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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

Is Financial Planning Different for Women?

By Emeka Ajogbe - Topics: Belgium, Branch 23 investments, Financial Planning, Gender pay gap
This article is published on: 28th October 2019

28.10.19

In a recent global poll by UBS, they found that women are ‘acutely aware’ of their financial needs in the long term. The top three needs were identified as follows:

  • Retirement planning – 76%
  • Long term care – 72%
  • Insurance – 68%

Considering this, you would think that the figures would be similar for women taking the lead in managing their own long term financial planning; and you would be wrong. As, in the same report, only 23% took charge of long term financial planning, with 58% deferring to their spouse for criti-cal long term decisions.

Reading this report, I was not surprised. The majority of my clients are men or couples (where the man takes the lead on major financial decisions. However, he will defer to his wife for the house-hold budget), with single women (and I include those who are in relationships but not married) in the minority. The reasons for this range from the perceived understanding that men typically know more about investing, to women thinking they are bad investors. Let me tell you this, some of my best clients are women, as they are less likely to want to sell underperforming funds than men, and therefore are more likely to take advantage of compound interest.

Though it is easier said than done, women need to take a more active look at their own financial planning. The reasons being:

1. Women still live longer
On average, women tend to live four and a half years longer then men; this figure can widen when based on lifestyle and family history and therefore they have to put aside more for their retirement.

2. The earning gap
Whilst great steps have been made in shrinking the earnings gap in some fields, in other fields they have either stayed the same or even widening. Women are also more likely to work part time as well. This obviously means that women have less to put away for their retirement than men.

3. Career breaks
Women are more likely to take a career break than men – whether it is maternity leave or time off to take care of an elderly relative. The outcome is the same. Your earnings potential can be seve-rely affected.

4. Divorce
Regardless of what you may see in the media, on average, women are more severely impacted financially as a consequence of a divorce, than men. This may be a result of men either being the sole breadwinner, or earning significantly more than his wife.

5. Conservative Investors
When investing, women are more risk averse on what they do invest, than men. Potentially mis-sing out of greater gains.

6. Involvement in Financial Decisions
Research shows that when women are involved in financial decisions, 91% report that they are less stressed about their finances and an even larger amount report that less mistakes are made.

Clearly, having the confidence to speak to either your partner or a financial adviser about your fi-nancial planning can greatly alleviate the stress and confusing options that are ahead of you.

To discuss further how to start your financial planning, please contact me either by email emeka.ajogbe@spectrum-ifa.com or phone: +32 494 90 71 72 to arrange a no obligation meeting

Spanish Resident Services

By Jeremy Ferguson - Topics: Financial Planning, Financial Review, Marbella, Spain
This article is published on: 10th September 2019

10.09.19

I was recently with someone whom I have known for quite a while, having met him regularly at business events in and around where I live. I knew what he did for a living (chef) and he knew what I did for a living, or at least I thought he did!

Over dinner one evening, I was asked “Jeremy, I know you are a Financial Adviser, but what exactly do you do?”

It actually took me by surprise, thinking everyone would know what I did if I had told them my job title. The discussion continued; “ I would get it if you said you were a chef, you cook food; if you were a car mechanic, you repair cars; if you were a pilot, you fly planes; but what exactly do you do as a Financial Adviser?”

Wow! My answer actually took a little longer than I thought, explaining all of the different aspects I deal with. That got me thinking, I do need to explain a little more about what I do, but not bore people to death.

With that in mind, I put together a small ‘flyer’ showing the areas I deal with, which then pushed me to write this article with the objective of giving people a little more detail around all of the areas I can help with.

So this is what I do for people who live here in Spain:

Retirement Planning / Pension Management
If you haven’t got to that age yet, have you tucked enough away to get you through retirement? Is what you have saved so far suitably invested now things are changing? If you have got to that age, is what you have expensive and suitable for your current lifestyle? We can review your plans and help with managing your finances in retirement.

Pension Transfer Advice
QROPS is a complicated area. What does it even mean? Qualifying (it qualifies as a pension) Recognised (it is recognised by HMRC in the UK) Overseas (it is outside of the UK) Pension Scheme. It simply means it may make sense to move your pension away from the UK to gain more control, for example to choose Euros instead of Sterling. Quite often it makes no sense to move it. What is important is that we can provide you with all of the information you need to make an informed decision. Brexit may mean there is a limited time to do this.

