In the current climate, there is uncertainty in all of our lives with both health and financial concerns. However, while we are all understandably focusing on the here and now, it might be worth using this time to take a step back and review your long-term financial wellbeing as well. This newsletter takes a look at some of the areas you might want to consider. Of course, we are on hand to support you through any challenges ahead.

Make time for life’s big decisions

A recent study1 suggests many people don’t have sufficient mental space to make the right choices when it comes to tackling life’s difficult decisions. The good news, however, is that minor changes to the way people approach decision-making can dramatically improve their ability to make better financial choices.

Avoiding difficult decisions
The research found that the great British public typically ‘don’t do difficult decisions’. For instance, over four million said they don’t have the mental space to tackle difficult issues, while a further 6.4 million don’t have time for important life admin. Many Brits also admitted to putting little effort into key decisions: while over half said they always ensure an optimum choice of holiday destination, less than one in three adopt such a thorough approach to pension arrangements.
Decision fatigue
This tendency to ‘sweat the small stuff’ appears to be impacting people’s financial decision-making abilities. For example, over half of respondents said they haven’t made a decision on whether to buy critical illness cover, while just under half haven’t considered changing their pension arrangements. In addition, when financial decisions are being made, many don’t give it their full attention, with over four in 10 sorting out finances while sat on the sofa and one in 10 doing so at work.
Tips to aid decision-making
Small behavioural changes, however, can have a big impact on people’s ability to tackle difficult decisions. For instance, picking a quiet location free from distractions and a time when you can focus fully on an issue will help, as will avoiding making decisions after a tough day. Visualising the future and linking financial decisions to life ambitions can also be beneficial.
We’re here to help
Don’t forget we’re always here to help you with life’s difficult financial decisions. So, get in touch and we’ll guide you through the decision-making process. With our assistance you might even find that making better financial decisions isn’t actually too difficult or time consuming.

1Scottish Widows, 2019


Global stock markets are suffering a period of volatility as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Although markets do not respond well to periods of uncertainty, what is certain is that volatility goes hand in hand with stock market investment; and although market movements can be concerning, experience teaches us to expect the unexpected.

Calm and collected
To navigate market volatility, stick to your plan, diversify your holdings and very importantly, expect and accept volatility. Investors with diversified portfolios, who stay in the market, have historically and consistently experienced steady gains over time. Even though it can be difficult to ignore market movements, it is vital to focus on the long term and remember that volatility also presents opportunities. Investment requires a disciplined approach and a degree of holding your nerve if markets fall. The worst investment strategy you can adopt is to jump in and out of the stock market, panic when prices fall and sell investments at the bottom of the market.

Weather the storm together
A well-defined investment plan, tailored to your objectives, in line with your attitude to risk, that takes into account your financial situation, can help you weather short-term market fluctuations. Market volatility is a timely reminder to keep your investments under regular review.

The value of investments can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. The past is not a guide to future performance and past performance may not necessarily be repeated.


• Economy predicted to grow by 1.1% in 2020-21, revised down from 1.4% forecast a year ago (this figure does not take into account the impact of COVID–19)
• Growth predicted to rebound to 1.8% in 2021–22, easing back to 1.5% in 2022–23
• Inflation forecast of 1.4% this year, increasing to 1.8% in 2021–2022

• £5bn emergency response fund to support the NHS and other public services in England
• All those advised to self-isolate will be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, even if they have not presented with symptoms
• Self-employed workers who are not eligible will be able to claim contributory Employment and Support Allowance (available from day one)
• £500m hardship fund for councils in England to help the most vulnerable in their areas
• Firms with fewer than 250 staff will be refunded for sick pay payments for two weeks
• Small firms will be able to access business interruption loans
• Business rates in England will be suspended for firms in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors with a rateable value below £51,000
• £6bn in extra NHS funding over five years to pay for staff recruitment and start of hospital upgrades

• Tax paid on the pensions of high earners, including NHS consultants, to be recalculated to address staffing issues
• The two tapered Annual Allowance thresholds for pensions will each be raised by £90,000
• The minimum level to which the Annual Allowance can taper down will reduce from £10,000 to £4,000 from April 2020
• Annual Capital Gains Tax exemption increased to £12,300 from 2020–21
• The Lifetime Allowance for pensions will increase in line with the Consumer Prices Index, to £1,073,100 for 2020–21
• From 11 March 2020 the Lifetime Allowance on gains eligible for Entrepreneurs’ Relief reduced from £10m to £1m.

