Viewing posts categorised under: Spain

The EU – a Financial success or not?

By Chris Burke - Topics: Barcelona, Catalonia, Catalunya, eu citizens, europe-news, spain, The EU

31.10.17
Chris Burke | Spectrum IFA Barcelona

What better subject to discuss, than one closest to the heart of someone living and studying in Europe.

Geneva Business School (GBS) in Barcelona, is a leading Business School providing cutting edge, innovative, Swiss quality education on a global scale. Part of their curriculum is to invite guest speakers along to hold a forum/debate on a topical subject, to enhance their knowledge, practice what they are learning and increase their debating skills.

So, where better to format the debate on discussing what the original reasons were for the EU being formed. Easy I hear you say. Ok, well we started discussing putting all the countries together and how that could make them stronger under one currency, against other economies. It was soon apparent that although this seems a sensible idea, did this work for everyone? Greece was debated as already being financially in trouble before it joined the EU, and has continued down that path, but why? When we looked at the Government debt of each country before joining the EU and present day, it’s clear many of the country’s debt has doubled; The UK, Greece, Italy, France to name but a few, but why haven’t others? No one was surprised Germany’s hadn’t, but why hadn’t it? We discussed Germany’s manufacturing capability compared to the other countries; this could well be a valid reason. There was mention of ‘black’ money still prevalent in certain countries, mainly Italy and Greece where in some places you still couldn’t pay by card, only cash. It was well known a few years back the Greek underground had been losing money hand over fist due to passengers not paying. Was there a cultural issue here that was denying the government, in those countries, of more revenue from tax?

Freedom of movement was on everyone’s lips as another good reason for the EU being born. Freedom to move elsewhere, find work, perhaps a new life, career. It was quickly pointed out this didn’t work for everyone, an Italian farmer (highlighted by an Italian student) would not agree this had worked well for him. Of course, you cannot please everyone and there are countries in the EU whose farmers receive subsidies to help.

Access to the common market, so trading made easier for countries in the EU, cheaper and more direct for them to sell within. This making them potentially more competitive than those outside it. This was a strong reason for the EU to be formed.

So there was one more, major reason, that after we discussed what it was, agreed that perhaps this could be the biggest reason for the EU being formed, but is hardly ever brought up. We discussed that during the Brexit negotiations this was hardly ever mentioned as a reason to remain, if it was its press headlines were minimal. When you are part of a team, whether it be a sports team or any other, you have a common reason/goal to make it work. You may have disagreements, but because you all want the same outcome, which benefits you all, you work hard to find a solution. Differences can be put aside, or debated, and there may be a skirmish occasionally but in general, conflict is usually avoided or at least minimal. Stopping wars and keeping the peace was one of the founding reasons for forming the EU, yet it hardly ever gets the status it should deserve.

So, taking all this into account, did we think the EU has been a financial success? Certainly not to everyone, but if you were a consultant brought in to investigate and make a decision, the debaters at Geneva Business School voted marginally it had. Wars cost money, however they can also generate it……

Other key questions asked were:

Where are we economically in the world?
We are in the second longest Bull Run in the history of the stock markets, we certainly aren’t on the bottom run of the ladder in terms of its upward curve, probably not in the middle, how long there is to go is anyone’s guess, but we are probably in the final third.

Government debt are at the highest rates ever, can it be repaid?
No. Even if we had ten more fantastic years on the stock markets, which is highly unlikely, it’s my belief it’s almost impossible to repay these. Looking at debt clocks is frightening and best not to be done!

Bitcoin, good investment or not?

The jury is still out on this, it continues to provide itself as an investment choice. Will it last? Do the bank’s want it to last? Will it be here tomorrow? For the high risk takers it’s a choice, for everyone else it’s too early to tell.

Property, a good investment in Barcelona?
Simply, if you are intending on holding it for a decade or so, and being able to fix the mortgage interest rate for life, it’s hard to advise against it. For anything less, you wouldn’t want all your investments in one asset class.

