The State Pension – What’s Ahead

TODAY’S BLOG

THE STATE PENSION INCREASE

In early December the Department for Work & Pensions announced the proposed increases to benefits for 2021/22. Most of the working age benefits and the earnings-linked pension benefits, such as the old State Second Pension, will rise by 0.5%, in line with annual CPI inflation to September 2020. However, the new state pension and its predecessor will both increase by five times as much.

The costly Triple Lock

Both new and old (basic) state pensions benefit from the Triple Lock, which currently requires an increase which is the greater of:

  • Earnings growth;
  • Price inflation (as measured by the CPI); and
  • A floor of 2.5%.

For the 2021/22 increase, the 2.5% minimum was a clear winner, with earnings growth at the bottom of the trio. As the chart shows, in this context earnings growth is a misnomer; earnings fell by 1% over the year because of the impact of the pandemic.

State Pension 2021/22 Triple Lock

10 YEARS LATER… NOT ON PLAN

Over the ten years to 2021/22, the 2.5% floor has been the basis for four increases, something which was probably not anticipated when the Triple Lock was announced by the coalition government in 2010. Then, as now, the Bank of England’s inflation target was 2.0%. Earnings were expected to outpace inflation by 1% or more, making the 2.5% floor a safety net that probably would only be called upon in a deep recession.

It has not worked out that way. Earnings and inflation have virtually matched each other over the period at just under 2%. In other words, there has been no increase in the buying power of average earnings over the past ten years. In contrast the Triple Lock has delivered a real terms increase of almost 11%. If you are on the receiving end of the Triple Lock, that is good news, but if you are under State Pension Age (66 now, don’t forget) it means more government expenditure you have to finance.

Looking ahead

The Triple Lock has been widely criticised by experts ranging from the Institute for Fiscal Studies to the Pensions Select Committee for being an unnecessarily expensive protection that creates intergenerational unfairness. In private politicians would generally agree but, at the last Election, all of the mainstream political parties committed to retaining the Triple Lock. The pensioner vote is not one to put at risk.

The pandemic may have changed that mindset. Last year the government introduced emergency technical legislation to ensure the Triple Lock would work in the face of zero earnings growth. However, the measures put in place only applied for a single year. There have been suggestions that, if no action is taken, an earnings bounce in 2021 as the economy recovers could mean a 5% 2022/23 increase under the Triple Lock formula at a time when inflation is below 2%. Given the dire position of public finances, such a scenario would offer Rishi Sunak the golden opportunity to justify a reworking of the Triple Lock.

But…  

Despite the new state pension’s outpacing of inflation and earnings growth, it will remain a distinctly modest sum in April 2021: a maximum of £179.60 a week. Viewed another way, that is equivalent to just over 20 hours’ work at the National Living Wage rate for 2021/22 (£8.91 an hour) or a little under one-third of current average earnings (£560 a week). No wonder the UK is likely to remain in bottom place of the OECD’s league table based on the proportion of earnings replaced by state pensions…

ACTION

If you want to check your projected state pension benefit, CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE STATE PENSION SITE.

The state pension is not enough for a comfortable retirement. Make sure you talk to us about how you should be supplementing it – preferably before the Budget.

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 info@solomonsifa.co.uk

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk 
Call – 020 8542 8084

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

If you would like a no-nonsense one page document explaining what financial planning is all about please enter your email here.

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GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk    Call – 020 8542 8084

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

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The State Pension – What’s Ahead2021-01-28T17:03:57+00:00

TAX FREE AT 65 – IT’S ABOUT TIME…

TODAY’S BLOG

TAX FREE AT 65, IT’S ABOUT TIME…

I am going to have to put a lot of caveats with this item on tax free money. There are lots of ways to have tax free money, but I want to highlight a couple of issues, the first being the different tax treatment of different financial products and secondly how these might be used in conjunction with the current tax rules.

Joan is 65 and now finally retired – it’s about time!

