The Autumn Statement 2016

The Autumn Statement 2016

With a few hours to go Philip Hammond will be delivering his first Autumn statement, perhaps his last too if reports are to be believed that he will scrap them… who knows. In any event here is my quick wish list for the Autumn Statement

My Autumn Statement Wish List

(from a financial services perspective)

Abolish the Lifetime Allowance, which is currently £1m – if you hold more than this in pensions and you haven’t already “protected it” you will suffer an excess charge. Utterly pointless and discourages people from saving for their financial independence. This would also imply scrapping all previous protections.

Abolish Taper Relief – the new rule that has caused a raft of problems for those earning over £150,000 who can end up able to pay less into a pension (and still may suffer a penalty) than can be invested into an ISA. Utter lunacy, creating enormous headache for some.

Abolish Higher Rate Tax Relief – not what you might expect me to say and on the caveat that the two previous points are met. This saves the UK considerable sums, yet continues to offer an incentive to save for a pension.

Abolish Tapered Personal Allowance – either everyone gets one or nobody gets one. At the moment if you earn over £100,000 your personal allowance reduces by 50p for every £1 over £100,000.

Scrap the new Main Residence IHT allowance – just give everyone an allowance of £500,000 and have done with it. What former Chancellor George Osborne created is a shambles of smoke and mirrors.

Re-establish the different systems for Final Salary (Defined Benefits) pension schemes without any annual allowance, restricting total contributions to any pension to a fixed % of income by the employee (it used to be 15%). Vast sums and energy is used by departments in the NHS, Teachers, Local Government etc all creating utterly pointless, time sucking reports about the Annual Allowance and Lifetime Allowance. This is completely unnecessary.

Abolish LISA – another attempt to hit pensions with the high exit charges and daft array of decisions. Scrap this and other utterly pointless versions of an ISA. Have the single ISA allowance of £20,000 invest it however you like.

Stamp Duty – introduced to calm the property market which is now largely locked up with anxiety about Brexit etc. Huge tax take by Government and feels like a mugging. This needs reduced dramatically.

Fair Taxation

Earn it and tax it here. If you or your business generate income here in the UK it should be taxed at UK Corporation tax rates. Take note Google, Starbucks and Mr Green (et al). So all that nonsense for cross transfer pricing must end.

Genuinely Seeking Transparency and Tax Simplification? Have three rates of personal tax 0%, 20%, 40%. Whatever the source (dividends, capital gains, income etc). Huge sums are wasted on preparing numbers for a system that is designed to confuse. People break the rules deliberately or without knowing.


Businesses pay corporation tax, this could be the same rates, with different allowances as personal taxation… this might mean busineses would use their revenue to reduce profits, either through inward innovative investments, expenses, employing people or redistributing to shareholders. More innovation creates more value, wealth, jobs….more tax take.


If you are retired and have an income in excess of say £100,000 you forefeit your State Pension. You also forfeit free travel on public services and also the Winter fuel allowance…. come on, if you have a £100,000 income and don’t work any more, you aren’t going to need it or miss it and a relatively small number of retired people have £100,000 pension.. but really if you are a celeb you can give up your State pension and bus pass.


Being a landlord is just like being a business. You have power over where people live. Some vetting is clearly needed (obviously not all landlords are bad). Landlords should have to apply to be a landlord license and register properties and all those living in them. Property has to be inspected every 3 years to ensure it is suitable for real people to live in. The new rules introduced about CGT, Stamp Duty and interest relief need reviewing, fair rents and fair offsets.

Ok, highly unlikely these will happen, but I really think some better ideas from Chancellors are required…

Our APP will be updated by the end of the day with all the relevant changes. It is FREE to have simply search for Solomons Financial Planning on either APP platform. There are loads of free tools and calculators to try out including an expenses tracker.


Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email

The Autumn Statement 20162023-12-01T12:18:58+00:00

Pensions – more needless headaches the Lifetime Allowance

Pensions – more needless headaches

You may recall that Mr Osborne in his great wisdom has decided to reduced the current lifetime allowance even further, just to clarify – the Lifetime Allowance is the value of your pensions, either in payment or being built up. It currently stands at a figure of £1.25million but from 6th April 2016 will reduce to £1million.

It is very easy to calculate the value of your pensions, provided that they are purely investments pensions, such as personal pensions, SIPPs (self-invested personal pensions). You can also exclude the value of your State pension.

However, if you have an annuity in payment or old final salary pensions or perhaps simply a current final salary (or career average) pension (called a defined benefit pension scheme) such as the NHS or Teachers Pension, the sums are considerably more complex.

Long story short, once the value of your pensions has been calculated you may find that you have exceeded the lifetime allowance – which is reducing. So you will need to do something about this, which may well involve some uncomfortable decisions about future membership of pensions, even or perhaps especially, good ones, which is utterly daft.

Another bonkers pension policy

Yes, I did say bonkers. Despite what Mr Osborne may say about helping people to help themselves, he is actually restricting the amount that you can build in your own pension, actively discouraging saving, which does seem to be rather at odds with any historic Conservative policy in history, unless you count the lamentable decision by Norman Fowler to remove the rule that enabled employers to make membership of an occupational pension scheme a condition of employment, allowing the employee to contract out and not join the pension scheme. In fairness to Mr Osborne, with the benefit of hindsight, Mr Fowler probably takes the prize for arguably the most loopy pension decision for generations.

