Tag Archives: VCTs

Investment Bulletin – October 2015

12 Nov

2015 has been a poor investment period so far, seeing the most significant losses since 2011. The question I’m asking – are we about to see a similar outcome to 2011 with the investment markets rallying and posting significant returns? The answer I have is “maybe” – no one knows but what is clear is the markets have been in the grip of panic, leading in my opinion to being oversold. I believe that this will offer opportunities in certain investment markets for the future.


In recent years, the investment markets have been “trading in a range” and this has seen a fall from the top of the range. So, if the markets follow a similar model this could realistically lead to positive returns.


It has been our strategy to position your portfolio, within your risk profile, with the focus of relative capital preservation and real total returns. Relative to the market situation, we have performed above expectations and produced pleasing returns.


Our portfolios are well diversified and where relevant, we have already made recommendations leading to changes in the asset allocation and some of the fund selections.



Market Overview

It has been impossible to ignore the recent dramatic sell-off in the Chinese markets and the subsequent falls in other equity markets around the world. Despite the opening up of the Chinese economy its impact on the developed world is fairly limited as regards first round effects, with exports of goods and services to and from China a very small part of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) for all mainstream economies.




I think it is economies that kill markets not the other way around so I believe the current decline is overstated.


On a more positive note, lower commodity prices are, of course, producing a significant boost to the western consumer and we are seeing an acceleration in consumer spending across the US, Europe and the UK in 2015. Inflationary pressures are also likely to remain muted for longer and interest rate increases which, until recently, seemed almost a certainty over the coming months could well be pushed back. The US rate increase heavily tipped for December.


It is also worth noting that although we have seen sharp falls in equity prices, the moves in bonds have been much less pronounced.


Whilst we shouldn’t be complacent, bearing in mind that equity markets can often be a good signal of trouble ahead, I think weakness in China is not sufficient to bring down the global economy. We maintain a modest preference for equity markets but do expect volatility to remain. I am inclined to think the recent drama has been a bit of an over-reaction and is unlikely to have a significant impact in a raw economic sense.




We are expecting the prospect of the first interest rate rise since June 2006 and we await the December Federal Reserve meeting. The Fed’s actions in the coming three-to-six months could have wide-reaching implications for the global economy. We expect that if (and based on the Federal Reserve’s commentary and dialog, a rate rise is imminent), this will be closely followed by the Bank of England to raise rates. In both cases, we are expecting small incremental steps based on the strength of the economies. So do not expect large or quickly followed further increases. The expectation is this will not lead to a rise in bank interest rates paid to the consumer, as banks based on recent results and the multitude of fines and legacy problems are not anticipating paying a higher base to account holders.


We do expect more volatility but anticipate buoyant equity markets in the near future but with clear risks in several sectors, themes and geographies.


Therefore, we reaffirm our focus on valuation discipline and total return strategies, where care and attention is and will always be needed. This focus has allowed us to achieve above average returns in less than average markets over a longer term, always with a clear relative focus on capital preservation, targeted returns and risk profile.


This bulletin provides information, it is not advice. Any opinions are given in good faith and may be subject to change without notice. Opinions and information included within this document does not constitute advice.

(If you require personal advice based on your circumstances, please contact me.)

HMRC Focusing On Tackling Tax Avoidance by the Wealthy

17 Jan

HMRC Letter 480

It’s official, HM Revenue & Customs is doubling its team tackling potential tax avoidance of wealthy individuals. The number of inspectors has increased to over 200 inspectors.

The Affluent Compliance Team is to begin recruitment of 100 additional inspectors. The focus of the unit has expanded from those with annual incomes from £150,000 and accumulated wealth of £2.5 Million to £20 Million; to include those with wealth above £1 Million.

HMRC has reported that the unit had received additional tax receipts of £75 Million (by the end of December 2013). This is expected to rise to a target of £586 Million by the end of 2015.

Exchequer Secretary David Gauke says: “The team has made a great start by bringing in £75m in additional tax that would otherwise have been lost to the country…… Dodging tax is immoral, illegal and unaffordable and the minority who cheat are increasingly finding that, thanks to the work of the Affluent Team, they have made a big mistake.”

