The final leg of the Great Mathews Comfort Bake off competition was held in October.

mathews-comfort-cakes.jpg

Three further fine efforts are shown below, with Russell working with Chocolate, Jo working with icing and George showing his darker side, with Halloween as a theme. We can confirm that once again they looked excellent and tasted even better. This was all done to raise money for our Corporate charity SSNAP.

Now that the competition is complete, we will shortly be asking you to vote for the very best looking cake. Further details of that will follow in due course.

 

The Great Mathews Comfort bake off competition of 2017 continued in July with three more fine efforts. These included an excellent two tiered effort from Barbara Wagerfield and a superb Mathews Comfort themed cake from our Director, Dan Weston.


Whilst admired for their excellent looks, people were even more impressed with how they tasted.

It was all done to raise money for SSNAP and this is the second of three Bake Off competitions we will be having throughout 2017, before we finally ask you to vote for the best looking cake. Watch out for more news on that later in the year.

 

We work closely with our clients to help them achieve their financial objectives. We have always believed in the value of good financial planning and it is encouraging when independent research supports our opinion.

The International Longevity Centre recently produced this research, they are a charitable organisation focusing on some of the biggest challenges facing Government and society in the context of demographic change. Their recent paper, produced in July 2017 entitled ‘The Value of Financial Advice’, highlights the average increase in the value of assets for people who sought financial advice over those who didn’t. The period chosen was from 2001-2007 and they then considered their asset value by 2012-14.

The report examined not only the impact of financial advice on an ‘affluent’ group but also those who were deemed to be ‘just getting by’. The ‘affluent’ group was formed from a wealthier subset who were more likely to have a degree, be in a partnership, and be a homeowner. The ‘just getting by’ group were  from a less wealthy subset who were more likely to have lower levels of educational, be single divorced or widowed, and rent a property.

The report found that:

- The ‘affluent but advised’ accumulated on average £12,363 (or 17%) more in financial assets than the affluent and non-advised group, and £30,882 (or 16%) more in pension wealth (total £43,245)
-
The ‘just getting by but advised’ accumulated on average £14,036 (or 39%) more in financial assets than the just getting by but non-advised group, and £25,859 (or 21%) more in pension wealth (total £39,895)
-
It was also noted that those who received advice in the 2001-2007 period also had more pension income than their peers by 2012-14:

These findings highlight that good quality financial advice has value. If you take that advice and build it into good quality financial planning, you get a proposition that not only manages your finances, but also helps achieve your financial objectives, this is what we do at Mathews Comfort.

For more information on this report, follow the link below. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

To read more, please follow this link to be redirected to the full article.

 

 

 

Please click here to download as a PDF.

 

If you’ve got some spare cash left over from more traditional, structured investments, then you could follow in the footsteps of the growing number of people investing in collectibles. As well as providing something physical to enjoy and look after in a way that other investments can’t, many collectible items can increase in value as time goes on. Even if you’ve no particular interest in the ‘alternative investment’ market, it can be interesting to look at where people are putting their money and what success they’ve had.

One particular area of investment that many may not think of themselves is first edition children’s books. Unsurprisingly, older books are those which hold the greatest value, such as a first edition of Curious George, published in 1941 by Hans Augusto and Margret Rey, which is now worth around £19,000. However, many newer children’s books are growing in value, with Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo from 1999 one of the best investments. The value of a first edition of the book is now £113, a rise of 11.6% per year since 2006.

First editions of Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone are also sought after, over and above any of the other books in the series: the highest price paid on AbeBooks.com for a copy is £20,000. Before you start digging through your youngster’s bookshelf, however, be aware that several specific criteria (including a misprint on page 53) have to be satisfied to denote a true first edition, and the value is very much linked to the condition of the book.

Those who have already retired are also choosing to enter the alternative investment market, focusing on a wide range of collectibles. Not only does this allow the older generation to indulge in some welcome nostalgia, it also provides an enjoyable way to invest without having to sacrifice the potential of a healthy return on the money they put in. The top 250 investment-grade British stamps have on average seen their value increase by 11.78% every year between 2004 and 2014, whilst the top 200 investment-grade English coins fared even better from 2005 to 2015 meanwhile, with growth of 12.75% per year.

As with any investment, putting your money in collectibles has risks as well as rewards. It could be a while before you see any return on your investment, and as trends in the collectibles markets change the value of anything you buy has the potential to go down as well as up. Many people who opt for this form of investment do it for passion and enjoyment more than sizeable monetary gain, as well as having something tangible of value to leave to their family when they’re gone. If that sounds like you, maybe putting some money into collectibles is worth considering.

10.05.2017
News
 

Tuesday 28th March 2017 saw the Royal Mint release 300 million new £1 coins. The updated design is dodecagonal (that’s the fancy word for twelve-sided), bimetallic like the £2 coin and, perhaps most importantly, impossible to fake according to the Mint, thanks to a closely guarded security feature.

The old £1 coin will remain in circulation until Sunday 15th October, when it will be consigned to history along with the many other obsolete forms of UK currency that have gone before it. The round pound has been with us since 1983 when it was introduced to replace the £1 note. But what could one of the first pound coins have made you in the thirty four years since they were first introduced?

Imagine that £1 coin had been left in a drawer, a piggy bank or (perhaps most likely of all) slipped down the back of a sofa in 1983 and done nothing since then. Inflation up to 2017 would mean that the £1 would have had its buying power weakened by approximately 32p.

Had the £1 been invested in gold or in a cash savings account, the return would be healthier, but nothing to write home about, delivering a real value of £1.05 and £1.33 respectively by the end of 2016. Putting the £1 into UK residential property would have seen its real value at the end of 2016 rise to £2.42 – although this calculation doesn’t assume monthly reinvestment, which makes it difficult to compare to other forms of investment calculated.

Investment in shares would have done a lot better. Had the £1 been invested and tracked the rise in the FTSE all-share index, by the end of 2016 and after allowing for inflation, its value would have risen to £11.66, assuming that any income would have been reinvested every month to make the most of compounding over time.

The above calculations offer a neat reminder of both the corrosion to value caused by inflation and of the potential rewards of investment. Whilst investing will always include an element of risk, if you’re in a position to do so then an investment is the best way to help your money grow. It’s not all about return, but doing nothing with your savings means they’re almost certainly going to be losing value over time.

So when you get your hands on one of the new £1 coins, think about what it could be worth thirty four years from now and what you need to do to make sure it works hardest for you.

