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Viewing posts categorised under: Stocks & Shares

Ukraine – stockmarkets’ reaction

By John Lansley
This article is published on: 10th March 2022


The Russian invasion of Ukraine on the 24th February shocked the world and the brutal treatment of Ukrainians continues to instill horror and a feeling of helplessness.  The world was beginning to breathe a collective sigh of relief about Covid’s impact diminishing, but now there is a new emergency threatening not just Ukraine but also the wider global community.

How it plays out is anyone’s guess and the purpose of this note is not to try to add to the comment and analysis we are reading every day, but to attempt to put into perspective how it has affected global stockmarkets, and hence people’s wealth.  The major markets are indeed down compared with the end of December –

  • FTSE100 -6.5%
  • DowJones -9.7%
  • NASDAQ -18%
  • Eurostoxx -18.3%

(Note that the blue chip FTSE100 and DowJones indices have fallen less than 10%, whereas the tech-heavy NASDAQ has fallen much more, after its huge gains in the last couple of years.  Europe is a lot closer to the war of course.)

But not all of these falls are due to the attack – markets had fallen already due to fears over increasing inflation, and a certain amount of profit-taking, but it’s true that from late-January the tension due to the increasing Russian rhetoric and the amassing of troops near the Ukrainian border was causing uncertainty, and that markets were becoming increasingly volatile.  Most thought that the situation would be diffused – how could Putin possibly risk global stability by going ahead with his war?

Looking back two years, we all remember what we were doing as the first Covid restrictions were announced, back in late March 2020.  Stock markets fell quickly.  Between the highs of late January/early February of that year and the 20th March, the falls rivalled the crash in October 1987 –

  • FTSE100 -32.4%
  • DowJones -34.7%
  • NASDAQ -29.3%
  • Eurostoxx -33.7%

There followed a slow but steady recovery, with the UK and Europe generally restoring all the lost ground since then by the end of 2021, US blue chip companies gaining much more and the NASDAQ, with its tech-laden businesses, peaking at 233% higher than 20.3.20.

impact of wars on stockmarkets

What am I saying?
The invasion of Ukraine is indeed a horrible affair, but so far the major markets of blue chip companies have fallen far less than when Covid first threatened the world.  Portfolio valuations will have fallen of course, but most contain not just shares but also other types of investment that will not have fallen quite as much as stock markets themselves, and so most clients will not be seeing falls such as the headline figures above.

As was the case during the early stages of the Covid pandemic, fund managers and portfolio managers were very active in trying to reposition their portfolios to reduce exposure to problem areas and at the same time taking advantage of sectors that might benefit from the new financial climate, such as online businesses.  At times like these, portfolio managers really earn their salaries and the results will reveal their successes and failures.

Yes, these are difficult times, and, as an investor myself, I appreciate how easy it is to feel threatened by events outside my control.  But I am confident that the professionals who are looking after our money will continue to do so to the best of their ability.

If you would like to discuss these issues further, or if you have any questions relating to financial planning and how to invest safely as a resident of Spain, do please contact me.

HOW TO INVEST – Stocks – They Don’t Have to be Taxing

By Spectrum IFA
This article is published on: 24th March 2021


In my previous article, I described what stock options are and how they can be utilised by both companies and individuals to create wealth. Now, I will look at some of the tax liabilities that you may be subject to and how you may be able to mitigate them when you decide to take up your option to purchase the stock. I will be focussing on the Belgian market, but we are also able to help if you are based in other countries, so do not hesitate to contact us with a specific enquiry.

Short answer? You cannot. If the option is quoted on a stock exchange, the amount to be taxed is calculated on the basis of its closing price on the day immediately prior to the offer date. If the option is not quoted, then the amount to be taxed is 18% of the underlying share multiplied by the number of option rights held. As with all tax due in Belgium, these need to be reported to the tax authority.

At the time of writing, the Belgian rate of tax on stocks, shares and equities is 30% on the dividend income received; this tax is known as Withholding Tax. Companies that are established in Belgium are obligated to withhold this tax from investment income received.

If the dividends received into a Belgian bank account are coming from a foreign company, then the bank is obligated to apply the withholding tax. In addition, a withholding tax set at the rate set by the country the dividends are coming from must also be applied. This can be reduced if Belgium has a double taxation treaty with said country.

Let’s look at a quick example. A popular country of origin for stocks, shares or equities is the US. The US can charge a withholding tax of 30% on top of the Belgian withholding tax. Belgium retains a double taxation treaty with the US. This subsequently reduces the US withholding tax by up to half, whilst the Belgian withholding tax remains. On top of this, on January 1, 2018 the Belgian government introduced a withholding tax exemption threshold of up to €800 on dividends to encourage people to invest.

I wrote an article on Branch 23, an investment bond solution available in Belgium for investors who wish to invest in a tax compliant way and also plan for inheritance and estate tax planning. Your stock, shares and equities can be held within this solution and you would not be liable to withholding tax on your investments for as long as you hold the bond. You will pay 2% Insurance Premium Tax when you initially invest and that covers your taxation liability (including Withholding Tax and Social Insurance Contribution that can add up to 59.58%) for however long you hold the bond.

To understand more how I can help you manage your stocks and shares/equities that you have accumulated in a more tax efficient manner, please contact me at or +32 494 90 71 72.