Director of the Affluent Team Roger Atkinson says: “Good quality intelligence is central to catching the cheats and so we are expanding our Affluent Intelligence Unit fourfold. This is very good news for all honest taxpayers.”

HMRC Crack Down on Tax Avoidance Schemes

22 Aug

HMRC has won, subject to appeal three court decisions against tax avoidance schemes. These cases are expected to provide the Exchequer with £200 Million.

The message is clear – when planning to minimise tax, ensure you use the rules that exist, take advantage of government backed schemes (eg personal pensions, ISAs, VCTs, EISs, AGR & BPR related schemes) and use accepted approaches within the flavour of the law – take professional advice. The cases in question are high value high – profile and are out of the remit of the general investor but the ethos of HMRC is clear.

HMRC Letter 480

HMRC have stated that this sends “a very clear message” that it will tackle efforts to avoid paying tax.

The first case, against ‘Schofield’ and heard in the Court of Appeal on 11 July, involved a business owner using a tax avoidance scheme to create an artificial loss on his sold business, even though it had actually made him a £10m profit. HMRC said he paid £200,000 to be involved in the scheme.

Another case against Sloane Robinson Investment Services, heard in the First Tier Tribunal on 16 July, saw the company’s directors attempt to avoid a combined £13m worth of tax on their bonuses. The First Tier Tribunal ruled the scheme, even once it had been modified to counter recently introduced anti-tax avoidance legislation, did not work.

In the final case, against ‘Barnes’ in the Upper Tribunal on 30 July, a scheme aimed at exploiting a mismatch between two tax regimes on behalf of more than 100 individuals failed to work. HMRC said some £100m was at stake as a result of this scheme.

HMRC director general of business tax, Jim Harra, said: “These wins in the courts are a victory for the vast majority of taxpayers who do not try to dodge their taxes. They send a clear message to tax avoiders – HMRC will challenge tax avoidance relentlessly and we will beat you.

“We have now had three major court successes in avoidance cases in the last month alone and I hope this sends a very clear message: These schemes don’t come cheap, you carry a serious risk that you’ll end up paying the tax and interest on top of a set-up charge which can run into the hundreds of thousands of pounds.

“These were complex cases which show HMRC’s experts doing what they do best, delivering great results for the UK.”

VCTs & EISs – Clampdown If Just Targeting Tax Relief

21 Mar

George Osborne confirmed the government will roll out a new disqualifying purpose test to exclude companies set up for the sole purpose of accessing tax relief.

 The purpose of VCTs and EIS’ is to help smaller higher-risk trading companies to raise finance by offering a range of tax reliefs to investors who purchase new shares in those companies, as opposed to taking advantage of the generous tax breaks on offer.

The consultation will come as a blow to some feed-in-tariff VCT and EIS providers. The Government will also introduce a new disqualifying purpose test to exclude companies set up for the purpose of accessing relief, exclude acquisition of shares by a qualifying company in another company, and exclude investment in some Feed-in Tariff businesses.

The good news :-


  • from April 2012 the investment universe for VCTs (Venture Capital Trusts) will be widened. 
  • £1.0 Million investment limit per company rule has been lifted
  • VCTs will have the option to invest larger (actually unrestricted amounts) into a small business


  • EIS tax relief allowance to be doubled to £200,000.


Wealth Accumulation, Retirement Planning and Family Commitments

27 Feb

I was recently asked how much should I save and how much is enough?

The simple anwer is, whatever you can afford – save and in my book that means invest. The exception is a pot of cash for unexpected eventualities and known commitments.

The whole idea of saving and investing is for money to grow in value at a greater rate than inflation, otherwise in real terms you are losing money. What you think of as your target growth rate and risk profile is a personal matter.

You must be realistic and be aware that the higher the possible returns, the more risk and volatility you will be requested to accept. Also, more risk does not automatically mean higher returns. What it means is more risk the higher range of returns, so you could lose or gain more but there are no guarantees. My role as your financial adviser is to guide, inform and advise you on this as it will have a serious effect on the potential outcome. So, planning, reviews and planning agian is paramount.

So where to start?

OK, this may well be different depending your stage of life.

