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The danger of waiting for Brexit

By John Hayward - Topics: BREXIT, Interest rates, Investment Risk, Investments, spain
This article is published on: 16th October 2018

16.10.18

There are many things that we don´t know the answers to regarding Brexit. There are even questions that we don´t yet know. However, some facts are known. One of these is concerning investing, or not, since 20th February 2016. This was the day that David Cameron, the then Prime Minister, announced that there would be a referendum on the UK´s membership of the EU. People have been fearful due to the uncertainty as to what will happen post-Brexit.

In the last two and a half years, life has continued and investment markets have risen significantly. At the same time, inflation hasn´t disappeared just because Brexit is on the menu. Figure 1 below shows how the FTSE100 has performed since 20th February 2016 along with the UK Retail Price Index. With dividends reinvested, £100,000 would now be worth £131,000.

If we adjust for inflation, this would be more like £119,000, but still a 19% increase. If the £100,000 had been left in a bank account, with no interest which is commonplace these days, the inflation adjusted value would now be more like £91,000. Waiting for Brexit has cost the wait and see person £9,000.

Figure 1. Performance of the FTSE100 since the referendum announcement in February 2016 along with the UK Retail Price Index.

There are people who are not happy taking on investments which carry risk. If we ignore the risk of inflation for the time-being, we have solutions which can cater for those who are happy taking some investment risk but without the volatility of stocks and shares. Figure 2 shows that an investment with approximately an eighth* of the risk of the FTSE100 has still managed to perform well, certainly when compared to inflation.

One must bear in mind costs, but even allowing for these, people who were invested through us on 20th February 2016 would have seen an increase of around 15%. Taking inflation into consideration, this would produce a figure of around 5%. However, comparing this with not being invested would have left the “wait and see” person some £14,000 down.

Figure 2. Performance of a low risk investment along with the UK Retail Price Index

With the exchange rate between GBP and Euros down about 12% over the same period, the need to receive more income from investments has become even more important, especially for those with income in GBP and costs in Euros. Losing 20% in real spending power has proven to be a tough pill to swallow. Get in contact so that the possible “Never Ending Story” called Brexit doesn´t lose you even more over the coming years.

* Source: Financial Express

Investment Categories

By Pauline Bowden - Topics: Investment Risk, Investments, spain, wealth management
This article is published on: 3rd March 2018

03.03.18

The risk scale, i.e. volatility of return, for general investment categories sorts investments from 1, least risk, to 8, highest risk.

  1. Bank Account
  2. Cash or Money Market Funds
  3. Debt Investments: Bonds and Bond Funds
  4. Common Stocks and Shares (Equities) and Equity Funds
  5. Real Estate
  6. Collectibles and Commodities ( stamps, art, gold, diamonds, oil etc)
  7. Options
  8. Futures

Categories 1 and 2 usually have returns that are near to the rate of inflation. In other words, not a good return on your investment in the long term, though they are low risk.

Category 3 usually has better returns than 1 and 2 and in most cases Bonds provide a fairly safe investment. However, there is a wide range of risk within this category; from Junk Bonds with very high risk to Treasury Bonds with lowest risk.

Category 4 is where most investment is based. In general, mixed, managed, well balanced stock markets funds are safer than individual stocks because of diversification and professional management. The professional management allows the investor to concentrate more on family, job etc. instead of having to spend large amounts of time managing a portfolio of individual stocks.

Category 5, real estate, is a very localised investment fraught with more “negatives” than most people realise and not easy to sell at short notice i.e. illiquid. However, it can be – if bought, managed and sold correctly – a great source of wealth.

Categories 6, 7 and 8 should only be considered by experts in the relative fields. The risk is too high for investors without specialist knowledge.

Before making any investment decisions, be sure of your personal risk rating, diversify your portfolio and get advice from a Licensed Independent Financial Adviser. Call Pauline Bowden on 616 743 108 or email Pauline.bowden@spectrum-ifa.com for a free, personal, confidential consultation.

