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Become mortgage-ready this summer

Do you have hopes to buy? Whether you’re looking to get on, move up or down the ladder, your property dreams are possible with a little preparation. Here’s how you can get yourself mortgage-ready this summer.

 

Check your credit score

Lenders will inspect your credit report for evidence that you can meet the mortgage repayments. Check your records for free now so you have time to make any improvements. No matter where you are today, there is always an opportunity to boost your score.

 

Consistency is key

Mortgage lenders are looking for signs that you are responsible, so paying your bills on time is a great way of boosting your credibility. Any indication that you could go into debt may put off a lender, so be mindful of your outgoings especially in the months running up to your application.

 

Go through old accounts

Consider how any inactive accounts might affect your application. It is advisable to close accounts that are out of date – particularly joint accounts with people you are no longer financially linked to.

 

Register to vote

Being on the electoral roll serves as proof of your identity and address.

 

Maximise your deposit

With high loan-to-value (LTV) mortgages available, it can be tempting to place the smallest possible deposit on a property. However, this will cost you more in the long run as your monthly repayments will be higher. Do your future-self a favour and put down any extra cash that you can.

 

Seek advice

You don’t need to navigate the mortgage market on your own. We can find options that you might not have access to, advise on schemes that could help, and assist you with the application process.

 

Get in touch with our team today! – www.audleywealth.com/contact-us

*As a mortgage is secured against your home or property, it could be repossessed if you do not keep up mortgage repayments

Insights into behavioural investing

Have you ever made an irrational or impulsive purchase you’ve later regretted? We all make decisions based on our emotions or personal biases, but when it comes to investing, such mistakes can be very costly.

What is behavioural investment?

Behavioural investment is an approach that acknowledges how our emotions and our biases can sometimes make decisions for us. During periods of geopolitical uncertainty and heightened risk, behavioural investment biases can become even more pronounced, tempting you into making poor decisions. Here are some impulses that often lead to bad investment decisions:

  • Loss aversion: Investors worry about their investments falling further in value, so they sell them prematurely, locking in losses and missing out on potential rebounds
  • Herd mentality: When markets fall, people tend to panic, follow the crowd and sell their investments. This ‘herd mentality’ means markets keep falling, as more people panic and sell, creating a spiral
  • Confirmation bias: Investors let their own opinions dictate their actions and often seek out information that confirms their existing fears, ignoring evidence that contradicts their own impulses
  • Overconfidence: Some investors believe they can predict the market’s reaction to geopolitical events, leading them to make risky bets that could ultimately backfire. 

Avoiding behavioural biases

Investors often need to worry less about geopolitical events and more about avoiding making poor decisions. Worry not, you’re in safe hands. We can create a plan and stick to it, so we focus on longer-term goals, rather than risk getting distracted by short-term noise.

We will build a resilient portfolio, spreading your investments across different asset classes to manage risk. Rest assured, we will make well-considered, researched investment decisions to increase your chances of achieving your long-term financial goals.

Get in touch with our team today to discuss your options – www.audleywealth.com/contact-us

The value of investments and income from them may go down. You may not get back the original amount invested. A pension is a long-term investment. The fund value may fluctuate and can go down. Your eventual income may depend on the size of the fund at retirement, future interest rates and tax legislation.

Optimistic days ahead

This year, summer brings hope of a better financial future as inflationary pressures recede and the economy continues to grow. It could therefore be an ideal opportunity to prioritise a range of pension-related issues in order to ensure brighter days do lie ahead.

Pension withdrawals up

Many people have faced significant financial challenges over the last few years. Recently released Financial Conduct Authority data covering 2022/23 highlights these difficulties, with the number of pension plans accessed for the first time up by 5%. However, as recent challenges begin to ease, it is hoped that, rather than dipping into pension savings, people’s focus will increasingly return to boosting their retirement pots and sorting out other pension-related concerns.

Expression of wishes

One pertinent issue relates to inheritance, with research (Canada Life, 2024) showing that almost half of all UK pension savers have not considered who will inherit or otherwise benefit from their retirement savings. Since April’s Lifetime Allowance changes, decisions around pension beneficiaries have become more vital due to the way such pensions are taxed on receipt. It is therefore extremely worrying that the research also found over half of respondents had not completed an expression of wishes form, with a further one in ten unaware if their forms were up to date.