Tax Efficient Investments
If you have ISA’s you will be taxed on these in Spain. Are you invested in policies you bought in the UK holding UK funds that are being taxed on the profit? We can take a look at what you have and see if there are better options out there for living in Spain from a cost, tax and administrative perspective.

General Financial Overviews
Savings in banks in the UK and here, ISA’s, personal pensions, state pensions, general investments, shares, and the list goes on. Are all of these suitable now things have changed and you have retired in Spain? Do you know where all your monies are? Have you forgotten a small pension you may have paid into when working for a company many years ago in the UK? Are you being charged too much for what you have? Is everything all kept together in one place? We can help manage all of this.

Cash Flow Planning / Long Term Plans
How long are you going to live? (I’m afraid we cannot answer that one). How long will what you have last? What effect is inflation having on everything. Can you reduce your outgoings? We can help you take some time to look at all of these things in detail and maybe tweak things to help your money go a little further.

Succession Planning
Who do you plan to leave your assets to when you pass away? (Please don’t say the Taxman!) Where are the likely beneficiaries living? Where are your assets based and is everything in place to make sure things go as smoothly as possible when the unthinkable happens? We can help you with all of this and give guidance on wills, taxes and everything associated with succession plans.

Mortgages
Are you looking to buy a property here in Spain but worried about the poor exchange rate when you have sterling to pay for it. Have you considered borrowing as much as you can in Euros so you can keep your pounds and maybe exchange in years to come if the rate has improved? Mortgages are at all time lows with regard to interest rates at the moment, so maybe now is the time to take advantage and lock those low rates in? Do you understand the mortgage offer you have from the bank? We can help expats with mortgages and all of these questions through our mortgage division.

So now you can understand why my friend needed a little more explanation about what I do. I hope this has given you an insight into all of the areas I can help people with and if all has gone to plan, next time someone asks me exactly what I do, my answer will certainly be a little more polished!

Are You British, And Have You Recently Become An Official Resident Of Spain?

By Jeremy Ferguson - Topics: Domicile, domiciled, Financial Planning, Income Tax, Marbella, Residency, Spain, tax advice
This article is published on: 9th April 2019

09.04.19

If The Answer is Yes,
What’s Going to Change For You?

Last night I attended a presentation hosted by the British Consulate covering the issues of living here post Brexit. Well, I am not sure how informative it was, as there seemed to be lots of ifs, buts and maybes. One thing I did conclude from it all however, and something I have always maintained, is if you live here, why not just get in to the system properly rather than constantly ‘wondering’ about it, or simply avoiding the issue.

Many people have been here in Spain for years without ever becoming officially resident. Differing circumstances cause this, varying between lots of time spent travelling, working away in another country or just being told not to worry. These tend to have all created a ‘meaning to get round to it tomorrow’ situation for many people.

This has quite often been the case when I have met with people during the 20 plus years I have been here, until along came this Brexit situation. It has resulted in more and more talk about what to do in the press, on the TV and radio, in bars, at family gatherings; basically everywhere.

EU membership has led to the feeling of it being very easy to live here in oblivion to all things official. But that looks like it is now changing. Or is it? One thing we do know is that the Spanish have seized the opportunity to entice people to become official residents of Spain, and if you want to avoid any doubt going forward, it is by far the most sensible option.

EU membership

In the build up to the 29th of March deadline, the British Consulate and local Spanish town halls have actively encouraged people here to take up official residency in a series of talks like the one I attended last night. It’s amazing how quickly this has all become reality in what seems such a short time since the original referendum in June 2016. Now we are looking down the barrel of a possible no deal Brexit on the 12th of April.

Or are we? Who knows as I write this.

All of this aside, the sensible thing, without doubt, is for people to become officially resident here in Spain. For many, since the Brexit situation it has felt like a fait accompli and therefore something they simply have to do. Whatever the reason, if you have made the decision, then what does it actually mean for you going forward? Things seemed to be absolutely fine before, so surely not a lot will change?
Well, that is not exactly true.

