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Financial Planning Impact of the Spanish Election

By Barry Davys - Topics: Barcelona, Elections, Spain
This article is published on: 13th November 2019

13.11.19

The 10th November (10 N) General Election has, like in many other countries in Europe, resulted in no party gaining a majority of seats in parliament. The result is unsurprising, but what does it mean for our financial planning as individuals who are living in Barcelona and the Costa Brava?

With elections come many headlines, often contradictory. More and more we need to look beyond the headlines to find real data that helps with our planning. This is an example of why we need to look beyond the headline. The headline is ‘Ibex (Spanish Stock Market) rises 9.45% year to date’. Beyond the headline we find that profits of the companies that make up the IBEX index have fallen 20% to end of September 2019. How does this contradiction happen? The Ibex has no top weighting, unlike other indices, so can be highly affected by one company or a sector. The largest company on the IBEX 35 is Inditex (Zara etc) at 14% of the index. The banking sector represents 21% of the IBEX. This can lead to a distorted indication of the performance of a broader selection of Spanish companies. I have used the example of the IBEX because we live in Spain but it is similar for most indices around the World.

Below, I summarise points of the Spanish election that will impact our planning:

There is no sign that plans for post Brexit will be changed because of the election. This includes, for example, not changing the double taxation agreement between Spain and the UK.

It is unlikely that the change to a standardised method of Inheritance tax across Spain, as required by the EU, will be implemented as there is no majority government. Existing inheritance tax laws in Spain will remain the same.

The 10 N election was triggered because of the voting down of the budget proposed by the last government. The new government could well face a similar struggle to pass a budget. This means no changes to the tax rules and spending plans.

Still, borrowing by Spain will increase each year and this is similar across many European countries. Despite this, European government bonds have a very high price, many giving negative interest. Should you include these in your portfolio at this price?

The high prices in the stock market index and government bonds mean that headlines appear that suggest investing in commercial property as an alternative (there are lots of commercial property funds available). These headlines can include property growth rates from the last 10 years where property has enjoyed falling and very low interest rates. However, economic growth is slowing across the World and technology is changing our work, how we shop and play. Slowing economic growth and technological change mean that commercial property is not likely to do so well. A very careful approach to which property a fund manager buys will be especially important over the next 10 years. Without a majority government, we are unlikely to see Spain buck the World trend for lower economic growth.

We can take the following actions because of the elections:

Tax in Spain. We know the taxes and how to plan in a tax efficient manner because we have not had revisions since the last budget. Make your investments tax efficient.

Not all commercial property will do badly. Warehouses and logistically important points will do better than factories, for example. Warehouses are part of the Internet delivery system, which is becoming an increasingly large part of the shopping process for both companies and individuals. If we like commercial property we do not have to invest just in Spain. It is possible to invest in most of the developed markets.

When Barcelona city indicates that it will use driverless cars in the centre of the city, investment funds will buy car parks. It is estimated that the use of driverless cars will reduce the need for car parking in a city by as much as 70%. This could be a good opportunity as these car parks will be turned into other property types such as 3D printing manufacturing points, drone landing spots for internet deliveries and more. Admittedly, we may need to wait awhile before this happens.

Do not despair with shares. The major indices are used for headlines to give an indication of the relative price position of the market. Yet these indices are based on only a few companies e.g.

Spain Ibex – 35

France Cac – 40

Germany Dax – 30

UK FTSE – 100

There are many other companies to invest in these countries. We can also use funds which invest in companies doing business in and with India or China, for example.

There are some excellent opportunities in markets but it requires very careful and technical analysis to know which companies. Get help! See a previous article “5 mistakes the rich never make” which explains how the rich get help with their planning. I put this into practice in my own planning by using fund and investment managers to do the day-to-day management of my investments.

Good luck with your planning. If you would like to discuss help please feel welcome to contact me, especially if you own a business or are approaching retirement.

About the Author
Barry Davys is a partner with The Spectrum IFA Group. He lives in Barcelona and provides financial planning specifically for international people who live in Catalonia using his knowledge of Catalan, Spanish and UK tax. The advice is given in English. Business owners and people approaching retirement find his guidance particularly useful.

UK Pension transfer – most common questions asked

By Chris Burke - Topics: Barcelona, pension transfer, QROPS, Spain, UK Pensions
This article is published on: 8th November 2019

08.11.19

Without even mentioning the ‘Brexit’ word, if you have a private or company pension scheme in the UK but reside outside, it’s a good idea to understand what your options are in managing and having access to them. There are a handful of subjects I am regularly asked about regarding this:

UK pension currency
If you transfer your pension outside of the UK, it does NOT have to remain in sterling; all major currencies are usually available. It can also be changed at most times and be held in different currencies. Of course, at the moment this is an even more important thought process for your retirement savings.

Access to pensions
From age 55 you can have access to as much of your UK pension as you like, although bear in mind that in Spain pension money will be subject to personal income tax, after any allowances. Therefore, you might want to arrange this so as to not incur higher taxes (there are several ways to do this).