Joan (10/02/1954) was 65 at the start of the tax year but she stopped working in February when she turned 65. She is single and back in the late 80’s a dead-ringer for Kim Bassinger. She has worked since leaving University in 1977 and much like her favourite band Fleetwood Mac, she has gone her own way. She did a bit of employed work whilst at Uni, but got her “first proper job” working as a junior assistant in an advertising company. Over the years she worked for various employers, most didn’t have pension schemes, anyway most wouldn’t let you join them until you were 30, so by the time she actually joined a scheme at 35 (in 1989), she didn’t really feel that she was too late to the party.  She didn’t really like pensions, or rather the sharp suited, red-tie wearing blokes from Merchant Investors that sold them, they reminded her of some of the worst people in advertising. Then there was Robert Maxwell, no she didn’t like pensions at all. Mind you she was quite pleased that her current adviser found an old Contracted Out of SERPS pension, worth about £85,000 – so one of those fellas must have persuaded her to sign a form at some point. It helped top up her pension fund quite a lot to about £400,000.

At the age of 30 Joan bought her Wimbledon house in 1984 for £34,000 which was a lot back then.  She recalls a great house warming party – lots of Wham! and Duran Duran. Looking back she wondered how she afforded it, (the house, not the party) given that interest rates were about 10% and kept going up. However property prices seemed to be rising (hers had doubled in value in 5 years) and she was forming a habit for nice things, which nearly got out of hand, but she spoke to her bank and remortgaged, increasing her loan in 1988 to almost £60,000. When the property crash happened shortly afterwards life got a little tricky, she had to economise. She enjoyed applying tips to improve her home from Tessa Shaw and the team on Home Front.  She loved relaxing in the evening having done a bit of decorating whilst listening to Simply Red’s “Stars” curled up on the sofa. It heped her manage her feelings about her large mortgage which barely seemed to reduce in the first 10 years, but at least it was – and she hung in there. She finally paid off her mortgage 10 years ago at the age of 55. She still believes it was her best investment.

Joan quite liked PEPs and ISAs. She remembered getting a little lucky with a few Building Societies that demutualised and even put the proceeds into a Single Company PEP. She wasn’t sure why she liked them, perhaps it was because she was told she could get her money out if she needed to (she never did) or perhaps it was because it seemed that they were more glamorous, or was that because she seemed to remember a tune by Right Said Fred called “I’m Too Sexy For My Shirt” that was playing a lot at the time. It wasn’t, that was 1991, no perhaps it was all those boy bands like Westlife and Boyzone that she secretly liked she remembers them being around in 1999, that was Tony Blair and all the optimism  and promise of equality of new Labour. She kept up her regular savings and built up her ISAs, which began 20 years ago in 1999.

Joan had learned a bit about investing, the important things like ignoring what everyone else said, she first learned this as her Yuppie thirtysomething friends got into a panic in the crash of October ’87 which she ignored. Then shortly after opening her new ISA learned never to invest in a technology themed fund when the dot-com bubble burst. She chalked it up to “experience”. Other than that, she took investment news in her stride, largely ignoring the mountains of paper that seemed to pile up each year. Over time she observed that stock markets tend to go up and down and up again. Admittedly Joan got a little lucky – 10 years ago at 55 when she had cleared off her mortgage, her career was going well and she had a decent disposable income. She saw an adviser who suggested she add more to her pension and ISA, as luck would have it the Government increased the amount she could contribute and she took advantage of 40% tax relief. It was just as well as her State Pension Age was being pushed even further into the future.

Not long afterwards, she started investing into VCTs, (Venture Capital Trusts) well, she had a few friends that had some good business ideas, she had watched The Apprentice and Dragon’s Den and thought a little bit of a flutter was probably ok. She saved into a VCT for few years ago but has since stopped adding money.

Joan has always paid her National Insurance and has a full State Pension which only started in the summer when she was 65, 4 months and 26 days old. Her State pension is £168 a week. She was a bit miffed that it wasn’t 65 (and when she started out at Uni, it would have been 60) but she had enjoyed the benefits of working until 65.

