Monday, July 26, 2010

House Prices Falling again

House prices have now fallen for 4 out of the last 5 months according to the Halifax's monthly survey.

The reasons?  The obvious general ones are:

  • Continuing economic worries
  • Lack of mortgage finance
Also, First time buyers cannot afford to buy property..why?
  • They need to put up a bigger deposit, compared to 4 years ago
  • Houses are still expensive in reflation to their earnings
Is all this likely to change?
It is unlikely in the short term. People are worried about their jobs and facing pay freezes and so are putting off decisions like buying  a house.

Posted by Sean Wilson, APFS, Independent Financial Advisors (IFA), Swindon, Wiltshire.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Expensive bank accounts..££££s

Do you pay a fee a monthly fee on your bank account? Yes? You probably do not need to.

Banks like to offer "premium" bank accounts to their customers which have a monthly fee ranging form £5 to £40 per month. You are paying for travel insurance and mobile phone insurance, which you can get elsewhere more cheaply if you want or need them.

15% of the population have accounts like these. If you have one of these accounts, seriously consider moving it to a fee free account.

Posted by Sean Wilson, APFS, Independent Financial Advisors (IFA), Swindon, Wiltshire.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Transferring your Cash ISA

Each year Banks and Building Societies spend millions advertising trying to get you to put your ISA allowance with them.

What about your old ISA money?

They rarely mention your ISAs from previous years and mysteriously fail to mention you can transfer your ISA from your current bankto a new one.

It is worth reviewing rates on your old ISA and comparing them with the current best buys.  A final note: check that the new ISA can receive old ISA money.

Posted by Sean Wilson, APFS, Independent Financial Advisors (IFA), Swindon, Wiltshire.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Post Budget Thoughts

Every budget is many ways more political than financial.  Each government has to decide how much it will raise from taxes & what to spend the money on.

To tackle the UK's budget deficit, Chancellor George Osborne decided he would raise 80% from spending cuts and 20% from tax increases.

The spending cuts will largely be announced in the October review and the tax has been mostly raised by increasing VAT to 20%.

Further information is available in the article I did for the Swindon Advertiser.

Posted by Sean Wilson, APFS, Independent Financial Advisors (IFA), Swindon, Wiltshire.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Buy to Let Property...big tax hike?

One of the dilemmas facing the new government is how to raise money by increasing taxes. Politicians do no like increasing income tax because it is unpopular.

One area which is being considered is Capital gains Tax which affects Buy to Let Property amongst other things. It is being suggested that the tax on the profits of selling such a property could be raised from 18% to 40 or even 50%.

It is one area where it could be vital to talk to a financial planner.

Posted by Sean Wilson, APFS, Independent Financial Advisors (IFA), Swindon, Wiltshire.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How do the markets affect us?...pensions

Over the past week, we have had journalists, politicians & academics talking about...the markets.

So, how do the markets affect us?

The most direct way is a fair portion of people's pension money will be invested in UK shares. So if shares rise, your pension can go up, if they go down your pension value goes down.

If your pension has been invested in UK shares, your pension has probably  gone nowhere in the last 10 years.If that is the case, it is worth taking advice from a professional adviser about how to spread the risk and diversify.

Posted by Sean Wilson, APFS, Independent Financial Advisors (IFA), Swindon, Wiltshire.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Your ISA Allowances

From 6th April 2010, everybody's ISA allowances rose to £10 200 a year.

That's £5100 in a Cash £5100 in a Stocks & Shares ISA.

Posted by Sean Wilson, APFS, Independent Financial Advisors (IFA), Swindon, Wiltshire.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

How much can you earn without paying tax? (New Tax Allowances 2010-11)

Today is the first day of the new tax year (I got a tax demand for the previous one this morning!) 

How much can you earn without paying tax?

Up to 65 years old........£6,475

Posted by Sean Wilson, APFS, Independent Financial Advisers (IFA), Swindon, Wiltshire.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Tax Free Cash...Pension Age Changes

This year you will have seen discussion about whether to take tax free cash from pensions, especially if the person is between 50 & 55.

The minimum age you can take pension benefits goes up from 50 to 55 on 6th April 2010.

This has prompted debate on whether to take tax free cash. Should you take it?

The answer depends on your personal circumstances, tax status and your other assets.
It is a complicated issue.

