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Finance in France – what’s new in 2023?

By Sue Regan
This article is published on: 12th January 2023


Firstly, I would like to wish you all a very happy, healthy and peaceful 2023!

As we are starting a new (tax) year I thought it would be helpful to update you on some changes that may affect you in 2023, both tax related and more generally.

Unsurprisingly, the main purpose of ‘la Loi de Finance’ (Finance Act) for 2023, published on 31st December 2022, is to help protect households and businesses from inflation.

Personal Tax Changes in 2023 for revenue received in 2022

In order to contain the effects of inflation on the level of household taxation, the Finance Act for 2023 has increased the tax brackets of the progressive ‘barème’ scale, applicable to income received in 2022, by 5.4%. That’s almost four times higher than last year. There are no changes to the rates of tax.

Increase in income tax brackets
The progressive barème scale for income received in 2022 is as follows:

Income threshold for single person household Tax rates
Up to 10,777 € 0%
From 10,078€ to 27,478 € 11%
From 27,479 € to 78,570 € 30%
From 78,571 € to 168,994 € 41%
over 168,994 € 45%

As France pools allowances for households of more than one person, the threshold for tax-free income received in 2022 by a household of two will be in the region of 29,000€.

Social charges
There have been no changes made to the rates of social charges for 2023 and they remain as follows:

Employment income 9.7%
Pension income 9.1%
Investment income 17.2%

The special lower rates also remain in place as follows:

The rate of social charges on pension income is reduced to 7.4% for those households where taxable income is less than around 2,000€ per month (or 3,000€ per month for a couple). Holders of the EU S1 certificate, and those who are not affiliated to the French health care system, are exempt from social charges on pension income, regardless of the amount received.

Investment income
As above, for holders of the EU S1 certificate, and/or those covered under the health care system of another EU/EEA country, social charges are reduced from 17.2% to 7.5% for investment and property income.

Taxe d’Habitation

Good news for homeowners and renters living in France! The phasing out of taxe d’habitation which began a few years ago will come to an end in 2023, with this property related tax being scrapped for all principal homes in France. This also includes the abolition of the TV licence (contribution a l’audiovisuel public).

However, second-home owners and owners of vacant properties are still liable to pay taxe d’habitation on these properties.

Wealth tax on real estate – Impôt sur la Fortune Immobilière (IFI)

The current threshold of 1,300,000€ will remain in place for 2023 with no changes to the scale rates of wealth tax.

Assurance Vie

There are no changes to the taxation of assurance vie policies or their inheritance planning benefits. Thus, these popular investment ‘wrappers’ remain a very attractive vehicle for both personal taxation and inheritance planning.

Finance in France

So, what else is there to know…………

Energy prices are going up
With inflation in France at its highest in decades and global energy prices having sky-rocketed in 2022, 2023 is set to start with a series of price hikes. Firstly, the 4% cap on energy tariffs went up on 1st January, meaning a potential increase of up 15% on gas and electricity bills. In practice, this means that average household bills are likely to go up by around 20€ a month.

Petrol subsidies come to an end
Petrol prices increase from January, with the government’s fuel rebate ending on December 31st. However, a fuel grant of 100€ is available for low-income workers who rely on their car for work. Full details can be found in this link to the government website Indemnité carburant de 100 € : comment ça marche ? |

Increase in the minimum wage
France’s minimum wage (or SMIC) has gone up 1.8%, putting the gross monthly wage at 1,709.28€ or 1,353€ net. Importantly, this figure is used as the basis for calculating the sufficient funds needed for a French visa, so we can expect the required minimum income to go up accordingly.

Increase in motorway tolls
French motorway tolls are set to go up from 1st February with an average 4.75% increase.

Expected increase to savings interest rates
The interest rate on the popular tax-free savings accounts, the Livret A and the Livret de Développement et Solidaire (LDDS), is re-assessed every six months and it is expected that the rate will be increased to at least 3% per annum on both accounts with effect from 1st February.

France is going paperless
You will have probably already noticed that some stores are asking if you want a receipt or not, and more and more shops are offering the option for an emailed receipt. From April, this more eco-friendly practice will become standard practice at all shops. Thus, if you still require a printed receipt, you will have to specifically ask for one.

Cold call relief
Some better news if, like me, you are constantly being harrassed by cold callers – new regulations from next March mean that commercial phone calls can no longer be made on weekends, evenings after 20h00, or lunchtime from 13h00 to 14h00.

