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Life in Lockdown

By Charles Hutchinson - Topics: Costa del Sol, investment diversification, Spain
This article is published on: 14th April 2020

14.04.20

Here we are starting the 5th week of lockdown in the Costa del Sol. What a surreal world it is compared to what we have known all our lives. I would like to think it is good for us and our moral fibre. Certainly it is morphing into a much more pleasant environment to the mess mankind was creating until the virus came along. Depending on your take on things, this is either nature seeking to redress our mishandling of this fragile planet, or it is the force we call God taking action to prevent our mass suicide. Of course, it can be argued they are both one and the same, but that discussion is for another time. I and my wife are very lucky, as is my son and his family. We live in houses with space and gardens. We are particularly lucky as we have 1.3 hectares of land and are at least 300 meters from the nearest lone house. We have dogs and can take them out for walks at will, on or off our land, and nearly always meet no one. We have fabulous views and my wife is catching up with all the stuff in the garden for which she normally does not have the time. We both work from home anyway and so our work regime has not altered.

Some of my clients in similar circumstances are also not enduring too bad a time, but the ones I feel for are those clients of mine who live alone in small apartments in urban areas and have no dogs. These are the ones I try to stay in touch with most. I am calm in the knowledge that their money is safe because they are with highly reputable companies and investment managers. And it is all about when the markets will begin to recover. It is their wellbeing that concerns me most and part of that is the reassurance they need that their security is not threatened in the long term.

Charles Hutchinson Estepona

Little Estepona has only one case so far (so lucky), it’s like a ghost town when I go down for our weekly shop. No one on the streets and the police have check points to enquire to where you are going and why and from where you have come.

You have to carry evidence on you to show what you are doing. It’s all good stuff to keep this dreadful thing outside of our city limits. But it does feel very bizarre. Telecommunications and web communications have replaced face to face and touchy feely, but that’s tolerable. The peace and quiet is incredible, you hear so much more now without the sometimes distant murmur of traffic, fireworks, helicopters and the boy racers roaring up and down our mountain road across the valley. The nightingales have arrived which is so beautiful and you can hear them even louder than before. The dawn chorus is almost deafening.

I have to say that the Spanish are bearing up extremely well. When you consider that their life is all about being out and about, socialising, meeting, kissing and hugging each other, sitting out in cafés with friends and family and just enjoying the social interaction, making huge amounts of noise, so much so that they design their homes, not for entertaining, but for spending as little time in them as possible. So now they are imprisoned for an indeterminate sentence, where they cannot go out except to buy essential food once a day, directly there and back, no meeting or touching people and if meeting someone by mistake, it must be from a distance. At the end of all this, we reckon there will be a spike in suicides, divorces and births. Our son Simon and family in Luxembourg, in the same lockdown, go to virtual drinks and dinner parties in the evenings and weekends with friends in the area. He showed us a photo of him getting ready for a dinner party. He was wearing a winged collar, black tie and dinner jacket and shorts and slippers (they can’t see the bottom half!). We’ve started them too; we have about half a dozen friends for drinks and it is hugely enjoyable. We use Zoom so that you can see everyone at the same time and chat together.

Rhona, my wife, has joined Gareth Malone’s virtual choir – I wonder if you have heard about it? The Great British Home Chorus. So far he has more than 110,000 people from all over the English speaking globe and she rehearses with him in the early evening. It is hilarious sometimes hearing these extraordinary howls from another part of the house or outside, my not hearing or seeing the great teacher conducting her.

