Take control of your pension – a guide to SIPPs

According to recent reports, a rising number of Brits are failing to save enough for their retirement. In fact, around 35% think that saving for a potential emergency is more important, which is placing their long-term financial future in danger.

This is particularly true given the dwindling value of the existing State pension in the UK, which continues to decline as the national retirement age rises.

Fortunately, Self-invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs) can help people to optimise the value of savings. So here’s brief guide to SIPPs and their benefits to savers.

What is a SIPP?

In simple terms, a SIPP is a personal pension that offers you access to a more diverse range of both domestic and international assets.

At the same time, it also offers you greater control over your finances, which is ideal if you have specific market knowledge and are able to leverage this to your own advantage.

Like other pension vehicles, SIPPs are also able to grow free from Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax, while they’ll also offer relief on your own contributions. Any money that you invest into your SIPP will be topped up by 20% by the taxman, while higher and additional-rate tax payers could claim an extra 20-25% in relief.

In the case of some providers like Bestinvest, you may even be able to transfer existing pension funds into a single SIPP while potentially having some of the associated costs of changing providers covered. This can save you up to £500 in exit fees in some instances, while also creating an easier-to-manage pension that can driver higher returns.

Breaking down SIPPs and the associated jargon

Beyond these basics, you may find that SIPPs are surrounded by a number of niche industry terms that are largely unfamiliar. This type of jargon can deter savers from opening such accounts as they believe them to be too complex and difficult to manage.

Aside from the fact that you can open a SIPP that is managed by experienced wealth managers, you can also break down some of the jargon to create a far greater level of understanding.

You’ll often hear the term ‘annual allowance’ used in relation to SIPPs, for example, which is the amount you can pay into your account each year while benefiting from tax relief.

In the current tax year, the annual allowance is £40,000 for anyone with income of up to £150,000 each year. Anyone with more than £150,000 of income has a tapered annual allowance, reducing by £1 for every £2 of income above £150,000, down to a minimum of £10,000 for those with income of more than £210,000. .

‘Annuity’ is another often misunderstood example of SIPP terminology, and one that is also synonymous with traditional pensions. This is a method of drawing income from your fund, as when you purchase an annuity you pay a lump sum to receive a guaranteed income for life.

This income will come in exchange for some or all of your retirement savings, so it’s something that requires detailed consideration before you make an informed and final decision.

How will Brexit affect house prices?

After the referendum held in 2016 in which the British public democratically voted to exit the European Union, it is safe to say there has been a lot of uncertainty about a lot of things. One of these things is the status of the housing market.

Britain’s housing market is starting to grind to a halt in certain parts of the UK as the time for our departure from the EU draws ever closer. In fact, prices in London fell 0.4 per cent over the last year. The UK also saw weak growth for the East and South East of England. The number of sales in these areas has seriously declined, causing the prices to drop.

As a result of these revelations, many potential house buyers are asking themselves two important questions. First of all, is Brexit to blame for this decline in the property market? And secondly, how might it take effect on house prices as Britain’s negotiations with the EU as it reaches its climax in the months ahead?

How has Brexit affected house prices so far?

There have always been concerns that the Brexit Vote would lead to a rapid crash in the price of property, but these have not yet really come to fruition since the UK has not actually yet left the EU. However, house price growth has well and truly slowed down since the EU referendum result was announced on the 24th of June 2016. There is considerable variation depending on the area, however.

Prices in Northern Ireland and the North, South West and the Midlands of England grew at roughly the same rate as it did before the referendum, which is about 4 to 5 per cent a year. Meanwhile, the growth in property prices in Scotland has actually increased significantly. It is London and the commuter belt which have taken the hardest hit in decreasing house prices.

At the time of the referendum, house prices in London were growing at an annual rate of 12 per cent. However, recent statistics show that this fell by 0.4 per cent in the year to May this year – this, in turn, has dragged down the overall national average significantly.

At this point, the biggest factor in the fall is the lack of demand for buy-to-let investors and this is trickling down to other industries such as mortgage applications, second charge mortgages and bridging loans. Tax and various regularity changes have eaten into landlords’ profits and have ultimately discouraged potential investors from being able to buy new properties to rent out.

