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David Irving Diving Scapa Flow

In the middle of the Orkney Islands, to the north of Scotland, lies Scapa Flow, a large body of water which is virtually surrounded by the islands themselves, with only narrow entrances to the open sea to the east, west and south. It makes a very calm, sheltered natural harbour, one of the best in the world. The water is often clear, but at 40 or 50 metres depth, it's still dark and intimidating. It was here, after the armistice at the end of the First World War, that Germany was ordered to sail its High Seas Fleet. And here, 18 months later, that the ships were sunk by their own crews. Although most of the ships were salvaged in the 1920s, there are still 3 battleships and 4 heavy cruisers at the bottom of the Flow. Together, these form one of the best Scuba Diving sites in the world.

I first dived Scapa Flow in 2012. It took us a day to travel up to Thurso, we stayed overnight and caught the morning ferry to Stromness. We then spent the next 5 days diving, two dives a day, on the…

Chloe Drew passes her first CII examination

Allen Tomas & Co are delighted to announce that Chloe Drew has passed her first CII examination RO1, which covers financial services, regulation and ethics. Our professional body has awarded Chloe 20 credits for this exam which reflects the hard work she has put in. We wish her well on this new journey of learning.

New Paraplanner

We are pleased to announce David Irving has joined forces with Allen Tomas & Co and will bring with him a vast amount of experience and technical ability.

David entered the industry in 1987 whilst still a student and has since worked for a number of financial services firms in both the West Midlands and in Norfolk as an administrator and as an adviser. He has Pension Transfer Specialist qualifications and has a high degree of technical knowledge, particularly in the field of pensions, specialising in complex pension cases. He prides himself on being able to design the right solution for a client quickly and efficiently. He is well qualified in all areas of financial services and holds the Certificate in Discretionary Investment Management from the CII. He is working to achieve Chartered status shortly.

Away from work, he enjoys scuba diving and has dived many of the world's best dive sites, personal favourites being the wrecks of the German First World War fleet in Scapa Flow,…

Pre-nups and post-nups

In this week's blog by Melinda Smith, Managing Partner and Family Lawyer at Fraser Dawbarns Solicitors, we are highlighting the confusing world of pre-nups and post-nups.

The main points are:
They are not formally recognised in English matrimonial law but are increasingly common and taken very seriously by the courts when correctly drawn up and guidelines adhered toThey can seek to ringfence assets brought into marriage by either partyA way of protecting inheritances/family businesses, providing safeguards for children from previous relationshipsProvides certainty to couples in an effort to minimise cost and stress in the difficult time of a relationship breakdownCan be done after marriage as a post nuptial agreement if financial circumstances change and the parties want to protect windfalls or inheritances.
So, you’ve organised your big day, the guest list is finalised and your honeymoon has been booked. Everything is set for you both to start your journey into married life…or is…

Main residence nil-rate band

The main residence nil-rate band is now in force, please see below and contact us if you wish us to review the impact this nil-rate band will have on your estate.
Who is likely to be affected Individuals with direct descendants who have an estate (including a main residence) with total assets above the Inheritance Tax (IHT) threshold (or nil-rate band) of £325,000 and personal representatives of deceased persons.
General description of the measure This measure introduces an additional nil-rate band when a residence is passed on death to a direct descendant.

This will be:

£100,000 in 2017 to 2018£125,000 in 2018 to 2019£150,000 in 2019 to 2020£175,000 in 2020 to 2021
It will then increase in line with Consumer Prices Index (CPI) from 2021 to 2022 onwards. Any unused nil-rate band will be able to be transferred to a surviving spouse or civil partner.

The additional nil-rate band will also be available when a person downsizes or ceases to own a home on or after 8 July 2015 and assets of a…

Inflation (source trading economics)

United Kingdom Inflation Rate 1989-2015 Consumer prices in the United Kingdom increased 2.3 percent year-on- year in February of 2017, above 1.8 percent in January and beating expectations of 2.1 percent. It is the highest inflation rate since September of 2013, boosted by rising fuel prices while food cost increased for the first time in 34 months. Inflation Rate in the United Kingdom averaged 2.58 percent from 1989 until 2017, reaching an all time high of 8.50 percent in April of 1991 and a record low of -0.10 percent in April of 2015.

