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TAXATION UPDATE IN SPAIN

By Charles Hutchinson - Topics: Modelo 720, Spain, Wealth Tax
This article is published on: 16th January 2020

16.01.20

We now have a new government here in Spain, albeit quite far to the left which could cause some more interesting changes in taxation. Watch this space.

WEALTH TAX
So far, the reinstatement of the 100% allowance for Wealth Tax (which was approved in 2011) has been delayed again for one more year as part of the 2018 budget extension, due to the recent era of no federal government being in place. Nor has the Junta de Andalucia made any moves to reinstate the allowance in the 2020 budget either.

MODEL 720 DECLARATION OF FOREIGN ASSETS
On the 23rd October 2019, the EU Commission filed a complaint in the European Court of Justice to the effect that Spain has not complied with the Commission’s findings in November 2015 namely that Modelo 720 deters businesses and private individuals from investing or moving across borders in the Single Market. Also these provisions are in conflict with the fundamental freedoms in the EU; this conflict affects free movements of persons, free movement of workers, freedom of establishment, freedom to provide services and the free movement of capital.

Furthermore, the Commission has claimed that by introducing late filing penalties and the labeling of these foreign assets as unjustified capital gains (which are not subject to the statute of limitations), it has breached EU law. Additionally, whatever the amounts involved, they are all subject to tax at the top marginal rate (45% in 2012) plus a fixed penalty of 150% in addition to the tax and further fixed penalties for failure to file, which are higher than the general rules on similar infringements. Spain, therefore, is liable to comply with EU law and to pay costs.

Although precedence does not exist in Roman law, a precedent was set in 2011 when the EU successfully prosecuted Spain over discriminatory Inheritance and Gift Tax rules. This ended with a Court resolution in 2014 that led to an amendment in Spanish Law and opened the door for reclaims of taxes paid over the previous 4 years.

The issue of the Declaration continues to be of great concern to many people in Spain, particularly the expatriate community. Some of the most vulnerable assets are foreign bank accounts. These can be easily switched into other foreign assets where reporting under Modelo 720 is not required and the taxation of income from them (if taken) is greatly reduced.

If you have concerns in this area, please contact me where I can assist you with the problem.

Source: JC&A Abagados, Marbella

Tax return and other reporting dates for Spain 2020

By Chris Burke - Topics: Barcelona, Form D6 Spain, Modelo 720, Spain, Tax
This article is published on: 13th January 2020

13.01.20

Whether you have lived in Spain for a while, or are new and trying to understand when you need to submit to the various deadlines, including taxes and overseas assets, I have listed below in an easy to read format what you have to declare and when, to help make your life more simple. These have been the same for the last few years and so should remain moving forward. If you would like help in understanding, declaring and any other questions don’t hesitate to get in touch:

Firstly, an important reminder regarding UK Driving Licences that MUST be exchanged by the 31st January 2020:

In the case of a No Deal Brexit, The Spanish Government has agreed to exchange, renew or replace your driving licence guaranteed by this date. All traffic agreements within the EU will cease to be valid for UK citizens with a No deal Brexit, and therefore UK valid licences will only be legal to use for 9 months after Brexit. Until the 31st January, you can exchange your UK licence for the Spanish equivalent under the same conditions pre-Brexit, without having to wait for the signing of a new agreement between countries, or obtain a new Spanish driving licence.

Otherwise, after these 9 months, you will have to go through the process of passing a Spanish driving test (please, no)! To do this, you must visit the DGT website www.dgt.es and arrange an appointment. Alternatively, your gestor may do this for a fee for you.

End of January 2020

FORM D6
Stocks, bonds and investment funds that are outside of Spain and are not Spanish compliant. (this is to compliment and not replace Modelo 720). Failure to comply with the obligation to submit this Form D6, can lead to a fine of up to 25% of the undeclared amount, with a minimum of €3000. Late declaration entails penalties ranging from €300 in the first 6 months to €600 after that deadline.