Pensions from a previous employer
These pensions are known as dormant or frozen, and at the very minimum you should know what you have, where they are and how they work. We help clients track these down, explain how they work, what your options are and start planning to make them either more ‘healthy’ or easier to access. Some pensions may have high charges, or the pension scheme could be financially in trouble. Having all this knowledge as well as the options available will help you make an informed decision.

Can I transfer any pensions I have myself?
In short, if you are abroad, no, since the process is complex and not easy to understand if you are not in the financial world. Also, HMRC won’t allow it unless you have received advice. We have clients with different levels of experience in finance and pensions, and we work alongside them all closely, giving them the knowledge to make their decisions and managing the process for them.

If they are UK pensions and you want to keep them in the UK, then yes, you can usually do this yourself depending on the value involved.

You cannot transfer a pension to another person, although there are ways you can pass it on effectively.

Pensions transfer charges
When overseas pension transfers were started many years ago, the costs were a lot higher than running a UK pension scheme, although the benefits were greater. Now, with increased competition from providers, the charges for moving and maintaining an overseas pension are a lot lower. However, this does depend on who you perform the transfer with and what advice you are given. I still come across clients where the charges are so high it is almost impossible for the pension to grow. There are ways of helping these people, but usually by then they have lost out on many years of growth, which is really frustrating as it didn’t need to be that way. It’s so important you work with a Financial Advisor who is working for you, at your pace and advising in your best interests, not theirs.

Selecting a Financial Advisor to work with when investigating moving a UK pension
There are several points/questions you should check when deciding whom to seek advice from. These are:

1) Recommendations, you cannot beat them. Does anyone you know work with a Financial Advisor and they are happy with them?
2) Does the Financial Advisor have the necessary qualifications to give you advice?
3) How are they remunerated? Ask them how much and when.
4) Do they have any long-standing clients you can speak to? If they do and you manage to speak to them, ask them specific questions so you know they are both genuine and how it worked for them.
5) Look into their eyes… meet them several times, get a feeling for them as a person, their morals and actions.
6) Research them on the internet, or ask around and see what’s said about them.

I do know clients who have done most of this and still not had a great experience. The only additional advice I can give is to look at the pensions and companies they are recommending. If you haven’t heard of them before or you don’t get the ‘spider sense’ that they purely have your best interests at heart, then look elsewhere. Remember, they are going to be looking after your retirement. For years I have helped people evaluate their pensions, and as well as looking to help new clients, the main reason I write these articles is to help people avoid potentially working with someone that doesn’t have their best interests at heart.

Acheter un appartement à Barcelone : bonne ou mauvaise idée ?

By Cedric Privat - Topics: Barcelona, mortgages, Property, Spain
This article is published on: 15th October 2019

15.10.19

Vous êtes nombreux à vous poser la question du choix entre l’investissement immobilier et le placement financier, dans l’objectif de faire croître votre patrimoine.

  • Investir dans la pierre est souvent considéré comme une valeur sure, mais est-ce toujours le cas malgré la flambée des prix des dernières années?
  • Faire un placement financier permet de conserver une liquidité et bénéficier d’une imposition avantageuse, mais avec les taux fixes au plus bas et l’inflation actuelle il est désormais impératif de prendre un certain risque

Avant toute décision, il sera important de comprendre les avantages et inconvénients de ces deux options. Nous étudierons dans un premier temps via cet article l’achat immobilier à Barcelone.

Depuis les jeux olympiques de 1992, Barcelone est devenue une des villes les plus attractives d’Europe: à visiter, y vivre, y travailler et pourquoi pas investir?
La ville plaît beaucoup aux français, plus de 20 000 d’entre eux y vivent toute l’année et on ne compte plus les milliers de touristes quotidiens qui affluent de toutes parts.

À seulement 150 km de la frontière, la ville attire par son soleil, ses plages, ses montagnes proches, sa qualité de vie, sa culture, sa population cosmopolite, sa bonne connexion TGV/avion, etc.
Cet engouement comporte néanmoins certains revers dont tout futur investisseur doit tenir compte; notamment une insécurité croissante ces dernières années, une situation politique instable et des lois souvent en faveur du locataire (voir même okupas/squatteurs) en cas de conflit avec le propriétaire. La crise du marché immobilier de 2008 a également inquiété de nombreux particuliers projetant un achat à Barcelone.

Première question: achat perso (pour y vivre) ou achat locatif ?

