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Top three financial tips for expats living in Spain

By Chris Burke - Topics: Financial Planning, Inflation, Pensions, Spain, Tax in Spain
This article is published on: 22nd July 2021

22.07.21
Chris Burke | Spectrum IFA Barcelona

Hola

This month we are covering the following Hot Topics:

  • UK financial advisers are not legally able to advise EU based clients anymore
  • The important ‘rule of 72’ for investing
  • Spanish state pension inflation worry

UK investments & pension law changes
Many UK based financial advisers can no longer legally look after anyone resident in Spain or the EU due to Brexit legislation, most having already written to their clients informing them of this. However, it’s not all bad news; most UK based investments including ISAs are not tax efficient in Spain/EU, with many having to be declared annually and tax paid on any gains, EVEN if you don’t access the money. This does depend completely on your circumstances and I help people analyse their personal situation, managing their UK assets or arranging for them to become Spanish compliant moving forward.

For those with UK private pensions in drawdown, every few years to receive this money you must have a UK accountant rubber stamp this to continue. So again, you will need to find someone locally to do this for you, which we can help with.

If you have any questions or need help in respect of UK based assets, please get in touch for a free, no obligation chat/review of your situation.

Tax in Spain and the UK

The rule of 72 and poor performing investments
Implementing an investment strategy is not where your investment plan finishes; it is where it begins. Without regular reviews and maintenance there is a strong risk you will finish up with much less than you should have had. Many financial advisors here in Spain are mainly remunerated when taking on a new client, not on the performance of their investment. This is where I/Spectrum differ.

One of the many key aspects of investing is to keep a keen eye on the ‘rule of 72’, which is knowing how long before your money should double in its value. To work out the ‘rule of 72’ for your investment you use the following simple formula: divide the number 72 by the average annual interest you are receiving/likely to receive and it will tell you how many years it would take for you to double your money. So, for example, if you were averaging 4% interest per year it would take around 18 years (72/4 = 18 years), at 5% around 14 years and 6% around 12 years. To put that into a real-life scenario, if we use a starting point of €100,000 and invested over a 25 year period this amount of money would give you:

  • 4% €266,583
  • 5% €338,635
  • 6% €429,187

To put that into context, historically inflation makes your costs double every 24 years, so if your money is not well ahead of that, in real terms your monies are just keeping their present value.

Therefore, it’s imperative you really are seeing your investments growing and working for you. If they are not, I suggest you seek a second opinion and find out how you can have these optimised, because it will make a big difference to you further down the line. The main reasons for investments failing are high maintenance costs and investments that give the financial adviser a ‘kickback’. Many people don’t always understand why their investment funds are growing but their portfolio isn’t as much, and this is usually a starting point to look at.

I work in a different way, making sure it also works for the client by not using this method, but on a transparent fee basis using the best investments & platforms for the clients; not using investment funds that give the adviser more commissions, in essence.

inflation

Spanish state pension inflation worry
Back in 2011, Spain used to have a surplus state pension fund of €66 billion. This could be looked at as ‘well, at least they had a surplus; most countries have never had one’. Just before Covid started in 2019, it was €16 billion in debt. Now the state pension system, like many others, works on the principle that current workers pay for those who are retired now. The key point here is, from a percentage perspective, Spain, compared to others in the EU, has one of the highest proportions of its GDP (total country income) contributed to its state pension, at around 12%. The average ‘replacement rate’, which is the percentage of workers final salary income that they receive in retirement, was at 72% in 2019*, whereas the average in Europe is 45%. They receive, as a percentage, much more on average for their state pension compared to their earnings than their European counterparts. This is great on one hand, however this really is a great burden on Spain to provide that level of state pension to the people.

The only way Spain can carry on providing state pensions is to “increase the retirement age even higher and decrease the amount people receive” says Concepcion Patxot Cardoner, a University of Barcelona professor, as quoted by Bloomberg. That and start to move people towards saving into their own private pensions. However, this last option and the main plan moving forward is going to be difficult to achieve in a culture where only around 26% currently save into a private pension. Compare that to the UK where the latest survey showed 65% of people contribute.

If you also take into account Spain’s tourist industry (before Covid), which is the second largest in the world employing about 2 million people and accounting for about 11 percent of the country’s GDP, you can see that things are going to need to change drastically to balance the books given the current crisis.

