK financial adviser and make sure they can still support you. If you want to move your funds to an international pension plan, then your best options may be opening a QROPS or SIPP account.

QROPS (Qualified Recognized Overseas Pension Scheme) allows foreign nationals who have worked in Britain to transfer their UK pensions overseas.

  • Expatriates can avoid various restrictions imposed by the UK when taking retirement benefits
  • HMRC allows individuals to access 100% their pension fund after the age of 55. However, it may not be advisable to do so as it can result in higher taxes on withdrawals. It is potentially better to draw the funds periodically in a more tax-efficient manner
  • There’s no compulsory annuity purchase
  • Reduction in currency risk because QROPS allows you to invest and take benefits in a currency of your choice
  • QROPS gives you more freedom to select a portfolio suited to your needs because it offers a more extensive range of investment options

SIPP (International Self-Invested Personal Pension) enables someone access to greater investment choices because it is a personal pension plan based on making your own decisions. However, the pension structure is based in the UK so it’s subject to any legislative changes made by the UK government.

Benefits include, but are not limited to:

  • An international SIPP can provide a regular or variable income
  • No obligation to purchase an annuity
  • They provide greater flexibility regarding investments, tax benefits, and currency choices
  • Ideal way to consolidate various personal pensions, which reduces administrative complications
  • If you plan on moving back to the UK this option may be most suitable for you
moving-to-france
moving-to-luxembourg

You can also try a combination between both UK and international pension plans. The main objective is to arrange your retirement in a manner where you can access your finances when you want, where you want, and in the currency of your choice. Overall, there are many things to consider when choosing your pension plan, so be sure to do your research and understand your different options before making any decisions.

It is in your best interest to act now when planning your pension scheme, so touch base with your financial adviser today to discuss your options.

A case study on UK final salary pensions

By Michael Doyle - Topics: Defined benefit pension scheme, Final Salary Pension, final salary schemes, France, Luxembourg, Pensions, QROPS, Uncategorised
This article is published on: 28th November 2016

28.11.16

I was recently asked to review one of my client’s UK pensions.

He had what is known as a Defined Benefits Scheme – more commonly referred to as a Final Salary Scheme.

My client had lost touch with this scheme a few years back and the last update he had from them was in 2006. On this statement the scheme offered him a transfer value of approximately £52,928, otherwise he could remain in the scheme until he was 65 and have a pension commencement lump sum (PCLS) of c. £27,000 and an income of £4,700 per annum.

If he remained in the scheme and took the lump sum and income, in the event of his death there would be no lump sum paid to his beneficiaries although an income payment of around £3,000 per annum would have been paid until the 10th anniversary of his 65 birthday.

On completing a review of my client’s pension I found that the scheme would now offer a transfer value just in excess of £180,000. In transferring this to a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS), I was able to offer my client an initial PCLS of £45,000. This still left him with a fund of £135,000. Assuming we can provide a rate of return of 3.5% after charges then the client can have the same income as with his Final Salary Scheme.

Assuming the client only draws down the same £27,000 that his UK pension offered then we would only have to provide returns of 3.07%.

In the end, the client chose the transfer because:

  1. In the event of his death after receiving the PCLS, the remaining funds could be passed on to his children.
  2. He only needed the PCLS and not the income at 65. This was not an option under the final salary scheme.
  3. He can control the level of income he needs going forward (subject to the returns in the funds he was invested in).

With annuity rates being very low at this time, final salary schemes are offering a much higher transfer value and this can be beneficial for both you and your beneficiaries.

To review your pension options today please contact me for a no obligation chat and free analysis on your personal situation.

Tax Efficient Savings in Luxembourg

By Michael Doyle - Topics: Investments, Luxembourg, Saving, Tax, Uncategorised
This article is published on: 6th November 2014

06.11.14

Two of the main concerns many of my clients have whilst living in Luxembourg are:

  1. The low interest rates they receive from saving in the bank.
  2. How can they save in a tax efficient way?

At the moment, as most of you will already know, whilst leaving your funds to accrue in a bank account in Luxembourg you can receive interest of around 1%. However, due to the European Savings Directive, you lose 10% of this as a tax, thus you will receive around 0.9% interest net.

Putting this in perspective, most of us have to save for the future, either for our pension provision or for our children’s further education. Based on the Liverpool Victoria Study in November 2007, it said that University costs increase at approximately 7.5% per annum (the current level of inflation for educational costs). This was further supported by an article in The Sunday Telegraph, (26th August 2007), which stated:

“School fees have risen 41% in the past 5 years”

Fees at many universities in the UK now stand at £9,000 per annum.

So the question we have to ask ourselves is whether or not by leaving our money in the bank, will we be able to meet all of our future goals?

One solution is to look at saving through a Life Assurance wrapper.

A wrapper is effectively an “investment platform” through which an enormous range of underlying investments can be purchased. Whilst the wrapper will be provided by a life assurance company, it is important to note that you are not paying a premium to purchase additional life assurance. It is, to all intents and purposes, an investment contract.

So what are the benefits of saving within a wrapper here in Luxembourg?

  1. All investments grow within the wrapper free of income tax and capital gains tax.
  2. As the wrapper is considered a life assurance contract it is not affected by the European Savings Directive.
  3. The premiums you pay could be tax deductible (subject to personal circumstances).
  4. You have access to investments perhaps only available to institutional investors.
  5. Lower minimum entry levels in underlying investments.
  6. Access to some of the top fund managers in the world.
  7. The flexibility to change your investment strategy at any time.
  8. The ability to access your funds if required.
  9. Higher bank rate. For example, there are currently bank rates offered within the wrappers of 4.25% per annum.
  10. Security.

Every person’s circumstances are different and you should always seek Independent Advice before making any investment decision. Here at The Spectrum IFA Group we offer a no obligation Financial Review before offering any advice.

Luxemborg Business Lunch

By Michael Doyle - Topics: Luxembourg, Uncategorised
This article is published on: 8th June 2014

08.06.14

Pecha-Kucha

The next Pecha Kucha evening will be held on Thursday, 19 June in Hotel Parc Belle-Vue from 19h00 – 22h00.

Pecha Kucha is an entertaining and informative event giving presenters the chance to “beat the clock”. The idea being that presenters have 12 PowerPoint slides, each lasting for 20 seconds, accompanying their verbal presentation. The slides move on automatically even if the presenter is not ready to move with them.

A free cocktail reception will be held at the end of the presentations to give guests the opportunity to meet the presenters at their trade table and to network.  Please note that only registered guests can attend this event and there will be strictly no entry to the venue once presentations have started.

If you would like to register to be a guest at this event please click here.

Only a few presenters places remain, please contact maureen@tbl.lu for information.

For a full list of presenters and for more information please click here