Review your finances

The last few years have been somewhat different to say the least. A global pandemic swiftly followed by war in Europe, both of which we haven’t experienced for generations. These highly unusual events have proved very challenging for many including governments, health workers and investors. The start of a new year is always a good time to review your finances. I am here to help and I would be very happy to sit down with you for a review to ensure that your financial plan is on track to achieve your longer term objectives. Please contact me at or call me on 06 89 20 32 47.

Financial adviser in Portugal

By Mark Quinn
This article is published on: 19th April 2022


British expats, your financial adviser may well be a bandit!”, this was the title of a 2016 article by Jason Butler in the Financial Times. He painted a depressing picture of the state of the advisory market for expats and some of his key observations still hold today.

So what are some of the issues you need to be thinking about when you are seeking a Financial Adviser in Portugal?

One of the main points from the FT article was the importance of focusing on fees and charges. Butler states that unlike the UK, which abolished commission in 2012, many expat destinations suffer from “eyewatering expensive financial products laced with enormous commission payments”.

It is therefore important to have a clear understanding of what you are being or will be charged, and importantly that these are fully disclosed. This is something not all advisers have done and is fast becoming an issue for them as a result of the MIFID II directive which is forcing them to disclose their charges.

The other area of focus was on qualifications, with Butler citing a lack of qualifications in general. In fact, in Portugal, there is no minimum qualification requirement so in theory, anybody can set themselves up as ‘advisers’.

In the UK, the minimum standard to advise is ‘level 4’ but the gold standard is ‘level 6’, which is Chartered status. These higher qualifications are awarded by the CISI and CII (UK) and the average pass rate for the Chartered status examinations was just 56% in 2020.

You should also seek advisers who are tax qualified, or at the very least work with a firm or individual that is, and who fully understands cross-border issues. This is important given the relatively complex nature of expats’ financial affairs.

So, why might you need a financial adviser?
If you are considering setting up or reviewing a complex structure such as a pension or investment, looking to put inheritance and succession planning in place, or restructure your affairs for tax efficiency, you should seek professional advice so you do not end up with something that is unsuitable or has unforeseen negative implications.

Your adviser’s role is to help you achieve your objectives by advising you on the best course of action to take and if necessary, research the market to find suitable structures that can be tailored to your personal situation.

How to choose your adviser and advisory firm?
Firstly, you should shop around and meet with several advisers to discuss your circumstances. Advisers will usually offer an initial discussion free of charge and this will give you the opportunity to evaluate them, their firm and gauge if you can work together long term.

Some initial questions you should be considering are:

  • Is the firm regulated?
  • Are they able to offer impartial advice or are they restricted in what companies and products they can offer due to exclusivity agreements?
  • Do they have indemnity insurance?
  • Is the adviser qualified? If so, to what level?

You should also do your own research but bear in mind, some firms are known to remove any negative reviews from the internet.

What if you already have a financial adviser in Portugal?
David Blanchett, the head of retirement research for Morningstar Investment Management, wrote the following for the Wall Street Journal in February 2020, “the adviser-and advice-who was a good fit for you 10 years ago, may no longer be a good fit now. Even if you have no major complaints about the service you have been getting, it is a good idea to ‘shop around’ every few years. You may not realize that you are missing out on better advice or costs until you do a comparison. Conversely, you may reinforce that the adviser you have still is the best fit.”

Difficult questions your financial adviser may not want to answer

By Mark Quinn
This article is published on: 30th March 2022


I like being asked tough questions –

It shows that clients have a real grasp of the key issues involved, which is great. It forces me to regularly reconsider the advice I give, and to make sure it continues to be the very best and most cost-effective solution. Also, and speaking from bitter personal experience of poor, disjointed advice I received in an area on which I am not au fait (renovating my property), I truly believe that clients are in a much more powerful position if they are aware of all the salient facts and issues.

With that in mind, and to put you in the most powerful position in your existing adviser relationship, I would start by getting the answers to the following:

  • Are you truly impartial or are you restricted to only recommending certain structures and funds? I come across many clients with the same structure managed by the same investment manager. How can one structure and fund be the most appropriate for all clients with a wide variety of issues and situations?
  • What qualifications do you have to advise? When you visit a professional one assumes they are qualified and good at what they do. It is remarkable therefore that many ‘advisers’ operate in Portugal without qualifications, and some even purport themselves to be tax advisers who do not have any formal tax qualifications. Those coming from the UK may be aware that ‘Chartered Financial Planner’ is the gold standard for advising clients, and ‘level 4’ is the minimum level of qualification required to advise.
  • How much am I being charged? One of the most damaging issues to the performance of your portfolio are the charges that are being taken from your policy. Many times, these are ‘bundled’ or paid discreetly out of the back end of the product. Ask for an explicit breakdown in writing between each fund’s ‘Ongoing Fund Charge’, product/structure charges and the fees or commissions your adviser is taking, and from where.
  • Have you disclosed the full charges to me? If not, why not? This is a contentious issue for some firms at present as, due to an EU directive, they now have to inform clients if they have not disclosed the true costs of the investments that they have set up and managed for them; obviously leading to many disgruntled people and tainted trust in the advisory relationship.
  • What is my number? Does your adviser tell you how long your money will currently last and under what conditions? Do they paint of picture of different scenarios and how these would impact this projection? Or how you can tweak your planning to achieve your goals?
  • How much risk am I taking? People often focus and compare the returns they might achieve but neglect to consider the level of risk their adviser is taking with their money. For example, two portfolios can achieve 5% a year return, but fund 1 may be down 50% at any point during the year, and fund 2 just 10% – clearly these two are very different investments, with fund 2 being superior.
  • Is my fund outperforming a tracker fund? One chooses to invest in a fund if the manager has a proven ability to deliver attractive returns relative to the market, and for this you pay the fund manager a fee, typically around 1% per annum. But are they doing their job and is it worth the cost? A 0.5% reduction in fees may sound trivial, but I recently showed a client they could save in excess of £200,000 in fees over time.

If you would like an independent analysis of your position,
it would be our pleasure to help you

Your Financial Health Check 2022

By Chris Burke
This article is published on: 5th January 2022


New Year Financial Planning Resolutions

First of all, a very Merry Christmas, Happy New Year & Kings Day to all of my clients and readers! Here we are about to start another year; how fast the time passes! Although we have various challenges and uncertainties on our plate currently, the latest COVID-19 variation Omicron and the ongoing Brexit transition to name a couple, I am feeling optimistic about the year ahead.

This time of year is commonly thought of as the natural time to plan ahead. Writing our New Year’s Resolutions allows us to put down in writing what we would like to accomplish over the forthcoming 12 months, and hold ourselves accountable to this. There is a four-benefit cycle of writing New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. Motivation Increases – we will feel motivated and determined from the moment that we set our goals so that we…
  2. Take Control – we internalise that there is nothing stopping us from achieving our goals and that we have the power to ‘make it happen’. Resulting in a…
  3. Sense of Achievement – as we take control and achieve our goals, we will start to feel a sense of achievement, motivating us further…
  4. Self-Esteem/Confidence – as we crush our goals, we will see our self-esteem and confidence skyrocket!
New Year Financial Planning Resolutions - Health Check

But Chris, I hear you say, I don’t know what to include in my New Year’s Resolutions! There are lots of options, whether this is improving your fitness, learning a new skill or improving your financial situation. I specialise in financial advice, so I believe that I can add the most value assisting you with the latter!

A recent Royal London study (Royal London customer research: Feeling the benefit of financial advice, 2020) found that those who take financial advice are on average £47,000 better off over 10 years than those who do not. Furthermore, the study also highlighted that having a financial adviser not only has financial benefits. It suggested that the average person that receives regular financial advice feels more confident and in control, along with experiencing a heightened sense of ‘peace of mind’.

I am an advocate of the Five Key Financial Planning Principles, also known as the PIPSI. These principles are listed in order of importance, starting with ‘Protection’. If you do not have adequate cover in place, then should something happen, the rest of your plans will not happen, so it is generally agreed that protection is the most important.

P – Protection
I – Income Protection
P – Pension
S – Savings
I – Investment

Protection – do you have adequate life and critical illness cover? Are you paying a fair price for it? Do you have a will to protect your family? Is it up to date?
Income Protection – if something happened resulting in you being unable to work due to accident or illness, are you covered? Would your dependents be financially secure?
Pensions – will your pension plans allow you to retire comfortably? Do you have pensions from previous jobs that could be due for a review? If you have numerous pensions, could it be best to consolidate them to reduce the overall charges and to maximise their effectiveness?
Savings – are you saving money regularly? Are you getting the best interest rate on your savings? Are your savings protected against inflation?
Investments – do your investments match your attitude to risk? Are your current investment charges too high? Do your principles align with your investment choices? For example, are you investing in an ethical manner? Are they on track with your financial life goals?