What could happen next?

Essentially, what Brexit means for the housing market is what it means for the economy. This is because the housing market is very influenced by wages as well as interest rates, both of which will be affected by Brexit.

Many experts do expect that Brexit will have a negative effect on wages to some extent, adding that if the UK was not leaving the EU, the wage growth would actually be higher.

The truth is that we will not know the full impact the Brexit will have on house prices until Britain and successfully and officially departed from the EU.

Equity Release Industry Now Worth £3 Billion

The equity release industry broke through the £3 billion barrier in 2017, with over 37,000 new customers signing up to remove equity from their home. Homeowners over 55 years old are able to release up to 35% of the value of their property and receive the funds in one lump sum which is tax free.

The main benefit is that families can continue to stay in their existing home which the lender receives a stake in and is able to recover their funds when the homeowner dies or moves into full time care. The remaining sums are passed onto their children or next of kin of the homeowners in the form of inheritance.

What has fuelled the increase in demand for equity release?

The increased costs of living and ageing population have spurred the equity release industry. Whereby seniors had previously saved a certain amount and relied on their pensions, this may no longer be sufficient to maintain a high standard of living in the UK today. Furthermore, the rise in competition in the industry and the use of TV and radio has made the product more mainstream and more competitive products available for customers.

How much did households release from their home?

According to Equity Release Online, the average household that used equity release in the final quarter of 2017 withdrew around £62,539 from their home, an increase from £59,002 in the previous quarter.

Commonly referred to as lifetime mortgages, the financial product assumes that you will continue to live in your estate for the rest of your life. Lifetime mortgages have flexible options allowing you to release all the money you require upfront or via instalments to give you a regular income. You also have the choice over whether you want to make full or partial repayments or if you want the product to run until you die.

A full reversion plan is another option allowing homeowners to receive 20% to 60% of the property’s value but giving up the homeownership status of your property but living in the premises as a tenant.

This is considered a much riskier option for applicants because the house will be appraised under the market value and will typically limit the amount of inheritance that you pass onto your children. Hence, it is better suited to those homes that need more money upfront and are less interested in what they leave behind.

What do homeowners use equity release for?

Data from Access Equity Release shows that senior citizens use equity release for a number of reasons. Some use the product as a replacement for a pension or to secure a regular income following the increase in the costs of living.

Elsewhere, there is a demand for funding home improvements and refurbishments to make their property friendlier for senior-living.

Family-oriented residents have opted for equity release as a way to pass on money to their children, including paying for tuition, weddings and helping their offspring with their first deposits and to get on the property ladder.

Are You Ready For The Long-Term Considerations That Come With Sequestration?

If you’re on of the many considering going through sequestration, Scotland’s term for bankruptcy, there’s a good chance that you’re in serious debt and have no other options open to you. While there are many benefits to this process for those in this position, there are also some ramifications that have to be considered against the possibility of a fresh financial start and freedom from creditor harassment. If you currently owe more than £3,000 and are considering making a declaration of bankruptcy, you’ll need to consider the possible consequences so you can be prepared to manage them.

What Are The Potential Consequences?

Working With A Trustee And Determining How Much You Can Contribute To The Debts

Beginning the process of sequestration generally means that you’ll be going through a year-long process (shortened only if you qualify for MAP, or the Minimal Asset Process) during which you will be working with a Trustee. The Trustee’s job is to decide if your debts should be discharged and what if any amount you can contribute to the debts on an ongoing basis. This involves the handing over of your assets to the Trustee and cooperating with them to make these determinations.

If it is determined that you can pay some portion of the debts, then you will receive a Debtor Contribution Order that can last up to 4 years. Keep in mind that the amount indicated in this order is negotiable based on your changing circumstances throughout this period, whether for better or worse.

Assets

As indicated above you’ll need to release your assets to your Trustee. These assets can include vehicles, property, shares, and savings, among any other valuables you may possess. In addition to surrendering your assets you may need to consider the following:

If your home has sufficient equity in it to cover the debt, you may be required to put it up for sale. If you’re renting your home, you may need to check the tenancy agreement to determine whether or not you’re at risk for eviction as the result of sequestration.
• If your vehicle is your sole mode of transport to work and it is valued below £3,000, then you may be allowed to retain it.
• All your credit and debit cards, building society and bank accounts will need to be passed to your Trustee. This can result in the closure of these accounts if your bank is one of your creditors.