Taxing issues

Most people appreciate the tax advantages associated with pension contributions, but what is often less well-known is their potential to passon wealth tax-efficiently. This means pensions can play an important role in supporting loved ones after you pass away. Pensions can also be advantageously used to navigate the Child Benefit trap, as pension contributions reduce taxable income and can thereby enable some people to avoid paying the Child Benefit Charge.

Pension conversations

We all appreciate the importance of devoting time to our pension arrangements now to ensure we reap the benefits later. If you need help with any retirement-related issues, we can talk through your options and make sure you are maximising your pension benefits.

The value of investments and income from them may go down. You may not get back the original amount invested. A pension is a long-term investment. The fund value may fluctuate and can go down. Your eventual income may depend on the size of the fund at retirement, future interest rates and tax legislation.

2024 General Election Debrief

Following weeks of intense campaigning, the electorate has delivered its verdict. As widely expected, the Labour Party has secured a historic landslide victory, soaring past the magic 326 seat mark in the early hours of Friday morning. 

 

With the party now occupying over 400 seats, Sir Keir Starmer’s promise of “change” has certainly struck a chord with the electorate. In his victory speech, the incoming Prime Minister said, “We did it! You campaigned for it. You fought for it. You voted for it, and now it has arrived. Change begins now.” 

 

The Conservatives sustained huge losses in the party’s worst ever election performance. Outgoing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said, “The British people have delivered a sobering verdict tonight, there is much to learn… and I take responsibility for the loss.” He continued, “Today, power will change hands in a peaceful and orderly manner, with goodwill on all sides. That is something that should give us all confidence in our country’s stability and future.”

 

Mr Sunak, who has been in office since October 2022, managed to hold on to his seat in Richmond and Northallerton in Yorkshire; meanwhile, a raft of senior Conservative MPs lost their seats including former Prime Minister Liz Truss, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps, Penny Mordaunt and Jacob Rees-Mogg. In Wales, the Conservative Party lost all of their seats. 

 

It was a record-breaking night for the Liberal Democrats, who secured over 70 seats. In the early hours of Friday morning, Sir Ed Davey said his party was set to achieve its “best result for a century.” Meanwhile, Reform UK leader Nigel Farage was voted an MP for the first time and the Green Party also broke records.

 

The Scottish National Party (SNP) suffered a dismal night, with SNP leader John Swinney describing the General Election result as “very, very difficult and damaging” for the party. The result greatly diminishes the chances of an independence referendum.

 

In the first July General Election since 1945, millions of voters made their way to polling stations on Thursday to have their say. However, early indications suggest an estimated voter turnout of below 60% – the lowest in over 20 years.

 

Market reaction

In the run up to the election, the markets were reasonably stable with a strong Labour victory already priced in and investors hopeful of a pro-growth productivity-led agenda. As the markets opened following the results on 5 July, the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 both opened up and sterling held steady after the exit polls came in on Thursday evening.

What now?

 

A new parliament will be summoned to meet on 9 July. The King’s Speech is scheduled for 17 July and is part of the State Opening of Parliament, before which no substantive parliamentary business can usually occur. The new government will then decide a date on which the summer recess will commence. 

 

And a Budget?

 

We await the date of incoming Chancellor Rachel Reeves’ first Budget, where we will gain clarity on the new government’s fiscal priorities, where any changes to tax and spending will be announced. Ms Reeves said Labour would not hold a Budget without an independent forecast by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), these require ten weeks’ notice to prepare.

 

Labour manifesto key pledges

 

Some of the new government’s key manifesto pledges include reforming planning rules, recruiting 6,500 new teachers and tackling immigration. Plans are expected to be funded by raising £8bn through abolishing the non-dom tax status, increasing Stamp Duty for foreign buyers, clamping down on those underpaying tax by closing ‘loopholes’ in the windfall tax on oil and gas firms, and introducing VAT on private school fees (Rachel Reeves has suggested this won’t be imposed until at least 2025). No changes were promised to personal tax rates and on pensions, the Triple Lock is expected to be upheld and a review of the pensions landscape undertaken.

