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There’s never been a more important time to speak with your IFA

By Alan Watson - Topics: Financial Review, France
This article is published on: 24th March 2020

24.03.20

I have a routine I have followed for many years. Every day, after walking the dog and eating breakfast, I get up to date on the markets, currency movements and global financial news. CNBC is my favourite, but things are changing and I now find it harder to concentrate with the worrying growth of people contracting COVID-19. It gets worse by the day. Northern Italy is barely three hours’ drive away which is nothing for today’s connected planet. But the tempting solution of ‘Bury your head in the sand; it will go away, it always does’, could cost a great deal in our current global situation. The answer is to take action and deal with it.

Over the past week, I have spoken via telephone and Skype with many of my clients. All of the conversations were intense and based around worries about what will happen next. Clearly, the need to protect what you have built up over the years and prepare for a potentially uncertain future is paramount.

One client quizzed me over the pros and cons of buying property in Lyon; we got into a deep conversation analysing all aspects, from the French property purchase costs to the insurance quotes (some were just too high; one was clearly sensible and produced by somebody who knew their business).

skype

Another Skype meeting demanded the analysis of the greatest market crashes, discussing the question, ‘Could we now be at the bottom?’. This client wanted not only the potential to buy into a rather cheap market, but also to gain the benefits of doing this via the French Assurance Vie: discounted markets plus serious tax advantages.

Other calls were long and varied in content, but all focused around ‘what if’ questions. Good old Brexit still keeps raising doubts and concerns and I always enjoy explaining how we have been confidently prepared for this roller coaster for years. We only deal with large and secure internationally minded companies who made their preparations years ago. Brexit is not and should not be a point of worry for Spectrum clients; flexibility is always our primary tactic.

Many of us are now sitting at home; working, but getting a little bored. I would suggest this is an ideal time to talk, to discuss everything, get your worries off your chest. Preparation reduces stress; this is what we do – and if last week’s conversations are anything to go by, I believe I did a pretty good job. If you would like to chat, contact me to arrange a call with the details below.

The luxury of your own local financial adviser

By Alan Watson - Topics: Financial Review, France
This article is published on: 17th March 2020

17.03.20

To say we are living in volatile times could be somewhat of an understatement. The French stock market, the CAC 40, experienced its largest ever one day fall last week, over 12% in just one trading day!

The market crash in October 1987 was severe, the dot-com boom and bust caused great misery, a global banking crisis in 2008 even caused the mighty Lehmans to fall. Why am I reciting this? Because, like most of my colleagues, I witnessed all of these events.

Covid-19 now appears to be at its most prevalent exactly where all Spectrum advisers work: Europe. The French Prime Minister has declared that all non-essential shops, offices, cinemas and restaurants should now close, and as I write this my mind wonders about the next weeks’ market activities, especially as traders and brokers will most likely decide to work from home. We have a very long climb to recover from the exceptional falls of late.

When I make initial telephone contact with a person who has requested information from our website, or maybe a personal referral, or interest from our advertising, it quite often happens that they appear surprised just how local I am, “Oh, so you’re not based in London, you live in Chambery? But that’s so close, you must be a keen skier,” and this opens up a very important conversation, mainly because the person on the other end of the phone has rarely spoken with a financial professional who has 25 years of experience in this region of France. At this stage the conversation explodes, “Where did your children go to school? Can you suggest a good one? Do you know a good company to insure my car with? How do you start to build a pension in France?” The questions are many, and I consider it my personal duty to assist, after all what is all the experience worth if you cannot help your fellow expatriates?

In the last few days such local contact has taken on a whole new meaning, “Could we meet up soon? I need to decide on my new fiscal residence, the UK tax year is so close, but due to Brexit my old UK adviser cannot help me.” Or, “I have so many UK based investments, they are all severely beaten down, but the phone lines are blocked, nobody can update me, and the annual statement is eight months away.”

And this is what Spectrum is all about; we, the advisers who live close to you, all have not only many years behind us in financial services, but equally importantly have lived, worked and paid taxes and social charges in France for many years. We know how the system works, the good and the not so good bits. We know the better accountants, the real ones who actually work for you, the client, not administrators/book keepers who collect for the system. We are supported by some of the world’s best investment houses, insurance companies and trust companies. Our knowledge is vast, and often a short car trip from your home or office. There is no cost or commitment in meeting up for an initial discussion, but the luxury of having so much available experience on your own doorstep, and in your own language, makes us a unique financial services company locally.