Emotional Challenge

By Chris Webb - Topics: Investment Risk, Investments, Madrid, spain
This article is published on: 28th February 2018

28.02.18

THE RATIONAL, IRRATIONAL AND EMOTIONAL STRUGGLE
In such challenging times, emotions may play a significant role in investment decisions. Investors feel the variances in their portfolios’ performance much more than the average return over the life of their investments. Rationally, investors know that markets cannot keep going up indefinitely. Irrationally, we are surprised when markets decline.

IN VOLATILE MARKETS STAYING INVESTED MAY BE CHALLENGING
It is a challenge to look beyond the short-term variances and focus on the long-term averages. The greatest challenge may be in deciding to stay invested during a volatile market and a time of low consumer confidence. History has shown us that it is important to stay invested in good and bad market environments. During periods of high consumer confidence stock prices peak and during periods of low consumer confidence stock prices can come under pressure. Historically, returns trended in the opposite direction of past consumer confidence data. When confidence is low it has been the time to buy or hold.
Of course, no one can predict the bottom or guarantee future returns. But as history has shown, the best decision may be to stay invested even during volatile markets.

DECLINES MAY PRESENT OPPORTUNITIES
An emotional roller coaster ride is especially nerve-racking during a decline. However, the best opportunity to make money may be when stock prices are low. Buying low and selling high has always been one of the basic rules of investing and building wealth. Yet during these emotional and challenging times it is easy to be fearful and/or negative so let’s turn to the wise advice of one of the world’s best investors, the late Sir John Templeton:

“Don’t be fearful or negative too often. For 100 years optimists have carried the day in U.S. stocks. Even in the dark ’70s, many professional money managers—and many individual investors too—made money in stocks, especially those of smaller companies…There will, of course, be corrections, perhaps even crashes. But, over time, our studies indicate stocks do go up…and up…and up…Chances are that certain other
indexes will have grown even more. Despite all the current gloom about the economy, and about the future, more people will have more money than ever before in history. And much of it will be invested in stocks. And throughout this wonderful time, the basic rules of building wealth by investing in stocks will hold true. In this century or the next it’s still ‘Buy low, sell high’.”

Watching from the Sidelines May Cost You
When markets become volatile, a lot of people try to guess when stocks will bottom out. In the meantime, they often park their investments in cash. But just as many investors are slow to recognize a retreating stock market, many also fail to see an upward trend in the market until after they have missed opportunities for gains. Missing out on these opportunities can take a big bite out of your returns.

Euro / Dollar Cost Averaging Makes It Easier to Cope with Volatility
Most people are quick to agree that volatile markets present buying opportunities for investors with a long-term horizon. But mustering the discipline to make purchases during a volatile market can be difficult. You can’t help wondering, “Is this really the right time to buy?” Euro / Dollar cost averaging can help reduce anxiety about the investment process. Simply put, Euro / dollar cost averaging is committing a fixed amount of money at regular intervals to an investment. You buy more shares when prices are low and fewer shares when prices are high, and over time, your average cost per share may be less than the average price per share.

Euro / Dollar cost averaging involves a continuous, disciplined investment in fund shares, regardless of fluctuating price levels. Investors should consider their financial ability to continue purchases through periods of low price levels or changing economic conditions. Such a plan does not assure a profit and does not protect against loss in a declining market.

Now May Be a Great Time for a Portfolio Checkup
Is your portfolio as diversified as you think it is? Meet with me to find out. Your portfolio’s weightings in different asset classes may shift over time as one investment performs better or worse than another. Together we can re-examine your portfolio to see if you are properly diversified. You can also determine whether your current portfolio mix is still a suitable match with your goals and risk tolerance.

Tune Out the Noise and Gain a Longer-Term Perspective
Numerous television stations and websites are dedicated to reporting investment news 24 hours a day, seven days a week. What’s more, there are almost too many financial publications and websites to count. While the media provide a valuable service, they typically offer a very short-term outlook. To put your own investment plan in a longer-term perspective and bolster your confidence, you may want to look at how different types of portfolios have performed over time. Interestingly, while stocks may be more volatile, they’ve still outperformed income-oriented investments (such as bonds) over longer time periods.

