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Sterling after Brexit

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: BREXIT, Currencies, Elections, Italy, UK General Elections
This article is published on: 3rd December 2019

03.12.19

In this article I want to look at what has happened to sterling since Brexit and the outlook. In 2015, when the world seemed a lot more secure, GBP v EUR was trading over 1.40 and life seemed good. Anyone holding GBP based assets and incomes would find that their money went a long way. Today it is trading at 1.17.

With all this confusion it inevitably causes some uncertainty. This seed of uncertainty has shown itself nowhere better than in the continued daily swings of GBP v EUR.

It has been a while since my last E-zine. I am sure that it won’t go unnoticed that this E-zine is coinciding with the UK general election on December 12th. At the present time the Conservatives are polling for a small majority, but it would seem to be anyone’s guess as to the ultimate result.

A RECENT HISTORY OF STERLING
Around the start of 2016, after the Brexit fuse had been lit, sterling started to fall as the Leave campaign gained ground and the markets reacted nervously to a potential Leave outcome.

sterling history

Immediately after the Referendum, June 24th 2016, when the result was announced, GBP fell the most against a world basket of currencies since the introduction of free floating currencies in 1970. On June 24th 2016 it had it’s largest ever one day fall of 13%. To put this into context, when George Soros famously ‘broke the Bank of England’, and made billions by betting against sterling in 1992, resulting in its subsequent ejection from the exchange rate mechanism, sterling only fell by 4.3%. In 2009 at the height of the financial crisis sterling lost 16% but over an 11 trading day period between 8-23 September 2009. The Brexit effect was huge.

I remember calling some currency brokers in the City of London early in the morning of June 24th 2016 and asking what was happening on the trading floor. The only responses I got were “fortunes have been made this morning!” and “it’s chaos over here”.

Roll on 2019 and as you will see from the charts below, since 2017, after the drop, sterling has traded within a range of values and has only experienced a ‘relative’ peak around the middle of this year.

STERLING CHART 2015 TO 2019

STERLING CHART 2015 TO 2019

STERLING CHART 2017 TO 2019

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR GBP V EUR?
In my travels around Italy to talk to clients this is the most asked question. Since the highs of 2015, there has been an approximate 20% loss in the value of your GBP assets and incomes. For anyone living on a fixed income, i.e. pensions or living from assets, this is starting to have an effect. In the past year the number of clients asking to top up their income from their assets has increased. This withdrawal effect represents a net reduction in your overall asset base, when that money might have been spent on future medical needs, inheritance for children, or just for future living costs.

Therefore, it is no surprise to me that I am asked frequently for my opinion on the matter, and additionally whether you should be thinking about converting assets into euro, to hedge against further falls.

MY RESPONSE
I have been speaking to asset managers in London and currency specialists over the last year about this subject to try and get a feel for the ‘word on the street’. I can tell you that the theme has always been the same and nearly all asset managers say the same thing. Sterling is desperately undervalued if we measure it against the fundamentals such as productivity of the economy, GDP v debt etc. Very simply, this means that when compared against all measures, sterling should be trading quite a bit higher against the Euro. The uncertainty surrounding Brexit is depressing the value more than anything else, rather than the actual event itself.

The rational thinking is that the currency markets, at this point in time: 3 years after the vote, are desperate for an outcome, whether that be a deal or remain (we cannot exclude no-deal, but for now it appears to have been put to rest). If we are to assume that the Conservatives win a majority (no matter how small) then there could be a bounce in sterling in anticipation that Boris Johnson’s deal is likely to be passed in parliament and provide the certainty that the financial markets are desperately searching for. The deal being passed ‘could’ create conditions for ‘another rimbalzo’ in the price of sterling. My guess is that it would bounce quickly after any decision was taken, although these are only educated guesses.

caution

You may now be thinking, ‘how much would it likely rise?’. Well, if I knew that then I would be a very rich man indeed. In all honesty, no one can say for sure. I am not a betting man but I wouldn’t be looking to place any sizeable bets on it even if I were.

I remember that at The Spectrum IFA Group annual conference in January this year in Portugal, we had a speaker, David Coombes from Rathbones Asset Managers. He gave his outlook for sterling based on the 2 parameters he had set for the fund he manages. In the event of no deal he had GBP/EUR at 0.9 and in the event of a return to remain he placed GBP/EUR at 1.4. He went on to say that for any scenario in between you can pick your own point.

Going further in my own assessment of things, I personally think that if a deal is passed, or remain wins (in my dreams), then sterling is going to rise, but by how much I wouldn’t like to say. However, we must remember that ‘getting Brexit done’ is a illusion in itself. Passing a deal in parliament is only the start. The UK then has to formally leave the EU and start negotiating trade deals around the world. Some will likely fall in place very quickly, Canada, Australia, South Africa, maybe even the USA, but the deal with the EU and important future trade deals with India, China etc will likely take years and may not be as good as Brexiteers might hope for.

To give you an example of how difficult these trade deal negotiations might be, let’s take the example of Switzerland versus China and their trade deal which they struck in 2013. Everyone is aware of the rapid growth of the Chinese economy and how almost every nation in the world would like to strike a free trade deal with China to access the billions of growing middle class individuals and a rapidly growing consumerist economy. Switzerland is one of very few countries outside the Asia Pacific region to do so. However, Switzerland had to make some large sacrifices to get that deal, mainly that the Chinese negotiated FULL and free access to the Swiss economy for a period of 10 years during which time Switzerland would have only very LIMITED access to certain sections of the Chinese economy. The Swiss deemed this to be a good deal! It just goes to prove that deal making around the world is not going to be as easy as the Leave campaign would like us to believe.