Have you included improving your finances as a part of your New Year’s Resolutions? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with Chris to talk through your situation and receive expert, factual advice. The initial consultation is free and without any obligation.

Click here to read reviews on Chris and find out more about him and his advice.

Do I need a financial adviser?

By Jozef Spiteri
This article is published on: 30th December 2021


What exactly does a financial adviser do?

Do you have a good idea of what a financial adviser does? Some people think we are accountants, others think we are regular bankers or even stockbrokers. Well, I can start by saying that we are none of the above and here I will briefly outline what we actually do.

A financial adviser is quite simply a professional guide and planner for your finances. We take a broad view of your personal and financial circumstances, looking at your current position together with immediate and longer-term needs and goals. During an initial consultation, we try to get to know you, to understand your priorities and plans.

Once we have a clear idea of your intentions, we then move on to examine your existing finances, including assets, liabilities, income, expenditure and how much money should be held in reserve for unforeseen expenses. Protection planning will also be addressed – do you have sufficient life insurance to protect your family and is your income safeguarded against serious injury or illness?

We then consider how much should be set aside for long-term investment and retirement, whilst exploring the most suitable solutions for your circumstances. As part of this exercise we complete a questionnaire which helps determine your investment objectives and attitude to risk, allowing us to propose an appropriate investment strategy. This might focus on capital growth, wealth preservation, generating a regular income, or a combination of all three.

The final step is implementing the financial plan by completing application paperwork and arranging transfer of funds to the institution(s) responsible for managing your investments.
Beyond this initial advice we arrange regular updates and review meetings, providing ongoing service to ensure that our original recommendations are always aligned with, or where appropriate adapted to, changes in your circumstances.

This is a short summary of our advice process. Quite straightforward, right?

Jozef Spiteri

We believe in building long-term client relationships and have been doing so since our business was established in 2003. An initial meeting with a Spectrum adviser is free of charge and without obligation. Please get in touch to learn more about what we do and how we can help you.

Spring cleaning your finances

By Claire Cammack
This article is published on: 22nd April 2021


“When the dust settles on Brexit!” has been heard many, many times over recent months and even the last couple of years. But what of it? With the UK and some former EU partners enduring a bitter relationship, and the UK’s Prime Minister seemingly giving free rein to his ministers, it is difficult for many to see a clear direction. Though a clear direction is coming, according to the financial expert sector – and it may not be welcomed by expatriates! Generally, it is accepted that the UK will introduce hard measures to hang onto funds and to introduce punitive tax penalties for those funds that leave the kingdom.

Brexit seems to be “done and dusted”, yet where are we all? The global pandemic has clouded the issue but has forcibly created time for us to tackle the things that had been put off for too long. So what better time for a spring clean in your financial affairs.

Pensions will be hit first, according to the experts, then lump sum investments, if not simultaneously. It will not only be the UK taking measures. France, particularly, will be looking to gather what they can from expatriates living in France. 

Spring clean your finances

You don’t have to sit back and wait for governments to take action – and endure stress in the process! There are actions that you can take now and the first is to book a financial review with your Spectrum adviser who has a wealth of experience and resources available and at your disposal. We can quickly identify opportunities to bring your finances under your control and maximise investment and tax efficiency.

It’s not too late to act now to firm up your overall living status and ensure that all is in apple pie order for your peace of mind. Contact your Spectrum adviser for an expert appraisal of your situation.

Why do I need a Financial Adviser?

By Philip Oxley
This article is published on: 21st April 2021


Top 10 reasons!

As 2021 progresses and hopes of a better year than the last increase, I thought I would write about a question that arises for me occasionally in social situations. From time to time, I am asked, “Why do I need a financial adviser?”, or sometimes it’s simply an assertion, “I don’t see the point of having a financial adviser”. My usual response is to give a brief overview of what I do, however, depending on the circumstances, I don’t always offer a thorough response and then subsequently regret not having taken the opportunity to fully outline the benefits offered from the work my peers and I do.

I appreciate that in terms of popularity and reputation, my industry is not at the top of the pile – sometimes being undermined by the disturbing stories of people being scammed (particularly in the field of pensions), and also a small minority of advisers who are exposed as either not qualified/licensed to operate, or who fail to act in the interests of their clients.

However, I know from the feedback that my colleagues and I receive from many of our clients that the work we do is appreciated and valued by many – sometimes for quite different reasons. So, I thought I would outline the benefits of why, if you do not currently have an adviser, you might want to consider exploring whether your finances could benefit from professional advice and ongoing support.