 

The bottom line

Whichever way you voted on 4 July, the country has acted decisively to provide a massive majority and, under Keir Starmer’s leadership the hard work begins. As usual, we will keep a close eye on developments likely to impact your personal finances over the coming months. Looking after your financial future remains a priority. Please get in touch if you have any questions.

*The value of investments can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. The past is not a guide to future performance and past performance may not necessarily be repeated. 

All details are correct at time of writing (5 July 2024)

Investing in an election year

If elections have consequences, as Barack Obama said, then 2024 looks like being a highly consequential year. Some 64 countries are due to hold elections this year (including the US, India, Brazil, Russia and very probably the UK), representing over half of the global population and, in economic terms, half of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Depending on the outcomes, some of these elections carry significant global implications, influencing not only the geopolitical landscape but also impacting global and regional investment markets. So, how could this year’s elections affect the investment landscape and, by extension, your portfolio?

What are the investment implications?

Election years are typically marked by increased uncertainty and speculation because there’s nothing that markets hate more than uncertainty. A change in a country’s leadership or policy direction can affect everything from its stock market to commodity prices, influencing investor sentiment worldwide. 

From a UK perspective, elections in countries such as India, Brazil, and even the European Union, could have wide-reaching implications, and the results will be important in terms of supply chains, access to commodities and trade policies. With 70% of revenues earned by FTSE 100 listed companies derived overseas, domestic shareholders will be keeping a close eye on global election results. It’s impossible to talk about elections in 2024 without discussing the elephant in the room – the US.

A rematch?

As the world’s largest economy, the US sets the tone for global economic policies regarding trade, regulation, and fiscal stimulus. Democratic presidents are usually better for the US economy, and for investment returns in general, but given his low approval rating, the re-election of President Joe Biden is far from certain. The race is unlikely to be a straight line, and an election victory for Trump, despite numerous legal issues, could cause ripples worldwide as investors work out the likely implications for the US and indeed the rest of the world.

What should investors be thinking about?

Uncertainty about election outcomes and the potential for policy changes often lead to short-term fluctuations in asset prices. And while keeping an eye on political developments is important, there’s no reason to be overly concerned about how an election year could affect your investment over the longer term. It’s important not to be distracted by short-term ‘noise.’ 

The best way to prepare for potential market volatility is to have a well-diversified investment portfolio that is aligned with your long-term financial objectives and managed to meet your personal financial goals.

For more information, contact our team today – www.audleywealth.com/contact-us

*Content is for informational purposes only. You may not get back the original amount invested. 

Developing your retirement strategy

Have you developed a retirement strategy yet? Whether you’re nearing retirement, or you still have many years of your working life ahead, careful planning is essential to secure financial stability and peace of mind when you stop working.

Active planning is important

According to a recent report (Standard Life, 2024), individuals on average begin actively planning for retirement around the age of 36. At this age, 63% of respondents expressed confidence in their financial decision-making abilities, a notable increase compared to younger demographics where only 56% share the same level of confidence.

With more than a decade of work experience under their belt by age 36, the ‘age of responsibility’ arrives for many people, with increasing awareness of the importance of financial planning, including actively thinking about their retirement. 

Whatever your age, a well-thought-out retirement strategy is a must!

Decades to go?

Younger individuals can afford to adopt a more aggressive investment approach with their pension pot, embracing riskier assets for potentially higher returns over time, if they are comfortable doing so. Although this strategy does involve exposure to short-term market fluctuations, the longer investment horizon allows ample time for recovery from any downturns (during which monthly pension contributions may be invested at the cheaper asset prices).

If you’re closer to retirement

For those on the cusp of retirement in the next few years, a prudent approach

involves creating a smooth, non-volatile investment profile which minimises risk for the first five to ten years of retirement, with the remainder invested in more volatile funds which have the potential to grow over the longer term. This approach should help to shield your pension pot from the unpredictable nature of market volatility, as witnessed during events

like the pandemic or financial crashes. By maintaining a stable portfolio for the initial years of retirement, you minimise the risk, thus safeguarding your financial wellbeing.

