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7 apps to give your brain a workout

If someone mentions getting into shape, you probably think of exercising, getting outdoors and eating better. But a mental workout is just as important for your health.

Just a few minutes a day can help keep your brain healthy and your mind sharp. With so many apps available on smartphones, there are plenty of ways to start building positive habits with just a few taps. If you’re looking for ways to train your brain, these apps can provide a fun place to start.

1. Lumosity

Lumosity has been around for a decade and has become a popular app. It includes a series of mini-games to get your brain working. The games are split into categories including speed, memory, attention, flexibility, problem-solving, word, and maths. The variety of colourful games means you can focus on a particular area or create a workout that covers them all. The app can also create a daily programme for you and will track your scores to show how you’ve improved.

The app will start with a fit test to provide you with a baseline and then provide three quick games every day to make it easy to fit into your daily routine. You can use the app across multiple platforms, from your mobile to a desktop computer. While there is a free version of Lumosity, to unlock all the games and features, there is a monthly subscription.

2. Peak

Peak is a slick app containing an assortment of mini-games that are designed to push your cognitive skills. Again, these exercises are broken down into several subjects ranging from mental agility to language. There are more than 30 games to choose from in total to ensure your daily workout remains fun and fresh. Each day you can log in to complete a daily set of games that promise to get you thinking. You can also set goals and the app will provide challenges that link to them.

The app provides you with plenty of statistics to track your progress too. Not only does it let you see your own brain map but lets you compare it to your friends, your age group, and others that work in your industry. There’s plenty to keep your focus on the free version of Peak but you can choose to upgrade your membership for a monthly fee.

3. Happify

Happify is a little different to other apps that focus on boosting your speed and concentrating. Instead, it delivers a series of games that were developed to improve mindfulness and help users overcome negative thoughts and stress. It aims to help you break old, potentially negative, habits and take control of feelings and thoughts.

The app is free and includes games to play, as well as meditations. With over 65 tracks designed to improve mental health, this is a brain training app that can boost your emotional wellbeing. One of the interesting features is a huge report on character strength, which outlines which of the 24 identified strengths, from creativity to leadership, are most essential to who you are.

4. Elevate

Elevate’s series of games are designed to improve your focus, processing speed, and more as you go through a personalised daily exercise. As well as helping you to develop particular skills, the app also aims to boost self-confidence and productivity that could benefit you.

The app logs your streaks and scores on a calendar encouraging you to log on daily. There are over 30 games that become more difficult as your scores rise. The app offers a basic version for free, which limits the number of games you can play each day, and an enhanced version, which you’ll need to pay for. The pro subscription unlocks more games and lets you play them as often as you want.

5. Not the Hole Story

Not the Hole Story can get you thinking by figuring out the answer to lateral puzzles and more. If you like solving riddles, this is a great app for you to download. The app can broaden the way you think and how you approach problems as you work your way through the challenges.

If you’re struggling to complete a riddle, the app will provide a series of hints that allow you to improve your skills over time. It’s a great option for completing puzzles with someone else or sharing the riddles with family and friends to see if they can solve them faster than you.

6.  Fit Brains Trainer

Fits Brains Trainer is a bold and colourful addition to brain workout apps. As with the above apps, it provides a series of games that can help to improve areas like concentration and memory. One key difference is that it includes an emotional intelligence training function. Some of the games focus on building skills like self-control, perseverance and people skills, providing users with a chance to improve their emotional control. As with the other apps, you can log your results to see your progress to motivate you to stick to a daily workout plan.

As with some of the other apps, you can complete the exercise on your smartphone or log in to your computer and a subscription unlocks more features for you to try.

7. Sudoku

While there isn’t just one Sudoku app, there are plenty of free options for you to download to complete these number puzzles. Sudoku can really get you thinking and boost your logic skills in the process as you work out which number belongs in each tile. The puzzles have been around for decades but started to become popular around the world in the 2000s.

Beginner Sudoku puzzles can be completed in minutes giving you a quick workout each day, while the more challenging ones can take some time to puzzle out. It means you can set the level of difficulty you want and there’s definitely a sense of satisfaction when you complete a particularly challenging one.

Everything you need to know about financially supporting children through university

It’s that time of the year when thousands of teenagers across the country are waiting to find out if they’ve been accepted to university. As your child or grandchild starts the next chapter of their life, it’s natural to feel some concern as well as pride in their achievements. Understanding what university means financially can help put some of your worries to rest.

According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, there are over 2.5 million students, with about 1.7 million studying for their first degree. It’s a figure that’s risen over the years as more young people go to university to further their education. However, it does mean that more teenagers are taking on the cost of fees and living independently so it’s important to manage finances.

For most students, student loans will play a key role in being able to afford their course and lifestyle costs.

Student loans: How do they work?

For the 2021/22 academic year, full-time UK undergraduate students will pay a maximum of £9,250 for their course. Over a typical three-year course, that adds up to £27,750. This can be covered by a student loan.

On top of this, students may need to take out a maintenance loan to cover living costs. For students living away from home, they can borrow £9,488 for each academic year (£12,382 when studying in London).

If your child took out the full tuition and maintenance loan each year for a three-year course, it’d add up to £56,214. That can seem like a daunting amount of debt to graduate with. However, student loans don’t work in the same way as a traditional loan.

Students going to university this year to study for an undergraduate degree will be part of “plan 2”. This means they won’t need to start paying back their student loan until they earn more than £2,274 a month (£27,288 a year). Once they exceed this threshold, the amount paid towards a student loan is fixed at 9%.

So, if they earn an income of £35,000, they will pay 9% of their salary over the threshold to pay off the loan; £57.70 a month. As a result, paying back student loans can be manageable and may be viewed more like a “graduate tax” rather than a traditional loan.

What’s more, the student loan will be written off after 30 years if the full amount hasn’t been repaid.

Do children or grandchildren still need financial support after taking out a student loan?

While student loans aren’t prohibitive for most wanting to pursue further education, studying can still be a financial struggle.

According to Save the Student, the average student’s living costs are £795 a month and more than half of this (£418) goes on rent. As a result, many could struggle to make ends meet if they’re relying on the maintenance loan alone.

Students may need to get a part-time job to support themselves or rely on support from family. So, if you want to help, what can you do?

