The London Exodus Continues!

House prices are one of the factors that have caused the amount of people leaving London to increase by 55% over the last 5 years.

Estate Agent Knight Frank have found that the only age group that is moving in to London on a net basis was those who are in their 20s.

Record numbers moving out of London

Frank Knight have revealed that 336,000 people left London to live elsewhere in the UK over the course of the year to June 2017, which was a 15% increase when compared with the previous year.

The current level of outward migration from London is at it's highest level since 2011. The 30s age group is the group leaving in the highest numbers.

Most popular places to move to from London

Scotland was the most popular destination, with Birmingham, Brighton and Bristol the next most popular.

Are London house prices too high?

The average house price in London was £484,584 as of April 2018, significantly higher than the average UK price of £226,906. Houses in Croydon, one of the more affordable areas in London cost £273,526 on average, which would require a deposit of £27,000 and income of £55,000 in order to make a 90% mortgage affordable.

Cheaper alternatives to London

Brighton, Bristol, Thurrock and Birmingham with the average cost per property in Birmingham being less than half that of London.

Are London prices cooling down?

The recent slowdown in London has meant that in March 2018, the average house price was lower than the previous year for the first time in five years. Growth improved in April, however it was far lower than the 20% increase recorded in August 2014.

Help for buyers in London

London Help to Buy, shared ownership and Affordable Housing schemes are some of the ways buyers in London can enter the market.

Are you thinking of making a move? Your Mortgage adviser can help you to secure the home or investment you are looking for.

Information is based on our current understanding of taxation legislation and regulations which is subject to change.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

Our charges are usually between £395 and £995 depending on the type and amount of borrowing required and individual circumstances.


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How Will the Market Slowdown Affect Housing Prices?

A new report outlines the fact that house prices will need to be cut or the home will need to be heavily promoted in order to be sold.

A gulf has opened between the expectations of sellers and buyers, caused by an increase in homes coming to market in combination with the regular summer lull that has pushed asking prices down according to Rightmove.

Rightmove reports that a fall of 0.1% was recorded in the time spanning June and July, down from growth of 0.4% in the month before.

However, prices are at their highest in five years, with prices up on an annual basis by 1.4%, though this was a fall from the figure of 1.7% in the previous month.

A third of properties currently for sale have been reduced at least once, pointing to the disparity in expectations between sellers and buyers.

The highest proportion of homes for sale since 2015 has resulted from an 8.6% jump in properties for sale combined with a lack of new buyers.

According to Miles Shipside of Rightmove:

"At this time of year many potential sellers are more focused on erecting sun umbrellas as opposed to 'For Sale' signs, and would-be buyers are equally distracted by their summer holidays,

Prospective buyers will need tempting with a summer special price or a beautifully finished and presented must-have home, and sellers whose homes tick these boxes then need an estate agent with good marketing skills to promote it effectively,"

The level of sales transactions is improving over the course of the year as sales in the year to date were down by 3.9% and improvement from the 5.4% decline at the same time last year.

The results differ geographically also as London and the South saw the largest fall in transaction, with the north not declining as much.

When compared to the same time last year London and the South East saw falls of 11% and 8% respectively in the three months prior.

Brian Murphy of the Mortgage Advice Bureau, says: "This month's report suggests that asking prices have flattened in many parts of the UK, partly as a result of the distractions of sunshine and major sporting events, but also as the disparity grows between what vendors believe their property is worth at first listing, and what the market will actually stand.

...As it stands, consumer confidence currently appears to be holding steady, despite ongoing Brexit headlines, which stands us in good stead for the next couple of month across the height of the summer holidays."

Are you thinking of making a move? Your Mortgage adviser can help you to secure the home or investment you are looking for.

Information is based on our current understanding of taxation legislation and regulations which is subject to change.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

Our charges are usually between £395 and £995 depending on the type and amount of borrowing required and individual circumstances.

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Are You Paying Too Much for Money Transfers?

Transferring money abroad is increasingly becoming a common occurrence with emigration, presents to family members or holidays just some of the reasons a transfer could be needed.

£107,400 is the average amount transferred when moving overseas according to TransferWise, the money transfer service.