Joan’s Portfolio

  • £400,000 – Personal Pension Plan
  • £400,000 – Stocks and Shares ISA Portfolio
  • £80,000 – VCT (Venture Capital Trust)
  • £50,000 – Bank Deposit Account
  • £600,000 – Home

Not an unreasonable sum of money – in fact having paid off her mortgage and owning her home, Joan has savings and investments of £930,000. Her home is not an investment, its where she lives. Though her friends regularly tell her that it is an investment if she sells and moves away from Wimbledon. However what would be the point? her friends all live in the area, she loves going jogging on the Common with some of them. Her mum (91) is still alive and living nearby, though Joan is worried that she may need care at some point and the cost of care in Wimbledon is, well… there may not be much of an inheritance.

Fleetwod Mac - Go Your Own Way

Tax Free Allowances

In the current tax year 2019/20. Joan has a personal allowance of £12,500 before she pays any income tax. Her State Pension will use up a lot of this. Income up to £50,000 is taxed at 20% (when the personal allowance is considered).

The VCT is a fairly “high-risk” type of investment, she isn’t paying any money into it any longer, but does enjoy income from it of 3% a year, this is tax free within a VCT. That’s £2,400 a year.

Her ISA is doing well, she has set up a monthly payment from it to her of £4,000 a quarter (£16,000 a year). As this is an ISA, the income that she takes (or capital) is tax free. By way of note £16,000 4% of £400,000.

The State Pension – Joan is caught by equalisation.

Joan originally expected her State Pension to start when she was 60, but following various rule changes and seeking advice in the early 2000’s she realised that it would be later than that. Joan’s State Pension actually began this summer on 6 July 2019. Over the full remainder of the tax year she will have 38 payments of £168 (£6,384) normally in a full tax year it would obviously be 52 weeks (£8,736) but she is one of many women that saw their State Pension Age increased. She’s a little miffed at having an extra 5 years to wait and wanted to know how she can minimise her tax payments.

Joan would like to know how much she could take from her pension without paying any tax. As her other investments are tax free, the only taxable income she has is money from her State pension (£6,384 in 2019/20) the personal allowance is £12,500. She puts £8,154 of her pension into a Flexible Access Drawdown pension. This enables her to take £2,038.50 as a tax free lump sum (25%) and £6,115 as taxable income. So rather like this:

  • State Pension £6,384 (taxable at 0%)
  • Drawdown Pension £6,115 (taxable at 0%)
  • Tax Free lump sum from pension £2,038 (tax free)
  • VCT income £2,400 (tax free)
  • ISA income £16,000 (tax free)
  • TOTAL income £32,927 and NO INCOME TAX

More and Less

The first point to make is that the above is not the maximum income that Joan could have. I simply want to identify some options. She could take more from her ISA, she is entitled to tax free interest on her money at the bank. She could take more from her pension (a larger tax free lump sum and no income from the pension if she was so minded). As an employed income £32,927 in 2019/20 would for most people result in about £7,000 paid in tax and national insurance.

Joan will need advice to adjust her portfolios and determine the most suitable way for her to draw income. Next year she will have a larger State pension, using more of her personal allowance as it will be a full year of income for her (and a likely increase in April).

Annuity Option

When she retired at the start of the year at 65, Joan had investigated using her pension to buy an annuity. She was going to simply take the 25% from her fund and put it in the bank and then use the £300,000 to buy an annuity. As a single person in very good health, she wanted an inflation-proofed income. The best annuity available would guarantee that she receives £9,851 a year rising by 3% a year. Job done. That’s an annuity rate of roughly 3.2%, but the income is taxable. In the first year she would have total income of £16,255 from the annuity and her State Pension, paying tax of £747. Her VCT and ISA income remain the same at £18,400 in all. So her total income would be £34,655 (more) but with tax of £747 (net £33,908) She has £300,000 less on her personal balance sheet and has £981 extra income in the year.