Mr Fowler was under the misguided impression that this brought about freedom for employees to decide if they really wanted to be in their employer’s pension. Mr Osborne can only be motivated by collecting more tax as there are 55% tax charges applied to amounts that exceed the lifetime allowance, unless you have the relevant protection, which is also not really guaranteed.

We are not talking about small sums of money here. So you need to gather your information, for two specific dates 5th April 2014 and 5th April 2016. This creates a headache for you, a massive task for me and in my opinion the lifetime allowance is one of the worst pension ideas in history – penalising both those that save and a successful investment strategy. This is a subject that I will return to frequently before 6th April 2016.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email

Pensions – more needless headaches the Lifetime Allowance2023-12-01T12:19:50+00:00

Pension Exit Charges

Pension Exit Charges

I wonder if I can be honest with you about pension exit charges? I freely admit that I probably spend too much time concerning myself with what others within my industry think. I spend a lot of time improving my knowledge and this involves reading both technical papers and opinion. Yet I find myself increasingly perplexed by the comments on industry media outlets.


Like it or not, the financial services industry regularly gets berated for being nothing short of self-serving. Often different or indeed competing elements of the spectrum that make up the financial services get lumped together, frankly this is our collective fault for not clearly defining or explaining the differences, invariably made harder by really rather poor regulatory clarity.

However I was utterly exasperated with my peers on yet another comment section within the “trade press”. This concerned the issue of exit penalties on pensions. At the time Mr Cameron, the Prime Minister was expected to outline his frustration with pension companies that apply high exit fees… for the sake of simplicity, let’s call them what they really are – transfer penalties.

Old World not New Model Advisers

The comments appeared in a publication that I respect by Citywire – New Model Adviser, the article written by a very thorough journalist, Will Robbins. The publication aims to high-light good or best practice and aims to help improve the advice sector and thus help achieve better results for the investing public. So one would hope that the readers and their comments are towards the front forward-thinking end of the adviser population.

The King is dead, long live the King

On the topic of exit penalties it seemed to me that commentators reverted to their historic stances as salesmen, not advisers, preferring to defend high penalties rather than lead a revolution to have them scrapped or at least capped.

Investors are being ripped off

Yes it is true that pensions set up were contracts and that contract law is therefore under the microscope…. but there are times to simply admit that enough is enough.  I have seen some horrendous penalties (the difference between the actual value and the transfer value of a pension)… some taking well above 30% of the fund. That is simply not good enough. OK there was a contract, but neither “adviser” nor investor could have anticipated these penalties which have become increasingly pertinent as investors and advisers seek better, more efficient and cost-effective solutions. Something that I regularly do to great effect for our clients.

Analogies have flaws but…

However suggestions that imposing a cap were largely greeted with derision. I was under the impression that it is the advisers job to represent the client, not the pension company and if engaged by them, to seek the most suitable solutions. I would like to think that it is in the collective interest to allow someone to move their money elsewhere with minimal fuss and cost so that it can grow better (hopefully) – and yes it cannot be guaranteed…. at least it cannot be guaranteed in a way that your life is not guaranteed by the protection that the airbags in your 2015 car should deploy if you have an accident, as opposed to your 1986 car that doesn’t have any of the current safety features. Yes you may be maimed or even die in the accident, but which do you think is likely to provide a better journey?

Aren’t we meant to put you, the client first?

In an industry steeped in scandal and mistrust this ought to be an opportunity for pension companies and advisers to put clients interests first. I find this even more frustrating as in reality it is all to do with commission and the lie that advice is free. Old style policies are those that typically paid high levels of commission, which the pension company advanced to the adviser as payment for arranging the pension with them. Of course it didn’t help that some pension companies offered more commission for using them as opposed to others, thus bringing into question the independence of the advice and adviser. If you went to a Tied Agent or Bank, you didn’t even get any option to compare costs…. which was the job of the IFA at the time.

Thinking that is so last century…

This has been going on for years, yet alternative approaches have also been available for those willing to face some truths. In 1999, 16 years ago I formed Solomons, removing commission, charging 1% on any investment or pension product – no matter who… a level playing field. 16 years ago! The regulator eventually caught up and banned commission on investments from 2013 called RDR so since then all advisers have had to charge fees properly.

Vive la revolution

Why does this vex me so? well as someone still in their 40’s I expect and plan to remain advising clients for many years to come, so I’d like to see things improve. I would like to see the standard of advice improve and the number of scandals and complaints decrease… not least because invariably the way compensation works is that those left working within the sector pay the compensation levy, even if they had nothing to do with it. This summer I had yet another regulatory invoice for this levy, an increase of 64% on last year…there comes a point when I and many (thankfully) like me, simply cannot absorb all these costs without jeopardising our own sustainability.

If you are fed up with your pension or not even sure what its worth, please check out my free guide, which  will help you regain control of your pension planning. There ought to be a box below to download this, if not just email me.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email

Pension Exit Charges2023-12-01T12:20:04+00:00
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