10.05.2017
News
 

It’s difficult to know where to begin this month. In France? Where Emmanuel Macron, the centrist candidate, successfully defeated the far right’s Marine le Pen to become the youngest ever French president, at just 39. In the UK? Where, having declared several times that she saw no need for a General Election, Theresa May summoned everyone to the polls on 8th June. Or in North Korea? Where the simmering tensions between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump threaten peace and stability in the region.

Politically, the world was a volatile place in April – but the world’s major stock markets reacted with studied indifference. The French index was the biggest gainer, up 3% in the expectation of a victory for Macron on 7th May. Two markets – the UK and China were down by 2% – and the rest inched ever-so-slightly upwards.

…Or maybe we should start this commentary in the corridors of Brussels, where the EU was busy setting out its negotiating position for Brexit – negotiations which are not now expected to begin in earnest until after the UK General Election. For good or ill, Brexit is going to dominate the news agenda between now and March 2019, the supposed date when the UK will leave the EU. Clearly we need to report on Brexit in this commentary and – rather than distort the UK or Europe sections – it seems more sensible to introduce a separate ‘Brexit’ section from this month. Naturally we have placed it between the UK and Europe…

UK

As Chancellor Philip Hammond led a trade mission to India there was disappointing economic news to start the month in the UK. Figures for February confirmed a fall in output in both the industrial and construction sectors, down by 0.7% and 1.7% respectively. The pound duly fell back on the weak economic data and the Halifax announced that house prices were growing at their slowest rate for four years.

But all this paled into insignificance when Theresa May changed her mind and called a General Election. She’d spent the previous week walking in Wales, and clearly views Jeremy Corbyn as somewhat less of a challenge than Mount Snowdon. All the indications are that she can expect to be back in Downing Street with an increased majority, allowing her to pursue the Brexit negotiations without needing to worry about the House of Commons.

Back with the economy, cheaper air fares held inflation steady at 2.3% and there was finally some good news as the International Monetary Fund upgraded its forecast for UK growth, lifting it to 2% for the year from the 1.5% it had forecast in January.

Good news too for the UK taxpayer, who has now recouped the £20.3bn used to bail out Lloyds Bank. Could the same eventually happen with RBS, with the troubled bank posting its first quarterly profit – £259m in the first three months of 2017 – for nearly two years?

There was also good news from British car manufacturers, with March being their most productive month for seventeen years, as they produced 170,691 vehicles and exported a car every twenty seconds.

…But sadly, the bad news returned at the end of the month with overall growth slowing to just 0.3% in the first three months of the year, and retail sales falling at their fastest rate since 2010. With online sales continuing to grow, you can unfortunately expect future commentaries to be reporting ‘yet more job losses on the nation’s high street.’

Eventually, the bad news won out with the FT-SE 100 index of leading shares being one of only two major markets to fall in April, dropping by 2% to end the month at 7,204. It was a different story for the pound, however, which ultimately rose by 3% against the dollar to $1.2952.

Brexit

April was the month when Theresa May decided to seek the clear Commons majority she apparently needs for the negotiations – and when Europe set out its position that the divorce must be settled before there are any talks on a future trade deal.

As we noted above, substantive talks will not begin until the result of the General Election is known so – in public at least – the next six weeks are likely to see a lot of sound and fury and little of real significance. You need no more evidence of this than the recent meeting over dinner, which according to the German press, led Jean-Claude Juncker to describe Theresa May as ‘delusional,’ whilst UK Government sources said they simply did not recognise that version of events.

Even after the Election result is known it remains to be seen whether any genuine progress will be made before the summer holidays and the subsequent German elections in September. With twenty-two months to go to the March 2019 deadline, it’s easy to see the negotiations being concluded in one very late night sitting on 28th March 2019…

Europe

The big story in Europe was, of course, the French Presidential Election with Emmanuel Macron victorious and taking more than 66% of the vote over Marine le Pen. Ahead of the final vote on Sunday 7th May, the expected comfortable victory for the centrist candidate produced the very welcome ‘Macron rally’ for the stock and currency markets. Some $290bn was added to the value of world stock markets, and the euro jumped to a five month high against the dollar.

The new President will face some big problems as he walks into the Elysee Palace. Clearly terrorism and immigration will be high on the list, but so too will be unemployment. While France has a high standard of living and high productivity, it also has a high unemployment rate – around 10% with some 3m people out of work. This is roughly double the rate of neighbours like the Netherlands and Austria, whilst the rate is below 5% in the UK and below 4% in Germany.

There are, however, some encouraging signs for the wider European economy, with the Purchasing Managers’ Index in Germany recently hitting its highest level since May 2011: the indicator for the Eurozone as a whole also stands at a six year high. Consumer confidence also appears to be improving, with indicators such as retail sales and new car registrations all moving in the right direction.

There was even good news on Greek debt as Eurozone finance ministers finally agreed terms with the Athens government, allowing them to ‘unlock’ a delayed bailout programme. For those of you that haven’t been keeping up, Greece is now part of the way through its third Eurozone bailout programme, with this one worth up to €86bn.

Both of Europe’s major stock markets were up in April: the German DAX index rose by just 1% to 12,418 while as we noted above, the French index – anticipating a Macron victory – rose 3% to finish April at 5,267. And we must put in a word for Greece – the Athens stock market was up 7% in April, reaching the giddy heights of 712 as it breathed a sigh of relief at the latest bailout.

US

Having announced a separate section for Brexit, it is tempting to do the same for ‘the pronouncements of the President.’ Donald Trump campaigned on drastic tax reform to stimulate the US economy, simplifying the tax system for individuals and slashing US corporation tax from its current level of 35% to just 15%. In April, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin appeared to pave the way for this reduction, calling it “the biggest tax cut ever.”

Meanwhile, his boss was promising a “haircut” for US banking laws – at the moment, it seems that this may involve the separation of retail and investment banking – plus a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Let’s turn to some concrete news: the US economy added only 98,000 jobs in March – far fewer than economists expected and only half the number for January and February. Despite this, though, the unemployment rate fell to 4.5%, the lowest since May 2007. Perhaps the low number of jobs created was a function of the US economy growing by only 0.7% in the first quarter of the year – the slowest rate of growth since the first quarter of 2014 and leaving the President some way to go to meet his election pledge of raising growth to 4%.