Believe Your Beliefs and Doubt Your Doubts
There are no real secrets to managing volatility. Most investors already know that the best way to navigate a choppy market is to have a good long-term plan and a well-diversified portfolio. But sticking to these fundamental beliefs is sometimes easier said than done. When put to the test, you sometimes begin doubting your beliefs and believing your doubts, which can lead to short-term moves that divert you from your long-term goals. To keep from falling into this trap, call me before making any changes to your portfolio

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!

Has your bank in Spain paid you over 3% p.a. interest on your savings recently?

By John Hayward - Topics: Costa Blanca, Interest rates, Investment Risk, Investments, Saving, spain, Uncategorised
This article is published on: 19th September 2017

19.09.17

The probability is that it hasn´t. However, you could have made more than 3% a year in a low risk savings plan with one of the biggest insurance companies in the world. We have many happy savers who have seen steady growth of over 3% a year for the last few years. How? Read on…

Saving money in a low interest world

Losing spending power to inflation
With special offers currently being offered by banks of 0.10% APR interest and inflation in Spain running at 1.6%, there is a guaranteed loss of the real value of money at the rate of 1.5% a year. There are some who would be disappointed, if not angry, if their money in an investment had lost 7.5% over 5 years yet this is exactly what has been happening to people over the last few years without them really appreciating it. 3% a year is not only an attractive rate of return but it is necessary to cope with inflation and provide real growth.

Spanish compliant insurance bonds
ISAs, Premium Bonds, and some other investments in the UK are tax free for UK residents. They are not tax free for Spanish residents. We are licensed to promote insurance bonds in Spain which are provided by insurance companies outside Spain but still in the EU. In fact, even after Brexit, these companies will still be EU based and so Brexit will not have the impact on these plans that it could have on UK investments. As the bonds are with EU companies, and the companies themselves disclose information to Spain on the amount invested, as well as any tax detail, the bonds are Spanish compliant which makes them extremely tax efficient. We do not deal with companies based outside the EU as we are satisfied that the regulation within the EU is for the benefit of the investor. We do not have the same confidence in some other financial jurisdictions and neither do Spain.

What investment decisions do you have to make?
Although we have the facility to personalise an investment portfolio within the parameters laid down by the EU regulators, offering discretionary fund management with some of the largest and best known investment management companies, we can also use a more simple approach for those who do not require any input into the day to day investment decisions.

So what has happened over the last 5 years?
The chart below illustrates the performance of one of fund’s available to you compared to the FTSE100 and the UK Consumer Price index. The argument to stay invested when markets fall is valid when one looks at the FTSE100 roller coaster line with the increase we have seen over the last year or so since the Brexit vote. However, anyone accessing their money around the time of the vote could have seen a 25% drop in the investment values. Not so with the fund in the insurance bond.

Real cases

Real case 1 – £40,000 invested 24/07/12. £50,770 as at 14/09/17. Up 26.92% in 5 years

Real case 2 – £356,669 invested 10/09/14. £431,177 as at 14/09/17. Up 20.88% in 3 years

Real case 3 – £316,000 invested 05/04/16. £334,422 as at 14/09/17. Up 5.82% in 18 months

Real case 4 – £80,000 invested 13/07/16. £86,160 as at 14/09/17. Up 7.70% in 15 months

Real case 5 – £20,000 invested 27/01/17. £20,712 as at 14/09/17. Up 3.56% in 8 months

These growth rates are not guaranteed but are published to illustrate what has actually happened and that the percentage returns on the fund are irrespective of the amount invested.

How can they produce such consistency?
Each quarter, the insurance company estimates what the growth rate will be for the following 12 months. This rate is reviewed based on the views of the underlying management company with people situated in all parts of the globe specialising in their own particular area. In good times, the company will hold back money that it has made so that, when things are not so good, they are still able to pay a steady rate of growth to their savers.

