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Health before wealth

By Jeremy Ferguson - Topics: Investments, Spain, Stock Markets
This article is published on: 27th March 2020

27.03.20

Never has this expression been more relevant

After we received the news the Lockdown here in Spain is due to be extended until the 12th of April, and my best guess is that could be extended even further if we are on a similar path to Italy. Let’s hope we are not, but I for one am building myself up to accept that’s a real possibility.

My previous articles have spoken a lot about the benefits of living here in Spain: the glorious sunshine, beaches, the associated outdoor lifestyle we all came here to enjoy and the longer life expectancy that comes with all that.

Living in Spain

Wow, how that has all changed in such a short period of time. I have to say how impressed I have been with how the authorities here reacted, in a very timely fashion, and as is typical with the Guardia here in Spain, no messing around! People respect them, and apart from some idiotic panic shopping at the beginning, they are showing a lot of decency towards the authorities and their neighbours.
The UK has reacted in a slightly different way, and I will be intrigued as to the level of intervention the police will take and how that will be received.

My wife and I have both been bed bound for a number of days with many of the virus symptoms, so we are pretty sure we caught the dreaded thing. Considering our age and state of health, together with the difficulty of getting tested, we could see no point in seeking the help of the already stretched hospital services, so we rode it through. The temperatures and headaches, together with muscle aches and sweats were awful, but over in a matter of days. It’s not like we can do anything other than stay at home anyway, so in a strange way, every cloud has a silver lining.

Whilst we are all very worried about the potential health threat, many of us will also be worried about the potential wealth threat as well; I know we certainly are. Our pensions and savings are both taking a big hit at the moment, and I am sure there are a great many of you out there who are feeling the same pain.

Stock market Spain

A bit like the virus though, just as the human body fights back, the economies and companies of the world have an incredible ability to do the same thing. There will be casualties of course, just like with the pandemic, but the ability of the human race to fight back in the face of adversity is quiet incredible.

So rather than worrying too much about the current downturns in investment markets, maybe just trust in mankind’s ability to come back from these things and get back to ‘normal’ as quickly as possible. I cannot even imagine what things must have been like after the end of the second World War, but the human race simply rolled up its sleeves, licked its wounds and eventually got back relatively quickly to economic good health, showing an incredible doggedness and determination in its quest to achieve that.

I am sure this event is going to have a profound effect on people in the future, and how they may act when we come out of this terrible situation. Maybe a lot less will be taken for granted, maybe things will be appreciated more, maybe people will have realised the importance of helping others with selfless acts, maybe the handshake will be a thing of the past.

I do know one thing though, that this will have a profound effect on me going forward.

So my message for both your health and your wealth: stay strong, be careful, look after others around you, and please don’t panic!

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

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

Jeremy Ferguson

Feeling down about investments?

By John Hayward - Topics: Investment Risk, Investments, Spain, Stock Markets
This article is published on: 20th March 2020

20.03.20

Take advantage of this great opportunity

The last stockmarket crash was in September 2008. Here we are again. At the time of writing, the FTSE100 is more than 25% down, even allowing for dividends. For many, this is not an attractive situation when considering investments. For others, the few that look through the dark clouds, this is a great opportunity. It is very difficult, for the vast majority of people, to time when to buy into markets and when to sell out. When to sell can be simpler for those who have a nerve trigger point that will say enough is enough and they will take their profit. Those who sell when things are going down often get it wrong and crystallise a loss. Some will be forced to sell due to other circumstances and could be lucky that this happens when markets are historically high. Others who have to sell at a low point, such as now, are obviously not so lucky. This then leads to a lack of confidence in investing and the feeling of never wanting to be burnt again.

Anybody sitting on cash, wondering what to do with it, should seriously consider investing at a time like this when stockmarkets have crashed. Interest rates are close to non-existent so there is little to offer short term deposit savers. Inflation trundles on and so cash might be ”king” in the short term, but long term hardly ever. The problem is that whenever there is a crisis few can see beyond its end, so they will not invest until things have improved. By then, the potential profits on offer have disappeared. The fact is that that markets will bottom out. Where? Nobody knows for sure, but based on the fact that a big influence on why markets have fallen so much is fear and panic, it is felt that markets are artificially low. There may be further to go down but it is likely that there will be a significant rebound. Markets tend to discount the future. This means that, on the day that someone says the virus is under control, stockmarkets will have already been on their way up for some time.