What does all this mean? Well, to you and I, it’s even more important that we have a plan in place, whatever that is, to make sure we have provision in retirement. I am here to talk through this with you, using professional analytics tools to help take one of the most important planning aspects of your life and break it down, step by step, making it:

  • Specific to you
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Targeted

If you would like to talk through your situation with someone consultative and knowledgeable, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Why do I need a Financial Adviser?

By Philip Oxley - Topics: Financial Planning, Financial Review, France, Occitanie
This article is published on: 21st April 2021

21.04.21

Top 10 reasons!

As 2021 progresses and hopes of a better year than the last increase, I thought I would write about a question that arises for me occasionally in social situations. From time to time, I am asked, “Why do I need a financial adviser?”, or sometimes it’s simply an assertion, “I don’t see the point of having a financial adviser”. My usual response is to give a brief overview of what I do, however, depending on the circumstances, I don’t always offer a thorough response and then subsequently regret not having taken the opportunity to fully outline the benefits offered from the work my peers and I do.

I appreciate that in terms of popularity and reputation, my industry is not at the top of the pile – sometimes being undermined by the disturbing stories of people being scammed (particularly in the field of pensions), and also a small minority of advisers who are exposed as either not qualified/licensed to operate, or who fail to act in the interests of their clients.

However, I know from the feedback that my colleagues and I receive from many of our clients that the work we do is appreciated and valued by many – sometimes for quite different reasons. So, I thought I would outline the benefits of why, if you do not currently have an adviser, you might want to consider exploring whether your finances could benefit from professional advice and ongoing support.

This list is not meant to be exhaustive and I have tried to avoid a generic list, instead drawing upon feedback and anecdotal evidence from individuals – some clients, some not…yet! Hopefully, my list provides a selection of reasons why I believe the work we do can be of significant value to many.

1. Saving money/growing money

The fundamental purpose of my role is to help my clients save money, and to grow and protect the money they already have. Such savings can be made through lower fees, reduced currency exchange risk, tax-efficient investment structures, and ensuring the best pension scheme for the client is selected. These same actions can also have a positive effect on the growth and protection of a client’s money. By choosing the right investment, an impact can be made on reducing inheritance tax liability for loved ones. Furthermore, if the worst happens to you, by selecting the best pension structure, you can ensure that your loved ones can be beneficiaries of your entire pension, in accordance with your wishes.

2. Greater choice of options

Of the financial solutions that I can offer my clients, few (if any), are available through banks or insurance companies – schemes offered directly through these organisations are usually the company’s own in-house products. I am not suggesting that these options are not suitable, but the advantage of using a financial adviser is the breadth of choice and the ability to select the best available products that most accurately suit the individual. Also, whilst some financial products are available directly to the consumer, many are not and can only be provided in conjunction with professional advice.

3. Sounding board

Sometimes in life, it is nice to have someone to discuss important matters with. People often turn first to their spouse or partner, friends, and sometimes work colleagues. I often speak to people who believe that they have their financial affairs in good order, but they value having a professional and independent “financial health check” to confirm that they are on track, or to provide an objective perspective on some of the areas that might need some attention.

4. Acting as your better conscience (or encouraging people to do what they know is right!)

Let’s be honest, most people enjoy spending their money – whether it’s on their home (often, but not always, a good investment), clothes, food, entertainment, cars (virtually guaranteed to be money-losing, unless classic/vintage cars are your thing!), and holidays.

It is not always easy to take a portion of your regular income and set it aside for the medium to long term, and of course, not everyone has the luxury of having a surplus at the end of each month.

However, a good comprehensive financial review doesn’t just analyse your assets (e.g., pensions, investments, savings, property), and liabilities (e.g., mortgage, credit card debts, car, and business loans), but also reviews your income/expenditure and your long-term wants/needs, to help assess whether there is the capacity to save, and how much.

A good financial adviser will encourage you to think about the long term and help you to take the right steps towards financial security.

Do I need financial advice

5. “I have no money to invest” / “I can’t afford to use a Financial Adviser”

This is a response I occasionally hear, however, irrespective of financial situation – whether the individual’s money is invested in their business or home, or they live on a low income – I am always happy to conduct a financial review. I can usually share some valuable insights, even if the person does not subsequently become a client. Do not let these reasons put you off speaking to an adviser – my confidential financial reviews are free of charge, and there is no obligation to accept my advice (although, I am pleased to say, most people do!).