There are many ways you can financially support children through university. If you have the funds to provide a lump sum, paying rental accommodation can be a huge weight off their mind. Alternatively, providing a reliable income to cover essentials or paying for course materials can help them budget more effectively. If you’re in a position to offer financial support, it can mean your child or grandchild can focus on studying.

While you may want to offer financial support, it’s important you understand the implications of doing so. Would paying for accommodation affect your long-term plans, for example? If you’re unsure what support you can offer or where to withdraw money from, making your child or grandchild’s education part of your financial plan can give you the confidence to proceed.

Preparing teenagers for financial independence

Even if you’ll be providing financial support, passing on financial education is an important step when teenagers go to university. For many, it will be the first time they’re expected to budget, manage bills, and take control financially. That can be a daunting prospect. It’s also common for students to be offered overdrafts and credits cards, so it’s important they understand how they work.

Spending some time talking about the basics of finances can ensure your child or grandchild is equipped to handle their own money at university. The maintenance loan, for instance, is deposited in a student’s account three times a year and they’ll then need to budget to ensure it lasts several months. Setting out a basic spending plan and going over the bills they need to consider each month can help them keep track and ensure they don’t spend too much too soon.

Do you want to support a child through further education? Whether they’re going to university this autumn or it’s still several years away, we can help make it part of your financial plan. Please contact us to talk about your goals.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

ESG investing: The impact climate change could have on your investments

Last month, leaders of the G7 nations gathered in Cornwall for a summit. Unsurprisingly, the pandemic was top of the agenda, but climate change also featured prominently. As countries reaffirm their support for limiting climate change, it could affect businesses and, in turn, investors.

All seven G7 nations – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US – reaffirmed their support for reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. This means that equivalent of emitted greenhouse gasses will be either offset or sequestered. It’s a step that aims to balance carbon emissions to reduce the impact of climate change.

The Cornwall summit comes just six months before the UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP 26) in Glasgow. COPs bring together almost every country on earth for a climate summit. From 31 October, 190 world leaders, along with tens of thousands of negotiators, government representatives, and businesses will take part in 12 days of talks. During the COP, countries will update their plans for reducing emissions.

At COP 21, hosted in Paris in 2015, every country agreed to work together to limit global warming. This is known as the Paris Agreement. However, the commitments laid out have not come close to reaching the goal. As a result, COP 26 has more urgency than ever. Among the targets of the summit are:

  • Accelerating the phase-out of coal
  • Curtailing deforestation
  • Stepping up the switch to electric vehicles
  • Encouraging investment in renewals.

How could this affect your investments?

As governments around the world take action, some companies could find measures designed to limit climate change have a negative effect on them. For example, companies that operate within the coal industry could find their profits start to fall if they aren’t proactive in securing other sources of income as coal is phased out.

Governmental policy can and does have an impact on business profitability. With climate change uniting countries around the world, businesses that fail to consider incoming policy and sentiments may suffer.

It’s not just your investment portfolio that could be affected either. As your pension is usually invested over your working life, climate risks could have an impact on your retirement savings. It’s a challenge that The Pensions Regulator has recently drawn attention to. The organisation called on pension trustees to act now to protect savers from climate risk.

David Fairs, The Pensions Regulator’s executive director of regulatory policy, analysis and advice, said: “Driving trustee action on the risk and opportunities from climate change will create better outcomes in later life for workplace savers.”

He continued that pension schemes need to devote more time to integrating the consideration of climate change right across the decision-making process.

So, how do you reflect climate risks in your portfolio?

Understanding which businesses pose a climate risk can be time-consuming and complex. Multinational companies are complicated and while one area of the business poses a climate risk, others may not. The good news is that more institutions are publicising their investment decisions around climate risks, making it easier for you to invest in a way that reflects climate concerns.

Some investment funds already have clear climate policies and may restrict what companies they invest in, or actively seek to invest in firms that are taking positive action.

As climate action continues, there will likely be more funds that consider climate risk in some way, providing investors with more choice. Likewise, companies will seek to reduce their impact on climate change if it could harm their profits and operations. So, while considering climate risk may seem like a relatively new concept now, it could become one that’s commonplace as the COP goals draw nearer.

Action on climate change presents opportunities too

As well as climate risk, governments taking more action presents investors with opportunities. For instance, among the targets are encouraging electrical vehicle uptake and investment in renewables. With a focus on developing these areas, they could present an opportunity to climate-conscious investors to support emission goals and make a return.

Of course, there are no guarantees when investing. Investing in green technologies and innovations doesn’t mean you’ll receive returns. You should still take all the usual steps you do when investing, including assessing the risks and how they’ll fit into your overall portfolio.

Considering climate change is just one very small part of ESG (environmental, social, and governance) investing but it could help you manage risks and seek opportunities. If you’d like to discuss how you can incorporate ESG factors into your portfolio, including climate change, please contact us.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

The value of your investment can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

Is £26,000 the secret to a happy retirement?

How much do you need to live the retirement lifestyle you want? It’s a question that’s on the mind of many people as they near their retirement date. Now research suggests that couples need an income of £26,000 to live comfortably, but if you want some luxurious extras, that needs to rise to £41,000.

Which? surveyed nearly 7,000 retirees to understand what they spend their money on and how it impacts the lifestyle they lead. The responses were split into three lifestyle categories – essential, comfortable, and luxury. The table below highlights the annual income you’d need to secure these lifestyles.

  One-person household Two-person household
Essential £13,000 £18,000
Comfortable £19,000 £26,000
Luxury £31,000 £41,000


In retirement, you’re probably hoping to live in comfort, with a few luxuries that mean you’re able to enjoy your time. So how do these sums relate to the lifestyle you can expect?

With a £26,000 a year income, the research suggests a couple will be able to pay for all the essentials, like utility bills, insurance, and household goods, with some left over for treats. This includes a £4,644 budget to spend on European travel and holidays, £1,476 for recreation and leisure, and £1,332 to make charitable donations.

The luxurious budget of £41,000 estimates you’ll have enough to splash out £7,620 a year on long-haul holidays, £4,861 to pay for a new car, and £1,128 on expensive meals out on top of the treats in the comfortable income bracket.

How much do you need to save to secure a £26,000 income in retirement?

The first thing to remember is that your full retirement income is unlikely to come from your personal and workplace pensions. Your State Pension can make up a significant portion and help you cover the essentials.

