Stricter tax rules are making it more difficult to be tax-efficient while investing your money. However, by keeping aware of all your tax-efficient options, and investing smartly across a diverse portfolio, there may be significant tax reliefs that you can utilise.
Suggesting that you should diversify your investments may seem too obvious to be useful. But diversifying your investments can allow you to take advantage of multiple tax allowances.
Mixing debt and equity can help for smaller investment portfolios; £1,500 of interest (or £500 or higher-rate taxpayers) can be earned in a year before any tax is due, while dividends have a £2,000 p.a. tax-free allowance.
Furthermore, dividends carry a lower tax rate after these allowances than interest/employment/self-employment incomes, as well as better tax rates than capital gains taxes for those on the basic-rate tax band.
This is, however, again subject to a tax-free allowance; you can currently make disposals of up to £11,700 tax-free in your investment portfolio. This currently includes gains made on selling cryptocurrency, provided that this is neither a regular nor primary source of your income.
If you buy shares in SEIS/EIS-qualifying companies, you may be able to gain income tax relief on 50%/30% of the amount invested respectively, plus a capital gains exemption on disposal of these shares if held for five years. You can even take advantage of loss relief if the investment goes bad; the loss can be claimed as a capital loss or against income tax in the current or previous year.
In addition, bonds currently allow you a tax deferral on withdrawals up to 5% of their original investment (plus any top-ups paid in that year) as well as any unused 5% allowances from previous years. Bonds are segmented, allowing you to withdraw from each segment it’s divided into, or encash whole segments. Finally, ‘top-slicing relief’ offers potential tax reliefs on the taxable gain where the withdrawal would take you into the additional rate. Flexible use of all of these can allow you to manage your withdrawals to minimise your tax bill on them.
To make best use of all of these reliefs, you are best-placed speaking to a qualified financial advisor, who will be able to assess your current tax situation and therefore advise you on how to make the most of these allowances across your portfolio.
They can also advise you on timing, such as how to best spread realising your investments over several tax years so as to make the most of all your allowances available.
You can also improve tax-efficiency by considering where you hold your investments. For instance, those held through pension schemes offer tax-free returns. In addition, any money moved into a pension scheme – subject to annual and lifetime allowances for pension deposits – brings an income tax relief that can negate any tax due made on the gains of investments not held in pension schemes.
ISAs also offer tax-free returns and do not attract a tax charge when you withdraw from them. Investing through a stocks and shares ISA, for example, can therefore allow you to make investment gains tax-free. If you are looking to invest to save for the future, a Lifetime ISA may offer far better returns for this too.
Finally, investing through Venture Capital Trusts and Authorised Investment Funds (such as Authorised Unit Trusts and Open-Ended-Investment-Companies) offer tax-free disposals on investments; the former on disposal of your personal interest and the latter on gains held through them. Personal taxes are still due on the gains from the Authorised Investment Funds, but investors can receive investment income in the form of dividends on their shares in the funds. As a result, it may be more tax-efficient to receive this income through the company, rather than as a personal investor.
Venture Capital Trusts also qualify for several income tax reliefs. If you hold the shares for five years, you should be able to claim income tax relief on up to 30% of the amount invested. In addition, dividends from shares held in them are tax-free (as long as you are invested within the permitted maximum of £200,000), and there are no capital gains taxes due on the disposal of your interest in these trusts.
Therefore, you can gain further tax efficiencies on a diversified portfolio by careful management of where these investments are held. You should again discuss this with a financial advisor to find the most appropriate solution for you.
As with all types of investment, each of the above methods involves risks as well as benefits. Companies that qualify for EIS and SEIS shares are inherently riskier as they are newer companies with less of a track record to assess performance from.
Balancing your portfolio to make the best use of allowances might not mean that you realise the most gains, while pension schemes incur extra tax charges if you deposit into them or withdraw more than your limits.
Finally, there have been a lot of reports in the news about tax schemes designed to offer tax reliefs – such as investing in film companies, who can apply for tax credits based on their expenditure in Britain – but areas of tax efficiency are narrow, and the old adage that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is, was never more relevant. HMRC will always disallow tax reliefs where they were not part of investments made for genuine commercial reasons, and if they were made primarily to avoid tax.
If you are in any doubt, speak to a financial or tax advisor, who will be able to review areas of tax efficiency planning and their relevance to you.
Hasib Howlader is the director of Howlader & Co, as well as a chartered accountant, chartered tax adviser and licensed insolvency practitioner.
Northern Trust: Outsourcing Accelerates Through Pandemic as Investment Managers Seek to Improve Margins, Enhance Business Resilience, and Future-Proof Operations
White Paper Sees Increase in Managers Outsourcing Middle and Front Office Functions to Achieve Optimal Business Structures
According to a white paper published today by Northern Trust (Nasdaq: NTRS), investment managers of all sizes and strategies have been prompted to undertake a comprehensive review of their operating models as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic which has accelerated existing trends that are compounding cost pressures. This has led increasing numbers of managers to outsource in-house dealing and other functions, such as foreign exchange and transition management, hitherto seen as core.
