A photograph of a close up of a woman with a phone to her ear for our scam calls article

Mind that call

One of the downsides to ever-advancing technology is the ease with which people can fall prey to so-called scammers.

Scam calls can strike at any time and in any industry but can be particularly dangerous when dealing with financial matters.

By engaging in conversation with a scammer for even just a few minutes you could be on your way to losing thousands of pounds.

Alan Mellor, Managing Director at Phillip Bates & Co Financial Services said: “If you are unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of a call from someone who is looking to discuss your personal financial matters, we’d first and foremost advise you not to engage in any further conversation with them. Put a stop to it there and then.

“By speaking further with them, you are inviting them to find out more and more about you and thus increasing your vulnerability.

“Financial advisers are, by law, unable to cold call you regarding financial matters by phone, so this should be a warning sign straight away.”

Here at Phillip Bates & Co Financial Services, we have a long-standing policy of always contacting our markets if we receive an email or letter asking us to make bank transfers.

If you are concerned, please contact Alan Mellor on 0151 353 1066.

A photograph of a man writing on a piece of paper for our chartered status article

Congratulations Helen & Margo!

Helen Brown, Senior Financial Adviser at Phillip Bates & Co Financial Services and Margo Dorozik, Client Service Manager have both passed important exams in recent months, taking them one step closer to Chartered status.

The two, who took the exam just before Christmas, are now gearing up for their final exam, which they will take shortly.

Phillip Bates & Co Financial Services is one of only a small number of Chartered Partnerships in the region.

The firm is proud of its status, which reflects its belief of meeting the standards and quality of what they do.

An image of coins stacked on a desk in our tax changes news piece

Dividend tax changes afoot

The end of the financial tax year is fast approaching and there are tax changes afoot.

From April, business owners who pay themselves in the form of dividends, rather than a salary, will see their tax-free allowance cut from £5,000 to £2,000.

The tax changes will also affect investors who have portfolios of shares held outside Isas or pensions.

Alan Mellor, Managing Director of Phillip Bates & Co Financial Services, commented: “This impending change will impact shareholders and business owners who are ultimately going to be paying more tax.

“Whilst there is not a lot we can do to combat the [tax] changes, we invite clients to contact us and see what their options are.”

Alan Mellor can be contacted on 0151 353 1066.

A photograph of a woman with a child on her back outdoors on a pension transfers article

Seek specialist advice before transferring your pension

Pension transfers have been in the news a lot lately, since the transfer values have increased.

But Alan Mellor, Managing Director at Phillip Bates & Co Financial Services, has issued a warning to seek specialist advice before transferring your pension.

“It is important to fully understand and appreciate the value of a guaranteed lump sum for the future,” Alan said.
“We are not encouraging people to transfer their pension.”

Pension transfers came into the spotlight last year, when their value increased as a result of the Brexit vote.

Pressures on some pension schemes had led to some making hugely inflated offers to people to swap future income for a cash lump sum.

At Phillip Bates & Co FS, we saw cases where the transfer valuations had gone up by tens of thousands of pounds in just a handful of weeks, which for some individuals meant cash sums equivalent to more than 30 times the projected annual income on retirement being offered to final salary (or Defined Benefit) pension schemes.

The sharp rise in transfer valuations may look appealing, but anyone considering leaving their final salary scheme should do so only after careful consideration with their financial advisor.

If you’d like to discuss your position, please contact Alan Mellor on 0151 353 1066.

An image of a coin with Bitcoin branding.

Beware of Bitcoin

Bitcoin – a digital currency created in 2009, which uses decentralised technology rather than one central bank – is gaining more and more interest lately.

Since it thrust itself into the mainstream some five years ago, Bitcoin has been a constant source of interest and confusion, but the currency has certainly garnered more attention recently.

Since Christmas, Bitcoin has endured a drop of more than 50 per cent in little over a month, and its sudden crash from $20,000 to under $8,000 has led to concern.

Alan Mellor, Managing Director of Phillip Bates & Co Financial Services has issued a warning about the currency.

He said: “We’re advising our clients to be very wary of Bitcoin.

“The currency’s sudden crash is concerning; when looking at the bigger picture, we as a nation don’t truly understand a lot about this fairly-new phenomenon.

“It can leave those who invest in it potentially very vulnerable – without the need for physical cash, Bitcoin is essentially a chunk of code sitting on a person’s computer, which can also be used in ransoms.

“Far from an investment, Bitcoin is really a gamble.”

Need some advice? Contact Alan Mellor on 0151 353 1066.

We welcome withdrawal of stamp duty for first-time buyers in ‘positive’ budget

We welcomed the announcement by Chancellor Philip Hammond in yesterday’s budget that stamp duty is to be abolished for first-time buyers purchasing properties worth up to £300,000.

