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Newsletter - Viewpoint Edition 28
In this issue topics covered include: Coming to end of your interest-free equity loan period; Thought starts for first time buyers; Income Protection claims; Is joint life cover best for couples? The insurance policy that could prove critical; Practical ideas for downsizers; My journey as a first-time buyer.

Blogs below from January 2019.

Become a Superhero in the eyes of our family
When he was younger one of my son’s favourite questions was; “if you could have any super power, what would it be?” He loved the idea of being a Superhero.

How a trust can help your financial planning
Writing a policy in Trust could be perceived as something that only the wealthy require, but the reality is Trusts can play an important part in financial planning for people from all walks of life.

Standard Variable Rate
The average homeowner moving from a specific mortgage deal onto their mortgage provider’s Standard Variable Rate (SVR) could save more than £2,500 a year in interest payments simply by remortgaging.

Deadline to Breadline
For its latest ‘Deadline to Breadline’ report, Legal and General surveyed 2,000 full and part-time workers to assess how long they could survive on savings if their income stopped due to serious, or long-term illness, or death. The rather worrying answer was 32 days.

First-time buyers: Boost your mortgage chances
You’ve decided to take the plunge and get onto the property ladder, having swapped fun and frivolity for fastidious frugalness to save the deposit. But what can you do to boost your chances of getting your first mortgage?

Home Improvement
Whether you’re renovating your home because it’s too expensive to move, or you’ve only just bought the place and you’re keen to make your mark, it’s important to stick to jobs that will add value rather than risk reducing its future sale price.

How to prepare financially for long-term illness
While British life expectancy continues to rise, the same might not be said for the quality of health we could expect to enjoy as we get older, according to a stark warning from The British Heart Foundation. Their analysis suggests the number of people suffering heart attacks and stroke because of a rise in diabetes diagnoses could rise by 29% over the next two decades.

The value of protection advice
Protection should be considered as the foundation of all financial planning. After all, if things go awry and you suddenly find yourself in dire financial straits, who or what could you rely on to keep you and your family afloat?

Financial top tips for service personnel
Service personnel and their families can find it difficult to access commercial products and services because of the time spent outside of the UK. The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has been working with the financial sector to improve the ability of armed forces personnel to access financial products.


Blogs below from 18 November 2018.

Barriers to protection
According to an online survey of 2,000 adults by Royal London, half of those surveyed believe life insurance is essential for someone with a mortgage or dependants and yet only 60% of people with a mortgage have life cover.

What life insurance is best for your joint mortgage?
When you take out a mortgage we would always recommend you take out appropriate life insurance too, so that you know your monthly mortgage payments are covered if things go awry.

What’s the point of a property survey?
You're not bound by law to have a survey done on a property you're buying, but while it may feel like an unnecessary expense given all the other costs involved in homebuying, it could actually save money and stress in the longer-term.

Self-Employed lack protection
Just 4% of self-employed workers have income protection in place, leaving the majority vulnerable to financial difficulties if they are suddenly forced to stop working through illness or accident.

Shining a light on home insurance
Home and contents insurance seems to be a mystery to many households according to research by the Co-Op, which found more than five million have no cover despite the average value of contents reaching almost £40,000.

What is insurance?
Almost every adult in the UK has taken out some kind of insurance policy – whether it’s to protect themselves, their home, their car, their possessions, or their beloved pets. But what is it?

Is your Help to Buy deal ending?
Since its launch in April 2013 more than 145,000 properties have been bought using the Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme. Five years on and the interest-free element of the loan is due to end, with homeowners potentially facing expensive fees.

Will solar panels affect your move?
2010 was a good year for homeowners wanting to go “off grid”, as the government launched its Feed-in Tariffs (FIT) scheme, which guaranteed an income to those producing their own electricity. Since then, there’ve been over 780,000 domestic installations – mostly of solar photovoltaic panels which capture the sun’s energy and convert it to electricity.

Savers in the dark about their pension
Are you among the 30.4 million working-age people who don’t know if their pension pot will be big enough to afford a comfortable lifestyle in retirement?

The gender pension gap
If you overheard a conversation about the gender gap, you might automatically think about it in terms of pay, given the relatively recent requirement for firms with more than 250 employees to disclose their pay data.

