Vulnerable due to the lack of protection

What is the most satisfying outcome and at the same time the most challenging to deal with?  It’s the late night call from a family whose main wage earner has been injured or taken ill, worried about paying the bills.

Self-employment is now increasing and with it the amount of families who are made vulnerable due to the lack of protection.  Being able to tell the family that the income protection or the life assurance are in place can at least stop them worrying about losing their home.

The last thing anyone with a major health condition needs is to worry about debt.

I became a financial services professional motivated by a need to do something to change outcomes for people.  Having experienced, at close hand, what happens when the protection is not in place.

My profession gets more complex by the addition of pension freedoms, ISAs and General Investment Portfolios but at the core it’s about making certain that money is in the hands of the right people when it’s needed.

Over the years I have dealt with claims for Critical Illness and Income Protection.

I do not remember anyone saying that it was too much.  On the contrary the majority say I wish I had more.  The job of a good adviser is to ensure it’s sufficient and that the premiums are affordable.

Interestingly, very few people can tell me how long they get paid when off work sick, yet they usually know how much holiday they are entitled to. Yet to protect those holidays for the future, you need an income.

One of the Income Protection providers we use is The Exeter and I would like to share one of their claim stories.

Please read it, and once you have, pass this on to someone you care about : Adams Claim Story – 2017-2420

The Under The Radar Pension Tax Scandal

If you are an employer, could this apply to you?

Julia Dreblow
Founder, sriServices & Fund EcoMarket

Ros Altmann* writes in Money Marketing

 

“I want to highlight a major pensions injustice concerning employers who choose an auto-enrolment scheme administered on a net pay basis.

“Such schemes cannot add the 25 per cent bonus of tax relief to contributions of workers earning less than £11,500 a year from the employer.

“Auto-enrolling these employees – mostly women – into a net pay scheme forces them to pay extra for their pension. Every £10 that someone on more than £11,510 a year puts into a pension will cost only £8 but every £10 low earners contribute costs them the full amount. So the lowest paid are paying £2 more for the same pension.

“If their employer were to use a relief at source scheme instead, no one would have to pay more than £8 for their £10 of pension. But most would not understand the difference between choosing a net pay or relief at source scheme.

When discovering this as pensions minister, I tried desperately to address it. But nobody was interested in helping the low earners.Officials said “It’s not much money”, which I found unacceptable.

Firstly, it may not be much money, but it could and should be theirs if their employer had chosen a different scheme.

Ever Present Danger, and more

Ever Present Danger

I once asked a friend if the widow of his next door neighbour would receive a life assurance payment.

He, my friend Ernie, was a bit shocked at the question.  It is not something you generally ask the recently bereaved.

It is however something the family care about.

Will we be able to pay the bills this month, this year, in the future?

I know it sounds a tad un-British to ask about money at such a time but here is what I know.  Death or major illnesses intervene when not expected. Having a safety net can make a difference in how you recover from the loss of a loved one or the shock of sickness or injury.

If your busy life has contributed to a heart attack then money at the right time can pay the bills, stopping much of the stress. It can give time for recovery.

In my 35-years career, I have experienced late night calls from worried clients asking “will I be able to pay the mortgage this month. Will I need to sell my home?”

Sickness and death are not just for the elderly but they are an ever-present danger. Most of us, mercifully, will never be harmed at the hands of a terrorist but never the less life rarely treats us kindly.

ISA

I return to the subject of ISAs.

Why? Because I am still hearing people complain about the low interest they are getting on cash ISAs. Apart from it being frustrating to overhear this, it occurred to me that people have stopped listening to advice.

Cash ISAs lose money, as inflation is higher than the annual interest rate, FACT

As an independent adviser, each client is different and gets treated differently.

But if you want a simple, do it yourself solution, check out some of the on-line offerings, watching out for charges and historic volatility: Both Prudential and Royal London have funds that are designed to minimise risk.

If you want an opportunity to do good as well as making a better return then find an Ethical or Socially Responsible Solution:  www.uksif.co.uk

And if you would prefer to accept and pay for valuable good professional advice . . .

Paid for Advice?

Why pay for advice when you can find insurance cover and/or ISAs on line?  Whether you pay for the advice or pay for the product, you still pay.

The advice is there, as an option.

To discover the full range of available solutions, you will need independent advice.

Is price the only thing that matters?     When it comes to your family probably not.

Climate Change

As the world fails to act water will become a weapon and a cause of war.