So, what now? We really don’t know – anything could happen – gradual eradication or a resurgence of the virus? We know here there has been a partial release of lockdown for some workers, especially those who cannot work from home. There is a natural conflict between those who want to continue the lockdown to protect the health of the population and the health service and those who want to protect the economy, jobs and companies. It is very difficult to navigate a sensible course between the two. The global stock markets, which always try to predict the future (not the present nor the past), have already come off bottom with a double bounce nearly a month ago. Now this rise seems sustained for the moment or is this another dead cat bounce? What is obvious is that the markets want to get going again and advantage is being taken of these low levels by many. Those who have cash should think seriously about getting in at these levels, even if drip feeding. Some markets are already up between 20% – 30% from bottom and the potential is still there for a very healthy start to an investment, but it is not for the faint hearted. Cash is king no longer and a home has to be found for it. Make a plan, invest for the long term (at least 5 years), diversify your investments (even in multi asset funds alone), choose good investment houses and funds and stick to the plan. You will not go far wrong if you observe these simple rules.
If you would like to discuss this further, do please get in touch by contacting me as per below. I would even like to hear about your lockdown experiences!

Arts Society de La Frontera & Spectrum – Costa del Sol

By Charles Hutchinson - Topics: Costa del Sol, Spain, Sponsoring
This article is published on: 24th February 2020

24.02.20

The Spectrum IFA Group again co-sponsored an excellent Arts Society de La Frontera lecture on 19th February at the San Roque Golf & Country Club on the Costa del Sol. We were represented by one of our local and long-serving advisers, Charles Hutchinson, who attended along with our co-sponsors Currencies Direct, represented by area manager Ignacio Ortega and Alexandra Derudder. Also present was the society’s European Chairman Jo Ward.

The Arts Society is a leading global arts charity which opens up the world of the arts through a network of local societies and national events throughout the world. With inspiring monthly lectures given by some of the UK’s top experts, together with days of special interest, educational visits and cultural holidays, the Arts Society is a great way to learn, have fun and make new and lasting friendships.

At this event, over 130 attendees were entertained by a talk entitled ‘John Singer Sargent, master of the society portrait’ by Mary Alexander, who is one of the UK’s top experts on this subject. She gave an excellent lecture which was highly informative and educational, opening up the artist’s world to show his versatility away from not just being a portraitist and his much travelled life.

The talk was followed by a drinks reception which included a free raffle for prizes, including a CH supplied lovely coffee table book on the artist, champagne and an elegant pot plant. Currencies Direct also supplied a presentation bottle of brandy.

All in all, a great turnout and a very successful event at a wonderful venue which has just been renovated throughout; looking through the windows, one can see the golf course completely dug up and redesigned.

The Spectrum IFA Group was very proud to be involved with such a fantastic organisation during its current global expansion and we hope to have the opportunity to do so again.

Arts Society de La Frontera event

By Charles Hutchinson - Topics: Costa del Sol, Events, Spain
This article is published on: 27th November 2019

27.11.19

The Spectrum IFA Group again co-sponsored an excellent Arts Society de La Frontera lecture on 20th November at the San Roque Golf & Country Club on the Costa del Sol. We were represented by one of our local and long-serving Advisers, Charles Hutchinson, who attended along with our co-sponsors Prudential International in the form of George Forsythe.

The Arts Society is a leading global Arts charity which opens up the world of the arts through a network of local societies (such as in Spain) and national events throughout the world.

With inspiring monthly lectures given by some of the UK’s top experts, together with days of special interest, educational visits and cultural holidays, the Arts Society is a great way to learn, have fun and make new and lasting friendships.

At this event, over 120 attendees were entertained by a talk on Stolen Masterpieces: The Most Sensational Art Thefts in History by Shauna Isaacs who is one of the UK’s top experts in this field. She gave an excellent lecture revealing to us the history and reasons behind great art thefts. She is also a particular expert in the Nazi thefts of Art prior to and during the Second World War which she covered in a later Arts Society lecture that same day.

The talk was followed by a drinks reception which included free raffle for prizes including a CH supplied book on Stolen Masterpieces, Christmas crackers and mince pies. Prudential International donated a bottle of 12 year old whisky.

All in all, a great turnout and a very successful event at a wonderful venue, although we were in temporary accommodation as the main clubhouse is under renovation. The Spectrum IFA Group was very proud to be involved with such a fantastic organization during its current global expansion and we hope to have the opportunity to do so again.

