Don’t miss out on this year’s ISA opportunity (Deadline: 5th April) “Use it or Lose it!”

It’s 20 years since ISAs were launched and they remain one of the most popular ways to save and invest.

Your annual ISA allowance is a valuable opportunity to help grow your money and shelter it from any further liability to Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax. But to counter threat of inflation, you need to invest it wisely.

Yet, since 1999, four out of five ISA subscriptions have been deposited into Cash ISAs. Those savers risk failing to make the most of this long-term, tax-saving opportunity, as returns remain near record lows. In fact, for most of the last decade, the average Cash ISA account has lost money in real terms.

Despite accounting for only one in five subscriptions, Stocks & Shares ISAs represent over half the total value held in ISAs. It shows the benefits of investing your ISA allowance in assets that have the potential to create long-term capital growth and income.

A St. James’s Place Stocks & Shares ISA brings together our distinctive investment management approach and the ongoing advice and support that can help you make the most of this long-term, wealth-building opportunity.
The maximum you can save into an ISA in this tax year is £20,000, but any unused allowance is lost after 5 April.

To discuss this year’s ISA allowance, or any other financial planning needs in the run-up to the end of the tax year, please contact me on d.gregory@sjpp.co.uk.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

David Gregory
Partner of SW Financial Planning

Don’t lose sight of tax planning opportunities

The months of January, February and March are a good time to take stock and make plans for the year ahead.

It is also a good time to get to grips with solutions that help to mitigate the impact of tax and capitalise on opportunities to grow and protect your wealth.

Making sure this year’s ISA allowance doesn’t go to waste is one important step towards helping create wealth for the future. For example, parents might want to use their own allowances and then start investing in a Junior ISA for a child. Annual limits (£20,000 and £4,368 respectively) should be maximised by 5 April 2020, as any unused amounts cannot be carried forward.

Chances are there are also things you can do to bring your retirement goals closer to fruition. So, maybe think about investing a lump sum or increasing monthly payments into your pension plan.

Thanks to tax relief, your contributions are boosted by 25% immediately. If you pay more than the basic rate of Income Tax, you may be able to claim extra tax relief through your self-assessment tax return.

Finally, it could be a good time to think about legacy planning. If your estate is likely to be hit by a future Inheritance Tax (IHT) bill and you can afford to give some money away, now could be the ideal time to do it. You can give away up to £3,000 each tax year without it being added to the value of your estate for IHT purposes. You can also make use of any unused gifting allowances from the 2018/19 tax year.

As the end of the tax year approaches, it’s a good idea to ensure you are making the most of tax-saving opportunities that may be lost after 5 April. I would welcome the opportunity to spend some time explaining how you can get maximum advantage for this year and the years to come. 

To discuss this, please contact me on d.gregory@sjpp.co.uk  

Yours sincerely

David Gregory
Partner of SW Financial Planning

 

 

Working with your first HR Professional

I’ve been lucky enough to work with a number of smaller organisations who are growing fast and require specific HR expertise. Bringing in your first HR specialist can often feel like a big step but adds huge value. Activities that previously the founder(s) needed to manage can be handed over and streamlined, and that requires a trusted partnership between the HR expert and the leader.

So, what are the points at which a growing business needs to bring a HR specialist in?

“Resourcing is so time consuming and I have growth and client delivery to focus on”

Often a business grows by hiring from the founder(s) own network. Who do they know that is awesome? Let’s bring them in! But it always reaches a point when their network is exhausted and more specialist sourcing needs are required. The business leader is sourcing in their spare time as well as running the business and they need that additional expertise.

This is often how I have worked with new clients. They need help to find someone exceptional. And we all know that hiring mistakes can be costly – not just financially but also in regards to the impact on the team, with clients and on the firm’s reputation in the market.

“I want to be THE employer of choice for my sector”

The business recognises that people are its biggest asset and wants specialist expertise to help lead, engage and enable its Human Resources. A business leader who recognises the value of expert insight, knowledge, talent development, engagement and a people plan aligned to the business strategy is exciting! I was lucky enough to have that door opened for me previously and knowing you have a business that’s receptive to your HR mind is wonderful.

Even a small business, with part time HR support, can lay excellent foundations for growth across the employee experience which can help scale and drive organisational growth.

“I’ve made a mistake; can you help me?”