6. Protection and risk

Many people associate financial advisers with pensions or investing/growing wealth. However, a crucial part of good financial planning is about protecting any wealth that you already have, and making contingency plans for all possible disruptive events that might come your way. When conducting a confidential financial review, I always ask if such matters have been considered, and whether arrangements are in place to provide financial protection in all eventualities. Life insurance is not always necessary, but a will is essential – I can put people in touch with English-speaking professionals in France who can assist in both these areas.

7. No time

For those whose lives are extremely busy (I think many of us can relate to this category!), they simply do not have the time (and/or inclination – see point 9!) to look after their financial affairs. Often people know they should be devoting at least some attention to their long-term financial security, but just never seem to get around to taking action. Sometimes, these people are well-informed and know very clearly what their financial objectives are, but do not have time to implement their plans and would rather a professional undertake this work on their behalf.

8. Retirement planning

In this area, the work we do is not just about advising individuals on the importance of saving for the future or selecting the best scheme for their individual needs.

For British nationals living in France who have private pension schemes in the UK, a proper analysis should be conducted to decide if it is best to leave their pension schemes where they are, move them to a UK-based SIPP, or possibly offshore into a QROPS. There is no one correct answer and I am not going to get into the detail of this now – it was the subject of my last article!

The second critical element of this work is to forecast what level of income someone will require in their retirement once other sources of income reduce or cease, and to then plan how that need will be met through rigorous financial planning.

retire

9. No interest in financial affairs

Of course, this is one that I struggle to understand! I have a relative, who will remain anonymous, who encapsulates the example perfectly. This is someone who is financially comfortable, but genuinely finds the subject of savings/investments (or anything to do with managing their money), of absolutely no interest – to quote, “Boring”!

As long as their money is secure and providing some growth, then they will quite happily entrust as much of the decision making as possible to their financial adviser. The key to this working is to get to know the individual very well, understand their risk profile, and be clear on the circumstances of when they wish to, or must, be consulted on decisions.

10. Knowledge/expertise

The final reason to use a Financial Adviser (and I accept this is obvious, but I needed a tenth!), is for the knowledge and expertise they can offer on available products (relevant to the country in which they work). The good ones will ensure that they thoroughly understand their clients, establish solutions that align with the individual’s aspirations, risk profile, and ethical stance. It is important that your adviser is permanently based in France, works for a French company, and is properly licensed with the relevant regulatory authorities. Above all, make sure they are someone you feel a connection with, who understands you, and who you feel confident in establishing a long-term working relationship with to support your financial goals.

In conclusion, last year was incredibly challenging for many people – both financially and emotionally – and whilst some of the restrictions we have all lived within have eased, realistically, it will be some time before life resumes with some sense of normality. Whilst everyone’s health – physical and mental – must always take priority, I honestly believe that knowing that your money is protected and growing tax efficiently, and that you have taken the necessary steps towards your long-term financial security, is one less thing for you to worry about and makes a small but important contribution towards peace of mind.

Financial and Retirement Planning – Cash flow Modelling

By Chris Burke - Topics: Cash Flow Planning, Financial Planning, Pensions, Saving, Spain
This article is published on: 2nd February 2021

02.02.21

Many people seek financial advice, or financial planning, but if you asked them what they would like to get out of it, most people would probably say clarity on their finances, planning how to make their monies work and to have what they need in retirement, or partial retirement. Only 45% of people in Spain save into private pensions, and now with the government reducing the amount you can save that way tax efficiently, retirement planning is even more important.

Most financial advisers will look at your assets, see what you are doing, talk through why, then recommend a product to improve what you are doing. There is nothing wrong with that, in fact that is part of what we do, however this isn’t really giving people what they hoped to get out of the meetings/talks.

A key part of helping people with their finances, as well as making their monies work, is real life planning of what they have now, what their goals are and showing them how to get there. People take in and understand much more visually, as most of us know; in fact 65% of us are visual learners. That’s why it’s important that when planning your finances you consider using a visual modelling system that shows your monies, what they are doing, future monies potentially coming in, and if you save ‘X’ amount into a pension/property/investment this will be the outcome. For example, which of the below would you prefer to see as your advice?

‘We recommend you place your €50,000 with ‘X’ company, and over the years achieving ‘X’ % return. Also, save ‘X’ a month in a savings program and both of these at retirement will give you ‘X’

OR TRY THIS…

Cash Flow Chris Burke
Cash Flow Chris Burke

What it really comes down to is the expertise of the planning, the knowledge of the financial adviser with whom you are working, and how much is actually put into planning your finances, rather than just making what monies you have work.