Arts Society de La Frontera
Arts Society de La Frontera
Arts Society de La Frontera
Arts Society de La Frontera

Tax Efficient Savings

By Antony Poole - Topics: Costa del Sol, Spain, Spanish Compliant, Tax Efficient Savings
This article is published on: 10th October 2019

10.10.19

You have moved to Spain … and you are now tax resident here.

You do not want the volatility or risk of investments, but want more earnings than you get out of a savings account.

Is there a middle ground solution?

The majority of expats in Spain move over here for the weather, the more relaxed way of life and let’s face it, because they can afford to do it!

The savings, investments and pensions they built up are used to fund their lifestyle in Spain. The problem many are facing now is the changing financial environment; we have seen the pound devalue against the Euro and interest rates drop due to quantative easing, amongst other factors. This is great if you are looking at taking out a loan to start a business or to buy a house, but most expats are past this stage, so not good news.

That sum of money held in savings is absolutely vital, as it is readily accessible and, in the majority of cases, protected from what the markets are doing, i.e. when the markets go down, it doesn’t affect the cash held on deposit! However, the low interest rates mean that, due to inflation (which affects retirees the most), the purchasing power of that cash is going down.

The investment route does give you the possibility of earning more from your cash, but it also takes away all that protection. The markets have been pretty steady for the last few years, however, with quantative easing at the time of writing looking at coming to an end, so will the volatility of investments increase. The problem most expats face is that they do not have the luxury of time on their side to ride out the dips in the markets. Sorry to be so blunt, but it is what it is. When the markets climb it is all good, however, two weeks later when they are down then it can be very stressful, especially if this is when you need to access some of the money held in the investment!

So what do we do? Is there any middle ground?

Yes, there is, but it is not very sexy! It is for people who are willing to sacrifice the spikes in market prices (this is the unsexy part) while limiting exposure to drops in market prices. It is a very prudent scheme that works like this: The investment you make is combined with a pot of around

Tax Efficient Savings

£500 billion and when this investment makes money they hold some of the gain back, so you do not get it. The flip side is that when there is a dip in the performance, they put the profit back in so you are not overly affected. This is called smoothing and this chart reflects how it works. The expected return is published every three months and is currently running at around 5% (August 2019).

This is a popular product in the UK for those who are either looking at putting a portion of their savings somewhere to earn more than just interest, or for those who are looking at a stable investment fund for their pensions. It can also be set up as last life policy, so can be used to limit IHT. Many expats also use this type of policy, which is now available Spanish tax compliant (your English policy is not, so speak to me about making it Spanish compliant). This is a low risk option for those preparing for market volatility and who want a stress free life!

UK State Pension for Expats

By Antony Poole - Topics: Costa del Sol, Spain, State Pensions After BREXIT, UK Pensions
This article is published on: 20th September 2019

20.09.19

The UK Government on the 1st of September 2019 announced that the UK state pension paid to Brits retired in the EU will continue to benefit from triple-lock until 2023.

This means that until 2023 the state pension paid to EU expats will increase by the higher of either 2.5 per cent, average wage growth or the CPI rate of inflation every year. The current new state pension for those who retired after 6 April 2016 is £168.60 per week, or £8,767.20 a year. It means that those living in the EU will see their pensions increase by almost £220 a year until 2023.

The main issue is that this uplift is not given to all expats; it is given to expats in certain countries, but not others, including Australia and Canada. The UK is almost unique in the EU in distinguishing between pensioners who are living in the country and those that are not.

The move has now opened the threat of removing automatic increases that expat pensioners receive as a result of Britain’s EU membership. The cost of the uplift to EU expats is estimated by DWP to cost around £500 million per year, which is a worrying statistic.

The three year extension, regardless of a Brexit deal or not, gives a temporary boost but no long term certainty.

The effect on your income by the freezing of the state pension can be reduced through a tailored savings strategy. Should you like a confidential financial review to maximise your options please contact Antony Poole.