In company news there was another sign of the ‘new’ economy as the increasing share value of electric car maker Tesla saw it overtake General Motors in total capitalisation, having passed Ford in late March. Tesla’s total valuation is approximately $52bn: next up is Honda, which is currently worth $53bn.

Like all other world markets the US Dow Jones index rallied after the first round of the French Presidential election, and eventually finished the month up by 1%: having started April at 20,663 it ended at 20,941.

Far East

Tesla may be moving upwards but Toshiba seems to be heading in exactly the opposite direction. Having reported a loss of 532bn yen (£3.8bn) for April to December 2016, the company delayed publishing its audited accounts and admitted that its future may be in doubt.

Meanwhile, there was much better news in China, where growth in the first quarter of the year beat expectations. Growth was 6.9% according to official figures, compared to a target of 6.5% for the year as a whole. State-led infrastructure investment, demand for new property and an increase in consumer spending were all responsible for the higher growth rate, with retail sales in February up 10.9% on the same period in 2016.

Having spent his campaign criticising China for using an artificially low currency to “rape” American industry, the newly diplomatic President Trump had a meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping and said that China “was not a currency manipulator.” In truth, the almost weekly missile tests in North Korea are giving both men far more to worry about than currency manipulation.

Despite the tension in the region three of the four leading Far Eastern markets rose by 2% in April. Hong Kong was up to 24,615, Japan rose to 19,197 and the South Korean market advanced to 2,205. The one exception was China, where the Shanghai Composite index was down by 2%, ending April at 3,155.

Emerging Markets

April was a quiet month for the three major emerging markets we cover, but the corruption scandal in Brazil centring on the state oil provider Petrobras continues to have repercussions. A US judge has now fined Brazil’s engineering giant Oderbrecht $2.6bn in a case inevitably connected with Petrobras, as the engineering company agreed to a plea bargain deal with the US, Brazilian and Swiss authorities, pleading guilty to bribery in twelve Latin American countries.

Other than that a quiet month, but a pleasantly uniform one. It may be some time before this happens again, but all the three emerging markets we cover in this commentary saw their stock markets rise by 1% in April. India was up to 29,918: Brazil rose to 65,403 and the Russian market had its first positive month of the year, ending April at 2,017 – although it remains down by just over 9% for the year as a whole.

And finally…

Last month was, of course, a vintage crop for the ‘and finally’ section of this commentary. We were worried how this month would maintain the high standard – but it got off a good, slithery start with news from the Association of British Insurers that an anorexic python had swallowed £790 in vet’s bills. This was in their annual report, which revealed that the average cost of a claim on your pet insurance is now £757 – something of a shock for those of us that spent the bank holiday watching re-runs of James Herriot and thought it was seventeen shillings and sixpence.

Costing rather more than a trip to the vets was a trip from Taunton to Trowbridge. The towns are just 64 miles apart but that didn’t stop Great Western Rail offering a ticket for £10,000 on its website. The company blamed a (very expensive) ‘anomaly…’

 

Last month, we had our first charity bake off of 2017 when we encouraged some of the staff to don their baking hats and produce some cakes. As you can see, the results were very good indeed and we can confirm they tasted as good as they looked.

It was all done to raise money for SSNAP and this is the first of three Bake Off competitions we will be having throughout 2017, before we finally ask you to vote for the best looking cake. Watch out for more news on that later in the year.

The Great Mathews Comfort Bake Off

Finally, can we say ‘well done’ to all those who participated and also to those who dipped their hands into their purses and wallets to support such a great charity.

 

Please click here to download as a PDF.

 

With Philip Hammond already announcing that this was his final Spring Budget, and Brexit dominating the headlines, this Budget was expected to be a ‘business as usual’ Statement with few surprises and so it proved. Key comments were about further support for Social Care and the NHS, with very little in the way of changes to personal taxation or savings, aside from those that had already been announced.

Detailed below are the key points, with many simply confirming announcements that were made in previous Budgets in 2016.

Pensions

Money Purchase Annual Allowance - The Government proposed in the Autumn that the money purchase annual allowance (MPAA) be reduced from its current level of £10,000 to £4,000 from 6 April 2017. This is the amount you can save into a pension, once an individual has withdrawn taxable income and the reduction was being proposed to clamp down on those seeking double tax relief.

After a consultation over the winter, this had now been agreed and comes into effect from 6th April. There are no proposed changes to the way the MPAA currently operates, the Government simply does not believe that an MPAA of £10,000 is appropriate or needed on an ongoing basis. In their words, it has set the MPAA at a level that focuses Government support on those who genuinely need, rather than simply choose, to draw on their pension savings.

Savings

Dividend Tax - There is a reduction in the tax-free dividend allowance from £5,000 to £2,000. This will affect those that have investments with dividend income and directors of small private firms. This will come into effect from Tax Year 18/19.

Lifetime ISA - Introduced in the March Budget, the Government have confirmed that the Lifetime ISA will be introduced from 6 April 2017 for savers under the age of 40. At present, there are very few providers who are willing to enter this market and so we have a watching brief on it at present.

ISA Allowance - The Budget confirmed that the ISA allowance will increase to £20,000 for the 2017/18 tax year. The ISA allowance at present is £15,240.

NS&I Investment Bond - As confirmed in the Autumn, NS&I will offer a new 3-year savings bond. The rate has been confirmed as 2.2%. The Bond will be open to those aged 16 and over, subject to a minimum investment limit of £100 and a maximum investment limit of £3,000. This has come in for some criticism as savings rates have improved slightly since the Autumn when the rate was announced and this is now not as competitive as it could be.

Insurance Premium Tax (IPT)

Note that IPT will increase for the third time in less than eighteen months from 10% to 12% with effect from 1 June 2017. This was confirmed in the Autumn Statement but we feel it is worth reiterating.

Tax Rate & Allowances

The changes to the tax thresholds announced in March 2016 were also confirmed:

Personal Allowance (the amount people earn before they have to start paying Income Tax) - This will increase to £11,500 from 6 April 2017

Personal Tax - The higher rate tax threshold, above which higher rate tax applies, will rise to £45,000 from 6 April 2017

Summary

The key points outlined here may well raise questions regarding your own personal circumstances.

There are of course many other changes that will affect tax-payers one way or another.

If you would like to discuss your current financial planning arrangements to make sure you are maximising the opportunities now available to you, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

Our brand new and modern website has been designed to look stylish with fast and easy navigation whether you are browsing on desktop, tablet or smartphone device.