Any protracted deal making phase may well be a negative effect for sterling and after any initial bounce on the back of some certainty, you might see sterling enter a volatile period once again, certainly as the unravelling from the EU also takes effect. I don’t buy into Project Fear and think that the UK will find its way in the world outside the EU, but like any divorce it will get messy for some time. The question is for how long and what impact will this have on the currency.

MY ADVICE
In summary, if you have money in sterling and ask me for advice, I will say that you should not convert it into euro right now. I will caveat that with the fact that neither I nor the best currency expert in the world can tell you what will happen, but it is a reasonable assumption that sterling will rise when the next steps of Brexit are resolved one way or the other. What happens after that is anyone’s guess. If you need to convert to euro then I would suggest doing so in tranches, or holding on until after Dec 12th to see what happens. Then pick your time, keep an eye on the rate and convert on the peaks.

(I am adding this note after having completed this E-zine. Our rep from Currencies Direct, our preferred currency exchange partner, called me about 5 minutes after completing this text and we had a chat about GBP expected movements in relation to the elections. She said that they are thinking that GBP v EUR could bounce to the mid 1.20’s if Boris Johnson wins the election with a majority. This is not a prediction, merely a hypothesis!)

Your right to vote and the risk of doing nothing

By John Hayward - Topics: BREXIT, Spain, UK General Elections
This article is published on: 31st October 2019

31.10.19

So we pass another Brexit date with 31st January 2020 the next one. I have some questions:

  • Will there be a (another) referendum before?
  • Who will win the General Election on 12th December?
  • Does anyone in a position of power really care?
  • What will I get for Christmas?

These are all unknowns, to me at least, but there are two that I can have an influence on. If I´m good, I could get something nice for Christmas. Perhaps a matching sock for last year´s. I could also have an effect on who gets elected in the UK on 12th December.

The 15 year rule
It is generally known that one has up to 15 years to register to vote in General Elections in the UK having moved abroad. Although there has been talk about abolishing this rule, it still exists. One aspect generally unknown is that you have the right to vote if you registered within the last 15 years after moving abroad. Therefore, this means that you can vote in the upcoming election if you registered on or after 12th December 2004. In my case, after leaving the UK in late 2004, I believed that I had missed the opportunity by a month or so. In fact, and because I registered to vote in the 2005 election, I have been told by my last constituency office that I have until 2020 to continue voting.

If you left the UK within the last 15 years then you simply register now. I believe that you have up until 25th November to do so. If you have registered to vote within the last 15 years, after leaving the UK, I suggest that you get confirmation from your last constituency office and then register to vote in the coming election at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.

Unfortunately, this could be an election based purely on Brexit. We know more now than we did in June 2016 and so, hopefully, whoever wins, there will be clear direction and they get on with leaving or staying.

Lost benefits waiting for Brexit
Many people have delayed making decisions due to Brexit uncertainty, especially when it comes to buying property or investing. On the property side, this has meant missing out on property value gains, lost rental revenues, or simply a delay in the dream move. From our side, in the investment world, those who have been invested in the types of cautious fund that we promote have seen their money grow by over 20% since the referendum in June 2016. At the same time, for those people who have left their money in the bank in readiness for what they didn´t really know, have seen their money reduce in real value by around 11% through inflation. In simple terms, £100,000 invested in a low risk fund would now be worth £120,000, £107,000 when allowing for 11% inflation. Left in the bank, with no interest, £89,000. People would be up in arms if they were told that their bank was charging them 2% (£2,000 in this example) a year in charges but this is effectively what inflation has caused and has been the consequence of ‘playing safe’.

There´s probably another ‘Brexit’ around the corner, but life goes on. I look forward to receiving my sock regardless of who is Prime Minister on 25th December.

To find out more about how you could benefit from quality financial planning advice and years of experience both in Spain and the UK, contact me today on +34 618 204 731 (call or WhatsApp) or at john.hayward@spectrum-ifa.com

Whatever will be, will be

By Dennis Radford - Topics: BREXIT, Costa Blanca, Investments, Spain
This article is published on: 3rd June 2019

03.06.19

It was announced last week that Doris Day had passed. She died on May 13, 2019, at the age of 97, after having contracted pneumonia. Doris Mary Kappelhoff was born on April 3, 1922. Just imagine the changes Miss Day witnessed during her lifetime.

Don’t waste your time trying to second guess.
Whilst the ongoing saga of Brexit and the numerous delays can be frustrating, we really should make the best of the additional time this gives us.

Do you remember the panic across the Expatriate community on the initial Brexit announcement?

  • You must ensure you residency application is processed in time!
  • You must ensure your Social Security and Health Care are in place!
  • You must change your driving license!

We are likely to have until 31st October 2019 before we leave the EU, which means you have additional time to put these things in place.

There are, of course, other areas where we may want to use the extra time positively.

Did you know?
In the 2017 Spring Budget, HMRC announced a new 25% charge on overseas pension transfers. Most expats living in Spain were unconcerned by this as it did not apply to pension transfers within the EU.

This is likely to change post Brexit. It is widely thought that HMRC in the UK will apply this 25% charge to your pension transfer post Brexit.

Use this time wisely. If transferring your pension is suitable for your situation, you should act now and save the charge being applied to your pension.

Since the day David Cameron, the then Prime Minister, announced that there would be a referendum on the UK´s membership of the EU, people have been fearful due to the uncertainty as to what will happen post Brexit.

In the last three years, life has continued in the financial world and investment markets have risen significantly. At the same time, inflation hasn´t disappeared just because Brexit is on the menu.

With dividends reinvested, £100,000 would be worth around £136,000 as at 18th February 2019. If we allow for inflation, this would be more like £128,000 but still 28% up. If the £100,000 had been left in a bank account, with no interest, which is commonplace these days, the true value would now be more like £91,000. Waiting for Brexit has cost the wait and see person £9,000.