So, our final thoughts were, on Maslow’s Conscious Competence Model, where did we rate the EU? And the overwhelming answer was:

Conscious Incompetent – that is to say, the EU knows it isn’t working, and is arguably trying to fix it although isn’t sure how. But how much we wonder…….

La Renta Tax Return –
the countdown is on…

By Barry Davys - Topics: Barcelona, la renta, spain

19.10.17

ONLY TWO WEEKS TO GO BEFORE THE FIRST INSTALLMENT IS DUE

Just a quick reminder for those of you to whom it applies!

When filing your personal income tax return in 2016, you had the opportunity to choose to pay in two instalments, the first of which is 40% of the amount due, and which will come out of your account on November 6th. Be sure you have enough in your account to cover it!

If you didn’t elect to do this on your tax return, it’s not too late! You can go to any bank office up to the 6th of November and use Form 102 to pay 40% of the balance to reduce the amount you must pay in June.

For more information and if you have any further questions, please contact your Spectrum IFA Group adviser

Saving tax is a good policy

By John Hayward - Topics: Bonds, insurance bond, Investments, Saving, spain

09.10.17

Having recently written about the benefits of using a well-established investment or insurance company to manage your savings, within a Spanish compliant insurance bond, with the benefit of your money growing by more than inflation and far more than any bank has offered in recent years, I want now to explain how brilliantly tax efficient a Spanish compliant insurance bond is. I will do this by telling stories of two married couples. Mr and Mrs Justgetby and Mr and Mrs Happywithlife. Both couples are retired and tax resident in Spain. Also, both couples have two adult children in the UK.

Story 1 – Mr and Mrs Justgetby
Mr and Mrs Justgetby have lived in Spain for 10 years. They had sold up in the UK in 2007 and bought a property on the Costa Blanca (Valencian Community). This is valued at €300,000 and owned jointly. They each receive pensions from the UK in the form of State pensions and both have small company pensions. These cover their expenses but do not allow them to do much more. From the sale of their property in the UK, they were left with £200,000. They exchanged £50,000 before moving to Spain when the exchange rate was 1.45 euros to the pound. This gave them €72,500. They have had to eat into this because they needed a new car, they have done a bit of work on their house, and they have had to supplement their pension income. The exchange rate has also gone against them by about 20%. They are now left with €50,000 in their joint Spanish bank account. This does not pay any interest. The remaining £150,000 is in the UK in a variety of investments made up of premium bonds, ISAs, and fixed term savings accounts. The accounts have been split so that each holds exactly the same in individual accounts so that they each hold £75,000.

INCOME/SAVINGS TAX
“ISAs and premium bonds are…..not tax free for Spanish residents”!
Whilst no interest is being paid on their Spanish bank account, at least there is not a tax concern there. However, some of the money in the UK is in tax free accounts. ISAs and premium bonds are tax free for UK tax residents but are not tax free for Spanish residents. Therefore, any income or gains from these investments should be declared to Spain. Mr and Mrs Justgetby have not been declaring any of the prizes they have received from neither the premium bonds nor the interest from the ISAs believing this not to be necessary. With automatic exchange of information that has come into force, Mr and Mrs Justgetby may be in for a nasty shock for unintentionally evading tax.

INHERITANCE TAX
On the death of either Mr or Mrs Justgetby, there are some significant tax issues. As they are tax resident in Spain, the surviving spouse will be liable to Spanish inheritance tax (known as succession tax in Spain) on 50% of both the property value and the bank account as well as 100% of the assets owned by the deceased in the UK. The inherited amount in euro terms, based on an exchange rate of 1.13 euros to the pound, is €150,000 (property), €25,000 (bank account), and €84.750 (UK investments). This totals €259,750. The Spanish inheritance tax on this, after allowances, could be around €11,500.

On the death of the other spouse, the children in the UK would have a liability of around €5,000 each based on current rules and on the assumption that their pre-existing wealth is not over certain limits.

