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We have all seen the adverts for work place pensions. It normally starts with a high profile executive declaring his commitment followed by a team of grateful employees approving. However it appears the marketing slogan should not have been “are you in” but more along the lines of “are you in time”. According to Jamie Jenkins from Standard Life only two thirds of employers have enrolled schemes in time between April and May. With a further 392,000 employers expected to enrol in the next 24 months, I fear it will not be long before The Pensions Regulator begins to take a heavy handed approach towards auto-enrolment. Pension providers have grown concerned that they are not seeing the expected amount of employers enrolling and worry that some have either buried their heads or simply do not understand their new obligation. Make no mistake whatever the case may be The Pensions Regulator will jump at the opportunity to make an example using daily fines in the thousands for none compliance.

 

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With a number of cheap DIY online investment solutions now available do you need to for financial advice or are you better off saving on fees and managing your own investments?

 

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Posted by on in Financial Services Blog

For some reason unbeknown to me people don’t celebrate the new tax year in the same way they do the new calendar year. Much to my disappointment there are no parties, fireworks or singing of Auld Lang Syne and my lobbying for even a single bank holiday for the new tax year’s day (let alone the two the Scottish get for the calendar new year) seem to be falling on deaf ears! The other thing that I think should happen is New Tax Year’s resolutions. Here are my suggestions to start with:

Start saving for your retirement – the longer you put this off the more it is going to cost you in the long run. Unless you’re going to be able to survive on £7,000 a year from the government and a small amount extra through your auto-enrolment pension, you’re going to have to take responsibility for yourself and get saving.

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Tagged in: Pension retirement tax
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Posted by on in Financial Services Blog

 Nsure Financial Services Ltd

Independent Financial Advisers based in Central Worthing

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This month marks an anniversary that will be celebrated by some and cursed by others – five years of the Bank of England’s official base rate being 0.5%. Three months into the year the consensus seems to be that rates will remain unchanged for the rest of 2014, with the rate possibly rising in early 2015.

 

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Business and Development Manager for Scottish Life Jamie Clark, has today been quoted in Money Marketing as saying " It is looking like the industry is going to be able to meet the auto-enrolment capacity crunch but for it to be a success it is vital that employers are convinced of the need to start preparing early." His focus on employers being under prepared for auto-enrolment and not fully understanding the implications for them is something we agree with. 

 

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According to a former government adviser “The mis-selling of annuities could be at least as big as the mis-selling of payment protection insurance”. Annuities aren’t inherently a bad product but like most mis-sold products they can be the wrong product for the wrong person or bought from the wrong provider with the wrong options.

The first thing to decide is whether an annuity is the correct option for you or if you would be better off with ‘pension drawdown’ where you leave the fund invested and draw from it.

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Towards the end of 2013 Nsure Financial Services had the good fortune to meet and employ Lorna Marrett. Joining Nsure from Santander, Lorna brings her expertise in financial services, in particular investments and pension planning.

 

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The banks have been at it again, this time getting caught miss-selling insurance against card fraud and charging customers over £1 billion in the process.
With so many major purchases now being carried out online using a credit or debit card surely insuring against the risk of your card details being used without your knowledge is a sensible thing? It would be if such misuse was your problem. What the banks neglected to tell you was that, provided you hadn't been reckless and negligent with your card, the problem of card fraud was theirs and not yours.
To make matters worse this insurance was being miss-sold while the banks were paying out billions of pounds in compensation for the PPI miss-selling saga! The series of miss-selling scandals will continue until such time as "free" banking ends. I like things to be free as much as the next person, but the reality is banking isn't free. There might be no monthly fees to have an account or charges for most transactions but the banks only offer this free banking in the hope they can make money out of you in other ways, such as selling insurance you don't need or levying horrendous overdraft charges.
We are all partly to blame for believing we get something for nothing. If a window cleaner said I'll come and clean your windows every month and it's completely free you'd ask "where's the catch?" But when a bank says you can have an account for free and use it as much as you like, forever, we take it at face value.
Even where current accounts do have a monthly fee they don't want you to think it is for using the account, instead we are told it's for "bundled" products, such as mobile phone insurance or to get a higher interest rate on the first portion of the balance. Despite the regulations that were introduced last year tightening up on the sales of these accounts I think it is only a matter of time until claims of miss-selling are made about them and so the cycle will continue.

