☏ +34 93 665 85 96  |  ✑ info@spectrum-ifa.com
Viewing posts from: November 2000

Who wants to be a millionaire?

By Victoria Lewis - Topics: Financial Planning, France, Investments, wealth management
This article is published on: 3rd June 2020

03.06.20

Some people are prepared to cheat in order to become a millionaire. Charles Ingram famously cheated on the UK television game show ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’ and was subsequently found guilty along with his wife and friend who coughed during the programme to indicate the correct answers.

Frank Sinatra and Celeste Holm sung ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’ in the film High Society. Frank Sinatra was certainly a multi-millionaire even though he sang that he didn’t want to be!

Incidentally, the word millionaire was apparently first used in French in 1719 to describe speculators in the Mississippi Bubble who earned millions of livres in weeks before the bubble burst.

You may already be a millionaire or you may be planning to become one in the future through hard work, inheritance or good luck. Whatever your current financial situation, it is interesting to consider the millionaire ‘secrets’ of how you can become one.

Of course, millionaires aren’t privy to knowledge and information that no one else has access to. The ‘secrets’ are simply sensible financial habits which we can all use.

Click the headings below to find out more:

  • Decide what you want in the future, set a target and stick to it

    Have you calculated when and how much money you need to retire? Perhaps you want your children/grandchildren to have a university education – have you calculated how much this will cost?
  • Shift your focus from spending to investing

    Most millionaires take advice from investment professionals – tax advisers, lawyers, financial planners and asset managers. Don’t be afraid of them; use them.
  • The 24-hour rule

    If you can’t resist spending, apply this rule that many millionaires use. Even if you can afford an expensive purchase, give it a day’s time before actually making the decision. Impulsive shopping occurs from an emotional trigger and is often unnecessary. Do you want it or do you need it?
  • Set a budget (yes, even the rich have a budget!)

    Look at your monthly bank statement and categorise everything into the following groups:
    Essentials, Personal and Savings. Generally speaking, the split should be 50%, 30% and 20%.

    Living essentials – allocate 50% for monthly expenses such as mortgage/rent, transport, utilities, food etc.

    Personal spending – allocate 30% of your income for holidays, entertainment, shopping, hobbies – anything that makes you happy.

    Savings – 20% of your earned income should go straight into an investment or savings account.

    If your own allocations are different, analyse why and consider how changes could be made.

  • Cash over credit

    We are living in a near cashless society and credit cards are easy to come by, but this environment is not advisable for people who struggle to keep within their budget. Many millionaires prefer cash over a card for this reason.
  • Control

    People who are good at saving and investing are generally also good at controlling their urge to spend. Many people have completed a Dry January or a Meat Free Monday, how about trying a regular ‘no spending’ day – call it Frugal Friday!
  • Bills first, the rest later

    Most banks offer the facility to choose the date you want your regular standing orders to be paid. Choose the day after your income/pension is paid in, so you know exactly how much is left for everything else.
  • Invest in something that makes you happy

    This could be a classic car, a piece of art, perhaps you have a hobby that you enjoy investing in. Happiness can also be found in the investment arena, as more and more investors are choosing ethical or socially responsible funds. These are funds that have positive social impacts or are involved in climate change solutions. You can now express your values in the financial world.
  • Invest in services that save you time

    Many millionaires don’t hesitate in paying for services that save their time – food deliveries and laundry services for example. The same can be said for investment research – a financial advisory firm will do that for you.

For more detailed information on these financial habits, please contact me on
M: 06 62 50 70 21 or email Victoria.lewis@spectrum-ifa.com

Health, Wealth and Happiness

By Victoria Lewis - Topics: Financial Review, France, Inheritance Tax, Succession Planning
This article is published on: 12th April 2020

12.04.20

During the current lockdown in France, I have seen a noticeable increase in the number of my clients wishing to review the beneficiaries of their investments. This could have been prompted by the daily depressing news of covid-19 deaths around the world, or it could simply be because of the extra time available to get their financial plans in order – working through the ‘to do’ lists.