Pre-retirement is all about accumulating wealth for self (you and possibly spouse) and family.  You need to accumulate for when one day you stop working, so in most cases this is Pension Planning, ISAs, EISs, VCTs, Collectives amd possibly Investment Bonds; and of course the clearing all debts. This is so, when children go to University, need a deposit for their first flat, get married, first car, start a buiness or whatever else then, as with all us parents, we help. And one day, when it’s time to retire, we have sufficient wealth to support and fund the rest of our lives to the standard we had planned.

There are two key important factors, firstly you only get what you put in; and secondly, you need to make sure whoever looks after your investments help them to grow. We are talking effective wealth management. If you only hear from people annually or worse, never then it is fair to say they aren’t managing but they maybe being paid for the “service” they are not providing.

Post-retirement is all about wealth preservation with the target of sustaineable and growing income over time but most importantly protecting the underlying value of the investments.

The key factor being, you need to make sure whoever looks after your investments takes a suitable approach/strategy to help sustain and hopefully grow the investments. You will recognise this comment from above – we are talking effective wealth management. If you only hear from people annually or worse, never then it is fair to say they aren’t managing but they maybe being paid for the “service” they are not providing.

Here are some simple concepts :-

If you invest £500 per month and just make 5% per annum, compounded annually :-

  • 20 years – you would have invested £120,000 and be valued at £203,728.89
  • 25 years – you would have invested £150,000 and be valued at £294,060.44
  • 30 years – you would have invested £180,000 and be valued at £409,348.92

If you invest £3,000 per month and just make 6% per annum, compounded annually :-

  • 10 years – you would have invested £360,000 and be valued at £489,792.87
  • 20 years – you would have invested £720,000 and be valued at £1,366,937.30
  • 30 years – you would have invested £1,080,000 and be valued at £2,937,769.39

If you invest £100,000 and just make 5% per annum, compounded annually :-

  • 5 years – valued at £127,628.20
  • 10 years – valued at £162,889.50
  • 20 years – valued at £265,329.80

If you invest £500,000 and just make 6% per annum, compounded annually :-

  • 3 years – valued at £595,508.00
  • 5 years – valued at £669,112.80
  • 10 years – valued at £895,423.80

All you need now is your investment adviser to make in excess of 5% or 6%, to make these figures come true. Also, if we look at the last decade, the figures could be far superior to these.

Should you have any questions or want my help, my email address is :- welshmoneywiz@virginmedia.com



Tax Planning Before The End of the Tax Year – 5th April 2012

16 Feb

5 April 2012 Tax Planning

With the end of the UK tax year approaching, review your business and personal finances to ensure they are as tax-efficient as possible.

Consider reducing taxable income, creating Reliefs to off-set tax bills, and/or deferring distributions to take advantage of year end dates, for example: 

  • by making pension contributions
  • claiming tax relief through investing in Enterprise Investment Schemes (EIS) & Venture Capital Trusts (VCT)
  • converting investments in non-tax assessable investments for the future – ISAs
  • donating to charity
  • transferring income producing assets to a spouse or civil partner
  • delaying bonus or dividend payments


1. Pension Contributions and Retirement Planning

Make pension contributions allows you to enjoy tax breaks on your pension savings. There are tax reliefs as you invest and a tax-free regime for your savings. Your employer may also be able to contribute and obtain tax relief.

The Basics :-

  • For the 2011/12 tax year individuals can contribute up to £50,000 into their pension.
  • Those who have not contributed the full £50,000 in any of the previous three years may be able to pay increased amounts prior to 5 April 2012.
  • Individuals with no earnings can contribute up to £2,880 into pension funds, and the government will gross this annual up to £ 3,600. This can be effective for children and spouses.
  • The lifetime allowance is being reduced to £1.5 million from £1.8 million from 6 April 2012. Individuals should review if any actions need to be taken before 5 April 2012
  • For pension contributions to be applied against 2011/12 income they must be paid by 5 April 2012.
  • Tax relief is available on annual contributions limited to the greater of £3,600 (gross) or the amount of the UK relevant earnings, but subject also to the annual allowance. Pension contributions can be made at up to 100% of relevant earnings, subject to the annual allowance of £50,000.
  • Unused allowances (up to £50,000 per year) may be carried forward for up to three years. Unused allowances from 2008/09 will be lost unless used by 5 April 2012.
  • From October 2012, employers will have to enrol all eligible workers into a qualifying pension scheme. Auto-enrolment is being phased in, on a staged basis. In the 2011 Autumn Statement, the starting deadline for employers with fewer than 50 workers was deferred until the start of the next Parliament.