Story 2 – Mr and Mrs Happywithlife
By coincidence, Mr and Mrs Happywithlife were in the exactly same position as Mr and Mrs Justgetby in terms of when they sold their UK property and they had exactly the same amount of money as Mr and Mrs Justgetby in cash. They also have a property in Spain worth €300,000. Instead of investing in ISAs, premium bonds, and deposit accounts in the UK, from the £200,000 property sale proceeds, they put £175,000 into a Spanish compliant insurance bond in joint names. The policy will pay out on the request of Mr and Mrs Happywithlife or when the second of them dies. They felt that it would not be necessary to hold so many euros in a low or no interest bank account in Spain. They kept £5,000 in a UK bank account to cover the times that they pop back to the UK to see their children and the remaining £20,000 they exchanged into euros and deposited almost €30,000 with their local bank.

INCOME/SAVINGS TAX
“……tax is only due when withdrawals are made.”
Once again, the interest in the bank account in Spain has paid little interest and so has not created a tax problem. However, the Spanish compliant insurance bond has increased in value but has not created a tax liability to date. This is because tax is only due when withdrawals are made and then only on the gain part of the withdrawal. This has allowed the plan to increase on a compound basis as tax has not been chipping away at the growth. They have decided to take regular amounts from the bond now. Each time the money is paid out, the insurance company deducts the appropriate amount of tax and pays this to Spain. As mentioned, the amount of the tax will be determined by the gain portion. In the early years, this is generally little or nothing due to the special tax treatment afforded to these types of savings plans. Longer term, the tax payable is likely to be a fraction of that payable by those who own non-compliant investments.

“….tax that they saved has gone towards a cruise….”!

Unlike Mr & Mrs Justgetby who would have had to pay €1,980 on the €10,000 gains they made, Mr and Mrs Happywithlife would not have had to pay anything. Instead, the €1,980 tax that they saved has gone towards a cruise they are going on next year.

INHERITANCE TAX
On the death of either Mr or Mrs Happywithlife, using the same assumptions as with Mr and Mrs Justgetby, the surviving spouse will inherit 50% of the property value (€150,000), 50% of the Spanish bank account (€15,000) and 50% of the UK bank account (€2,825). This totals £167,825. The Spanish inheritance tax on this, after allowances, could be around €3,500, €8,000 less than Mr and Mrs Justgetby´s position.

On the death of the other spouse, the children in the UK would have a tax liability of closer to €4,500 each as their parents had less money in the Spanish bank than Mr and Mrs Justgetby.

The difference the Spanish compliant bond makes
As the bond was set up on a joint-life, last survivor (second death) basis, there is no “chargeable event”, as it is known, on the death of the first spouse. Nothing is paid out on the first death as the insurance bond was taken out to pay out when the second party dies. This will have saved either Mr or Mrs Happywithlife thousands of euros in tax.

Words of warning
Tax rules change regularly and the figures quoted are estimates based on our knowledge at this time. The allowances assumed are those applying to the Valencian Community at the time of writing.

Brexit could have an effect on the benefits received by the children in the above cases. Allowances apply currently to the children as they live in the UK and are part of the EU. The allowances may not be there after Brexit.

There are a number of other ways to reduce taxes by distributing wealth appropriately. Everyone is an individual and we all have different needs. Therefore, a financial review is the first part of the solution.

It is vital, from a compliance point of view, to take a look at all our financial arrangements and more importantly to review them on a regular basis. What we may have once bought many years ago, and which complied then, may now have become obsolete and could cause tax questions later.

Reviewing existing contracts and investment arrangements has become much more important with the open border tax sharing arrangement, the Common Reporting Standard’ which has now been fully implemented.

It might just be the right time to start looking at your existing arrangements to ensure they comply before anyone starts looking.

Fun Financial Fact
The Latin for head is caput. In ancient times, cattle were used as a form of money and each head of cattle was a caput. Therefore, someone with a lot of cattle had lots of caput or capital

Potential Catalan Issues

By Chris Burke - Topics: Banking, Barcelona, Catalonia, Currencies, Elections, Investments, spain

05.10.17

It seems Catalonia and Spain are continuing their loggerheads and head jutting, but what most people are starting to consider are their OWN assets and issues being a resident here, particularly if you are not Catalan. I have received many emails this week from worried clients and contacts, about having their money here and what they can/shouldn’t do.