The website is primarily split into insurance and financial services to help our clients find the information that they require quickly. We have also included a new media centre section where you can find useful documents, case studies, latest news from us and the industry and links to our client portals.

Should you look around the site and have a question for the team, please navigate to the contact tab at the top of the site. Here you can fill out our contact form and a member of the team will get back to you as quickly as possible.

Take a look around the site, you will find plenty of information about who we are, the services we offer, the sectors we work with and how Mathews Comfort can help you.

 

We were delighted to be acknowledged for our on going commitment to the Apprenticeship Programme by our Insurance Network at the recent ‘Live’ Conference.

Our Apprenticeship Programme, which was first established in the 1990s, goes from strength to strength and attracts high calibre young people to both the company and the industry. Evidence of our programme’s success lies in the fact that two of our early apprentices, Daniel Weston and Russell Thynne are now both directors of the company.

In recent years, the scheme has grown in importance and today is actively supported by the Government as a means of attracting young people to the industry. During the two-year programme, apprentices attend college and study for an NVQ in Business Administration, as well as working in the office and gaining invaluable ‘on the job’ experience in such areas as day-to-day administration, simple valuations, contacting providers, processing applications and keeping clients informed.

Committed to the programme, we continue to employ apprentices and can boast a number of success stories, with candidates qualifying in both financial services and general insurance. Very much part of the team while studying, candidates are encouraged to continue their studies and career progression within the industry once qualified.

We were delighted that Willis Towers Watson Networks officially recognised the success of the programme at the recent conference.

To find out more about our Apprenticeship Programme, please click here.

 

We have always extolled the merit of using a Multi Asset proposition when investing, but, just for fun, can you predict which single asset class will perform the best in 2017?

2016 was a interesting year for investors, what with Brexit and the arrival of Mr Trump. Our friends at 7IM confirmed that the best place for returns was US Equities. Trailing a long way behind near the bottom were things such as cash and UK property.
      
Have a look at the enclosed table by clicking here. This shows how well the different classes have done in the past, and may help you as you try to predict the future! All you need to do it pick one of the sectors shown on the table from 7IM and email that sector to us.
      
Every person who picks the right sector will win a share of Marks & Spencer vouchers to the value of £250. If we have five winners, its £50 each, if we have just one winner, that person gets £250 of vouchers. Therefore, simply answer the question below and send your entry to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
      
Which sector will perform best in 2017?    
      
Closing date for entries will be the 28th Feb 2017.

(The winning sector will the one which is highlighted on the equivalent table that will be produced by 7IM in Jan 2018)

 

The beginning of a new calendar year should serve as a timely reminder that we’re only three months away from the end of the current tax year. It might feel at the moment as though there’s plenty of time until the beginning of April, but ensuring you make use of the remaining months before they disappear is always a good idea. Here are our top four tips for ways to make the most of this tax year whilst you can.

Maximise your ISA contributions – Making the most of any Individual Savings Accounts you have is normally a sensible way to invest your money. If you reach the end of the tax year without reaching the investment limit for your ISA, there’s no way to carry it over, so it could be tempting to invest as much as possible. The limit for the 2016/17 tax year is £15,240 and, unlike a few years ago, can be entirely made up of cash if you wish.


Check your pension contributions – Keeping an eye on your pension contributions at least once a year is a good idea. You can use pension contributions to help you manage tax liabilities, but high earners should keep the lifetime pension allowance in mind. The current allowance is £1 million, having been reduced from £1.25 million in April 2016, so anything over that amount in your pension is taxable.


Don’t forget your Capital Gains Tax Allowance – The Capital Gains Tax Allowance for the 2016/17 tax year is £11,100 per individual, which means that couples can pay no tax on up to £22,200 of capital gains. Genuine gifts from a civil partner or spouse do not count towards the allowance, and there are other exemptions too, so it’s worth having a look at where you could make some tax savings.


Boost your children’s savings too – Whilst thinking about your own financial planning, it can be easy to overlook the ways any offspring under the age of 18 can benefit too. If they have a Junior ISA, make the most of the £4,080 investment limit. Don’t forget they also have the same Capital Gains Tax Allowance and can make pension contributions of their own.

03.02.2017
News
 

Despite the claims of Brexit and the debate on triggering Article 50, it is impossible to start this commentary anywhere other than in Washington where, on January 20th, Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States.

It is remarkably difficult to find a news outlet that has a neutral view of ‘the Donald:’ however, we’ll do our best in this commentary to stick to the facts and let you form your own opinions…

So far the new President is looking to make good on his pledge of “only America first:” he’s pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and indicated that he’ll be building a wall along the US/Mexico border – but he has graciously accepted Theresa May’s invitation to visit the UK.

The pro-business agenda of the new administration briefly saw the Dow Jones index break through the 20,000 barrier in January, before it slipped back later in the month. Most of the stock markets we cover in this commentary moved very little in January, but there were strong performances from both Brazil, last year’s star performer and up 7% in the month, and Hong Kong, which rose by 6%. There were perhaps intimations of a difficult year ahead for our old friend, Greece, with the Athens market down by 5% in the opening month of 2017.

Away from stock markets, the World Bank offered some good(ish) news to start the year, forecasting a modest recovery in global economic growth. It is expecting growth of 2.7% this year (compared to last year’s 2.3%) driven mainly by improvements in emerging markets and developing economies.

UK

The year got off to a good start for the UK manufacturing sector, with figures for December confirming that activity in the sector had reached a 2½ year high. The Purchasing Managers’ Index was up to 56.1 from 53.6 in the previous month, with any figure higher than 50 indicating expansion.

There was also strong growth in the service sector, which grew at its strongest pace for 17 months, and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders reported that 2016 had seen UK car sales hit an all-time high, with 2.69m vehicles sold thanks to “very strong” consumer demand.

There was also good news for the housing market, with the number of first time buyers at a ten year high despite the average price of a house in the UK going through £200,000 for the first time – the Halifax recoding the figure as £205,170.

Last in the ‘good news’ column was the IMF upgrading its forecast for UK growth to 1.5% for the coming year (up from 1.1% in October) as it said the economy had “held up better than expected” after Brexit. Growth in GDP for the fourth quarter of 2016 was confirmed at 0.6% and unemployment also fell by 52,000 to 1.6m.

Less welcome was the news that household debt on loans and credit cards has returned to pre-crash levels, with the average UK household now owing £13,000. UK fuel prices also reached an 18 month high as inflation jumped to 1.6% in December from 1.2% in November.