The most likely reasons for sending cash overseas are property & living expenses, closely followed by shopping and family events according to FairFX.

Banks are using the lack of knowledge of alternatives in order to collect high fees on transfers, with a £250 transfer to Germany costing £17.50 at Lloyds Bank and £20.80 at Santander according to Consumer Intelligence. Specialist providers such as Western Union would charge £1.09 for the same transaction, with app TransferWise second at £1.70.

Jenifer Swallow of TransferWise asserts that banks are taking advantage of consumer's lack of knowledge in the sector:

“It’s unfair that banks are not transparent about what they’re really charging customers for this service," she said. “Banks charge anything from 3pc to 7pc of the transaction amount for an international payment. These transactions are regularly advertised as costing ‘just £5 or £10 upfront’ or even ‘fee free’ – but sending £250 to the eurozone with a Santander current account costs a hefty £22 in fees. Much of the charge is hidden within a poor exchange rate.”

Ian Strafford-Taylor of FairFX says that the banks use less efficient methods of transfer, adding to the cost to the consumer:

"Banks are notorious for slapping consumers with big fees when it comes to international money transfers.

"Additionally, rates advertised on companies’ websites and the indicated rate given over the phone can vary by as much as 1pc, with the majority of firms offering better rates on their website than on the phone."

Santander is one provider that says it was investigating ways of lowering costs.

Speak to your financial adviser to put a long term financial plan in place.

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Are You a Renter Seeking to Climb the Property Ladder?

A high proportion of renters in the UK still wish to become home owners at some point despite the fact that many do not have any savings.

The results over the past decade have not changed, when asked, three out of five renters have indicated that they aspire to home ownership in the future.

64% of households did not have savings in the 2016-2017 tax year according to the data released by the English Housing Survey.

This rose from 54% in the 2014-2015 edition of the survey.

30.4% of respondents had more than £16,000 saved, while a third of those surveyed had less then £5,000 saved.

The results indicate a disparity between the amount most would realistically need in order to pay a deposit on a home and the level of savings that they possess as the average cost of a home in England is £240,000. A 10% deposit would mean that most of those surveyed would be unable to afford it.

An increase in the age of those surveyed does not necessarily mean an increase in savings as 69% of renters in the 45-64 age bracket have no savings, compared with those in the 16-24 bracket at 61%.

While the desire to buy still remains, the lack of resources has resulted in a more long term approach, with three quarters of those surveyed expecting their planned purchase to be over two years away, which is up from 65.8% recorded 10 years ago.

The Bank of Mum and Dad could figure in the plans of some prospective home-buyers, as according to Legal & General, friends and family gifted £6.5 billion towards property purchases in 2017 and 62% of home owners bought homes in this fashion.

Are you thinking of making a move? Your Mortgage adviser can help you to secure the home or investment you are looking for.

Information is based on our current understanding of taxation legislation and regulations which is subject to change.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

Our charges are usually between £395 and £995 depending on the type and amount of borrowing required and individual circumstances.

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Is Buy-to-let Still Viable?

Buy-to-let landlords are being courted by lenders in order to help them borrow over the past 6 months. The tough new lending rules have prompted lenders such as Virgin Money and West One to allow borrowers to use their property's rental income and their own income when applying.

Barclays, BM Solutions, Precise Mortgages, Vida Homeloans, Kent Reliance, Aldermore and Metro Bank offer this, known as 'top slicing'.

If the interest rate paid was 5.5%, the property's rental income was required to be 145% (up from 125% previously) of the mortgage payment under new rules introduced in January 2017.

The new rules significantly reduced landlord profits.

Some providers go even further in terms of the income that can be included, as West One for example offers other income to be included if the rental income is over 100% of the mortgage payment.

Jeni Browne of Mortgages for Business says:

"Top slicing is not new. The likes of Metro Bank and Barclays have been using it for a long time and now, as regulatory guidelines are forcing lenders to apply more onerous rental calculations, we are seeing more lenders moving into this space.

This works really well for those who are medium to high income earners, have minimal borrowing and three or fewer buy-to-let mortgages. Top slicing has enabled many borrowers to reach their desired objectives, particularly when a more tick-box approach has failed them."