2.  Investments with Tax Shelters

This typically involves Enterprise Investment Schemes (EIS) or Venture Capital Trusts (VCT). Both are Government-sponsored arrangements designed to reward investors who risk capital in qualifying companies. Investment can be direct, managed portfolios and restricted mandate portfolios. These investments are higher risk by nature, so this risk can be diversified by investing across a range of qualifying schemes (managed portfolio) and/or with a defined mandate (possibly further diversifying risk by defining the strategy)

2.1  The Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS)

The Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) is designed to help smaller higher-risk trading companies to raise finance by offering a range of tax reliefs to investors who purchase new shares in those companies.

This document provides a very broad overview for potential investors. It does not cover all the detailed rules, so investors should not proceed solely on the basis of this information, and should seek professional advice.

The information relates only to shares issued on or after 6 April 2009.

It does not cover the legislation relating to shares issued before that date. Also readers must bear in mind that the Reliefs and legislation relating to them may change in the future.

The current Tax Reliefs available for qualifying investors are:

  • 30% Income Tax Relief – on equity investments up to £500,000 per tax year (£1 million from 6 April 2012) in eligible companies. The relief can also be carried back one year. To retain the Tax Relief, the shares must be held for at least three years
  • Capital Gains Tax Exemption – if it is held for at least three years from the date of purchase (same qualification as for the Income Tax Relief), any gain is free from Capital Gains Tax.
  • Capital Gains Tax Deferral Relief – it is available to individuals and trustees of certain trusts. The payment of tax on a capital gain can be deferred where the gain is invested in shares of an EIS qualifying company. (The gain can be from the disposal of any kind of asset, but the investment must be made within the period one year before or three years after the gain arose.)
  • Loss Relief – if the shares are disposed of at a loss, you can elect the amount of the loss, less any Income Tax relief given, can be set against income of the year in which they were disposed (or any income of the previous year), instead of being set off against any capital gains.
  • Inheritance Tax Relief – by investing in companies that also qualify for Business Property Relief, investments can be exempt from Inheritance Tax after two years (from the point at which the investment into the underlying company is made). In order to qualify, the investments must be held at the time of death.


2.2  Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs) 

Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs) were introduced by the government in 1995 to encourage individuals to invest in small UK companies. They are supported by a number of tax incentives which reflect the fact that investment in smaller and unquoted companies is likely to involve a higher degree of risk.

The current Tax Reliefs available for qualifying investors are :-

  • 30% Income Tax Relief – on amount subscribed for shares issued in the tax year and up to £200,000 per tax year. The shares must be new ordinary shares and must not carry any preferential rights or rights of redemption at any time in the period of five years beginning with their date of issue. You can get this Relief for the tax year in which these ‘eligible shares’ were issued, provided that you subscribed for the shares on your own behalf, the shares were issued to you, and you hold them for at least five years.
  • Tax Free Dividends – exempt from Income Tax on dividends from ordinary shares in VCTs
  • Capital Gains Tax Relief – you may not have to pay Capital Gains Tax on any gain you make when you dispose of your VCT shares.

3.  Tax Efficient Savings and Investments

ISAs: You have until 5 April 2012 to make your 2011/12 ISA investment of up to a maximum of £10,680 (up to £5,340 can be invested in cash). 16-18 year olds can invest up to £5,340 only in a cash ISA.

The new Junior ISA, for those aged under 18 who do not have a Child Trust Fund account, allows investment of up to £3,600 in 2011/12.

4.  Don’t waste Personal Allowances 

4.1  The ‘income tax-free’ personal allowance for 2011/12 is £7,475. Take steps now to ensure you fully use it.

If your spouse or partner has little or no income, transfer income to them to ensure that personal allowances are being utilised. Similarly, it is costly for one spouse or civil partner to be paying tax at 40% or even 50% while the other pays tax at only 20%. Equalising income where possible ensures that you both pay tax at the lowest possible rate, thereby reducing the overall combined tax bill.