There was mixed news from the UK’s retailers regarding the busy Christmas period. Next warned of disappointing sales, but several food retailers – notably Morrisons and Sainsbury’s – reported better than expected figures over the holiday period. As always though, the irreversible trend away from the high street and towards the internet continued.

What did the FTSE 100 index of leading shares make of all the news? In the event, ‘not much’ was the answer. Despite going through 7,200 at one point and breaking the record for the number of consecutive days where it rose, the index ended the month down slightly. It finished December 2016 at 7,143 and closed January down 44 points – or 0.6% – at 7,099.

Europe

Most of January’s news in Europe seemed to concern the car industry. BMW bravely announced its $1bn commitment to a new plant in Mexico, despite warnings from the new administration in the US. As we’ll see below, many firms are planning to invest in the US and/or move production back.

So potential problems for BMW and real problems for VW as it entered a guilty plea in the US over ‘deiselgate’ and agreed a $4.3bn settlement with the authorities over the emissions scandal. Despite these woes, VW has now become the world’s largest car manufacturer, overtaking Toyota which sold 10.175m vehicles in 2016, compared to VW’s 10.31m.

There was a grim prediction for the Euro, as Professor Ted Malloch, tipped to be Donald Trump’s ambassador to the EU, said the single currency “could collapse” in the next 18 months. Not surprisingly, Angela Merkel has taken exactly the opposite view – but with elections due in Holland, France and Germany, 2017 promises to be a turbulent year for Europe.

There was no such turbulence on the major European stock markets. The German DAX index was virtually unchanged in January, closing at 11,535, while the French index drifted back 2% to end the month at 4,754.

US

One of Donald Trump’s key pledges on the campaign trail was his commitment to pull the US out of the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership, the 12 nation trade deal that was a key part of his predecessor’s Asia policy. Although this was largely symbolic (as the deal had not been ratified by the US Congress) it was a clear indication of his determination to push through election promises.

Executives at Ford were clearly aware of which way the wind was blowing as they cancelled plans to move to Mexico and instead announced a $700m expansion of their plant at Flat Rock in Michigan. And having been threatened with an import tax early in the month, Toyota ended January by announcing plans to invest $10bn in the US over the next five years.

Clearly major investments like this will not make an immediate difference to the US economy, and in January the news was not good. Jobs growth had slowed to 156,000 in December, against 204,000 in November and general estimates of 175,000, whilst growth in the fourth quarter was 1.9%, lower than the 2.2% which economists had been predicting.

Meanwhile, the new President was announcing his fabled wall along the US/Mexico border and a crackdown on immigration, as well as continuing to promise much lower taxes for both the middle classes and business. Wall Street has generally liked what it’s heard from Trump and his team: the Dow Jones index closed October 2016 (just before the election) at 18,142 and has risen by 9.5% since then, finishing January at 19,864. The index did briefly go through the 20,000 barrier at one point, but then fell back to settle for just a 1% rise in the month.

Far East

January saw Xi Jinping become the first Chinese leader to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos. This time last year his government was setting a target of 6.7% for GDP growth in 2016 – and what do you know? Official figures released in January showed that the economy grew by 6.7% in 2016, slightly down on the official figure of 6.9% recorded a year earlier and marking the slowest annual growth since 1990.

I say ‘official figures’ because there has been increasing scepticism over China’s growth figures and in January Chen Qiufa, the governor of Liaoning, said that his province had been “involved in large-scale financial deception” between 2011 and 2014 and that economic data had been doctored.

As Mr Chen may find out, that may not have been the greatest career move in the world. Unsurprisingly, the director of China’s National Bureau of Statistics declared the national data was “truthful and reliable.”

‘Reliable’ was certainly not a word that could be applied to Samsung’s Note 7: the phone’s habit of suddenly exploding and/or bursting into a flames gave a lot of YouTube viewers a lot of entertainment in 2016. Despite having to recall 2.5m handsets, however, Samsung still recorded a 50% rise in profits in the final quarter of 2016, up to 9.2 trillion won (around £5.8bn).

Meanwhile, Ant Financial, the digital payments arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, was spending $800m to buy the US based MoneyGram. The deal will need regulatory approval from the US Committee on Foreign Investment, so it will be interesting to see what approach the new administration takes.

On the stock markets the Chinese Shanghai Composite had a steady start to the year, rising 2% in January to 3,159. As mentioned above, the Hong Kong market had an excellent month, rising 6% to 23,361. The South Korean market was also up, rising 2% to end January at 2,068, while Japan’s Nikkei Dow index was virtually unchanged, closing the month at 19,041.

Emerging Markets

As we’ve noted above, Brazil took the prize for ‘best performance in 2016’ among the markets we cover in this commentary with a rise of 39%. It made a storming start to 2017 as well, with the stock market rising a further 7% to 64,671. But despite the good performance of the stock market, we spent much of last year chronicling the ever-increasing losses at Petrobras, the state oil producer.

Petrobras is at the centre of a massive corruption probe in Brazil, with dozens of politicians having been arrested for taking bribes to grant lucrative contracts to private companies who then massively overcharged Petrobras. In January, Teori Zavascki, the judge overseeing the corruption probe was killed in a light aircraft crash – and the inevitable conspiracy theories were quick to surface. It’s another problem for President Michel Temer to wrestle with as he tries to keep the economy on track and eradicate the seemingly endemic corruption.

India – now the world’s fastest growing major economy – also enjoyed a good start to the year with the stock market rising 4% to 27,656. January was more subdued in Russia, however, where the market slipped back 1% close at 2,217.

And finally

January always brings us the World Economic Forum: the annual gathering of the great and the good at Davos in Switzerland. This meeting of politicians, business leaders and economists – sprinkled with a dash of celebrity – is supposed to chart a course for the world economy. Last year you may remember that delegates listened to Leonardo di Caprio rail against the excesses of corporate greed and then went off to reflect on the speech over £290 bottles of Cheval Blanc.

No such greed was reported this year – although one US TV reporter did complain that the price of a Davos hot dog had now reached $40. Clearly, he isn’t among the world’s super-rich who will have been cheered by news that sales of that ‘must have,’ the super-yacht, are back to pre-financial crisis levels. Just to give you something to aim at for the year, a super-yacht that is 100 metres long with a top speed of 25 knots and 50 crew will cost $275m – plus a $1m a year on maintenance and $1.4m on crew salaries.