In the second year, she would expect £10,146 from the annuity and a State Pension of £8,736 a total of £18,882, which if the personal allowance remains at £12,500 would mean that £6,382 is taxed at 20% (£1,276.40 tax). Whilst there are good things about an annuity (it’s a guaranteed income) this is also a problem for tax planning as the income cannot be switched off and is taxable.

The purpose of this fictional case study is simply meant to highlight the issues involved, everyone’s circumstances will be different. I have not considered that Joan may live a very long time and whether taking 4% from her ISA is a good idea or indeed if she has a suitable globally diverse portfolio. I have done no inheritance tax planning and no contributions to anything that might get tax relief. Had Joan had other investments, she could also use her capital gains tax allowance. There are lots of options.

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 info@solomonsifa.co.uk

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk 
Call – 020 8542 8084

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

If you would like a no-nonsense one page document explaining what financial planning is all about please enter your email here.

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GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk    Call – 020 8542 8084

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

If you would like a no-nonsense one page document explaining what financial planning is all about please enter your email here.

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TAX FREE AT 65 – IT’S ABOUT TIME…2019-11-05T12:54:16+00:00

FREEDOM BRINGS RESPONSIBILITY

Freedom Brings Responsibility

I hope that you are aware that since April 2015 pensions have had considerable improvements. Rather than having to buy an annuity anyone with a pension can simply take income from age 55 however they want (note that this age is gradually rising to be within 10 years of your State Pension Age which you can check here). As income it is taxable, but your pension fund has the benefit of 25% of anything “crystallised” being tax free. This you may remember, concerned some that there would be a rush on Lamborghini’s… which didn’t materialise. Mind you at £270,000 for a new Aventador, you would need to withdraw around double that to be able to pay the net price.

Many of you have been accessing your pensions under these new conditions. According to the latest HMRC data in Q2 (April to end June) of 2018 the number of individuals to whom payments were made reached 264,000. A total of £2,269m was paid out to them. The system has now been in place for 3 years and the value of all payments is now nearly £20,000m (some would say that’s £20bn).

Gone in 0-60 Seconds?

The basic caveat is that once your pension fund is spent, well… its gone. There have been many mistakes made – particularly in terms of taking too much money out and paying tax unnecessarily. As the income from the pension is assessed as income, those that believe that they can simply have their money are right, but invariably forget that the amount means that they must pay 40% or 45% income tax. Clever, or rather sensible planning can keep tax at 20% or less.

The Government and HMRC are probably rather pleased with this, it means that they are taking way more tax than they would have done, particularly as many of those drawing money from pensions are doing so before they are even retired.

Tax First, Ask Questions Later

HMRC also apply their own brand of logic, which is tax first, ask questions later. In other words, you must reclaim tax when too much has been taken. Despite lobbying by financial advisers and the pension industry generally, HMRC aren’t budging on changing their approach, claiming that people are better off paying too much than too little and then having to find money to pay their tax. Since the start of pension freedoms this “over-taxing” has amounted to more than £280m. So hardly a surprise that they won’t budge. Of course, this ought to be reclaimed… but therein lies the problem of theory and practice and in any event the Office of Tax Simplification recently warned that pension freedom withdrawals are poorly understood… one might be forgiven for wondering what on earth the OTS achieve.

To put your mind at ease, you need to complete the snappy titled “P55”to reclaim overpaid tax on your flexible pension. You can find the form here.

Here’s a video of an Aventador being tested by Autocar… no need to form a queue.

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 info@solomonsifa.co.uk

Email me to get in touch
FREEDOM BRINGS RESPONSIBILITY2018-09-25T10:22:31+01:00

Now we’re talking money

Now we’re talking money

Clients will shortly be receiving a hard copy of Talking Money. In it we highlight the inevitable end of tax year issues that need consideration – or at least some of them. We also have a feature on China “Enter the Dragon” in which five fund managers provide some thoughts about the state of the Chinese market each has a point to make.

We also outline a few of the changes to the State Pension – where for once the highly complex is actually becoming more simplified, this is truly a rarity when it comes to pensions. There is also a very small note in the news section which points to some of the problems of not using an adviser.