Windfalls and Inheritance

In the four year period following the beginning of your sequestration any form of financial windfall, whether from the lottery or inheritance, must be revealed to the Trustee you were working with to repay your creditors.

Credit and Credit File Access

During the process of sequestration you will be denied access to borrowing or credit, and in the six years to follow it is likely that you will be unable to obtain credit of any kind. Following this period it can still be difficult as creditors tend to avoid giving credit to someone who has gone through sequestration. It is vital that you work diligently to improve your credit rating, but it will take time to accomplish.

Problems With Employment and The Public Register

When it comes to bankruptcy, Scotland’s Register of Insolvencies retains information about sequestrations that are currently underway or have been discharged in the last two years you may experience problems with your employment. If you are presently a member of law enforcement or work in the financial sector, you may find yourself discharged and unable to get work in your given field until this public disclosure passes.

Help Is Available

If you’re considering going through the sequestration process, it’s essential that you find a sequestration firm to help you. When you’re working with a team of specialists who are familiar with this process, you’ll know that every avenue available has been considered to help protect you and your assets during this trying time.

Optimizing the Post-Purchase Experience

Remarkably, one of the most anxious moments in all of ecommerce for your customers is the one right after they’ve paid for their purchases. What you do to reassure them will determine whether or not they remain a one-time buyer or become a repeat customer. Take it upon yourself to master optimizing the post-purchase experience and you’ll be well on your way to creating a large following of the latter.

Here’s what you need to do.

Communicate Your Appreciation Immediately

The first thing shoppers want to know is their order was received and their product is in fact on its way. Dispatch a personalized “thank you” email message right away, expressing your appreciation to them by name for the purchase. Provide a link to the site at which the shipment can be tracked and include the tracking number to facilitate the process. Confirm all order information, including the details regarding the product(s) purchased, the shipping address and the expected delivery date.

Invite Them to Join Your Community

While you have their attention with that message, it’s a good time to invite them to follow your social feed and tell their friends what they just bought. You can also go for an impulse sale by showing them products people who bought what they just purchased also acquired. The message should also give them an opportunity to join your customer loyalty program and sign up for your newsletter feed. This is also a good time to ask them to complete a survey regarding your purchase process.

About That Loyalty Program

When you invite customers to join, make sure registration is simple and quick. Provide a dedicated page on the site, accessible only by members of the loyalty group where you keep special offers, product previews and other awards. Make those awards based on points earned. As you likely know, ebooks online stores can provide so many points per download, based on something like the purchase price. An award is then generated automatically when the threshold is crossed.

Provide Strong Customer Support

Set up efficient methods of handling customer calls, emails, text messages and chats. Profiles should be easy to access by your customer service team, so customers can be addressed by name and their transactions found easily. As calls start coming in, you’ll get some questions more than others. These should be used to populate a FAQ page on your site. You should also pay use these recurring queries to determine which processes might need more attention. Train your customer service team to always look for the best possible solution for the customer—without giving away the store.

Personalize all Communications

Send birthday notes with special offers, and acknowledge significant milestones like one, five and 10-year anniversaries of doing business with you. Thank them for providing referrals by rewarding them with perks they’ll find valuable. Your main goal in all of this is to ensure your customers always feel taken care of.

Optimizing the post purchase experience with this in mind will win you a loyal following of repeat customers. As you’ve no doubt heard (or read) many times, it is far less costly to keep an existing customer happy than it is to go out and get a new one. When people express confidence in your business by making a purchase, all you really have to do is keep them believing it was a smart idea.

That’s really your only job.

Financial advantage of digital printing

Digitalization is a hot topic where everybody seems to be talking about. New technologies are advancing faster than could be imagined. Most sectors are taking advantage of this, adapting quickly. For companies, what are the advantages of the digital world? And how can entrepreneurs profit from it financially, whether your business is online or not?