Be aware that utilising this arrangement could impact upon you in the future:

"For those with four or more mortgaged buy-to-lets, lenders are required to assess the landlord’s entire portfolio and ensure that they are comfortable that the existing arrangements can withstand rental voids, interest rate rises and the tax changes.

To this end, the properties already in the portfolio are also subject to a rental calculation and so having a mortgage which relies on top slicing in the background could mean that you fall outside of the lender’s parameters."

Are you thinking of making a move? Your mortgage adviser can help you to secure the home or investment you are looking for.

Information is based on our current understanding of taxation legislation and regulations which is subject to change.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

Our charges are usually between £395 and £995 depending on the type and amount of borrowing required and individual circumstances.

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How Much Should You Save for Retirement?

In order to have a reasonable lifestyle in retirement, workers need to save at least 12% of their salary in to their pension, and employers should be made to contribute half of that according to a new report.

Only three percent of savers in modern pension schemes will be able to afford a comfortable retirement.

An increased focus on real life targets such as holidays and cars should be implemented in order to make the future benefits of saving more tangible.

The minimum savings rate has risen to 5% and will increase to 8% in April 2019, with half paid by the employee, with the remainder paid by the employer and tax relief.

Many people think that the minimum level of contributions will guarantee them a comfortable lifestyle which is not the case according to the report:

"The vast majority of savers do not understand retirement savings, do not know what sort of income they should aim for in retirement, and do not know how to achieve it.

Future generations of retirees are ...much less likely to have sufficient assets to generate an adequate retirement income."

At the new rate of 8% of salary, 94% of people will reach a common measure of basic living requirements (£9,998 in 2017) by the time they need to retire.

A comfortable retirement, measured as two thirds of their pre-retirement income, would only be reached by 3% of those who hold new style defined contribution pensions.

The lower levels of home ownership combined with lower pension levels and higher social care and housing costs point to a struggle for many pensioners in the future.

It's important to keep your investments and pensions under regular review in order to ensure they are being invested in line with your goals.

Your Financial Adviser can construct a financial plan for you that will enable you to meet your financial goals.

The value of investments and income from them may go down as well as up and you may not get back the original amount invested.

A pension is a long-term investment. The fund value may fluctuate and can go down. Your eventual income may depend upon the size of the fund at retirement, future interest rates and tax legislation.

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Have You Been Over-taxed by HMRC?

The emergency tax will continue to be levied on those that wish to withdraw income from their pensions by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) despite criticism from the pensions industry.

HMRC assumes that any withdrawal from a pension under the new pensions freedoms rules will be repeated on a monthly basis over the course of the year and charges accordingly.

This means that a single withdrawal will only have 1/12th of the usual annual allowance applied to it. A lack of understanding of the new rules has been highlighted by the Office for Tax Simplification, with the resulting over taxation of retirees to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds having resulted already.

According to HMRC, they have already reviewed the current system and have concluded that any changes at the current time would not significantly improve the tax position for the majority". The current method is designed to reduce the risk of tax underpayment.

Tom Selby of AJ Bell says: "This is a disappointing stance from HMRC when you consider that people withdrawing their pension have been overtaxed by hundreds of millions of pounds over the past few years."

Those who have overpaid and not applied for a refund will have been left out of pocket, with £300 million in overpaid tax having been collected due to the new policy.

Mr Selby continues: "By continuing to overtax people, HMRC risks pushing savers into financial difficulty and forcing them to withdraw more than they need, which could result in them paying even more tax.

‘HMRC’s belligerent refusal to countenance any public debate on this issue is deeply frustrating".

If you think that you may have overpaid, see HMRC's site for further information.

Your Financial Adviser can construct a financial plan for you that will enable you to meet your financial goals.

The value of investments and income from them may go down as well as up and you may not get back the original amount invested.

A pension is a long-term investment. The fund value may fluctuate and can go down. Your eventual income may depend upon the size of the fund at retirement, future interest rates and tax legislation.

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Are You Overly Exposed to China? Your Adviser Knows!