This list is not meant to be exhaustive and I have tried to avoid a generic list, instead drawing upon feedback and anecdotal evidence from individuals – some clients, some not…yet! Hopefully, my list provides a selection of reasons why I believe the work we do can be of significant value to many.

1. Saving money/growing money

The fundamental purpose of my role is to help my clients save money, and to grow and protect the money they already have. Such savings can be made through lower fees, reduced currency exchange risk, tax-efficient investment structures, and ensuring the best pension scheme for the client is selected. These same actions can also have a positive effect on the growth and protection of a client’s money. By choosing the right investment, an impact can be made on reducing inheritance tax liability for loved ones. Furthermore, if the worst happens to you, by selecting the best pension structure, you can ensure that your loved ones can be beneficiaries of your entire pension, in accordance with your wishes.

2. Greater choice of options

Of the financial solutions that I can offer my clients, few (if any), are available through banks or insurance companies – schemes offered directly through these organisations are usually the company’s own in-house products. I am not suggesting that these options are not suitable, but the advantage of using a financial adviser is the breadth of choice and the ability to select the best available products that most accurately suit the individual. Also, whilst some financial products are available directly to the consumer, many are not and can only be provided in conjunction with professional advice.

3. Sounding board

Sometimes in life, it is nice to have someone to discuss important matters with. People often turn first to their spouse or partner, friends, and sometimes work colleagues. I often speak to people who believe that they have their financial affairs in good order, but they value having a professional and independent “financial health check” to confirm that they are on track, or to provide an objective perspective on some of the areas that might need some attention.

4. Acting as your better conscience (or encouraging people to do what they know is right!)

Let’s be honest, most people enjoy spending their money – whether it’s on their home (often, but not always, a good investment), clothes, food, entertainment, cars (virtually guaranteed to be money-losing, unless classic/vintage cars are your thing!), and holidays.

It is not always easy to take a portion of your regular income and set it aside for the medium to long term, and of course, not everyone has the luxury of having a surplus at the end of each month.

However, a good comprehensive financial review doesn’t just analyse your assets (e.g., pensions, investments, savings, property), and liabilities (e.g., mortgage, credit card debts, car, and business loans), but also reviews your income/expenditure and your long-term wants/needs, to help assess whether there is the capacity to save, and how much.

A good financial adviser will encourage you to think about the long term and help you to take the right steps towards financial security.

why do i need a financial adviser

5. “I have no money to invest” / “I can’t afford to use a Financial Adviser”

This is a response I occasionally hear, however, irrespective of financial situation – whether the individual’s money is invested in their business or home, or they live on a low income – I am always happy to conduct a financial review. I can usually share some valuable insights, even if the person does not subsequently become a client. Do not let these reasons put you off speaking to an adviser – my confidential financial reviews are free of charge, and there is no obligation to accept my advice (although, I am pleased to say, most people do!).

6. Protection and risk

Many people associate financial advisers with pensions or investing/growing wealth. However, a crucial part of good financial planning is about protecting any wealth that you already have, and making contingency plans for all possible disruptive events that might come your way. When conducting a confidential financial review, I always ask if such matters have been considered, and whether arrangements are in place to provide financial protection in all eventualities. Life insurance is not always necessary, but a will is essential – I can put people in touch with English-speaking professionals in France who can assist in both these areas.

7. No time

For those whose lives are extremely busy (I think many of us can relate to this category!), they simply do not have the time (and/or inclination – see point 9!) to look after their financial affairs. Often people know they should be devoting at least some attention to their long-term financial security, but just never seem to get around to taking action. Sometimes, these people are well-informed and know very clearly what their financial objectives are, but do not have time to implement their plans and would rather a professional undertake this work on their behalf.

8. Retirement planning

In this area, the work we do is not just about advising individuals on the importance of saving for the future or selecting the best scheme for their individual needs.

For British nationals living in France who have private pension schemes in the UK, a proper analysis should be conducted to decide if it is best to leave their pension schemes where they are, move them to a UK-based SIPP, or possibly offshore into a QROPS. There is no one correct answer and I am not going to get into the detail of this now – it was the subject of my last article!

The second critical element of this work is to forecast what level of income someone will require in their retirement once other sources of income reduce or cease, and to then plan how that need will be met through rigorous financial planning.

9. No interest in financial affairs

Of course, this is one that I struggle to understand! I have a relative, who will remain anonymous, who encapsulates the example perfectly. This is someone who is financially comfortable, but genuinely finds the subject of savings/investments (or anything to do with managing their money), of absolutely no interest – to quote, “Boring”!

