About Nicholas Grogan

Posts by Nicholas Grogan

What can I do to close the gender pension gap?

New research [1] has exposed the staggering impact of the gender pension gap.  The study shows that women have smaller pension pot sizes in every age bracket, and the situation worsens the closer retirement gets. Worryingly, women, on average, retire with less than half the income of men. Reduction in amounts paid into pensions  The amount

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5 financial aspects to consider when divorcing

From 6 April 2022, no-fault divorce came into effect in England and Wales. No-fault divorce is a long-awaited revolution in family law, finally removing the need for blame as a basis for divorce. The result is that the only ground for divorce is that the marriage has ‘irretrievably broken down’. No one enters into a

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What are the main parts of a financial plan?

Many initially seek financial advice because they want help with something like a pension or making intelligent investment decisions. However, pensions or investments are only a means to an end which is helping you pursue your goals. An advisor cannot manage a portfolio or create a robust financial plan unless they have a holistic view

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What is Relevant Life Cover?

Life insurance cover is a benefit large companies often offer their staff as a perk. The problem is that for small businesses, the cost of taking out a group insurance scheme may be too expensive. Relevant life insurance is a potential solution that works out much cheaper than taking out cover personally. What is relevant

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What is Business Property Relief?

Business Property Relief (BPR) is an Inheritance Tax (IHT) exemption applied to the assets of a private trading business when they pass from one generation to the next. Most shares in private trading companies, or interests in unincorporated businesses such as a sole proprietor, or partner, will receive 100% business relief from IHT after 2

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Is the default fund in my pension any good?

You might not be interested or feel comfortable in choosing where your retirement savings are invested. If this is the case, then it is likely you have the money in your pension invested into the provider’s default pension fund. We are never going to criticise providers for making it easier for people to invest their

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Should I buy an annuity at age 67?

A recent study promoting buying annuities has received some attention in the press. An annuity is where you exchange some or all the money in your pension for an income. The company you buy it off will pay this income for as long as you live. You can also have the income linked to inflation

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How can you spot a “dodgy” investment?

Earlier this week we highlighted a report looking at another case of investors losing vast sums of money. They had put money into investments that had little hope of producing the returns being promised to them. You should always be on the lookout for scams. However, the types of investments we are talking about here

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PFS Awards: Investment Advice Specialist of the Year

The Personal Finance Society, the largest professional body for individual financial advisers in the UK, held its annual awards ceremony last night. They recognise and celebrate outstanding individuals and firms who strive to deliver exceptional consumer outcomes within the financial planning profession. During these awards, I (Nicholas Grogan) am proud to have been named Investment

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What is Cashflow Modelling?

We are committed to helping our clients better appreciate the value and benefits of financial planning. One of the ways we do this is by using lifetime financial forecasting, which we also refer to as cash-flow modelling. This enables us to help our clients understand their financial planning needs better. This is because it allows

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Is sharing a pension on divorce common?

The University of Manchester Research has published a report entitled: Pensions and Divorce: Exploratory Analysis of Quantitative Data. The report has found that, within couples, men have substantially more private pension wealth than women. This poses challenges should they divorce. The researchers looked at the pension wealth of almost 30,000 people over the age of

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Is salary sacrifice more attractive since the introduction of the Health & Social Care Levy?

We have written previously about how employees exchanging part of their salary and/or bonus for increased pension contributions has become common. We explained how this can be far more attractive than the employee making a direct pension contribution on his/her own behalf. Attractions of salary sacrifice Contributions paid out of an employee’s after-tax pay are

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Do the recent tax changes mean I should look at taking a dividend or bonus from my business again?

The social care announcement on 7 September 2021 increased both national insurance (NICs) and dividend tax from 2022/23. In addition, the March Budget revised corporation tax rates from 2023/24. The combined effect of these announcements might shift the decision of whether to take a dividend or not from your business. We have looked at some examples to see where these shifts might have taken

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What is the new Health and Social Care Levy?