End of March 2020

MODELO 720
This is a declaration of assets outside of Spain value of €50,000 or more. Once declared you only need to do this again if the value of any asset (e.g. a bank account) has risen by more than €20,000). The authorities can fine you anywhere between 100 and 10,000 euro for failure to meet the requirements (as of 2019, the European Union considers Spain to be breaking EU law with these sanctions for people who file the Modelo 720 late).

End of June 2020

Declaración De La Renta
Your annual tax return, showing all assets and worldwide incomes, must be declared for assessment by this date. Not all assets will be taxable, depending on how they are structured. In Spain the financial year runs from January through to December, and in June you are declaring for the previous calendar year’s finances.

Wealth Tax declaration – Catalonia
Wealth tax is applied if your worldwide assets are more than 500,000€ with an additional allowance of up to 300,000€ for your main residence. The tax is based upon your net wealth: assets minus liabilities. In Catalonia the rates of tax start at 0.21% and rises to 2.75% depending on your wealth each year and is taken from the 31st December the previous year. There are ways of mitigating this tax by having your assets structured correctly.

What role do Chris and The Spectrum IFA Group perform?
I am a financial planner/Wealth Manager and we specialise in optimising clients’ assets, including strategies to minimise taxes both now and in the future. We manage clients’ savings, investments and pensions whilst understanding what these are and the role they will play in their lives. I do my best to continually keep clients informed of anything they need to know in respect of these topics.

Financial Planning for Business Owners in Barcelona

By Barry Davys - Topics: Barcelona, Business Owners in Barcelona, Spain
This article is published on: 8th January 2020

08.01.20

This is the first in a series of three articles on the challenges of financial planning in your personal life when you own a business or are a significant shareholder in a business. This first article is planning when starting a business. The next article covers planning when you have an established business. The final article, the one we all want, goes through what happens when you sell the business and find yourself cash rich.

When starting a business, it is the business that gets the attention and often your personal, non-business, financial position is left unplanned. I would recommend at this stage you do prioritise the business as if it goes well, your business is likely to be the driver of your wealth. It should certainly grow your wealth quicker than investing in funds, shares, etc. It will probably make you wealthier than investing in Bitcoin!

Making your business the priority, however, does not mean that you can completely ignore your personal finances or manage them on a “when I get round to it” basis. Owning a business means it is very important to do your own personal planning because success can ebb and flow and, especially for a new business, it can go bust. Making sure your own affairs are in order protects your family and may even allow you to start up again, if arranged properly.

I recognise that different companies have different characteristics and that this can affect your planning. I also recognise that owners of businesses in Barcelona should base their planning specifically on Catalan laws and taxes.

Planning your personal finances when starting a business

Product – tick. Business plan – tick. Website – tick. Instagram – tick. Business partner – tick. Financing – tick. So the business is good to go and will, of course, be a success.

I wish all of you who are starting a business the very best of luck. It can be a most rewarding experience, even though it can also be exhausting and stressful. However, the data shows us that whilst 80% of new businesses survive one year, only 30% make it past the 10 year point¹. This statistic shows you why your personal finances will continue to need your attention.

Planning points:
1. Recognise that personal money differs from business money. Keep it separate!
2. Get your affairs in order before starting your business. If you have children, make sure you have life cover. Get private medical insurance so you can be seen quickly and get back to work as soon as possible.
3. Know what your personal expenses are before you start the business. This can help you decide how much to take from your business each month. Do not start your business and then take only what you think the business can afford. This will push you into debt personally.
4. Conversely, when business is going well, don’t buy flash cars, boats, luxury holidays etc. until you have sold your business or unless you are Bill Gates, Elon Musk etc. and your company is doing remarkably well.
5. Keep an emergency fund in your personal finances of at least 6 months’ expenses in case there is a business “wobble”.
6. When getting equipment and vehicles for your business do not buy them in the early days of the business, especially if you have to put personal money into the business to make the purchase. Your financial risk is minimised if you rent or lease equipment. We can also now get cars on a “subscription” basis. This means that instead of buying or leasing you pay a fixed monthly fee for the use of a car. This is like renting a car from Avis but you rent it from the car company. If you need to walk away after six months, you can do so with no liability. This is available from several car companies in Spain.
7. Keep flexibility in your personal finances. Do not, for example, put money into pensions in the early days of your business unless you have additional reserves. We cannot access money invested in a pension until you approach retirement.
8. This may mean that you need to leave money in the bank. In Spain, that means we will earn, at the moment, virtually no interest. Accept that fact and make your money