Brexit proof your investments using top UK financial institutions
If you are living in France, Spain, Luxembourg or Belgium, did you know that certain large, household name UK financial institutions offer products locally from
Dublin based sister organisations?

These products are both EU regulated and tax efficient in the country where you live.
For example, one of the largest Insurance companies in the UK offers a fully French compliant (Dublin based) Assurance Vie. Another offers a Branch 23 product, which is tax efficient in Belgium. Both companies offer a tax efficient solution for Spanish residents.

As a result, should the UK leave the EU, you can still invest with companies whose names you know and trust, in a tax efficient manner, in the country you call home.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss any of these points in more detail.

The danger of waiting for Brexit

By John Hayward - Topics: BREXIT, Interest rates, Investment Risk, Investments, Spain
This article is published on: 22nd February 2019

22.02.19

There are many questions that we don´t know the answers to regarding Brexit. There are also questions that we don´t yet know. However, some facts are known. One of these is concerning investing, or not, since 20th February 2016.

This was the day that David Cameron, the then Prime Minister, announced that there would be a referendum on the UK´s membership of the EU. People have been fearful due to the uncertainty as to what will happen post-Brexit.

In the last three years, life has continued in the financial world and investment markets have risen significantly. At the same time, inflation hasn´t disappeared just because Brexit is on the menu. Figure 1 below shows how the FTSE100 has performed since 20th February 2016 along with the UK Retail Price Index.

With dividends reinvested, £100,000 would be worth around £136,000 as at 18th February 2019. If we allow for inflation, this would be more like £128,000 but still 28% up. If the £100,000 had been left in a bank account, with no interest which is commonplace these days, the true value would now be more like £91,000. Waiting for Brexit has cost the wait and see person £9,000.

Figure 1. Performance of the FTSE100 since the referendum announcement in February 2016 along with the UK Retail Price Index.

There are people who are not happy taking on investments which carry risk.

If we ignore the risk of inflation for the time-being, we have solutions which can cater for those who are happy taking some investment risk but without the volatility of stocks and shares.

Figure 2 illustrates that an investment with approximately an eighth* of the risk of the FTSE100 has still managed to perform well, certainly when compared to inflation. One must bear in mind costs but, even allowing for these, people who were invested in this type of investment on 20th February 2016 would have seen an increase of around 23%.

Taking inflation into consideration, it would still have produced growth of around 14%; a lot better than “losing” 9% by leaving the money in the bank.

Figure 2. Performance of a low risk investment along with the UK Retail Price Index

With the exchange rate between GBP and Euros down about 11% over the same period, the need to receive more in income has become even more important. Losing 20% or so in real spending power has proven to be a tough pill to swallow. Get in contact so that the possible “Never Ending Story” of the Brexit can being kicked down the road doesn´t lose you even more over the coming years.

To find out how we can help you with our financial planning in a manner protecting you and your loved ones, contact me at john.hayward@spectrum-ifa.com or call/WhatsApp 0034 618 204 731

* Source: Financial Express

Possible effects of Brexit in Spain

By Charles Hutchinson - Topics: BREXIT, Spain, United Kingdom
This article is published on: 6th December 2018

06.12.18

At 11pm on March 29, 2019, the United Kingdom will officially leave the European Union.

Much has been written about the millions of Europeans living in the UK and the millions of Britons living in Europe, but little about the tax consequences for Britons who are non-resident in Spain but have interests in the country, mainly owning real estate properties.

Britons could lose the following tax benefits in Spain when the United Kingdom leaves the EU:

Non-resident income tax on real estate: the Spanish Government imputes a benefit in kind to owners of holiday houses that is taxable as income. By definition, a house owned by a non-resident cannot be their main home, so every non-resident owner of a house in Spain, even if it is not rented out, has to declare an imputed income and pay taxes on that income annually. The income tax rate is 19% for those living in an EU member state, Iceland and Norway, but it is 24% for the rest.

Therefore, Britons could end up paying 24% tax on the imputed income instead of current 19%.

Rental income tax: non-resident owners of Spanish properties who get income from renting them out are liable to Spanish non-resident income tax on the gross income. However, those living in an EU member state, Iceland and Norway are entitled to offset some costs from their rental income and therefore are taxed only on the net profit.

Therefore, Britons could end up paying 24% tax on gross income with no deductibles, compared to the current 19% on net profit.

Inheritance and gift tax: regional governments are empowered to regulate this tax, the consequence being that the tax liability will vary depending on the region. The difference can be substantial.

Non-residents are subject to Federal law, which is normally less favourable than Regional law. However, those living in an EU member state, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein can choose the application of the most favourable legislation for their situation, Federal law or Regional law (in which the properties of major value are located).

Therefore, Britons could lose the right to apply for Regional law. In Andalucía, for example, there is a threshold of 1 million euro, meeting certain requirements, to which Britons could not be entitled.

This is just a short list of the possible tax consequences of Brexit. The UK may join the EEA (European Economic Area) like Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. If the Norway-style agreement is adopted, a major part of EU law could still apply, but that is by no means clear at this point.

*Source: JC&A Abogados (Santiago Lapausa)

BREXIT and our right to remain in Spain

By Barry Davys - Topics: Barcelona, BREXIT, Residency, Spain
This article is published on: 29th November 2018

29.11.18

Brexit and our Right to Remain in Spain

There is much work still being carried out by both teams in the Brexit negotiations, despite the Withdrawal Agreement. However, until all issues have been agreed upon, including the Northern Ireland border issue, fish and Gibraltar, and the UK Parliament has approved the agreement, nothing is certain about the Brexit.