This is just one example why I/we at Spectrum stand out as excellent professional financial advisers and planners, if you would like to seriously start planning your retirement and investments or review what you are doing now, don’t hesitate to get in touch, or sign up to my Newsletter below to keep well informed.

Chris Burke newsletter

Top 3 Financial questions after BREXIT

By Andrea Glover - Topics: Assurance Vie, BREXIT, Financial Planning, Financial Review, France, QROPS
This article is published on: 1st February 2021

01.02.21

We asked Andrea Glover & Tony Delvalle – What are the current top three ‘hot topics’ with clients, particularly affecting retirees?

UK State Pensions
Andrea commented, “The withdrawal of the UK from the EU has obviously been an area of concern regarding UK State pensions. Now the Withdrawal Agreement has come into force, it is reassuring that those covered by the agreement will continue to benefit from aggregation of periods worked in the UK and EU, and those not yet retired will have the same benefits as current claimants.”

Tony went on to say, “UK State Pensions will be uprated every year whilst residing in France. This will happen even if you start claiming your pension after 1 January 2021, as long as you meet qualifying conditions.”

UK Properties
Many people coming to live in France often decide not to sell their UK home, instead renting the property out to supplement their pension income. Tony explained, “We are frequently asked if this is sensible as a form of investment. Whilst there is often an emotional tie to a former home, or perhaps a client wants to keep the option of returning to their UK home, there can be punitive tax consequences to such a decision, should they then decide to sell the property as a French tax resident.”

Tony continued, “The sale of a UK property has to be declared in both the UK and France. Although under the UK/France double tax treaty you receive a credit in France for any UK tax paid, French residents can also pay social charges on gains arising on the disposal of a UK property. There are also new rules effective from April 2020 in the UK, making such a decision even less attractive.”

Andrea summarised by saying “It really is important to speak to a Financial Adviser, particularly if you haven’t yet made the final move to France. Dependent on personal circumstances, it may be more beneficial to sell their property and invest in a more tax efficient investment vehicle such as an Assurance Vie.”

qrops

Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS)
Tony told us that many of their clients have taken advantage of a
QROPS, which enables consolidation of UK pension policies and which has attractive tax and inheritance tax advantages for French tax residents. QROPS can also offer multi-currency flexibility.

Andrea commented, “Many clients currently considering moving their pensions are querying if there are to be any changes in QROPS legislation, in view of Brexit. Our stance on this is that we believe it is highly likely that the UK Government will, after the transition period, impose a 25% tax charge on future transfers to a QROPS, making them less desirable. So, although they may not be suitable for everyone, don’t risk leaving it too late or you may face the 25% charge.”

As featured in BUZZ

Comment prendre sa retraite à 50 ans?

By Cedric Privat - Topics: Barcelona, Financial Planning, Pensions, Retire in Spain, Retirement, Spain
This article is published on: 30th September 2020

30.09.20

Qui n’a pas rêvé un jour de pouvoir arrêter de travailler avant l’âge légal de la retraite? 50, 40, 30 ans? Et si ce rêve était réalisable?

La question peut faire sourire, surtout si vous résidez comme moi en Espagne à Barcelone, avec un prix de l’immobilier exorbitant et des salaires souvent moins élevés qu’en France.
Pourtant, de plus en plus de personnes y arrivent, alors pourquoi pas vous?

Le Frugalisme :
Le mouvement FIRE (Financial Independance, Retire Early), né aux Etats-Unis dans les années 2000, défend le principe de vivre simplement et de faire fructifier son argent pour pouvoir vivre de ses rentes.
Il s’inscrit dans un mouvement économiste du Frugalisme “Qui se nourrit de peu, qui vit d’une manière simple.” (Larousse)
Pourquoi ne pas s’en inspirer?

Comment?
• Économiser : s’acquitter de toute dette (surtout celle de votre bien immobilier), réduire son train de vie, éliminer les frais superflus, supprimer certains loisirs, épargner davantage dès le 1er du mois.
• Définir un budget : il sera indispensable de bien calculer vos besoins mensuels afin de définir votre patrimoine retraite et ainsi fixer votre objectif.
• Investir : en plus de votre résidence principale vous devrez investir judicieusement l’argent épargné dans des placements financiers, des actions ou de l’immobilier.