If you have 35 years of National Insurance Contributions on your record, you’re entitled to the full State Pension. For the 2021/22 tax year, the full State Pension adds up to £9,339.20 a year. Keep in mind that the State Pension Age may not align with when you want to retire. The State Pension Age is currently 66 and will reach 67 by 2028. As a result, if you want to retire before this age, you’ll need to draw a larger income from your pension to meet goals to begin with.

You can supplement your State Pension from a variety of sources, such as your savings, investments, or properties, but pensions will play a central role for most people.

If you have a defined benefit (DB) pension, you’ll know what annual income you can expect when you reach retirement age. However, if you have a defined contribution (DC) pension, your pension forecast will be a lump sum that you’ll need to take an income from throughout retirement. If you have a DC pension, it’s important that you understand how it’ll translate into an income.

Which? estimates that a couple would need pensions worth around £155,000 alongside their State Pension to produce an income of £26,000 when taking a flexible income. This rises to £442,000 to fund a luxury lifestyle. For a one-person household, the figures are £192, 290 and £305,710, respectively.

However, the above calculations make certain assumptions. For example, that your pensions only need to last 20 years. As life expectancy rises, you may spend far longer than two decades in retirement. It also assumes an investment growth rate of 3% a year. If you decide to take a flexible income, investment performance can affect your long-term income and you’ll need to manage withdrawals.

The only way to achieve a reliable income if you have a DC pension is to purchase an annuity. An annuity will pay out a regular income throughout your life and can provide long-term peace of mind. To purchase an annuity, couples would need pensions worth £265,000 and £757,000 to reach the comfortable and luxurious goals, respectively.

How much do you need in retirement?

While the research provides a useful benchmark when saving into a pension, your lifestyle goals may mean a very different income is needed to support you throughout retirement.

Both the comfortable and luxurious budgets include housing payments to cover rent or a mortgage of £3,240 a year. In retirement you may not need to include these in your plan, allowing you to achieve these lifestyles with less money. On the other hand, you may plan to spend more travelling or on your hobbies than the research estimates.

Setting out what you want your retirement to look like, even if it’s years away, can help you set a pension goal that will help you turn your dreams into a reality. If you’d like to discuss what your pension means for your retirement, please contact us.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

A pension is a long-term investment. The fund value may fluctuate and can go down, which would have an impact on the level of pension benefits available.

Your pension income could also be affected by the interest rates at the time you take your benefits. The tax implications of pension withdrawals will be based on your individual circumstances, tax legislation and regulation, which are subject to change in the future.

Developers snap up urban properties for retirement villages: The pros and cons of retirement property

City and town centres have been hugely impacted by the pandemic. While the number of offices may dwindle, property developers are reportedly snapping up urban developments to turn them into retirement villages. It could offer retirees considering these types of properties far more choice.

While moving out of your home and into a retirement village can fill some with dread, today’s retirees have more options than a traditional nursing home. A retirement village can provide security, access to a range of facilities, and a community, but they’re not the right option for everyone.

Retirement villages might usually be associated with getting away from the hustle and bustle of urban centres, but some developers plan to use vacant retail and office sites to build new apartment blocks, according to a Guardian report. If you enjoy living in an urban location it can make local amenities, from shops to entertainment attractions more accessible in your later years. It could also help to regenerate town and city centres after a challenging year.

Retirement villages aren’t a new concept, but they’ve evolved over the years. They are simply housing developments built especially for older buyers. The properties could be houses, bungalows, or apartments. They usually come with communal areas and it’s these spaces that have developed over the years. As well as dining rooms, some retirement villages now offer onsite amenities like swimming pools and restaurants. Often there will be an onsite manager to provide extra support if it’s needed.

So, what are the pros and cons of retirement villages?

The pros of living in a retirement village

Properties are built with older people in mind

Your current home may be suitable for you now, but will it be in 20 years? Properties within retirement villages are built with older people in mind to provide a comfortable place to live in your later years. This may mean they are more accessible should you need to use a wheelchair in the future, or the bathroom already has mobility features in place to help you live independently.

They can provide a community with facilities in your later years

Retirement villages offer more than just a home; they also offer a community for you to be part of. Other residents provide an opportunity to make new friends and be involved in clubs that interest you. Many retirement villages have onsite facilities to support a community feeling that you can enjoy.

Many sites offer additional support and care options

If you’re worried about how you’ll cope in your later years, a retirement village can offer peace of mind. There will usually be a site manager and staff who can offer additional support and, in some cases, care services can also be provided in your new home.

Property maintenance is usually taken care of

If you buy a property within a retirement village, you won’t usually need to worry about things like repairing a leaking roof or maintaining the garden. There will typically be a team to take care of this on your behalf, meaning you can focus on enjoying your free time.

The cons of living in a retirement village

The community has a lack of diversity

While many retirement villages benefit from guest facilities so your friends and family can stay, the community will be made up of other retirees. While some will see this as a benefit, the lack of diversity can mean it’s not the right decision for some people.

Properties in retirement villages are usually leasehold

In most cases, retirement villages sell properties that are leasehold. This means you own the property, but not the land it’s built on. Instead, you have ownership of the property for a set period that’s defined in the lease. This means you’ll need to pay ground rent and service charges, so you need to consider how this will affect your retirement income. It could also impact the legacy you leave behind for loved ones.

You could face exit fees

There are many reasons why you may want to sell your property within a retirement village. In some cases, doing so will mean you face an exit fee. It’s important you read the small print before purchasing a retirement property to ensure you understand all the potential costs and keep in mind that your situation and wishes could change.

Retirement properties can be more difficult to sell

While there is a demand for retirement properties, there will be restrictions on who you can sell to. For example, buyers may have to be over 55 and this naturally limits the number of potential buyers. As a result, it can make a retirement property more difficult to sell than a traditional home.

If you’re thinking about buying a property in a retirement village, you need to consider your lifestyle goals and how your finances will support your decision. If you’d like to make purchasing a retirement property part of your financial plan, please contact us.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

What to consider if you’re worried about retiring with debt

When you think about retiring, you probably imagine you won’t have any debt. While retirees may have traditionally cleared their credit cards and paid off the mortgage, those nearing retirement today are facing more challenges. Nearing your planned retirement age with debt can be worrisome, but it doesn’t mean you have to cancel all your plans.

Changes to work and lifestyles mean it’s now far more common to have debt later in life.