If you can’t quite manage that, maybe the answer is to take advantage of McDonald’s all day breakfast. Launched with a fanfare as part of the grand plan to revitalise the business, the all-day breakfast has turned out to be a fine example of the Law of Unintended Consequences. Rather than draw new people in, existing customers have simply switched from burgers to breakfast, meaning that fourth quarter revenue for McDonald’s actually fell by 1.3%.

So no ticket to Davos and no super-yacht for the bright spark in charge of that initiative…

Sources

 

We have always extolled the merit of using a Multi Asset proposition when investing, but, just for fun, can you predict which single asset class will perform the best in 2017?

2016 was an interesting year for investors, what with Brexit and the arrival of Mr Trump. Our friends at 7IM confirmed that the best place for returns was US Equities. Trailing a long way behind near the bottom were things such as cash and UK property.

Have a look at the enclosed table by clicking here.

This shows how well the different classes have done in the past, and may help you as you try to predict the future! All you need to do it pick one of the sectors shown on the table from 7IM and email that sector to us.

Every person who picks the right sector will win a share of Marks & Spencer vouchers to the value of £250. If we have five winners, its £50 each, if we have just one winner (as we did in 2016), that person gets £250 of vouchers. Therefore, simply answer the question below and send your entry to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Which sector will perform best in 2017?

Closing date for entries will be the 28th Feb 2017. (The winning sector will the one which is highlighted on the equivalent table that will be produced by 7IM in Jan 2018)

 

People have more financial protection for their deposits from today. The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) limit is now £85,000. It’s up £10,000 after an increase by the regulator earlier this month. And the limit for joint accounts moves to £170,000.

Chief Executive, Mark Neale, says the increase strengthens savings protection. “Increasing our limit means we’ll protect more money and more people.  Our new limit will protect about 98% of the UK public. So people can be sure their money in banks, building societies and credit unions is safe.”

 

The combined deficit of UK defined benefit pension funds stood at £560bn at the end of 2016, £90bn higher than at the start of the year, according to PWC.

The PWC Skyval Index, published today, says if companies tried to fix the additional deficits that arose in 2016 within 10 years, it would cost an extra £10bn per year.

The index is based on the Skyval platform used by pension funds and gives an update on the health of the approximately 6,000 DB pension funds in the UK.

DB pension funds had assets of £1,480bn at December 2016 and liabilities of £2,040bn.

A Brexit beating

The index has also tracked the impact of political events and policy decisions on DB deficits in 2016.

The Brexit vote had the biggest short-term impact on DB pension deficits in 2016 with an £80bn increase from 23 June to 24 June.

However, the deficit shifted from £620bn immediately before the US presidential election in November to £610bn immediately after.

DB pensions were also impacted by the Bank of England’s interest rate cut and quantitative easing announcement on 4 August with pension asset values increasing by £60bn over the following week, due to significant rises in bond and equity markets, but pension funding targets increased by more than double that amount (£130bn).

Dealing with deficits

PWC global pensions head Raj Mody says 2017 will see pension fund trustees and sponsors reach more informed conclusions about how to tackle their pension deficit.

Mody says: “Those involved are increasingly realising the importance of transparency in order to decide appropriate strategy. DB pensions are long-term commitments stretching out over several decades and so there is limited value in pension funds making decisions based on simplified information.”

He adds: “There is a need to understand the cashflow profile of the fund year-by-year, not just summarised figures. While the aggregate deficit for DB pensions appears to have deteriorated considerably over 2016, the impact for individual funds will vary.”

 

£1.2bn is lost to investment scams in the UK every year and experienced investors are often targeted. The FCA have now launched an excellent website called SmartScam which allows people to check whether an Investment 'opportunity' is all it is cracked up to be. It discusses the early signs of a scam and allows you to report a suspected scam. We ask that you forward this link to friends and family members, just in case they are targeted.

To read more, please click here to be redirected to the full article on FCA.org.uk.

 

The countdown to the new £1 coin has started with confirmation that it will enter circulation in March 2017.

It is estimated that £1.6Bn sits in piggy banks and jars and one third of that is the £1 coin. That is around £500M that could be worth nothing by October unless you get the hammer out.

To read more, please click here to be redirected to the full article on GOV.UK

 

At the start of 2016, Brexit was seen as unlikely and President Trump was seen as impossible. David Cameron was busy negotiating a deal with his European counterparts which would surely secure a comfortable majority for the ‘Remain’ camp – and while Donald Trump might manage a few wins in the primaries, he’d eventually give way to one of the mainstream Republican candidates, who would in turn be beaten by Hillary Clinton.

We all know what happened and with elections due next year in Holland, France and Germany 2017 could be equally dramatic. But let’s first look back at December, and also cast an eye over the whole of 2016. It was a year when the pound fell by 15% against the dollar, when the FTSE ended at a record high and the Dow Jones index closed within touching distance of 20,000 – and when the price of crude oil nearly doubled from the low it reached in January.

All but three of the major stock markets we cover in this commentary were up in December, whilst for the year as a whole, eight were up, two virtually unchanged and only one (China) was down in the year. We also keep a watchful eye on Greece, where the market advanced 2% in 2016 as the country continued to battle with its creditors and the far-left government of Alexis Tsipras became increasingly unpopular.

UK

December started on a downbeat note in the UK, with the pace of manufacturing growth slowing slightly and Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney, warning that increasingly sophisticated robots posed a threat to 15m jobs in the UK. (But not, fortunately, to the Governor of the Bank of England…)

Presumably some of the jobs under threat will be those concerned with burgers and fries, but McDonalds gave the UK a big vote of confidence when it announced that it would move its non-US tax base from Luxembourg to the UK. This means that UK tax will be paid on royalties the firm receives outside the US.

There was mixed news for the UK housing market in December. Nationwide reported average house price growth across the UK at 4.5% in 2016, with London for once below the average at 3.7%. The average price of a house in the UK is now £205,937 – but home ownership among the young has fallen significantly over the past 20 years. In 1996 46% of those aged 25 owned their own homes: that figure has now fallen to just 20%.

Very firmly in the ‘good news’ column, eight months of uncertainty came to an end for the steelworkers at Tata’s Port Talbot plant when the company gave a commitment to secure jobs and production there and at other steelworks across the UK. The growth of the UK economy was revised upwards for the third quarter – from 0.5% to 0.6% – and in company news Sky agreed to an £18.5bn takeover from 21st Century Fox.