See below my 5 TOP FINANCE TIPS for the current predicament and indeed some of the areas we help people with.

Spain’s stock market has taken a severe hit this week, with two of the Catalan banks, Banco Sabadell and Caixabank down 6.3% and 6.7% respectively. Indeed today Banco Sabadell is holding an emergency meeting, Thursday the 5th October, to approve relocating their headquarters out of Catalonia.

Therefore, as an emergency communication to my clients and contacts I thought it would be useful to know what you should be thinking about and the main questions that have arisen this week:

1. Personal Money in banks
Any money in a bank, unless used to live on a day by day, is devaluing in real terms. If Spain reacts to Catalonia declaring independence, we have no idea what might happen. In the last crisis, banks made it difficult to move and even limited the money you could take from your bank account. If you have ‘excess funds’ in accounts in banks, you may want to consider other options so you still have full control of your money and no worries.

2. Business Bank Accounts
If your business account is with a Catalan bank, but you have a personal one that is not, you CAN move money into this. However, you have to be careful and follow these guidelines:

‘In order to avoid problems with the consideration of dividends it would be preferable to do a loan agreement between you and your company and to file a form through la Generalitat, in order to demonstrate the date of the loan and the content of the agreement. There is no stamp duty to be applied and it is not necessary to go to a Notary, but it is better to have this document done, just in case, if in the future somebody asks about this amount.
Source: Silvia Gabarro, GM Tax.

3. Currency
Anyone with sterling Money will have felt the pain of the currency weakening since the Brexit vote. Analysts have been saying for months that this is very undervalued, and built on worries about the UK leaving the EU. However, there are still fundamental issues within the EU, including the real major problems of the Italian banks, the fragile Spanish economy and a few members who are heavily in debt and unlikely to ever be able to repay this. Now we also have the Catalan Independence problems coming to a head within Spain, this could be compounded. Then in May next year we have the Italian elections which could be interesting to say the least.

Therefore, it could be argued before the Euro weakens any further, a good time to transfer money into sterling from Euros.

4. Existing/Investments
Many Catalan/Spanish banks whose client’s money is invested have more of an emphasis on their own funds or Spanish funds, than a non Spanish bank/investment would. We call this being more ‘Spanish Centric’. If the Spanish stocks are booming then this is fine, however if not the case this could be very dangerous to your investments, whether personal or corporate.

The larger the stock market, the closer correlation (it does the same as) to other large stock markets. Therefore, if your money is invested with a truly global bank/investment firm you will not put your money so much at risk to this.

5. Relocation
Believe or not, some businesses and people are relocating due to the current predicament, and some companies share prices have even gone up by 20% on revealing this news to the press!

You may or may not want to consider this, or be in a position to, but your personal and corporate finances do not need to worry if you have them set up correctly. Companies’ savings and your personal money can be with a ‘Portable bank/institution’ that acts like a balloon. Wherever you go, you pull your balloon along with you happily. Then, when you want to access some of the money, you let some ‘air’ (money) out and adhere to the local rules of where you are. No need to open up bank accounts in different countries, or go through the extensive administration. Just tell us you want your money and after some due diligence you shall receive it, wherever you are and knowing the process is legal and compliant.

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

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.

Dawn of the Robot Planet: Invest in the Future

By Barry Davys - Topics: Barcelona, Inflation, Interest rates, Investment Risk, Investments, spain, Uncategorised

10.09.17

May I show you two charts? I will then explain what they mean and why we need to make changes to make our money grow.

The first chart is showing what happens with money in the bank if interest rates do not change. By 2026, 100,000€ today could be 109,369€.

The seconds chart is not a forecast. I cannot predict the return on a mix of investment types for the next 50 years. However, what this chart uses is the ACTUAL data from the last 25 years to show what could happen to the same mix of investment types in the future. It is real data, not a guess a from a fund manager or investment analyst. By 2026, 100,000€ today could be 221,935€.