Arts Society Event – San Roque, Costa del Sol

By Charles Hutchinson - Topics: Costa del Sol, Spain
This article is published on: 22nd March 2019

22.03.19

The Spectrum IFA Group again co-sponsored an excellent Arts Society de La Frontera lecture on 20th March at the San Roque Golf & Country Club on the Costa del Sol. We were represented by one of our local and long-serving advisers, Charles Hutchinson, who attended along with our co-sponsors Rathbone Brothers represented by Chris Wanless. Also present was the society’s European Chairman Jo Ward and Peter Kirrage, who is on the Arts Society Global Board of Trustees.

The Arts Society is a leading global arts charity which opens up the world of the arts through a network of local societies and national events throughout the world.
With inspiring monthly lectures given by some of the UK’s top experts, together with days of special interest, educational visits and cultural holidays, the Arts Society is a great way to learn, have fun and make new and lasting friendships.

At this event, over 140 attendees were entertained by a talk on Tamara de Lempicka: Art Deco and the Roaring Twenties by Harry Fletcher, who is one of the UK’s top experts in this field. He gave an excellent lecture, revealing to us the artist and notorious personality behind the individual style one has seen everywhere but most of us never knew who it was!

The talk was followed by a drinks reception which included a free raffle for prizes including CH supplied lovely coffee table book on the artist, champagne and an elegant glass jug. Rathbones also supplied stylish personal notebooks, a 12 year old whisky and a magnum of Rioja.

All in all, a great turnout and a very successful event at a wonderful venue. The Spectrum IFA Group was very proud to be involved with such a fantastic organization during its current global expansion and we hope to have the opportunity to do so again.

Arts Society de la Frontera – Costa del Sol, Spain

By Spectrum IFA - Topics: Costa del Sol, Events, Spain
This article is published on: 20th October 2018

20.10.18

The Spectrum IFA Group again co-sponsored an excellent Arts Society de la Frontera lecture on 17th October at the San Roque Golf & Country Club on the Costa del Sol. We were represented by one of our local and long-serving advisers, Charles Hutchinson, who attended along with our co-sponsors Richard Brown and Harriette Collings from Tilney Investment Management. Tilney were invited to a private lunch afterwards where they met potential clients.

The Arts Society de la Frontera (previously named the Decorative & Fine Arts Society) is a leading arts charity which opens up the world of the arts through a network of local societies (such as in Spain) and national events throughout the world.
With inspiring monthly lectures given by some of the world’s top experts, together with days of special interest, educational visits and cultural holidays, the Arts Society is a great way to learn, have fun and make new and lasting friendships.

At this event, over 175 attendees (probably a record Spectrum sponsored attendance) were entertained by a talk on Gold in paintings and wall coverings entitled “As Good as Gold” by Alexander Epps who is one of the UK’s top experts in this field. She gave an excellent talk and engaged the audience for almost an hour!

The talk was followed by the sponsored drinks reception which included a free raffle for prizes including CH produced Champagne, wine, a tea set and a lovely coffee table book on Gold craftsmanship. Tilney also supplied a cocktail shaker designed and beautifully crafted by Viscount Linley, the Queen’s nephew, which caused a further stir after their last event’s prize!

All in all, a great turnout and a very successful event at a wonderful venue. The Spectrum IFA Group are very proud to be involved with such a fantastic organisation and we are booked to sponsor further lectures this December and March next year.

Spectrum sponsored Arts Society de la Frontera

By Charles Hutchinson - Topics: Costa del Sol, Events, Spain
This article is published on: 4th January 2018

04.01.18

The Spectrum IFA Group again co-sponsored an excellent Arts Society de la Frontera lecture on 13th December at the San Roque Golf & Country Club on the Costa del Sol.

We were represented by one of our local and long-serving Advisers, Charles Hutchinson and Jonathan Goodman, who attended along with our co-sponsors Richard Brown and Lewis Cohen from Tilney Investment Management. Tilney also very kindly hosted a lunch afterwards for the committee, the DFAS Chairman and the Lecturer.