As long as their money is secure and providing some growth, then they will quite happily entrust as much of the decision making as possible to their financial adviser. The key to this working is to get to know the individual very well, understand their risk profile, and be clear on the circumstances of when they wish to, or must, be consulted on decisions.

10. Knowledge/expertise

The final reason to use a Financial Adviser (and I accept this is obvious, but I needed a tenth!), is for the knowledge and expertise they can offer on available products (relevant to the country in which they work). The good ones will ensure that they thoroughly understand their clients, establish solutions that align with the individual’s aspirations, risk profile, and ethical stance. It is important that your adviser is permanently based in France, works for a French company, and is properly licensed with the relevant regulatory authorities. Above all, make sure they are someone you feel a connection with, who understands you, and who you feel confident in establishing a long-term working relationship with to support your financial goals.

In conclusion, last year was incredibly challenging for many people – both financially and emotionally – and whilst some of the restrictions we have all lived within have eased, realistically, it will be some time before life resumes with some sense of normality. Whilst everyone’s health – physical and mental – must always take priority, I honestly believe that knowing that your money is protected and growing tax efficiently, and that you have taken the necessary steps towards your long-term financial security, is one less thing for you to worry about and makes a small but important contribution towards peace of mind.

Top 3 Financial questions after BREXIT

By Andrea Glover
This article is published on: 1st February 2021


We asked Andrea Glover & Tony Delvalle – What are the current top three ‘hot topics’ with clients, particularly affecting retirees?

UK State Pensions
Andrea commented, “The withdrawal of the UK from the EU has obviously been an area of concern regarding UK State pensions. Now the Withdrawal Agreement has come into force, it is reassuring that those covered by the agreement will continue to benefit from aggregation of periods worked in the UK and EU, and those not yet retired will have the same benefits as current claimants.”

Tony went on to say, “UK State Pensions will be uprated every year whilst residing in France. This will happen even if you start claiming your pension after 1 January 2021, as long as you meet qualifying conditions.”

UK Properties
Many people coming to live in France often decide not to sell their UK home, instead renting the property out to supplement their pension income. Tony explained, “We are frequently asked if this is sensible as a form of investment. Whilst there is often an emotional tie to a former home, or perhaps a client wants to keep the option of returning to their UK home, there can be punitive tax consequences to such a decision, should they then decide to sell the property as a French tax resident.”

Tony continued, “The sale of a UK property has to be declared in both the UK and France. Although under the UK/France double tax treaty you receive a credit in France for any UK tax paid, French residents can also pay social charges on gains arising on the disposal of a UK property. There are also new rules effective from April 2020 in the UK, making such a decision even less attractive.”

Andrea summarised by saying “It really is important to speak to a Financial Adviser, particularly if you haven’t yet made the final move to France. Dependent on personal circumstances, it may be more beneficial to sell their property and invest in a more tax efficient investment vehicle such as an Assurance Vie.”

QROPS for expats

Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS)
Tony told us that many of their clients have taken advantage of a
QROPS, which enables consolidation of UK pension policies and which has attractive tax and inheritance tax advantages for French tax residents. QROPS can also offer multi-currency flexibility.

Andrea commented, “Many clients currently considering moving their pensions are querying if there are to be any changes in QROPS legislation, in view of Brexit. Our stance on this is that we believe it is highly likely that the UK Government will, after the transition period, impose a 25% tax charge on future transfers to a QROPS, making them less desirable. So, although they may not be suitable for everyone, don’t risk leaving it too late or you may face the 25% charge.”

Can we learn from the past?

By Jeremy Ferguson
This article is published on: 24th April 2020


Long periods of growth in the world, followed by a creeping in of greed, have normally caused previous stock market ‘tumbles’. This time, however, something completely unprecedented has caused it, wiping large fortunes from people’s pensions and savings, for the short term at least.

This latest situation is another great example of the fact that no one really knows what lurks around the corner. Investment managers may be clever people, but it’s simply impossible to accurately predict the timings of markets taking a tumble when events such as this take place.

‘Investing is for the medium to long term’ is something you will always hear about from people like myself. If you have a time horizon that’s very short, it’s normally fraught with danger; investments need time for you to reap their rewards. So my question is, how has the world faired on this front over the last century, and what we can learn from the past?

The first ‘event’ was the Great Depression in the US, which started in the late 1920’s. What caused it?