The concern currently is real, the media has caused Europe to panic (I just tried shopping with my wife, high stress levels everywhere). We are close, capable and can at least put your mind at rest during these testing times.

Try us, you will be amazed how quickly we respond, arrange a meeting and help to guide you through this rather bizarre period.

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.

Why should I review my finances

By Amanda Johnson - Topics: Financial Review, France
This article is published on: 14th January 2020

14.01.20

Very little has changed in my life during the last 12-18 months; why should I review my finances?

When and how often you should review your financial position is a question I often get asked by people attending my financial surgeries. There are several questions which I feel are important to consider when looking at whether you are due for a financial review:

When did you last sit down and fully review your finances?
If you have not had a review for 12 months or more, you may not be aware of legislation changes or new opportunities which may be open to you.

Have your personal plans and aspirations changed since your last review?
Are you now looking at retirement closer or wish to look in more detail at inheritance planning? Perhaps you are looking at downsizing and want to make any surplus monies work efficiently for you?

How are any investments or savings you hold performing against your expectations?
When you took out an investment or savings plan, it is likely you looked at how they had performed, and this past performance made a sizable contribution to your choices. That information is now out of date and replaced by more recent information. Reviewing this new data is vital in ensuring your money is still working for you to its best ability.

Just because your last year feels standard, you should not underestimate how external factors can influence your financial security and your ability to make the best use of any money you have worked hard to earn.

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 & I will be glad to help you. We do not charge for reviews, reports or recommendations we provide.

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!

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.

We are all living longer, and it’s not all good news

By Jeremy Ferguson - Topics: Financial Review, Inheritance Tax, Marbella, QROPS, Retirement, Saving, Spain
This article is published on: 5th February 2019

05.02.19

When it comes to the way in which we are leading our lives, the world in which we live has changed significantly over not that many years.

Do you remember starting the day off with a bowl of cornflakes smothered in processed sugar and full fat milk, followed by a couple of slices of white processed bread smothered in butter and marmalade (laden with sugar), then washing that down with a couple of cups of strong coffee before we rushed off to work? Then at work the stresses of the day were broken by coffee to keep you going, with a packet of sandwiches and a bag of crisps at lunch time. A sneaky stop off on the way home for a couple of pints for some, then dinner followed by bed. Sound familiar?

Through a combination of increased awareness of the dangers of processed food and sugars, non-stop articles and TV programmes warning us of health issues; people are becoming increasingly health conscious. Add to that the mass of personal trainers and nutritionists out there, and people nowadays are more active and much more aware when it comes to healthy eating and lifestyle.

If you are reading this, you probably made the decision to move to the south of Spain some years ago, and boy, how things have changed as a result. Longer days, constant sunshine, lovely salads, a relaxed life, and probably a lot more time spent outside walking, or for many, playing golf or tennis. Oh yes, and the big one, much less stress!

spectrum ifa retirement

This is all resulting in something that is causing massive issues around the Globe for all sorts of reasons. People are living longer and needing more medical help along the way, because, despite being generally healthier now, older people still have more health issues than younger people. With that comes an ever increasing stress on healthcare systems. The ageing population also means that the ratio between retirees and workers is swinging in a way that means less taxable income is there to help fund the ever increasing medical needs.

So, while it is great we are all living longer, and therefore having a longer and healthier retirement, how much attention are we paying to this fact with regards to financial health? The pension pot and savings pot we hope you have accumulated now has to last for an ever increasing length of time. Have you considered the need for adequate medical insurance before it is too late to be accepted as a client (because you are too old)? Inheritances may be left to you at a much later stage of your life, and when they are, they could also be smaller due to the fact your parents lived so much longer.

In summary, it is really very important to spend time considering all of these factors. How many of us actually look at this in detail, with an honest reality check regarding the years ahead?

One of the things I like to do with my clients is to make sure we look at the big picture, assessing what you have and how long it is likely to last. Should you be putting the brakes on the lifestyle just a bit for that added longevity financially, or are you being too cautious? It is amazing the amount of couples I meet who are being too careful with money. Or have you got it just about right?

What happens if inflation rises or falls, or the money you have invested loses value or, hopefully, makes more than you expected? Oh yes, and what happens to your income when exchange rates move?

It is always said that you cannot buy time, but strangely enough, most clients I meet here in Spain look a lot younger than they actually are, so in my view, they all seem to have managed to do just that, aided probably by all of the things we know are good about living here. So, if by talking we can remove a little more stress by getting all of those financial ducks in a row, then maybe you can cheat the grim reaper for a good many more years to come.

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!