To begin with, it is worth a quick reminder of the current social care position in England: (Wales, N. Ireland and, in particular Scotland, have their own variations on the theme): There is a £23,250 capital means test ceiling, above which all care costs must be met by the individual: the self-funding route. For those with wealth between

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Who do you work with best?

The clients we serve best have the following qualities: They work in partnership with us to make good financial decisions Our clients appreciate, that the advice of a highly qualified advisor is useless if not acted upon. The ultimate decision lies with them, and our role is to help them make it a good one.

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Am I better off picking my own funds?

Morningstar has published updated research as part of its annual Mind The Gap study on how much of market returns US investors get. The headline is those investors get 1.7% less than they should. What is the reason behind the difference? The explanation the report gives for this is that the investors mistime their buys

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How often should I look at my portfolio?

Your portfolio represents your future. It is only natural to want to check how your investments are doing. How often you need to do this depends on the type of investor you are. Speculators who constantly buy and sell individual stocks will monitor performance frequently, perhaps daily. Those investing for the long term with robust

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Why do I own bonds which do not pay me much?

In today’s markets, bond yields are low and those of high-quality bonds are the lowest. In addition, they could quite feasibly crash too with interest rate rises. So why have bonds in a portfolio? It is quite straightforward. Imagine you only hold equities with a portfolio of £200,000. The economy takes a turn for the

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Why is diversification so important?

Building an investment portfolio requires a mixture of investment science and common sense. The evidence suggests timing when to be in and out of markets (or sectors, or companies) is extremely difficult. It also suggests identifying a manager who can persistently beat the market is very hard to do in advance. We, therefore, focus on

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What is your approach to investing?

We sometimes refer to the way we invest as mostly being a ‘systematic’ approach. It is our duty to do what is right for our clients. When investing, we build on a foundation of facts. This is because we believe we would be doing our clients a disservice if we did it any other way.

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What is salary sacrifice?

It has become common practice for employees to exchange part of their salary and/or bonus in return for their increasing the pension contribution they pay by the same amount. This can be far more attractive than the employee making a direct pension contribution on his/her own behalf, particularly if the employer is prepared to increase

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What does my portfolio invest into?

What is an equity (or share)? An equity (or share) represents ownership of part of a company. This gives you a right to your share of any dividends paid and a claim on the company’s assets. Returns from equities come from changes in the price of the shares and dividends paid out. Are all equities

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What is investing?

This may seem an obvious question with an obvious answer. In some ways it is. We believe investing to be the means of building wealth to fund lifestyle and personal choices. It is a slow, emotional, and sometimes painful process requiring a robust plan, patiently executed over many years. Anyone hoping to get rich quick

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Will having more money make me happier?

There has been as much research into what makes us happier as there has been into what makes us wealthier. As financial planners, we are trying to help our clients improve their lives using their money. So, it is therefore important to look at what drives happiness and how it relates to money. The happiness

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How importance will inheritances be in the future?

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has published a new report on likely future inheritances. It may give a future Chancellor something to consider The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has regularly looked at inheritance and inequality. In its latest paper, it has gone into greater detail, drawing on data from a variety of sources:

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What is a Wrap?

Spreading your planning across a number of companies tends to generate mountains of paperwork. It also increases the hassle of getting up to date valuations or putting any changes in place. A Wrap Platform allows you to hold everything in one place. This enables you to quickly understand what you have and what you have

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What was announced in the 2021 Budget?

This is one of the more important budgets of recent times. So, what was announced? Income tax rates, thresholds, and thresholds For 2021/22 Personal Allowance increasing to £12,570, basic rate band to £37,700 meaning a higher rate threshold of £50,270 – but then these figures will be frozen until April 2026. No changes to dividend

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What are dog funds?

The number of underperforming, or “dog”, funds has risen by a third this year, new data has shown. This is partly due to the gulf between the performance of different styles of investing. The pandemic has exacerbated this, but value and income investing have lagged behind growth investing for a while. How bad could having

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Do I have too much in cash savings?

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has caused massive job losses across the country. But some households have been saving more money than ever [1]. For these households, they have a choice which could have a big impact on their future wealth. This is the choice between saving or investing. More money to invest than usual The

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What are some good financial habits?