One way of coping with the uncertainty of when the bottom of this particular dip might be is to drip feed your money into the markets. This means that if markets continue to slide, you don´t suffer a reduced value on all of your cash. Conversely, if markets increase in value, then you are part of that increase. By feeding your money in over a period of time you are able to reduce the downside and be part of the upside. In time, once this crisis has ended, you will already be invested and thus reap the benefits.

To find out how you could make more from your money, protecting your income streams against inflation and low interest rates, or for any other financial and tax planning information, contact me today at john.hayward@spectrum-ifa.com or call or WhatsApp 618 204 731.

How much do I need for a comfortable retirement?

By Chris Webb - Topics: Madrid, QROPS, Retirement, Spain, UK Pensions
This article is published on: 18th March 2020

18.03.20

How much money will I need in retirement?

This is one of the most common questions I hear as a Financial Adviser in Madrid, Spain.

The answer to that question differs from person to person and the numbers I discuss with my clients vary massively. To some, having a quiet retirement with little requirements is the goal; others will want to continue playing golf and attend social events weekly. There is a huge difference in what you will need in your pocket with these different scenarios.

So, what do the experts think?
Researchers have calculated how much money a person needs per year in order to enjoy a comfortable retirement. The numbers were calculated by Loughborough’s Centre for Research in Social Policy (CRSP), The Pensions & Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) and Retirement Living Standards (RLS). A report from Loughborough University and the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association aims to help people understand how much they will need for a minimum, moderate or comfortable quality of life once they retire.

In the UK a full state pension comes in at just over £8,500, but it’s the other savings you accrue over your working life that will make the difference in people’s post-work years.

Experts found that a single person will need about £10,200 a year to achieve the minimum living standard, £20,200 a year for moderate living standards and £33,000 a year for comfortable living standards. For couples, the minimum standard came in at £15,700, moderate was £29,100 and comfortable worked out as £47,500. The results are based on consultations with members of the public and consider what is needed in retirement for home DIY and maintenance, household and personal goods, holidays, food, transport, clothing and social engagements.

The new Retirement Living Standards describe three different standards of living with associated costs for each – all established by what the public considers realistic and relevant expectations. Associated costs are made up of household bills, food and drink, transport, holidays and leisure, clothing and personal and helping others. The standards cover a range of goods and services that are relevant to most people. These and other costs, such as tax on pension income, may need to be added depending on individual circumstances.

A series of profiles and infographics have been created on the PLSA website to help people calculate their own finances. The research for the Retirement Living Standards was adapted from the approach used to produce the Minimum Income Standard – a calculation of what the public thinks is an acceptable minimum standard of living. The data was gathered through 26 group discussions with around 250 members of the public already retired or approaching retirement, from a wide range of backgrounds. Expert views were taken into account for some areas, such as transport, energy usage and food costs.

The discussions set the parameters for how higher living standards should be described and defined. Through these discussions, three retirement living standards were agreed: minimum, moderate and comfortable.

The standards:
At a cost of £10,200 per year for a single person and £15,700 for a couple, the minimum lifestyle covers all your needs plus enough for some fun – including social participation and social occasions.

The moderate lifestyle (£20,200 a year for singles and £29,100 for couples) provides, in addition to the minimum lifestyle, more financial security and more flexibility.

At the comfortable level (£33,000 a year for singles and £47,500 for couples), retirees could enjoy some luxuries like regular beauty treatments, theatre trips and three weeks in Europe a year.

Breaking down the RLS:

House: Household utility bills, decorating and maintenance, furniture, cleaning supplies, lightbulbs, cooking utensils, appliances (e.g. fridge, washing machine), garden supplies, towels, bedding, gardener/cleaner/window cleaner & funeral plan.

Food and Drink: Household food shopping, eating out, beer & wine.

Transport: Car running costs, railcard/train travel & taxis.

Holidays and Leisure: TV, DVD player, laptop, printer, speakers, CDs, stationery supplies, TV license and subscriptions, internet, activities & holidays.

Clothing and Personal: Clothing, footwear, cosmetics, toothbrush, toothpaste, shaving supplies, hair styling, beauty treatments, dentist, opticians, podiatry & minor first aid supplies.