The early part of the decade was full of exuberance, people borrowing money to buy cars, new houses, and even borrowing to make investments in the new world of the stock market.

Everyone was doing so well, then the whole thing fell apart and nearly 13% was wiped off stock market values. For those people who had borrowed heavily to invest, it was enough to wipe them out. They lost everything, as they couldn’t repay their debts, and then followed the Great Depression. This lasted roughly 12 years until the massive manufacturing effort of WWII kick started the recovery.

Next up, after many years of growth following the end of World War II, was the famous 1987 crash. This was the largest fall in stock market values at that point in history, with a 23% fall. So what caused this? It was similar to the 1929 crash, with the addition of the speed at which people could trade shares in the modern world.

People were borrowing money, leveraging investments with the money, and then things started to go wrong. This time fear took over, with panic selling ensuing, and people lost fortunes very quickly. At that point it was the single biggest one day fall in history.

This was then followed by a 12 year recovery period, with everything being a little more controlled, until the Dot-Com bubble started to inflate. It was a frenzy of over valued companies,

people buying shares they would never have normally bought. It was all so easy to make money. Everyone was involved. Greed fevered a frenzy of madness! Then it all fell apart. The bursting of the Dot-Com bubble in 1999/2000 pushed stock markets down 23% again, but many shares fell almost 100% in value.

And off we went again… over the next 8 years, behind the scenes there was the growing greed that always seems to be lurking. Easy borrowings, people buying houses they couldn’t really afford, remortgaging the ones they had to buy more ‘things’. Banks were selling on loans to other banks.
Easy money was everywhere, seemingly fuelled by greed again. And then, you guessed it, bang! The start of the 2008 Financial crisis as it became known. The American banking system almost collapsed entirely. Never before had greed almost toppled a country. 12 years of recovery followed (sound familiar?) and 2020 is the next focal point! What more is there to say? Another large ‘tumble’ in values again.

So where am I going with this? Every time this has happened in the markets before, afterwards there ensues a protracted period of recovery and growth. The important thing is the ‘line’ keeps going up, albeit in a rather rugged manner.

The below graph is an example of 50 years growth of the 500 largest companies in the US up to the 2008 crisis. It is all over the place, but if you were invested for the medium to long term, the ‘line’ goes up and up, which is why people invest their hard earned pensions and savings. To profit!

This recovery is going to be tough, and in a new and changed world. It will come from companies that are agile, well financed with flexible long term objectives, and who are able to adapt quickly to the ever changing world.

Never has this been so obvious as it is now. If you have money invested, make sure as best you can it is exposed to investments that are most likely to be part of the recovery. A recovery that history has taught us always happened in the past.

Lockdown is a great opportunity to dig out your files to see what you are invested in, and if you need any assistance or a second opinion, I am happy to help. I can be contacted at :

Jeremy Ferguson
The Spectrum IFA Group
Sotogrande, 11310, Spain
Office: + 0034 956 794409
Mobile: + 34 670 216 229

Longer Term Perspective

By Chris Webb
This article is published on: 22nd April 2020


One of my favourite songs is, ‘The Show Must Go On’ by Queen, arguably one of the best bands ever. How apt the opening lines sound now. It’s day 41 of our lockdown as we bunkered down on the 11th of March, a little earlier than the national lockdown came into force and I wont lie and pretend its been plain sailing. Having two children home schooling and trying to run our businesses from home at the same time has been quite a challenge, but the overriding feeling has been and still is that the show must go on…

Emotionally this might just be the toughest period that we all have to go through. Every day is a new challenge. But as we all know, we can’t just sit and stare at the walls and feel sorry for ourselves.

All of us will have had different emotional barriers to face. They might be the feeling of confinement and reduced work capabilities; they might be a feeling of panic and anxiety trying to deal with the unknown situation we are in; they could be dealing directly with this virus, either having caught it themselves or having a loved one infected.

It doesn’t matter what the factor is, it’s guaranteed that we have all been dealing with emotions far more during the last 5/6 weeks than we have ever had.

On top of dealing with our own family’s emotions, I am having daily conversations with my clients about their investments during this period and the emotional impact it is having. All it takes is to watch the news channel to clearly see how volatile the markets have been. This is an additional emotional crisis for some, particularly if they aren’t experienced investors.

All my clients will know that I talk a lot about the different hats you need to wear when investing in the markets. There is the investment hat and the emotional hat. The investment hat is the exciting one that drives your investment decisions; the emotional hat is the one that pulls you back a little and makes you consider your choices. In my opinion the emotional hat is the most important one. It only lets you make decisions that you are happy with and have thought through.