Regimes that control water will hold a powerful weapon.  You can ensure that the world harvests, recovers and maintains its quality, by investing in commercial businesses whose products do just that.

The Women’s Institute is having a week of action on Climate Change in July.

Please support them.

Digital disruption: connected world

 Internet of Things to reconfigure business, consumer and investment landscape

Reproduced by courtesy Pictet Asset Management
This is interesting but does not constitute advice.
If you are interested in sustainable or less ‘traditional’ investment please talk to Jan.

Eleven inches tall with shiny blonde hair, the iconic American doll Barbie made its debut at the New York Toy Fair in March 1959.

Just over half a century later in 2015, the same toy fair unveiled a new prototype of Barbie. And this version could not be more different from the original.

Called ‘Hello Barbie’, the wi-fi-enabled doll uses artificial intelligence to connect to a cloud server, which allows children to interact with her through a microphone and speaker built into her necklace.

Hello Barbie is just one manifestation of the burgeoning world of the Internet of Things (IoT), a platform of interconnected devices and machines built on cloud computing and network sensors.

The IoT is becoming a bigger part of our daily lives – we now have smart fridge that ping us when we’re low on milk, wearable devices that offer personal health and fitness advice and connected cars which shares traffic information with other vehicles.

In the not too distant future, smart energy or water meters powered by IoT sensors will send real-time information to providers which can better manage their production or distribution network; retailers can adjust their warehouse inventories based on round-the-clock demand data coming from IoT devices.

But this is only the beginning of the IoT revolution: the number of connected “things” could reach 50 billion by 2020 while the IoT market is expected to double to USD3.7 trillion by the end of this decade.1

This is an incredible opportunity for all of us and something we should take very seriously. And frankly the question you’ve got to ask is: ‘is there anything in the world that won’t be touched by the Internet of Things?’” says Sanjay Sarma, professor at the MIT and one of the world’s leading experts on the IoT.2

“Is there anything in the world that won’t be touched by the Internet of Things?”Sanjay Sarma

The IoT will change the rules of the game; enterprises are already under pressure to abandon old business models and adopt a new approach.

And as companies are disrupted, new investment opportunities should emerge.

“Every time there has been a new class of computing, the total revenue for that class was larger than the previous ones. If that trend holds, it means the Internet of Things will be bigger yet again,” observes University of Michigan professor David Blaauw.3

Significant evolution in technology since the 1960s
Each new computing cycle equals around 10 times the installed base than the previous cycle (1960s-2030e)

evolution of technologies

Source: Morgan Stanley, April 2014

From living rooms to assembly lines

The IoT began life as smart home technology in the shape of AI-powered, voice-activated personal assistants such as Amazon’s Echo and Google Home.4

Today, however, it is expanding into factories, where a new generation of smart industrial robots now perform repetitive, strenuous and increasingly complex tasks without the need for human intervention. What is more, these connected robots communicate with each other in what is known as machine-to-machine (M2M) communication.

For example, Japanese robot maker Fanuc has developed technology that connects the brains of more than 400,000 of its industrial robots so that they can learn from each other and improve performance on manufacturing lines.

In working with Cisco, US factory automation systems maker Rockwell Automation and Preferred Networks, a Tokyo-based machine learning start-up, Fanuc says its M2M network will improve equipment efficiency and increase manufacturing profitability.

Fanuc is not alone – its German rival Kuka is working with Chinese telecoms company Huawei to link up its industrial robots in much the same way.5

An industrial-scale version of the IoT is certain to reconfigure manufacturing, ushering in what experts are calling the next Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0.

The first industrial revolution, which began in Britain in the mid-18th century, took about 100 years to spread as the use of machines gradually replaced human labour in Europe. Industry 4.0 should evolve at a pace faster than any of the previous breakthroughs.

Accenture estimates that Industry 4.0 could add at least USD14 trillion to the world economy by 2030, while PWC expects more than USD900 billion will be invested in technologies and businesses related to Industry 4.0 every year until 2020. More than half of the world’s major firms surveyed by the consultant expected a return on investment within two years.

How Industry 4.0 creates value

internet of things

Source: McKinsey, August 2016 

Industry 4.0 and M2M networks are beginning to transform manufacturers’ strategic priorities. Germany’s Audi plans to develop a “smart factory” which makes cars with robots working together with human colleagues, 3D printers that print complex metal parts and drones carrying steering wheels. Audi has even piloted cars driving themselves off the production line.