Helping Others: Gifts, helping others (if applicable) & charitable donations

Planning early is key to getting your retirement plans in order. You can look up another of my articles here on this subject titled “It Is Never Too Early

Don’t delay your financial plans. For planning, yesterday is better than today, which is better than tomorrow. Contact me, Chris webb on 639 118 185 or chris.webb@spectrum-ifa.com if you want to discuss your own circumstances.

Sources:
Loughborough’s Centre for Research in Social Policy (CRSP).
Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA)
Retirement Living Standards (RLS)

A flight to safety, or an opportunity for investors?

By David Hattersley - Topics: Investment Risk, Investments, Spain
This article is published on: 13th March 2020

13.03.20

I am as conscious as anybody with regard to the above virus and its potential impact and consequence. A recent financial example would be the demise of Flybe, to which the coronavirus was a contributory factor. Natural animal instincts are fear, driven by fight or flee. So how can one consider investment at such a time, when currently 24 hour news channels and the press are swamping us with a savage feeding frenzy of headline information, with many showing a scant disregard to any in depth analysis and reality.

To clarify some facts, I did some research in the reliable analyses from the UK government, “Surveillance of influenza and other respiratory viruses in the UK” annual reports from 2014-2019. The following fact came to light: deaths in England with a contributory factor from the “flu” have varied from 14,000 to below 10,000 in each “peak season” during this period.

Viruses do mutate and new strains appear. With COVID-19 there is a documented risk for the elderly, in particular, those who may have pre-existing medical conditions, but you need to keep things in perspective.

Investing for the future

A simple phrase from Warren Buffet springs to mind, “When everybody is being greedy, be fearful; when everybody is being fearful, be greedy”.
So how do fund managers cope with this onslaught? How can they take into account all the facts referred to above? We live in a global world which has, nevertheless, regional differences. The multi-asset fund managers that we use have the resources to have access to massive amounts of data, which enables them to take all of this into account.

They invest for the long term, with an eye kept on short term risk. But they avoid short term “knee-jerk” reactions, taking a longer term view based on a minimum 5 year investment analysis and taking a balanced approach

So what’s our role as Financial Advisers? In previous articles I have eluded to each individual’s circumstances. Apart from the pure investment questions, so many other aspects need to be considered for effective financial planning including your personal situation, how much risk you want to take and how long you want to invest for. So a detailed fact find has to be the way forward, and that is carried out by us, not the fund managers. These fact finds are free, and are based on each individual’s requirements and circumstances. So feel free to contact me for a no obligation meeting, apart from the provision of a coffee!

Stock markets falling, should I sell?

By Charles Hutchinson - Topics: BREXIT, Investment Risk, Spain, Stock Markets
This article is published on: 6th March 2020

06.03.20

There are four big subjects dominating the public arena at present: life after Brexit, life after the coronavirus, life after climate change, life after the dramatic falls in the global markets.

We live in an interdependent world where news is instant across all continents (although I’m not sure whether the penguins are interested). We are aware of climate change, the antics of Widow Twanky Trump, the spread of the coronavirus and Brexit (an outdated game in which the British people have kicked off in the hope of a repeat performance of their imperial past). Hopefully we have taken onboard the catastrophy of climate change in time (not Widow Twanky, yet) before we are reduced to a desert of Mars proportions. Hopefully the coronavirus threat is a storm in a teacup. Hopefully Brexit will work out. These are all uncertainties – except one: the global stock markets.

All life is cyclical; this is enshrined in history. Take any historical event of extreme proportions; the pendulum will at some point begin to swing back the other way. The only possible exception I can think of is the reincarnation of the Dinosaurs and the Dodo. There will be other tyrants, exterminations, plagues and climate changes at some point; but in our lifetime at least you can depend on the markets bouncing back. Why? As I have described in other articles, the markets are like the tides, they come in and they go out. The sea does not disappear over the horizon in a great hiss of steam into the sunset. Money has to have a home and it is to the markets, at the end of the day, that money’s guardians largely turn. In a post apocalyptical world, bartering will still continue, even if it is with seashells and potatoes. Money is merely the lubricant of trade, whether it be between you and I or corporations or countries.