Paying yourself first Before you pay any bills, consider paying yourself first. This means saving and investing a portion of your earnings before you do anything else with your money. In the book The Richest Man in Babylon, written by George S. Clason, the parables are told by a fictional Babylonian character called Arkad, a

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Should I start my year-end tax planning now?

Last year, Autumn arrived without an Autumn Budget. In fairness, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, had already presented one 2020 Budget. This took place last March, and the pandemic made forecasting for 2021/22 all but impossible. The result was that, for the second year running, the Budget was deferred to the Spring. Whether Mr Sunak’s job

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How can I stop “sleepwalking” into retirement?

Around three in four people risk outliving their savings in retirement, a report looking into the impact of the pension freedoms indicates. The research found evidence many retirees risk potentially running their pension savings down. It termed this as “sleepwalking into retirement”. The study examined retirement planning and spending habits following the introduction of pension

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Why do you believe dividend investing is flawed?

We have written a post previously about focusing on income when investing. I wanted to go into some of the evidence behind focusing on income when investing not being the best strategy. When looking at this, there is probably no more famous theory in Finance than Modigliani/Miller. Known as the Dividend Irrelevance Hypothesis it says investors

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How could the change to RPI affect me?

Buried amongst the other announcements made on 25 November was a paper from the Treasury looking at measures of inflation. It revealed a decision about replacing the Retail Prices Index (RPI) with the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) including owner-occupied housing costs (CPIH). The RPI has not been an official National Statistic since 2013 because of serious deficiencies

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Can I buy property with my pension?

All registered pension schemes can (in theory at least) invest in property, including land, either in the UK or overseas. Pension schemes can invest directly in property, but many choose to invest indirectly using pooled vehicles. These include unit trusts, open-ended investment companies (OEICs) or real estate investment trusts (REITs). As well as allowing smaller

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How should I take my profits from my business?

When business owners choose how to take their profits, there is a compelling argument in favour of pension contributions. Dividends may still be the preferred route for most. However, changes in how they are taxed may drive more directors who do not need the income to use employer pension contributions instead. Remember, since April 2018,

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Am I going to have to pay more Capital Gains Tax?

In July 2020, the Chancellor asked the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) to review Capital Gains Tax (CGT). The aim was to ‘identify opportunities relating to administrative and technical issues as well as areas where the present rules can distort behaviour or do not meet their policy intent’. The review has attracted strong engagement from

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Do I need critical illness cover?

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has caused many households to reassess their financial defences with the purchase of protection insurance. The diagnosis of a serious illness can mean a tough time for your health and your wealth. If you were to become critically ill and could not earn a living, would your family cope financially? Our

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Is my money locked away if I invest?

It is always important to manage expectations when investing. We often get questions about whether there is an explicit time someone must invest for how accessible the money is. How long do I have to invest for? If you are investing in an investment account or an ISA, then technically you could invest the money

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Can I get tax relief for working from home?

Employers can pay employees up to a maximum of £6 per week tax-free, to cover additional costs they may have incurred because of working from home. Where employers have not paid their employees the home expenses payment, individuals can claim this tax relief through a new online portal. More than 54,800 claims have been made

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What is financial wellbeing?

I have always been passionate about helping people feel more financially confident and achieve financial security. What this can be boiled down to is increasing financial wellbeing. The Financial Wellbeing Book, published in 2016, laid out five parts to financial wellbeing: A clear path to identifiable objectives Control of daily finances Ability to cope with

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How could the US Election affect my portfolio?

Many investors are worried about the US election’s effect on the stock market. One school of thought is a Biden victory could lead to measures that would hit businesses. Another asserts the stock market prefers Republican victories. What does the data say? The logic of efficient markets is that anticipated events do not impact prices.

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Is pensions tax relief safe for now?

The Government has rejected the Public Accounts Committee (PAC)’s proposal that HMRC should evaluate pensions tax relief. The concern was HRMC did not understand the impact of some of the UK’s largest tax reliefs which includes pension tax relief. The committee called for a formal review, but the Government disagreed. They pointed to several recent consultations

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