Property is a good example of this. Older generations are likely to have purchased their first home while still in their 20s. This meant they had plenty of time to pay off the mortgage before they were ready to retire. Today, house prices have soared. The challenges of building up a deposit and being able to afford mortgage repayments mean the average first-time buyer is now in their mid-30s. So, retiring while still paying off your mortgage is more likely.

Similarly, having children later in life and job insecurity may mean you’re nearing your retirement with other forms of debt. There are many reasons why you may still have debt – the important thing to do is create a plan.

Over three-quarters of 45 – 54-year-olds have debt worries

According to Standard Life, the average age of a 2021 retiree is 60. With pensions accessible from the age of 55, rising to 57 in 2028, retirees have more flexibility than ever. While retirement can seem like it’s some way off when you’re 45 – 55, it could be just a matter of years away, and the sooner you start planning, the better.

Some 78% of 45 – 54-year-olds worry about debt, an Aviva survey found. Worryingly, 34% said they do not know how they’ll pay it off and 24% aren’t sure how much their debt adds up to. Covid-19 has exacerbated the issue for many. One in five say their debts have increased in the last year.

If you’re worried about debt, it doesn’t have to mean you need to delay your retirement plans. However, being proactive is crucial. So, if you’re thinking about retirement and the impact debt could have, what should you do?

Review your current situation

Your first step should be to take a step back and assess what debt you have. When it comes to debt, people can be guilty of burying their head in the sand, but ignoring the problem just leaves it for another day.

Understanding how much debt you have, from credit cards to your mortgage, can help you put a practical plan in place. Factor in what you’re doing now to reduce the debt, and how this will impact the level of debt you have when you retire. In some cases, you may find you’re on track to be debt-free in retirement or that a small adjustment now could help you reach that goal.

Remember to look at the level of interest you’re paying. Start by overpaying on any high-interest forms of debt you have and consider switching providers to access a lower interest rate. Some credit cards, for instance, will provide you with a 0% interest period when you transfer a balance, so all your payments go towards reducing the amount owed rather than paying the interest.

If your current situation means you’re likely to retire with debt, here are four options to consider:

1. Continue servicing debt in retirement

You don’t have to be debt-free in retirement, but you do need to ensure you can continue meeting repayments. This means calculating what your retirement income will be. Do you have enough to service debts? How would it affect your retirement plans? For some, carrying debt into retirement makes sense, but you should make sure you look at the bigger picture and what it means for your long-term income and the cost of borrowing.

2. Use your pension to reduce debt

For most people, their pension becomes accessible at 55, rising to 57 in 2028. If you have a defined contribution pension, you can take a flexible income, including lump sums. This could provide you with a way to pay off your debt as you retire. However, there are two important things to consider here.

First, your tax liability. You can usually take a 25% tax-free lump sum from your pension, but additional withdrawals may be subject to Income Tax. As a result, taking out significant lump sums can push you into a higher tax bracket. Second, taking a lump sum out of your pension at the start of retirement can have a long-lasting impact on your income and retirement plans. It’s important you understand these implications before proceeding.

3. Using other assets to pay off debt

While pensions are often associated with retirement, other assets can help you enter the next stage of your life debt-free too. Do you have savings or investments you can draw on to pay off the debt as you retire? Or could you downsize to a new property to release equity that could be used to pay off debt? Don’t just look at your pension but consider how your other assets could be used.

4. Change your retirement plans

Finally, you may need to adjust your retirement plans. For instance, delaying retirement by a couple of years could mean you retire debt-free and can enjoy a more comfortable retirement. To understand if this is the right option for you, you should set out what your priorities are and what you want your retirement lifestyle to look like.

If you’re starting to think about retirement and aren’t sure how existing debt will affect your plans, please contact us. We’re here to help you create a financial plan that matches your goals for retirement.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

A pension is a long-term investment. The fund value may fluctuate and can go down, which would have an impact on the level of pension benefits available.

Your pension income could also be affected by the interest rates at the time you take your benefits. The tax implications of pension withdrawals will be based on your individual circumstances, tax legislation and regulation, which are subject to change in the future.


Guide: 10 simple but effective ways to create a better you

Search the internet and you’ll find a myriad of self-help sites aimed at helping you to improve your life and get the most out of it. Our latest guide explores some practical steps you can take to improve your overall wellbeing now and in the future.

Among the steps that can help create a better you are:

  • Setting out your goals
  • Making your mental wellbeing a priority
  • Spending time on the things you enjoy
  • Getting outdoors
  • Creating a financial plan.

Download “10 simple but effective ways to create a better you” to discover some of the things you can do to improve your life in the short and long term.


10 of the best UK beaches to relax on this summer

You don’t have to go abroad to find beautiful scenery. If you want to relax on a beach, heading to Spain or further afield is likely to come to mind first, but the UK is home to some incredible beaches that are perfect for a summer trip.

Travel abroad for a holiday is now allowed and the government’s “green list” sets out destinations you can visit without quarantining when you return home. However, Covid-19 uncertainty remains and the cost of holidays to green list destinations has soared. So, it’s no surprise that more Brits than ever are planning a staycation. If you still want some time at the beach, these ten spots are ideal.

1. Kynance Cove, Cornwall

Cornwall is a staycation hotspot thanks to its stunning coast. Kynance Cove is just one of the local beaches you’ll want to enjoy thanks to its white sand and turquoise water. It’s a busy spot but well worth getting up early for, the dramatic rock formation will make you feel miles away, especially on a sunny day. There are plenty of coves and caves if you’re feeling more adventurous, but make sure you keep an eye on the time and tide.

2. Achmelvich Bay, Scotland

Achmelvich Bay boasts beautiful white sands to relax on that come to life in the summer months. There are plenty of paths to hike along and it is a popular destination for water sports, from water skiing to kayaking, and fishing. If you’re lucky enough, you could also spot porpoise off the coast in the warmer months, as well as other wildlife. If you’re planning a longer trip to explore Scotland, Achmelvich is on the North Coast 500, a road trip route that takes you across Scotland.

3. Holkham Beach, Norfolk

If you’re looking for long, sandy stretches to enjoy, Holkham Beach in Norfolk is perfect. As the tide rises, a spectacular shallow lagoon emerges too. Pinewoods and wildflowers back the beach, offering a beautiful backdrop for walks. It’s also where the closing scenes of Shakespeare in Love were shot, as well as many other films, making it a great place to visit for film buffs.