Have the recent falls in the Chinese stock market and currency been caused by the US tariffs of $34 billion and the potential trade war? The stock market and currency falls may look as though they are correlated but there may not be a direct link.

Shaken retail investors have caused the Shanghai Shenzhen composite to fall in to bear territory. Slowing economic activity had already dampened the expectations of investors before the prospect of the trade war had been raised,

A clampdown on speculative loans by Chinese authorities has put the brakes on the economy, with the dispute with the US acting as a 'double whammy' for the Chinese market.

The reverse is now happening as the Chinese authorities are raising the personal income tax threshold to RMB60,000 from RMB42,000 generating RMB125 billion in potential consumption, boosting GDP by 15 basis points and benefiting over 80% or 340 million people. An increase in infrastructure spending has also been mooted.

The currency however, is more sensitive to trade concerns. The renminbi would be negatively affected by the lower exports caused by a trade war. It has been suggested that the lower value of the RMB could be intentional on the part of China, however, this could lead to capital outflows that could exacerbate the problem rather than being advantageous for China.

Policy will likely continue to cushion the domestic economy of China in anticipation of further headwinds courtesy of the US.

Your financial adviser can help to make sure you are sufficiently diversified and in the right investments that will help you to achieve your long term goals.

The value of investments and income from them may go down as well as up and you may not get back the original amount invested.

Information is based on our current understanding of taxation legislation and regulations which is subject to change.

Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

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Don't Be Taxed at 55% on Your Pension! - Your Adviser Can Help!

The maximum amount you are allowed to build up in your pension is £1.03 million, at which point you hit the current lifetime allowance. A charge of 55% will be applied to any amount over this when you take it out.

While this may seem like a large pension to some, workers who earn £80,000 could be breaching the lifetime allowance without being aware of it.

The number of those doing just that has doubled, contributing to a rise of £70 million of tax being paid to HM Revenue & Customs.

Approximately 500,000 could be at risk according to estimates. Teachers, middle managers, accountants and public sector workers with final salary pensions are some of the common professions that could be affected.

It's easier than you may think to go over the £1.03 million allowance for those that have final salary pensions. For example, a teacher that has a final salary pension of £60,000 per year would be multiplied by 20 by HMRC in order to compare it to the lifetime allowance, which would be £1.2 million. In this example, the individual would need to pay £93,500 if taken as a lump sum, or £42,500 if taken as an income.  

Pension savings in addition to final salary arrangements can also add up and trigger the charge.

You can protect yourself from charges, by utilising Individual Protection 2016 or Fixed Protection 2016. Individual Protection 2016 allows those that had a pension worth more than £1 million at April 5, 2016 to bump their allowance to £1.25 million. Fixed Protection 2016 fixes your allowance at £1.25 million, and no more contributions can be made.

Your Financial Adviser can construct a financial plan for you that will enable you to meet your financial goals and that is appropriate for your risk appetite.

The value of investments and income from them may go down as well as up and you may not get back the original amount invested.

A pension is a long-term investment. The fund value may fluctuate and can go down. Your eventual income may depend upon the size of the fund at retirement, future interest rates and tax legislation.

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Home-ownership Crisis!

Home-ownership in England's urban fringes have suffered the most according to recent research.

A 15.9% fall in the proportion of people that own their own homes has been recorded since 2001 in areas described as 'other urban' by the Office for National Statistics.

Declines of 33.8% in Slough and 26% in Lincoln illustrate this trend. Great Yarmouth, Tunbridge Wells and Lancaster are examples of rural areas, which according to Shelter, the charity, have seen a decline of 15.8% in home-ownership.

Families in rural areas have a lower chance of getting  on the property ladder according to think tank IPPR, due to the fact that only one in ten rural properties are affordable, contrasting with the rate of one in five in urban areas.

An increase in the number of renters of 12.2% was recorded in rural locations, such as South Norfolk and Devon according to Shelter's research. This is paired with an 11.2% decline in residents that are also home owners.

London and the North East were the regions that had the highest increases in the number of renters according to the same research, registering increases of 18% and 20% respectively.