We won’t weary you with the progress – or lack of it – of Brexit. The Chancellor dared to voice the opinion that perhaps a four year period of withdrawal might be sensible, duly raising the blood pressure of some newspaper headline writers. Meanwhile, Europe turned its collective back on Theresa May, discussing Brexit without her.

Whatever the Prime Minister’s problems, they weren’t shared by the FT-SE 100 index of leading shares, which finished the year at a record high of 7,143. The market was up 5% in December and 14% for the whole of 2016.

Europe

As we mentioned in the introduction, 2017 will be a significant year in Europe with elections due in Holland, France and Germany. This time next year will we be reporting on the European equivalent of Brexit and President Trump? It wouldn’t be surprising, and there was an indication of the popular mood when the Italian government of Matteo Renzi was heavily defeated in a referendum on constitutional reform held in early December.

Commentators are now predicting a “period of uncertainty” in Italy. That’s also a phrase which can be applied to the Italian banks with suggestions that the Italian government will be asking for €15-20bn from the European Stability Mechanism to help the country’s banking system.

The chief casualty appears to be Monte dei Paschi, the world’s oldest bank, which failed to raise the €5bn it needed to re-capitalise from private investors. The Italian government was forced to step in, with the bank crippled by years of losses and loans that can never be repaid. Before Christmas the bank’s funding shortfall was put at €5bn – a rather less festive assessment after the holiday put the figure at €8.8bn.

No doubt Angela Merkel tut-tutted at this Southern European profligacy as she announced plans to run for a fourth term as Chancellor: and no doubt the right wing Alternative fur Deutschland will have plenty to say on that score by the time the elections are held in September…

As we all know Christmas is a time for traditions, and VW reaching another deal over its emissions crisis is fast becoming one. This time it was with the US authorities over 80,000 VW, Audi and Porsche cars. There was equally bad news for Deutsche Bank as it reached a $7.2bn ‘settlement’ with US authorities over its mis-selling of mortgage-backed securities.

Despite these seasonal gremlins December was a good month for the German stock market, with the DAX closing up 8% in the month at 11,481. This enabled the market to post a 7% rise for the whole of 2016, and it was a similar story in France where a strong performance in December – up 6% to 4,862 – allowed the market to finish up 4% for the year as a whole.

US

Donald Trump is due to become the 45th President of the United States on 20th January. His cabinet is now complete, with new Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin vowing a tax overhaul ‘not seen in decades’ in a bid to boost the US economy.

Peter Navarro – the man Trump has picked to head US trade and industrial policy – also appears to have been making vows, specifically about China. Navarro has described the Chinese government as ‘despicable, parasitic, brutal, amoral, callous and ruthless’ – and that’s just a start. Clearly, the Trump presidency will see an entirely different style of negotiating and diplomacy to the Obama years: to say that 2017 will be worth watching is an understatement.

…But the President-Elect appears to have made a promising start economically, with the news that Japanese company SoftBank is to invest $50bn in the US, creating up to 50,000 jobs. Trump also claimed the credit for air-conditioning company Carrier Corp’s decision not to re-locate to Mexico, keeping another 1,000 jobs in the US.

Meanwhile, the US Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate by 0.25%, only the second increase in a decade. The rate was moved to a range of 0.5% to 0.75% as the Fed cited stronger economic growth and rising employment. Some analysts are expecting further rises, with Kathleen Brooks of City Index saying “the US economy will be on fiscal steroids in the next few years.”

Wall Street certainly seems to have taken steroids since Trump’s victory, with the market constantly reaching new highs in December and threatening to go through the 20,000 barrier. In the event the Dow Jones index closed the month at 19,763 – up 3% for the month, 8% for the last quarter of the year and 13% for the year as a whole.

Far East

Gambling seemed to be the key theme in the Far East in December, as Japan legalised casinos and those investors who’d taken a punt on the Chinese ‘selfie firm’, Meitu, hit the jackpot after it was valued at $4.6bn. Meitu’s key selling point is that it lets you ‘beautify’ your own selfies – a service a few of us might need after Christmas and New Year…

More seriously, concerns were expressed that the Chinese property market is overheating, with many first time buyers in the major cities being priced out of the market: according to the National Bureau of Statistics the average property price rose by 11% in China’s seventy biggest cities for the year to September 2016.

Tackling this problem will be a job for the next leader of China’s central bank, as Zhou Xiaochaun steps down in 2017 after steering the Chinese economy for fifteen years: commentators have suggested that this will allow President Xi to further consolidate his hold on power.

Across the China Sea, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signed off a record defence budget, reflecting a year of continued tensions with China, and North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats to the region. Presumably, the outlook is therefore good for Japanese defence contractors – but it is much less rosy for Toshiba, whose shares fell 20% in one day last week and are now down by 40% since 26th December. Most people think of Toshiba as an electrical firm: in fact, it’s now a diverse conglomerate, with the shares falling due to worries that its US nuclear business – responsible for a third of the company’s revenue – may be worth less than previously thought.

On the region’s stock markets the best performer in December was Japan, with a rise of 4% to 19,114. The market there is more or less unchanged for the year, but it is worth noting that it is up 16% in the final quarter of the year. China’s Shanghai Composite index fell by 4% in December to end the year at 3,104: it is down by 12% for the year as a whole, but all the damage was inflicted early in the year, with a slight recovery taking place in the second half of 2016. Hong Kong was down 3% in December to 22,001 and is another market to be virtually unchanged for the year as a whole. Finally, South Korea ended the year at 2,026 – up 2% in December and 3% for the whole year.

Emerging Markets

It’s the Emerging Markets section of the commentary which takes the New Year’s Honours, with Brazil the best performing stock market of the twelve we cover, closely followed by Russia. Despite falling 3% in December to end the year at 60,227 the Brazilian stock market rose by 39% in 2016, having ended last year at 43,350. The Russian index was up 6% in December to finish at 2,233 where it is up 27% for the year as a whole and 13% in the final quarter of 2016.

There was an interesting development in Russia as commodities trader Glencore and Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund together bought a 19.5% stake in Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil company. They paid $11.3bn for the stake (which equals that already held by BP) as Russia sought to sell some state assets in a bid to balance its budget and end a two year long recession.