Please do not take the decision without taking professional advice, it could save you £1000s.....

Posted by Sean Wilson, APFS, Independent Financial Advisers (IFA), Swindon, Wiltshire.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Low Key Budget

Yesterday Alistair Darling delivered the 2010 budget. It was very low key.

The highest profile change was abolishing stamp duty (for 2 years) for first time buyers buying a property under £250 000; the money will be recouped on a higher charge on £1 million plus properties.

More thoughts are in a column I wrote for the Swindon Advertiser.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Long Term Care: rather complex

In recent weeks various political parties have put  forward their proposals on long term care in England & Wales. (rules are different in Scotland)

What is Long term Care?

When a person is too old & frail to look after themselves, they may need to go into a care home. The main concern of individuals has been whether they would need to sell their home to pay for care.

The rules are very complicated  & vague. However a couple of general points can be made. 
  1. You do not need to sell your home if your spouse is still resident there & over 60.
  2. You start to get help with fees when your income is under £23 000 (2009-10)
  3. Attempts to hide assets are penalised eg transferring money & assets to children or grandchildren
It is a specialist area and it worth consulting an expert financial adviser with experience in this area.

Posted by Sean Wilson, APFS, Independent Financial Advisers (IFA), Swindon, Wiltshire.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Beware...Banks...bad mortgage advice offered?

Banks, are they acting in mortgage customers' best interests?

When you come a off fixed rate mortgage you go onto a lenders' Standard variable Rate (SVR). This should be substantially lower than what you are paying now.
However some banks are trying to get clients to take out a new deal which is much higher than the SVR.

Depending on when your mortgage lapsed, the rate could be as low as 2% with Nationwide

Many banks have the SVR very well hidden on their websites. I had to call Nationwide to get details.

If you are not sure what to do call an Independent Financial or Mortgage Adviser and they can investigate.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Financial Mess at Manchester United

A few years ago Manchester United were probably the most profitable football club on the planet.                

Recent revelations have shown the takeover by the US based Glazer family has been disastrous.

The family bought the company via credit and saddled the club with the bill. The debt is £700 million and interest is paid at 10%. On one part the pay a hedge fund 14%.

The £80 million Real Madrid paid for Cristiano Ronaldo is being used to pay the debt.

To try to bring down the debt, the Glazers want to sell Old Trafford & the training ground and lease it back.

Unrest amongst supporters can only increase...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How well qualified is your financial adviser?

A question you might want to ask anybody who gives you financial advice is, "How well qualified are you? Do you have higher qualifications or the bare minimum?"

In a few years' time every financial adviser will have to have a higher level qualification. This will apply to banks multi-tied advisers (who can only advise on a limited range of products & services) and Independent Financial Advisers (IFAs). The most common option is the Diploma PFS. (DipPFS)

Ideally your adviser will already have this or be well on the way to getting it. If not, ask why!

Monday, January 04, 2010

10 Tips to Make You Richer in 2010

1 Pay off your debts. Those credit cards & personal loans are very expensive. The cost of borrowing money is much more than you get from a savings account.

2 Use your ISA allowances. Nobody likes paying tax, why pay it on your savings? Don't forget about the Investment ISA too.

3 Be careful who you take advice from. Ask the person, "Are you Independent & Impartial?" "What are your qualifications, the bare minimum or something higher?"

4 Insure your most valuable asset. People insure their cat, dog and mobile phone and forget about the most important thing....themselves. What happens if you lose your job or cannot work because of illness?

5 Save in a pension. They are simply long term savings plans with tax advantages. Why pay out money in income Tax & National Insurance? A pension allows you to keep & invest that money.

6 Over pay your mortgage. Most lenders allow you to pay off up to 10% of the mortgage amount each year. It saves you money in interest and shortens the time you have your biggest debt.

7 Avoid anything which seems too good to be true eg rates from Icelandic banks or current accounts which pay you 6% and levy hefty monthly charges.

8 Do not get obsessed with property. A large part of people's wealth in tied up in their house, buying more puts all your eggs in one basket. Consider alternative forms of investment

9 Transfer assets to a partner. Often one partner will pay less tax or have unused allowances.

10 Spend some money, you will have some fun & it will help the economy

As featured in the Swindon Advertiser 23 December 2009.