Tag Archives: pensions

Pensions Regulator Toughens Up Over Warning Notices

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The Pensions Regulator has issued a warning to small companies that fail to adhere to the 28-day warning notices to enrol their staff in pension schemes.

The regulator warns that firms could be hit with a fine that will escalate on a daily basis until they comply. 95% of small firms who are required to auto-enrol their employees have now done so, but fines for non-compliance are on the rise.

The Escalating Penalty Notice (EPN) is one of the statutory powers the Pensions Regulator has to help maximise compliance with automatic enrolment duties. It specifies the date by which the employer must comply with certain actions or be subject to a fine. The fine levied for non-compliance is £50 per day for firms with between one and four employees, and £500 a day for those with between five and 49 employees. 96 EPNs have been issued by the Pensions Regulator in the current quarter, bringing the total issued to 127. Swindon Town Football Club hit the headlines as one of the employers fined for non-compliance.

Below is a breakdown of daily fines based on the size of your business:

Number of employees Prescribed daily rate (£)
1-4 50
5-49 500
50-249 2,500
250-499 5,000
500 or more 10,000

The purpose of automatic enrolment is to ensure that all employees are building up a pension scheme to supplement their state pension as increased life expectancy and tougher austerity measures mean that the state pension alone will not be enough to fund retirement for current generations of employees. For more information or advice on how to ensure your business complies and on achieving the best outcome for your business and your employees, please get in touch with Antony Keen by emailing antony.keen@pmm.co.uk or calling 01254 679131.

PM+M Wealth Management Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Two Wheels Of Business

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Life is short. We know this but often take it for granted – I’m being reminded that it can be shorter than we expect thanks to my father’s ill health at the moment and fundamentally this is one of the reasons that we should enjoy what we do and be passionate about it. I’m passionate about helping new and existing clients and contacts – I’m also passionate about cycling. Thankfully, since joining PM+M Wealth Management earlier in the year I’m finding that the corporate environment enables me to do both, or at the very least it did this last weekend.

For the uninitiated Colnago is an Italian bike brand, and one which carries the same qualities of prestige, pedigree, heritage, quality and premium as the Ferrari car brand. In actual fact the connection is a strong one as Colnago’s latest bike has been designed in collaboration with the carbon composite engineers within Ferrari to create one of the lightest and most aerodynamic bikes that you can buy today. With the recent growth in cycling popularity and the suggestion that cycling has become the new golf, there is a feel that board-rooms throughout the land have a Colnago (or its equivalent) propped against the desk.

With this in mind PM+M Wealth Management were quick to agree their support of this weekend’s Colnago weekend, organised by Richard Paige of The Green Jersey bike shop in Clitheroe. The event allowed guests to test-ride the latest Colnago range of bikes at the Steven Burke Sports Hub in Pendle on Saturday – this included the Campagnolo Super Record equipped Colnago C60 (a bike that would retail at close to £8,000) amongst others. Thereafter guests rode back to Clitheroe to partake in Italian themed culinary delights from the shop’s café kitchen and to take in the end of the day’s Tour of Italy (Giro D’Italia if you wish) stage on their big screen. Sunday saw the inaugural ride of the UK Colnago Owners’ Club, with a fantastic forty miles of Ribble Valley riding enjoyed by all.

The event brought together like-minded souls, happy in each other’s company and with shared stories of cycling exploits, their interest in Colnago, and the varied justifications used to self and significant others on why a purchase was needed (cyclists inevitably believe that want and need are the same thing). The openness of communication revealed further stories of successful businesses and opened the door to financial planning discussions that would never have happened without the two-wheeled conduit. In time I hope to play an active role in the Colnago Owners’ Club – this post alluding to the multiple benefits I will take from involvement.

I am loving life within PM+M and their desire to engage with, delight and have fun with clients old and new. If you see two smiling cyclists riding along they are just as likely to be talking about pensions as they are about lycra!
AAEAAQAAAAAAAAkRAAAAJGEyOTgyMmVlLWIzYmEtNGM1OC05YjI0LWRlOGM0MDhjZjI3MwNeil Welsh – Wealth Management IFA 

Pension ISAs

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In advance of the Chancellor’s 2016 Budget statement there was widespread expectation that tax relief on pension contributions would be reduced. However, with the EU debate raging, the Government decided against making any controversial changes – at least for the time being!

What did happen was that the Chancellor announced a new variant of the Individual Savings Account (‘ISA’) which some are suggesting could in the long term supplant pensions as the principal means of saving for retirement.