Digital printing companies like www.helloprint.co.uk operate in a sector that has to stay ahead of the competition and the developments if they want to maintain on top in terms of production and quality. What evolution is going on in the online printer sector thanks to the technical advances? Until just a few decades ago getting marketing materials printed for your business at an online printer was quite expensive and the quality offered was acceptable. Of course, this was before the great wave came where digital printing companies began to improve their products.

Personalization 

Nowadays when using an online printer you can notice the improvements the sector made. It is normal for example to give the marketing materials a personalized touch with a logo and one’s own design. In general online printers don´t charge extra for this. It gives companies the change to differentiate itself from its competitors. Also the variety of materials to choose from and the different printing options, give companies options and a head start over opponents. With the different options to choose from, one can define their own budget and keep track of costs.

Saving in time

The advances of digital printing companies save businesses time, thus money. This can be demonstrated with a small calculation. Let´s suppose a business bills £10.000 a month with 4 employees. If this is divided proportionally it means each employee has a responsibility of £2.500. If one employee works 40 hours a week or 160 hours a month, the productivity of one person per hour in the company is therefore equal to £2.500 / 160 hours = £15 per hour. By using an online printer for marketing materials and let them do what they do best, one can save easily 4 or 5 hours. That equals £60 till £75, not counting the savings involved in contracting an online service, which are normally cheaper than physical printing companies.

Time dedication for companies

A workday only has limited hours a day. So it´s important to spend that time in the most optimal way possible. Opportunity cost is something that applies here. Opportunity costs are measured by the benefits a business misses out on when choosing one activity over another (something you can´t do because you are doing something else). It helps make substantiated decisions for businesses when there are multiple options. When choosing between a physical printing company and an online printer, visiting a store to get the print work done can take maybe up till 5 hours. The opportunity cost? What you can produce in these 5 hours. If you choose for an online printer you will probably spend less than 30 minutes to place an order that will be delivered to the office.

It is clear that the digital revolution has resulted in the arrival of a large number of advantages, among which financial benefits.

3 ways to be smart about money after graduating

In some respects, British graduates are entering a strange and conflicting labour market. For example, while the national unemployment rate fell to just 4.3% during the third financial quarter, the freeze on real wage growth continues to highlight a lack of skilled and qualified opportunities.

Conversely, graduate unemployment figures have received a boost recently, with the number of recent graduates out of work having fallen to its lowest rate since 1989.

Still, there’s no doubt that graduates need to be smart, focused and proactive if they’re to make the most of the opportunities in the current economic climate. Here are some steps to help you succeed as a newly qualified professional:

  1. Be agile when looking to earn

While the number of graduates finding relevant work may be on the rise, unemployment figures vary across different sectors. The nature of the current job market is also extremely competitive, so graduates need to adopt an agile approach to launching their careers and earning.

More specifically, there’s a need to develop an innate understanding of their qualification and how this can be applied successfully in the modern age. While qualified accountants and financial analysts used to wait patiently for a position with a large firm, for example, its now easier than ever to launch an independent venture or utilise knowledge to trade the financial markets.

It’s important to make the most of these opportunities once you’ve graduated, so you can build wealth quickly and keep a wider range of long-term career options open long into the future.

  1. Don’t be afraid to budget as your earnings grow

While savings rates may have increased recently, the lack of real wage growth makes it increasingly likely that graduates will have enough money to accrue wealth through traditional methods.

This is particularly true when graduates start out in their chosen market, as they may have to work in lower paid positions to gain practical experience.

So while optimising earnings offers the quickest path to financial growth in the current climate, graduates must be frugal and willing to budget as they work towards achieving their goals.

This means minimising the amounts that they spend on recurring costs such as groceries and utilities, while leveraging modern budgeting apps that help them to create more manageable and efficient expenditure that makes their money go further.

  1. Generate income for your experience at university

Unless you have a job waiting for you once you’ve graduated, you may need to generate an immediate source of income when you leave.

One idea is to leverage your experience at university as a direct source of income, and there are a couple of ways to achieve this.

Firstly, consider selling your collection of text books and learning materials, which will be of value to students studying the same topic. You can even sell your academic notes to students, through communal, online marketplaces that connect motivated buyers and forward-thinking vendors.

Similarly, you can work for online resources that help students to research, write and refine their academic texts. From pieces of coursework to large-scale dissertations, you can use your own area of expertise and direct experience of uni to help others create work to the highest possible standard.