The first thing to stress is how nice it is to know that now you won’t need to worry about ‘sort of knowing’ you probably should be resident and in the system. Things can certainly now be 100% clear. I call it ‘the sleep easy factor’, and it’s amazing the amount of people who say how good they feel when it’s all done.

There are a number of things that you should now consider, not necessarily in this order.

Do you have Spanish will?
You should already have a Spanish will if you own a property here, so that’s not changed. If you haven’t done that, you must, and it is very easy to do. It can be in both English and Spanish so you will understand everything.

And it’s not expensive. A lot of lawyers I know will do it for a couple of hundred euros if things are all quite straightforward. That will be another box ticked!

estate planning

Once resident, currently some say you have up to two years to change your driving license to a Spanish license. There are others who say you have three months, others who say 9 months. The UK Government advice site says two years.

Regardless of who says what, and to avoid any embarrassing confusion, once you have residency why not just get on with changing your license? Again, there are many people around who will help you do this. You will get a temporary license while it is being dealt with and then a nice new Spanish license. A medical test will be needed, but again these aren’t that difficult to arrange. As long as you are in reasonably good health this shouldn’t be an issue.

On a positive note I have certainly found Trafico much easier to deal with showing a Spanish license when pulled over for a roadside check. The rules here are different to what you may be used to. You start with 13 points and they are deducted when you are caught being naughty. When you get to zero, then a suspension will occur!

Importantly, there will be taxes and tax returns to consider.

If this is your first time becoming a tax resident, then you will have to file a tax return for this year. The tax year here is the same as the calendar year (unlike the UK with their silly April date!). Your first return will therefore have to to be filed no later than the 30th June 2020.

tax in spain
  • Income tax will be due on income received during the year at varying rates depending on the amounts involved. This is similar to the UK with the rate increasing the greater your income level.
  • If you were previously a non resident, then you would pay capital gains tax when you sold your house (assuming there was a profit!). Now, as a resident, this will not apply on your main residence when it is sold, subject to certain criteria being met.
  • Wealth tax is due every year on your assets. This, as the words say, is effectively for people considered wealthy, and increases the wealthier you are. For most people this is not too much of an issue, but can be painful for people with a lot of assets.
  • Inheritance tax can be a complex area, and tax is paid by the person who receives the inheritance. The rules here in Andalucia have changed recently, meaning this should really not be so much of an issue anymore as there are now large exemptions granted which almost eradicate any amounts due, depending on the size of the estate.
  • At the end of each year, you will now also have to file a separate tax return from the one mentioned above, on a form known as Modelo 720. This is simply a declaration of everything you own in excess of 50k € outside of Spain (bank accounts, property, investment policies, share portfolios etc), and needs to be filed by the 31st March 2020.

Investments & Pensions
Regarding your investments and pensions, take a good look at where your income is coming from and what type of investments you hold. A simple example of the different treatment after taking residency would be holding UK ISAs. Although these are tax exempt in the UK, as a tax resident here these will now be taxable.

final salary pension review

Also, how will your pension be taxed now? Previously, you were entitled to a Pension Commencement Lump Sum (PCLS, previously referred to a tax free lump sum). This will now be taxable here in Spain. The rate applicable will vary depending on how old the scheme is, and any benefits you are receiving will be taxed differently depending on the amount. If you haven’t started drawing from your pension yet, it may be worth looking at moving the scheme away from the UK, for a multitude of reasons. On the other hand it may not, so if you do look into this, make sure you are furnished with all of the information you need to make a well informed decision.

Having taken residency will mean you have adequate medical insurance in place, and although this can be seen as expensive, the treatment you will receive will be second to none.
Of course, as with all of these things there are the exceptions and everyone’s circumstances differ slightly. But the overriding message is that things should be fine here, even after Brexit, and as we know, the Spanish are very keen to keep us all here for many years to come.

I have covered many different aspects in this article, but please make sure you take good advice from people in the know. There are many legal, tax and financial advisers here who will be able to help you with most of the subjects covered; but as always, make sure you shop around, as prices and service levels do vary greatly, and always see if you can get a recommendation from someone who has firsthand experience of using that person before.

So, with all things considered, maybe Brexit pushing you to become a fully fledged Resident of Spain wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

The Many Benefits of a Financial Adviser

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

03.04.19

by Jannah Britt-Green

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why is it important to have regular financial reviews?