Les frugalistes suivent une « règle d’or » dite des 4% : disposer d’un patrimoine au moins 25 fois supérieurs au montant de ses dépenses annuelles. Si elles s’élèvent à 2.000 euros par mois, il faudra par exemple un patrimoine de 600.000 euros, permettant de vivre des 4% de rendement généré.

State pension systems

Quand commencer?
Bien évidemment, le plus tôt possible. Une retraite anticipée deviendra vite un rêve oublié si on débute trop tard, mais tout dépendra également de votre implication à la cause.
Les nouvelles générations se soucient de plus en plus tôt de leur retraite et pour cause; les prévisions des pensions publiques de retraite sont à la baisse et l’âge légal de départ à la retraite ne fait qu’augmenter.
Le frugalisme demandera une forte réduction de vos dépenses, il est souvent accompagné par une conscience écologique afin de se tourner vers un mode de vie décent et responsable.
Nos sociétés capitalistes amènent de plus en plus les individus à se poser des questions sur le rapport qu’ils ont à l’argent et au travail.

Qui peut appliquer cette méthode ?
Bien évidemment, toute retraite anticipée sera plus facilement accessible aux classes moyennes et supérieures. Pour beaucoup, il est déjà suffisamment compliqué de mettre un peu d’argent de côté.
Une recherche Google rapide vous permettra de lire les expériences de nombreux “jeunes retraités” à travers le globe.
Les méthodes divergent, mais la discipline est de rigueur. Certains retournent vivre chez leurs parents quelques années et économisent 70 % de leur salaire, d’autres travaillent pendant 10 ou 15 ans à un rythme à la limite du soutenable, certains vont compter des années chaque centime possible et enfin les plus privilégiés qui reçoivent un salaire confortable vont tout simplement faire plus attention, s’organiser et investir malin.

Cette méthode vous intéresse mais vous vous posez des questions ?

N’hésitez pas à prendre conseil auprès de professionnels à votre écoute.

Le groupe Spectrum à Barcelone vous propose d’effectuer un audit sans frais ni engagement afin de mieux vous organiser dans la préparation de votre retraite, anticipée ou non.

Nous vous aiderons ensuite à comparer et choisir le placement financier le mieux adapté à votre situation et préférence.

Who wants to be a millionaire?

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

03.06.20

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

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

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

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

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

Click the headings below to find out more:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Cash over credit

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can we learn from the past?

By Jeremy Ferguson - Topics: Financial Planning, Financial Review, investment diversification, Investment Risk, Investments, Spain
This article is published on: 24th April 2020

24.04.20

Long periods of growth in the world, followed by a creeping in of greed, have normally caused previous stock market ‘tumbles’. This time, however, something completely unprecedented has caused it, wiping large fortunes from people’s pensions and savings, for the short term at least.

This latest situation is another great example of the fact that no one really knows what lurks around the corner. Investment managers may be clever people, but it’s simply impossible to accurately predict the timings of markets taking a tumble when events such as this take place.

‘Investing is for the medium to long term’ is something you will always hear about from people like myself. If you have a time horizon that’s very short, it’s normally fraught with danger; investments need time for you to reap their rewards. So my question is, how has the world faired on this front over the last century, and what we can learn from the past?

invest for the long term

The first ‘event’ was the Great Depression in the US, which started in the late 1920’s. What caused it?

The early part of the decade was full of exuberance, people borrowing money to buy cars, new houses, and even borrowing to make investments in the new world of the stock market.

Everyone was doing so well, then the whole thing fell apart and nearly 13% was wiped off stock market values. For those people who had borrowed heavily to invest, it was enough to wipe them out. They lost everything, as they couldn’t repay their debts, and then followed the Great Depression. This lasted roughly 12 years until the massive manufacturing effort of WWII kick started the recovery.

Next up, after many years of growth following the end of World War II, was the famous 1987 crash. This was the largest fall in stock market values at that point in history, with a 23% fall. So what caused this? It was similar to the 1929 crash, with the addition of the speed at which people could trade shares in the modern world.

People were borrowing money, leveraging investments with the money, and then things started to go wrong. This time fear took over, with panic selling ensuing, and people lost fortunes very quickly. At that point it was the single biggest one day fall in history.

dot com bubble

This was then followed by a 12 year recovery period, with everything being a little more controlled, until the Dot-Com bubble started to inflate. It was a frenzy of over valued companies,

people buying shares they would never have normally bought. It was all so easy to make money. Everyone was involved. Greed fevered a frenzy of madness! Then it all fell apart. The bursting of the Dot-Com bubble in 1999/2000 pushed stock markets down 23% again, but many shares fell almost 100% in value.