The Arts Society is a leading international Arts charity which opens up the world of the arts through a network of local societies (such as here in the Costa del Sol) and national events throughout the world.

With inspiring monthly lectures given by some of the country’s top experts, together with days of special interest, educational visits and cultural holidays, it is a great way to learn, have fun and make new and lasting friendships.

At this event, around 110 attendees were entertained by a talk on the art of Leonard da Vinci and the Mona Lisa entitled “The Woman who ate her Husband” by Nicole Mezey who is one of the UK’s top experts in this field. She was excellent and kept the audience gripped and entertained with her knowledge and humour.

The talk was followed by a drinks reception which included a free raffle for prizes including CH produced Champagne, mince pies and a Christmas pudding, together with a fully illustrated book on Leornardo. Tilney as usual excelled themselves by providing the top prize of a wooden set of candle holders designed and beautifully crafted by Viscount Linley, the Queen’s nephew, which caused a further stir after their last two years’ prizes!

All in all, a great turnout and a very successful event at a wonderful venue. The Spectrum IFA Group were very proud to be involved with such a fantastic organisation and we hope to have the opportunity to do so again in 2018.

THE MILLIONAIRES CLUB

By Pauline Bowden - Topics: Costa del Sol, Investment Risk, Investments, Spain, wealth management
This article is published on: 24th July 2017

24.07.17

Most of us can’t join the Millionaires Club…..or can we?

So what do Millionaires do with their money? They mostly use private banking and private investment companies to manage their wealth. These institutions are usually a closed shop for the majority of investors. The private banks often want a minimum of £500,000 just to open an account!
Most of the top 100 US investment managers would expect $5,000,000 from a private investor! This same manager’s expertise can be accessed via a life assurance bond for as little as £20,000!
The Private Investment Companies are set up by very wealthy families who are willing to pay experts to manage their fortunes.
These wealthy families are guided by a philosophy of continuity. Successive generations of the family have invented investment structures to preserve and grow their wealth.

So why should we mere mortals be interested?
A few of these Private Investment Companies have opened their doors to the public, via financial institutional structures such as portfolio bonds or Life Assurance investment bonds.

This specialist investment expertise, previously denied to the likes of you and I are now allowing investments from as little as £50,000.
That may still sound like a lot of money, yet long term savings or endowment plans, the sale of a property or your tax free lump sum payable on retirement can easily exceed this amount and needs to be “preserved and grow” just like the millionaires money.

There are, of course, many tax efficient, financial instruments and structures available to suit all levels of wealth. Designed and suited to each person’s individual requirements and future financial needs.

To take advantage of this unique opportunity or to discuss this or any other financial matters, contact me for a confidential review of your personal situation.

Investments for the Cautious

By Pauline Bowden - Topics: Costa del Sol, Investment Risk, Spain, wealth management
This article is published on: 28th June 2017

28.06.17

One of the largest, most well respected, financially sound Insurance/Investment companies in the UK has an investment product compliant for residents of Spain and Gibraltar.

With 25 million customers worldwide and over 309 Billion Pounds under management, clients can feel more comfortable in the knowledge that thier assets are being well cared for by a long established, successful management team.

So what is different about this Investment Bond?
It has very low risk, with gradual steady growth, giving 3.4%+ annualised net return (after annual management charges) and up to 101.5% allocation of premium to larger investors.

For the long term cautious investor wishing to mitigate against the effects of inflation and wanting up to 5% per annum penalty free income, this could well be the perfect solution. This Life Assurance Investment Bond can be accessed from as little as €30,000, 20,000 Pounds or $30,000 and has a very competitive charging structure.

As part of an overall portfolio of assets – for the cautious part of that portfolio – it would be worth a look.

If you would like more information about this product or to make an appointment to discuss your personal needs and aspirations for your capital, please contact me for a free confidential review of your financial situation.