¹Forbes, Fortunley and Business Wire. Statistics are USA statistics

Living in Spain after BREXIT

By Chris Burke - Topics: Barcelona, BREXIT, National Insurance Contributions, Spain, UK Pensions
This article is published on: 7th January 2020

07.01.20

After the results from the UK’s General Election, it seems we are closer to Brexit than ever before, so are you prepared for it living in Spain?

Documentation to remain in Spain

There are many rumours among non-Spanish people of what you need to do to stay in Spain should Brexit happen. The response from the Council recently has been, should you hold a NIE and an Empadronamiento, you are proving you are resident in Spain, so for now these should suffice. However, if Brexit does go ahead, Spain could draw a ‘Stay in Spain’ line in the sand which would then need adhering to. In the worst case scenario, a renewable 90-day tourist visa would give you time to adhere to whatever the new rules are. Spain has said publicly it will reciprocate what the UK does, and the UK knows there are far more British people living in Spain than the other way around in the UK.

UK Private and Corporate Pensions

The current HMRC rules state that if you take advantage of moving your UK pension abroad it must be to either where you are resident OR in the EU (due to the UK being in the EU). If this is not the case, you would have to pay 25% tax on the pension amount. Therefore, it is very likely that as the UK would be leaving the EU, these rules would not be met and the 25% tax charge would start to apply to pension movements outside of the UK. This could be the last chance to evaluate whether it’s better for you to move your pension or not and take advantage of the potential benefits, including being outside of UK law and taxes.

National Insurance Contributions

If you were to start receiving your State pension now, you would approach the Spanish authorities and they would contact the UK for their part of the contribution, taking both into account. Before the UK joined the EU, you would contact each country individually and receive what they were due to pay you. If this becomes the case again, for many British people the UK part of their State pension would potentially be more important, as it is likely to be the bulk of what you receive. We don’t know how Spain will act with regard to state pension benefits to foreigners; therefore it would make sense to manage the UK element well if this is your largest subscription.

I recommend two things here; firstly check what you have in the UK so you know where you are. You can do that here:

www.gov.uk/check-national-insurance-record

You can contact the HMRC about contributing overseas voluntary contributions at a greatly discounted rate, from £11 a month: you can even buy ‘years’ to catch up:

www.gov.uk/voluntary-national-insurance-contributions/who-can-pay-voluntary-contributions

I have mentioned this in Newsletters before, but it really is a great thing to do, both mathematically and for peace of mind. Many people I meet living away from the UK have ‘broken’ years of contributions which is leaving themselves open to problems in retirement.

TIP: If you have an NI number, you do not necessarily have to be British to do this.

Investments/stocks/shares/savings

Time apportionment relief

Statistically, in 75% of British expat couples living abroad, at least one of them will return to live in the UK. It remains to be seen whether this changes if the UK leaves the EU, however, you can easily save yourself some serious tax if you have this in your plan of eventualities.

You can, in effect, give yourself 5% tax relief for every year you spend outside the UK by positioning your investments/savings correctly. Then, upon your return, you can take this tax relief when you are ready, such as in the following example:

Mr and Mrs Brown invested £200,000 ten years ago when they were living in Spain.
After this time, it is now worth £300,000
They returned to the UK and have been resident there for the last year (365 days)

They decide, after being back in the UK for 1 year (365 days) to cash in the investment, taking advantage of ‘Time Apportionment Relief’ which will be calculated the following way:

£100,000 (total gain)
multiplied by the number of days in the UK (365)
divided by total number of days the investments have been running i.e. 10 years (3650 days)

Resulting in a £10,000 chargeable gain (that is what you declare, not the tax you pay).