Believe it or not, the professional market traders relish market falls (or corrections, as they call them) because it presents them with the buying opportunities which are needed to make money. The falls are caused by a mixture of inexperienced emotional investors and market makers (to create the buying opportunities). What is sure now is that markets will move up again and it might be sooner than expected. No person, company or country can stay in lock down for long. We have to eat and carry on our normal lives. Sooner or later, a cure for COVID-19 will be found (they announced yesterday promising results with HIV and Ebola antiviral drugs). The old may be vulnerable, but they don’t need to go out to work, tilling the fields or driving the engines of manufacturing. They are mostly at home enjoying a good rest after a lifetime’s toil. So with a bit of care we may be able to keep them protected until the virus burns itself out.

The lesson is clear: stay invested, or if you are a little brave buy into these low levels to enjoy a potentially better return and maybe average down (don’t commit all your spare investment capital at once but buy into the falling markets in stages to increase the odds of buying near the bottom to increase your potential profits).

Remember, Spectrum does not risk our clients’ hard earned capital. We just know the tide will come in again and as long as we are in sound and sturdy boats (investment funds), it will take everyone back up the beach to new heights. Spectrum chooses fund houses for their experience and expertise, some of whom have been around for more than 200 years. It is their fund managers’ job to react to world events on a daily basis. We use them to protect our clients’ money. We arrange for our clients to access these superb funds through structures called Investment Bonds (or Insurance Wrappers) which are Spanish compliant and which offer unparalleled security (against corporate collapse) and low taxation with both income tax in Spain and the UK and also inheritance tax in Spain.

If you would like to talk to me more about this subject and the points raised, please contact me as per below and I would be happy to discuss this further.

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.

Save Thousands in Gift and Inheritance Tax in Spain

By John Hayward - Topics: Inheritance Tax, Spain, Succession Planning, Tax
This article is published on: 27th February 2020

27.02.20

In Spain, you can transfer money or other assets to your children or grandchildren during your lifetime, but these transfers can be subject to gift tax. Tax on gifts in Spain is payable at the time they are made.

However, many autonomous regions have special tax allowances or deductions for these gifts. In the Valencian Community, for example, each child or grandchild could be eligible to receive €100,000 without attracting any gift tax, whereas the tax on €100,000, without any allowances, would be at least €12,000. Also, gifting an asset now will mean that any growth on that asset will be free of any future inheritance tax.

The same allowance is available on inheritance, which means each child can receive €200,000 of your wealth, tax free, saving many thousands in inheritance and gift tax.

Gifting your property whilst you still live it in it, with rights to remain, is another option which many people consider. Known as usufructo, children will inherit the bare ownership of the property, possibly paying some gift tax now, but freeing property from the estate when considering inheritance tax.

As with most things relating to Brexit, what will happen next year is not known publicly at the time of writing. Also, it has been suggested that gift and inheritance tax is about to change in Spain. Therefore, if you are thinking of gifting money, or other assets to your children or grandchildren, this might be an opportunity that will not be around for much longer.

Modelo 720 Reporting Time – 2020

By Chris Burke - Topics: Barcelona, Modelo 720, Spain
This article is published on: 26th February 2020

26.02.20

Just a reminder that time is running out for submitting your Modelo 720 declaration for 2020. The deadline this year is the 31st March and is fast approaching.

All those tax resident in Spain (those living in Spain for more than 183 days a year or where Spain is the main base for your business) should be aware that as a result of legislation passed on 29th October 2012, residents in Spain who have any assets outside of Spain with a value of €50.000 (or alternative currency equivalent) or more, are required to submit this declaration form to the Spanish authorities.

This declaration can be made online, through the Tax Office`s web page www.agenciatributaria.es where the Modelo 720 formcan be located (type in Modelo 720 into the search block on the top right hand side of the page). It must be filed between January 1st and March 31st of the first year of residence to avoid being investigated or fined by the Spanish authorities. I would personally recommend speaking with your accountant / Gestoria to avoid mistakes.

    1. Property
    1. Bank accounts (cash)
    1. Investments

To warrant a declaration the total value of assets should exceed €50.000 in each or any one of the categories; e.g. if you have 3 bank accounts and totalling up all the balances it exceeds the €50.000 limit you are subject to making the Modelo 720 declaration. However, if you have a bank account at €30.000 and, say, investments valued at €30.000 then there would be no reporting requirement as they are in separate categories and each individual total value does not exceed the €50.000.