The Junior ISA
Junior ISAs (JISA) are long-term, tax-efficient savings accounts for children, introduced in November 2011 to supersede the phased-out Child Trust Fund (CTF).

Blogs below from 04 October 2018.

Taking the second step
Research by Censuswide for Nationwide shows it’s not just first-time buyers who struggle to fund their property purchase. So-called ‘second steppers’ are finding it hard to move up the housing ladder, having to make compromises designs on a renovation project please or sacrifices in order to afford their next home.

Some unusual insurance claims
If we asked you to list the most common reasons for claiming on your household insurance, you’d probably say theft, accidental damage, or damage caused by storms and flooding. The following claims, however, are slightly more unusual..

Protection in Trust
Taking out a Life Insurance policy gives you valuable peace of mind; you know you’ve helped protect your family against financial hardship, should the worst happen. But how can you make sure your policy will pay out quickly, to those who’ll need it most, if you weren't around?

Offset Mortgages Explained
With interest rates remaining low, you might want to consider an offset mortgage. This combines your mortgage and savings into one account and, rather then pay interest on the savings, the savings balance is deducted from the loan amount and you pay interest on the remaining balance.

How secure is your business?
Business protection is a crucial element in a company's financial future, but how many have cover in place?

Changing Rooms
According to a survey by Lloyds Bank, 45 per cent of empty nesters have no plans to downsize, despite the potential windfall moving to a smaller place could create.

Are you thinking of downsizing
According to a survey by Lloyds Bank, 45 per cent of empty nesters have no plans to downsize, despite the potential windfall moving to a smaller place could create.

A Summer of Sports
With a number of major sporting events happening this summer you might feel inspired to dig out your sportswear and get involved. Just make sure you’re prepared for the inevitable knocks, bumps and breaks that might leave you having to take time off work.

Spring Statement
March has traditionally been the month for Budgets, but no longer. In Autumn 2016 the then new Chancellor, Philip Hammond made clear he thought the propensity of previous Chancellors to turn their Autumn Statements into second Budgets was not a good idea and that he wanted to make only one set of tax announcements each year and so announced he would be moving to Autumn Budgets and Spring Statements.

Auto-enrolment update
It’s reasonable to suggest that auto enrolment has been a major success story. In fact, more than 1 million employers and 9 million employees have made pension saving a part of everyday life since its introduction in 2012.

With protection comes choice
How many times have you heard the phrase “It won’t happen to me” when it comes to the chances of suffering a serious illness? Unfortunately, given that 1 in 2 people born after 1960 in the UK will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime we should perhaps adopt the lottery approach and assume “it could be you”.

What’s your General Insurance start date?
When you’re in the process of buying a house, you might think the best time for your Home Insurance cover to kick in is on the day you move in. Right?

Securing your company’s future
Business Protection is a crucial element in a company’s financial future, but how many have cover in place? According to a study from Legal & General, 53% of the UK’s small businesses think they would cease trading in less than a year, should a key employee die or be diagnosed with critical illness and unable to work.

Need help to buy?
2018 began with a surprising pick-up in house price growth, up 0.6% month-on-month with January seeing a ten-month high increase of 3.2 per cent. Even with the wider economy and Brexit developments, the housing market activity is only expected to slow a modest amount.

It happened to him
Don’t let the ‘it won’t happen to me’ approach affect your decision on whether or not to take out critical illness cover.

Is now the right time to fix?
November 2017 saw the Bank of England raise interest rates for the first time in a decade, from 0.25 per cent to 0.5 per cent, causing a number of lenders to increase their mortgage rates.

Going, going, gone to the auction!
If you think property auctions are only for professional property developers or investors think again. They can be a great place to pick up a family home.

Freehold or leasehold: the ins and outs
When buying a property, you can do so either on a leasehold or freehold basis and there are important differences to be aware of before you sign on the dotted line.

A year of political change
2017 was the year of the campaign trail, with several key elections held in countries with great influence on global economics and stock markets. Here, we recap on the political posturing that defined 2017, and what it meant of the global stock markets.

The ABC of Junior ISAs
The Junior Individual Savings Account (ISA) was introduced in 2011, 12 years after the launch of the original ISA in 1999, which recently celebrated its 18th birthday.