I don´t want to take any risk
It is difficult to avoid risk. In fact it´s practically impossible. A risky investment is seen by many as something which has a good chance of failure, either in part or completely. Stocks and shares are seen as risky whilst putting money into a bank deposit account is not. It is generally known that stocks and shares can go down as well as up but some people are unaware, or simply ignore, the risk of keeping money in a perceived “safe” bank deposit. Bank accounts have limited protection against the bank going bust. Then, if it came to the situation where a bank had to be bailed out by the government, it could take months, if not years, to access your money. As already mentioned, if the account is making less than inflation, you are losing money in real terms. So a bank account is far from risk free. The fund illustrated above is rated by Financial Express as having a risk rating of 22% of that applicable to FTSE100, much further down the risk scale and in an area that many people feel comfortable with.

What are the charges?
We explain in detail the underlying costs. In my experience, far too many people commit to a contract without understanding what they have, having received little explanation of the terms and conditions. This is where we differ to most. Different companies have different ways of charging and we run through all of the charges so that you are happy with what you have. The real examples above have had charges deducted and so these are the real values. Your bank may not charge you for the 0.10% interest (less tax) they are paying you but they are making money through investment but not passing anything on to you even though you supplied the money they invest.

What do I need to do next?
Contact me and I can review your savings, investments, and pension funds. I can then explain how you could arrange these in a tax efficient way whilst giving you the opportunity to access the growth that is available, for an improved lifestyle and to cope with rising costs.

Is lending money to a government still low risk?

By Peter Brooke - Topics: Bonds, France, Investment Risk, Investments, wealth management
This article is published on: 26th July 2017

26.07.17

If you buy a government bond, sometimes called GILTS (UK), BUNDS (Germany) or T-Bills (US), as an investment, then you are effectively lending that government money. Most portfolio managers say investors should have some bond exposure in their investment portfolios as they diversify away from other assets like shares.

How do Bonds work?
You start by buying a bond on ‘issue’ for a set issue price with a ‘promise’ to pay you back the same amount in a date in the future. In the meantime, the bond pays you a ‘coupon’ or interest in payment for you lending your money. The bonds are also traded on a ‘secondary bond market’ where the price fluctuates according to supply and demand but the coupon remains the same… this means that your interest rate changes depending on what price you pay for the bond.

You can also invest in ‘funds’ of government bonds which are managed by professional managers using new issue and secondary market bonds around the world to build a diversified portfolio… but are they as low risk as they are made out to be?

Traditionally these forms of investment have always been viewed as low risk, as governments, unlike companies or individuals can always ‘print money’ and so can always pay you back. This also means that the interest rate you receive (the coupon) will be lower than company bonds.

If we consider that RISK is the chance of loss then I would argue that these investments are no longer low risk. Right now, we are in an environment where interest rates are at all-time lows around the world, inflation is starting to bite and so the chance of an interest rate increase by central banks is high; even though the rate increases may be low.

If you are holding any bond and interest rates go up, then bond values will drop, therefore I would argue that at some point you are risking a capital loss by holding government bonds. Some analysts believe that a 1% increase in interest rates could lead to a 10% capital loss on most bonds. If this is the case are you now being compensated for this risk of loss? Well, no… interest rates on government bonds are around 1% now and so with inflation higher than 1% in most countries you are losing money on an annual basis too.

So, what can you do about it? The first option is to take a little more risk and swap your government bonds for high quality corporate bonds… the coupon will be greater and as long as the companies are in good health then they should be able to repay you at the end of the term… there are also funds of corporate bonds which diversify risk.

The corporate bond market is segmented by credit rating so be aware of the level of risk this can bring to your savings… “high yield” (Europe) or “junk bonds” (US) tend to behave more like shares.

Another option would be to diversify away from western government bonds into emerging market government bond funds… there is some extra currency risk, though this can help performance too. Finally, you can outsource the choice of the bonds you buy by using a Strategic Bond fund… this will invest in corporate, government and emerging markets bonds on a strategic basis and would be very diversified.