By Amanda Johnson - Topics: Financial Planning, Financial Review, France
This article is published on: 15th March 2019

15.03.19

Finding time in our busy schedules for reviewing our financial position is not always easy; however, here are some reasons why it is worth the effort and considerations in choosing who you should see.

1/ Living in France, it is important to check that you are both tax compliant and tax efficient, through proper use of savings allowances and being up to date on current tax rules.

2/ Using a company that is regulated here in France means that your advice is specifically relevant to France.

3/ Choosing a financial adviser who is also an expatriate means there are no language barriers and you both understand the experience of what it is like to have moved countries.

4/ Personal circumstances can change and regular reviews will make sure your finances are in line with your current needs. For example, you may have recently retired, be experiencing a change in your income or have just become a French resident.

Creating THE Folder…

By Jeremy Ferguson - Topics: Financial Planning, Marbella, Pensions, Spain
This article is published on: 18th February 2019

18.02.19

It was only recently I wrote about the fact we are all living longer as a result of improved lifestyles and medication, and the lovely Spanish lifestyle we are all enjoying.

The point I was making is how it is all very relevant to our finances and how we best manage them. But what if you are the one who tends to manage the family affairs and finances: are you confident that all of the papers and documents you hold are not only all in order, but equally as important, somewhere where they can be found and easily understood in the event of your demise? I am aware of many couples who would not know where all of the important documents relevant to their lives are. It is all down to who normally runs the financials, and that can the husband or the wife.

We all spend time every year making sure the ITV for the car is sorted, house insurance and car insurance policies are up to date, tax returns are filed etc. How about putting some time aside to create ‘ THE Folder’ as I like to call it?

So what is THE Folder?
It is a single file (digital or physical) where you keep all of your important personal and financial information together. It allows easy access to these documents in the event that you are no longer around to help. It is really important to have it in place when one family member takes the lead on the family finances; this includes paying bills, managing accounts and storing documents. Even if that is not the case, it is an important exercise.

So what should be in THE Folder?
All documentation that is relevant to running your household with regards to finances, such as:

  • Birth, marriage and divorce (if applicable!) certificates
  • Bank account details, including online login details
  • E-mail and social media account details and logins
  • Life assurance policies
  • Funeral plan policy
  • Pension documentation and statements
  • Investment documentation and statements
  • Wills
  • House ownership deeds

THE Folder can be very simple, and I always suggest contact details for each of the relevant policies etc. should be clearly marked as well. Also, make sure that when THE Folder is complete, you sit down together and explain all of the information it contains, as it will be as useful as a chocolate tea pot if you don’t both know exactly what is there.

Is it worth the effort?
Well, I think it is worth the effort. At a time of loss it can be stressful enough, without having to try to piece together the deceased’s financial affairs. This can be a really difficult time for family members, even more so if your support network, typically children, is back home in the UK.

final salary pension review

However, preparing THE Folder is much more than just avoiding stress; if you leave behind an administrative nightmare, you could delay access to inheritors’ funds and potentially cost a small fortune in legal fees.

To give you an example of this, the UK Department of Work and Pensions estimates that there is currently more than £400 million sitting in unclaimed pension pots in the UK.

Which is best…..physical or digital?
This comes down to personal preference. It can be done by either creating an electronic file that survivors can access in the event of death, or an actual paper file. An electronic file can be stored on your main computer, in the cloud or on an external hard drive. Make sure everyone knows how to access the computer, cloud or hard drive though!

Alternatively, if you use a physical folder to keep all of the important information together, make sure it is large enough to keep everything together. The good old shoe box has been a long time winner in this department, although a well organised file does make life a lot easier for everyone.

For what it’s worth, I find lots of people prefer paper and are happier with hard copies of everything. I personally prefer digital, which I have shared with some trusted family members. It may even be worth considering asking your legal advisers to hold the folder on your behalf (electronic is much better for this reason), so a simple visit to them if anything happens means they can assist you far more easily with everything.

Typically they will want all of the information it contains anyway, so by saving time when it becomes relevant, the small annual charge they may make for holding the information will normally be offset.