There are other potential tax savings as well, but they depend on other circumstances. If you have your savings/investments set up the right way you can take advantage of this.

If you have any questions or would like to book a financial review, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

So what is the outlook for 2020?

By John Hayward - Topics: Interest rates, Investment Risk, Investments, Spain
This article is published on: 4th January 2020

04.01.20

How was 2019 for you? For many, it has been another year of uncertainty with an apparent lack of decision making by politicians which has led people to delay making their own decisions. For me, it was the year that I broke my ankle two days into a fortnight holiday. If only for that reason, it has not been my favourite year ever.

So what is the outlook for 2020? Questionable political leadership in the UK over the last 4 years has created a weak economic backdrop where investment firms have been unwilling to risk client money in the UK. That appears to be changing and, whether you agree or disagree with Brexit, certainty creates confidence. A known is far easier to deal with than an unknown.

The current problem is how exactly Brexit is going to go through and how long it will take. That is why top investment firms that we recommend spread their exposure globally and not just in the UK. Although most British people have been hung up about Brexit (me included), the rest of the world has been carrying on their business regardless, creating growth for our clients at a time when other people I have spoken to have been too scared to invest, waiting for that magic day when everything will be at its perfect investment point. This approach is almost guaranteed to fail, certainly in the long term. Taking a grip and making sensible, informed investment decisions now is vital without waiting for a politician to decide your short-term, and long-term, fate.

Since David Cameron announced in February 2016 that there would be a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, we have seen the following (to 31/12/19)*:

  • +12% – UK inflation
  • +49% – FTSE100
  • +30% – A low risk investment fund that we recommend for cautious investors
  • +4% – Average savings rate
  • -8% – GBP/EUR exchange rate

What these figures illustrate is that the person who invested, or remained invested, in February 2016, should now be pretty happy. Those who have decided to wait until they know what is happening are likely to have made nothing with their money remaining in a non-interest bearing current account. Their money is now worth 8% less when allowing for inflation. This “loss” is compounded for those living in Spain, receiving regular income from UK State and other pensions, by the fact that the exchange rate is down 8%.

How long do you, or can you, wait before arranging your finances for your benefit and not leaving your money propping up banks that still have issues? We have many satisfied clients who have benefited from our knowledge and expertise. In addition, with our experience of tax in Spain, we can help those living in Spain after Brexit, guiding clients who have UK investments and reducing the impact of the Modelo 720 asset declaration.

Whilst there is a new batch of uncertainty surrounding what Brexit deal will be put in place on 31st January 2020, and what trade agreements will be set up by 31st December 2020, there are positive signs for the coming year and the benefits of these can only be achieved if one is invested appropriately.

We can review your current investments, wherever they may be, and make sure that they are both profitable and tax efficient, both here in Spain and the UK.

*Sources
Hargreaves Lansdown
Financial Express
Swanlowpark

Spanish Succession and Gift Tax boost for non-EU beneficiaries

By John Hayward - Topics: Costa Blanca, Estate Planning, Inheritance Tax, Spain, Succession Planning
This article is published on: 6th December 2019

06.12.19

Imagine that it is Saturday 1st February 2020. Britain has calmly left the European Union with trade deals in place with Australia, Canada, South Africa, the USA, China, Cuba, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and Columbia (I did say imagine). It is possible that you have children who live in one of these countries and you are resident in Spain. 2 years ago your children would not have benefited from the European Court of Justice ruling (2014) which stated that children who live in an EU/EEA country should benefit from local Spanish rules and allowances when calculating Spanish Succession and Gift Tax. Since the decision in 2018 in favour of a Canadian (Canada is not due to join the EU), the Spanish Supreme Court have ruled that “connected” non-EU beneficiaries will also benefit from the rules of each Autonomous Region in Spain. What this means is that, even if there was a hard Brexit, your child in London would be treated as fairly as one in Valencia, Havana, or Beijing.