And off we went again… over the next 8 years, behind the scenes there was the growing greed that always seems to be lurking. Easy borrowings, people buying houses they couldn’t really afford, remortgaging the ones they had to buy more ‘things’. Banks were selling on loans to other banks.
Easy money was everywhere, seemingly fuelled by greed again. And then, you guessed it, bang! The start of the 2008 Financial crisis as it became known. The American banking system almost collapsed entirely. Never before had greed almost toppled a country. 12 years of recovery followed (sound familiar?) and 2020 is the next focal point! What more is there to say? Another large ‘tumble’ in values again.

So where am I going with this? Every time this has happened in the markets before, afterwards there ensues a protracted period of recovery and growth. The important thing is the ‘line’ keeps going up, albeit in a rather rugged manner.

The below graph is an example of 50 years growth of the 500 largest companies in the US up to the 2008 crisis. It is all over the place, but if you were invested for the medium to long term, the ‘line’ goes up and up, which is why people invest their hard earned pensions and savings. To profit!

500 largest companies in the US

This recovery is going to be tough, and in a new and changed world. It will come from companies that are agile, well financed with flexible long term objectives, and who are able to adapt quickly to the ever changing world.

Never has this been so obvious as it is now. If you have money invested, make sure as best you can it is exposed to investments that are most likely to be part of the recovery. A recovery that history has taught us always happened in the past.

Lockdown is a great opportunity to dig out your files to see what you are invested in, and if you need any assistance or a second opinion, I am happy to help. I can be contacted at :

Jeremy Ferguson
The Spectrum IFA Group
Sotogrande, 11310, Spain
Office: + 0034 956 794409
Mobile: + 34 670 216 229

jeremy.ferguson@spectrum-ifa.com
www.spectrum-ifa.com

Guardianship for your Children

By Katriona Murray-Platon - Topics: Financial Planning, France, Succession Planning
This article is published on: 11th April 2020

11.04.20

Being the mother of two small children and the aunty of several more, like many parents, the issue arose quite early of what would happen to my children if something were to happen to my husband and I and what would happen to my sisters’ children should something happen to them. Whilst I don’t need to make a will from an inheritance tax point of view, because I have two children with the same father (my husband) and French law states that my half of our assets would go to my children as bare owners (nu propriétaire) and my husband as beneficiary (usufruitier), I do need to make a will regarding my wishes for my children’s guardian.

The first question is a personal one. Who, in your family or friends, would be best placed to be able to raise your children, in the country you want them to be raised in, in their language, in the way you want them to be raised? Do(es) this person(s) have children of their own? There are a range of different questions that are all particular to your situation. If you intend to appoint someone to be a guardian, then you should talk to them about it and maybe, if possible, talk to your children about it.

The second issue is the legal aspect. There are two ways to appoint a guardian in France. Firstly, you can appoint them in your will, or you could appoint them using a special declaration. Either way a notary needs to be involved. If no guardian is appointed by the parents, under aged children will be put under the protection of the court. A “Family council” will be appointed by the Guardianship Court (Juge des tutelles). This Family Council, made up of a minimum of 4 people, will have the responsibility of appointing a guardian (if one hasn’t already been appointed) who can be a member of the family or someone outside the family. Even if a guardian has been appointed but this person is unable to either adequately care for the child or properly manage the child’s assets, the matter can be referred to the court and another family member can chose another guardian.

If a child loses one parent then it is the other parent who will have parental responsibility. This parent can either care for the child themselves or appoint a guardian, who can be a member of the family or a close friend. If the parent is unable or incapable of looking after the child, then another guardian can be appointed by the court.

The third aspect is the financial aspect. If something were to happen, would the guardian have the financial means to look after the child(ren)? One thing you can do is make sure you have life insurance (called death insurance in France) which will pay out a lump sum and/or an annuity to the children for the rest of their childhood. Often when you purchase a house there is loan insurance that will cover some or part of the value of the house upon death of one or both parents. However, it may not be convenient or possible for the child to be raised in the family home and property as an asset is difficult to manage. Other liquid assets can be kept in bank accounts like Livret As or LLDs, but large lump sums (like the proceeds of a house or the lump sum from insurance upon death) should be placed in an assurance vie in order to protect it from inflation.