For those of us living in Spain, there is something we can do now which provides some protection. We have been recommended to do this by the British Embassy in Spain. The action we can take now is to register for “Permanent Residency”.

Without having to give up our British passport or take Spanish citizenship, we can apply for permanent residence if we have lived here for more than five years. This gives us the same rights as a Spanish person to reside in Spain. Making this application whilst Britain is still part of the EU will be easier than when Britain is not part of the EU.

If you already have a residency card, please check to see whether it contains the word “Permanente”. If it does, you have already completed this process. If you have a card that does not include this word, you should complete this process.

I am applying for permanent residency as I write this article and it is not (famous last words) onerous. Other people who have completed it have found the same. There are good notes, including information on what is required to make the application, at this web address. There are two forms that are required: one is the application form and the other is the payment of the fee form. Supporting documentation is also required; this is listed in the notes on the website above.

The completed forms are submitted at your police station that deals with “extranjeros”. There are several in Barcelona, but in the Costa Brava, Girona is the place to go. Some advice suggests that the payment form should be first taken to the police station and then to the bank. Others suggest payment first (an online option is available) and then taking proof of payment with your application to the police station.

The application form is the Modelo EX-18 here and the payment form is the Modelo 790.

Confirmation of our residency status is essential for our tax situation too. I therefore recommend that if you can, you apply for permanent residency. Please feel welcome to Whatsapp me if you wish to discuss your situation at +34 645 257 525 or email barry.davys@spectrum-ifa.com

 

 

 

 

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Deal or No Deal…?

By John Hayward - Topics: Article 50, BREXIT, eu citizens, Spain
This article is published on: 20th November 2018

20.11.18

As someone who has lived and worked in Spain for more than 14 years, and keen to stay here with my family for the foreseeable future (children moving to other climes accepted), I am very interested in the rights of British citizens in Spain post Brexit. A colleague of mine is part of a group in Italy set up to protect the rights of British citizens there. A member of this group has put together a very comprehensive list (non-exhaustive) of things that you may need to do to prepare for a No Deal Brexit scenario, which after the events last week, seems to be becoming an ever-closer reality. I have made the list more Spanish.

Whilst there may be some deal agreed anywhere up to teatime on the 29th March 2019, there are several items on the list which many people should already be applying.

At the same time we don´t want to get caught up in scaremongering, I have come across several reassuremongers who just choose to live in the “it won´t affect me” world. There are already changes being made to British statutes in readiness for leaving the EU, with or without a deal. Getting one´s house in order now is almost certainly going to be easier than from 30th March 2019 onwards.

Here is your almost definitive list of things to do to prepare for a NO Deal Brexit.

1. MAKE SURE YOU ARE LEGALLY RESIDENT IN SPAIN UNDER CURRENT RULES.

That means you should:

  • Apply for residencia under the current rules. As an EU citizen you must register as a resident if you plan on living in Spain for more than 3 months.
  • You should register in person at the Oficina de Extranjeros (immigration office) or designated police station in the province where you live.
  • Before going to your local Oficina de Extranjeros or designated police station, you must make an appointment online, which can be done on the Spanish public administration website.
  • Once on the online appointment booking system, you should select the province where you live and then the option “Certificados UE” and follow the instructions to select and confirm your appointment time.
  • When you go to your appointment, you will be required to provide documents to support your application. You will need evidence of a specified minimum level of financial income which could be in the form of a letter from your Spanish bank manager and, if you are not working, private health insurance or an S1 (which you obtain from the UK if a pensioner). This will evidence your legal residence in Spain and give you proof that you were legally resident on 29 March 2019. This may be like gold dust in the case of a no deal exit, and if there is a Withdrawal Agreement it will help you benefit from a streamlined process to receive a new card if necessary under post-Brexit rules.
  • Years of living in Spain do not necessarily count – only legal residence. So if you have been living ‘under the radar’ so-to-speak, try to rectify the situation in advance of 29th March 2019.
  • Apply for a Residencia de carácter permanente (‘permanent residence’) under existing EU provisions if you have been legally resident for at least 5 years. It is the best evidence that most of us can have of our long-standing residence in Spain.
  • Make sure that you’ve submitted tax returns in Spain. As a resident, (whether in the first 5 years or afterwards with Residencia de carácter permanente, you are required to submit tax returns and pay tax in Spain on your global assets, income and gains even if all of them originate from the UK).
    Make sure that you either have private health insurance (obligatory for the first 5 years of residence unless you have an S1 from the UK or are working), or that you’re registered in the Spanish health system (e.g. you already have a Residencia de carácter permanente under existing EU provisions).

2. CREATE, AND KEEP UP TO DATE, A DOSSIER, AS IF YOU ARE APPLYING FOR RESIDENCIA OR RESIDENCIA DE CARÁCTER PERMANENTE OR CIUDADANÍA ESPAÑOLA, IN PARTICULAR:

  • Collate copies of as many of your tax returns as you can get – tax returns, proofs of payment and receipt. These days there is online access to your tax files and records.
  • Put together a file of utility bills for at least 10 years if you can. This will prove your continued residence.
  • If your name is not on the bills for your household, or on any utility bills, get it added now.
  • For women in particular: make sure that the name on bills, bank statements, pension statements, payslips etc. matches the name on your passport if possible.
  • Put together a file of bank statements, wage slips and/or pension statements for the last 5 years if you’ve lived here that long. Longer is even better – 10 years is best. You may need these to prove the stability and sufficiency of your resources.

3. CHECK YOUR PASSPORT
Make sure your passport will be valid for several months after 29 March 2019. If not, consider renewing it early. Also, check your signature.

