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Viewing posts categorised under: Interest rates

Every Cloud

By Derek Winsland - Topics: BREXIT, europe-news, France, Inflation, Interest rates, Pensions, QROPS, Uncategorised
This article is published on: 8th September 2016


With the exception of a weakening pound and falling interest rates, we are yet to see the full impact of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. Perhaps we may not ever see it if Teresa May and/or others decide against triggering Article 50 to herald the start of the process. We currently sit in a ‘phony’ period where no-one knows quite what will happen, causing doubt and uncertainty to set in. We await with bated breath the latest results to come out of the Treasury and the Bank of England.

The latter recently reduced interest rates to an historic low of 0.25%, at the same time announcing a new round of Quantitative Easing. Falling interest rates are either a good thing or a bad thing depending on which side of the saver/borrower fence you occupy. Clearly borrowers are happy, but for savers, especially those who rely upon their capital to supplement their retirement income, it’s not such a happy picture. Indeed, I am seeing this most days I speak to people about their finances. Thankfully, we are able to make investment recommendations that will generate higher levels of returns to counter falling interest rates, but these don’t suit everybody. But like most things I find in financial services, there’s generally a positive that accompanies a negative, if one looks close enough.

One such area relates to the impact falling interest rates has upon pension transfer values. In my last article I touched upon the way transfer values from occupational (defined benefit) schemes are calculated. Without going into chapter and verse, a fundamental part of the calculation process uses gilt interest rates to determine the transfer amount. Although the schemes have a certain amount of leeway in interpreting the rules, the bottom line is that low interest rates result in much higher transfer values having to be quoted by scheme trustees. This makes the decision on whether it suits an individual’s purpose to transfer somewhat easier to determine.

The observant amongst you will recall I mentioned TVAS in my last article, and the (somewhat out-of-date) rules that the FCA still clings on to. Remember critical yields? Well, a higher transfer value will result in a more achievable critical yield becoming attainable, so making the decision to move to a personal pension such as a QROPS, easier to make. Sure there are variables and these are more or less important depending on who you are and what your circumstances are. Carrying out a full analysis of your own particular situation, Spectrum’s advisers can place you in an empowered position to make your choices, so, if you have a defined benefit scheme that you’ve either never reviewed, or one that hasn’t been looked at for a while, perhaps now is the perfect time to do so.

Every cloud……!

How much have your savings increased in the last 12 months?

By John Hayward - Topics: Inflation, Interest rates, Investments, Murcia & Almeria, Saving, Spain, Uncategorised
This article is published on: 26th November 2015


How much have your savings increased in the last 12 months?

Which of the following reflects where your money has been?

Savings account         +0.5% to 2% (before tax)*

FTSE100                       -3.17% (before charges and after dividends)*

Cautious fund             +4.3% to 5.5% (after charges)*

With interest rates predicted to stay low for some time to come, many in Spain are finding it difficult to grow their savings, or increase their income, without having to take risks they would not normally do, risking their capital.

So what are the options?

Deposit account
There are Spanish savings accounts offering around 2% although in reality this could be the rate for the first few months which will then reduce to a much lower rate. There are often restrictions on how much you can invest in these accounts. Inflation is running at a higher rate than most savings accounts and so, in real terms, most people are losing money in what they see as a risk free account.

Over the long term, through growth and dividends, it is possible to make significant gains. However, first-hand knowledge, or a lot of luck, is required to make the most of stocks and shares. Most people tend to have neither. In addition, most people are not prepared to take the rollercoaster ride that stocks and shares tend to produce.

Structured Notes
These are, generally, complicated and inflexible products which are really only suitable for experienced investors. The gains can be based on a variety of things but often requiring 5 to 6 years before seeing any return. 

Over time, property has proven itself to be a winner. However, it has also proven that it can suffer massive reductions. It is also probably the most illiquid asset you can hold as well as potentially, the most costly to hold in terms of upfront costs, taxes and maintenance. There can also be emotional risk.

Under the mattress
This is often mooted as a home for money in times of uncertainty but then there is the risk that it could go up in flames or end up in a burglar’s swag bag.

The solution?
As financial planning advisers, we are in a position to offer the best of all worlds; the potential for growth in a low risk environment. By Investing in a Spanish compliant insurance bond, with a company that is one of the strongest in Europe, holding a variety of assets, including shares, bonds, cash and property (but not the mattress), one can achieve steady growth. There is also the facility to take regular income. Your money can grow tax free within the bond until money is withdrawn. Even withdrawals are taxed favourably. Two potential advantages; higher growth and lower taxes. Perfect!

* Source: Financial Express (12 months to 23/11/15)