Spring Budget – know your numbers

In his first Budget delivered on 11 March, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak
unveiled the largest boost to public investment for several generations in a
bid to shore up the economy and see the country through the coronavirus outbreak.



Emergency rate cut
A dramatic Budget Day began with the Bank of England announcing an emergency halfpoint reduction in its base rate amid growing concerns over the economic impact of COVID-19. This returned the rate to 0.25%, its lowest ever level (on 19 March a further cut to 0.1% was announced). Later, Mr Sunak revealed updated GDP projections which, excluding the inevitable coronavirus impact, suggested the UK economy would grow 1.1% in 2020-21, down from the previously forecast 1.4%.

Personal taxation
The Chancellor’s main change with regards to personal taxation was an increase in the National Insurance threshold to £9,500, which will save most workers around £100 annually from April. However, the personal allowance at which people start paying income tax was frozen at £12,500, while the £50,000 higher-rate threshold also remains unchanged in parts of the UK where income
tax is not devolved. As previously announced the new single-tier State Pension will rise from £168.60 a week to £175.20 in April, while the older basic State Pension will increase from £129.20 to £134.25 per week.

Savings landscape
In relation to savings, the major announcement was a hefty increase in the JISA (Junior Individual Savings Account) allowance and Child Trust Fund annual subscription limit from £4,368 to £9,000 in the coming tax year. The ISA (Individual Savings Account) allowance, including the Lifetime ISA allowance if used, was left unchanged at £20,000. Another potential impact on savers concerns the reduced amount of money set to be raised via National Savings and Investments, which suggests rates at the government’s savings arm may become less competitive during the coming year.


Life insurance for astronauts?

The first astronauts had a problem, especially in the early days of the
Apollo missions to the moon, as their lives were literally uninsurable. No
insurance companies would consider insuring anyone about to embark on a
potentially lethal mission.

NASA came up with an idea to arrange ‘insurance covers’ whereby the crew
autographed a number of postal envelopes, as close to launch as possible,
the assumption being that these would soar in value if the crew died on the
mission, leaving sufficient funds to take care of their families.

Protection for everyone
Fortunately, it’s much easier for the average person to obtain protection insurance these days, it’s important to have everyday risks covered.

Once in a blue moon?
It can be difficult to think that the worst might happen, but it’s best to be financially prepared for illness or death, to give you and your family valuable peace of mind.

Fortunately, it’s much easier for the average person to obtain protection insurance these days, it’s important to have everyday risks covered.


Pension woes: the tale of Gen X

The changing financial pressures facing members of different intergenerational groups has been a recurring theme in recent years, with the narrative usually proclaiming how younger generations have lower income, assets and prospects than their older counterparts. However, there has been relatively little consideration of the potential retirement woes facing people born between 1966 and 1980 – Generation X.

Limited time to plan
Members of Generation X have between 12 and 28 years left to work and build up a sufficient pension pot to fund their post-working years. A recent report2 suggests this group is at greater risk of reaching retirement with insufficient income. This partly reflects an array of changes in the labour market and pension landscape, as well as a challenging economic climate, which have combined to increase the complexity of preparing for later life.

Challenges facing Gen X
A number of specific issues have also placed Generation X at risk of reaching retirement with inadequate funds. The decline in private sector defined benefit provision means a large proportion of this group will rely on defined contribution schemes, while they are also likely to receive a lower State Pension income than their predecessors. Additionally, automatic enrolment came too late for this group to benefit fully as most were in their late thirties or over when it was introduced.