4. MAKE SURE YOU ARE IN SPAIN ON 29TH AND 30TH MARCH 2019
This is probably not the best time to make a family visit to the UK! Transport could be chaotic, with no agreements on air or other travel between the UK and EU.

5. TOP UP YOUR MEDICATION

  • If you currently rely on an S1 form for access to the Spanish health service and/or you need regular medication, think about making sure you have a good supply of it on 29 March 2019.
  • If the worst happens and the reciprocal health care system stops on that date it might take several weeks to get an alternative system up and running and there may be short term chaos. Making sure that you have the permitted 3 months of long-term medication would mean that you’d avoid having to pay full whack for your meds or being without a family doctor while the situation was resolved.

6. CHECK YOUR DRIVING LICENCE

  • If you’re still using a UK driving licence, apply for a Spanish licence now. It’s relatively straightforward and for most people, it can be exchanged (with some fees and a medical) without having to take a full Spanish driving test (theory and practical). It’s possible that UK licences will not be valid in the EU in the case of a no deal Brexit.
  • Consider applying for an International Driving Permit if you regularly drive in the UK.

7. THINK ABOUT MOVING MONEY
If you have bank accounts, savings or investments in the UK, consider moving them to Spain or into Spanish compliant vehicles, or some other EU jurisdiction now. Sterling may drop suddenly in the case of a no deal exit; there may also be temporary problems moving money in and out of the EU.

8. TRY TO HAVE A FINANCIAL BACKSTOP
If at all possible, try and make sure you have access to enough cash to see you through two or three months, especially if your income comes from the UK and is transferred monthly.

9. CONSIDER YOUR PERSONAL PENSION
If you have a personal pension (not state or public service occupational) and have not yet retired, think seriously about cashing it in if you’re old enough (take financial advice on the tax implications of cashing it in before doing so), or transferring it. A detailed pension analysis would be required to look at the suitability of doing so but it might just be possible to remove your pension from future UK political and tax problems as a result of No Deal Brexit scenario. There may be issues with passporting rights after Brexit that could cause problems with insurers making payments to those living outside the UK.

10. LOOK AT WAYS YOU CAN MAXIMISE YOUR INCOME AND MINIMISE YOUR EXPENSES

  • This applies particularly if the bulk of your income is in sterling, which may take a serious hit after a no deal exit. Can you survive if sterling hits parity? Goes below parity? What’s your bottom line? What can you do to turn your income into euro income?
  • Create a personal financial contingency plan. Look at ways you can cut your spending temporarily, and at ways you could create additional income.
    Get any potentially expensive dental or optical work done now.

11. IF YOU HAVE A BUSINESS THAT RELIES ON ATTRACTING PEOPLE FROM THE UK.

  • Can you change your client demographic? Whatever the deal or no deal, British people may limit their travel to the EU next year and you may need to find new clients if you’re to survive financially. Make sure you have a website in the language of the nationality of people you may wish to attract, if you haven’t already, and that you begin to advertise NOW to attract other customers.
  • But …
  • If there is a no-deal Brexit, it is uncertain as to whether you will be able to continue to run a business at all.
  • Even if there is a deal, you may not be able to provide services to customers in other Member States: that is still to be decided.

12. PUT SOME WORK INTO LEARNING SPANISH

  • Whether there is a deal or not, we may be required to re-apply for residencia and/or Residencia de carácter permanente.
  • We do not know whether a minimum level of Spanish language ability will be required (to date it has not been), but it is a good opportunity to work on the language skills. If nothing else, it opens other social doors and means you don´t have to stick to the same bar, club, or shop

13. THINK ABOUT, OR RE-THINK ABOUT, APPLYING FOR SPANISH CITIZENSHIP

  • For many people, their British identity and nationality is important to them and the idea of taking out Spanish citizenship has been regarded as ‘only as a last resort’. For some of us, a no deal Brexit might be that ‘last resort’. Spanish citizenship won’t guarantee all the rights you currently hold as an EU citizen (mutual recognition of professional qualifications, for example) but it will guarantee you the right to reside and to work – and as an EU citizen you’d continue to benefit from full free movement rights.
  • It you are thinking of applying for Spanish citizenship, try to ensure your application is lodged before 29 March 2019. The Spanish authorities do not say how long the process will take but assume at least months (las cosas de pálacio van despacio). In addition, language tests will be required (see point 13). If you’ve already made the application, there is more chance of everything passing through than if you wait till after 29 March when all the rules may change.
  • Be aware that taking out Spanish citizenship may affect the taxation of certain pensions and you should take good financial advice before applying.

14. MARRY A SPANIARD
This may not be as easy as it once was, with changes to immigration laws, but it might be a solution for you, especially where children are involved.

15. GET YOUR PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS RECOGNISED NOW

  • The European Commission has said that, whatever the outcome of the negotiations, Brexit does not affect decisions made pre-Brexit by EU27 countries recognising UK qualifications under the general EU directive on the recognition of professional qualifications (Directive 2005/36/EC). For details of which qualifications are covered see
  • ec.europa.eu/growth/single-market/services/free-movement-professionals/qualificationsrecognition_en
  • So if you have a UK qualification covered by that Directive and you need to be able to use it, apply to get it recognised before March 30th 2019.

16. ABOVE ALL…DON’T PANIC.

  • This is about hoping (and working) for the best, while preparing for the worst. Whatever happens, you won’t be alone.

And there you have it. There isn’t a better list anywhere about what to do in a NO Deal Scenario. I would like to say that I think that some kind of deal/arrangement will be agreed in the end because there is too much at stake on both sides of the Brexit divide, BUT I have to admit that I was wrong about Brexit happening in the first place and also about the election of Donald Trump as US president. I was convinced neither would happen. This time I am taking precautions and implementing most of the items on this list. I hope you do too.