It is possible to reclaim overpaid Succession and Gift Tax. Please get in contact if you know anybody who has been a beneficiary of an inheritance using the allowances under the old rules. The claim could amount to many thousands of Euros.

Gifting your Spanish property can save tax

Investing some time in estate planning now will help to make certain that your wealth is distributed the way you want it to be and not end up in the taxman´s pocket. One example is where we have helped parents in Spain gift their properties to their children, who live in the UK, whilst the parents continue to live in the property. This could save thousands in future inheritance tax.

Positioning investments in tax efficient structures can also help protect against inheritance tax. We have the solutions.

One kind of hangover is enough………

By Chris Webb - Topics: Financial Planning, Madrid, Spain
This article is published on: 2nd December 2019

02.12.19

If you´re anything like me, you´ll be busy planning Christmas. Anything from where to see the best festive displays in Madrid, to trying to get your family EVERYTHING they want.

Christmas is an exciting time of the year for all of us. As a parent I still love that my children think Santa will make a personal appearance to our house and that he will be parking his sleigh right in the back garden (I have some doubts that they´re now just stringing me along, but I will continue to enjoy it while I can).

We´re all busy fitting in lots of social occasions, handing out gifts and cards and trying to squeeze in a party or two. However, there is also a serious side to the festive season: it’s very easy to overspend and overindulge and end up paying for it well into the new year.

Statistics show that most of us use credit cards to fund Christmas present purchases and to attend occasions we might not normally attend. Unfortunately, many people have problems paying back that debt after Christmas.

I have put together some tips to make sure you start 2020 on the right financial foot, and hopefully this will help you get through the festive season without a financial hangover.

1. Plan your shopping
Always write a list! My wife will laugh aloud at this as I am useless at writing lists BUT it is one of the most important things to do. Never just hit the shops; always write a list of who you want to buy for, an idea of what you want to buy and how much you want to spend. Without your list you´ll shop aimlessly and make purchases on a whim. You´ll lose track of your budget and spend unnecessarily.

Planning and making a list also means you can do some internet research to see what shops have the best sales, or if you could buy the gift online cheaper and save some money.
Research shows that people spend more than they can really afford on Christmas presents each year and end up with a credit card debt they didn’t anticipate after the ¨silly season¨ ends, so it is important to plan and make sure you know how much you can afford to spend.

2. Establish some ground rules
This is an important tip. Too many people get caught up gift giving. It’s nice to give and receive gifts, but it’s helpful to have ground rules. Have the conversation up front with family and friends to make sure everyone is on the same page. Agree on spending limits and who you will and won’t be buying for. This avoids offending anyone or any awkward moments at the Christmas table.

Being part of a big family, we decided to make it about the kids. If we didn’t it would mean buying a lot more presents and spending a whole lot more. When the whole family do get together for Christmas, which is rare due to the geographical situation of our family, then we do a Secret Santa for the adults where limits are set so everyone is on the same page.

3. Focus on personal value rather than financial value
All too often, people get caught up in spending money on gifts at Christmas and focusing on the financial value of those purchases. Instead, focus on the personal value.

From my own experience, I´ve had many a ¨nice¨ item bought for me, but the one present that means more to me than anything else is a framed picture where my kids used their hand prints to make a picture of two robins sitting in a tree (it has a very personal meaning). It has pride of place in my office and is appreciated far more than anything new, shiny or tech related.

Remember, it’s the thought that counts.

4. Avoid the financial hangover of festive season events
Festive season events can cause more than one hangover and let´s be honest, we don’t really enjoy any hangover.

Additional and sometimes unexpected events can really hurt the finances, as we never tend to factor them in to our regular spending habit´s but everyone thinks it’s ok to do it because it’s Christmas. Its amazing how these additional costs add up. Tickets to events, food & drinks, transport, new outfits…the list goes on and on.

If you are planning on being a social animal, think about the event before you go. Plan your whole evening and understand the whole cost of the event, not just the ticket price.