Polly Neate of Shelter said:

"The housing market is shifting beneath our feet. More and more people are being forced to stay in the private rented sector, which is both expensive and unstable. This ‘rentquake’ is not just confined to cities but is spreading to market towns and suburbs across England too.  

"Politicians of all stripes must now sit up and take notice of this data, and think about what they can offer renters in their area at the next election.”

 

Are you thinking of making a move? Your Mortgage adviser can help you to secure the home or investment you are looking for.

Information is based on our current understanding of taxation legislation and regulations which is subject to change.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

Our charges are usually between £395 and £995 depending on the type and amount of borrowing required and individual circumstances.

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How Can You Navigate the Stagnant Housing Market? Your Mortgage Broker Knows!

1.9% annual growth in house prices was recorded in May, which fell to 1.8% in the year to June, illustrating the downward trend for growth.

Mortgage approvals have remained within the 63,000 to 67,000 range this year, with home sales losing impetus despite the strength of the UK job market according to Halifax.

Despite this, the robust labour market, low mortgage rates and a good level of affordability are "very positive factors" according to Russell Galley of Halifax.

He says:

"The continuing shortage of properties for sale should also continue to support price growth,"

In spite of the slowdown, the average UK property price has risen to £225,654, increasing from £217,620, recorded in June 2017.

There were some especially gloomy predictions at the start of the year, but even though the UK market has lost it's intensity growth-wise, a lack of supply and the continued affordability of mortgages are propping up the market according to Russell Quirk of Emoov.co.uk:

"These are not the ingredients for a market crash and it is highly unlikely that we will see anything other than stable growth and an uplift in market activity throughout the remainder of the year,"

Lower levels of enquiries and a lack of supply have contributed to house price growth falling to a five year low according to Nationwide's house price index.

According to Robert Gardner of Nationwide:

"There are few signs of an imminent change. Surveyors continue to report subdued levels of new buyer enquiries, while the supply of properties on the market remains more of a trickle than a torrent."

Are you thinking of making a move? Your Mortgage adviser can help you to secure the home or investment you are looking for.

Information is based on our current understanding of taxation legislation and regulations which is subject to change.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

Our charges are usually between £395 and £995 depending on the type and amount of borrowing required and individual circumstances.

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Is The UK Market As Good Value-Wise as it Seems? - Your Adviser Knows!

“The current reputation of the UK market has suffered due to the Brexit vote and the potential repercussions arising from it. Both retail and institutional investors are staying away, making the market one of the world's least popular. Brexit uncertainty is the reason for this, however the UK's all companies sector has been out of favour since 2014.

Equity income has been the most popular way to gain exposure to the UK market, with the UK all companies sector being unpopular in 2010, 2011 and 2012 also. However, is this based on actual performance or just perception?

Actually the two sectors have performed similarly as the IA UK all companies sector outperformed the UK equity income sector at 49% to 47%. Since the Brexit vote, this trend has continued with the all companies sector returning 34% vs 28% for the income sector.

The IA global sector was up 36% and the IA global equity income sector was up 27%, meaning that those investors that did abandon the UK, have not seen significantly higher returns.

Part of the reason for this is the fact that the newly cheap pound increased overseas earnings for UK companies relatively.

Value to be Found

The low pound could also be catalysing interest from overseas companies in acquiring UK firms, going against the judgements made by retail investors, and suggesting that for some at least, the UK market offers an attractive proposition.  

Signs of strain

Low unemployment and positive wage growth are some of the positive signs for the economy. Growth however is being revised downwards, most recently from 1.8% to 1.4% for 2018. Mooted interest rate rises have also not eventuated, suggesting that the Bank of England remains tentative about the recovery.

Despite this, some fund managers insist that UK stocks are undervalued and provide significant opportunities for growth.

Your financial adviser can help to make sure you are sufficiently diversified and in the right investments that will help you to achieve your long term goals.

The value of investments and income from them may go down as well as up and you may not get back the original amount invested.

Information is based on our current understanding of taxation legislation and regulations which is subject to change.

Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

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How Will China Affect Your Investments? Contact Your Adviser!

The Shanghai Composite is treading dangerously close to bear market territory, echoing concerns regarding the Chinese economy.