The personal allowance is gradually withdrawn where adjusted net income exceeds £100,000 (being reduced by £1 for every £2 of income over £100,000) and is lost completely once income reaches £114,950.

4.2  Capital Gains Tax

All individuals have an annual gains exemption up to £10,600. Married couples should therefore consider transferring assets between spouses prior to sale in order to potentially take advantage of two exemptions i.e. £10,600 each.

4.3  Inheritance Tax

Utilise your Inheritance Tax (IHT) Exemptions. Inheritance Tax is currently payable at 40% on total assets exceeding £325,000 at death. This threshold is per person and has been frozen until 2015. Early planning is therefore essential in order to minimise your liability to Inheritance Tax.

Transfers to a spouse or civil partner remain exempt (Inter-Spousal Exemption). A reduced Inheritance Tax rate of 36% will apply from 6 April 2012 to death estates, where 10% or more of the net estate is left to charity.

£3,000 annual exemption for gifts remains available to all individuals and can be carried forward one year if not utilised. There is also an unlimited small gifts exemption of £250 per beneficiary each year, gifts to registered charities, gifts out of net income, amongst others.

The exemption for regular gifts out of income is one which should be usefully reviewed at the end of each tax year. Payments into life policies for the benefit of others can be a useful way of utilising this exemption. Where pure cash gifts are involved, evidence should be kept of the intention of the donor to maintain a regular pattern of gifts and also to confirm that the amounts given are within the individual’s excess income for the relevant year.

Your Inheritance Tax Planning strategies may also include maximising Reliefs, utilising both exempt, potentially exempt and lifetime chargeable transfers, and making the most of trusts.

5.  Business Allowances

5.1  Capital Expenditure – The majority of businesses are able to claim 100% Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) on the first £100,000 of expenditure on most types of plant and machinery (except cars) 

Changes to Capital Allowances :-

From April 2012 the amount of expenditure on plant and machinery qualifying for a 100% year one write-off (via the AIA), reduces from £100,000 to just £25,000.

For businesses with years straddling 31 March/5 April, there will be a transitional AIA and writing down allowance.


5.2  Enterprise Zones

Announced in the Autumn Statement, the Enterprise Zones in assisted areas will qualify for enhanced capital allowances. These allowances will be available from 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2018.


5.3  The Family Unit

Family businesses should consider paying all members who are involved in the business an income so they can use their personal allowances but optimises income for State Pension purposes.

Where there is a partnership or the spouse is a shareholder in the family company, there is more scope to spread the tax burden between the couple.

At an income level where one spouse is already receiving income in excess of £150,000, there will be a tax saving by transferring outright (or perhaps into joint names) investments to the other spouse whose income is below that level.

More interesting are shares in family trading companies. Provided an individual holds at least 5% of the shares in such a company and is an employee, a married couple can potentially double up on Entrepreneur’s Relief for Capital Gains Tax purposes.

Children also have their own personal allowances and, where there are family discretionary trusts, consideration should be given to distributions to utilise personal allowances and lower bands of tax.




Tax Planning and Investments

10 Feb

There are three ways to maximise potential returns and achieve clients’ goals. This is through competitive pricing, tax planning and investment returns. So, we need to control costs and attract rebates (wherever possible), pay the minimum amount of tax possible and finally, the performance of the investment portfolio.

Investors can make their Tax Allowances and Reliefs stretch further with some lateral thinking.

The end of the tax year on the 5th April is the cut off for the current tax year for Pension Contributions (£50,000), ISA Allowances (£10,680), VCT (£200,000) & EIS (£500,000). By combining Reliefs you can maximise the tax benefits generated.


Personal Planning

1.  For example, for a 40% tax payer – making annual pension contributions of £40,000 will create immediate tax relief of £10,000 plus relief through your self assessment of a further £10,000 (total of £20,000). If this £20,000 was invested in VCT, then the £20,000 investment would attract further income tax relief of £6,000 (but the investment must be held for 5 complete years).

In this example, tax savings total £26,000 leading to the initial £40,000 investment creating £60,000 of investments. This is only effective if you have a tax bill of at least £26,000.

2.  For example, for a 20% tax payer – making annual pension contributions of £30,000 will create immediate tax relief of £6,000. If this £6,000 was invested in VCT, then the £6,000 investment would attract further income tax relief of £1,800 (but again the investment must be held for 5 complete years).