The real cost of not taking advice

In January the FCA produced some market data in an attempt to understand the impact of the new pension freedoms (introduced from April 2015). The figures show that one in five people who encashed a pension pot of £250,000 or more took no advice.

This is alarming because they would have automatically paid tax of 45% on the pension (as income above £150,000 is taxed at 45%). Huge sums of tax have been needlessly paid, reducing the value of a pension fund far more than the credit crunch – which at least has recovered somewhat.

Some speculate that this was and is the only real reason for allowing pension freedoms – to collect far more tax. Perhaps the Budget on 16th March will provide further insight into this position.

Similarly, only yesterday I met with someone who had not protected his Lifetime Allowance, which will result in a large tax liability.

Taking advice does have a cost, but so does not taking advice, however taking advice also has a value, not doing so does not.

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 info@solomonsifa.co.uk

Now we’re talking money2017-01-06T14:39:18+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 info@solomonsifa.co.uk

Pensions – more needless headaches the Lifetime Allowance2017-01-06T14:39:22+00:00

Auto Enrolment – the rising tide

Auto Enrolment – the rising tide

Auto enrolment pretty much effects everyone that isn’t yet retired. In a nutshell, having faffed around with pensions for the last 30 years the Government are now forcing employers to offer pensions to their staff. Employers will be required to contribute 3% of salary… employees 5%.

It’s true that this is not a compulsory pension. Employees can opt out. Employers cannot. There are hefty daily fines for those that fail to meet the deadline to implement their new, qualifying staff pension. Everyone has to comply…. not doing so isn’t an option.

All the UKs biggest businesses have now set up their auto enrolment pensions (also called workplace pensions…. helpful eh?). Just pause to think what an administrative nightmare this is… staff coming and going on a daily basis, all needing to comply else suffer fines. What a headache… thankfully technology will reduce the headache, but action still needs to be taken.

Now small and medium-sized firms are gradually reaching their “staging date” (start date) and there will be a massive number of them. Few realise that there are implications for contracts of employment and of course operating costs. However the biggest issue is technology as all staff need to have a working email address… presumably a work email address is easiest to monitor and demonstrate that information has been sent by the employer.

Pain Relief

Most financial advisers and Accountants aren’t getting too involved in auto enrolment. Frankly because the work can be expensive and small firms don’t want that. So we have found a solution – a bit of really good IT. Its called AE in a Box. It isn’t a pension. It’s a project management tool that ensures that you are compliant with the rules, makes it easy to set up a scheme and communicate with your staff.

If you are an employer (even if you run a Limited company with only one other Director or member of staff) you have to comply. So check out the very easy to use tool. It is a monthly license subscription (and you will need the ongoing support) as even those that opt out of your pension, will need to be opted back in every 3 years… the Government hope that inertia will ensure more people join pensions and thus build up their own resources, rather than relying solely on the State Pension… which is already over-stretched.

Are you an Employee?

Do your boss a favour, point them to our tool and earn some brownie points. I promise you that auto enrolment is a headache and leaving it until thousands of employers are trying to do the same thing at the same time will end in tears…. and fines. As an employer myself, I really value people who bring me solutions not problems.

Are you an Accountant?

The tool enables Accountants to assist in the process, providing and checking data. This will make your life much easier on so many levels when dealing with your small firm clients.

Click this link to get more information, its low-cost with a single sign up fee. The monthly fee isn’t taken until 6 months before your scheduled staging date. But whatever you do, now is the time to take action.

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 info@solomonsifa.co.uk

Auto Enrolment – the rising tide2017-01-06T14:39:23+00:00

70 is the new 60…. well for the State Pension

70 is the new 60….for the State Pension

One wonders what we are doing to future generations. Today I read an article suggesting that the State pension age will inevitably become 70, all due to the fact that more people are living longer. The State pension age used to be 60 for women and 65 for men, this has undergone a period of “equalisation” and will be 65 for both men and women from 2018. As this ideological “hurdle” was achieved some time ago, successive Governments have simply made plans to extend the age at which a State pension is provided. The State pension age will be 66 by 2020 and 67 from 2028.

