Friday, 7 April 2017

Welcome LISA!!

The government has just launched the new Lifetime ISA for any UK resident aged between 18 and 40. Any savings put in before your 50th birthday will attract a government bonus of 25%. You can save up-to £4,000 per tax year, which means that the bonus added on the maximum savings will equate to £1,000.

The purpose of the LISA is to encourage people to save money and use the funds to buy a residential property as a first-time buyer or to provide savings for retir...ement at age 60. Withdrawals in either of these circumstances will not incur penalties, but any other type of withdrawal will be penalised.

You can use the LISA towards buying your first home worth up-to £450,000 in London, (£250,000 outside London), at any time from 12 months after opening the account. While funds remain invested, any interest and investment growth will be tax free.

The new LISA forms part of your overall normal annual ISA allowance, which has been increased for the 2016/17 tax year to £20,000.

Above all, do not forget - if you do not use your ISA allowance, you will lose it, so it's worth trying to make the very most of your allowance each year if you can. Please note that levels and bases of, and reliefs from, taxation are subject to change.

Contact us if you would like further information.


Monday, 27 October 2014

New Pensions Flexibility

The tax rules are to be changed to allow individuals aged 55 and over to access their defined contribution pension as they wish from April 2015. As part of the Taxation of Pensions Bill 2014, which was published in mid-October, the government is proposing changes to the rules on taking pensions as a lump sum, so that people will be able to take a series of lump sums instead of only one.

Under the current tax rules, people who want to take their pension benefits would take 25% of their pension pot free of tax and then place the other 75% in a drawdown account or purchase an annuity. Any regular pension income they receive from an annuity or drawdown account will be taxed at their marginal rate.

Under the new rules, individuals will have the ability to take a series of lump sums from their pension fund, with 25% of each payment then free of tax and 75% taxed at their marginal rate, without having to enter into a drawdown policy. The March 2014 Budget introduced measures to allow retirees to spend their pension pot as they choose rather than having to buy an annuity while, six months later, it was announced people are to have the freedom to pass on their unused defined contribution pension to any nominated beneficiary when they die.

With pensions saving clearly now a major focus for politicians and therefore in a state of some flux, it is well worth considering seeking expert advice on your individual circumstances.

Contact us if you would like to speak to an adviser about your own pension planning.


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Higher Interest Rates - "When" not "If"

UK interest rates have languished at an all-time low of 0.5% since March 2009 in a strategy designed to shore up the UK economy through the pain and the aftermath of the financial crisis and recession.

As the economy continues to show signs of sustained recovery, however, interest rates are now widely tipped to rise – and signs of dissent among Bank of England policymakers have fuelled speculation about the timing and scale of such an increase. The Bank’s governor Mark Carney has emphasised that increases – when they come – will be both “gradual and limited” and rates are not expected to reach their pre-recession heights.

The first increase in rates is widely expected to be announced during the first half of 2015 although Carney has stressed the Bank of England’s monetary policymakers have “no pre-set course”, adding: “Rates will go up only as far and as fast as is consistent with price stability as part of a durable expansion, with the maximum sustainable level of employment.” The labour market remains “central” to the Bank’s decisions. The rate of unemployment is forecast to decline to 5.5% over the next three years while earnings growth, which has failed to keep pace with increases in the cost of living, is expected to pick up. In particular, Bank of England policymakers intend to monitor pay settlements, which tend to cluster around the turn of the year, and real growth in wages is expected to resume around the middle of 2015. 

The British Chambers of Commerce has urged the Bank of England not to act prematurely, cautioning that higher rates could undermine the UK’s economic recovery. Meanwhile, the Resolution Foundation think-tank has warned even a “relatively benign” increase in interest rates could lead to a surge in the number of UK households struggling with debt.

The Bank of England is likely to remain vigilant, fearing inflation could present problems if interest rate increases are not implemented “prudently”. The rate of inflation has remained below its government-set target of 2% since January 2014, reducing pressure on policymakers to increase interest rates. Looking ahead, the discussion and speculation appear likely to continue, fuelled by fresh releases of economic data and signals from policymakers.

Nevertheless, one thing looks relatively certain – an increase in UK interest rates would appear no longer a case of ‘if’ so much as ‘when’.


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

We are Moving!

We are pleased to inform you that with effect from the 2nd April 2013 we will be relocating our office to Brentwood. 

Our new address is as follows:- Adelaide House, 12 King Edward Road, Brentwood, Essex CM14 4HL

In order to ensure that the transition is as smooth as possible for our clients, we will be retaining our existing telephone number for the foreseeable future, and we also anticipate no business interruption during the move.

We do realise, however, that some of our clients may experience difficulties in travelling to our new premises. Should this be the case, we are of course happy to visit you at your home or place of work for meetings/reviews if more convenient for you.