Whatever the driver behind these reviews, it is a responsible part of financial planning to think about how and to whom you wish your investments to be distributed after your passing.

Inheritance planning is a key feature of the well documented ‘assurance vie’ in France – a simple and efficient investment vehicle available to French tax residents. In the next article I will remind you of the assurance vie benefits.

For the moment, I will focus on the title of this ezine. As a Financial Advisor, I am clearly not in a position to advise you on health matters. But as it happens, during this covid-19 confinement period, my own personal health has come under review! With the extra time I now have as I am not travelling to see my clients face to face, I have been able to spend 20 mins every morning exercising via an online personal coach. I will to continue this when normal life resumes.

I am, of course, able to help you with your wealth matters; and it does matter. Perhaps during this time of global lockdown, we can all reflect on our financial plans. Should I change my spending habits? Could I afford to retire earlier than planned? How can I stay financially motivated given the financial and economic forecasts? We can all lose focus from time to time, but it’s a financial adviser’s role to help you keep focused and to bring your financial plans back on track.

Please use your spare time constructively – why not contact me for a review, either over the telephone or via a video call. We will discuss many different areas such as life insurance, pensions, savings and investments, inheritance and wills, mortgages and education fees. We do not charge you a fee for our discussions, our follow up work, our regular reviews or our reports and you are under no obligation to follow our advice. Simply put, if you agree with my recommendations and I then arrange for you for example, an assurance vie or a pension, we are then remunerated by the companies we recommended.

When the daily news is worrying, it is understandable to get absorbed about the here and now impact. We are, after all, thinking about things like the latest restrictions, food shopping and how to keep the family occupied. However, when it comes to your financial plans, it is really important to stay focused on your key objectives.

I believe that if you have your health, an abundance of family and friends, a plan for your wealth then happiness will naturally follow.

To discuss further, please contact me on 06 62 50 70 21 or email Victoria.lewis@spectrum-ifa.com

What to do with investments in a bear market?

By Victoria Lewis - Topics: France, Investments, Stock Markets
This article is published on: 16th March 2020

16.03.20

What a week of political, medical and financial news! Daily market commentary from asset managers, daily messages from my daughter’s school (all students’ temperatures have been taken daily on arrival for the last 2 weeks) and my stock market app has been flashing red, green, red and more red. Let’s see what today brings.

If the stock-market decline triggered by the coronavirus outbreak and the oil price slump is like past drops, there’s both good and bad news.

After a long (largely uninterrupted) run of share price appreciation since 2009, one of the longest bull markets in history, we have now entered a bear market, broadly defined as a 20% drop from recent highs.

Goldman Sachs pointed out that this week that we have never before entered a bear market because of a viral outbreak but that it may be useful to consider the history of bear markets to get a sense of their duration and intensity. There are different types of bear markets which can be described as follows (statistics from GS who analysed bear markets going back to 1835).

Structural bear markets are those created by imbalances and financial bubbles, very often followed by a price shock like deflation. Structural bear markets, on average, experience drops of 57%.

Cyclical bear markets are typically a function of the economic cycle, marked by rising interest rates, impending recessions and falls in profits. Cyclical bear markets experience drops of 31%.

Event driven bear market refers to things like a war, oil price shock or an emerging-market crisis. On average, this type of bear market results in 29% declines. The current crisis is event driven. Monetary response by central banks should be effective but time will tell. However, this is a new territory: an environment of fear where consumers are forced, or just inclined, to stay at home.

The good news is that bear markets triggered by exogenous shocks typically regain their previous levels within 15 months.

Whatever your view is on the markets, my advice is don’t try to predict the future. A recovery is inevitable and we trust professionals to skilfully manage our clients’ funds. We sometimes respond emotionally to stock market decline and volatility, but there is usually no merit in either reacting to, or trying to forecast, short term market events.

