UK economy back in recession 

Monday, April 30, 2012 11:48:00 AM Categories: Economy

The UK economy unexpectedly contracted again in the first quarter, marking its second recession since the financial crisis, in a further blow to the government’s plans to restore Britain to fiscal health. The economy shrank by 0.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2012, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

The fall is the second succesive quarterly fall, after GDP shrank by 0.3 per cent in the last three months of 2011.

The Annuity problem 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012 10:26:00 AM Categories: pensions

A recent report from the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) and the Pensions Institute (PI) estimates that each annual wave of pensioners loses in total between £500m and £1bn in potential lifetime income by making the wrong decisions.

The most popular way to convert the money saved up in a pension into income is to invest in an annuity. These are policies set up by insurance companies that promise to pay a guaranteed income for life, no matter how long the policyholder lives. The problem is that different insurance companies pay different levels of income. People are allowed to shop around for the best annuity so they can get the highest possible income. But the system of shopping around is not working due to customer apathy.

As investment-linked annuities, fixed-term annuities and pension drawdown are increasingly the norm, the role of financial advisers has become even more important. As the age of retirement continues to creep higher, retirees have the opportunity to save even more into their pensions.

However, the combination of rising pension values and increasingly complex annuity products can create confusion and you should get in touch with us before making a decision on how to set up your retirement income.

Markets: The only certainty is uncertainty 

Monday, April 16, 2012 12:20:00 PM Categories: Investments

As I am sure you are aware, the last few years have seen high levels of volatility in both UK and international markets with dramatic changes in indices such as the FTSE 100 and the USAs S&P 500 becoming commonplace. This has continued throughout 2012 so far, with good levels of growth in the early part of the year followed by a return to the hard-to-predict peaks and troughs we have seen over the last few weeks.

At Whichers IFA Ltd we still hold a positive outlook for both UK and international markets over the medium to long-term but we are well aware that investors can be concerned with fluctuations in the value of their assets.

We work with a number of fund managers and investment houses to provide solutions to these concerns, in particular using investments that aim to provide a positive return in all market conditions.

If you would to discuss your investments and options in greater detail please get in touch.

The abolition of protected-rights 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 9:36:00 AM Categories: pensions

As of the 6th April it is no longer possible to contract-out of the additional state pension on a protected-rights basis. This change has been brought in by the Government and means that you could have much greater flexibility in how you can take your pension income.

If you are concerned about this change or wish to discuss any aspect of this further please get in touch through the Contact Us section of the website.

Budget 2012: The key points 

Friday, March 23, 2012 11:18:00 AM Categories: Budget

On Wednesday the Chancellor presented his 2012 Budget. The key impact areas are shown below.

  • From April 2013, the 50% additional rate of income tax will be cut to 45% and to 37.5% from 42.5% for dividends.
  • The personal income tax allowance will rise to £8,105 from April 2012 and to £9,205 from April 2013. There will also be a freeze on existing age-related allowances from 6 April 2013.
  • The basic rate tax limit reduces from £35,000 to £34,370 for 2012/2013 and £32,245 for 2013/2014.
  • The State Pension will reform into a single tier pension for future pensioners and future increases in State Pension Age will take account of increases in longevity.
  • The main rate of corporation tax will be cut to 24% from next month. By 2014 it will fall to 22%.
  • Qualifying policy investments will be restricted to an annual premium limit of £3,600 from 6 April 2013, with transitional rules applying from 21 March 2012.
  • The capital gains tax exemption remains frozen for 2012/2013 at £10,600.

On the inheritance tax front, the Government is consulting on a range of topics. They include increasing the exempt amount that someone living permanently in the UK can transfer to a spouse or civil partner living permanently outside the UK.

If you would like to discuss any of these areas please get in touch through the Contact Us option at the top of the page.

Concerned about your mortgage? 

Monday, March 12, 2012 11:48:00 AM Categories: Mortgages

You may be aware that a number of mortgage lenders have been increasing their Standard Variable Rates (SVRs) on their mortgages recently. While we do not see the Bank of England Base Rate going up in the near future this does not mean that SVRs will not continue to increase, as the costs for banks to borrow money has also been rising.

We have also started to see signs that mortgage product interest rates in general have started to rise so, if this is of concern to you, please get in touch through the Contact Us section of the site.

Don't forget about ISAs! 

Monday, February 27, 2012 10:21:00 AM Categories: ISAs

With the 2011/12 tax-year quickly coming to an end you should be ensuring that any ISA contributions you were planning to make are finalised before 5th April 2012. You have a maximum allowance of £10,680 in this tax-year, which can include up to £5,340 into a Cash ISA account.

If you would like to discuss this further please get in touch with your usual IFA at Whichers IFA Ltd or you can use the Contact Us option to request a callback. 

RDR: What does it mean to me? 

Monday, February 20, 2012 3:04:00 PM Categories: RDR

You may well be hearing the acronym RDR at the moment and wondering what it is all about. It is referring to the Retail Distribution Review, which is one of the biggest overhauls of financial regulation since the Financial Services Act was introduced in 1986. It was instigated with a view to improving service levels and transparency and ensuring the interests of financial advisers and their clients are in line.

We have embraced these changes as we feel they compliment the service we are already offering our clients and can only help to improve standards across the industry as a whole. 

If you would like to find out more about RDR and the changes this will be implementing across the financial advice sector please have a look at the following link TinyURL.com/RDRexplained

Updated guides to Auto-Enrolment 

Monday, February 13, 2012 1:01:00 PM Categories: Auto-enrolment

Further to our blog entry from last week, The Pensions Regulator has now published an updated version of its guide to auto-enrolment duties for large employers and their advisers, reflecting changes brought about by the Pensions Act 2011 and recent regulations put before parliament.

This can be found here http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/pensions-reform/detailed-guidance.aspx

2012: the year of Auto-enrolment 

Monday, February 06, 2012 2:21:00 PM Categories: Auto-enrolment

The Government have brought in auto-enrolment as a way of encouraging people to save for their retirement through their workplace. This is the most fundamental change to pensions since the introduction of the Basic State Pension in 1948. Starting in October 2012, this is to be phased in, on a compulsory enrolment basis, for all employees earning over £7,475 per annum.

At our sister company, Whichers Employee Benefits, we have the solution to the compliance requirements alongside the provision of other employee benefits and can even save companies already using these benefits through our Jargonfree Benefits product. Please see our website www.whichersebs.com for further information.

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