Over recent years we have outgrown our existing premises, (which we have occupied since September 1990), and client parking has always been difficult in Upminster. The new location will give us the much needed additional office space and extensive client parking that we currently lack.

Should you wish to discuss or require any further information relating to our move, then please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Changes to Financial Advice

You may have noticed the recent news that Lloyds Banking Group is to stop offering investment advice in its high street branches to customers who hold less than £100,000 in savings and investments. Barclays made a similar move last year, announcing it would stop giving financial advice to individual customers in its bank branches.

Both decisions are directly related to an overhaul of how financial advice is given, known as the Retail Distribution Review or ‘RDR’ for short, which comes into effect on 31st December 2012. This has meant the banks’ costs are likely to rise at exactly the same time as they will have to be more explicit about how much their advice is costing customers.

Given the attention these sorts of announcements are receiving in the media – not to mention the increasing number of articles on RDR appearing in the press – we thought this would be a good time to address the subject and explain the changes you can expect to see as a client of Abacus Wealth Planning Ltd as a consequence.

The RDR is specifically designed to improve people’s understanding of, as well as increase their confidence in, financial advice. It aims to raise the level of professionalism among financial advisers so the minimum qualifications required are being increased and the way in which you pay for that advice is being altered to ensure complete transparency.

This will affect all financial advisers to an extent. However, much of the reasoning behind high street banks deciding to withdraw from in-branch advice does not hold true for all advisers – particularly ourselves.

Our advisers have either already gained, or are in the final stages of, obtaining the increased level of qualifications required under the RDR rules.

In terms of payment for our services, there will be no changes to the amount we charge for advice, and we are in the process of communicating to clients about how the new rules will work – although we have always been very open with clients about the cost of our advice and how those charges are met.

It should, however, go without saying that if you have any questions about the new rules, are concerned about what they mean or would just like to talk to us about any investment, tax or other financial matter, please do not hesitate to get in touch.


Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Make the most of your ISA Allowance

ISAs are a tax efficient way to save, as you'll pay no income tax or capital gains tax on the returns you receive, no matter how much your investment grows or how much you take out over the years.

The allowance for Stocks & Shares ISAs in 2011/12 is £10,680. This will increase to £11,280.

Please contact one of our advisers if you wish to consider using your allowance before 5th April.

Please be aware that the value of tax savings and eligibility to invest in an ISA will depend on individual circumstances, and all tax rules may change in the future.


Thursday, 15 December 2011

Christmas Opening Hours

Over the Christmas period our office will be closed from 24th December, and will re-open on Tuesday 3rd January 2012.

If you need assistance/advice in the meantime we will be accessing emails over the Christmas closed period, so please email Adrian Pope at

We wish all our clients a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous and Happy New Year!


Thursday, 20 October 2011

Introducing the new Junior ISA !

On 1st November 2011 the government is introducing a new Junior ISA as a replacement for the Child Trust Fund (CTF), available to all UK resident children under the age of 18 who do not have a CTF in place.

As with adult ISA's, both Cash and Stocks and Shares Junior ISAs will be available, with the qualifying underlying investments the same as the adult equivalent product.

It's worth noting the important features of the new Junior ISAs:

  • Each eligible child will be able to receive total contributions of up to £3,000 each tax year into their Junior ISA, and as with CTF's, any person or organisation can contribute into any child's Junior ISA.
  • Unlike adult ISA's however, there will be no rules on how contributions have to be allocated between Cash and Stocks & Shares Junior ISAs.
  • Withdrawals will not be allowed until the child reaches age 18 except in the case of terminal illness or death.
  • Until age 16 the Junior ISA will be managed on their behalf by a person who has parental responsibility for the child. At age 16 the child will assume responsibility for the management of the Junior ISA themselves. At age 18 the Junior ISA will by default become an Adult ISA, and will then be accessible to the child.
  • Having a junior ISA will not affect an individual's entitlement to an adult ISA.
  • It will be possible to transfer between Junior ISAs, but it will not be possible to hold more than one cash and one stocks & shares Junior ISA at any time.

For children with an existing CTF it is proposed that the contribution limit will increase from the current level of £1,200 per year to £3,000 per year to match the new Junior ISA subscription limit.

This is a welcome addition by the government and a useful savings tool for any eligible child. If you would like more information about Junior ISAs please contact us


Sunday, 7 November 2010

Welcome to our new website and blog

Welcome to our new website!

We have spent a lot of time developing this site into a tool that is both interactive and informative. We hope you think that we have achieved this!

Our aim is to keep this blog up-to-date with breaking financial news and useful information for our clients or anyone choosing to visit our site.

If you use social networking sites, you will see the links at the top of the page which allow you to share any of our pages on your profile/tweets if you think they are useful.

We understand that there are going to be parts of the site that we can improve on, and would urge you to give us feedback at or

Enjoy using our site, and watch this space?

Adrian & Steve