You might like to compare this with the figure from chart 1. If you have good genes and live longer, say to age 99, the figures are 153,398€ and €1.511 Million. These figures are not just numbers, they do mean something real to us. Here is what a 100 year old client of mine said recently: “If I had just left my money in the bank I would have had to go into a care home years ago”. She became my client in her mid 70s. She also laughed when I told her that I had someone in their 50s say “I don’t want to invest for long”.

The last 25 years of data is a good period to choose, because during that time we have had the Dotcom bubble burst, followed by 9/11 and then the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the credit crisis. It therefore shows both real and bad events that affected investments. It puts the impact of those events in perspective. It shows real downside, and that you can live through it with a mix of investments.

Why are Bank Interest Rates going to stay very low for years? Here is why:

Scale of Debt in the World, Especially Government Debt
Lack of Inflation
Threat of Economic Downturn
Brexit

Yet that does not necessarily mean that other investments will do well. Just now, some rebalancing in the markets is likely. However, what will make a difference is the World is about to go through huge changes, thanks to a vast increase in computing power and amazing technological advances and discoveries. This will mean more profits for many companies. It has already started and is having a huge impact. Here are examples of some of these advances that are already here:

The third fastest supercomputer in Europe¹ is now doing in ONE second what it would take a human to do making a calculation every one second for the next 41.07 MILLION years. I cannot actually comprehend that number, but it is obviously stupendous. Due to these kinds of developments, medical research, mapping, designing of machines, cities, driverless cars etc can all happen much more quickly.

Increased Productivity is happening with Robots. They don’t need family holidays, lunch breaks or siestas. Robots have been working in the car industry for many years, but TODAY they are working in many other industries as well, from surgery and semi-conductor manufacturing, all the way down to bottling Cava² and in Amazon Warehouses³. Automated production facilities make less mistakes, making them more efficient and therefore more cost effective for all types of companies in the long run.

Artificial Intelligence is being used in making more sales by being able to predict what we would like to buy&sup4;. It is also being used with natural voice recognition to replace customer service agents and to allow direct interaction between a customer and the company’s computer. I have seen excellent examples of this at work&sup5;.

Artificial intelligence has also resulted in cost savings for logistics chains, for example the platooning of lorries for fuel savings; but even more amazing, the dawn of the age of driverless ships and planes. Yes, they´re already here!

A driverless Japanese container ship is making its maiden voyage from Japan to North America right now&sup6;. Cost savings, when adopted across the container shipping industry, is likely to be billions of dollars a year.

In another example of cost savings, the Boston education authority, which transports 30,000 students on 650 buses to 230 schools, has just made a cost saving of $5million a year. This is bexause more efficient route planning using AI means driving one million miles less each year.

Put simply, these things mean more profits, which means better share prices.

Here are just two examples of how big this is going to be for the markets. Up to 5 Million businesses in the USA need batteries today, as they could get huge savings in peak demand electricity costs&sup7;. Who do you think will make these batteries, who installs them, who sells them? Another example: AI products will increase consumer demand by $9.1 TRILLION dollars and give Productivity Improvements of $6.6 Trillion, giving a total positive impact on the economy of $17.7 Trillion&sup8;.

These examples give us the ‘why’ of why we should not just leave our money in the bank. On the question of where to invest, well that is how I help. Your own personal circumstances and requirements are very important in deciding where and so a generic recommendation is inappropriate. However, please email me at barry.davys@spectrum-ifa.com or whatsapp message me on +34 645 257 525 for a no obligation discussion on how to make your money grow when interest rates are low and where to invest in the new technologies are changing the World we live in. The minimum investment is 50,000€.