A declaration must be submitted individually, regardless of the percentage of ownership (in joint accounts). For example, if you have a joint bank account with a value exceeding €50.000, although your particular (say €25.000) share is below the threshold, each owner would still be required to submit an individual declaration based on the total value of the account.

Although this declaration of assets abroad is solely informative and no tax is charged, failure to file, late filing or false information could result in fines.

For this reason, we recommend that everybody arranges to declare their assets. Once you have made your first declaration it is not necessary to present any further declarations in subsequent years, unless any of your assets in any category increases by more than €20.000 above the initial value declared.

A Fundamental Reshaping of Investments

By Susan Worthington - Topics: ethical investing, Mallorca, menorca, Spain
This article is published on: 25th February 2020

25.02.20

Having recently attended The Spectrum IFA Group Annual Conference, I discovered we are on the brink of a fundamental reshaping of finance.

We were given presentations from the various fund managers we work with. This year the message was the same from each one and very different from the usual theme. Refreshingly so!

There was less concern or discussion about Brexit, Trump and the Trade Wars. It was more focused on a much bigger concern, which is believed to stem from customer demand, connected to our environment. A concern now and very much for the future.

ESG investing
So how can fund management help the environment? Do they only select successful companies where there is the best potential for growth for their investors? Here we see a fundamental change to one where the sector for good potential for growth might now be ESG Investing. This stands for Environment/Social Governance Investing generally known as environmentally friendly investing or green investments.

As my colleague, Gareth, in Italy sums it up:

Certain fund managers are adapting to the challenges and know that if their sector fails to adapt then they will likely go out of business. Consumers are being selective about who they do business with and are making choices based on how company policy sits with their personal views. Equally, investment managers have realised this trend and are also aligning their asset management styles with those of their customers, because they can see that prospective investors will choose investments based on how they match with their ethical views.

Asset managers are the largest allocators of capital in the world: investment funds, pension funds, sovereign investment funds etc and now they are starting to look at not just where they place money, but question why they do it. This could be the catalyst for real change.

Consumers and employees are the real capital of any business. People are making choices based on how businesses treat their customers and also their employees. Happy employees make for higher profits and more prosperous businesses.

Let’s do things for the future not in the future. Creating wealth without borrowing from the future.

The Spectrum IFA Group is adapting to these changes and we are currently working on a selection of ESG investment portfolios. We are mindful that there is always the danger that this trend can attract what is known as “green washing” funds, i.e. not completely compliant with ESG requirements, so we have a careful selection process. A word of warning if you seek ESG type investments: avoid anything that sounds too good to be true, that merely has a trendy sounding name and don’t invest in anything that does not have a track record. Use professionals to guide you who have the resources and research behind them.

If you would like to know more about ESG investment funds, please contact me below:

Arts Society de La Frontera & Spectrum – Costa del Sol

By Charles Hutchinson - Topics: Costa del Sol, Spain, Sponsoring
This article is published on: 24th February 2020

24.02.20

The Spectrum IFA Group again co-sponsored an excellent Arts Society de La Frontera lecture on 19th February at the San Roque Golf & Country Club on the Costa del Sol. We were represented by one of our local and long-serving advisers, Charles Hutchinson, who attended along with our co-sponsors Currencies Direct, represented by area manager Ignacio Ortega and Alexandra Derudder. Also present was the society’s European Chairman Jo Ward.

The Arts Society is a leading global arts charity which opens up the world of the arts through a network of local societies and national events throughout the world. With inspiring monthly lectures given by some of the UK’s top experts, together with days of special interest, educational visits and cultural holidays, the Arts Society is a great way to learn, have fun and make new and lasting friendships.

At this event, over 130 attendees were entertained by a talk entitled ‘John Singer Sargent, master of the society portrait’ by Mary Alexander, who is one of the UK’s top experts on this subject. She gave an excellent lecture which was highly informative and educational, opening up the artist’s world to show his versatility away from not just being a portraitist and his much travelled life.

The talk was followed by a drinks reception which included a free raffle for prizes, including a CH supplied lovely coffee table book on the artist, champagne and an elegant pot plant. Currencies Direct also supplied a presentation bottle of brandy.

All in all, a great turnout and a very successful event at a wonderful venue which has just been renovated throughout; looking through the windows, one can see the golf course completely dug up and redesigned.

The Spectrum IFA Group was very proud to be involved with such a fantastic organisation during its current global expansion and we hope to have the opportunity to do so again.