This article is for information only and should not be considered as advice.

THE MILLIONAIRES CLUB

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

24.07.17

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

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

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

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

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

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

Investments for the Cautious

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

28.06.17

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

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

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

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

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

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

Investing in turbulent times – presentation, Costa del Sol

By Spectrum IFA - Topics: Costa del Sol, Events, Investment Risk, Investments, spain, Spectrum-IFA Group, wealth management
This article is published on: 15th June 2017

15.06.17

The Spectrum IFA Group and Tilney Investment Management co-sponsored an excellent presentation and lunch on 13th June at the exclusive Finca Cortesin Hotel & Spa on the Costa del Sol. The Spectrum IFA Group was represented by our local adviser, Charles Hutchinson, assisted by his wife Rhona and Jonathan Goodman who attended along with Richard Brown, Lewis Cohen and Harriette Collings from Tilney.

For this event, around 25 attendees were invited and selected for this exclusive venue. They were given a very interesting interactive talk by Richard and Lewis on investing in these turbulent times, followed by a mingling lunch and refreshments in the Moroccan Room where everyone was able to personally discuss their questions with staff from both companies in a glorious and relaxing setting with gardens and fountains close by. The feedback from the attendees has been most impressive.

Spectrum was very proud to be involved with Tilney in this superb event. It is hoped this will be repeated again in the future.

Financial Advice Spain
Financial Advice Spain

Smoothing out the bumps of market volatility

By Sue Regan - Topics: Assurance Vie, France, Interest rates, Investment Risk, Investments, wealth management
This article is published on: 9th June 2017

09.06.17

In today’s environment of very low interest rates, is it wise to leave more than “your rainy day fund” sitting in the bank, probably earning way less in interest than the current rate of inflation, particularly after the taxman has had his cut…..?

In the above scenario, the real value of your capital is reducing, due to the depreciating effect on your capital of inflation. So, if you are relying on your capital to grow sufficiently to help fund your retirement or meet a specific financial goal, then you should be looking for an alternative home for your cash that will, at the very least, keep pace with inflation and thus protect the real value of your capital.

In order to achieve a better return than a cash deposit, by necessity, there is a need to take some risk. The big question is – how much risk should be taken? In reality, this can only be decided as part of a detailed discussion with the investor, which takes into account their time horizon for investment, their requirement for income and/or capital growth, as well as how comfortable they feel about short-term volatility over the period of investment.

Although inevitable, and perhaps arguably a necessity for successful investment management, it is often the volatility of an investment portfolio that can cause some people the most discomfort. Volatility often creates anxiety particularly for investors who need a regular income from their portfolio, and for this reason some people would choose to leave capital in the bank, depreciating in value, rather than have the worry of market volatility. However, this is very unlikely to meet your needs.

There is an alternative, which is to have a well-diversified investment portfolio that provides a smoothed return by ironing out the peaks and troughs of the short-term market volatility. Many of our clients find that this is a very attractive proposition.

What is a smoothed fund?

A smoothed fund aims to grow your money over the medium to long term, whilst protecting you from the short-term ups and downs of investment markets.

There are a number of funds available with differing risk profiles, to suit all investors. The funds are invested in very diversified multi-asset portfolios made up of international shares, property, fixed interest and other investments.

The smoothed funds are available in different of currencies, including Sterling, Euro and USD. Thus, if exchanging from Sterling to Euros at this time is a concern for you, an investment can be made initially in Sterling and then exchanged to Euros when you are more comfortable with the exchange rate. All of this is done within the investment and so does not create any French tax issues for you.

As a client of the Spectrum IFA Group, this type of fund can be invested within a French compliant international life assurance bond and thus is eligible for the same very attractive personal tax benefits associated with Assurance Vie, as well as French inheritance tax mitigation.

Stop Press!!! Since writing this article the UK Election has taken place resulting in a hung parliament that brings with it more political uncertainty, but also the possibility of a softer Brexit or even a second election. This makes for a testing time for investment managers and the option of a smoothed investment ever more attractive.