  • Si vous comptez rester à Barcelone pour le long terme, un achat personnel s’avère souvent être la meilleure solution. Finis les loyers, vous serez enfin chez vous et pourrez potentiellement faire une plus-value si vous gardez ce bien assez longtemps. Mais attention au marché en haut de cycle; des études démontrent qu’actuellement une acquisition ne sera financièrement avantageuse par rapport à une location que si on garde le bien au moins 10 ans. Une revente rapide sera synonyme de moins-value; une stabilité professionnelle et familiale est donc indispensable
  • Pour un achat locatif vous devrez dans un premier temps évaluer le taux de rentabilité brut (diviser le revenu locatif annuel par le prix total du bien), si le résultat est inférieur à 6 % brut alors le rendement n’est pas suffisant (voir le paragraphe “Les coûts” ci-dessous pour avoir une estimation du résultat net). Aucun achat ne doit être fait sans une étude et un calcul précis

Il sera important de ne pas diaboliser le fait de rester en location. L’expression “jeter ses loyers par la fenêtre” est dépassée car nombreuses villes se sont avérées à une certaine période être plus rentables en location qu’à l’achat. Vous gardez ainsi votre liberté, vivez dans une superficie plus grande et n’avez pas à supporter les coûts et impôts d’un propriétaire. Nous aspirons pour la plupart à être propriétaire un jour, attention néanmoins à ne pas se précipiter.

La situation du marché ?
Le prix du marché doit ensuite être étudié, il vaut bien entendu toujours mieux acheter quand les prix sont bas.

Le marché à Barcelone est haut même s’il n’a pas encore atteint les chiffres de 2007, les prévisions annoncent une stabilité pour 2019/2020.

Crédit bancaire en Espagne: comment ça marche ?
Si vous êtes résident fiscal en Espagne vous devrez certainement passer par une banque locale pour votre prêt (peu de banques françaises vous accompagneront, à moins d’avoir un bien en France).

Un maximum de 80 % du prix du bien peut vous être prêté (70 % si non-résident), pour une durée maximum de 30 ans (jusqu’à l’âge limite de 70 ans). Il vous faudra donc un apport de 20 %.

Les espagnols sont habitués aux taux variables (très faibles ces dernières années), ce qui signifie que vous êtes dépendants de l’Euribor (taux de référence du marché monétaire de la zone euro), mais en cas de hausse de celui-ci vous risqueriez de voir vos mensualités fortement augmenter. Nombreux sont ceux qui ont perdu leur bien pour cette raison il y a 10 ans.

Depuis quelques années les banques espagnoles proposent de plus en plus un taux fixe comme le font le plus souvent les banques françaises. Vos mensualités resteront donc inchangées sur l’ensemble de votre prêt bancaire. Les taux sont plus élevés qu’en France, actuellement comptez entre 2.2 et 2.7 % pour un prêt sur 30 ans en Espagne

Quels sont les coûts ?
L’imposition sur un achat immobilier en Catalogne s’élève à 10 % du prix d’achat (11 % à partir de € 1 million). À cela s’ajoute les frais de notaire et frais divers liés à l’achat: comptez entre 3 et 4 %.

Comme évoqué précédemment, un apport de 20 % étant demandé par les banques en Espagne, l’apport global nécessaire est donc de 34 %.

Cas pratique: pour un appartement vendu € 300 000: le nouveau propriétaire doit donc s’assurer de posséder une liquidité de € 102 000 (impôt € 42 000 et apport € 60 000).

Être propriétaire vous impose également des coûts annuels qui viennent s’ajouter à vos mensualités bancaires:

  • IBI (Impuesto sobre Bienes Inmuebles), équivalent de la taxe foncière française
  • Assurances et impôts divers (tels ordures ménagères)
  • Charges de copropriété
  • Travaux d’entretien, maintenance, remplacement des gros équipements, rénovation (votés lors des réunions de copropriété ou obligatoire telle la rénovation énergétique)
  • Si vous louez ce bien, vous devrez éventuellement ajouter les frais d’agence (surtout si vous n’habitez pas à Barcelone) et le coût lorsque l’appartement n’est pas loué. Sans vouloir être négatif; il ne faut pas occulter les éventuels frais de justice ou d’expulsion si vos locataires s’avèrent être mauvais payeurs ou insolvables.
  • Et bien entendu le coût d’un prêt bancaire qui varie selon le coût d’achat, les années et le taux négocié
  • Concrètement, en s’appuyant sur l’exemple ci-dessus, l’achat d’un bien de € 300 000, le prêt sollicité sera de € 240 000 (maximum 80 %)
    Supposons que la banque vous accorde un taux fixe sur 30 ans à 2.5 %, vos mensualités s’élèveront alors à € 948.29 soit un remboursement total de € 341 384.
    La banque vous facturera donc € 101 384 pour un prêt de € 240 000

En conclusion, il n’y a pas de réponse évidente à la question: “Acheter un appartement à Barcelone : bonne ou mauvaise idée?” car l’équation a souvent plusieurs inconnues et de nombreux paramètres sont à prendre en compte. Acquérir un bien immobilier est une décision importante, un engagement, qui peut correspondre parfaitement à certains particuliers, mais peut vite devenir un gouffre économique pour d’autres.