The Lifetime ISA (LISA) will be available from 6 April 2017 to people aged between 18 and 40 and will include a savings incentive which is not provided by standard ISAs. In contrast to pensions, where contributions can be made regardless of age, investment in LISAs can only be made to LISAs up to age 50.

The maximum permitted contribution will be £4,000 a year. The Government will add a 25% bonus meaning those investing the full £4,000 will receive a top-up of £1,000. Spouses could each contribute to their own LISA and qualify for the bonus.

Apart from providing a source of retirement income after age 60, the LISA is designed to assist first time buyers to purchase a home with a value of up to £450,000.

Penalty-free withdrawals will be permitted from age 60 onwards or at any time if used for a deposit to purchase a house. In any other circumstance, the Government bonus and any growth in its value will be lost and a 5% penalty imposed.

Concerns are already being expressed that the LISA may discourage the lower paid from contributing to workplace pensions.  There is also an apparent conflict with the ‘Right to Buy’ ISAs which were announced only a few months ago. ‘Right to buy’ ISAs do appear less attractive but transfers to LISAs will be permitted.

Standard ISAs 

The annual ISA savings limit will rise to £20,000 for all adults from April 2017 but in 2016/17 will remain at £15,240 in 2016/17.

Antony Keen – Wealth Management 

PM+M Wealth Management Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

The Budget 2016 – What Should We Be Expecting?

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With the Chancellor set to make his announcements next week, we are wondering what he may have up his sleeve. What we do know is the next stage of the pensions revolution has been cancelled it seems, or at least postponed.

We do not know what the Chancellor will have up his sleeve for us next week, but we can expect some significant tax changes and we haven’t entirely ruled out further changes to pensions.

We will be hosting our annual Budget seminars this year and details can be found below:

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If you would like to attend one of our seminars, please book by clicking the button below or by calling 01254 679131.

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We will also have all the key points from George Osborne’s Budget announcements on our blog on the afternoon of Budget day (16 March), followed by a full detailed commentary the day after.

 

When Pension Freedom Isn’t Free – FCA To Consult On Scrapping Exit Charges

shutterstock_138231248Following the introduction of pension freedoms allowing people over the age of 55 to access their pension pots, many people have found that free means paying penalties or exit fees! On older style contracts it is not unusual to find that exit penalties apply up to the nominated retirement age Although modern contracts tend to be much more cost effective, these can be as much as 10% of the value of the fund, amounting to thousands of pounds.

The Treasury has confirmed that excessive exit charges enforced by some pension providers will be banned.  The precise level of the cap will be set by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), following a public consultation.

There is little doubt that the introduction of such a cap would be a positive step in the right direction in further restoring confidence in pensions and making them more transparent.

As the pension revolution continues full steam ahead, against the back drop of volatile world markets and further possible changes in tax relief, it has never been more important to review pension arrangements to make sure you are able to make full use of the financial and tax planning opportunities that exist.

For a free pension health check please contact Antony Keen, Director at PM+M Wealth Management, either by email at antony.keen@pmm.co.uk or by phone on 01254 604303.

PM+M Wealth Management Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Auto Enrolment – Should I Be Preparing Now?

Auto Enrolment blogIn March 2015, a total of 5.2 million eligible job holders were automatically enrolled and around 35,000 employers had completed their declaration of compliance, according to The Pensions Regulator. This year, around 45,000 employers will reach their staging date, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Next year 45,000 businesses per month will be required to comply.

Most small owner-managed businesses with fewer than 30 employees will have little or no time to deal with the amount of administrative work that comes with auto enrolment, not to mention the payroll expertise.

It seems that many of the traditional pension providers, often large, well-known insurance companies, are being choosy about the smaller businesses and their schemes, deeming them not as profitable due to the smaller number of employees and contributions being paid.

So what can small businesses do now?

  • Start the process 9 to 12 months ahead of your staging date. Identify a suitable provider and discuss what you want from your scheme.
  • At least 6 months before your staging date start setting up your pension scheme with your chosen adviser. Don’t think that because you employ fewer than 30 people it will be quick and easy.
  • Don’t assume that you can use your existing pension scheme, if you have one. It may not meet the new requirements.

For more information or for a no obligation discussion, please email Antony Keen at antony.keen@pmm.co.uk or call 01254 679131.

Vote for a Pension!

shutterstock_98671151As politicians go into election overdrive and the prospect of a coalition Government seems ever more likely, the major political parties are starting the pre-election give away as they look to gain favour with the voting public.