Don’t delay your financial plans. For planning, yesterday is better than today, which is better than tomorrow. Contact me, Victoria Lewis, if you want to discuss how you should react to these events.

UK expats cannot vote after 15 years abroad

By Victoria Lewis - Topics: Elections, France, Habitual Residence, Residency, United Kingdom
This article is published on: 12th June 2017

12.06.17

This article was written in May 2015 by a lawyer friend of mine and is as relevant today.

The result of the UK election was meant to be much closer. If it had been closer, the rule which prevents British expats who have been abroad for more than 15 years from voting in Parliamentary elections may have come under renewed scrutiny.

The size of the British community abroad is estimated at 5.6 million. Most expats leave the UK for work-related reasons, taking their families with them. Mixed-nationality marriages are also a factor in emigration decisions, as well as the wish of many British pensioners to retire abroad. Thanks to exchange programs, the number of students travelling around the world to experience life abroad has increased significantly in recent years. In our ever more globalized world, borders are disappearing.

These “British Expats” are unofficial but precious ambassadors, promoting British values to their host countries. They make an invaluable contribution to the diffusion of their culture, disseminating the “British Way of Life” by projecting an image of their “Britishness” around them. In the view of the Institute for Public Policy Research, “British abroad are not a burden or an embarrassment: they are in many ways the best of the UK and we should be proud and supportive of them”.

However, their political situation is overshadowed by the fact that they lose their right to vote in the United Kingdom after they have been living abroad for more than 15 years, no matter how frequently they return to visit their home country. Exceptions exist for the military, civil servants and British Council employees, but all other British expats cannot vote under the current UK law. While most developed countries such as France, Spain, Switzerland or the USA have recognized their own expat population by giving them an unrestricted right to vote in national elections, the United Kingdom seems to be one of the few countries with this type of restrictive rule.

How the law changed
Before 1985, British citizens living outside the United Kingdom were unable to vote in UK Parliamentary elections. Following intensive pressure, the Representation of the People Act 1985 finally gave them the right to vote. They could register as “overseas voters” in the constituency where they last lived in the UK. But, 1985 also marked the beginning of a ‘time limit’ during which British expats would be able to remain on the electoral register. This period was shortened and extended, but has never been unlimited.

The Representation of the People Act 1985 made provision for British citizens residing outside the United Kingdom to remain on the electoral register in the UK for a period of 5 years. In 1989, this period was extended to 20 years. In 2000, it was decided to reduce it to 15 years, with effect from 1 April 2002, leading to the rule that applies today.

A discriminatory and arbitrary rule, according to most British expats
Due to this, pressure groups have been created to plead for the abolition of the 15-year rule. They claim that the legislation is discriminatory, arbitrary and serves no useful purpose.

They consider it to be discriminatory because not all British expats are concerned by the legislation. As indicated previously, members of the armed forces, Crown servants and employees of the British Council are exempted from the rule. Besides, in accordance with European Union Treaties, all European citizens have the right to live and work in another state of the EU. These fundamental rights should not be subject to any restrictions or penalties. They accuse the UK of acting in a discriminatory fashion by penalising the right of free movement of its citizens, whilst most other developed countries do not.

They also consider it an arbitrary treatment because the cut-off point has been fixed without a concrete objective or justified basis on which to determine who should have the right to vote. The Government used to claim that people who have lived abroad for over 15 years are likely to lose links with the UK. However, in today’s world of increasing global communication, this argument does not seem appropriate any more.

Comparison with other countries
Unlike the UK, most advanced democracies have granted their expat population an unrestricted right to vote in national elections.
In June 2012, French people abroad were able to vote for their MPs for the first time. Around the world, 11 constituencies were created. (See the article on the FBCCI Blog: Voting rights for British Expats: What can the UK learn from France?)