Forex trading tools for beginners

When you first start trading forex there’s a lot to learn. You need good tools and you also need to ensure that you thoroughly understand them all. That takes time, at the same time as you’re trying to get to grips with trading itself. The best approach in these initial stages is to keep things simple and give yourself time to find your feet.

New forex traders shouldn’t be chasing big money – almost everyone who does so gets burned. instead, your focus should be on conserving your money while you learn what you’re doing and explore your options. This means that you don’t need the fastest, fanciest tools on the market. You can get a lot of tools that will serve you well at this stage without spending anything at all.

Setting up your trading station

One thing you will need to spend money on is your work station. A fast computer and reliable, fast internet are essential. It’s also worth investing in a second monitor as you will have a lot of data to keep track of. Most traders use one for reference materials and one for making trades. Make sure that you have a comfortable seat because you may be at your station for long periods of time and you also don’t want any distractions when working.

Choosing the right software

The most important thing you will need when trading is a chart to keep you up to date with the movements of currency pairs. You can get free forex charts from forextraders.com, and because they don’t have all the extra bells and whistles that many commercial ones do, they’re actually much easier to use. At this stage in your forex trading career you can easily have too much information. Keeping things simple makes it easier to focus on the details that matter. Trend lines, and support and resistance lines, are the most important things to follow. Focus on how trends are developing and be wary of making predictions that appear to contradict them.

Because forex trading is, by its nature, international, you’ll need a tool for keeping track of different time zones. Some forex tools come with this built in and there are lots of other graphical time zone converters that you can keep on your screen for easy reference. If you’re engaging in forwards or futures trading, you’ll also need a calendar.

Before you can manage risk effectively, you’ll need to be able to calculate the risk associated with each trade. For this you will need a position size calculator. This makes it simple to undertake otherwise complex calculations involving your trading station’s base currency and each currency in the pair you’re considering trading on.

A pivot point calculator can help you keep track of how your trades are developing over the course of each day. This is particularly useful when you’re a beginner because it helps you get some distance and take stock of your situation rather than being distracted by the ups and downs of individual trades, which in turn helps to take emotional bias out of the equation.

Simulation software is a great investment for a beginner because it lets you explore possibilities without taking risks. It’s more than just a tool for learning the basics, however. It can be really useful for testing new strategies to see how they play out. Many seasoned traders hold onto it so that they can explore new ideas.

Can you trade from your mobile?

A common question asked by beginners is whether or not it’s possible to trade from your mobile. It’s true that there is software available for this but it’s not a good idea because it’s simply not possible to keep track of all the information you need on a small screen. Your mobile is, nevertheless, an invaluable tool. It can give you the flexibility you need to push a trade through if your computer or internet jams up. It also means you can communicate with fellow traders, including any you’re pooling funds with, at the same time as you trade – improving your situational awareness. Get a hands-free set or one with a good speaker and microphone so that you can easily use it when your hands are busy with the keyboard or mouse.

Having the right tools will put you in a much better position to make a success of forex trading. Take the time to work out the trading style that suits you best and bring in further tools as necessary to complement it. Trading is all about focus and streamlining what you do.

New Viderium Facility Launched in Latvia

Viderium has announced the launch of a new data facility to be launched by the company in Latvia in 2018, expanding business operations for the IT company. The new facility will expand on current operations in both Hampshire and Rotterdam, diversifying the Viderium offering and allowing the company to reduce outgoing costs even further.

Favourable Commercial Terms

The new Latvian operations will commence on what Viderium’s CEO Ross Archer has called “favourable commercial terms”, with some of the market’s most competitive pricing having been agreed. Latvia, stated Archer, feels like Viderium’s natural progression. As one of the most sustainable and cost-effective regions to do business in the energy-intensive high-performance computing market, operating out of Latvia will enhance Viderium’s bottom line. Viderium was expecting delivery of the first shipment of equipment to the new facility in Latvia by the 20th of July 2018.