How often should THE Folder be reviewed?
It is sensible to note the date that it was last reviewed, so that anyone using it has an idea of how up-to-date the details are, and then going forward, reviewing the file on an annual basis should be sufficient, or of course, whenever a significant change occurs which you consider materially important.

And finally…
I have already stressed this, be sure to tell someone about it! There is little point going to the effort of creating such a folder if no one knows of its existence or where to find it…..

The Importance of having a Local Financial Adviser

By Sue Regan - Topics: Financial Planning, Financial Review, France
This article is published on: 15th June 2018

15.06.18

Moving to another country is one of the biggest decisions that anyone is likely to make, especially to a country where the language is not your native tongue. Most of the expats I meet say that the hardest thing about moving to France is getting to grips with the language, and I include myself in this.

From my own experience I know that lack of fluency is often a cause of frustration, confusion and anxiety, especially when dealing with bureaucracy, medical matters and finance. Fortunately, there are people and businesses out there who can help.

The Spectrum IFA Group are independent financial advisers and our area of expertise covers the provision of regulated advice on the tax-efficient investment of financial assets, pensions and inheritance planning. We are a French company, regulated in France, which means our business activities will not be affected by BREXIT.

As well as being regulated in the county in which he or she is advising a client, a good financial adviser should also have the relevant knowledge of the tax framework of that country and the tax treatment of suitable products in order to give the most appropriate, tax-efficient advice. You probably wouldn’t have sought the advice of a French regulated IFA to manage your UK investments when you lived in the UK so it doesn’t make sense to expect a UK regulated IFA to advise you when living in a different tax jurisdiction to the one in which they are qualified and regulated.

The Process
In this age of online banking, tele-marketing and robo-advice, we believe that the old- fashioned method of a face to face meeting, to discuss your individual circumstances and financial objectives, plays a vital part in establishing the trust between the client and the adviser, and that should be the number one priority.

An initial meeting with a new client can take up to three hours – there’s a lot to discuss, such as:

  • Your personal and family situation
  • Your income – your requirements now and in the future
  • Your pension provision
  • Your inheritance wishes – do you have wills? Are they set up correctly for French residency? Who do you want to inherit?
  • Your property assets
  • Your financial assets – bank deposits, investments, Trust assets, business interests – where are they situated? Are they tax-efficient for French residency?
  • Insurance policies
  • Your state of health and provision for healthcare
  • Your priorities now and in the future
  • Your financial objectives and attitude to risk

By the time we have gone through all the above, and usually swapped a few stories about our lives, both the client and I have a very good idea as to whether we feel comfortable with each other and that we can work well together.
If, after this meeting, I believe that I can help you achieve your objectives, I will go away and put together my thoughts and recommendations in a report to you. We do not charge any fees for meetings, research or preparing reports and making recommendations. We will meet again to discuss, in detail, any recommendations made, and the product charges will be fully explained. If you decide to go ahead with a recommendation and become a client of Spectrum, we will be remunerated by the product provider.
This is just the beginning of the relationship. Things generally change over time, such as pensions and tax legislation, investment performance, physical well-being, family situations, income and capital needs. An important part of my job is to ensure that we meet periodically, at least once a year, to review your circumstances and make sure that your finances are on track to meet your current needs and longer term goals.
If you would like to have a confidential discussion about your financial situation, please contact Sue Regan either by e-mail at sue.regan@spectrum-ifa.com or by telephone on 04 67 24 90 95. The Spectrum IFA Group advisers do not charge any fees directly to clients for their time or for advice given, as can be seen from our Client Charter here

The Emotions of Investing Money

By Susan Worthington - Topics: Financial Planning, Financial Review, Investment Risk, Investments, Mallorca, menorca, Spain
This article is published on: 21st February 2018

21.02.18

Most days I count my blessings for having a job that I love doing. There are the odd times when it does get challenging, but when I’m helping clients all day long they are the magic cure. Being an Expat Financial Adviser giving advice on how to invest your money means it’s vital for me to get to know my clients. That involves understanding what their passions and goals are and what their fears and dislikes are too. It’s usually two things that drive investments, fear and greed, and my job is to manage these aspects. I let the experts manage the money and I take care of the emotions.