4. Formby Beach, Liverpool

Formby Beach is one of the gems in Merseyside and is now managed by the National Trust. It boasts extensive sand dunes and sweeping coastal pinewoods. While it’s a great place to relax, it’s also the perfect place to head for a stunning coastal walk. Erosion even means you can find evidence of prehistoric animals and humans here. If you look closely enough at low tide, you can spot footprints dating back to 6000 BC.

5. Blackpool Sands, Devon

From a distance, and despite the name, Blackpool Sands looks like it’s a shady shore, but it is made from smooth pebbles. While sunbathing on the sand may be off the cards here, it means the water is incredibly clear, perfect for taking a dip or getting out on the water on a pontoon or kayak. It’s an award-winning spot that can help you feel like you’ve jetted off on holiday without needing to leave the country.

6. Rhossili Bay, Gower Peninsula

The Gower Peninsula is one of the most picturesque spots in the UK, with plenty of golden sands and small coves. Rhossili Bay is just one of the spots worth visiting, with perfect white sand and limestone cliffs. Despite how beautiful it is, the beach is still unspoilt. At low tide, you can also see the remains of the Helvetia, shipwrecked in 1887, just poking out of the sands.

7. Camber Sands, Sussex

The sandy shores of Camber Sands stretch for nearly five miles, so if you’re looking for space to relax and explore it’s a great place to head. It’s one of the best places to beach comb, so keep your eyes peeled as you stroll across the sand. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try your hand at some water sports, including kite surfing. This is another beach where blockbuster films have been shot, including Dunkirk and The Theory of Everything.

8. Berneray Sands, Outer Hebrides

Found on the Isle of Berneray in the Outer Hebrides, Berneray Sands offers incredible views of the mountains of Harris that offer a great backdrop for a day out. While the Outer Hebrides may not boast exotic weather, a Berneray Sands photograph was once mistaken for a Thai resort, showing just why it’s worth a trip.

9. Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire

When exploring south-west Wales, Barafundle Bay should be one of the places you visit. You’ll need to walk across the clifftops to reach it, but that means it stays relatively quiet, even during the summer months. If you want to get off the beaten track, you can enjoy turquoise waters that are great for a dip. Be sure to come prepared with food and drinks to make a day of it as there are no facilities on site.

10. Whitby Sands, North Yorkshire

Just a short walk from the town of Whitby, a trip here is perfect for a British seaside experience. With blue waters and sand for miles, it looks like a scene from a postcard; it even has bright beach huts to add to the holiday feeling, especially if you pick up some fish and chips for a walk along the coast.

What you need to know if you’re a Power of Attorney

Taking on the responsibility of becoming a Power of Attorney can be daunting. If you’ve been named a Power of Attorney, whether you’re acting on someone’s behalf now or could do so in the future, understanding what it means is important and can help you make the right decisions.

What does being a Power of Attorney mean?

A Power of Attorney gives someone the ability to make decisions on someone else’s behalf if they lose the mental capacity to do so. This could be due to a range of reasons, such as dementia or a serious accident.

By naming a Power of Attorney, you can ensure someone you trust can make decisions for you and act in your best interests. It’s an important step to take to provide a safety net when it’s needed most.

However, if you’re named as someone’s Power of Attorney, it can be scary to take on this level of responsibility. Understanding what it means and what decisions you’ll need to make can help you feel more comfortable in the role. Here are seven things you need to know if you’re a Power of Attorney.

1. There are 2 types of Power of Attorney

First, there are two different types of Power of Attorney, and you may be named for both or have responsibility for just one area.

A health and welfare Power of Attorney may be required to make decisions about a person’s daily routine, medical care, or life-sustaining treatment. A property and financial affairs Power of Attorney can make decisions relating to money and property, including managing bank accounts or selling a person’s home.

2. A person can name more than 1 Power of Attorney

If you’re a Power of Attorney, you may not be the only person acting on the individual’s behalf. There is no limit on how many Power of Attorneys can be appointed. Individuals can also name replacement attorneys to step in if an original attorney is unwilling to act or becomes unable to do so.

If there is more than one Power of Attorney, it’s important to pay attention to how you can make decisions. You may need to make decisions “jointly”, meaning you must always make and agree on decisions together, or “jointly and severally”, which means attorneys can make decisions on their own as well as together.

In some cases, there will be tasks that must be made together, such as selling property, while others can be made separately. The person naming a Power of Attorney must set out how they want you to work.

3. There may be restrictions on what you can do

When naming a Power of Attorney, a person can set out restrictions and conditions, which are legally binding. These may limit the power that you have and it’s important to understand what they are from the outset. For instance, as a Power of Attorney you may have control over a person’s bank account and their bills, but not have the authority to sell their home.

4. The individual may also provide guidance

While any guidance provided isn’t legally binding, it can help you understand the person’s wishes and continue to act in their best interest. When naming a Power of Attorney, for example, they may have set out what type of care or medical treatment they’d prefer if they need support.

5. You may be paid for out-of-pocket expenses

Acting on someone’s behalf may incur some expenses, such as postage or photocopying costs, for example. You can claim these expenses back. You should keep an account of these expenses, including relevant receipts. However, it’s important to note you cannot claim for the time spent carrying out your Power of Attorney duties unless you are a professional attorney, like a solicitor.

6. You must act in the best interests of the person

When acting as a Power of Attorney there are certain principles you much follow. You have a legal responsibility to act in the best interests of the individual and take reasonable care when making decisions on their behalf. Where possible, you should also work with the individual to help them make their own decisions, offering practical advice to support them.

7. It is possible to end a Power of Attorney

Being a Power of Attorney isn’t always a commitment until the person passes away. In some cases, a Power of Attorney may be used in the short term. For instance, perhaps the person has been involved in an accident and only needs support until they recover.

You may also decide you no longer want to act as a Power of Attorney and you can step back if you wish to. This is known as “disclaiming”. To do so, you must fill in an LPA 005 form and send this to the donor, the Office of Public Guardian, and any other attorneys.

Acting on the behalf of someone else can be challenging and you may not know which decisions are “right”. We can offer you financial advice and support throughout the process, as well as helping you to set your own affairs in order, including naming a Power of Attorney if necessary. Please contact us to speak to one of our team.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate estate planning.

Scam awareness month: What you need to know to spot a pension scam

Have you ever been targeted by a scam? Fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated, and their scams can be hard to spot. This Scam Awareness Month, learning how to protect your pension could safeguard your retirement plans.