In this example tax savings total £7,800 leading to the initial £30,000 investment creating £36,000 of investments. This is only effective if you have a tax bill of at least £7,800.

Company Director Planning

An alternative way to look at the same information is, the above strategy could be used in combination with taking higher dividend payments from a limited company. If the dividend distribution leads to 32.5% on the share distribution to be paid by rolling the payment (or possibly part payment) into such investments could mitigate the additional tax payable.

3. For example, lets assume that you draw dividends up to the threshold for higher rate tax, take a further dividend payment of £50,000 creating an additional rate of tax of 32.5%. The 10% income tax credit is already included  so a further taxable amount of £12,500 will be due. By investing this in, say, the VCT will create a tax rebate of £15,000. So mitigating the additional tax and £2,500 of existing income tax payable.


Additional Information

Planning is all about making the best of the money available. Careful consideration must be taken with respects to the investment product chosen.

Pension investing – asset classes can be mixed so that the underlying portfolio can be designed to reflect your chosen risk profile. On the initial investments there is Basic Rate Tax Relief at Source and any further taxation is reclaimed through your Self Assessment. When you crystallise your benefits and draw an income, either directly from the fund or via the purchase of annuity, the income generated is treated as earned income for tax purposes i.e. all the income is assessed to determine the tax payable.

Whereas Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs) are listed companies who invest in small, higher risk UK companies and must be held for a minimum of 5 years. If they are encashed earlier the tax relief will be clawed-back on a pro-rata basis. These investments attract income tax relief of 30% on the capital invested, any dividends payable are free of tax and the maximum investment is £200,000 per person per tax year.

Investment Management in 2012 – Review 03.02.2012

8 Feb

As a financial adviser specialising in Investments, Pensions, Wealth Management and Tax Planning, it is important to ask the question after the recent market rally, is this the start of a boom cycle? Or, a blip of hope and/or over confidence leading to the markets falling back following the next panic?

If we consider what’s happened following the recent recession, 2009 saw the expected initial market bounce back, 2010 was a little bumpier for stock market investors but the FTSE 100 still managed to end the year higher, 2011 was a year of panic, recovery and panic again leading to the FTSE 100 suffering a loss. (This was a global phenomenon.) The worries and fears over the Eurozone Debt Crisis, weak job figures and high unemployment figures, has made each year following The Recession more volatile than the historic average. This trend is expected to continue.


So what for 2012?

I expect more of the same. The Eurozone Debt Crisis is still ongoing and as yet we still await any real positive decisions by European leaders following the week in Davos. The US economy is still vulnerable as clearly shown by Ben Bernanke’s (Fed’s Chairman) statement. He confirmed interest rates will remain between 0% & 0.25% until 2014, plus the Quantitive Easing and Tax Rebate Program is set to continue for at least this specified term. Inflation is also still a global concern notably with the effect of rising commodity prices, especially oil, gas and foods. It seems likely that central bankers, especially China amongst others, will increase interest rates. This would be expected to slow economic growth leading to some very concerning scenarios with exchage rates being significantly effected.

I would suggest it is always wise and prudent to take professional advice. Planning and management is key, as the chosen portfolio needs to be managed/reviewed on a regular basis. My experience has been that over time changes are needed to the asset allocation, choice of assets and funds held. The plan being, to achieve the best possible results within the risk profile selected over a sensible period of time, while minimising the potential to losses and where possible maximising profits.
Combining different funds and asset classes allows for diversification. By picking those we believe to be the most suitable combination to protect from the worst of the market, while retaining suitable exposure to the stock markets should allow for the likelihood and expectation of positive returns. This is a forever changing market place. The art is buying the right asset at the right price and so as the price rises, it becomes less attractive; this coupled with markets both rising and falling means the asset allocation will need to be reviewed on a regular basis.
There seems to be a growing arguement there no-longer exists consistency of returns due to the nature of the economic cycle of boom to bust and back again. So, if you are holding some assets, which have made great returns in the last 12 months there is a very good chance it may make poor returns or even make a loss in the next 12 months.
The key to results is planning, review and plan again. Always be flexible in your outlook and only make decisions on factual data and not emotional attachment.