Sources
1: Marenostrom, Barcelona Supercomputer Centre
2: Friexnet Cava, Sant Sadurni
3: Including the new Barcelona and Madrid Warehouses
4:Segundomano, Spain
5: Artificial Solutions
6: Nippon Yussen KK
7: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, USA
8: PWC and Accenture Market Analysis

Preparing your loved ones for life after your death

By John Hayward - Topics: Costa Blanca, Estate Planning, spain, Succession Planning, Wealth Tax, Wills

09.09.17

Having recently attended a funeral for a good friend of mine, I was reminded of the problems a death can create, aside from the actual act of dying. It appeared that, although he had organised a funeral plan, he had not made it clear where his Will was. Even if the Will was found, most Wills are written to distribute unspecified assets. An heir needs to know what assets there are before claiming anything. A draw full of files might appear organised but much of the content may be out of date or even completely irrelevant.

Who is the household´s financial controller?
In my experience, when dealing with couples, one party, normally the husband, deals with all things financial. This has resulted in many widows having a hard time with finances on the death of the husband. The thought of picking a phone up to contact their bank is daunting enough. Forgetting one of the six security questions is fatal. Logging into the online banking system is totally out of the question, even if they knew what the user ID and password were.

What can you do?
It is a really good idea to make a list, with company name and reference number, of all the bank accounts, insurance policies, investments (insurance bonds/unit trusts/shares), premium bonds, and anything else which would make life easier for those looking after your affairs on your demise. Here is a link which illustrates just how much information could be required. Are you confident someone will easily be able to put all of this together?

How can we help?
Many years ago, I was a “Man from the major UK insurance company”. I still tend to work on the home service principle. Meeting people in their homes has always been more attractive to me as paperwork will often be to hand. There is also the possibility of a cup of tea and a digestive. There have been times when I have found investments that people were unaware of and also helped to cull the collection of paperwork, creating more storage space, and possibly room for a new sofa (from the proceeds of the policy they didn´t know about). Obviously, I do not wish to major in house clearance but I am happy to help people organise their paperwork, review existing investments and pensions, and make life easier for those with the task of dealing with everything later. Hopefully much later.

Fun financial fact
According to several reports, in 2012, in the USA, a 1 cent coin cost 2.4 cents to make. By 2016, the cost had reduced to 1.5 cents. Making cents still does not seem to be making sense.

Brexit: the effect on your money

By John Hayward - Topics: BREXIT, Interest rates, spain

02.09.17

What’s going to happen when the UK leaves the EU on 29th March 2019?

This is a question which is as easy to answer as predicting what the weather will be like on that day. The one thing which is certain is that the next day will be 30th March and it will be a Saturday.

How do we cope with the stream of commentary telling us pretty much nothing other than the EU’s frustration at the UK’s “cake and eat it” stance as well as its “magical thinking”? This rhetoric has made me think more of Alice in Wonderland. It is clear that people are getting a little tired of the lack of information that is being supplied. We know that there are serious financial considerations to be addressed. The problem is that we don’t know what they are right now.

What we can do is try, as best as possible, to cover whatever position we are placed in post-Brexit. For those of us living in Spain, positioning our money in a tax compliant and favourable way was imperative even before Brexit came along. Now it is even more important. There are certain investments such as ISAs, National Savings, and Premium Bonds, which are taxed favourably in the UK, for UK residents. They are treated differently for Spanish residents and it is likely that many holding these investments are not declaring these investments correctly. This may not be a huge problem right now as the UK is part of the EU and accountants and gestors are possibly treating non-compliant investments as if they are compliant. Things may be very different after Brexit and so it is vital to review what investments are held and where they are based.

What rate of tax is paid on savings in Spain?
There are currently three rates. 19% (First 6,000 euros), 21% (6,000 to 50,000 Euros), and 23% (Over 50,000 Euros). These rates apply not only to savings but also to gains on other assets such as investments, dividends, and property. For residents, these assets do not need to be in Spain to be subject to this tax. There are no capital gains allowances for the majority of people and so great care is required when selling assets and a review of assets and ownership is of major importance before the possibility that Brexit will also mean the loss of all EU tax breaks.

Fun financial fact
Consumer prices in the United Kingdom rose by 2.6 percent in the year to July 2017. In Spain it was 1.55%. We have to be aware that investments must perform at least at the rate of inflation to retain the same real spending power. In November 2008, Zimbabwe had an inflation rate of an estimated 6.5 sextillion%* (That’s 6,500 followed by 18 zeros). You would have needed one mean investment to match this rate.