The Baltic Highway

Latvia is one of the top ten global countries for average measured speed of internet connection. The Baltic Highway was launched in 2012 as a modern network for data transmission, increasing access speed for users to web-based content internationally and allowing new internet-based services to be developed and introduced in both East and West directions. The Baltic Highway provides a high-capacity infrastructure that facilitates national data-intensive companies providing exciting investment opportunities.

Viderium Services

Viderium specialises in operating and funding data centres to create high-performance computing solutions for business, along with a variety of other data solutions. The dynamic characteristics of data centres have driven the asset class to grow and attract recognition from investors. As a hybrid investment, data centres have dual attractions for investors as technical real estate. They combine prospects of rapid growth with the attractive characteristics of traditional property investment, including recurring revenues and long investment contracts.

Data Centres

Data centres typically house computer systems along with a variety of associated components, including telecommunications and storage systems. Other components may include environmental controls such as air conditioning and fire suppression, security devices, back-up supplies of power, and redundant communications connections for data.

Viderium Corporate Bonds

To facilitate growth, Viderium issued corporate bonds to investors in 2018. These bonds are insured and asset-backed, offering investors returns of 9.8% per annum paid quarterly, with capital repaid to the investor at the end of the investment period of three years. Viderium bond investment starts at £10,000.

5 Ways Marketing Automation Helps Startups Succeed

Running a start-up, and everything that comes with it, is a complicated affair. There are multiple complex elements that need attention at all times and this probably has to happen with quite a small number of staff and limited resources. Marketing, whilst vital to the success and survival of any new business, can be tough to master in the age of ever changing technology that has gained the moniker of ‘martech’. Marketing technology holds enormous potential for start-ups in the form of marketing automation. Adopting and implementing this technology successfully can give your businesses a competitive edge at a time when it’s most needed. It is important to remember that whilst automaton is there to make marketing processes easier to implement, it should not replace the personal element in your small business – rather lend a helping hand to make marketing more effective. Below are five ways that marketing automation can help your start up succeed.

Create a Valuable Database

Data is extremely valuable, particularly when it goes beyond contacts. The more data you are able to gather about your customers the more you can tailor your business offering to target them effectively. Knowing how to approach potential and existing customers will assist you in making better decisions with regards to growing your start up. Marketing automation can help to determine elements to target your customer base with, some of these are tone and style of language, best time to send out emails, product recommendations, and more. By segmenting your audience through the use of data your business will gain invaluable insights about customer journeys and optimisation.

Turn Leads Into Sales

Nurturing leads is essential for a new business, but it can get lost in the midst of all the other moving parts. Surprisingly, this crucial part of business development is sometimes not afforded enough attention; Harvard Business Review found that 23% of leads are never followed up and this translates to loss of revenue. To avoid your leads getting lost in the internet’s ether, marketing automation can help. By setting up a feedback trigger on first customer contact, your business can feel assured that no lead goes uncaptured whilst assisting with scheduling so that all information can be accessed easily when needed.

Save on Resources

Marketing automation does usually come with sizeable initial costs (good software is never cheap) but this is easy to justify long term. Just think of how much time your marketing staff can save if many of the more repetitive and previously manual tasks can be automated – that’s lead follow ups, emails, offers, etc. Sometimes this can be the difference between hiring a junior staff member to look after these processes or giving your core staff tools to effectively implement it themselves. Marketing automation software can also help with content suggestions whilst evaluating its potential effectiveness.

Make Data Comprehensible

We’ve touched on this in the first point, but it bares reiterating that data is extremely valuable to any start up. This is easy to implement if you have a dedicated marketer with data knowledge however, in reality, 47% of small business owners handle the entirety of the marketing duties by themselves. Besides taking a crash course in marketing and data, investing in the right type of marketing automation software will be much more effective and reliable long term. Companies like BlueVenn offer simple to use platforms that bring together swathes of data and customer profiles in accessible and simple ways. Unifying online and offline data, merging and auditing, even pulling reports, can all be done with ease and without extensive expertise needed. It’s a way of accessing and understanding your target market on a daily basis, saving you precious time and money.

Scalability

One of the many advantages of automation is its scalability. As your business grows, so can the uses and scope of the software, supporting you at all stages of the start up growth process. This is what makes automation software a great investment from the start, usually you only pay for the current number of contacts and can adjust accordingly as your business experiences growth.