Spanish expats’ rights are guaranteed by article 68 of the Constitution. In Portugal, according to the Constitution, the single-chamber Assembly of the Republic is “the representative assembly of all Portuguese citizens”. Thus, expats have the same right to vote in elections for the Assembly as citizens living in Portugal. Italian expats are represented in both chambers of the parliament and elect 65 representatives to the ‘Consiglio Generale degli Italiani all’Estero’. The United States also guarantee their expat population’s political rights.

Efforts to reform
Faced with this situation, some national and European politicians have asked for the law to be reviewed or, at least, debated.

“The exercise of the freedom of movement should not result in losing an important democratic right” says Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for electoral rights, in her factsheet “Promoting your electoral rights”. “Although EU law grants EU citizens the right to participate in municipal and European elections in the Member State where they reside, it provides no such right with regard to national elections. (…) Given that EU citizens of those Member States are not able to participate in any national elections (neither in the Member State of origin not in the Member State of residence), they are deprived of one of their most important political rights just because they exercise their right to free movement. (…) The Commission will launch a discussion to identify political options to prevent EU citizens from losing their political rights when they exercise their right to free movement.”

A short debate in the House of Lords on voting arrangements for British citizens living overseas and members of the armed forces serving abroad was held on 2nd March 2011. Viscount Astor, arduous defender of the overseas voters’ electoral rights (“This 15-year rule is unfair and excludes perhaps half the expatriates living overseas. There is no credible reason for that.”), asked whether the Government would consider changing the voting arrangements that were currently in place. He called on the Government to look again at the 15-year rule. Lord Lester of Herne Hill agreed with him and has previously asked the Government to legislate to change the rules.

More recently, calls have been made for the Government to reconsider this rule. The issue was raised during the passage of the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill 2012-2013 in the House of Commons. Conservative Geoffrey Clifton-Brown proposed that a new clause should be added to the Bill to remove the 15-year limit rule: “the new clause would remove this qualifying period altogether, so that all British citizens could qualify as overseas voters, regardless of when they were last resident in the UK”.

The Parliamentary Secretary, David Health, replied that the Government would give the issue “serious consideration” but that it would not rush into a decision, “not because of any wish to obstruct, but simply because the question of extending the franchise is a fundamental one and both the Government and the House would have to feel comfortable with doing that”. The amendment was subsequently withdrawn.

The Bill received its second reading in the Lords on the 24th July 2012 and Lord Norton of Louth raised the issue of overseas voters during the debate. Lord Lexen also called for the 15-year rule to be abolished: (…) I urge strongly that the scope of the Bill be extended, as my noble friend Lord Norton of Louth argued, by adding to it provision to enable all our fellow subjects of Her Majesty who live abroad to vote in our parliamentary elections. This would end the 15-year limit rule, for which no clear rationale has ever been offered (…)”.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire responded for the Government and said there were no plans to extend the 15-year limit rule: “The Government does not have any plans at the present moment to lengthen the period from leaving the country beyond 15 years, nor do we have any really ambitious plans to do what is done in some other countries, which is to allow voting in embassies and consulates. However, the electoral period will help”.

The entrenched position of the Courts

The feeling of not being understood and being prejudiced in the execution of one of their fundamental rights has encouraged some expats to challenge the rules before the courts.

Two cases were brought recently.
The first case concerned James Preston, a British citizen living with his family in Spain and working for UK companies since 1995. In 2009 he was denied the right to vote in Parliamentary elections, having lived outside the UK for 15 years. He went to the High Court in 2011, asking for judicial review of the legislation but his case was dismissed. His application to take his case to the Court of Appeal was denied in 2012. Lord Justice Elias said he appreciated Mr. Preston and other expats were “genuinely upset about the rule”, but that there was no real evidence that “it does create a barrier of any kind to freedom of movement”. “It is inherently unlikely that the loss of the right to vote would be sufficient to cause expats to up sticks and return to the UK”, he added.