Brexit uncertainty and much more…

By John Hayward - Topics: BREXIT, Costa Blanca, Spain, UK bank accounts
This article is published on: 19th September 2018

19.09.18

Brexit uncertainty, losing access to UK bank accounts, victims of mis-sold pension and investment plans, personal visits from HMRC, and kids (sort of) go back to school

Brexit uncertainty
Not for the first time, I was asked how Brexit would affect my work in Spain. My standard answer is I don´t know, in the same way I don´t know for sure what the weather is going to be like tomorrow, irrespective of the forecasts which are given. Based on warnings, especially from social media sources, the weekend should have seen us floating down to Masymas on a dinghy. As it turned out, we had a pretty heavy shower providing some surface water in which a toy dinghy would probably have avoided running aground. Of course, I understand that other parts of Spain have suffered; coastal areas have been hit with tornadoes and waterspouts. My point is, even if you have a good idea what is going to happen, it is rare that things will happen as predicted. In fact, I´m not sure that anyone actually predicted the tornadoes. This happens so often in the financial world. With Brexit, I do not know what will happen. Deal or no deal. Take the money or open the box. Perhaps just phone a friend when necessary. I will just continue to jump the hurdles as they are laid out and not base my actions, or those of my family, on media guesswork, which is often a mile off the result.

Losing access to UK bank accounts
Headlines, both in newspapers and on the television, gave a couple of elderly people a shock. They believed they would lose access to their UK bank accounts after a no deal Brexit. This story first appeared in August this year and was highlighted again this week on television. The fact is that there will be certain banking facilities which, if there is no deal, may or may not, be available for a person living outside the UK. This refers more to deposit and loan arrangements, not to the account itself. Receiving money in the form of a pension may also be an issue in that, according to those who appear to know, making a payment from a UK pension to an EU country will be illegal. The alternative will be to have the payment made to a UK bank account for onward transfer to, say, Spain. For those, especially pensioners, who do not have a UK bank account after moving to Spain, it would be a good idea to open one in readiness for what might happen.

Mis-sold pension and investment plans
Unfortunately, I am being asked to help more and more with people who are suffering from poor financial advice. They have savings and pension arrangements that contain investments which arguably are not suitable and, to make matters worse, have not performed leaving policyholders with significant losses. In some cases, there is little we can do. The damage has already been done. However, in other cases we can restructure without incurring additional large set up costs, which are often part of the reason why these plans have not performed. We are always willing to take a look at investments without charging anything. If there is something that we can do, it will be organised in a fair and equitable manner with the details, blood, guts, and all, explained before you commit.

HMRC comes to the Costa Blanca
There was a presentation in Moraira this week with representatives from Her Majesty´s Revenue and Customs focusing on the obligation for UK tax residents to declare income from assets they hold outside the UK such as rent from a property or interest (no joke intended) on bank deposits or gains on investments. People have up until 30th September 2018 to make this declaration. For more detail you can visit this page from the UK Government website: www.gov.uk/government/news/hmrc-warns-its-time-to-declare-offshore-assets

The concern for some people was that they, as Spanish residents, had to declare, having missed the point, understandably, that the declaration was to be made by UK residents for foreign assets outside the UK. We already have the asset declaration for Spanish tax residents in the form of the Modelo 720. At Spectrum we can show you ways to position money within investments in what will still be EU jurisdictions post Brexit so that a) you don´t have to worry about what happens once the UK leaves b) you don´t have to declare the investment separately as this is carried out on your behalf and c) the beneficial tax calculation will still apply.

Kids back to school
Friday 7th September was the last day of summer holidays for our children, although my son will argue that they will continue until Christmas when the festive season kicks in. Since they were last in school, what seems like 10 months ago, but is actually only (!) 10 weeks, it is guaranteed that there will be a book missing or a broken pink pencil, our daughter´s favourite. However, we cannot get too excited. For our daughter, September is only half days and so work/school juggling is still a skill we have to develop.

To find out how we can help you with our financial planning in a manner protecting you and your loved ones, contact me at john.hayward@spectrum-ifa.com or call/WhatsApp 0034 618 204 731

Moving to, or living in Spain after Brexit – What do you need to do?

By Chris Burke - Topics: BREXIT, Residency, Spain
This article is published on: 20th August 2018

20.08.18

If you have been living in Spain lawfully for at least five years, you will be able to apply for indefinite permission to reside there, which is termed ‘permiso de residencia de larga duración’ simply meaning ‘long term residence permit’. Note that you cannot apply until the UK has ‘potentially’ finally left the EU.

Apart from this, there are four main conditions to be able to remain in Spain after Brexit:

  1. No criminal record
  2. That you have not been ejected from Spain OR from a country which Spain has a verbal agreement with
  3. You have private health insurance
  4. You have a net monthly income of at least €799 for a family of two, and a further €266 per month for each additional family member

However, if after Brexit you have not been in Spain for 5 years but are living there legally, there is no great need to worry. The time you have spent there will count towards the 5 years and as long as you meet the above criteria, you will then be able to apply for the ‘permiso de residencia de larga duracion’. What you might have to do though, is apply for permission for what you will be doing in Spain. For example, if a retiree, you might need to ask to be that in Spain. Or, if you wish to work (see more about this below) you will need to apply for this also. If you wish to holiday for less than 3 months at a time, then you should not need to apply to remain in Spain for this. Before Brexit, obviously none of this was required.

Working, or not working, in Spain – after Brexit
If you wish to move to Spain after Brexit, but NOT work in Spain, you will need to apply for a ‘permiso de residencia no lucrativa’ meaning essentially a ‘non profit visa’. You will also have to prove you have money to live on, such as a regular permanent income (a salary would not count for this) or through bank statements showing that a minimum balance has been maintained over at least the last year, with your name and account number.