While cost savings remain a core driver, and indeed are one outcome of outsourcing, costs are no longer the only focus. Far from being solely a defensive reaction to increased pressure on margins, the white paper (‘From Niche to Norm’) describes outsourcing as part of the target operating model, or moving toward the ‘Optimal State’ for many investment managers, and explains how the focus “has expanded to the variety of other potential benefits offered – enhanced capabilities, improved governance and operational resilience.”
Gary Paulin, global head of Integrated Trading Solutions at Northern Trust Capital Markets said: “The pandemic has challenged a range of operational assumptions. Working from home has, for example, questioned the need for a portfolio manager to be in close proximity with the dealing desk. Previously considered essential, the pandemic has effectively forced firms to ‘outsource‘ their trading desks to remote working setups and the effectiveness of this process has disproved the requirement for proximity, in turn, easing the path to third-party outsourcing. Many investment managers are actively considering outsourcing to a hyper-scale, expert provider as a potential, cost efficient solution – one that maintains service quality and, hopefully, improves it whilst adding resiliency.”
Northern Trust’s white paper compares outsourced trading to software-as-a-service stating: “instead of carrying the cost and complexity of running an in-house solution, firms move to an outsourced one, free up capital to invest in strategic growth and move costs from a fixed to a variable basis in line with the direction of travel for revenues.”
Guy Gibson, global head of Institutional Brokerage at Northern Trust Capital Markets said: “The opportunity to deploy capital to build new fund structures, develop new offerings, focus on distribution and enhance in-house research has been taken up by several of our clients to the benefit of their investment approach, and to the benefit of their investors. Additionally, in the last two months alone, many firms have recognized that outsourcing to a well-capitalized, global platform has enabled them to take advantage of cost-contained growth opportunities in new markets.”
A further development, which has echoes of the journey the technology industry has already undertaken, is the move towards ‘whole office’ solutions, which represent the next potential wave in outsourcing.
According to Paulin; “recently we have observed a growing number of managers wanting to outsource to a single, hyper-scale professional service provider who can do everything, everywhere. This aligns with Northern Trust’s strategy to deliver platform solutions for the whole office, serving our clients’ needs across the entire investment lifecycle.”
Integrated Trading Solutions is Northern Trust’s outsourced trading capability that combines worldwide locations and trading expertise in equities and fixed income and derivatives with access to global markets, high-quality liquidity and an integrated middle and back office service as well as other services, such as FX. It helps asset owners and asset managers to meaningfully lower costs, reduce risk, manage regulatory compliance and enhance transparency and operational efficiency.
How are investors traversing the UK’s transition out of lockdown?
By Giles Coghlan, Chief Currency Analyst, HYCM
Just when we thought we had overcome the initial health challenges posed by COVID-19, the UK Government has once again introduced lockdown measures in certain regions to curb a rise in new cases. This is happening at a time when the government is trying to bring about the country’s post-pandemic recovery and prevent a prolonged economic downturn.
This is the reality of the “new normal” – a constant battle to both contain the spread of the virus but also avoid extended economic stagnation.
Of course, no matter how many policies are introduced to spur on investment, traders and investors are likely to act with caution for the foreseeable future. There are simply too many unknowns to content with at the moment.
To try and measure investor sentiment towards different asset classes at present, HYCM recently commissioned research to uncover which assets investors are planning to invest in over the coming 12 months. After surveying over 900 UK-based investors, our figures show just how COVID-19 has affected different investor portfolios. I have analysed the key findings below.
At present, it seems that by far the most common asset class for investors is cash savings, with 78% of investors identifying as having some form of savings in a bank account. Other popular assets were stocks and shares (48%) and property (38%). While not surprising, when viewed in the context of investor’s future plans for investment, it becomes evident that security, above all else, is what investors are currently seeking.
A third of those surveyed (32%) said that they intended to put more of their wealth into their savings account, the most common strategy by far among those surveyed. This was followed by stocks and shares (21%), property (17%), and fixed interest securities (17%).
When asked about what impact COVID-19 has had on their portfolios throughout 2020, 43% stated that their portfolio had decreased in value as a consequence of the pandemic. This has evidently had an effect on investors’ mindsets, with 73% stating that they were not planning on making any major investment decisions for the rest of the year.
Looking at the road ahead
So, it seems that many investors are adopting a wait-and-see approach; hoping that the promise of a V-shaped recovery comes to fruition. The issue, however, is that this exact type of hesitancy when it comes to investing may well slow the pace of economic recovery. Financial markets need stimulus in order to help facilitate a post-pandemic economic resurgence, but if said financial stimulation only arrives once the recovery has already begun, the economy risks extended stagnation.