The reason is really two-fold, cost and longevity. The State pays pensions in various forms, the most obvious being the State pension, which now costs about £110bn a year. Disability pensions costs around £42.2bn and survivors pensions about £1.1bn, amounting to roughly £153.3bn which is about 20% of all Government spending and by far the largest component of Government spending. Details here (click).

Looking ahead

In essence anyone born since 1960 can expect to have to work longer. Given the increasing life expectancy and inherent problems with ageing, care costs are expected to soar, resulting in further dilemmas for Government about how to meet costs…. from a population that is having fewer children.

Episode IV – A New Hope

Consider those that graduated this summer and are just starting out on their careers, born in the early 1990’s they were only just teenagers when the credit crunch occurred the property boom had happened. If you understand my heading (refering to the very first Star Wars movie in 1977) this generation can be forgiven for thinking that the Star Wars films were made sequentially when episode I was actually released in 1999 – they were 7). Student loans are now part of their deductions each month, along with compulsory pensions. I don’t like to be a pessimist, but the generation just starting out have inherited the debts of previous Governments (currently interest payments are around £40bn a year), have little prospect of “getting on the property ladder” and an ageing population that received their State pension many years younger than they will. Any academic results they achieve are met with accusations of “easy exams” and employers seem almost eager to say “we cannot find good enough people”. Not even to mention the problems with the environment. I appreciate that you already know this.

The Breakfast Club

I am reminded of the 1985 film, “The Breakfast Club” written and directed by John Hughes, which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. This was a group of teenagers held back in detention one Saturday morning and who eventually reveal the stories that brought them there. Vernon, the supervising teacher, representative of a now uncaring, disillusioned, bored older generation loathes the fact that he is also forced to spend his Saturday supervising misfits. He is caught by Carl, the caretaker, fishing through the personnel files hoping to find scandal that he can use against his peers. This results in a conversation between the two, in which he complains about the youth of today and ends with this dialogue.

VERNON: You think about this…when you get old, these kids; when I get old, they’re gonna be runnin’ the country.

CARL: Yeah?

VERNON: Now this is the thought that wakes me up in the middle of the night…That when I get older, these kids are gonna take care of me…

CARL: I wouldn’t count on it!

No… neither would I…. perhaps we all need to think rather more carefully about how we are planing not just our own future, but that of future generations… as Simple Minds remind in the closing title music – Don’t You Forget About Me. Perhaps there could be some redemption… even Darth Vader managed to salvage something with his own offspring.

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 info@solomonsifa.co.uk

70 is the new 60…. well for the State Pension2017-01-06T14:39:24+00:00

Pensions: State Pension changes

The State Pension is changing…. again!

Like anyone else I am rather fed up with the constant tinkering and general messing around with pensions, in particular the State pension. It seems to me that it isn’t so much that the goalposts are regularly moved, but more that you don’t know whether the game requires, a ball, bat, horse or car. I came across a rather good succinct short video by financial journalist Sarah Pennells. I see no reason to reinvent the wheel when someone else puts all you need to know concisely. Sarah runs a financial information website called www.savvywoman.co.uk which aims to help women in particular. It’s certainly worth checking out. Anyway here she is summarising the changes.

 

Your State Pension

It would be wise to obtain a State pension forecast if you can. You can do this by visiting the main website to obtain one.

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 info@solomonsifa.co.uk

Pensions: State Pension changes2017-01-06T14:39:26+00:00

What’s the row over pension charges now?

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What’s the row over pension charges now?

You may have been listening to Radio 4 or perhaps seen the TV news, Steve Webb the pensions Minister is doing the media rounds having announced that charges on pensions should be capped at 0.75% which he announced yesterday and has been plugging his cause since. There is no doubt that there are many very expensive pensions and I would go as far to say that there have been lots of “rip off” pensions. There are too many vested interests, this has broken out in a row over pension charges.