“Automobile production as we know it today will no longer exist in the future,” Hubert Waltl, member of Audi’s Board of Management for Production, told the automaker’s magazine. “It will become more connected, more intelligent and more efficient… New specialists such as network architects will increasingly move into our industry.”

IoT powers platform economy

Like Audi, manufacturers will no doubt reap the benefits of Industry 4.0; costs for inventory holding are likely to fall by up to 50 per cent thanks to the real-time warehouse management enabled by IoT devices while total machine downtime will also halve as factories use machines more efficiently thanks to information coming from IoT sensors, McKinsey expects. Several other studies have shown the IoT will boost manufacturing productivity by as much as 50 per cent.

But it won’t be just manufacturers; consumers and investors are set to enjoy the perks; Industry 4.0 will not only drive production costs down but also allow factories to produce goods which better reflect the trend and preferences of consumers.

This means we will be able to buy highly-customised IoT objects at cheap prices. The more people that use a given IoT object, the greater its network effect, a mechanism that rapidly magnifies the value of the object to each of its users.

Platforms have completely changed the nature of competition across many industries. – Austan Goolsbee, professor of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Companies like Apple, Uber and Amazon are already exploiting the network effect by building a complex web of interactions between consumers, suppliers, entrepreneurs and developers on “platforms”, digital marketplaces through which businesses offer a range of goods and services to consumers.

The platform economy built on IoT devices is beginning to disrupt the functioning of marketplaces and transform the investment landscape.

“Platforms have completely changed the nature of competition across many industries,” Austan Goolsbee, professor of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, told a recent conference organised by Pictet Asset Management.

“(Successful investing) is not really about figuring out what is the most exciting technology… it’s also about asking ‘could that thing be a platform that prevents the next guy from coming into the market?’”

Water – Invest Now for a Better Future

 When I talk about ethical and sustainable investing what does that mean? Sometimes that depends upon the client who may have special preferences.

For me it can mean a wide variety of options and opportunities and, to the surprise of many, it also means serious investment.

This article, kindly provided by Pictet Asset Management gives the story of water investment. You can see this as purely an investment opportunity, as an opportunity to use your investment monies for a better world; or you can also see the human and social benefits.

This is also an invitation to think more creatively about how you invest and to do that all you need to do is talk to Jan.

This is what Pictet is involved in . . . . .

The private water supply sector consists of companies serving the population through the supply and storage of drinking water.

By 2050, up to 4 billion people across the world could be living under ‘severe’ water stress, up from 1.2 billion today.

Economic growth is exacerbating the water shortage as it boosts personal wealth, leading to increased consumption of products that require more water to produce, such as animal protein.

For example, producing a kilogram of beef requires 15,000 litres of water, six times more than is needed to produce the same amount of rice.

Governments are increasingly unable to maintain supply due to tight budgets and ageing infrastructure.

This means that private companies will play an ever-more important role throughout the human water cycle, especially in North America and Central & Eastern Europe, where they are expected to increase their market share by more than 10 per cent between 2013 and 20253.

With other regions, such as South America and Asia, requiring up to USD 14 trillion of investment by 2030 to secure their water supply, there will be countless opportunities for companies involved in innovative water supply solutions, such as water recycling and desalination, to profit.

Water treatment
The water technology sector consists of companies developing the tools and systems to improve the efficiency with which we use water.

For instance, as much as 75 per cent of the world’s available freshwater supply is unsafe for consumption due to contamination or pollution.

Governments can enact measures to safeguard water sources from pollutants, but it is private companies involved in the development of innovative filtration systems, such as permeable membranes or UV filtration, that will provide solutions to these issues.

Leakages
In developing countries, more than 45 million cubic metres of water are lost through leaks every day. The cost of improving existing public infrastructure globally is predicted to exceed USD20 trillion between 2005 and 20304.

Companies producing innovative water technology solutions, such as next-generation sensors and monitoring equipment that can increase the efficiency of water usage and help avoid wastage through leaks, represent compelling investment opportunities.

Irrigation
With 70 per cent of the world’s available freshwater used to support agricultural production, governments are now tackling the wasteful use of water in this sector, such as through the fines California has imposed on those who irrigate their crops in daylight hours during droughts.

This focus on waste is creating opportunities for companies making advances in agricultural water technology, such as drip irrigation, which only intermittently wets the soil that is closest to the crop, and thus provides higher moisture levels while using less water.