It seems, then, that there are two possible set outcomes on the path ahead. The first is a steady decline in COVID-19 cases, then an economic downturn as the markets correct themselves, followed by a return to relative economic stability. The second potential outcome is a second spike of COVID-19 cases which incurs a second nationwide lockdown – delaying an economic revival for the foreseeable future. At present, the former of these two scenarios is seemingly playing out with economic growth and GDP steadily increasing; but recent COVID-19 case upticks show that it’s still too soon to be certain of either scenario.
A cautious approach, therefore, will evidently remain the most common investment strategy looking ahead. But investors must remember that, even in the most uncertain times, there are always opportunities for returns on investment. Merely transforming a varied portfolio into cash savings risks a long-term decline in value.
High Risk Investment Warning: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 73% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money. For more information please refer to HYCM’s Risk Disclosure.
Hatton Gardens 5 top tips for investing in Diamonds
By Ben Stinson, Head of eCommerce at Diamonds Factory
Investing in diamonds can be extremely rewarding, but only if you know what to look for. For investors who lack experience, finding your diamond in the rough can be quite daunting.
For even the most beginner of diamond investors, the essentials are fairly obvious. For instance, you need to ask yourself will the diamond hold its value over time? What’s the overall condition of the stone and the jewellery? Is there history behind the item in question?
Although common sense plays a big part in investing, people often need insider tips and tricks to go from beginner to expert. Tony French, the in-house Diamond Consultant, at Diamonds Factory shares his professional knowledge on the 5 most important things to look for when investing in diamonds.
1: Using cut, weight and colour to determine value
Firstly, consider the shape, colour, and weight of your diamond, as this can play a pivotal role in guaranteeing growth in the value of your item. Granted, investing trends change with time, but a round cut of your diamond will almost always be the most sought after. The cut of your diamond is incredibly important, as it can influence the sparkle and therefore, the overall value. It’s a similar story for the intensity of some colours, such as Pink, Red, Blue, Green etc. Concerning weight, the heavier (bigger) stones will generally increase in value by a bigger percentage. Collectively these factors also contribute to the supply and demand aspect, which will determine their high price, and will ensure your item is re-sellable.
Looking for significant value? Well, aim to own jewellery or diamonds that come from an important public figure. If you’re lucky enough to own a piece that has significant history, or was owned by a celebrity or person of interest, it’s an absolute must to have concrete evidence of this. Immediately, this proof will increase an item’s overall value, and there’s a good chance the stardom of your item might drum up interest amongst diehard fans, increasing the value even further…
Equally, it’s possible to proactively bring provenance to unique diamonds of yours. For instance, you can offer to loan bespoke, or unusual pieces for film, theatre, or TV performances – then it can be advertised as worn by xyz.
3: Find the source
Establishing your diamond’s source is one of the most important things you can do when investing in diamonds. If you’re starting out, try to purchase diamonds that have NOT been owned by too many people, as the overall value of the diamond will reflect multiple ownership. Alternatively, I’d always recommend buying from suppliers like ourselves or other suppliers and retailers, who buy directly from the people who have had them certified.
Primarily, this will allow you to have a greater degree of transparency, which is crucial when buying such a valuable item. Next, you should immediately see an increase in value of your diamonds, as identifying a source will allow traceability and therefore, market context.
Linked closely with my previous point, is the requirement to ensure that your diamonds are certified by a credible lab, and you have the evidence to prove so (a written document with specific grading details about your diamonds) – this will remove any doubts of impropriety.
It’s essential to remember that not all labs are the same, and many labs are better than others. Both the AGS (American Gem Society) and GIA (Gemological Institute of America) have great reputations and are world renowned. I’d recommend doing your own research into the labs, and when you’ve found the pieces that you’d like to invest in, then make an informed decision based upon your findings. Ultimately, proving certification will make your stones easier to insure, and deep down, you can have peace of mind knowing you have got what you have paid for.
Don’t forget to keep this paperwork in a safe location as well – you’d be surprised how many people we’ve met who have lost, or forget where they’ve placed it.
5: Patience is a virtue…
If the market is strong, it might be tempting to look for an immediate sale once you’ve purchased a high value item. However, I suggest holding onto your diamonds for some time before even thinking about selling. More often than not, an item is more likely to increase in value over a few years than a few days – try and wait a little longer!
Equally, I would encourage having your diamonds, or jewellery professionally valued regularly. If you don’t have the knowledge to make a rough judgement on how much your pieces are worth, a consultant or expert can provide both a valuation, and contextualise that amount in the wider market. From there, you should be empowered with the knowledge to decide whether to keep or sell.
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