*Source: Forbes

How Safe is your Bank?

By Pauline Bowden - Topics: Banking, Costa Blanca, Costa del Sol, Inflation, International Bank Accounts, Saving, spain

24.08.17

Which bank? Which jurisdiction? As more amazing stories come out about the world’s banks, we have seen a shift from Deposit Accounts being a low risk investment, to a much higher rated risk. So what exactly does each jurisdiction offer as security against your bank going bust?

Isle of Man Personal Account 50,000GBP
EU €100,000
UK 85,000GBP
Jersey 50,000GBP
Guernsey 50,000GBP
Gibraltar €100,000

 

Many people in this area of Andalucia have bank accounts in Gibraltar, Isle of Man or The Channel Islands. Of the above list, the Isle of Man and Channel Islands have the least protection for the account holder.

I often write about spreading your risk, by investing in different asset classes. Perhaps now we should also spread our bank accounts and have smaller deposits in more banks, in more jurisdictions.

It can make life a little more complicated, but it makes financial sense not to put all your eggs in one basket. At least then, if one egg gets broken, you do not lose all of them!

Holding cash as an asset class is no longer a “safe bet”. With interest rates so low now, the real value of the capital is being eroded by inflation. People that relied on the income from deposit accounts have seen their disposable income fall drastically, especially if they are sterling investors in receipt of sterling pay or pensions. Many are having to eat into their capital to maintain their lifestyles.

Alternative investment strategies need to be considered in order to protect the wealth that you already have and maximise the returns from that wealth.

Want to Know How to Invest for the Next Twenty Years?

By Barry Davys - Topics: Barcelona, Inflation, Investments, spain

18.08.17

Increasing life expectancy means our investment timelines are increasing. At age 50 we have, on average, 31 years to go for males, 34 more years for females. Here are some other figures, some surprising:

Age 55 Still 31 years
Age 60 26 years
Age 65 21 years

And we can count on medical improvements that will make life healthier for us during the next 20 years as well as helping us to live even longer.

So where to invest? This article is not an exercise in mathematical analysis of individual stocks, but just something to get us thinking about how and where to invest in the future.

What is one of the megatrends for the next 20 years?
It is this: Cities. London currently has a population of 8.63 Million, New York 8.55 Million, Mumbai 20.7 Million, Tokyo 9 Million and Sao Paolo is 11.9 Million. Yet it is estimated that up to 70% of the World’s population will be living in cities by 2050 and that some cities, such as Mumbai, will have populations approaching 50 MILLION people¹ . Indeed, there could be a number of cities in the world that exceed 50 million in population.

What will this mean? Well, cities will consume 80% of the World’s energy resources; and they will also cause 75% of CO2 emissions, if nothing is done to change the way we live. So knowing this, we should look for the companies providing solutions to these two problems. Solar power (with appropriate battery systems) deals with both these two big issues of resources and pollution. Electric and then driverless vehicles is another solution. I mean, can you imagine the chaos of 50 Million people in Mumbai driving or perhaps in Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo), which is also forecast to be around 35 million? Nope, it will be driverless cars with 90% less accidents than driven cars.

So, these types of technologies will facilitate the growth of big cities and indeed, cities will rely upon the technologies.

Now, I am not the only person who has spotted this big trend. There are fund managers and ETFs (exchange traded funds) that are looking to benefit from these trends. Bearing in mind the complexity of some of the technologies and the need to have a local knowledge of how they are being used (e.g. solar power in Mumbai will be different than solar power in London) it may be best to use their expertise.

For more information and to discuss how this trend can be included in your portfolio, contact Barry Davys at barry.davys@spectrum-ifa.com or call to book a meeting on +34 645 257 525.

PS. Barcelona is predicted to be a 5.6 million person city in 2050, and Madrid 6.5 million!

[1] Hoornweg & Pope, University of Toronto