If your budget is a bit tight, be selective and choose the events you can afford to go to. You don’t have to go to everything. Don’t be pressured into attending something just because it’s Christmas. And remember, it’s ok to say no and you don’t need a new outfit for every event!

Finally, if you´re the host don’t be afraid to ask people to bring something to share. Whenever we plan an event, we always ask people to either bring a plate or bring a bottle. People are more than happy to help and generally aren’t expecting a free ride.

5. Make room for the new by getting rid of the old
This is probably more important when kids are involved. Why? Because they seem to have everything already and as they get older it becomes a struggle to know what to buy them. Generally, kids are going to get a lot of gifts. If you have children, you´ll know exactly what I mean. Don’t be afraid to ask them what they don’t play with anymore or what they don’t want anymore.

Look to see what you can dispose of. That’s a harder job before Christmas but can help financially if you can offload unused toys to offset new toys. I had this exact conversation with my daughter, Christmas 2018. All she wanted was a new iPhone, so after first agreeing with the wife to splash out on a new model, we then agreed that the old one was ours to do what we wanted with. A quick online sale gave us €200 which made the new purchase a lot less painful.

We also donate some items to charity; whilst that doesn’t help us financially, it makes a huge difference to others.

6. January sales
Post-Christmas sales can be a great opportunity to get a bargain, but they can also be a good opportunity to get sucked in and enhance the Christmas hangover. Do you really need to go out splurging cash just because there´s a sale? If so, then it’s important to go into the sales with a plan, just like in tip 1. Have a list of what you need so that when you go to the sales you go looking for specific things.

And remember, if you’re planning on hitting the shops with your credit card, you have already put pressure on that pre-Christmas.

7. Survive the school holidays with budget-friendly activities
This is important throughout the year but is still a big part of the silly season. Kids are about to start school holidays and it’s important to budget for entertaining them during that time.

There are so many free things to do with kids in and around Madrid. Most of this can be researched online and within our many local Facebook groups. You don’t need to spend a fortune. We´re lucky enough to have some fantastic parks nearby, some amazing countryside within a short drive and all at no cost.

Planning is crucial. If you plan the money you have available for the period it needs to last, you are less likely to feel the strain of not having enough money.

No Financial Hangover!

8. Plan now for 2020
Planning for 2020 and next Christmas is very important. Talk to your family early about the plan for next year and get the ball rolling straight away so you can be prepared well in advance. Plan birthday and Christmas presents so you can buy in advance and save spending more on less just because it was last minute.

The most important thing to take away from all our tips is to PLAN. Planning plays an important part in being in control of your finances and aware of what you can afford and how much you are spending.

I make no apologies for writing a sensible guide to avoiding the Christmas hangover. Most of us are too focused on the here and now, ensuring we have a great time, only looking at the implications of that good time when the bills start to roll in come January. I hope this will help you to enjoy the festive season, allow you to spend what is right and celebrate without any financial regrets.

Wishing you all a great Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

To book your personal financial review call me on 639118185 or drop me an email at chris.webb@spectrum-ifa.com

Arts Society de La Frontera event

By Charles Hutchinson - Topics: Costa del Sol, Events, Spain
This article is published on: 27th November 2019

27.11.19

The Spectrum IFA Group again co-sponsored an excellent Arts Society de La Frontera lecture on 20th November 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 Prudential International in the form of George Forsythe.

The Arts Society is a leading global Arts charity which opens up the world of the arts through a network of local societies (such as in Spain) 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 120 attendees were entertained by a talk on Stolen Masterpieces: The Most Sensational Art Thefts in History by Shauna Isaacs who is one of the UK’s top experts in this field. She gave an excellent lecture revealing to us the history and reasons behind great art thefts. She is also a particular expert in the Nazi thefts of Art prior to and during the Second World War which she covered in a later Arts Society lecture that same day.

The talk was followed by a drinks reception which included free raffle for prizes including a CH supplied book on Stolen Masterpieces, Christmas crackers and mince pies. Prudential International donated a bottle of 12 year old whisky.

