UK Government to reform pension charges

 Radical reforms to pension charges are to be brought forward by the UK Government, which will reduce the charges on pension schemes used for auto-enrollment, HM Treasury and Department for Work & Pensions revealed today.

The measures are intended to protect pension pots and encourage people to save for their retirement through workplace pensions.

According to the Treasury, the government anticipates that up to 9 million people will open new pensions under workplace schemes, which is expected to increase the amount being saved in to auto-enrolment pensions by approximately GBP11bn annually.

The average charge on new pension schemes is reportedly around 0.51%; however the Office of Fair Trading has reported that annual charges of over 1% are made on more than 186,000 pension pots with GBP2.65bn assets. Charges include costs and fees levied on the scheme member for a range of services such as administration fees, contribution fees, active member discounts and investment fees, which include transaction costs.

A consultation by the Department for Work and Pension has also begun,  with regard to capping pension fees and increasing transparency in the pensions sector. Industry members and the public are being asked for their views on how a cap that protects savings should be designed. The caps could include: a higher charge cap of 1% of funds under management; a lower charge cap of 0.75% of funds under management; or a two-tier ‘comply or explain’ cap.

It is proposed that there would be a standard cap of 0.75% of funds under management for all qualifying schemes and there would be a higher cap of 1% for employers who explained to the Pensions Regulator why a scheme charged more than 0.75%.

Sajid Javid, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, commented: “The government is determined to help hard working families and that includes making sure someone’s saving will deliver the biggest possible returns and not be eaten away at by a variety of charges and fees. As part of

How to Improve Success Rates in ForexTrading

Whether they’re experienced traders or can be classed as novices, one of the many questions which Forex traders have is how they can go about improving their trading and in turn how they can increase their chance of success. Of course, there is no such thing as a “sure thing”, however there are a number of steps which may be taken to maximise the chances of success.

Step 1: Analyse

One of the major elements which separate the professional trader from the hobbyist is the planning and the homework which the professional puts into their trading. In addition to having and perfecting their strategies, it is necessary to examine those strategies on a regular basis, analyse their success and above all, not be afraid of removing or modifying a strategy which is not working out or having the desired effect.

Step 2: Diarise

Unlike the stock markets, the Forex market can be traded on at any time: the timing of this is up to the individual trader and it may be that they prefer a certain time to trade or have a strategy which depends upon a certain country’s market. Therefore, being organised with trading times, diarising and being willing to trade at “out of hours” times is essential for success. Even traders who are happy to trade as and when they feel like it can benefit from a diary system.

Step 3: Use the Data

Forex charts, which are often available as part of a professional platform (such as the ones provided by www.FXCC.com) can be an invaluable tool in strategizing as they enable the trader to use all of the relevant data, including historical performance, when planning their next trade.

Step 4: Manage the Risk

When a trader is using their own finances, it can be all too easy for them to become emotional about their trades. However, the best traders are those who can separate their personal finances and emotions and their trading experience. Learning to manage the risk and be stoical about the wins and the losses can help the trader to lose the inhibitions which may be preventing them from making the right and necessary choices.

Step 5: Knowledge is Power

Those who are more likely to enjoy success in the short and long term are ultimately likely to be those who have taken the time to study and learn their craft. An education in any area is always useful but in Forex where a variety of technical terms and knowledge could be the key to success can never be underestimated.

Step 6: Beware of Overthinking

As important as education and analysis are in Forex, there is a danger of overthinking strategies to the point of destroying confidence and taking any sense of enjoyment out of the process. In addition, the traders who overthink their own way of trading are likely to be the ones who talk themselves out of making key plays which could lead to success, and find themselves too afraid or nervous to show the courage they need to when trading.

SSE blames rise in wholesale gas prices and low energy consumption for expected loss in first half of 2013

Perth-based electricity and gas company SSE, which operates mainly in the UK and Ireland, stated today that its retail arm is expected to report a loss on its adjusted profit before tax in the first half of the company’s financial year.

According to the company, the expected loss is a result of increases in wholesale gas prices, higher costs and lower energy consumption. SSE saw an operating profit at its retail arm of GBP75.7m in the first half of 2012 and a GBP101.4m loss in the same period of 2011.

However, despite the predictions SSE said it is on target to raise dividend payments to its shareholders, which will exceed retail price inflation for the 2013-14 financial year. It also expects its wholesale and networks divisions to be profitable in the six months to the end of September 2013. These results will be published on Wednesday 13 November 2013.

Finance Director of SSE, Gregor Alexander, commented; “Despite challenging energy market conditions, SSE has made solid progress in recent months, including taking a number of specific steps to help small business customers and improve standards for household customers. We continue to benefit from maintaining a balanced range of energy businesses, illustrated by again meeting the criteria for a single A credit rating. Despite the intensifying political debate, we will maintain our operational and financial discipline, to enable us to deliver an above-inflation increase in the dividend for this financial year and beyond.”