According to Action Fraud, in the first three months of 2021, fraudsters took £1.8 million from pensions. Victims have made 107 reports of pension scams during this period. However, this may just be the tip of the iceberg. Some savers that have fallen victim to a scam may not realise it yet or have not reported the crime.

14 million Brits worry about pension scams

If you worry about falling victim to a pension scam, you’re not alone.

Given the huge impact a pension scam can have, it’s not surprising that millions of adults say they fear falling victim to one. An LV= survey revealed that 27%, the equivalent of 14 million people, worry that they may unwittingly fall prey to a pension scam.

Nicola Parish, the Pension Regulator’s executive director of frontline regulation, said: “Pension scams are devastating with victims potentially losing life-changing sums. Savers must be cautious about making decisions about money that may have taken a lifetime to build, as it can be snatched away in an instant.”

Losing some of your pension savings can be devastating as you often cannot recover the loss. It could mean the retirement you’ve worked decades for is no longer possible. It could mean that you have to scale back plans, work for longer, or that you face financial insecurity in your later years. Understanding how pension scams work now can help protect your future.

So, what can you do to protect your pension?

5 things to keep in mind to protect your pension from scammers

1. Be cautious if you’re contacted out of the blue

The LV= survey found that 14% of UK adults have received unsolicited emails, texts, or calls about transferring or releasing money from their pension.

You should treat all contact out of the blue with caution. Cold-calling about pensions is banned, including text messages and emails. Genuine financial advisers or planners that you want to work with will not contact you out of the blue. Scammers may try to entice you with offers like a “free pension review” or “pension liberation” that will allow you to access your pension sooner or reduce tax. These phrases are red flags.

2. Check who you’re speaking to

Even if you’re expecting to be contacted about your pension, you should always check who you’re speaking to. The Financial Conduct Authority register can help you check if the person you’re speaking to is regulated.

Keep in mind that some scammers will use the details of real firms to encourage you to talk to them. Only use the contact details listed on the register and if you’re unsure, hang up and contact the firm directly using these details to check.

3. Understand your pension options

Fraudsters rely on victims not understanding their pensions fully to pull off a scam. For example, pensions are not usually accessible until you are 55 (rising to 57 in 2028) but scammers will often claim they can help you access it earlier. They may also suggest unusual ways to access your pension to minimise the amount of Income Tax due.

Understanding how your pension works and your options when you retire can provide you with the insight needed to spot a scam. If you’d like to discuss how you can access your pension, please contact us.

4. Be cautious of high returns, guarantees, or unusual investments

Investing is a way to grow your wealth and it’s normal to want to get the most out of your investments. However, claims of high returns, especially guaranteed returns, are likely to be a scam. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. All investments come with some risk and returns cannot be guaranteed.

Some scammers will also suggest you withdraw money to invest in unusual assets, such as overseas property or forestry. Keep in mind that your pension savings are usually already invested, and a pension provides a tax-efficient way to do so.

5. Don’t rush into making decisions

Finally, you’ve taken decades to build up your pension pot, so don’t make a snap decision when deciding how or when to access it. Scammers will try to pressure you into making quick decisions, so you don’t have time to think clearly. They may pressure you by offering time-limited deals or even sending a courier to your home with documents. Don’t be afraid to take a step back and ask for some time, a genuine financial adviser will understand.

Sometimes, simply speaking to someone about your plans can make it clear that an opportunity is a scam. If you’re not sure if you’re being approached by a scammer, you can speak to us.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

Over 55s planning once in a lifetime experiences, but could finances hold back aspirations?

While the mantra might be “life begins at 40”, over 55s are planning to live their life to the fullest as Covid-19 restrictions lift. Retirement might be associated with taking it easy and putting your feet up, but over 55s are planning to explore new places and tick other items off their bucket list in the coming years. However, finances could hold some back.

With more free time and fewer commitments, retirees are finding they have an opportunity to pursue their dreams. According to a Royal London survey, 64% of over 55s are planning to travel more once the pandemic is over, and many others are hoping to tick off once in a lifetime experiences. The survey found the top bucket list items are:

  • Seeing the Northern Lights (53%)
  • Travelling on the Orient Express (42%)
  • Visiting one of the seven wonders of the world (36%)
  • Moving or purchasing a home abroad (25%)
  • Going on safari (22%)
  • Taking a hot air balloon ride (20%)
  • Going to a major sporting event (20%)
  • Driving a supercar (16%)
  • Volunteering for charity (13%)
  • Going to a festival (13%).

How do you want to spend your 50s and 60s?

Thinking about what you want to achieve in your 50s and beyond can set you on the right track for reaching your goals. Whether you want to travel more in the next few years or spend time on a hobby, creating a plan means you’re far more likely to be able to tick off your aspirations and live the lifestyle you want.

Setting out your goals now means you can put a plan in place to achieve them. While the research found over 55s are keen to carry on experiencing new things, it also discovered they could be held back.

Nearly half (43%) of over 55s said they’d regret not achieving their bucket list items. A third (36%) cited lack of money for the reason they haven’t yet achieved goals. For others, work and family commitments, or poor health was holding them back.

Making your goals part of your financial plan can mean you have the confidence to pursue them.

Do you have enough to complete your bucket list?

As you retire, it can be difficult to understand how your assets will create an income. Often, you’ll need to bring together multiple sources of income and consider how your needs will change over decades. As a result, you may not be sure if you’re able to tick off bucket list items without placing your financial security at risk.

Financial planning can help you understand if you have enough to reach all your retirement goals. It can help you understand how all your assets, including pensions, savings, and property, can work together to provide an income in retirement.

However, for those unsure if they have enough for once in a lifetime experiences, the real value of financial planning comes in understanding how their decisions in early retirement will affect the rest of their life. If you withdraw a £30,000 lump sum from your pension to travel the world, would you still have enough for the rest of your retirement? What would happen if you needed care later in life? Would spending now to turn a dream into a reality mean you’d have less choice?

We can help you put these decisions into perspective. Using cashflow modelling, we can help you visualise how spending to complete your bucket list will affect your income in the short and long term. This means you understand the full implications of the decisions you make.

In many cases, we find retirees can meet their goals or that there are steps they can take to release capital from other assets. Financial planning can give you the confidence to pursue your dreams, whether that’s booking an exotic holiday or booking tickets to a sporting event you’ve always wanted to attend.