Here are my top tips for dealing with the emotional side of investing; hopefully it will help steer you through the coming weeks.

The Rational, Irrational and Emotional Struggle
It is a challenge to look beyond the short-term variances and focus on the long-term averages.

The greatest challenge may be in deciding to stay invested during a volatile market and a time of low consumer confidence. History has shown us that it is important to stay invested in good and bad market environments.

During periods of high consumer confidence stock prices peak and during periods of low consumer confidence stock prices can come under pressure. Historically, returns trended in the opposite direction of past consumer confidence data. When confidence is low it has been the time to buy or hold.

Of course, no one can predict the bottom or guarantee future returns. But as history has shown, the best decision may be to stay invested even during volatile markets.

Declines May Present Opportunities
An emotional roller coaster ride is especially nerve-racking during a decline. However, the best opportunity to make money may be when stock prices are low. Buying low and selling high has always been one of the basic rules of investing and building wealth. Yet during these emotional and challenging times it is easy to be fearful and/or negative, so let’s turn to the wise advice of one of the world’s best investors, the late Sir John Templeton:

“Don’t be fearful or negative too often. For 100 years optimists have carried the day in U.S. stocks. Even in the dark ’70s, many professional money managers—and many individual investors too—made money in stocks, especially those of smaller companies…There will, of course, be corrections, perhaps even crashes. But, over time, our studies indicate stocks do go up, up and up”

Watching from the Sidelines May Cost You
When markets become volatile, a lot of people try to guess when stocks will bottom out. In the meantime, they often park their investments in cash.

But just as many investors are slow to recognize a retreating stock market, many also fail to see an upward trend in the market until after they have missed opportunities for gains. Missing out on these opportunities can take a big bite out of your returns.

Euro / Dollar Cost Averaging Makes It Easier to Cope with Volatility
Most people are quick to agree that volatile markets present buying opportunities for investors with a long-term horizon. But mustering the discipline to make purchases during a volatile market can be difficult. You can’t help wondering, “Is this really the right time to buy?”

Euro / Dollar cost averaging can help reduce anxiety about the investment process. Simply put, Euro / Dollar cost averaging is committing a fixed amount of money at regular intervals to an investment. You buy more shares when prices are low and fewer shares when prices are high, and over time, your average cost per share may be less than the average price per share. Euro / Dollar cost averaging involves a continuous, disciplined investment in fund shares, regardless of fluctuating price levels. Investors should consider their financial ability to continue purchases through periods of low-price levels or changing economic conditions. Such a plan does not assure a profit and does not protect against loss in a declining market.

Now May Be a Great Time for a Portfolio Check Up
Is your portfolio as diversified as you think it is? Meet with me to find out. Your portfolio’s weightings in different asset classes may shift over time as one investment performs better or worse than another. Together we can re-examine your portfolio to see if you are properly diversified. You can also determine whether your current portfolio mix is still a suitable match with your goals and risk tolerance.

Tune Out the Noise and Gain a Longer-Term Perspective
Numerous television stations and websites are dedicated to reporting investment news 24 hours a day, seven days a week. What’s more, there are almost too many financial publications and websites to count. While the media provide a valuable service, they typically offer a very short-term outlook. To put your own investment plan in a longer-term perspective and bolster your confidence, you may want to look at how different types of portfolios have performed over time. Interestingly, while stocks may be more volatile, they’ve still outperformed income-oriented investments (such as bonds) over longer time periods.

Believe Your Beliefs and Doubt Your Doubts
There are no real secrets to managing volatility. Most investors already know that the best way to navigate a choppy market is to have a good long-term plan and a well-diversified portfolio. But sticking to these fundamental beliefs is sometimes easier said than done. When put to the test, you may begin doubting your beliefs and believing your doubts, which can lead to short-term moves that divert you from your long-term goals. To keep from falling into this trap, call me before making any changes to your portfolio So that’s my tips for fighting your way through the emotional impact of investing. I hope it is beneficial to you. The main point to take away from this is that THE SHOW MUST GO ON.

Stay calm, stay invested, don’t make crazy rash decisions and in a short time, this will be a blip in the past. If you want to discuss the risk element or have a second opinion on your investments, I am happy to conduct an initial consultation and present any recommendations free of charge. You can get in touch using the contact details below.

Don’t delay your financial plans. For planning, yesterday is better than today, which is better than tomorrow