SSE is said to be the second largest energy supplier in the UK and has 9.5 million customer accounts. It also has a 50% stake in the 504MW Greater Gabbard offshore wind farm.

The London Taxi Company resumes construction of the traditional black cab

The London Taxi Company has restarted production of the TX4 black cab at its manufacturing facilities in Coventry, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) announced today.

LTC was rescued from the administrators in February 2013 by Chinese automobile enterprise, Geely Group of China. Following a GBP150m five-year investment plan from its new owners, LTC has made significant improvements to its Coventry plant and created 66 additional engineering and technical jobs, increasing the company’s total workforce to 170.

The production line is expected to be capable of building ten new TX4’s a day. These iconic vehicles will have additional quality improvements and will be most advanced London taxi so far. LTC forecasts that it will sell about 2,000 vehicles in the first year, with the first month’s production having already been sold. The company already has export contracts with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, where at least half the taxis are destined to be sent.

Geely Group and LTC plan to develop new models with an improved energy efficiency and environmental footprint of the traditional London cab. In addition, an investment is being considered in additional production facilities across the UK.

Business Secretary Vince Cable and chairman of Geely Group, Li Shufu, were present at the official relaunch of production.

Chairman Li commented: “Today is a milestone in the history of The London Taxi Company, adding that we are pleased to have created dozens of new jobs and have already begun work on the planning and design of the next generation of this iconic vehicle.”

Business Secretary, Vince Cable MP said: “After a period of worry and uncertainty for the workforce, Geely Group’s investment has secured the future of the iconic black cab company, protecting highly-skilled jobs in the Midlands and ensuring that London cabs continue to be made here in Britain. It is also a clear demonstration of the success of the British car industry, which has gone from strength to strength even during tough economic times.”

Tesco agrees to sell US arm to investment group Yucaipa

UK retailer Tesco Plc (LON:TSCO) said it had agreed to sell US grocery arm Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Inc to YFE Holdings Inc, part of investment firm Yucaipa Companies LLC, in a move to exit the US market.

The sale covers over 150 stores as well as Fresh & Easy’s Riverside distribution and production facilities and includes over 4,000 staff, with stores excluded from the deal to be shut down in the next weeks, Tesco said.

The offload, reflecting the UK firm’s focus on markets with considerable growth potential, is seen to be finalised within three months, pending legal and regulatory clearances.

As part of the transaction, Tesco will be issued warrants for up to a 32.5% stake in YFE Holdings Inc.

The UK company will also extend a loan of some GBP80m (USD125.8m/EUR94.9m) to the new business, covered by the Riverside Campus facility, it said.

The assets included in the sale had a gross value of GBP229.3m as of 23 February 2013 and generated net losses before tax of GBP163.4m in the year to that date

Financial reasons to invest in London property

Residential property in London has attained a reputation as a safe asset class and as far as any investment is a safe bet, London property appears to be the place to invest with values outpacing all other investment types, and it’s not just the case in the more affluent areas of London like Kensington and Chelsea or Mayfair – up and coming boroughs like Lewisham and Tower Hamlets are seeing prices continue to increase too.  According to a report by estate agent, Savills, Lewisham is set to see its property prices rise by 20% over the next five years.

But it’s not just Savills that are recommending investing in London property as a sound financial decision. The world’s biggest property agent, CBRE, has produced a report that ranks the UK’s capital city right at the top spot for the most attractive places to invest in property. And, in fact, London was in pole position on the same report last year too. So, with property prices continuing to rise in the capital despite the rest of the UK’s continued economic turmoil, could London make it three years in a row?

Despite property prices hardly being buoyant in other areas of the UK (Craigavon in Northern Ireland has been the hardest hit with property prices having fallen by 18.4% down to an average of £91,530), London prices have remained safe within their own economic environment. property investment opportunities in London are plentiful and can be found all over the capital. The top five places to invest, according to a report by Savills, are the boroughs of Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham, Camden, and Islington. For some of the best property investment options, visit Galliard Homes.

New research by estate agents, Cluttons, has revealed that the average price of a flat in central London has soared above £1 million for the first time ever. Elsewhere in London, however, it is possible to stay well under this price bracket – and the Land Registry of England and Wales shows that the average price of a flat in London (information sourced between January – March 2013) was £391,496.

A popular place to buy property outside the central London belt – but within easy reach of it – is Greenwich. Here, property owners have the benefit of all the amenities of London on the doorstep but live in an area with more of a village feel. Greenwich park, the Observatory, and the Cutty Sark – along with the Thames, a great selection of pubs, independent shops and the ever-popular market, continue to make Greenwich a popular prospect with buyers. What’s more, with the newly improved tube network, commuting time from Greenwich has been eased considerably.

There are more financial benefits of investing in property in London if you are to consider the property renovation market. Although somewhat saturated with people turning their hands to property makeovers, there are still opportunities in the property market for those prepared to look. First time buyers can climb the property ladder quickly if they’re prepared to turn their hand to property development. London boroughs on the outskirts of the capital are more likely to hold investment opportunities within an affordable price range. Developers, and those with a portfolio of properties, meanwhile, will be able to invest in houses with more attractive postcodes. However, even if it’s just a case of a quick lick of paint, a new kitchen and a new bathroom, thousands of pounds can easily be added to the value of your home in a matter of a few months.