The index is down by 19% from the highs experienced in January, with 20% the level of decline necessary in order to officially classify it as a bear market. The Shanghai index closed down 5% last week, with the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong also being down 3.4% in the same time period.

The trade tensions with the US are the main reason for the lacklustre performance, with some domestic factors such as monetary tightening also playing a part.

The retaliation of China to the US's sanctions caused the US to announce that it would impose new tariffs of $200 billion in response.

Share prices in the region have also suffered, with Vietnamese and Japanese indices down by 4.6% and 2.2% respectively.

A further correction of 20-30% could be a possibility according to a recent study by UBS Group based on existing priced in expectations.

UBS don't expect the worst case scenario to eventuate however:

"If our base case plays out, and calm is restored, current sentiment is likely pricing in too harsh an outcome."

According to a survey conducted by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, a trade war is the single most threatening factor with regard to portfolio performance.

68.6% of Japan focused investors were most concerned about international affairs according to a similar survey from Nomura.

China remains a strong centre of growth and  financial performance but investors need to remain vigilant according to Laith Khalaf of Hargreaves Lansdown:

"China is undeniably an exciting investment opportunity, but its stock market should be expected to be volatile, and will be subject to the yin and yang of global economic confidence."

Your financial adviser can help to make sure you are sufficiently diversified and in the right investments that will help you to achieve your long term goals.

The value of investments and income from them may go down as well as up and you may not get back the original amount invested.

Information is based on our current understanding of taxation legislation and regulations which is subject to change.

Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

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Brexit Fund Winners & Losers - Don't be Caught Out!

Small companies have been the best places to invest in the UK since the Brexit vote.

Since the vote, the FTSE Small Cap index has grown 38.3%, outshining the FTSE 100 which only managed 31.4%.

Active management was another bright spot for UK small companies. An average return of 48.6% was achieved by those funds in the Investment Association's UK smaller companies sector, which compares favourably with the UK all companies sector, which managed 30.6%.

There are a number of reasons for this. Smaller UK funds were thought to have been more vulnerable to the economic disruption caused by Brexit, causing these funds to drop immediately before the referendum. Darius McDermott of Chelsea Financial Services explains:

"Small caps were in fact beaten up in the run-up to the referendum and, at one point, were sitting at a hefty 20 per cent discount relative to the FTSE 100."

The lack of immediate effects of the Brexit vote caused investors to rush back in to these suddenly undervalued companies. McDermott days:

"When investors realised that the UK economy may not be doomed after all, this discount shrank (it is around 10 per cent today) as they snapped up the stocks which had unfairly been tossed in the bargain bin."

The drop in the pound also made these companies attractive, leading to acquisitions that then boosted share prices.

European small companies performed well in the same period, actually marginally outperforming UK small caps (48.79% vs 48.62%).

While there have not been any major effects from Brexit at this stage, maintaining diversification is key in order to remain well prepared for future shocks.

Your adviser can put a long term, diversified strategy in place that will help you to achieve your financial goals.

The value of investments and income from them may go down as well as up and you may not get back the original amount invested.

Information is based on our current understanding of taxation legislation and regulations which is subject to change.

Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

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Are You Making the Most of Your Savings?

What are the best savings and ISA accounts at the moment?

The Post Office is one of the top providers for savings accounts, offering 1.33%. However, this is only for the first year, after which the rate drops to 0.25%. The Coventry BS Limited Access Saver has a similar configuration, with a 1 year rate of 1.3% which drops down to 1% afterwards. There is an additional restriction, with only three withdrawals per year permitted, go over this and there is a fee of 50 days of interest.

A rate of 1.3% is also on offer from Shawbrook Bank and RCI Bank, without bonuses or restrictions.

Fixed rate accounts pay more, but are less convenient due to the fact that money can't be withdrawn without restriction. Atom bank offer 2.05% on their one year product. Secure Trust Bank, OakNorth and Masthaven Bank offer 1.88%, 1.87% and 1.86% respectively for the same time period. In terms of two year products, Secure Trust Bank offer 2.16%.