Phillip Bates & Co Chartered Financial Planners predicted a reduction in stamp duty for first-time buyers was likely, but that it would perhaps be a temporary one. So far, no date has been announced for when this change will run until.

Alan Mellor, Managing Director of Phillip Bates & Co Chartered Financial Planners, said: “We feel that yesterday’s budget was a positive one as it gives something for everyone.

“There is great news for those looking to get on the housing ladder – no stamp duty for properties worth up to £300,000 is significant. It is worth noting however that this change applies exclusively to first-time buyers – to be eligible, you must have never had a stake in any property before.

“There has been talk that the announcement could hike up house prices and it may well do in the short-term, but this of course is all speculation and its impact remains to be seen.

“We suspect that the announcements relating to housing will be felt most in the South-east of the country and it is notable that plans have been announced to build five new garden towns here too. The towns will be built largely between Oxford and Cambridge – cities known for their focus on technology. Indeed, boosting advances in technology appears to be an underlying theme in this budget and is surely one that is only to be encouraged if we are to make our own way post-Brexit.”

Back in October, Alan also predicted that pension tax relief may come under the spotlight with discussions having stepped up a gear this year in the lead-up to the budget.

He added: “Although there was no announcement with regards to pension tax relief in the budget, we do feel that this an issue that’s bubbling away under the surface and that we may well see an announcement soon.”

A look ahead to the Budget

The Budget will soon be on its way.

It was announced last year by the Chancellor Philip Hammond that the Budget was to be moved back to the autumn to simplify the process of setting taxes and government spending.

This is the first year of the new system being in action.

As with previous years, Pension Tax Relief is under review, but it is unlikely that this will come to anything.

Currently, if a person is paying contributions into particular types of pension scheme and the contribution isn’t treated as paid net of basic rate income tax relief, they can claim back all the tax relief that’s due (both basic rate and any higher rate relief) from HMRC.

The Budget is expected to take place at the end of November.

The time has come for reviewing and fine-tuning accounts

The time of year has come for us to review and re-balance client accounts.

Once or twice a year, the team at Phillip Bates & Co Financial Services will review and rebalance accounts to ensure that everything is in working order or if any tweaks should be made.

When we welcome a new client, we concentrate on putting the right plan in place for them and continue to update this plan to ensure that it remains relevant to your particular financial situation.

As part of our relationship, we have regular reviews with our clients to ensure that each individual plan is on track. This takes into account any changes in circumstances.

After speaking with you, we may decide that a couple of changes should be made here or there, which will help your investments in the long-term.

If you would like more information, contact Alan Mellor on 0151 353 1066 or find out more about how we work here.

Meet the team: Helen Brown

Helen Brown is a Senior Financial Planner at Phillip Bates & Co Financial Services, having joined the team in June 2009.

“My whole career has been spent in the Financial Services industry; starting off as a mortgage adviser and then progressing to full financial advice,” Helen said.

“I have always worked for banking institutions but, for the last 15 years have worked in smaller independent firms.

“When I started with Phillip Bates & Co, I specialised in arranging pension income for clients who were retiring. This became my principle role within the business however, with the changes to pension legislation in April 2015, the pensions marketplace started to become much more investment based which means that I have now evolved into investment as well as pension advice and planning.

“I am currently working towards my Chartered qualification, which is recognised in the industry as the gold standard. I am currently half way towards achieving this and hope to be fully qualified in mid-2018. These are advanced financial planning qualifications and, as such, demand a high level of technical knowledge in pensions, investment and tax planning.

“The part of my role that I enjoy most is interacting with my clients. I take great care in looking after them and their interests and am enjoying building long-term relationships that I hope will last for many years to come.

“I Iike to offer a warm and friendly service and hope that my clients would agree that this is what they receive. My very favourable reviews on the website ‘Vouched For’ do seem to reflect this and I am very proud of that.

Connect with Helen by contacting her here.

Inheritance Tax & the property nil rate band

Inheritance tax remains a topic of confusion for many.

Essentially, inheritance tax refers to a tax on the estate of someone who has passed away.

The estate might consist of a person’s property, money and possessions.

If your estate is valued at below the £325,000 threshold or you opt to leave everything to your spouse, civil partner, a charity or a community amateur sports club, there will usually be no Inheritance Tax to pay.

If you decide to pass your home onto your children (including adopted, foster or stepchildren) or grandchildren, your threshold will increase to £425,000.

Some estates qualify for an additional threshold, sometimes known as the property nil rate band. This was introduced earlier this year and states that if someone were to pass away with an estate that is above the basic Inheritance Tax threshold, the estate could be entitled to an additional threshold before any inheritance tax is due.

This additional amount, for 2017 to 2018, is up to £100,000. This figure will go up annually.

If you have a question about inheritance tax and would like to ensure that your affairs are being organised in the best way, contact Alan Mellor on 0151 353 1066.