This week saw the Conservatives propose a new Nil Rate Band to save on inheritance tax.  The new band set at £175,000 would be applied to main residences and be available to properties worth up to £2,000,000. This means individuals would be able to pass up to £500,000 to beneficiaries free of inheritance tax when the new allowance is combined with the existing allowance of £325,000.  For couples, this could mean up to £1,000,000 is passed on tax-free.

So is there a catch I hear you cry! In short yes. In order to fund the new allowances tax relief on pensions would be restricted by gradually reducing the annual allowance from £40,000 to £10,000 for those earning more than £150,000.

The Labour Party have also announced they would reduce the annual allowance from £40,000 to £30,000 to fund a reduction in student fees from £9,000 to £6,000.

So it seems whether you vote blue or red future contributions into pensions will be restricted. For those of you planning to make a large pension contribution in the future, or if you earn more than £150,000, you should consider voting for your pension by making the contribution now in order to make full use of all the available allowances.

For more information or if you would like any advice on pensions, please call Antony Keen on 01254 679131 or email antony.keen@pmm.co.uk.

PM+M Wealth Management Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Auto Enrolment – The Results Are In

shutterstock_121236118The PM+M Wealth Management team recently sent out an Auto Enrolment survey to local businesses. The results have shown that 28% of North West businesses which have yet to reach their Auto Enrolment staging date do not know what the new law is or how it will affect their organisation.

Despite a much-hyped campaign undertaken by the government, it seems that a large proportion of companies are still unaware of the details around Auto Enrolment which states that every employer must automatically enrol their workers into a workplace pension scheme if they are between 22 and State Pension age, earn more than £10,000 a year and work in the UK.

The research of 200 North West businesses by our team also showed that 44% do not know their own staging date; 45% are unaware of what the implications will be on their business once they reach it; whilst 50% feel they are not ready. The final question asked whether Auto Enrolment will be dealt with in-house or if the services of an independent adviser will be sought; 56% stated they are unsure of what to do.

Antony Keen, director of the Wealth Management team,  said: “Auto Enrolment is one of the biggest reforms to pensions so it’s vital to know the facts and to do your research. We know it’s an administrative nightmare, but we were still surprised by the findings of the survey. Our advice is clear: plan early and don’t stick your head in the proverbial sand as the pensions regulator can fine companies which fail to comply.”

For more information or if would like some advice on Auto Enrolment, please call Antony Keen on 01254 679131 or email antony.keen@pmm.co.uk.

PM+M Wealth Management Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

VIDEO: Spring Budget 2015

George Osborne delivered his Spring Budget to Parliament on Wednesday. As anticipated, and as has happened during many pre-election budgets, there were very few surprises. The Chancellor took the time to focus on the strong growth of the UK economy and the low interest rate, as well as discussing the continually decreasing unemployment rate. Following our Budget seminar on Thursday 18 March, the PM+M team highlighted their key takeaways in our summary video. Full commentary is available by clicking on the button below.

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If you have any questions regarding the Spring Budget, please get in touch by email at blackburn@pmm.co.uk or by telephone on 01254 679131. Our team will be happy to help.

The Pensions Regulator Strikes Back

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Earlier this month The Pensions Regulator released its quarterly statement, outlining the actions they have taken from July to September to ensure employers are complying with their auto enrolment obligations.

Despite auto enrolment having come into effect in October 2012, this is the first time we have seen the Regulator actually take a stand and issue its first set of Fixed Penalty Notices.

One could argue that 3 repeat offenders out of the 177 slapped wrists to date is pretty good going, but the gentle approach the Regulator has been taking looks set to be coming to an end, especially now as we head towards the smaller end of the scale.

From next April, businesses with less than 50 employees are going to be reaching their staging dates. It is a growing concern that many of these 1.25 million firms yet to stage are wholly unprepared and unaware of the obligations they have to meet within at least 3 months of their staging date. This was further cemented by the research the Regulator had conducted back in September, showing that 1 in 5 SMEs would not seek advice when choosing a pension scheme, while 1 in 10 were unaware of how to even select a scheme.

A certain level of hand-holding will be given by the Regulator for these firms as they take their first steps. However, with many providers becoming picky about the schemes that they take on and the Regulator are starting to issue compliance notices and penalties, it has never been so important for an employer to plan in advance.

For further information on pensions and auto enrolment please contact Antony Keen on antony.keen@pmm.co.uk or call 01254 679131.