The one year fixed rate cash ISA tables are topped by Charter Savings Bank at 1.48%, with Ford Money and Paragon Bank close behind at 1.45%.  Two year fixed rate ISAs at 1.7% and 1.69% are on offer from Shawbrook Bank and Charter Savings Bank respectively.

The top provider for easy access cash ISAs is Shawbrook at 1.3%, which is matched by Virgin, however, there is a two per year withdrawal limit on the Virgin product.

If your goal is to beat inflation, the only accounts that will pay more than the current inflation rate of 2.5% require you to hold a current account with the relevant provider.

Savings accounts can form part of your long term financial planning strategy. Once your cash is sorted, it's important to speak to your adviser who can help you to achieve your goals.  

The value of investments and income from them may go down as well as up and you may not get back the original amount invested.

Information is based on our current understanding of taxation legislation and regulations which is subject to change.

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Are You Missing Out on a Tax Break?

An online form that takes 10 minutes to complete is all that's standing between one million UK couples and a potential tax break of up to £900.

HM Revenue and Customs say that those eligible couples could take advantage of the Marriage Allowance worth up to £238 per year, with potential backdated claims of £662.

Is the allowance difficult to claim as some have said however?

Those couples that have claimed the Marriage Allowance now total three million.

A tax free allowance of £11,850 delineates the amount of an individuals income on which no tax is paid. A non-taxpaying spouse or civil partner can transfer £1,190 of their tax free allowance to their taxpaying partner, lowering the amount of tax due.

This is only possible however, if the taxpaying spouse earns income of between £11,851 and £46,350, or £43,430 in Scotland.

The Marriage Allowance was introduced in April 2015, potentially benefiting approximately four million married couples.

Mel Stride of the Treasury comments that:

"This is a really important tax relief and reflects the social importance of marriages and civil partnerships.

I'd urge those that haven't yet managed to claim the money to do so right away - it's quick and easy to apply."

The lack of action by those eligible has become a source of frustration for HMRC.

Your financial adviser can help to make sure you are on track and help you to achieve your long term goals.

Information is based on our current understanding of taxation legislation and regulations which is subject to change.

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Estate Agents In Trouble

Increasing levels of competition, a soft property market and lower letting fees are putting 7,000 estate agents at risk, with over 150 firms becoming insolvent in 2017.

153 firms went insolvent in 2017, an increase on the figure of 148 registered in 2016 according to Moore Stephens, an accountancy firm.

Moore Stevens say that 7,000 estate agents "currently show signs of financial distress".

The fourth profit warning in eight months for Countrywide, the largest estate agent in the UK, combined with concerns about the firm's debt caused shares in the firm to fall by 25% last week.

Increasing competition from online agents such as Purplebricks and a downturn in London and the south-east have put pressure on Countrywide, which is also the parent of Hamptons, Bairstow Eves, Taylors and Gascoigne-Pees.

A London or south-east focus has affected other firms also, with Foxtons being one such example, having seen their profits drop by 65%.

The proposed ban on letting fees could also affect many agents as some firms are heavily exposed due to their current business models. The 20% fall in the number of property sales in the London area since 2014 and the 3% stamp duty surcharge on buy-to-lets have also contributed to the squeeze.

According to Chris Marsden of Moore Stephens:

"Insolvencies of high street estate agents are increasing as online competitors continue to chip away at their sales.

With the ban on letting fees stated to come into force in 2019, estate agents will struggle to pass those fees on to landlords.”

Some areas in the UK are appear to have an excess capacity of estate agents, which could mean there is not enough business to spread around as property transactions stagnate."

Are you thinking of making a move? Your Mortgage adviser can help you to secure the home or investment you are looking for.

Information is based on our current understanding of taxation legislation and regulations which is subject to change.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

Our charges are usually between £395 and £995 depending on the type and amount of borrowing required and individual circumstances.


House Price Growth Slows - Your Mortgage Broker Can Get the Right Deal for You!

Despite the recent slowdown in house price growth, the average price of a home has risen by £10,500 in the last year.

According to Nationwide, a new record average home price of £215,444 was recorded for June following a rise of 2% in the year preceding that month.

This year however, prices are expected to rise by only 1% and the London market is expected to continue to disappoint growth wise.