The other major emerging market we cover, India, saw its stock market virtually unchanged in December at 26,626: it finished up just 2% for the year as a whole. The Indian central bank surprised most observers by holding interest rates at a six year low of 6.25% and the deadline for depositing discontinued 500 and 1,000 rupee notes came and went. The notes – worth approximately £6 and £12 – will no longer be legal tender as Prime Minister Narendra Modi bids to combat widespread corruption.

And finally…

We cover the thorny subject of debt in the first ‘and finally’ of 2017 – specifically, Cuba’s debt to the Czech Republic. Cuba owes the Czech Republic $276m, a debt dating back to the time when Cuba and the then Czechoslovakia were part of the Communist bloc.

On the very sensible grounds that they don’t have much money but do have a lot of rum, Cuba has suggested repaying the debt with bottles of rum – an offer which would give the Czechs enough Cuban rum to last a century. Sadly, the curmudgeonly, unimaginative Czech officials have said they’d like to be paid in cash. Perhaps the Cubans should throw in a few million cigars to clinch the deal…

Happy New Year…

 

Please click here to download as a PDF.

01.11.2016
News
 

The first premium bond was sold on 1st November 1956, with £5 million worth of premium bonds sold on the first day alone. There are now 21 million people holding more than £63 billion in premium bonds, proving that they are still a popular form of investment. The first draw was held on 1st June 1957 for a top prize of £1,000. In the intervening six decades, £17 billion has been handed out in the form of 355 million prizes using updated versions of the original electronic random number indicating equipment (that’s ERNIE to you and me).

With premium bonds celebrating their 60th birthday in November, it’s a great opportunity to look at just how good an investment opportunity they are to add to your portfolio. Whilst they remain popular and now offer two jackpots a month of £1 million each, they are essentially a lottery rather than a viable investment opportunity.

For every £1 you invest, you receive one unique bond number, which gives you one entry into the draw to win a tax-free cash prize. You won’t earn any interest on your premium bonds either, as all the interest accrued is used to fund the prizes. The odds of winning £25 for each bond number is 26,000 to one, with the odds of winning the £1 million jackpot rising to 26 million to one. All of which means that only those lucky few who win one of the bigger prizes will receive a return which beats inflation, so if you’re after a guaranteed return, premium bonds are not the savings product for you.

However, there are some benefits to putting your money into premium bonds. As a National Savings & Investment product, all the money invested is backed by the treasury. This means that your cash is protected in full as opposed to the security offered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme which banks offer. Cashing in your bonds can be done easily either by post, phone or email, and there are no charges for doing so.

 

Please click here to download as a PDF.

 

The trouble with banks is that some of the home insurance policies (often called Buildings and Contents Insurance) that they recommend may not offer such good value for money. This was drawn to our attention by a client of ours who approached us after receiving his renewal notice from his bank, who had always arranged his Home Insurance.

For the purpose of this example, we will call our client Mr B.

Mr B is retired and had recently been quoted nearly £320 as an annual premium for his Home Insurance cover. He simply asked us if we felt this was good value and could we do any better for him.

We put it into the computer system we use, which looks at many different policies, to try and find something that not only gave him a lower premium, but also offered him benefits that were more suitable to his circumstances. We have to admit that even we were surprised at the outcome.

Mr B had been quoted £319.51 by his bank for £500,000 of buildings cover and £50,000 worth of contents cover. Mr B was covered for accidental damage cover on his contents but not his buildings. We also noted that this policy didn’t cover any loss or damage to his personal possessions away from his home.

After a conversation with Mr B, we suggested he increase his contents cover to £80,000 and advised him to insure his personal possessions that he may take away from the home to the value of £2,000 and we also included accidental damage cover on his on buildings.

‘And that will be how much?’ asked Mr B, rather tentatively.

‘How about £150.51’ , we confirmed, ‘a saving of £168.64’. Mr B now does his Home Insurance with Mathews Comfort.

So, why not call us when your renewal statement comes through? We don’t promise a saving of nearly £170 but we will make sure your policy is suitable for your circumstances and as we are an Independent Insurance Broker, we can select from a wide range of policies.

Just phone 01865 208000 and ask for the Insurance Team.

 

Congratulations to George who has passed his final exam in the spring therefore completing his Diploma In Regulated Financial Planning meaning that he could start his career as a Financial Adviser.

Well, he clearly has got the taste for these exams as he has continued his studies through the summer and has now just passed a Discretionary Investment Management paper which starts him on his way to becoming Chartered.

George has now commenced with some project work as well as some client engagement and you should hear more from him as the years progress.

But, once again, can we say 'Well Done'.

 

Making a Will is the only way you can be sure that your wishes will be carried out when you’re no longer alive. With a Will in place, you can be confident that your assets will go to the people you intended – without leaving them any unnecessary burdens or worries.

A specialist Will writing solicitor like Royds Withy King can help put plans in place to help both you and your loved ones. As expert Will writing solicitors, they can help you protect the things you’ve worked hard for. Whether your estate is simple or complex, they can make the process of making a Will cost-effective and straightforward.

It’s human nature to put things off, but there are certain times when you’ll find it’s vital to make or update your Will. So we’re here to help, no matter what the situation demands.

Marriage, civil partnership or divorce

If you’re just about to tie the knot, you’ll want to make sure your assets go to your loved one. Similarly, if a relationship comes to an end, you’ll be keen to settle matters while avoiding lengthy and costly court disputes. Royds Withy King work closely with you to develop a strategy that’s fair for you and your family, protecting your financial security – and your well-being.

Moving in with your partner

When you’re starting a new relationship, the last thing you want to think about is that relationship breaking down. But the fact is, if you’re living together, neither of you is protected by the law. The ideal solution is a cohabitation agreement. As Will writing solicitors, they can also help with pre-nuptial agreements to safeguard your future interests should a relationship fail.

Protecting your wealth

You want to make sure that your wealth and assets are protected for future generations following your death. When you’re making a Will, you can also maximise the value of your hard won assets through effective estate planning. Royds Withy King could help you achieve significant tax savings to help you manage your wealth now and in the future.

Other milestones

There are, of course, other times when you may want to consider writing a Will and getting your affairs in order. From buying a house, to the birth of your children – a life-changing event such as this can make having a Will a necessity. Changes in the law and tax legislation may also mean that it’s important to make or update a Will.

 

The statutory framework governing insurance has changed. The new Insurance Act came into force on 12th August 2016 and represents the most significant change to insurance contract law in the UK for over 100 years.

We have put a short video together to explain the changes that may affect policyholders, please click here to view.

If you would like to discuss this further please do contact us.