The second case was brought by Harry Shindler, a World War II veteran who retired to Italy in the early 1980’s. He took his case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, alleging a violation of Article 3 of Protocol No. 1, which provides that: “The High Contracting Parties undertake to hold free elections at reasonable intervals by secret ballot, under conditions which will ensure the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of the legislature”.

He claimed that no time-limit should be imposed on expats’ voting rights. He considered he should have the right to choose his place of residence without being disenfranchised. “Universal suffrage is set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Universal to my mind, and in every dictionary I’ve seen, means ‘everybody’”. “Expats abroad pay their taxes at home. There are those who have property and haven’t sold it because they believe they’ll be coming back. They pay taxes on that property. They pay council tax. The pensions we get, government and private, come from the UK and those pensions, when they reach a certain limit, are taxed in the UK. So here we have expats who pay their taxes and are not allowed to vote. It’s unacceptable.”

However, the court in Strasbourg rejected his case, ruling that the 15-year limit was “not an insubstantial period of time” and it was up to the British Government whether to choose a cut-off point. Therefore, in the court’s view, the 15-year rule does not violate the right to free elections.
In view of the positions of both the courts and the Government, it seems British expats are stuck in a situation where, after 15 years abroad, they may still pay taxes in the UK, still feel British and strongly linked to their home country, but cannot vote in British elections; nor in their host country’s national elections either.

In November 2011, the Government said Mr. Shindler is not a ‘victim’, since “it was open to him to take Italian citizenship and acquire a right to vote in elections to the Italian national parliament”.

David Burrage, an ex-soldier and policeman who co-founded the British Expats Association of Spain, commented: “When I consider that Harry had jumped ashore and onto the beaches at Anzio and offered up his life, like so many of our brave servicemen, during World War II, when viewed alongside the conduct of our Government, by way of that most recent response on their behalf, it not only makes me feel ashamed, I also feel utterly disgusted”.

Although this statement dates from 2011, it still expresses the feelings of many British expats.
Neil Robertson
Solicitor, England & Wales
Avocat au Barreau de Paris
May 2015

Parkinson’s Law

By Victoria Lewis - Topics: France, Investments, Saving, Tips, Uncategorised
This article is published on: 24th August 2016

24.08.16

Are you familiar with Parkinson’s Law? Originally it stated that “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”

Parkinson’s Law is the title of the book written by Englishman Cyril Northcote Parkinson in 1958 and today, the more recent understanding of the law is a reference to the self-satisfying uncontrolled growth of the bureaucratic apparatus in an organization.

The Law is also applied to money and wealth accumulation: expenses always rise to match income. Parkinson’s Law can explain why many people retire poor and why some people succeed, whilst others fail.

The law says that, no matter how much money people earn, they tend to spend the entire amount and a little bit more. Their expenses increase in line with their earnings. Many people earn today several times more than they were earning at their first jobs. But somehow, they seem to need every single penny to maintain their current lifestyles. No matter how much they make, it is never enough.

The key to financial success – break the (Parkinson’s) law
Parkinson’s Law explains the trap that most people fall into. This is the reason for debt, money worries and financial frustration. It is only when you have sufficient willpower to resist the urge to spend everything you make that you begin to accumulate money – the perfect environment to help you achieve financial independence.

Reduce your outgoings
If you ensure your expenses increase at a slower rate than your earnings, and you save or invest the difference, you will become financially independent in your working lifetime (and retirement).

Measure the difference between your earnings and the costs of your lifestyle, and then save and invest the difference. You can continue to improve your lifestyle as you make more money.

Take action
Here are two things you can do to apply this law immediately:

  1. Imagine that your financial life is like a failing company that you have taken over.  Stop all non-essential expenses. Draw up a budget of your fixed, unavoidable costs per month and resolve to limit your expenditures to these amounts. The aim is to make sure that your ‘company is making a profit’.

Carefully examine every expense. Question it as though you were analysing someone else’s expenses and look for ways to economise. Aim for a minimum of say, 10% reduction in your living costs.