Comme toute décision importante il est indispensable de planifier, calculer et comparer les options disponibles. L’immobilier a constitué un excellent investissement pour la génération des baby boomers, mais il ne doit pas être une obligation ni une logique. Obtenir une plus-value n’est plus systématique et comme tout investissement un achat immobilier implique un risque: rien n’est garanti (“sauf la mort et les impôts” disait Benjamin Franklin).

Spectrum conseille à ses clients de toujours diversifier leurs investissements et garder un équilibre dans son patrimoine entre l’achat immobilier et le placement financier. Des alternatives d’investissement existent en France et en Espagne telles l’assurance-vie (2ème placement préféré des Français après l’immobilier) ou les SCPI (Société Civile en Placement Immobilier).

Nous nous proposons de vous guider en nous adaptant à votre situation, chiffrer les différentes alternatives et vous présenter l’ensemble des options disponibles sur le marché.

En Espagne comme en France, Spectrum possède également une section “courtier en prêt immobilier”. A votre demande, nos conseillers sont à votre disposition pour effectuer les recherches nécessaires auprès des banques. Ils sauront vous guider, négocier en votre nom et vous permettre d’obtenir un meilleur taux à moindre coût sans frais de remboursement anticipé.

N’hésitez pas à me contacter. En tant que consultant chez Spectrum, je me tiens à votre entière disposition pour étudier toutes demandes ou répondre à vos questions.

Interest rate outlook and what it means for your investments

By Barry Davys - Topics: Barcelona, Interest rates, Investment Risk, Investments, Spain
This article is published on: 1st October 2019

01.10.19

I had a very nice dinner a few days ago with an investment manager I have known for 12 years. We meet regularly and he is one of the investment managers in London that we, as a company, use for some of our clients. So we know each other professionally quite well and one of us always acts as devil’s advocate to the other one’s position in discussions. It is a great way of getting your point of view tested. Yes, we did talk about Brexit, but the more important issue was the fact that long term interest rates are likely to stay low for a very long time in Spain and in Europe. So here are some thoughts about what these low interest rates mean for our savings and investing.

First, Brexit. Brexit is on everyone’s lips and quite understandably so. Whether you love it or hate it, no one seems to be able to work out what is going to happen. I admit to not being able to work out where it will end. The Brexit outcome is incredibly important to us as individuals and businesses. Yet what about for our savings? Britain is the sixth largest economy in the World. Sounds important. According to the World Bank, the World economy is $86 Trillion. Britain’s economy is $2.8 Trillion. So Britain represents just 3.26% of the World economy. Which means we still have 96.74% of the World economy where we can invest!!!

Perhaps the more important story for savings and investments is the impact of very low interest rates that could stay low for decades. My dinner guest gave good insight into the future of low interest rates. This insight is important to us as individuals with savings and investments.

In October 2007, interest rates in the UK fell from 5.5% to 0.5% in May 2009. Interest rates in Europe followed a similar path. The ECB in July 2007 cut its interest rate from 5.25% to 0.75% in May 2009. The ECB rate has now fallen to just 0.25%.

Will low interest rates stimulate the economy? Yes, it will, but not enough to get economies back on track. Mario Draghi, the current President of the ECB, says central banks changing interest rates will help, but Governments have to spend more too for sufficient economic growth to happen. As an example, Germany has been taking a lot of stick because it has not been spending. The amount it collects in taxes etc is equal to the amount it spends.

ECB

This is the German Government policy. This is a sensible policy unless parts of the country break down and need repairs. Two items that need repair in Germany are the military and the transport infrastructure.

The military, if the stories are to be believed, did not have one single usable helicopter earlier this year. Roads in Germany need repairs, including bridges. Spending money on these road repairs not only give jobs to workers and their companies but also helps the German transport system to run smoothly. This helps the logistics chain in the economy and gives a boost to the economy. These are two examples of where government spending is helpful and supportive of low interest rates. To offset a recession there has been some suggestion of Germany spending €50 Billion on infrastructure spending. As a comparison, Spain already is spending more than it gets in on taxes.

The Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee is responsible for setting interest rates in the UK. It has said that due to the Brexit uncertainty, the next UK interest rate move is likely to be down. The UK official interest rate is only 0.5% now, which gives an indication of the outlook for interest rates: near zero for a long time.

JP Morgan is the sixth largest bank in the World with assets of $2.73 TRILLION. Bob Michele, Global Head of Fixed Income at JP Morgan, has gone even further than the Bank of England in predicting the European interest rates. His analysis shows that Europe will have negative interest rates for the next eight years. Mario Draghi has also said that European economic growth will be very low for seven years, which is another indicator for low interest rates. Indeed for both the UK and the EU there are many forecasts of very long term, low interest rates.

On the bright side, borrowing costs are much reduced as a result of low interest rates. Monthly mortgage payments are much smaller than normal. Businesses and Governments can borrow at much lower rates. On the dark side, we get little, or indeed no, interest on our savings. How low can interest rates go? Rates are negative in Switzerland and Denmark for people living outside the country. These non resident account holders actually have to pay the bank to take their money. When interest rates on savings are very, very low, what do we do with our savings?