If you are an employee of a company in Spain, then they should be taking care of your application to stay.

Moving to Spain after Brexit as self employed
If you are looking to move to Spain and work for yourself, you can apply to be self employed, or ‘Autonomo’. You will need to be able to demonstrate the following, as well as applying for permanent residence as set out above, i.e. ‘permiso de residencia de larga duración’. The commercial activity you will be doing must comply with Spanish rules and you must:

  1. have the relevant qualifications
  2. have sufficient funds to invest in the activity to make it viable
  3. give the number of people you will employ, if any
  4. have sufficient funds to support yourself, on top of the funds for the activity (see above)
  5. Provide a business plan which makes sense to the Spanish Authorities
  6. not be suffering from a serious illness

Retiring in Spain after Brexit
When looking to retire in Spain after Brexit, there will be several criteria to fulfil and adhere to in your application. Those are:

  1. No illnesses that are a serious public risk (eg smallpox, SARS)
  2. €2130 monthly income for the main earner in the family, and an additional €532 for each dependant
  3. Proof of ability to sustain this income for one year

Note, after you have resided in Spain for 5 years, you can then apply for ‘permiso de residencia de larga duración’ as mentioned above and will only need to adhere to those criteria moving forward from that point.

The process – what happens when you are accepted?
When you have been accepted, you will be issued a visa within 1 month and you must enter Spain within 3 months for this to remain valid. If you have permission to work and you do not register with the social security office within three months of your arrival, your right to remain will lapse.

Where to apply when moving to Spain, after Brexit
To apply for permission to live in Spain, you go to your local Spanish Consulate, even if you are not living in your country of origin. The process is thus: the Spanish consulate confirms whether all the relevant documents are in order and that everything has been provided that needs to be. They, in turn, send this to a Spanish Government office who will decide if they will give you permission to move to Spain.

If your application is successful
If applying to live in Spain without working and you are successful, you can then pick up your visa within one month. If applying to work, you will then be asked to make this application, again within one month, once you have been given the ok to reside in Spain.

The visas are valid for one year, when it needs to be renewed for periods of two years moving forward. During this whole time, you need to abide by the rules mentioned above including having the required income to live/run your business. Then, after you have lived in Spain for five years you can apply for ‘permiso de residencia de larga duración’ and solely adhere to those rules, again as mentioned above.
Once you have moved to Spain legally, your rights, taxes and your families rights will be the same as any citizen of the EU. Like everyone else, having lived in Spain for 10 years, you can, if you wish, apply for Spanish residency. To do this you need to demonstrate that you have integrated into Spanish society, including speaking the language and understanding the culture.

If you would like to receive further important updates on living in or moving to Spain, as an English speaker, sign up to Chris’s Newsletter here:

Life assurance investment policies and Brexit

By John Lansley - Topics: Assurance Vie, BREXIT, France, Investments
This article is published on: 15th August 2018

15.08.18

Is the uncertainty over Brexit causing you uncertainty over whether to stay in France or not? Whichever side of the Brexit divide you are on, and in the knowledge that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”, there are some important issues to be aware of concerning life assurance-based investments and indeed insurance policies in general.

It is possible that ‘equivalence’ rules will apply, and UK insurers will continue to be treated after Brexit as they are currently. But bear in mind that some of the comments in this article are made against a background of a possible ‘no-deal’ scenario, where financial services would be hit hard, so it’s important to look objectively at some of the likely implications when considering your future options.

Firstly, in order to set the scene, Brexit is set to take effect at the end of next March, following which there may be a transitional period of 15 months, during which much will continue as at present. For many of us the most important question is whether we are able to remain in France (or other EU27 country) or whether we will have to, or simply wish to, return to the UK.

With such a move comes the question of if and when you cease to be tax resident in France and instead become UK tax resident again. This is a complex area, and of course many will have been spending large parts of each year in both countries, perhaps technically risking UK residence already, and clearly this is an issue that many will need to address in detail.

For those who have investments held via life policies, and who enjoy all the benefits these offer, a change in tax residence is an event that necessitates an early review of such investments in order to determine whether they can continue as they are or whether any changes need to be considered, and this is a matter you should discuss with your financial adviser at the earliest opportunity.

French Assurances Vie
These are offered by insurance companies in France, Ireland and Luxembourg, and provide considerable tax and succession planning benefits. They also provide access to diverse investment possibilities in different currencies, and French law even allows you to hold individual listed company shares, so certain assurance vie contracts provide this facility, which can be very useful.

However, it’s important to realise that such flexibility will be punished by the UK’s HMRC if you become UK tax resident – this is because such a policy would be regarded as ‘highly personalised’ (see also below) and would be deemed to generate profits of 15% pa, which would be subject to your highest income tax rate. This would be the case even if losses were made during the year, and is clearly something to be avoided if at all possible.

You may not even use the facility to hold shares, and hold only funds, unit trusts or similar, but fortunately this treatment can be avoided by converting the policy to a ‘collectives only’ version before moving to the UK. SEB Life International, a major provider of such policies, offers an easy conversion process for existing policyholders and, if you hold one of their policies, it would be worth asking yourself whether requesting this conversion is appropriate – if you don’t ever intend to hold shares, and there is a vague possibility of becoming UK resident in future, it might be worth acting now.

Other assurance vie providers don’t always offer such investment flexibility, and so are unlikely to be affected, but if you are unsure you should check with your financial adviser.