  1. Resolve to save and invest 50% of any increase you receive in your earnings from any source. Learn to live on the rest. This still leaves you the other 50 percent to do with as you desire!

The Spectrum IFA Group sponsors What Larks English Theatre Group

By Victoria Lewis - Topics: Events, France, Uncategorised
This article is published on: 3rd November 2014

03.11.14

barrie_mainVictoria Lewis and The Spectrum IFA Group are proud to be sponsoring the local English theatre group What Larks for their upcoming productions of ‘Barbara’s Wedding’ and ‘A Well Remembered Voice’.

The double bill of two beautiful J M Barrie short plays has been chosen to commemorate the centenary of the beginning of the 1st World War.

The events are taking place on:

  • Sunday 30th November –BEDOIN, 84410
  • Tuesday 2nd December – BONNIEUX, 84480
  • Sunday 7th December – AIX-EN-PROVENCE, 13100

 

 

Barbara’s Wedding:

The Colonel is in his dotage, and as his memory fades, past and present become intertwined.
He is visited by his beloved grandson and the young man’s fiancée, Barbara.
But are they really there? And who is it exactly that Barbara is marrying?

A Well-Remembered Voice:                                                                        

A couple have lost their son in the trenches. The young man’s mother tries to speak to him through a séance, while his father simply reminisces, by himself. And yet in the process it is Mr Don, and not his wife, who is finally able to talk to their son, in a way he never could when the boy was alive.

Tickets are available from www.whatlarks.org     

The Spectrum IFA Group at TED Event

By Victoria Lewis - Topics: France, Spectrum-IFA Group, Uncategorised
This article is published on: 17th June 2014

17.06.14

Victoria Lewis, one of Spectrum’s advisers  in the South of France and Paris, was recently nominated to participate at a TED event (www.ted.com) in Grenoble.

“It was an honor and a privilege to be nominated as a Speaker by TED, especially when I discovered one of the other speakers was a Nobel Prize winner!  I was asked to speak about the global pension situation and the problems faced today by those people wishing to retire early.”

[Gallery not found]

“TED imposes strict rules on the talk format and each presenter must speaker for 18 minutes.  There was an international audience of 300 people, many of whom were executives from international companies, entrepreneurs, scientists and university undergraduates.  Fortunately, there was time during the event to answer specific questions from the audience and it was clear that most people had a real interest in improving their financial well-being. “

What’s TED?

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’. Started as a four-day conference in California 25 years ago, TED has grown to support world-changing ideas.  The annual TED Conference invites the world’s leading thinkers and doers to speak  and their talks are then made available, free, at TED.com. TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Sir Richard Branson, Philippe Starck, and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown.  TEDTalks are posted daily at TED.com.

 

Yes, you can retire before your 40th birthday

By Victoria Lewis - Topics: France, Pensions, Retirement, Uncategorised
This article is published on: 7th April 2014

07.04.14

p01wtzcz
What if you didn’t have to wait until you were in your mid-sixties to retire? What about 50, or even just as you hit your 40th birthday? Don’t laugh — with enough dedication, you could say goodbye to your full-time job years sooner than you think.

“We all dream of retiring early with a fantastic pension and no money worries,” said Victoria Lewis, a financial adviser with the Spectrum IFA Group in Paris, France. You just have to put the right plan in place.

Click here to read the whole article on BBC.com

‘Tis the season to get a grip on festivity spending

By Victoria Lewis - Topics: Spectrum-IFA Group, Uncategorised, wealth management
This article is published on: 18th November 2013

18.11.13

Christmas shopping

As the year draws to a close, holidays begin marching past in quick succession. These festivities present almost endless chances to open your wallet. Christmas is a weeks-long spending affair in many places in December.

In France, “some go skiing, and a lucky few travel overseas for warmer climates, such as Martinique and Guadalupe,” said Victoria Lewis, a financial adviser with The Spectrum IFA Group in Paris.

Click here to read the full article on BBC.com