All in all, a great turnout and a very successful event at a wonderful venue, although we were in temporary accommodation as the main clubhouse is under renovation. The Spectrum IFA Group was very proud to be involved with such a fantastic organization during its current global expansion and we hope to have the opportunity to do so again.

Arts Society de La Frontera
Arts Society de La Frontera
Arts Society de La Frontera
Arts Society de La Frontera

Financial Planning Impact of the Spanish Election

By Barry Davys - Topics: Barcelona, Elections, Spain
This article is published on: 13th November 2019

13.11.19

The 10th November (10 N) General Election has, like in many other countries in Europe, resulted in no party gaining a majority of seats in parliament. The result is unsurprising, but what does it mean for our financial planning as individuals who are living in Barcelona and the Costa Brava?

With elections come many headlines, often contradictory. More and more we need to look beyond the headlines to find real data that helps with our planning. This is an example of why we need to look beyond the headline. The headline is ‘Ibex (Spanish Stock Market) rises 9.45% year to date’. Beyond the headline we find that profits of the companies that make up the IBEX index have fallen 20% to end of September 2019. How does this contradiction happen? The Ibex has no top weighting, unlike other indices, so can be highly affected by one company or a sector. The largest company on the IBEX 35 is Inditex (Zara etc) at 14% of the index. The banking sector represents 21% of the IBEX. This can lead to a distorted indication of the performance of a broader selection of Spanish companies. I have used the example of the IBEX because we live in Spain but it is similar for most indices around the World.

Below, I summarise points of the Spanish election that will impact our planning:

There is no sign that plans for post Brexit will be changed because of the election. This includes, for example, not changing the double taxation agreement between Spain and the UK.

It is unlikely that the change to a standardised method of Inheritance tax across Spain, as required by the EU, will be implemented as there is no majority government. Existing inheritance tax laws in Spain will remain the same.

The 10 N election was triggered because of the voting down of the budget proposed by the last government. The new government could well face a similar struggle to pass a budget. This means no changes to the tax rules and spending plans.

Still, borrowing by Spain will increase each year and this is similar across many European countries. Despite this, European government bonds have a very high price, many giving negative interest. Should you include these in your portfolio at this price?

The high prices in the stock market index and government bonds mean that headlines appear that suggest investing in commercial property as an alternative (there are lots of commercial property funds available). These headlines can include property growth rates from the last 10 years where property has enjoyed falling and very low interest rates. However, economic growth is slowing across the World and technology is changing our work, how we shop and play. Slowing economic growth and technological change mean that commercial property is not likely to do so well. A very careful approach to which property a fund manager buys will be especially important over the next 10 years. Without a majority government, we are unlikely to see Spain buck the World trend for lower economic growth.

We can take the following actions because of the elections:

Tax in Spain. We know the taxes and how to plan in a tax efficient manner because we have not had revisions since the last budget. Make your investments tax efficient.

Not all commercial property will do badly. Warehouses and logistically important points will do better than factories, for example. Warehouses are part of the Internet delivery system, which is becoming an increasingly large part of the shopping process for both companies and individuals. If we like commercial property we do not have to invest just in Spain. It is possible to invest in most of the developed markets.

When Barcelona city indicates that it will use driverless cars in the centre of the city, investment funds will buy car parks. It is estimated that the use of driverless cars will reduce the need for car parking in a city by as much as 70%. This could be a good opportunity as these car parks will be turned into other property types such as 3D printing manufacturing points, drone landing spots for internet deliveries and more. Admittedly, we may need to wait awhile before this happens.

Do not despair with shares. The major indices are used for headlines to give an indication of the relative price position of the market. Yet these indices are based on only a few companies e.g.

Spain Ibex – 35

France Cac – 40

Germany Dax – 30

UK FTSE – 100

There are many other companies to invest in these countries. We can also use funds which invest in companies doing business in and with India or China, for example.