Could your status update affect your claim?
Given the nature of social media and the millions of us who use it every day, you probably weren’t alone in posting pictures, videos and status updates showing off your recent Christmas presents and festive celebrations.

Critical Illness cover can make a difference
If you’ve ever turned down a recommendation of critical illness because you can't see the value of it, this real-life case study might make you think again.

Let Property Campaign
If you let out a residential property but haven’t declared the rental income, you might be interested in a new campaign from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

Interest Rate Rise
In 2007 Bulgaria and Romania joined the European Union, Lewis Hamilton got his first drive in Formula 1 partnering with Fernando Alonso at McLaren, the final book in the Harry Potter series was published and England played their first match at the new Wembley Stadium. It was also the year in which the Bank of England last raised interest rates, when they went up by 0.25%.

Taking a global view
Keeping your investments close to home may have its advantages, but only by looking globally can you be sure you’re making the most of diversification.

The CIO: A week in the life
The week featured here is 23 – 27 October 2017; a period that saw a number of important global events.

The value of protection
Buying a new home is possibly one of life’s biggest and most exciting events. It’s also a major financial commitment – one that could be with you for 25 years or more.

Valuations vs Surveys
Buying a house… is a valuation sufficient, or should you opt for a full structural survey?

2017 Autumn Budget
Phillip Hammond presented his second Budget of 2017 against a backdrop of Brexit negotiations and political uncertainty, in the UK and across the Eurozone. With so many constraints and the lessons of March firmly in mind, the Chancellor was predictably cautious but, as usual, there were a few surprises.

Financial scams target the over 45s
The rise in technology has caused more than 1 million over-45 year olds to fall victim to online scams and left one in five feeling vulnerable.

A sporting chance
Are you one of the one in three parents who worry about the risk of serious injury from school sports?
Research from MetLife has found that one third of parents with school age children are concerned about serious injuries from sport – and there could be real reasons to be worried.

Are Cash ISAs worth the investment?
After the Bank of England (BoE) cut interest rates to reassure the market following the Brexit vote, cash ISA returns plummeted.
According to Telegraph Money cash ISA returns fell by as much as 35% in the six months after the BoE’s decision. A quick google shows the best rates on offer currently are just over 1% for an easy access cash ISA (meaning you can withdraw your money at any time) and 1.4% if you’re prepared to lock your savings away for three years.

Buy to Let Mortgage market changes
The UK’s Buy to Let market is in a state of flux, with an extra 3% Stamp Duty on the purchase of additional properties and changes to the way a landlord’s income is taxed.

Don’t pay for your DIY disasters
The warmer weather might prompt you to finally get those home improvement projects underway, but are you covered if your DIY goes awry?

Is your pension tax efficient?
Since April 2015, pensioners have had greater freedom over how they manage their retirement savings. No longer forced to buy an annuity, they can now leave their money invested and draw an income from it (known as flexi-access drawdown).

Lasting Power of Attorney
A will deals with matters in the event of your death, but what if you became unable to handle your affairs while still alive?

Pension Advice Allowance
Financial decisions affecting your retirement income will be among the most important you’ll make during your lifetime and investing in timely financial advice could provide a welcome boost.

The matter of trusts
Taking out a life insurance policy gives you valuable peace of mind: you know you’ve protected your family against financial hardship, should the worst happen. But how can you make sure your policy will pay out quickly, to those who’ll need it most, if you died unexpectedly? The answer might be to write your policy in trust.

The ninth largest lender
34% of first-time buyers relied on their parents for financial help, making the bank of mum and dad’, the equivalent of the UK’s ninth largest lender in 2017.

The State Pension – all you need to know
Changes to the State Pension which took effect on 6 April 2016 were designed to simplify the system. With the earnings-related part applying to employed people removed, what you could qualify for depends on your National Insurance (NI) record.

Thinking of fixing your mortgage?
If you think an increase in your mortgage repayments could have a negative impact on your lifestyle or financial wellbeing, you may want to consider fixing your mortgage.

What’s the cost of a comfortable retirement?
Have you ever stopped to think about the monthly income you'd need to provide for a comfortable retirement?

Why crowdfund the cost of your healthcare?
Crowdfunding is becoming increasingly common among people who need healthcare that’s not freely available through the NHS.