If you’d like advice as you retire that considers your aspirations, please contact us.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

A pension is a long-term investment. The fund value may fluctuate and can go down, which would have an impact on the level of pension benefits available.

Your pension income could also be affected by the interest rates at the time you take your benefits. The tax implications of pension withdrawals will be based on your individual circumstances, tax legislation and regulation, which are subject to change in the future.

How to check if you’re owed anything from the State Pension

You may have seen the recent news that thousands of people have been underpaid by the State Pension. If it’s affected you, it could mean you’ll receive a lump sum and higher State Pension payments in the future. Read on to find out more and how you can check if you’re owed anything.

The State Pension error was first raised by a pension consultancy firm last year. It is the result of complex rules around women’s entitlement under the old State Pension system.

Under the old system, women were entitled to 60% of the basic State Pension their husbands received once they reached the State Pension Age. While women could build up a State Pension in their own right, many had gaps in their National Insurance (NI) record or paid a reduced “married woman’s stamp”. As a result, some women may have retired with little State Pension entitlement of their own. Instead, they relied on their entitlement to their husbands’. But errors mean this hasn’t always happened.

The issue may also have affected widows and divorced women. Widows can substitute their own NI record for their husband’s and qualifying for 100% of the basic State Pension if their husband had a full record. Divorced women could use their ex-husband’s NI record up to the point they split up.

Are you owed some State Pension?

If you’re a woman born before 6 April 1953, you should check to see if you’ve been affected. In most cases, the error has affected women over the age of 80 that are married, divorced, or widowed.

The amount those affected will receive in compensation will depend on their circumstances:

  • If your husband reached State Pension Age after 2008, the pension top-up should have been automatically applied. However, an error in the system means some pension boosts have been overlooked. If this has happened to you, you will receive backdated payments, plus interest.
  • If your husband retired before 2008, you needed to have claimed to receive an enhanced pension. You should have received a letter from the government informing you, but many women say they didn’t receive this. In this case, it will be treated as a new claim for a pension and backdated for just a year. It could mean you lose thousands of pounds.

The average payout is expected to be around £13,500. Some will receive much more than the average. According to a Guardian report, one woman received just 86p a week from the State Pension for more than 12 years and is now owed £42,700.

If you think you’ve been affected, you don’t need to contact the Department of Work and Pensions; they will notify you. However, you may still want to understand if you’re owed something and factor this into your financial plan. If you think your State Pension has been underpaid, you can contact us. We’ll help you make sense of your State Pension and other assets.

What is the government doing to fix the error?

So far, the government has only provided an estimate of the scale of the issue. However, the Department of Work and Pensions expects to pay compensation to tens of thousands of people. It’s estimated the total cost will be around £3 billion.

While the government is taking on more staff to create a dedicated team to resolve the issue, those affected could be waiting until 2023 for an answer. It may take even longer to receive repayments. So, even if you have been affected, it may be some time until you hear from the government and receive the money due.

Keeping track of your State Pension

Even if this error doesn’t affect you, it’s a reminder of why it’s important to understand what you’re entitled to and how you’ll create an income in retirement. The State Pension isn’t enough for most retirees to live on alone, but it provides a foundation. Even a small reduction in the State Pension each week can affect your retirement plans.

You can check your State Pension forecast here, but the rules can be complex and it’s easy for mistakes or miscalculations to occur. We’re here to help you understand your State Pension and how it can provide for you alongside other assets you may have, such as workplace pensions, savings or investments.

If you’d like to discuss your retirement and income, please contact us.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

Why adding your savings to your pension could mean your money goes further

Seven in ten (72%) UK adults have saved money due to the pandemic, but just a fraction plan to add these savings to their pension, according to an LV= survey. While considering short- and medium-term goals is important, making a one-off pension contribution can mean your money goes much further.

Average pandemic savings are almost £5,500 per household

Reduced costs over the last year have meant some households have been able to put the money they’d usually spend on commuting, childcare, or going on holiday into their savings account. On average, these households have been able to put away £5,500 in the last year. Some 8%, the equivalent of 4.4 million households, have saved over £10,000 as a result of Covid-19.

If you’re among the pandemic savers, what do you plan to spend the money on?

While some savers will use the money to cover essentials and improve their financial security, many plan to use it to enhance their lifestyle now. The survey found the most popular plans were:

  1. Pay into savings or a Cash ISA (28%)
  2. Book a holiday (21%)
  3. Home improvements (19%)
  4. Essential everyday living costs and bills (13%)
  5. Essential home or car repairs (12%)
  6. Non-essential everyday living, such as days or meals out (11%)
  7. Pay off debt (10%).

In contrast, just 5% said they’d add their savings to their pension. Even if retirement is some way off, adding a one-off lump sum to your pension could be beneficial and, in fact, could mean your money goes even further.

4 reasons to add your savings to your pension

1. You’ll receive an instant boost from tax relief

When you deposit money into a pension, the government will add some of the money that you would have paid in tax to your retirement savings. Tax relief is paid on your pension contributions, both regular and one-off payments, and the level depends on the rate of Income Tax you pay. A 20% tax relief provides an immediate boost to your savings. If you’re a higher- or additional-rate taxpayer, you can claim more.

2. A pension allows you to invest tax-efficiently

If you’re saving for retirement, a pension is a tax-efficient way to do so. Your money will usually be invested and can grow free from Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax. Instead, you will pay tax when you withdraw money as part of your income in retirement.

3. The compounding effect can help your money grow faster over time

As your money is invested for the long term, you have an opportunity to benefit from the effects of compounding. This is where investment returns are themselves invested to generate additional returns. Over time, it can help your money to grow faster. The longer your money is invested, the longer you’ll have to benefit. However, you need to keep in mind that your savings won’t be accessible until you reach pension age; currently, this is 55 and will rise to 57 in 2028.

4. It can help you create the retirement lifestyle you want

Your retirement lifestyle might not be something you’ve thought about yet, but to achieve the lifestyle you want it’s important to plan early. Even if retirement is decades away, building up your pension now means you’re taking steps to reach goals in your later life, whether you want to retire early, spend time travelling, or are looking forward to spending more time with family.

Is a lump sum pension contribution right for you?

While there are benefits to adding your savings to your pension, it’s not the right option for everyone.

If, for example, you don’t have an emergency fund to fall back, putting the savings in an accessible account can boost your financial security. Or, if your regular pension contributions mean you’re nearing either the pension Annual Allowance or Lifetime Allowance, a one-off contribution could mean an alternative is more suitable. As a result, you should consider your circumstances and goals before depositing money in your pension.