How about the ‘inbetweeners’?

For those falling between these two extremes, a balanced and risk-managed approach is advisable. The strategy here is to aim for a balanced mix of stable and more volatile investments, aligned to your risk tolerance and personal financial goals. Diversifying your portfolio across various asset classes helps mitigate risk while providing the potential for growth.

The importance of rebalancing

Regular portfolio rebalancing is vital for a sound retirement strategy. Market fluctuations and varying asset performances can cause your portfolio to deviate from its original allocation over time. Without intervention, this drift could lead to unintended asset concentration and increased risk exposure.

For more information, contact our team here – www.audleywealth.com/contact-us

*The value of investments and income from them may go down. You may not get back the original amount invested. A pension is a long-term investment. The fund value may fluctuate and can go down. Your eventual income may depend on the size of the fund at retirement, future interest rates and tax legislation.

Joint mortgages for FTBs

Traditionally, when thinking about joint mortgages, most people picture a married couple. Increasingly, however, friends or siblings are taking out joint mortgages when they buy their first home together.

Stronger together

A joint mortgage is the most popular way for first-time buyers (FTBs) to fund their home purchase, with more than six in ten opting for one (Halifax, 2023).

Buying with someone else means you can split the costs. Saving enough money to pay the deposit is one of the biggest hurdles for FTBs, with joint mortgages allowing buyers to share the burden. Likewise, monthly payments can be made together and your joint earnings will be used to determine how much you can borrow.

Joint or common?

A joint mortgage works the same way as a normal residential mortgage. Lenders usually allow groups of up to four people to apply for a joint mortgage. The bi decision is whether to be joint tenants or tenants in common:

  1. Joint tenants essentially act like a single owner. You all have equal rights in the home, you split the profits equally when selling and, should one borrower die, the others will inherit their share.
  1. Tenants in common have separate interests in the whole property. This means that you can choose how to split the ownership, with one person,perhaps, paying a bigger deposit in return for a bigger share of the value when sold.

Do you trust each other?

Before applying for a joint mortgage with a group of friends, make sure you know the commitment you are taking on. For example, if one person is unable to keep up with payments, the others must cover the full amount.

If you would like to know more about mortgages and how wer can help you, get in touch – www.audleywealth.com/contact-us

*Content is for informational purposes only. As a mortgage is secured against your home or property, it could be repossessed if you do not keep up mortgage repayments. 

Wealth transfer gains momentum

Recently published research suggests the long-heralded ‘great wealth transfer’ is now firmly underway, which inevitably heightens the need for carefully considered intergenerational financial planning as assets continue to flow down the generations.

The great transfer
Dubbed by analysts the ‘great wealth transfer,’ the next two decades are set to witness the largest ever intergenerational transfer of wealth as baby boomers and Gen X pass on assets to their heirs.

Gaining momentum
A recent survey (UBS Billionaire Ambitions Report, 2023) shows this transfer starting to gather momentum,with 2023 the first ever year in which billionaires amassed more wealth through inheritance than entrepreneurship. This trend is expected to continue in the coming years, with predictions millennials’ wealth will increase five-fold across the current decade, with significant levels of wealth passing to Gen Z too, according to research (Coldwell Banker, 2019).

Continuing family legacies
As the great wealth transfer progresses, each generation will clearly have their own views on legacy. The research did, however, find strong support for continuing current family legacies, with 60% of heirs planning for future generations to benefit from their wealth.

Careful planning
In addition, heirs were found to be conscious of the need to reshape and reposition their wealth in order to continue the family legacy, while they also appear to be taking a more holistic approach to the role accumulation of wealth plays in their lives. All of this suggests careful planning will be required if families are to successfully transfer wealth in a way that makes fair provision for all generations.