That’s not to say that I am a psychologist or psychoanalyst, but I did take advice from one while writing this to make sure I express myself as having the best interest of the client and not just voicing my opinion! If a client does not feel comfortable with advice they receive,then it must not be right. Persuading someone to do something is not in your best interest. I may have been guilty of this in the early years of my career when we were put under pressure by our management, however, at The Spectrum IFA Group we are trained differently, and age and experience have taught me that this is not the way to keep a client.

I am an investor myself so understand that the value of your money can and will go down as well as up, yet if I believe in what I recommend I can help clients when the times are unsettling. Having patience and belief in the advice you receive is paramount. If your gut instinct says that you don’t believe any part of what you’ve already done then discuss your concerns with an Adviser.

Emotions connected to your finances can relate to varying issues because each and every one of us is different. Common symptoms are: maybe you can’t sleep, you always worry about money, you are fearful about what might happen to it, you haven’t heard from your Adviser, you’ve never done this type of thing before, what happens to your money when you die, can you lose some or all of it, what if you go back to live in the UK?

When we are younger we are prepared to take more risk with our money, but as we grow older we tend to become more cautious and have concerns about whether the money will see you through. This all needs careful managing and looking after to ensure it does what you want it to.

5 Factors I take into account before making a recommendation are: what income do you have and need to live on, what assets do you own, where do you pay your taxes, what level of risk, if any, are you prepared to take and how long do you wish to plan for.

Another point to consider for living in Menorca is where is you Adviser regulated? This is important because if you have a legal problem it ideally must be dealt with in Spain. We are registered and regulated under the DGS (Correduria de Seguros). Does it work to have someone regulated in the UK when you live under the authorities of Spain? All Spectrum Advisers are regulated in the country they live and work in, they are expected to live locally and within easy reach of their clients.

3 words to say. Reassurance, Reassurance, Reassurance. To know that all is as it’s meant to be will allow you to live your life more peacefully and happily on this beautiful island.
Menorca has a special place in my heart. I used to live and still own a property here on the island and purely demand from work made living in Mallorca more practical. My opportunity now to say thank you to all my friends and clients here who keep me having to come backwards and forwards all the time!

How do you choose a financial adviser?

By Amanda Johnson - Topics: Financial Planning, Financial Review, France
This article is published on: 12th February 2018

12.02.18
Amanda Johnson

Question: Can you offer me any tips in choosing a financial adviser?
When you move to France, you are moving to Country with many different laws and rules to the one you are leaving and this is unlikely to change in the future, so choosing a financial partner which is right for you is very important for your financial peace of mind.

Here are several things I would suggest expatriates consider when looking for a Financial Adviser:

Is the Company regulated in France?
With nothing yet becoming clear on how the UK will be trading with France after Brexit, using a company which is based and regulated in France reduces any need for a sudden change, should regulations change, post Brexit.

Is my adviser able to sit down with me and review my finances on regular basis?
Your Financial Adviser is not just someone to see once and then forget about. As your needs and circumstances change and with different investments growing at varying rates, being able to sit down and review your situation regularly is very important.

What are the costs involved for any appointments, reports or ongoing support?
It is important to know what costs will be involved throughout the life of any arrangement with your Financial Adviser.

How does my adviser get remunerated?
A clear understanding of how your adviser gets paid and a client charter outlining how the relationship is set up helps clarity and ensures you have no surprises down the line.

Can your Adviser offer any references from existing clients?
Being able to speak to existing customers is a great way to measure a Financial Adviser. You can hear first hand, how the process and relationship has worked for someone in the same boat as you?

Does the company own, or do its Directors/Partners have financial interests in the investments being offered, or are they truly independent?
You should be comfortable that your Adviser is not promoting any “own brand products”, without making this clear to you in advance of any commitment. If the company does have its own products be sure that you can view performance, move to another product or change Adviser without additional penalties.

Can I work with this person?
Your Financial Adviser is someone you need to be able to work with. You will likely see them on a regular basis and be comfortable speaking about your future with. In life we sometimes meet people we just cannot seem to warm to, so do not be afraid to seek alternative advice if you find yourself in this scenario.

Whether you want to register for our newsletter, attend one of our road shows or speak to me directly, please call or email me on the contacts below and I will be glad to help you. We do not charge for our financial planning reviews, reports or recommendations.