Socially responsible investing

If you are an investor concerned about global warming and other environmental issues, how can you save and invest ethically? Ethical investments cover a multitude of different strategies, with the terms ‘ethical investment’ and ‘socially responsible investment’ (SRI) often being used interchangeably to mean an approach to selecting investments whereby the usual investment criteria are overlaid with an additional set of ethical or socially responsible criteria.

Don’t lose sight of your investment goals

Planning for your future financial independence relies on selecting the right type of investments and balancing the risks you are comfortable with alongside the potential returns. Every investor is unique and complex, so when it comes to investments, a one-size-fits-all approach just doesn’t work – there isn’t a single investment strategy that will work for everyone.

Reintroduction of Carry Forward rules

From 6 April 2011 the annual allowance for pension contributions reduced from £255,000 to £50,000. While this restricts the levels of contributions you can make without attracting an Annual Allowance charge, on the plus side the Government has brought back the Carry Forward rules.

UK savers face retirement savings gap

The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) has looked at the cost of living post-work and found that average incomes achieved by retirees are insufficient. UK savers face a retirement savings gap of £9 trillion due to increasing levels of debt, the cost of long-term care and insufficient pension savings.

Revolutionising the way pension benefits are taken

Your pension is one of your most valuable assets but is it working as hard as it should be? The new retirement rules will revolutionise the way pension benefits are taken, making retirement more flexible.

Retirement income consumed by the basic costs of living

Investors buying a level annuity with a pension fund of £80,000 will spend their entire monthly income on basic living costs within seven years of retirement, according to new statistics.

Solving Britain’s housing shortage

The UK is set for the return and major expansion of buy-to-let in the housing market after plans were unveiled for tax cuts on bulk purchases of residential properties. The Coalition has identified buy-to-let as a way of solving Britain’s housing shortage and wants to attract investment into residential property by major institutions, such as pension funds, and landlords.

Reintroduction of index-linked savings certificates pegged to the retail prices index

National Savings & Investments (NS&I) is to relaunch index-linked savings certificates pegged to the retail prices index (RPI). NS&I withdrew the certificates last July after they became over subscribed. Currently they are only open to clients who have certificates that are maturing.

Helping Britain live within her means

Employees could see their retirement pushed back at least 12 months every two years after the Chancellor, George Osborne announced plans to link the pension age to rising longevity. The Chancellor announced a mechanism to raise the state retirement age automatically in line with life expectancy. The pension age is already due to increase to 66 by 2020.

Putting low carbon development at the heart of the Chancellor’s strategy for renewed growth

Fuel duty
The planned rise in fuel duty, expected to add 5p to a litre of petrol from 6th April 2011, was postponed and instead the Chancellor announced a 1p reduction. Individuals and small businesses will find this helpful although it seems contrary to the commitment to increase environmental taxes. But fuel duty is already significantly in excess of other fuel taxes in terms of the price it places on carbon dioxide emissions.

Encouragement to help small companies raise finance

There was also encouragement to help small companies raise finance, with the Chancellor proposing a significant increase to the venture capital tax reliefs, by increasing the tax relief available, and raising some of the size limits for qualifying companies. The increase in the maximum amount an individual can invest in a qualifying Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) company, has been doubled from £500,000 to £1m, and should be particularly helpful to companies raising funds from business angel investors.

How the new rule changes could affect your future planning

As life expectancy rates in the UK continue to rise, the coalition Government estimates that nearly one in five people will live to see their 100th birthday. Radical legislation will attempt to ensure pension savings are sufficient for these retirees, which in turn will help reduce the burden on the state.

Are you financially prepared for retirement?

If you are a 50-something, are you financially prepared for retirement? It is estimated that one third of people in this age group have no retirement savings at all. However, the plans you make in the final approach to retirement can have the most significant impact on the size of your eventual pension.

How the taxman treats investments

Different investments are subject to different tax treatment. The following is based on our understanding, as at 6 April 2011, of current taxation, legislation and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) practice, all of which are subject to change without notice. The impact of taxation (and any tax relief) depends on individual circumstances.

Picking the right combination of assets will depend on your risk profile

All investments, including cash deposits, carry a degree of risk but some are more risky than others. Once you have established a solid foundation of savings for the short term, you may look to investments to provide more growth potential over a longer period, typically five years or more. There is no one investment strategy that suits everyone and your decisions on how to divide up your investment portfolio into different types of investment will change over time.