If we have savings should we consider paying off our mortgage? Mortgage rates in Spain around 1.63% fixed for 20 years (via Spectrum Mortgage Services, email me if you require details). It can be better to invest than pay off a mortgage at this rate. If we have other loans you should look to pay off the loan from savings if the interest rate

property investment Barcelona

on the loan is greater than you can achieve by investing. A good benchmark figure to use is if the loan rate is greater than 5% per annum you should consider paying it off from savings.

Despite these low rates it is essential that we keep some money readily available, probably in a bank, as an emergency fund. Yet, with these historically low interest rates, it is also essential we do not leave more than we need in the bank. Inflation, even low inflation, eats into the buying power of money left in the bank. It is an insidious effect we often don’t notice until we come to buy our next big purchase. It is at this point we realise that we can’t buy what we thought we could buy because we have had interest on our savings that was smaller than the rate of inflation. When this happens, buying power falls. Instead of being able to buy the sports version of a car we find we can only afford the base model.

We need to use other types of savings and investing strategies during times like these. There are many other options, but most alternatives come with some investment risk. What does investment risk look like?

You may not have realised, but since the market collapsed in 2009 there have been corrections of -16.0%, -19.4%, -12.4%, -13.3%, and -10.2% in the S&P 500!

What is the investment return on the S&P 500 since bank interest rates hit their lows in 2009? INCLUDING the falls above, it may surprise you that the return has been 219%.

This is just one index based on shares in one country and is used to highlight volatility in a market. To reduce the impact of this volatility our savings should be in diversified pots. A fair question for you to ask me is “With these low interest rates, what pots do you invest in?” The answer is I have a mix. I have some very steady, some

stock-exchange

would say old fashioned, funds. Others are with a mix of investments managed by a fund manager, including some investments in the S&P 500. I have some UK Premium Bonds for my emergency fund as they are easily accessible. I have income producing investments in my pension. Index linked funds give me some protection against inflation (just in case we get an unexpected event). I have some forward looking funds that invest in India and China. And then… well I have three small holdings in UK private companies making new technologies and an Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics.

There is diversity across types of investments, e.g. shares, funds, regions and bonds. Within the higher risk parts there is balancing of risk. The three individual shareholdings in tech companies are very high risk because the value of the shares in each company depends on the results of that company alone. Balance is provided because the ETF performance which depends on the 41 companies it tracks. If one company does badly, there are 40 others to take up the slack. It was sensible for me to diversify from an investment being dependent on the results of one company, to something which is dependent on the results of 41 companies. Especially as I am not a researcher in the fields of AI and robotics.

This is my mix of investments, but it may not be right for you depending on what return you want and how much risk you are prepared to take. Do I also choose superb investments and do these investments avoid market falls? I admit it, no they don’t. But my diversification does.

Tax is also relevant to the good husbandry of your savings at all times, not just when rates are low. With money in the bank and interest rates so low, it is not much more than adding insult to injury when the taxman takes 19% to 21% of your interest. However, it is important that having moved your savings from a bank account you make the investment tax efficient. How to do this will depend upon your situation and requires individual advice.

This brief note gives an example of what we need to do now as we are faced with low interest rates for a long period. What is right for you will depend on your circumstances. Is it worth taking some risk? Yes, especially if you use several different types of investments; investments in different types of assets and different geographical areas. Putting your savings in different pots can help to reduce the investment risk.

As is often the case, what looks like a disadvantage, the low interest rates, means opportunities appear elsewhere!

Tax Advice in Spain for Expats

By Chris Burke - Topics: Barcelona, Spain, Tax, tax advice, Tax Relief
This article is published on: 24th September 2019

24.09.19

Whenever someone gets in touch with me, the first, most important thing I suggest they do is to make themselves and their family as tax efficient as possible, i.e. tax planning. There is no point having a ‘leaky bucket’: their money earning interest but more than needs to is pouring through the ‘tax holes’ they haven’t plugged or planned for.

So, apart from the obvious reason of minimising the current tax you pay, why is it important to review your tax situation? It is to make sure you are aware of ‘stealth taxes’. Stealth taxes are those which are not easy to detect and that many people are not aware of.

If you are a government, you want to win as many votes as possible to be elected (or re-elected). You need money to spend, but raising taxes on the upper echelons will damage your votes, raising taxes on the working classes will also damage you votes, and both will be very vocal. Therefore, what has become increasingly popular with governments is to increase taxes that won’t necessarily hurt voters’ pockets on a day to day basis, but which could do in the future.

A good example of this is something called the lifetime allowance. This is the ‘ceiling’ under which the value of your UK private pension will be in the regular tax bands. However, if your pension pot overshoots this limit, you will pay increased tax of up to 55% on anything over that ceiling. Never heard of this tax? Well, I can assure you there are some very normal, everyday, hard-working people who are not in the upper echelons of society and who, due to long pension contributions and having good investment advice, will reach this limit in their lifetime.

To explain this a little more, the lifetime allowance ceiling was introduced in 2006 and was £1,800,000 at its maximum. Over time, it has been reduced and reduced to its present rate of £1,055,000. During that same time inflation has increased, people’s earnings have increased, contributions to pensions have increased; so why should the ceiling go down? Stealth tax.

Moving forward, stealth taxes are likely to be the most popular way for governments to increase their income without the majority of people noticing.

Let’s think about this. What else could the government do along these lines to increase revenue? How about tax those British people living outside of the UK more? They don’t live there, they don’t have the same rights as everyone that does, so are they not an easier target? So, what could they do? Tax UK state pensions (currently they do not tax non-UK residents, although they are taxable in Spain)? Or how about tax those with UK private pensions a ‘non-resident tax’? Or tax those who move their UK pensions outside of the UK and not into a place where the UK government has an agreement with? In fact, the last one they do already!

What can you do? Well its quite simple really; plan now so that should any of the above or anything like this happen, your assets or monies are arranged to be as tax efficient as possible to mitigate these circumstances. If your assets are working just as effectively as they are now, but are much more tax efficient, it could save you and your family a lot of money in taxes in the future.

Perfect preparation prevents P*** P*** performance I believe is the phrase!

Hot investments: It’s time to get creative

By Chris Burke - Topics: Barcelona, Investment Risk, Investments, Spain
This article is published on: 18th June 2019

18.06.19

Investing needs savvy, like a game of chess. It’s best to make carefully thought through moves so that it’s not left to chance. The most crucial part of investing is being in the know.

As a financial advisor, this is something I research and stay on top of so that I can best inform clients. And I only recommend what investments I would feel confident investing in myself. That is very important for clients to know.

When it comes to the stock market, it’s about knowledge and catching the wave at the best time. Right now in the world of investment it’s prime time for investing in some promising and exciting creative industries, namely the e-sports /online gaming industry and AI (Artificial Intelligence).

As we all know, the internet, Amazon and Netflix have totally changed the entertainment industry. We are no longer controlled by which shows are on television or in the cinemas, as we now have the luxury of watching whatever we want whenever we want. But perhaps the most massive surprise in the past year has been the overwhelming popularity of esports – which is simply fans watching professional video gamers compete online. Ever heard of Twitch? Well, there are more people logging on to watch pros gamers competing on streaming sites like Twitch than there are watching CNN or NBC.

Last autumn, a shocking 57 million people tuned in to watch a professional video-gaming (esports) match. It was triple the audience of the actual 2018 NBA finals. As a result of this success, the biggest companies including Coca-Cola and T-Mobile have spent hundreds of millions to sponsor these matches.

So, as e-sports and gaming continue to conquer all, which types of companies might be good to get in on? The top gaming companies you might want to consider investing with are Nintendo, Valve Corporation, Rockstar Games, Electronic Arts, Sony Computer Entertainment, Ubisoft or Sega Games Co. Ltd.

investments in games company

And behind every great game is the hardware required to make it fanstastic. NVDA might not be a name you’ve heard, but literally all video games require ultra-high-performance chips and NVDA chips are the crème de la crème, used by over 85% of professional gamers.

(Forbes, 2018)

The ever-growing world of AI (Artificial Intelligence) has been booming and helping companies solve and manage many previous b2b and b2c issues and right now France is aiming to be one of the forerunners in the industry. Last year President Macron announced his government was investing €1.8 billion over 4 year period. A few of the top French AI start-ups are insurance fraud detection companies like Shift Technology; the AI voice assistance platform, Snips, which manufacturers can utilise for their products and Saagie, the online protection platform to store and guard our precious data for banks and insurance companies.

So, there are some exciting and creative opportunities for investment out there but as a financial advisor, when it comes to investment portfolios research and timing are crucial, as is ensuring clients are in a financial position where they able to play the market without the fear of losing their life’s savings.

Before considering any investments, I always start by advising clients to ensure they have sufficient funds they can access quickly and easily and then discuss what length of time they would like to invest other sums for, as it’s my first priority to nurture and protect their financial future. I would not recommend any client to invest in something that I would not invest in myself, but each client is well-informed in the knowledge that if they have the money to try their hand at investing, it is of course a risk. But it’s a risk that can be rewarding and a real learning experience as well.

Qu’est ce que la “Loi Beckham”?

By Cedric Privat - Topics: Barcelona, Beckham Law, Spain
This article is published on: 20th May 2019

20.05.19

Depuis 2005, le Real Decreto 687/2005, également appelé “loi Beckham” (David Beckham en fut le premier bénéficiaire), permet aux nouveaux résidents espagnols d’obtenir une importante réduction fiscale.

En effet ce régime spécial des impatriés permet aux contribuables d’être imposés au taux fixe de 24 % jusqu’à € 600 000 de revenus annuels, puis à 45 % une fois dépassé ce seuil, et non au barème progressif de l’impôt sur le revenu ou IRPF (“Impuesto sobre la Renta de las Personas Físicas”).