Consumer prices index (CPI) is the government's preferred measure of inflation. It is used for international comparison and the government inflation target for the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee. It is available as an index from January 1997, with estimates back to 1988. It excludes mortgage interest payments and council tax. As of the 2010 budget, CPI as part of the triple-lock, is used to index state pensions in place of Retail Price…

An update on ISAs

Cash These ISAs are the simplest form, but unfortunately at present paying poor returns and in most cases not keeping pace with inflation. Enjoys Financial Services Compensation Scheme Protection up to £85,000 per provider. The ISA limit for 2017-18 is £20,000.
Stocks and shares All or some of the annual ISA allowance can be invested in stocks and shares. This can be done directly in shares of companies or in bonds, or through funds or investment trusts, which are funds that are traded on the stock market. Investors can also use 'passive' investments, which are low cost and track different markets, such as the FTSE 100. The ISA limit for 2017-18 is £20,000.
Junior Junior ISAs are for those under the age of 18. Up to £4,128 can be saved into these ISAs in the 2017-18 tax year. At age 18 this money is then converted into an adult ISA, and the child takes control (and can do what they want with the money). The money cannot be withdrawn until age 18, unless the child is terminall…

Welcome Chloe Drew

I am pleased to announce that Chloe Drew has joined Allen Tomas & Co as a Financial Administrator with the intention of becoming a Paraplanner on attaining her CII qualifications. Chloe has shown an interest in the industry and wants a career that allows progression and the opportunity to learn new skills. During her spare time Chloe enjoys reading, socialising and spending days out with her family. She is a lover of all animals, in particular pandas!

We wish Chloe every success.

Spring Budget 2017

At a glance:

The economic forecast
Growth in the UK economy picked up through 2016. Employment has reached a record high of 31.8 million people. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) now forecasts that the UK economy will grow by 2% in 2017. The OBR also forecast that the economy will grow at a slightly slower rate in 2018, before picking up to 2% in 2021.

Cutting borrowing and stabilising the public finances
Britain has a debt of nearly £1.7 trillion - around £62,000 for every household in the country. In 2009-10 the UK borrowed £1 in every £5 that was spent. This year it is set to be £1 in every £15. Borrowing is forecast to be reduced by nearly three quarters by 2016-17.

Tax-free dividend allowance will be reduced from £5,000 to £2,000 from April 2018
This will reduce the tax difference between the self-employed and those working through a company. Typically, general investors will need over £50,000 worth of stocks and shares outside an ISA to be affected.

The Lifetime ISA will be…

Rugby Icon Dies

A legend of the game, Joost van der Westhuizen, lost his life this month to Motor Neurone Disease aged 45, having been diagnosed with the disease in 2011. This unfortunately is the harsh reality of the world we live in and this is why it is SO important to protect your life on death and in the event of a serious illness.

What would be the impact of these events on your family or in your business?

As Independent Financial Advisers, Allen Tomas & Co can help you implement the right solution from the whole of market in order to protect those affected most and to give you peace of mind. Please call us now to arrange an appointment.

New Independent Financial Adviser

Allen Tomas & Co would like to say a huge welcome to Kevin Banks-Dunnell for joining us as an Independent Financial Adviser.

On leaving school, Kevin spent 4 years training and working as a chef. He joined the financial services industry in 1991 and has now completed 26 years as a financial adviser. He has worked for large financial institutions and as a result has built a strong client following through holistic financial advice. His experience has helped him specialise in Inheritance Tax & Investments. Kevin believes that this knowledge plus his personal and professional service have been key in building and maintaining long lasting and successful relationships.

Kevin is a keen golfer and has been a member of Royal Cromer Golf Club for over 20 years, he also plays lead guitar in a local band.

National Savings Interest Rate Changes

From the 1st May 2017, National Savings will be reducing the rates of interest across all of their cash savings products, including Premium Bonds and Direct ISAs. The reduction will affect existing accounts as well as new.

This follows reductions in interest rates across the savings market after the Bank of England's reduction of the base rate by 25 basis points, to 0.25pc in August 2016. Ben Allen, Managing Director of Allen Tomas & Co said "Once again this is another blow for savers and the search for decent returns on deposits becomes harder. NS&I will remain popular due to the fact that they are backed by HM Treasury, however I expect more people to look to the stock markets for a portion of their cash in order to improve their long term returns".

Please contact us should you wish to review your existing Savings and Investments.

State Pension Top-up

Up until April 2017 you can top up your state pension. This initiative allows people who reach the state pension age before April 2016 to top up their pension. This includes those who are already drawing the state pension.

The government is allowing retirees to buy extra state pension by paying so-called Class 3A voluntary National Insurance contributions between October 2015 and April 2017. This will help people reaching state pension age before 6 April 2016 who will not receive the new single-tier state pension.

Some retirees will be better off under the new system (eg some women and self-employed workers) and the top-up will allow pensioners retiring before that date, and who may feel that they are missing out, a chance to build up a higher future state pension income.

You can choose to top up your State Pension by between £1 and £25 per week. How much you'll need to contribute depends on:

how much extra pension you want to get each weekhow old you are when you make the contribu…