Is there any such thing as a free lunch?theawfultruth

We now have various think tanks and Providers all taking the opportunity to price to the bottom and distance themselves from “rip off pensions” as quickly as possible. An assortment of spurious views about the impact on the final value of a pension fund is now doing the rounds. The vast majority of this is utter drivel. We are all to blame for this (advisers, providers, investors, regulators and Governments) why? Well because over the years we have colluded in the deceit that anything to do with financial services is free. It isn’t. I had hoped that this delusion would have been put to bed by the introduction of RDR, yet AE (auto enrolment) exposes the deep resistance to a shift in mindset.

Can a pension have low charges?

It is perfectly possible to use a pension that has low investment charges and by low I mean less than 0.30%. However this is merely one element of the piece. The administration costs are high due to well intentioned regulation. The “sales costs” are high due to well intended regulation. The regulation is designed to protect the investor and the wider market.

Why does AE have unique charging problems?

The unique problem that AE brings is that there are some very tiny premiums. Suppose you earn £10,000 a year and in several years time you will have contributions of 8% a year (£800) a cap of 0.75% on this would be £6… ok its based on the value of your fund, but given that most will not be more than £4,000 that’s £30 to cover the investment and administration for the year (and by the way you can opt in and out, switch funds, vary the payments creating more administration). It’s a nightmare for pension providers. Some have come up with some low cost solutions (hardly any investment choice) and some have a fixed monthly fee. Well even at £1.50 a month (£18 a year) that’s a higher proportional charge on a small fund of £1,000 (1.80% to be precise). The Government backed (taxpayer funded) NEST is loss making and will be for many years. This is typical of Whitehall delusion that they then expect commercial enterprise to replicate. We all know Governments are not good at maths… don’t we?

The solution is right under their noses

Stakeholder pensions (with low charges) failed because there were other better alternatives at a lesser or more competitive price. The Government (this one and the previous one) believe compulsory membership isn’t quite ok, so we have a “difficult not to join” approach. However, I would argue that today employers and employees already have a proper pension system. It’s called National Insurance and the State pension. We know it’s not good enough, so why not simply make it better for everyone? It has no investment risk and is already set up. For those that want (and need) more than the State pension (most of us) then there are plenty of very good pensions around, any decent adviser can structure a sensible plan – but it is not free… neither should it be. If we want to create a society of that is independent of the State, we all need to face some adult truths.

Dominic Thomas: Solomons IFA

What’s the row over pension charges now?2017-01-06T14:39:43+00:00

Auto enrolment – fools rush in?

If you are not drawing your State pension, then by now you should have picked up that pensions are changing – again! This time rather than making employers set up a pension that nobody might use, they have decided to force employers to set up a pension that everyone in that firm will use (unless they have an exemption or opt out). This will include mandatory contributions, which will be 3% from the employer and 5% from the employee (eventually). Whilst the employee can opt, he or she will be opted back in after 3 years (with the option to opt out again) – the ideal being that eventually you will forget and naturally begin building up a pension. Auto-enrolment is the path of least resistance.

Employers have begun (well some months ago) asking about AE. To say that there have been teething problems for the first of the large schemes would be an understatement. So today Steve Webb has intimated that SMEs will have a more simplified approach – now please note that AE is already meant to be a “no brainer” with no question asked other that “do you want in or out?”. I am left perplexed at what other new idea could be so simple… perhaps reforming NI and collecting payments directly would be sensible? I suspect that such “radical thinking” would be rather unwelcome. Anyhow when any Government uses terms like “simplified” or “simplistic” my cynicism really kicks in, as invariably this is code for “we have no idea of the consequences” but someone at a think tank thought this would work.

I am attending another presentation on AE next week, I am hoping that this will provide better insight into the latest “alteration”. I freely confess that it is better to change and adapt based upon experience, but for once, it would be nice to have some firm guidelines so that we all know where we stand..

Auto enrolment – fools rush in?2013-03-07T12:41:43+00:00
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