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The Latest update on National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) 
From October 2012 UK employers must automatically enrol employees into a ‘qualifying workplace pension scheme’. This auto enrolment could be to your existing company pension scheme if it meets certain criteria. If it does not meet the criteria or if you do not operate a company pension scheme then your employees will be enrolled into National Employment Savings Trust (NEST), a scheme being introduced by the Government.

Between October 2012 and 2017, depending on the size of company, all UK employers will be required to contribute a minimum of 3% of each employee’s eligible earnings into a pension, assuming the employee does not “opt out”. This is intended to incentivise them to start saving towards their retirement. Employees will need to pay a personal contribution of 4% with a further 1% tax relief being added to make the minimum contribution 8%.

Compulsory employer and employee contributions will be phased in.

What is the definition of a ‘Qualifying Scheme’?

Those employers that offer pension schemes which are equivalent to, or provide more generous benefits, than NEST will be allowed to automatically enrol their employees into those schemes rather than NEST.

For an existing or new scheme to be classed as a qualifying scheme it must meet the following minimum criteria for contributions:

FINAL SALARY PENSION SCHEME (contracted out) - Accrual rate of at least 1/80th of pensionable pay

FINAL SALARY PENSION SCHEME (contracted in) - Accrual rate of at least 1/120th of pensionable pay

MONEY PURCHASE, STAKEHOLDER or GROUP PERSONAL PENSION PLAN - Minimum contribution of 8% of all qualifying earnings. (between £5,715 and £43,875 pa in 2010/2011 terms) with at least 3% paid by the employer. Schemes must offer a default investment option but will be able to offer an additional choice of funds if they want to.

Are all employers affected?

Self-employed and single director companies will be unable to use auto-enrolment, however they will still be able to use NEST accounts.

Every other business with eligible employees will need to comply with the regulations, even if there is only one employee who meets the criteria.

How attractive is the state scheme for its members?

Currently, there are plans to levy a two percent charge on contributions to pay for the start-up costs of the pension. This is for the repayment of a rumored 600 million pounds that the state is spending to set up the scheme. This is in addition to the 0.3 percent annual management fee.

As long as the two percent contribution charge is in place the potential returns of investors will be eroded.

Should we set up our own scheme rather than go down the ‘NEST’ route?

If you want to attract the best people to your company you will need to offer a pension scheme that offers a choice of good quality funds and low charges.

If you do not already have a pension scheme now is the time to start planning for one.

We can help your company set up a ‘qualifying workplace pension scheme’ that will provide more choice and better results for you and all your valued employees. Contact us today.



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Do you qualify for an enhanced/impaired life annuity? 
Many people are surprised at just how many conditions, either medical (such as diabetes or high blood pressure) or lifestyle (such as smoking) could qualify for an income over and above a standard rate annuity.

An estimated 55%-65% of people could have conditions that might qualify them for enhanced terms based on combinations of conditions.

It's easy to see if you may qualify, just by asking yourself three simple questions:

> Do you smoke?
> Are you taking prescription medication?
> Have you ever received hospital treatment for a medical condition?

If the answer is 'yes' to any of these, then it's well worth completing a short medical questionnaire. It's a straight-forward, tick box format which is easy to complete.

Enhanced annuities can provide an increase in pension income of up to 30% each year!

Whatever your circumstances, we are specialists in this field and we would be more than happy to assist you in your retirement planning, to ensure you maximise your retirement income.

Remember, annuities are more competitive than ever, and you stand to lose out if you simply take what's on offer from your existing pension provider.

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Its time to review your investments and pensions!  
If you are considering retiring within the next few years you should review the funds that your pension funds is invested in to see whether any changes are necessary.

People who are approaching the point when they take benefits from their pension plans may wish to avoid the risk of any short term falls in the stock market or the impact of movements in interest rates. These factors can adversely affect the size of your pension fund at retirement and the levels of pension income you are able to receive.

One way of reducing these risks is to switch all or part of your portfolio into Cash Funds, Gilt Funds or Fixed Interest Funds. If you are contributing to your pension fund on a monthly basis you may also wish to change your current investment instructions.

If you would like us to help you review your current pension funds please do not hesitate to contact us. We do not charge a fee to review your existing investments and pensions.

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Don’t pay more tax than you have to… make use of your ISA allowance 
It is very rare that the Government provides something which shelters your money from tax – but an Individual Savings Account (ISA) is one of those things. Introduced in 1999, it has now become the primary savings vehicle, with more than 17 million people – about 1 in every three adults – now owning one (source: www.hm-treasury.gov.uk).

There are just two types of ISA - the Cash ISA and the Stocks and Shares ISA – and the combined allowance for both in 2010/11 is £10,200.

Within this, the limit for Cash ISAs - or for the cash element within a Stocks and Shares ISA – is £5,100. However, there is flexibility over how these limits can be used - you can, for example, put the maximum £5,100 in a cash account and £5,100 in a stocks and shares account. Alternatively, though, if you place just £2,000 in cash, you can use the entire remaining balance – £8,200 in this case - to invest in stocks and shares. If you don’t need cash at all, you can put the full £10,200 into stocks and shares.

In addition, you can transfer existing Cash ISA holdings to a Stocks and Shares ISA without impacting on your current tax year allowance. So, if you have £10,000 already sitting in existing cash ISA plans then this amount can be moved to a Stocks and Shares ISA, yet leave your entire current tax year allowance still available for new investment.