Ireland’s Ryaniar seeks EU-based buyers for Aer Lingus stake

Irish airline Ryanair Holdings Plc (LON:RYA) said today it will unconditionally sell its entire 29% interest in smaller rival Aer Lingus Group Plc (LON:AERL) to any other European Union (EU) carrier that makes a bid and secures acceptances from 50.1% of the target’s stockholders.

The announcement was made after the UK’s Competition Commission (CC) said in late May that Ryanair may have to reduce or shed its entire stake in Aer Lingus as it could threaten competition on certain routes.

Ryanair, which has itself failed to take full control of Aer Lingus three times already, noted that this remedy eliminates the company’s ability to block any future acquisition of the business by another EU airline.

The CC is expected to finalise an investigation into Ryanair’s stake by 5 September.

UK digital sports group Perform raises £120m for acquisitions

UK digital sports media company Perform Group Plc (LON:PER) announced today it will raise around GBP120m (USD183m/EUR141m) via a private placement to fund its planned purchase of Opta Sports Data Ltd and some other potential acquisitions.

In a statement, Perform said it plans to place up to 23.9m new ordinary shares, representing a stake of about 9.99%, with both existing and new institutional investors. Morgan Stanley Securities Ltd, Morgan Stanley & Co International plc and UBS Ltd will be acting as bookrunners and corporate brokers.

The group will acquire Opta for around GBP40m to strengthen its position in the supply of sports data and statistics, more specifically in the consumer and media segment. Perform said it is focused on buying either domestic businesses in new geographies, direct to‘consumer products and platforms or complementary products and services.

The firm added it hopes that any additional acquisition would help it deliver further growth in revenues and earnings over time.

Travelling Like a Boss

For the frequent business traveller, it is common practice that to travel business class. Due to the recent economic crisis, there have been strong signs of first class travel disappearing, with business class being the more reasonable luxury choice of preference. As a result of this trend, business travellers have frequently seen, depending on the carrier and route, drastic reductions in business class fares. As many companies have been more conservative with their budgets since the breakout of the economic crisis in 2008, airlines often offer considerable discounts in order to fill business class cabins. A further recent development in travel has been the rise of a new intermediate class filling the gap between economy and business classes, also known as ‘premium economy’.

Travel alternatives

As the majority of industries, including airlines, have been hit by the recession, business travellers now actively seek discounted alternatives. Often a business class train fare is cheaper than the same business class airfare, so often business travellers will opt for rail travel despite rail travel taking longer. Of course, not all routes are covered by rail, for instance transatlantic routes. Here, many former business class travellers are now downgrading to premium economy or economy classes on long-haul flights so as to save money. For many top business executives, however, downgrading and abandoning the perks of business class just isn’t an option.

Business class for a reason

For those who can afford business class travel, there are of course huge benefits travelling to doing as so. Business class passengers benefit from the personal flight attendants, greater legroom and excellent food, not to mention the added privacy and equipment necessary for conducting business on the flight.  Dedicated business class travellers can even extend this quality service to the ground, so to speak. Limousine services such as Blacklane.com provide high quality, private business class travel services, be it airport transfers or for limousine services for the duration of a day.  Luxurious vehicles, personal chauffeurs and efficient service are only a few of their guarantees, making it the premium transportation option within a large number of cities.

Bad weather hits UK retail sales

Retail sales across the UK fell between February and March this year because of bad weather, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported today.

The quantity bought in the retail sector decreased by 0.7% in March compared to the prior month, while the amount spent remained unchanged.

In comparison to the same period last year the quantity bought was down by 0.5%, broadly in line with economists’ expectations. This follows strong year-on-year growth of 2.5% in February 2013 and a year-on-year decrease in January of 0.6%. The amount spent increased by 0.1% between March 2012 and March 2013.

Over the whole of the first quarter, retail sales increased by 0.4% compared with the preceding three-month period.

With severe winter weather in much of the country, consumers embraced online shopping last month. The ONS reported that “non-store” retailing registered its biggest rise since March 2009.

In total, UK consumers spent an average of GBP601.4m online each week in March 2013. This represents an increase of 20.5% compared with March 2012.

Excluding automotive fuel, the amount spent online accounted for 10.4% of all retail spending.

Commenting on today’s figures, the British Retail Consortium’s director general, Helen Dickinson, said that the coldest March for 50 years had resulted in mixed fortunes for different retailers. While food sales were strong due to Easter celebrations and the cold weather, sales were sluggish for seasonal items like spring and summer fashion ranges.

David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, pointed to the “encouraging” growth in sales between the fourth quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013 which he said reinforces the organisation’s hope for a small rise in GDP, with the services sector offsetting weaker areas of the economy such as manufacturing and construction.