Luckily it is uncommon that a young child would lose one or both parents, but it is something that plays in the back of the mind of many parents so it is better having things in place to decide, who, how and with what means someone would look after your child in the best possible way.

Moving to Spain – When should I take financial advice?

By David Hattersley - Topics: Financial Planning, Financial Review, Moving to Spain, Spain
This article is published on: 2nd March 2020

02.03.20

For the majority of those who move to Spain, speaking to a qualified financial adviser, who is regulated where you plan to live, is something which happens after you have made the move. But, talking to one before you embark on the journey can help avoid some of the issues that expatriates can find themselves encountering.

Many UK based advisers are not fully regulated to offer advice for Spain and may not be aware of the most current regulations or tax efficient solutions for your needs. A Spanish regulated adviser can ensure you are financially prepared for your move in terms of any investments, savings and taxes which can be due on both income and windfalls you may be expecting after your move. A local adviser will also be able to clarify the potential impact of Spanish succession tax.

An additional complication in Spain is the variety of laws in each autonomous area. The classic example is the differing laws between Andalucia, Murcia & Valencia, so it makes sense to deal with a regulated adviser who is based in or near the autonomous area you are moving to.

Many people buy in Spain with plans of using their new Spanish property to retire to, either now or eventually. If it is the latter, in the interim period the property may be used to produce rental income, either via summer rentals or long term rentals, so there will be tax considerations. Depending on how long you are planning on living in Spain each year, residency may also become an issue. When holding property both here and in the UK, “Cross Border” regulations and differing types of tax are applicable to each country. Having a “Partner“ relationship brings its own complications.

Everyone’s situation is unique and there is no single ‘recipe’ that we can give to navigate buying a property in Spain. A regulated local adviser has no vested interest in which property you buy, yet will have a long history of experience of the path you are undertaking and will be able to help you create a plan to fit your own specific circumstances.

Investing an hour of two of your time to go over your project with an adviser before you make the move to Spain can provide direction, peace of mind and financial comfort when planning your new adventure. Rules and regulations can change. The potential impact of Brexit provides an example of how quickly this can happen, so consider taking action sooner rather than later.

Why don’t you contact me to arrange a free, no obligation discussion of your plans – either you will get confirmation that everything is in order, or perhaps some points will come up that you hadn’t thought about. Please call or email me on the contacts below & I will be glad to help you. We do not charge for reviews, reports or recommendations that we provide.

One kind of hangover is enough………

By Chris Webb - Topics: Financial Planning, Madrid, Spain
This article is published on: 2nd December 2019

02.12.19

If you´re anything like me, you´ll be busy planning Christmas. Anything from where to see the best festive displays in Madrid, to trying to get your family EVERYTHING they want.

Christmas is an exciting time of the year for all of us. As a parent I still love that my children think Santa will make a personal appearance to our house and that he will be parking his sleigh right in the back garden (I have some doubts that they´re now just stringing me along, but I will continue to enjoy it while I can).

We´re all busy fitting in lots of social occasions, handing out gifts and cards and trying to squeeze in a party or two. However, there is also a serious side to the festive season: it’s very easy to overspend and overindulge and end up paying for it well into the new year.

Statistics show that most of us use credit cards to fund Christmas present purchases and to attend occasions we might not normally attend. Unfortunately, many people have problems paying back that debt after Christmas.

I have put together some tips to make sure you start 2020 on the right financial foot, and hopefully this will help you get through the festive season without a financial hangover.

1. Plan your shopping
Always write a list! My wife will laugh aloud at this as I am useless at writing lists BUT it is one of the most important things to do. Never just hit the shops; always write a list of who you want to buy for, an idea of what you want to buy and how much you want to spend. Without your list you´ll shop aimlessly and make purchases on a whim. You´ll lose track of your budget and spend unnecessarily.

Planning and making a list also means you can do some internet research to see what shops have the best sales, or if you could buy the gift online cheaper and save some money.
Research shows that people spend more than they can really afford on Christmas presents each year and end up with a credit card debt they didn’t anticipate after the ¨silly season¨ ends, so it is important to plan and make sure you know how much you can afford to spend.

2. Establish some ground rules
This is an important tip. Too many people get caught up gift giving. It’s nice to give and receive gifts, but it’s helpful to have ground rules. Have the conversation up front with family and friends to make sure everyone is on the same page. Agree on spending limits and who you will and won’t be buying for. This avoids offending anyone or any awkward moments at the Christmas table.

