Check out our latest thoughts and insights on a variety of financial topics

We’re very pleased to announce that Plum, Midas and Prestige have joined our panel of non-standard household insurers.

Non Standard Buildings and contents insurance is for out of the ordinary risks. Typically this will include thatch and other non-standard constructions, adverse claims history, subsidence and underpinned properties, declined, refused or cancelled insurance, convictions, bankruptcy, professional sportspeople or entertainers, Unoccupied properties, holiday homes, even blocks of flats.

Basically, anything which would normally be declined on a standard home insurance policy.

You can send us brief details of your property here or please call the office on 0845 0179 578

Thanks to everyone who came to our Retirement Planning Seminar on Wednesday. It was great to see so many old and new faces and I think everyone managed to keep awake for the duration of the presentation. Even the part on alternatives to annuity purchase!

For those of you who completed the Investment Risk Questionnaire we will be in touch with you over the rest of this week with your results. Of course, this is only a discussion report but it is a good starting point and a little more scientific than asking if you are you a low, medium or high risk investor.

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Getting a divorce can be an extremely stressful time in your life and also a costly one too. And, if you and your “Soon Too Be Ex” are having to sell the marital home you will probably need to prove to each other what your ability to successfully apply for a new mortgage is. You will also need to prove what level of borrowing you are likely to be able to achieve. That’s why Simpson Financial Services offer a comprehensive and personalised Mortgage Capacity Assessment.

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It takes 5-6 minutes to get your own personal prioritised action plan to help you make the most of your money

Simpson Financial Services and the Money Advice Service are working together to help members of the public with their money matters.

The health check is the latest in a series of tools from the Money Advice Service to help everyone manage their money as effectively as possible

Please click here or above to do your health check

We would particularly recommend you do this if you prior to your next meeting with us or if you haven’t seen us in the last 12 months. We know how useful it is because we’ve used it ourselves.

Of course, there are a number of ways to finance divorce when you and your spouse are both in retirement but their are some options are not open to you because of your age. However, your age can also work for you and open up other routes to sort out your financial settlement. This week I asked our Later Life Adviser, Edwina Hudson, for an example of where she can help couples seeking divorce to consider their options.

Case Study

Following his divorce, Robin, 71, who lives in Gloucestershire, looked at a number of options in terms of financing the split from his ex-wife. He researched the equity release option and chose to take out a Bridgewater Maximum Release Plan.

Robin’s reversion plan completed in January 2008 and he immediately used the money he released to pay off his ex-wife’s share of the property as part of their divorce settlement.

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The four main factors in building up a good pension fund are quite simply:

  • How much money is being invested (monthly, annual, one off, transfers etc).
  • What level of investment performance is earned.
  • How much your pension provider charges you.
  • How long you invest for.

Many members of company pension schemes called Group Personal Pensions or Group Stakeholder Pension Schemes are often delighted with the low annual management charge that they pay. As long as you remain in the same employment you will continue to benefit from low pension scheme charges ranging from 0.3% per annum to 1% per annum. What many don’t realise is that when you leave employment and, by default, leave the company pension scheme your annual pension fund charges can shoot up!

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Last night Simpson Financial Services joined up with Pentlands Business & Tax Advisers, De Marco Hunter Solicitors and many other charity raisers to bare our feet for a good cause. Walking over hot coals that weighed in at an impressive 500 degrees centigrade reminded me of how comfortable my desk really is. Myself, Natasha Phillips and Lisa Simpson all braved the heat….in fact it was so good we all then did it again.

Rob's firewalkNatasha's firewalkLisa's firewalk

Between the three of us only one had a blister (unfortunately that was me) but lots of money was raised for good causes and I am wondering what our next office challenge might be. Rob Simpson

With over two thirds of Universities declaring that they will be charging the full £9,000 per year for student education in September reports are already coming in that many college leavers are considering ending their education now rather than saddling themselves with the huge debt. This will come as a great concern for many parents of college kids who had not financially planned for the massive hike in university fees and may be inclined to pay for the fees by borrowing the money themselves.