Il s’applique la première année de résidence et les 5 années suivantes. Toute personne ayant un nouveau contrat de travail en Espagne (ou statut d’administrateur) peut potentiellement opter pour ce régime auprès de l’administration fiscale (sauf si vous avez résidé en Espagne pendant les 10 dernières années).

La demande doit être déposée dans les 6 mois à compter du début de votre activité qui apparaît sur l’inscription à la sécurité sociale espagnole. Quant à l’impôt sur le patrimoine, seul votre capital en Espagne sera susceptible d’être taxé.

Je me tiens à votre disposition si vous souhaitez de plus amples informations sur ce sujet, ou si vous désirez opter pour ce régime fiscal.

N´hésitez pas à me contacter

The Many Benefits of a Financial Adviser

By Chris Burke - Topics: Barcelona, Financial Planning, Financial Review, Spain
This article is published on: 3rd April 2019

03.04.19

by Jannah Britt-Green

It might seem obvious to some, but when it comes to the genuine benefits of having a financial adviser, many people are still in the dark. Some people hold certain ideas or common misconceptions, which hinder them from receiving valuable advice and help with managing their financial life. Namely, people struggle to trust someone else with their money and they believe they will have to pay the financial adviser for their services.

When it comes to trusting someone else with our money and investments, yes – it is a chance we’re each taking. But if you find a good financial adviser, you can trust that they sincerely have your best interests at heart, because they will only gain if you gain. They are educated and experienced at helping clients to come up with an effective plan – a financial philosophy if you like – for choosing wisely and preparing for tomorrow. They also have the objectivity we lack when trying to make financial decisions. They aren’t bound by the emotional ties we have with our money and they understand the complexities of mortgages, investments taxes and laws, so they can help us make better informed decisions without so much stress.

Then comes the assumption that we will have to pay a financial adviser. This is most likely due to the fact that no one believes any good service – especially one wherein you could make money – could possibly come without a price tag. Not only is this untrue, but having a financial adviser can actually SAVE money. This is because financial advisers don’t make money from their clients directly. Instead, they get a cut from the insurance / investment / mortgage companies for bringing your business to them. Even better is that, due to the relationship the financial advisors build with these financial institutions, they by and large get a better deal than clients would receive if they were to try to get the same service on their own. I have tried and tested this out myself by looking into getting the same insurance through the same company on my own and found that I could not find the same deal that my financial adviser was getting me. From this point on, I was convinced.

Recently I interviewed IFA Chris Burke, an experienced financial adviser who has been living in Spain over the past decade, to ask him what he believes are the main ways he has helped and continues to benefit his clients.

The Truth
Like any profession, we as Financial Advisers know what works and what doesn’t, and how well it works. To be a good financial adviser, you have to ask yourself, ‘Is this what I would do?’ or maybe even more telling, ‘Is this what I would recommend my mum to do?’

Honesty
Always tell the truth, even if that means telling them we can’t benefit them at that time. I will always use my experience to help people make the best decisions for them and help them do it, if they desire my services. What we do isn’t for everyone and their circumstances, but it might be one day.
Good Tips/Hints/Advice

People usually come to me for a meeting to see how I might be able to help them, but if occasionally someone isn’t sure whether it’s worth the visit, I will always confirm ‘You will take something beneficial from the meeting; knowledge, advice or a good contact; like a recommended Tax Adviser, or how to top up your UK National Insurance contributions at a discount, there is always something’. And you can continue to receive my advice, free of charge, by subscribing to my newsletter: Chris Burkes Newsletter

Grow Clients Monies/Pensions
If it’s not working, most clients won’t stay with you for long, especially if other solutions/the stock markets are indicating it should be working. Therefore, we continually keep up/outperform these as much as we can. We as advisers invest our monies/pensions where we recommend clients to, which for me is the biggest testimony.

Ongoing Advice/Knowledge
There is no point in having a ‘leaky bucket’, that is to say making client’s money grow but not optimising their tax situation. We are always informing, giving our clients knowledge on the best way to mitigate this and who can help them do it.

Due Diligence
We don’t always get it right, but listening to the experts whom we hold in high regard helps us to get it ‘more right than most’. And we are continually reviewing solutions to find new ways to help clients more.

Savings Bank Account Comparison in Spain

By Chris Burke - Topics: Banking, Barcelona, Saving, Spain
This article is published on: 5th March 2019

05.03.19

The most efficient way of losing money is to keep it in a current account. Many years ago offset mortgages were introduced, which were a great way of saving interest being paid on your mortgage. Effectively, any interest on savings you had in an account that was linked to your mortgage account, reduced the mortgage payments by that amount, more or less (most simplified explanation). So, if you had a mortgage of €250,000 and savings on a linked account of €50,000, each month it’s almost as if the mortgage was only €200,000 and you would only pay interest on that amount.

To understand why current accounts are the main way to lose money, let’s suppose,for example, you have €50,000 sitting in a current account for a rainy day. Inflation has been running at around 3% lately (that’s the increase in the regular items we buy). Therefore, just for your money to KEEP UP with that, it needs to grow by €1,500 per year. Over a period of 4 years that’s €6,000.

Therefore, it is very important that you have this money working for you, especially after the hard work it took you to earn it, both to keep up with inflation so it keeps its purchasing power and to grow to build your wealth.

The very least you should do is have the money in a savings account, or similar. So what are the current bank savings rates in Spain? Well, they will guarantee to lose you money every year, but they are better than having money sitting in your current account:

  • 1.5% ING – interest rate per annum, deposit term 1 month
  • 0.5% WeZink (Banco Popular) – interest rate per annum, paid given monthly
  • 0.3% BNP Paribas – interest paid quarterly

Another way of keeping your money safe and perhaps earning a larger return if you are lucky, in sterling, is having UK Government backed Premium Bonds (annual prize fund interest rate of 1.4%). Did you know that you don’t need to be British OR live in the UK to have these?

If you would like to explore other options, then feel free to get in touch and we can discuss what will work for you AND your money, giving you flexibility along the way. Knowledge and advice will help you plan your finances.

Does Qrops or transferring your UK Pension overseas work?

By Chris Burke - Topics: Barcelona, pension transfer, Pensions, QROPS, Spain, UK Pensions, United Kingdom
This article is published on: 4th March 2019

04.03.19

Those people who have a UK private or company pension and are resident outside of the UK, more often than not have the choice to transfer their pension to a QROPS (Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme), that is the process of moving your pension outside of the UK. However, what are the important points to note with this, how does it differ from having your pension in the UK and most importantly, does it actually work effectively?

For just over 10 years you have been able to move your pension outside of the UK. Over that time, I have seen mixed success at doing this, with the companies providing this service changing, fees in essence reducing and the options of managing this growing. What has also changed is the benefit of doing this, alongside the advice you receive. Unfortunately, I have come across many cases where this has not worked well, and the reasons are nearly all the same: bad advice was given by the financial adviser who put their clients is funds/pensions that were overpriced and expensive.

To summarise, the current key potential benefits of Qrops would be the first step to seeing if this could be the right choice for you:

  • Pension potentially outside of future UK law changes
  • Brexit and the impact it would have on being a British person living in Spain
  • Potentially side stepping an expected 25% tax charge for moving pensions after Brexit
  • Currency fluctuation (ability to change your pension to euros when convenient)
  • Portability – the ability to move your pension in the future if needed
  • Potentially reduced tax liability
  • Inheritance – potential reduction of tax to beneficiaries or potentially lower tax on death (depending on your country of residence)
  • Peace of mind
  • Closer personal management of your pension
  • Tax efficient (working alongside a local tax adviser) potentially

And what are the key points that might mean Qrops is not right for you:

  • Returning to live permanently in the UK in the next five years (or maybe longer)
  • Pensions total value under £60,000 (the charges would be, in my opinion, punitive)
  • A company scheme where the benefits outweigh transferring
  • In the near future, wanting to take most of the money from your pension
  • Not having your pension in a Qrops managed well and expensively

From the perspective of access to your money, there is currently not much difference to having a personal pension in the UK or a Qrops. With the rule changes a few years back, you can, in essence, get access to your UK pension from age 55 in the UK and as much as you like, just as in Qrops.

Where Qrops really can help is moving an asset away from the UK and any potential rule changes, which have been regular over the recent years (mainly worse for the person owning a private pension). Couple that with Brexit and a potential 25% tax charge, then having your pension outside the UK will give you peace of mind in knowing exactly what the pensions rules would be for you moving forward. Also, given the fact that if you did ever move back to the UK (statistics show that for a British couple, there is a 75% chance one of you will go back at some point), you can transfer it back with you (there could also be tax benefits of doing this) and with some pension companies no charge.

However, perhaps the most important question is, does it work? The simple answer is yes it can, BUT it has to be set up the right way, with the right company and if you are given the right advice for what your pension is invested in. Basically, it needs to be done for your benefit, not so that the adviser can earn as much commission as possible from your pension.

Whenever I take a new client on, I always ask them if they would like to speak to an existing client to see what their experiences were, which is what I would do when performing my own due diligence.

If you would like to talk through any pensions you have and what your options are, feel free to get in touch and know that you will be given good advice, whether you become a client or not.

G transferred her pension 4 years ago; it has grown significantly over that time. “Chris has always been consultative and there when we need him.”

J transferred his pension 6 years ago. “It has grown well over that time. Whenever I have needed money from my pension Chris has arranged this for me. I would recommend him for sure.”

C transferred her pension 5 years ago. “It has grown steadily in that time (I am a cautious investor) and since then my husband and I have asked Chris to help us with our other investments.”