Still time for action
While it’s imperative for members of Generation X to make time now to consider their pension needs, it’s never too late to start saving for retirement. Diligent planning now could make all the difference to securing a comfortable future. So, if you have concerns about the adequacy of your pension, get in touch. We’re here to help.
2Pensions Policy Institute, 2019


Spring clean your finances for a sense of wellbeing                         

A recent survey3 asked people how they think and feel about their financial health, in an attempt to understand the connection between wealth and wellbeing.

UK’s financial health
In the UK, 45% of respondents said that money is a major cause of stress; this figure increases to 66% with those who had no savings or investments to fall back on. When compared to the global average, the UK population holds fewer market-based investments and is more likely to have no savings or investments. When questioned about financial health, 75% of UK respondents were of the opinion that this meant ‘having little or no debt and being prepared for unexpected events’.
Lack of knowledge
Amongst younger respondents, a common reason for not investing, was ‘lack of knowledge’ with 49% of millennials agreeing with this, compared to 35% of baby boomers. Of all age groups, 34% stated that a fear of losing everything was preventing them from investing. Financial goals Setting realistic financial goals, as well as saving or investing towards these, can help you to feel more in Financial goals
Setting realistic financial goals, as well as saving or investing towards these, can help you to feel more in control, reduce stress and improve your feelings of financial well-being. It can be difficult to take the first step but talking to a trusted financial adviser can help. In fact, 75% of survey respondents, who use a financial adviser, reported having a positive sense of well-being.

Why not talk to us today to see if we can help to improve your financial wellbeing both now and into the future.
3BlackRock, 2020

Setting realistic financial goals, as well as saving or investing towards these, can help you to feel more in control


Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show the number of self-employed in the UK has reached record levels, at five million people, which represents around 15% of all people in employment.

If you are self-employed, you won’t benefit from auto enrolment, but you will still qualify for generous tax relief on any pension contributions you make, subject to annual and lifetime HM Revenue and Customs allowances. We can advise you on the pension that best suits your individual circumstances, so that you can look to the future with confidence


Early financial education gives children a head start

According to The Financial Capability Strategy, part of the Money & Pensions Service, children’s attitudes to money are well-developed by the age of seven.
In an ideal world, therefore, primary schools would be encouraging children not only to recognise the pounds and pence needed to buy their weekly Haribo
rations, they should also be preparing them – through experiential learning – to open their own bank accounts at age 11.

Research confirms that children and young adults who receive a formal financial education are more likely to be money confident. They are more likely to have a bank account, understand debt, be capable of saving and generally have the skills needed to make the most of their money in future.

A life skill that ‘remains untaught’
Why, then, the organisation asks, is financial education not prioritised within the school curriculum? It says only four in 10 children and young adults currently receive financial education lessons and that educational establishments want to do more but are hampered by lack of curriculum time and financial skills and knowledge. The Financial Capability Strategy seeks to rectify this by
providing resources for schools, parents, employers and individuals. Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that the top family board games promoting financial literacy are: ‘Cashflow 101’ and the ever-popular ‘Monopoly’, which now has junior versions.


The value of investments can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. The past is not a guide to future performance and past performance may not necessarily be repeated.

It is important to take professional advice before making any decision relating to your personal finances. Information within this newsletter is based on our current understanding of taxation and can be subject to change in future. It does not provide individual tailored investment advice and is for guidance only. Some rules may vary in different parts of the UK; please ask for details. We cannot assume legal liability for any errors or omissions it might contain. Levels and bases of, and reliefs from, taxation are those currently applying or proposed and are subject to change;
their value depends on the individual circumstances of the investor.

The value of investments can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. The past is not a guide to future performance and past performance may not necessarily be repeated. If you withdraw from an investment in the early years, you may not get back the full amount you invested. Changes in the rates of exchange may have an adverse effect on the value or price of an investment in sterling terms if it is denominated in a foreign currency. Taxation depends on individual circumstances as well as tax law and HMRC practice which can change.

The information contained within this newsletter is for information only purposes and does not constitute financial advice. The purpose of this newsletter is to provide technical and general guidance and should not be interpreted as a personal recommendation or advice.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *