We appreciate that a number of visitors to our website are not just our existing clients but are also new visitors considering taking financial advice from us or just searching for advice on a specific topic in relation to their future financial planning.

Well look no further!

We have produced over 20 financial fact sheets for you to view and download.

If you are still researching then save the fact sheet on your computer or print it out. Each sheet has our contact details so you’ll remember who to contact when your ready.

The Financial Factsheets cover a whole range of areas where you might need our independent financial advice. Here is a list of all the different titles:

Building a Bigger Pension

Business Protection

Buying an Annuity

Critical Illness

Estate Planning

Financial Independence

Financial Protection

Income Protection

Investment Risk

Life Assurance

Long-Term Care

Making a Will

Pension Rule Opportunities

Personal Pensions

Planning for Retirement

Retirement income

Retirement Options

Savings Trust

Term Assurance

Transferring your Pension

Wealth Creation

Wealth Protection

Whole-of-Life

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!

This is known in the industry as the “Active Member Discount” but should probably be renamed “The Scheme Leaver Penalty”.

So, what is happening?

The Pensions Minister, Steve Webb, has today announced that it is the governments “intention” to bring about changes to this practice. This is being done via an amendment to the Pensions Bill 2011.

However, if I was a scheme leaver and thought I was being penalised through high pension charges I’d rather not wait for the legislation. The sooner you act the sooner you could be benefitting from lower charges. I wrote previously about BBC’s Panorama Exposes Need For Pension Fund Advice and if you would like us to check if you’re being penalised and what you can do about it then please call the office on 0845 0179 578 and ask for me personally.

Best wishes,

Rob Simpson

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.

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.

Graduation tradition

Those parents that have younger children at least have a little time on their side to plan ahead for this cost. But how much should you save? Welcome to our new School and University Fee Calculator. It is free for you to use and you can use it to work out how much money you need to save each month to have a pay for future School and University fees in the future.

In order to work out how much you should be saving each month for your childrens education cost you will need to make an assumption about what interest rate/investment return you are likely to acheive. Make sure you are realistic about this. For instance, if you are going to be saving in a cash saving account then you should be assuming a return of about 3% per annum gross. If you are investing in something else then you need to adjust your assumed investment return accordingly.

If you have worked out the monthly saving and would like the benefit of independent financial advice about the most appropriate savings vehicle for you then please do not hesitate to call me on 0845 0179 578 or contact us through your preferred channel.

Enjoy the new calculator and I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind Regards,

Rob Simpson

Managing Director

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.

What is the right strategy?

Many investors are choosing to invest in risk-rated fund of funds solutions, designed to keep their investments on target to meet their attitude to risk (the amount of potential loss you are willing to accept in order to achieve potential investment growth) throughout the lifetime of the investment.

At Simpson Financial Services our investment process is designed to do just that. We use a simple risk analysis process designed by leading independent research companies to help identify your individual attitude to risk enabling us to select investments specifically designed to match your risk appetite.

You can contact me on 0845 0179 578 to discuss this in further detail.

I look forward to hearing from you. Rob Simpson Managing Director

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.

When asked about the event Rob said, “It was a few hours of mine and the other volunteers time given to an important movement in our society. However, I think the most pleasing aspect of the entire event was the number of talented delegates who are looking to enter the arena of self employment and I am sure many of them will succeed.”

On Friday the 28th January 2011 staff from Simpson Financial Services attended the Insurance Institute of Coventry’s annual dinner. The event was held at the Coventry Hilton and was hosted by the President, Carolyn Marshall ACII.

Insurance Institute Of Coventry Young Achiever of the Year 2010

It was a fabulous evening with some excellent guest speakers but for us the highlight of the evening for us was the announcement of the winner of the Institute’s Young Achiever of The Year Award which went to one of our own staff, Natasha Phillips.

When asked about the award Natasha said, “I was surprised to win the award but it is fabulous to be recognised by your own professional body. It will certainly keep me focused on my continuing development as a professional business woman.”

Natasha Phillips is a director at Simpson Financial Services and has been with the company since 2005. She is responsible for independent advice in relation to all aspects of lending including residential mortgages, commercial mortgages, equity release, additional borrowing and the associated and relevant insurances.

Well done Natasha. We all think you deserve this for all those hours of work and private study.

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.

Every two months we publish our personal finance magazine which you can download for free here. 
Just provide us with your email address and we will keep you regularly updated on all the major issues which affect your money with our hints and tips to try to gain the best advantage of them. Do please give a working email address so we can send you our annual post budget guide too.

Should any of the articles interest you then we are at hand to provide you with our independent financial advice specific to your own personal circumstances. This advice would be subject to normal client terms and begin with your free initial consultation.

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:

Pension Provider Comparison Report

Of course, cost is not the only factor when taking into account which pension provider to recommend to our clients. We have to take into account a number of factors and features that each pension provider offers. For example, there is no point in having the lowest charging pension provider to administer you pension fund investment if, as a by-product, you end up with particularly bad investment performance. For example, the seemingly lowest charged pension fund in the above report is Aegon. I have researched their Global Equity Fund performance against the sector average and you can see below how it has faired.

Pension Fund Performance

There can be merit in switching your historic pension funds from one provider to another as indicated in the BBC Panorama programme last night but extreme caution should be taken and I would recommend that you speak to your IFA about his. If you do not have an IFA then please contact us as we could carry this analysis out for you. Under no circumstances should you attempt to do this on your own. Some of the older and more expensive pension funds do have some valuable features such as Guaranteed Annuity Rate Clauses and it could be a real disadvantage if you were to give up these.

Call us now to discuss how a pension healthcheck will identify if which pension provider is likely to be best for you.

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.

Who are relevant life policies suitable for?

Small businesses that do not have enough eligible employees to warrant a group life scheme.

High-earning employees or directors who have substantial pension funds and do not want their benefits to form part of their lifetime allowance.

They are not suitable for the self-employed or equity partners, although their employed staff could be covered.

Are there any limits to the cover I have?

The legislation does have some limits to qualify for the tax concessions, and to ensure these are met we make sure that:

The cover must be paid in a single lump sum before the age of 75.

Only death benefits can be provided.

Benefits must be paid through a discretionary trust.

Beneficiaries are normally restricted to family members and dependants

Too see how much you could benefit from this call us on 0845 0179 578 to discuss your circumstances further.

The style, content, quality and presentation of personal financial plans varies immensely from financial adviser to financial adviser. So how do you dare to part with your money to enable your financial adviser to produce your initial report?

Well, quite often, financial adviser firms like mine will offer new clients a free initial meeting. This allows you to meet with your potential adviser to see if you could enjoy a long term advisory relationship with them. The meeting will also allow the adviser to understand what your financial goals and objectives are along with a summary of your current financial position.

During this initial meeting there is lot of information for you to take on board as you find out about the firm, it’s services, what the services cost, the adviser experience, qualifications and so on. You should also ask them what their personal financial plans look like. Is it a “one size fits all” or is it bespoke to your own circumstances. After all, this could be the most important piece of work you have ever paid to be done.

Here’s what ours look like for a typical family that you may have heard of before.

Homer & Marge Financial Plan

Our costs for preparing your initial report start from £500 depending upon the complexity of your current financial circumstances so please contact us if you would like an accurate estimate and would like to book your free initial consultation.

Do you want to save money?

We undertook a study recently to see the merit in clients paying a monthly fee for our advice rather than us earn commission when we sell a financial product such as a personal pension. We looked at different types of clients (age, sex, earnings, wealth) and found that just on cost it was mainly beneficial for clients to pay a monthly fee.

Take an average couple who are both 40. They have life cover of £250k costing £42.28 per month, save £200 per month into a pension which is projecting a fund of £140k at age 65 and they save £100 per month into an ISA.

If they were a fee paying client of ours and we set up identical products the life cover would cost £31.86 per month, the pension fund would be projecting a value of £150k at retirement and they would not suffer an initial cost of 5.25% on every ISA contribution they made. By the age of 65, purely on cost they would have saved £14,701 in charges against a fee of say £30 per month. A net saving of over £5000.00

This doesn’t even take into account the ad hoc phone support we provide, the annual review we carry out with our fee paying client to try to improve fund performance, maximising all cash saving returns, improving their mortgage rate, investing their baby’s Child Trust Fund voucher from the government and general financial guidance on meeting their lifestyle goals.

We aim to make you money, save you money and save you time and I think the above example demonstrates how we can save you money. Call us now to arrange a consultation to see how much we could save you.

High street banks have won their appeal at the Supreme Court over unauthorised overdraft charges.

The Supreme Court ruled in favour of the seven major banks and a building society, which had challenged High Court and Court of Appeal decisions that the charges were unfair and should be subject to regulation by the Office of Fair Trading.

More follows….