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There has been positive news for homeowners recently with mortgage lending and house purchase enquiries increasing substantially, coupled with news that house prices in most of the country have increased slightly over the past year and surveyors predicting they will continue to rise for the next year.

Most commentators put this increase in values down to the Government's help to buy scheme and I agree. This scheme involves the Government providing an equity loan of up to 20% of the purchase price towards the cost of a new build property, therefore reducing the size of mortgage a buyer needs. The Government then shares in any increase, or decrease, in the value of the home.

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With the cost of living increasing and the easy access to credit that people enjoyed in the last decade a distant memory, it's no surprise that people are looking for ways to boost their spending power. It is an environment like this where the unscrupulous prey on the vulnerable and use people's concerns to con them out of their savings. The latest I've come across is "pension release"

What could be wrong with something as positive sounding as "pension release" or even "pension liberation"? Schemes that promise to give you access to your "hard earned pension" that the big bad insurers won't let you access are increasingly common. The literature states how their scheme allows you to access your pension before the standard minimum age of 55 and promises more than the maximum 25% lump sum you can usually take. There are many ways they promise to do this, perhaps involving a loan, moving the fund overseas or investing in a particular asset that utilises a "legal loophole" to give you the access you require.

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Regular readers will know my dislike of gold as an investment but recently I've come across an "investment" I hate even more – Bitcoins.
Bitcoins are a virtual currency that can be traded for real cash or used to purchase actual physical goods from sellers willing to accept them as payment. There are even reports of a seller of a New York Flat who will only accept Bitcoins as payment. They can also be traded through exchanges.


Proponents of the Bitcoin system state that because the system has a limit on the number that are allowed to be created they will hold their value over time, much like any other supply limited commodity. This is in contrast to our currency system where central banks can create new money at will, which has the effect of devaluing the money already in circulation. This is a similar argument presented by fans of gold and it is not dis-similar from the arguments put forward about tulip bulbs in the 1600s in Holland.

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According to the BBC news website there is a hunt on for 900,000 people owed money from unclaimed Premium Bond wins.. More information can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22773531

 

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At the end of last month's article I mentioned that business owners can potentially treat life insurance as an expense. This generated a lot of interest so I'm using this month's article to explain how.


This can be done through a "Relevant Life Policy" which is a stand-alone death-in-service plan. As it is classed as a death-in-service plan there are no tax implications for the employee even though the employer is paying the premiums, i.e. the employee pays no income tax and national insurance on this benefit.

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How much is your ISA allowance increasing to for the 2013-14 tax year? If you answered £5,760 you are wrong by 100%. That is the maximum that can be paid into a Cash ISA. The total allowance is increasing to £11,520. However, to utilise this full allowance you will have to make use of an Investment ISA.

The Investment ISA is often missed, even by those who pride themselves on using their allowance on 6th April each year, but why? For one, they are subject to less marketing than Cash ISAs. Secondly, I think they are deliberately ignored by many because they are perceived as risky. In my opinion, in the current market, the real risk is keeping everything in cash.

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Have you ever used a financial adviser where they have arranged your initial investment and you have never heard from them again? In fact this is very common. In most of these instances, the adviser will be taking an annual charge from your investment, but what are they doing to earn this, if they are not actively looking after your plan?

It is now the financial services regulator's requirement, following the Retail Distribution Review, to ensure adviser charges are justified. Nsure have always ensured this, and won't just take your money and leave you to your own devices. We offer a wide range of ongoing services which is why we know our annual charge is well earned.

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Are you throwing away £23,000?

 

It might come as a shock, but that's how much it could cost if you don't shop around to find the best income for your retirement.

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Nsure Financial Services are pleased to announce that with immediate effect we have been awarded membership of the new Equity Release Council.

The Equity Release Council (www.equityreleasecouncil.com) has been created from Safe Home Income Plans (SHIP) – a well-respected and established trade body that has represented the providers of equity release for the past 20 years.

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I was disappointed but not surprised to read the results of a recent study showing only 7% of people insure their income which is less than the number who insure their mobile phone and pets. So why do so few people think that insuring their income is worthwhile?

 

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