There are some excellent opportunities in markets but it requires very careful and technical analysis to know which companies. Get help! See a previous article “5 mistakes the rich never make” which explains how the rich get help with their planning. I put this into practice in my own planning by using fund and investment managers to do the day-to-day management of my investments.

Good luck with your planning. If you would like to discuss help please feel welcome to contact me, especially if you own a business or are approaching retirement.

About the Author
Barry Davys is a partner with The Spectrum IFA Group. He lives in Barcelona and provides financial planning specifically for international people who live in Catalonia using his knowledge of Catalan, Spanish and UK tax. The advice is given in English. Business owners and people approaching retirement find his guidance particularly useful.

UK Pension transfer – most common questions asked

By Chris Burke - Topics: Barcelona, pension transfer, QROPS, Spain, UK Pensions
This article is published on: 8th November 2019

08.11.19

Without even mentioning the ‘Brexit’ word, if you have a private or company pension scheme in the UK but reside outside, it’s a good idea to understand what your options are in managing and having access to them. There are a handful of subjects I am regularly asked about regarding this:

UK pension currency
If you transfer your pension outside of the UK, it does NOT have to remain in sterling; all major currencies are usually available. It can also be changed at most times and be held in different currencies. Of course, at the moment this is an even more important thought process for your retirement savings.

Access to pensions
From age 55 you can have access to as much of your UK pension as you like, although bear in mind that in Spain pension money will be subject to personal income tax, after any allowances. Therefore, you might want to arrange this so as to not incur higher taxes (there are several ways to do this).

Pensions from a previous employer
These pensions are known as dormant or frozen, and at the very minimum you should know what you have, where they are and how they work. We help clients track these down, explain how they work, what your options are and start planning to make them either more ‘healthy’ or easier to access. Some pensions may have high charges, or the pension scheme could be financially in trouble. Having all this knowledge as well as the options available will help you make an informed decision.

Can I transfer any pensions I have myself?
In short, if you are abroad, no, since the process is complex and not easy to understand if you are not in the financial world. Also, HMRC won’t allow it unless you have received advice. We have clients with different levels of experience in finance and pensions, and we work alongside them all closely, giving them the knowledge to make their decisions and managing the process for them.

If they are UK pensions and you want to keep them in the UK, then yes, you can usually do this yourself depending on the value involved.

You cannot transfer a pension to another person, although there are ways you can pass it on effectively.

Pensions transfer charges
When overseas pension transfers were started many years ago, the costs were a lot higher than running a UK pension scheme, although the benefits were greater. Now, with increased competition from providers, the charges for moving and maintaining an overseas pension are a lot lower. However, this does depend on who you perform the transfer with and what advice you are given. I still come across clients where the charges are so high it is almost impossible for the pension to grow. There are ways of helping these people, but usually by then they have lost out on many years of growth, which is really frustrating as it didn’t need to be that way. It’s so important you work with a Financial Advisor who is working for you, at your pace and advising in your best interests, not theirs.

Selecting a Financial Advisor to work with when investigating moving a UK pension
There are several points/questions you should check when deciding whom to seek advice from. These are:

1) Recommendations, you cannot beat them. Does anyone you know work with a Financial Advisor and they are happy with them?
2) Does the Financial Advisor have the necessary qualifications to give you advice?
3) How are they remunerated? Ask them how much and when.
4) Do they have any long-standing clients you can speak to? If they do and you manage to speak to them, ask them specific questions so you know they are both genuine and how it worked for them.
5) Look into their eyes… meet them several times, get a feeling for them as a person, their morals and actions.
6) Research them on the internet, or ask around and see what’s said about them.

I do know clients who have done most of this and still not had a great experience. The only additional advice I can give is to look at the pensions and companies they are recommending. If you haven’t heard of them before or you don’t get the ‘spider sense’ that they purely have your best interests at heart, then look elsewhere. Remember, they are going to be looking after your retirement. For years I have helped people evaluate their pensions, and as well as looking to help new clients, the main reason I write these articles is to help people avoid potentially working with someone that doesn’t have their best interests at heart.