A business owner is rarely an expert on everything and sometimes they can get it wrong. It may be accidental (we didn’t know we had to enrol everyone in a workplace pension), through poor practices (we paid people incorrectly or late) or terrible judgement (we dismissed her without notice). Regardless of the reason, they can impact an employee’s experience of working for a business and have huge implications (legally, on your reputation, financially, personally).

An expert HR partner can swoop in and support the business to resolve that situation. However, it’s not just about that one-off occasion. HR’s role, in my opinion, is not to ‘manage the situation for the manager’. The role and value we can add is to help, coach and enable the manager to resolve that situation and equip them with the skills and knowledge to manage future occasions which may arise. In addition, also implementing processes and ways of working (or at least its our duty to propose them) which minimise that situation arising again – these are positive contributions that can be made to the employee experience. That is where HR can really add the value.

“My team are asking me for support on HR matters and I don’t know how to help them”

An employee is pregnant and wants advice on her maternity leave. An employee wants a personal development plan to achieve their professional goal to become a project manager. A team asks about team building and how they can become a high performing team.

Such exciting things for people to be requesting! The business realises that they need specialist help and reach out to an HR professional. When the wider business and the leader realises the value of HR there is great scope to add value to a business.

I personally love working with organisations of all sizes and from varied sectors to really see the value that HR can bring. Whatever the reason for my introduction to the business, it’s always a challenge and an opportunity to see where value can be added and to help tailor an impactful and exciting HR plan for the business.

By Caroline Arora, HR Director with Pallot-Cook Consulting
carolinea@pallotcookconsulting.co.uk

 

Pension freedoms four-year anniversary

Pension freedoms four-year anniversary: are savers withdrawing sensibly or splurging irresponsibly?

​AJ Bell has recently set out in a press release results of research it has undertaken indicating that, on average regular annual withdrawals from a drawdown pension arrangement, under the pension freedoms are 4.7% of fund value, almost a third lower than 12 months ago. Also, savers appear to be reacting to market volatility and Brexit uncertainty, with expected investment returns down from 4.83% to 4.15%. 1 in 10 pension drawdown investors have experience a significant drop in fund value since entering drawdown with around half cutting withdrawals as a result.

Please note that these are withdrawal returns associated with a Drawdown pension scenario, not via the purchase of an annuity. Many of today’s retirees have the opportunity to live the kind of life they want to after decades spent juggling family and career demands. They also have much more freedom to use their pension savings how they like. Depending on the choices they make, they can keep their options open through retirement and manage their pension pot to meet specific goals that may change over time.

Yet, for many, the most valuable freedom will continue to be the ability to enjoy a reasonable standard of living in retirement without the risk of running out of money. The surest way of doing that is to convert pension savings into an annuity.

Annuities provide security, stability and a range of other benefits. They used to be the default option for those reaching retirement. Yet they have become much less popular in the UK since the introduction of pension freedoms. In its first figures released this year, the Financial Conduct Authority says between 10% – 15% of retirees are now selecting annuities, while 30% are opting for drawdown and 55% are taking full cash withdrawals.

Annuities work by providing you with a guaranteed amount of income per month based on a number of different factors, the most important being interest rates and life expectancy. However, the downsides of investing into an annuity are:

  • Value for money

    Although annuity rates have been improving recently, they are still low by historical standards.

  • Lack of control

    Many people prefer to be more involved in deciding where their pension savings are invested.

  • Inflexibility

    Even though annuity products may come in many shapes and sizes, income is generally inflexible and does not allow for changing needs and circumstances.

  • Inheritance
    
While an annuity will give you certainty, the income dies when you do, leaving nothing for your heirs.

  • Underestimates of longevity

    The Institute of Fiscal Studies has found widespread “survival pessimism” at all ages. This may make individuals reluctant to buy annuities, as they think that they will live shorter lives than they are statistically likely to. As a result, some retirees may ask: “Will I live long enough for this to pay off?”

What this demonstrates is the need for people to consider all options at retirement, and the importance of including annuities in these. For decisions as complex as accessing pension savings, individuals should seek advice. Without it, many may be taking out plans without fully understanding the risks.

David Gregory BA (Hons) DipPFS
Associate Partner, Kelvin Redwood Wealth Management
Partner of St. James’s Place Wealth Management
11 Hamilton Place, Mayfair, London W1J 7DR

O: 020 8540 3434
M: 07944 205 553
E: d.gregory@sjpp.co.uk