There are some bright spots in the UK, with the Midlands experiencing rises of 4% annually, compared with 1.9% for London.

Robert Gardner of Nationwide comments:

"There are few signs of an imminent change. Surveyors continue to report subdued levels of new buyer enquiries, while the supply of properties on the market remains more of a trickle than a torrent"

House prices are currently at near record highs when compared with average wages.

The current state of the market means that sellers may need to be more conservative with the level of value they seek.

Jeremy Leaf, estate agent says:

"...the market continues to be supported by low interest rates and overall supply shortages, although we have found recently that listings and viewings are on the rise. This will translate into more sales if buyers and sellers recognise the new market realities."

Are you thinking of making a move? Your Mortgage adviser can help you to secure the home or investment you are looking for.

Information is based on our current understanding of taxation legislation and regulations which is subject to change.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

Our charges are usually between £395 and £995 depending on the type and amount of borrowing required and individual circumstances.

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Which Way For the British Economy?

The British Chamber of Commerce has forecast that the UK's economy will grow by 1.3% in 2018.

This is a downgrade from their previous expectation of growth of 1.4%, with expected growth in 2019 also cut from 1.5% to 1.4%.

The reason for the downgrade was cited as being the "more lacklustre outlook for consumer spending, business investment and trade." according to the Chamber.

Business investment is also predicted to drop to 0.9% in 2018, a sharp drip from the 2.4% recorded in 2017. The primary reason for this is the "uncertainty over the UK’s future relationship with the EU." says the Chamber. This is expected to improve to 1.2% next year however.

Exports could suffer over the next few years according to the Chamber as "exporters will struggle to recover the ground lost in the year so far, as growth in key markets moderates."

Exporters have responded to the fall in the value of the pound by raising prices rather than increasing volume, with consequences for net trade.

The services sector, a large contributor to the UK economy is also set to suffer, with output of 1.2% the lowest since 2010, on the back of weaker consumer spending and the continued pressure on household finances. The Chamber said that wage growth is not of a sufficient level to: "translate into materially stronger spending over the forecast horizon".

Growth in the construction sector is also expected to slow, with growth of 0.7% this year, down from 5.7% last year.

While some pundits have promoted the idea that the UK market is undervalued, the weakness in the economy may support the current value of the market rather than signal any bargains.

Your financial adviser can construct a long term plan for you that will enable you to invest for the long term no matter the short term fluctuations.

The value of investments and income from them may go down as well as up and you may not get back the original amount invested.

Information is based on our current understanding of taxation legislation and regulations which is subject to change.

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Are You Taking The Appropriate Amount of Risk With Your Investments?

Investing the appropriate amount in order to maintain your standard of living in retirement is essential, however, many over 50s are unwilling to invest the necessary amounts in order to do this.

The misalignment of expectations in terms of the level of risk that is aligned with particular investment outcomes is common. Over 50s in particular have difficulty with this concept in particular according to new research from The London Institute of Banking and Finance (LIBF) and Seven Investment Management (7IM).

Of those surveyed, 91% wanted to maintain their current lifestyle in retirement in retirement, but just over three quarters of those surveyed considered themselves "balanced" or "cautious" investors, and were therefore relatively risk averse.

36% indicated that they would place themselves between wealth preservation and wealth creation and 42% say they try to minimise investment losses.

Only 16% considered themselves as "fairly adventurous" and 6% were willing to maximise potential returns.

Having too cautious a stance in your investments could result in the final amount you receive being smaller than absolutely necessary. Some advisers advocate a focus on income producing assets close to retirement in order to negate the possibility of low returns affecting client's pension pots rather than totally de-risking. Alternatively, does the increased life expectancy necessitate actually not lowering risk before retirement as much as was previously accepted?

Your Financial Adviser can construct a financial plan for you that will enable you to meet your financial goals and that is appropriate for your risk appetite.

The value of investments and income from them may go down as well as up and you may not get back the original amount invested.

A pension is a long-term investment. The fund value may fluctuate and can go down. Your eventual income may depend upon the size of the fund at retirement, future interest rates and tax legislation.

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