Waste management
There is growing awareness, especially within developing countries, about the need to deal with the water supply problems arising from improper solid waste disposal, which in China has led to nearly 60 per cent of the country’s underground water and a third of its surface water being classed as ‘unfit for human contact’.

The Chinese government is determined to improve this situation, with its 2015 ‘Water Ten Plan’ putting in place tough targets on polluting industries to provide ecological and environmental protection. With industrial wastewater treatment in China reaching around 90 per cent penetration, the focus will shift to tackling the rise of domestic waste output.

Companies operating in the environmental services sector and providing solutions to waste water collection and its treatment are predicted to benefit.

 

Government Announces Significant Overhaul Probate Fees

Government announces significant overhaul of probate fees from 1 May 2017

Last February, the Government began a consultation into probate fees and how much families should be charged for extracting the Grant of Probate.

Their proposals outlined a move away from the current application fee of £215 for an individual and £155 for professional, to a new tiered fee system based on the value of the estate in question:

  • Estates valued at less than £50.000 – No probate fee
  • Estates valued at £50,000-£300,000 – £300 probate fee
  • Estates valued at £300,000-£500,000 – £1,000 probate fee
  • Estates valued at £500,000-£1m – £4,000 probate fee
  • Estates valued at £1m-£1.6m – £8,000 probate fee
  • Estates valued at £1.6m-£2m – £12,000 probate fee
  • Estates valued at more than £2m £20,000 probate fee

We introduce clients to King’s Court where the clients show interest.
You can read about working with King’s Court (KC) here

Kings Court Trust was one of 853 firms or individuals to formally respond to the consultation.

They voiced strong opposition to the plans, citing the fact that the proposed fees would potentially cause significant financial difficulties for families already having to deal with the loss of a loved one.  Despite overwhelming opposition, the Government has approved the changes to the fee structure and these will come into action from 1 May 2017.

What does this mean for clients that use King’s Court
through Jan Oliff Financial Planning?

Our clients will have the fee changes clearly explained to them.
KC is committed to supporting any families who need advice and support on what the fee structure change will mean for them and are currently investigating a number of options that will allow us to help families manage the additional cost of the Grant of Probate as a result of the new structure.

How will this impact on Kings Court Trust’s fixed fee service?

KC’s comprehensive estate administration service will still be offered with a guaranteed fixed price.

They have removed the cost of the Grant of Probate as a fixed charge and will not be reintroducing this until there is a clear understanding of the new processes that the Probate Registry will be putting in place.

Instead, KC will explain clearly how the new fee structure will impact on the estate in question so that clients have as much information as possible.

Scammers Beware

Can we count on your support?

This is from the PFS – Professional Finance Society – my professional body.
The proliferation of investment and pension scams have been a growing concern over the last few years, but since the introduction of pension freedoms unregulated activity has multiplied leaving consumers vulnerable to ever more sophisticated scams.

During 2015/16 more than 3,000 people reported being caught up in scams with an average loss of £32,000. As most scam losses go unreported the actual numbers will be much higher. It is clearly time to take further action and as a profession we have a vested interest in contributing to the wider effort of helping protect consumers.

The 15 minute commitment

I announced at our London Financial Planning Symposium in November that we had joined forces with the FCA in an effort to help protect growing numbers of consumers. Members have been asked to help raise awareness of scams amongst their clients and professional networks. But for personal finance professionals, scams and unregulated investment schemes with overblown promises are easier and quicker to spot than unsuspecting members of the public. We therefore need to mobilise as a united profession to help the authorities by sniffing out and reporting suspicious investments and potential scams.

The small commitment we are asking Personal Finance Society members to make is to spend just 15 minutes per month to help identify and report potential scams. As a profession we have the opportunity to make a huge impact in smoking out and helping close down investment scams before they do too much damage.

Visit the PFS website where there are ideas on how to spend 15 minutes. The website contains information and case study videos along with an overview of the tactics used by scammers. There is also a link to the FCA’s ScamSmart microsite where you can find the latest warning list and details of how you can report a potential scam.

Contact me about this if you wish

It’s not just inexperienced investors who are falling victim to scams; savvy investors are falling victim too and are the target for more sophisticated scams. Affluent retirees aged over 60 are now most likely to be victims.

Just a quarter of people seek the advice of a professional adviser prior to committing to an investment and one in eight people spend little or no time researching investment products before handing over the money. It’s time our profession played its part in demonstrating the value of professional advice and helping protect consumers from the unscrupulous.