Once invested, you have no further liability for income or capital gains tax on any profits you receive. There are also thousands of different investment options available – from cash and bonds through to property, equities and even overseas companies – so you can be confident that, whatever your aims and objectives, there is a suitable home for your money.

You should always seek advice when investing in a Stocks and Shares ISA in order to ensure that the investments you choose match the amount of risk you are willing to take.

If you would like us to send you a guide which takes you through the basic principles of ISAs and the different savings options and tax benefits please contact us.

[ view entry ] ( 1139 views )   |  permalink  |   ( 3 / 2016 )
You only retire once and it only takes a little bit of effort to get it right! 
If you are retiring soon you will receive a retirement pack from your existing pension provider, including details for buying annuities . Never sign any pension annuity papers you receive without seeking advice. You could easily get up to 30% more each year and over a 20 year period this means you could get 6 times as much as you would have done.

The annuity offered by your existing provider is rarely the best rate you could obtain and you should shop around for the best annuity rate based on your circumstances.

It’s a sad fact that around 2/3rds of people do not shop around to find the best annuity rates. Most people could receive extra income, in some cases, up to 30% more than the original annuity offered. This increase could be worth thousands of pounds each year for the rest of your life.

And if that’s not enough, more and more people are eligible for even higher annuity rates nowadays due to their lifestyle, health issues and even where they live. If you’re a smoker, are under or overweight, or you have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, you may qualify for a higher annuity rate. Its astonishing that over 1,500 medical conditions are now considered for higher annuity rates.

Annuities have a number of important and valuable options that allow you to tailor the income received… click here to read more about these options.

You should also consider your other Options at Retirement.

Most annuity providers will pay your finanical adviser a commission for the advice provided… but did you know that the annuity you receive will be the same whether or not your seek financial advise?

The annuity provider will allocate a commision for the case and if no financial advice is given the provider will simply keep the commission allocated for the case.

Remember, the difference between the best and worst annuity rates can be up to 30% , and possibly more in certain cases.

If you’re about to make one of life’s major financial decisions you really can’t afford to get it wrong. Contact us now and get the best advice which will make a real difference to your retirement income.

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Congratulations to all you quitters! 
If you quit smoking more than 12 months ago then read on…

Along with the many benefits quitting smoking has on your health it may also have additional finanical benefits you may not have thought of.

If you have a life insurance policy that was set up when you were a smoker, you will be paying ‘smoker rates’.

If you quit smoking more than 12 months ago you may be able to reduce the monthly premiums you are currently paying by taking out a new policy based on ‘non-smoker rates’. Once the new policy is in place you can simply cancel your existing policy.

Here’s a typical example:

James took out a 20-year, level term, life insurance policy when he was a 40 year old smoker, two years ago. He is currently paying a premium of £19.68 a month.

He quit smoking 18 months ago and even though he is now two years older, he can get the same cover for the remaining 18 years, for just £12.29 a month... a saving of £7.39 a month (£1,596 over the remaining term!).

If you would like us to provide you with a no obligations quote based on your current circumstances please contact us.

For further information on life insurance visit our life insurance page.

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Your 2009/2010 Cash ISA allowance - Use it or lose it! 
Have you checked the interest rate you are earning on your savings accounts lately? You could be earning as little as 0.1%!

Make sure you earn a good return on your savings and make sure you protect this money from the taxman by placing it into an easy access Cash ISA.

Some of the best rates on easy access Cash ISAs are currently offered by Alliance & Leicester (3.5%), and Barclays (3.1%). These accounts include bonuses for the first year so make sure you review your Cash ISA regularly, at least once a year. These accounts do not allow transfers from previous years’ ISAs.

If you are looking to transfer Cash ISA funds that you have built up over previous years, you may wish to consider First Direct (2.75%) or Nationwide (2.75%). You must open, or have, a current account open with these banks in order to qualify for these top rates, which are available online.

Alternatively if you have more than £9,000 of previous years’ Cash ISA funds you may consider Alliance & Leicester who currently offer 2.75%AER for an online-only Direct ISA.

For more information on ISAs please see our ISA page.

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What is Business Protection? 
Research suggests that just 4% of business owners have Business Protection cover in place even though:

* 69% say losing a key individual would have the biggest impact on their business.
* 29% say they would cease trading within 3 months – and 44% within a year.
* 47% have nothing in place to establish what would happen in the event of the death of a business owner.

Death of a Business Partner

On the death of one of the partners in a firm, the beneficiaries of that partner (usually a spouse or family member) may wish to withdraw his/her share of the partnership’s value. This can cause problems for the remaining partners because it might mean that they will have to sell partnership assets to pay the deceased partners family. One solution would be for the partners to insure against the death of each partner – in order to buy out their share.

Death of a Key Employee

The death of an important employee, especially in a small company, may have a devastating effect on a company’s profits. A company may wish to insure against the death of such key employees.

Death of a small Business Shareholder

Small businesses usually have a small number of share holders (often family members, relatives or friends). Surviving shareholders in a small business will probably thus want to buy shares of a deceased shareholder to prevent the shares from going out of the close circle of existing shareholders.

Business Protection helps businesses carry on trading if a key member of staff, shareholder or director dies or contracts a critical illness during the term of the plan.

Contact us if you want to ensure that your business is fully protected.

[ view entry ] ( 1174 views )   |  permalink  |   ( 3 / 2005 )

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