Being part of a big family, we decided to make it about the kids. If we didn’t it would mean buying a lot more presents and spending a whole lot more. When the whole family do get together for Christmas, which is rare due to the geographical situation of our family, then we do a Secret Santa for the adults where limits are set so everyone is on the same page.

3. Focus on personal value rather than financial value
All too often, people get caught up in spending money on gifts at Christmas and focusing on the financial value of those purchases. Instead, focus on the personal value.

From my own experience, I´ve had many a ¨nice¨ item bought for me, but the one present that means more to me than anything else is a framed picture where my kids used their hand prints to make a picture of two robins sitting in a tree (it has a very personal meaning). It has pride of place in my office and is appreciated far more than anything new, shiny or tech related.

Remember, it’s the thought that counts.

4. Avoid the financial hangover of festive season events
Festive season events can cause more than one hangover and let´s be honest, we don’t really enjoy any hangover.

Additional and sometimes unexpected events can really hurt the finances, as we never tend to factor them in to our regular spending habit´s but everyone thinks it’s ok to do it because it’s Christmas. Its amazing how these additional costs add up. Tickets to events, food & drinks, transport, new outfits…the list goes on and on.

If you are planning on being a social animal, think about the event before you go. Plan your whole evening and understand the whole cost of the event, not just the ticket price.

If your budget is a bit tight, be selective and choose the events you can afford to go to. You don’t have to go to everything. Don’t be pressured into attending something just because it’s Christmas. And remember, it’s ok to say no and you don’t need a new outfit for every event!

Finally, if you´re the host don’t be afraid to ask people to bring something to share. Whenever we plan an event, we always ask people to either bring a plate or bring a bottle. People are more than happy to help and generally aren’t expecting a free ride.

5. Make room for the new by getting rid of the old
This is probably more important when kids are involved. Why? Because they seem to have everything already and as they get older it becomes a struggle to know what to buy them. Generally, kids are going to get a lot of gifts. If you have children, you´ll know exactly what I mean. Don’t be afraid to ask them what they don’t play with anymore or what they don’t want anymore.

Look to see what you can dispose of. That’s a harder job before Christmas but can help financially if you can offload unused toys to offset new toys. I had this exact conversation with my daughter, Christmas 2018. All she wanted was a new iPhone, so after first agreeing with the wife to splash out on a new model, we then agreed that the old one was ours to do what we wanted with. A quick online sale gave us €200 which made the new purchase a lot less painful.

We also donate some items to charity; whilst that doesn’t help us financially, it makes a huge difference to others.

6. January sales
Post-Christmas sales can be a great opportunity to get a bargain, but they can also be a good opportunity to get sucked in and enhance the Christmas hangover. Do you really need to go out splurging cash just because there´s a sale? If so, then it’s important to go into the sales with a plan, just like in tip 1. Have a list of what you need so that when you go to the sales you go looking for specific things.

And remember, if you’re planning on hitting the shops with your credit card, you have already put pressure on that pre-Christmas.

7. Survive the school holidays with budget-friendly activities
This is important throughout the year but is still a big part of the silly season. Kids are about to start school holidays and it’s important to budget for entertaining them during that time.

There are so many free things to do with kids in and around Madrid. Most of this can be researched online and within our many local Facebook groups. You don’t need to spend a fortune. We´re lucky enough to have some fantastic parks nearby, some amazing countryside within a short drive and all at no cost.

Planning is crucial. If you plan the money you have available for the period it needs to last, you are less likely to feel the strain of not having enough money.

No Financial Hangover!

8. Plan now for 2020
Planning for 2020 and next Christmas is very important. Talk to your family early about the plan for next year and get the ball rolling straight away so you can be prepared well in advance. Plan birthday and Christmas presents so you can buy in advance and save spending more on less just because it was last minute.

The most important thing to take away from all our tips is to PLAN. Planning plays an important part in being in control of your finances and aware of what you can afford and how much you are spending.

I make no apologies for writing a sensible guide to avoiding the Christmas hangover. Most of us are too focused on the here and now, ensuring we have a great time, only looking at the implications of that good time when the bills start to roll in come January. I hope this will help you to enjoy the festive season, allow you to spend what is right and celebrate without any financial regrets.

Wishing you all a great Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

To book your personal financial review call me on 639118185 or drop me an email at chris.webb@spectrum-ifa.com