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The end of the current tax year is 5th April so I am writing to suggest we examine how to best utilise your tax free allowance.

The End of The Tax Year

Remember, if you don’t use this year’s ISA allowance it will be lost.

With interest rates remaining at an all time low it appears Cash ISA holders might be waiting a while for a return to pre-recession rates. The Cash ISA limit is £5,100 with Stocks and Share ISAs allowing up to £10,200 to be invested. Stocks and Share ISAs continue to be very popular and there is now a wide variety available.

Nevertheless with investors worried about stock market volatility and low cash rates many are looking for advice on how to meet their investment goals.

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The government is hoping that self-employment opportunities can be a viable route to financial independence and possible creation of jobs within an entrepreneurial environment.

Under their ‘Big Society’ agenda, local businesses and community led supporters will start & manage Enterprise Clubs, increasing information & knowledge to its participants, building their confidence and increasing their chances of establishing a successful business.

One of only two areas within UK, Coventry & Warwickshire have been selected to trial the first few events.

The pilot event took place on Thursday 17th February 2011 at the WEETEC in Willenhall, Coventry and Rob Simpson, Managing Director of Simpson Financial Services, volunteered a few hours of his time to assist with an informal workshop, made up of local delegates, all interested in starting their own business.

Rob was responsible for the advice surrounding Access To Finance (no small challenge in the current economical environment) and this was delivered to breakout groups of delegates.

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The results of a new survey into Green Investing have been released today by the EDHEC Institute.

Asset allocation takes a vital role in the building of an investment portfolio but what effect does Green Investing have on it. Often this type of fund has a higher risk in its own right due to the nature of the companies it can invest in. Exchanging you FTSE100 tracker for this type of investment could push the risk of your entire portfolio out of kilter with your appetite for investment risk.

You can download a copy of the survey results here EDHEC_Publication_Adoption_of_green_investing

Even more detailed is which type of fund or funds is right for you. There are funds investing in companies whose objectives are to improve the overall environmental issue but there are also funds which invest in companies which promise to do no harm.

If you are interested in investing in ethical funds or wish to learn more please contact us.

Last night I watched the BBC’s Panorama programme, Who Took My Pension, which highlighted the difference between different pension companies charges. As an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) this is something which I have known about for some time. Indeed, rules on “Hard Disclosure” came into effect over 15 years ago which forced pension companies to detail their charges and show the effect of those charges on the possible future value of the pension fund. A good outcome of this disclosure has been that it allows IFAs to compare the costs of the numerous pension schemes when advising our clients. You can view an example of this research below:

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Whilst UK Banks continue to profiteer from their Business and Corporate clients by offering a minuscule rate of interest for deposits and excessive rates for borrowing isn’t it time you sought independent advice from us on your cash deposit options.

It is a common mistake to think that a business can only have its banking facilities with one Bank. Your business can have as many accounts with as many different banks as you like. You need to decide what the cash in your business is to be used for before deciding on which type, or combination of types, is going to work best for your business.

Santander are currently offering up to 2% gross but this is subject to many terms and conditions that could make it not so attractive.

This is where our expertise comes into play and why you should be talking to us now so that you can make sure your business cash deposits are working for you.

If you’re a company director and you have life assurance in place to protect your family, you could be paying more tax than you need to. Relevant life policies are a way of providing death in service benefits on an individual basis no matter how small your business is.

What are the benefits?

Although the company pays the premiums, they are not normally assessable to income tax on the employee as a benefit in kind. This can be a significant saving, particularly for a higher rate taxpayer.

Unlike a registered group scheme, the benefit will not form part of the employee’s annual or lifetime pension allowance.

These payments may be treated as an allowable expense for the employer in calculating their tax liability, as long as the local inspector of taxes is satisfied they qualify under the ‘wholly and exclusively’ rules.

In most cases the benefits are paid free of inheritance tax, provided the benefits are payable through a discretionary trust.

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