UK Single Premium Policies
Many people in the UK own these as they provide significant UK tax advantages, and operate in a similar way to assurances vie (although the precise treatment is different). As is the case with French assurances vie and similar local policies in other countries, these allow the (relatively) tax-free roll up of income and gains inside the policy, and much less onerous taxation of withdrawals than is the case with income and gains from conventional investment holdings.

For those who have moved to France and who still hold such policies, the tax treatment can vary. There is no means by which profits can be taxed as long as these remain within the policy; however, withdrawals and encashment proceeds need to be declared to the tax authorities and, since tax treatment can vary from area to area, it is as well to assume that any such profits will be fully taxable.

In the past, there has perhaps been some inconsistency in how the rules are applied, but it is extremely likely that British people living in France after Brexit will find their affairs subjected to greater scrutiny, and such policies will face a much more certain and consistent treatment.

An important additional point is that UK policies suffer a form of UK corporation tax on the profits generated by the insurance company (and which therefore reduces the investment reward), which can’t be reclaimed or set against a French income tax liability, so they therefore suffer a form of double taxation that cannot be avoided.

Returning to the UK will mean that the tax benefits will continue to be available, but for those who remain in France it is important to review such policies as soon as possible – indeed, the best way forward might be to surrender the policies before Brexit and reinvest the proceeds via an assurance vie, so that all future profits will enjoy the favourable assurance vie tax regime. However, again, this is a complex area and is deserving of proper professional advice, depending on your own personal circumstances.

Offshore Policies
These are policies issued by insurance companies in the Isle of Man, Guernsey and elsewhere. These jurisdictions are not part of the UK, and hence currently not part of the EU either, but which have over many years seen a large number of policies sold to people resident in the UK and in various expatriate locations around the world.

There are two types – highly personalised (often referred to as personal portfolio bonds) and ‘collectives-only’, similar of course to the two types of assurances vie as described above.

For the UK resident, the highly personalised version is deemed to generate a gain of 15% pa, as described above, but the collectives version is treated in a similar way to the UK Single Premium Policy, with the ability to take up to 5% pa (cumulative) on a tax-deferred basis and excesses being subject to your highest income tax rate. UK policies enjoy a tax credit, which reduces the actual tax paid, but offshore policies see their excess withdrawals fully exposed because there is no tax credit given.

There are a number of ways in which tax can be mitigated, and which are beyond the scope of this article. However, returning to the UK will involve a careful review of all such policies to ensure that unnecessary tax bills are avoided, and fortunately most providers will allow you to convert the highly personalised policy to a collectives version before becoming UK resident, as long as you accept certain investment restrictions.

Anyone resident in France who holds such a policy and who intends to remain in France after Brexit should give careful consideration to whether the policy should be retained or whether it might be best to surrender it, pay whatever French tax is due, and then reinvest using, for example, an assurance vie in order to ensure ongoing tax-efficiency in France. For some, this might be a costly exercise, but it would be a one-off event and would ensure full future compliance in France at a time when many aspects of people’s affairs are subject to higher levels of scrutiny.

Policies Held In Trust
In some cases, UK and offshore life policies were set up in a simple trust, provided by the insurance company. Trusts have enjoyed a less than favourable treatment in France in recent years, but can still provide tax advantages in the UK. So, if by chance you have such a policy, whether you intend to return to the UK or remain in France will determine what action should be taken.

Other UK Insurance Policies
On moving to France, many continue to hold UK insurance policies of different types – perhaps an ongoing endowment policy, other life insurance, medical cover, car insurance and so on. It has always been important to advise your insurer of your change of residence in such a situation – simply providing a change of address on its own is not good enough, because a change of residence often means a change in the risk and hence a change in the premium. Only providing change of address details can effectively result in the insurer having a reason to reject any future claim.

However, the post-Brexit situation will mean that such continuing policies may not be effective at all, even if your insurer knows you are resident outside the UK. This is because, as with Single Premium Policies, the provider will be based outside the EU and, unless the equivalence provisions or similar are confirmed, the policies may cease to provide cover.

Other Brexit Issues
Brexit has affected, and will continue to affect, exchange rates and investments. We have seen how Sterling dropped against the Euro immediately after the referendum, as it has on other occasions of course, and this has had an immediate and lasting impact on UK sourced income and pensions for those living in the Eurozone.

What can be done? The use of specialist currency exchange providers can help but it also makes sense to reduce the overall risk by reducing reliance on such Sterling sources, wherever possible. This is not so easy if you rely on UK pensions, or property investments, but a detailed review of your assets would be an important step to take.

As for investment, the fall in Sterling was matched by a rise in the UK stockmarket, and generally the FTSE100 has continued to do well because of the large number of companies that enjoy US Dollar income streams, and which have reaped the benefits of a low Pound. But the trade and other problems Brexit is creating will mean that British businesses are likely to experience many difficulties, and therefore their ability to generate profits for shareholders (such as funds that invest in the UK and UK pension schemes) are likely to be hit.

This could be seen as a contentious issue but reliance on UK investments will exacerbate the problems caused by over-reliance on Sterling, and a more diverse approach would probably be preferable.

One area of particular interest is the decision whether or not to transfer your UK pension to a QROPS provider, as this can help address the issues of currency and investment strategy by bringing your pension capital more directly under your control.

This is another complex area that requires very specific professional involvement, but your ability to use QROPS could be curtailed after Brexit. Already, transfers to non-EEA providers have been hit by a 25% exit charge, and this may be applied across the board after Brexit takes effect.

Conclusions
Change brings threats and opportunities, and can be especially challenging when you have retired and have made great efforts to adapt to what has perhaps been a very significant lifestyle change.

Fortunately, as ever, an awareness of the likely problems means you are better equipped to make suitable preparations. Hopefully this article has shone a light on some areas that could have a very significant impact on your finances and, more importantly, has suggested possible solutions.