Intergenerational mismatch
A new survey (abrdn, 2023), however, highlights baby boomer concerns about how their money may ultimately be spent. According to the research, a third of baby boomers are reluctant to pass wealth to someone whose attitude to money differs from their own; additionally, Gen Z were found to be much more likely to adopt a short-term financial outlook than their forebears. Researchers fear this disparity in attitudes could therefore impact older generations’ wealth transfer decisions.

Bridging the divide
While such differences could create intergenerational conflict, we can help alleviate any issues by building cross- generational connections and ensuring any asset transfer is conducted in a way that meets your specific needs. Developing relationships with your beneficiaries to ensure younger generations will receive financial decision-making support can create invaluable peace of mind for both you and your heirs.

Inheritance options
A range of options are available for people looking to transfer wealth, with lifetime gifting amongst the popular methods of passing on money. Complexities with Inheritance Tax and rules in establishing trusts, though, mean sound advice is critical in order to adopt the most efficient approach.

Here to support you
All the evidence suggests developing strong relationships is key to the success of intergenerational financial planning. So get in touch and, with our support, you and your family can work towards determining and achieving your inheritance planning objectives.

www.audleywealth.com/contact-us

*The value of investments and income from them may go down. You may not get back the original amount invested. Inheritance Tax Planning is not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Record levels of IHT receipts

Figures released by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) show that IHT receipts have hit record levels while new data shows the taxman is hunting down thousands of families that have not paid the correct liability on inherited estates.

Record sums
In the first ten months of the 2023/24 financial year, HMRC collected £6.3bn in death duty receipts, £0.4bn more than during the same period of the previous fiscal year. This represents a 7% rise and suggests this year’s annual figure will comfortably surpass last year’s record-breaking total of £7.1bn.

Frozen thresholds
The increase continues an upward trajectory that has been evident in recent years, largely as a result of the nil-rate threshold being frozen at £325,000 for over a decade. This, combined with growth in property prices, has effectively dragged more households into the IHT net.

Investigations rising
Recent years have also seen record amounts of underpaid tax clawed back by HMRC through a specialist team targeting the estates of wealthy deceased individuals. Data obtained via a Freedom of Information request shows a total of 2,029 IHT investigations were opened between April and November 2023, with £172m recovered over that period as a result of targeted investigations.

IHT concerns
New research (RBC, 2024) also suggests IHT is the number one financial concern among wealthy individuals. In total, the survey found that more than a third of wealthy Brits are worried about IHT, with notable increases in levels of concern reported across both the 25 to 34 and 55 to 65-year-old categories over the past year.

Complex rules
The rules surrounding IHT are notoriously complex and people therefore often require professional advice in order to find the most efficient solution for their personal circumstances.

If you have any concerns or need advice in this area do get in touch; we’re always here to help – www.audleywealth.com/contact-us

We speak your language

Financial jargon can be confusing and overwhelming. A new study (Aviva, 2022) has revealed that seven in 10 UK adults are puzzled by financial jargon.

Age gap
The research also found that those aged under 25 are least likely to feel puzzled by financial jargon, with around half (52%) of those aged 18 to 24 stating this, compared to 69% across all age groups. However, there may be an explanation as to why this age group are less confused by financial jargon – they simply might not have heard of certain financial products or terms. For example, less than two thirds of UK adults (61%) in this age group report hearing the term ‘pension’ compared to 97% of those aged 55 and above. In contrast, 18 to 24-year-olds are the group most likely to be aware of the term ‘ESG fund’ (Environmental, Social and Governance).

But even if you have heard a term, it doesn’t necessarily show that you understand its meaning. Just 61% of people who are aware of an ‘ESG fund’ feel confident of its meaning.

Lost in translation
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to financial jargon is that it often feels like a language unto itself. Even if you’re a skilled communicator in other areas, financial terminology may use specialist jargon that can leave you feeling lost.

Ultimately, it’s important to remember that financial jargon is a tool for communicating complex concepts and ideas. We can explain everything you need to know in plain English. Get in touch – whatever your age! (OUR A-Z HERE)

The value of investments and income from them may go down. You may not get back the original amount invested. A pension is a long-term investment. The fund value may fluctuate and can go down. Your eventual income may depend on the size of the fund at retirement, future interest rates and tax legislation.