Please contact us to discuss how you can use your pandemic savings to help you achieve goals, whether you’re thinking about retirement or short-term plans.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

A pension is a long-term investment. The fund value may fluctuate and can go down, which would have an impact on the level of pension benefits available.

Your pension income could also be affected by the interest rates at the time you take your benefits. The tax implications of pension withdrawals will be based on your individual circumstances, tax legislation and regulation, which are subject to change in the future.


April Market Commentary

This market commentary has been produced for some time now but March 2021 was the first month when a ship made the headlines. Anyone who watched a news bulletin will have seen the mega-container ship the Ever Green firmly wedged across the Suez Canal. The ship, which is 400m long, was finally re-floated having caused perhaps the most expensive traffic jam in history as it held up an estimated $9.6bn (£7bn) of goods every day. (more…)


March Market Commentary

Welcome to the March Market Commentary: as you will see below, February was a good month for world stock markets with virtually all the major markets moving in the right direction.

It was also the month which saw the rollouts of various vaccines accelerate in many countries. As we write on the morning of March 1st, the Telegraph is reporting that more than 20m people in the UK have now received a first dose of the vaccine, with ‘vaccines for over-40s to start this month.’ (more…)


February Market Commentary

It might be appropriate to start January 2021 by looking back at last year. At the start of January 2020, we were fairly sure what we would be writing about, which included the run-up to Brexit on the 31st and a gradual thawing of US/China relations with a long-awaited trade deal due to be signed. (more…)


January Market Commentary

2020 has been a year like no other, and yet – as we will see below – the majority of world stock markets have enjoyed a good year. It was also a good year for Joe Biden, who defeated Donald Trump in November’s Presidential election, and for supporters of Brexit.

Finally, some 4½ years after the Referendum a deal was agreed with the European Union, and the UK’s transition period ended on December 31st. (more…)


December Market Commentary

Is the end of November a time to celebrate? All the stock markets we cover in the Bulletin made significant gains in the month; the UK’s second national lockdown ends this week and, as we write, Christmas is a little over three weeks away.

Or is the glass half-empty? We’re going to come out of lockdown into far harsher tiers than we’ve previously experienced. There are already dark mutterings of the tiers extending well into the New Year and, for many families, Christmas is going to be very different this year.



November Market Commentary

The end of October brought plenty of bad news for Western economies as scientists stood in front of graphs and talked of ‘inexorable rises’ and ‘exponential increases.’

Unsurprisingly, stock markets duly took note. We report on 12 major stock markets and only two, India and Hong Kong, were up in October, with all the major Western markets falling. (more…)


October Market Commentary

September was a difficult month for world stock markets. It was one of those rare months when none of the markets we report on managed to gain any ground as fears of a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic sparked a global sell-off in shares. It was also another month of bickering as tensions continued between India and China (more…)


September Market Commentary

August used to be known as the ‘silly season’ – a phrase coined by the Times in 1861 to describe the lack of news in August and early September when parliament was in recess.

Well, there was plenty of news in August 2020. With coronavirus and its effects, the continuing squabbles over Brexit, the US Presidential election and the resignation of the Japanese Prime Minister, the headline writers had more than enough to keep them busy. Objectively, much of the news was gloomy – redundancies continued to pile up, jobs growth in the US stalled and Japan recorded its biggest economic slump on record. (more…)


August Market Commentary

If there was one word that characterised July, it was tension. Tension between Beijing and Hong Kong, tension between China and the US, and tension between China and the UK over Huawei. (more…)


July Market Commentary

Looking back to the start of last month, June began optimistically as the Space X astronauts reached the International Space Station and ended on an even more upbeat note as Boris Johnson launched a ‘new deal’ for Britain and declared: “This is the moment to be ambitious.” (more…)


June Market Commentary

For the second month in a row, we went back to the previous month’s Commentary before we wrote a word. How did we leave April in this rapidly changing world? (more…)


Stories to sustain us: Where do you get your energy from?


In my post of 12 April 2020 (How long is this sustainable for?) I promised a series of mini-blogs to highlight stories about companies that see the link between the sustainability of their business and that of the planet. I’m giving myself free rein here to look at anything from what big, grown-up companies are doing to get with the programme, to young, earnest start-ups with ground-breaking ideas – and all that comes in between. Happy reading!


A sustainable story for today: Walking on solar panels

As ministers from around the world gathered around their computer screens at the end of April for the annual Petersburg Climate Dialogue (intended to be held in Glasgow this year – not confusing at all then), there was much talk of seizing the day. For example, in the UK we haven’t used any coal to make our electricity for over a month and energy generated from renewable sources such as wind has overtaken that from fossil fuels for the first time because a) lockdown has slashed demand and b) apparently it’s been very windy. We know this is only temporary, but still, can we not keep it up? (more…)

Stories to sustain us: It’s plastic, but not as we know it

In my post of 12 April 2020 (How long is this sustainable for?) I promised a series of mini-blogs to highlight stories about companies that see the link between the sustainability of their business and that of the planet. I’m giving myself free rein here to look at anything from what big, grown-up companies are doing to get with the programme, to young, earnest start-ups with ground-breaking ideas – and all that comes in between. Happy reading!

A sustainable story for today: a new kind of plastic

This first one is no more than a snippet about an idea that is still in the development stage. I’ve chosen it because it’s one that inspires hope and shows how taking an interest in sustainable investing is about so much more than finance. (more…)

How long is this sustainable for?


The never-endingness of the current situation is prompting Carole to find out more about investing in companies that were already recognising that ‘this can’t go on’


So, I’m starting to feel like I’m stuck in a permanent Sunday of my childhood where no shops are open (it was the seventies, you know) and you can’t call for your friends because we are all supposed to be having family time. Even a Groundhog Day scenario seems appealing right now – what with its community gathering and small-animal excitement. So quickly have we become conditioned to the new rules of (dis)engagement that a friend told me she had found herself accidentally social-distancing from her husband in the kitchen. I questioned the “accidentally”. (more…)


May Market Commentary

Right now, even a week seems a long time in the news agenda. Remembering the end of March, when we wrote our last Stock Market Bulletin, feels “The figures that follow will not make for pleasant reading,” we wrote. “It is scant consolation that they would have looked much worse in the middle of the month, before governments around the world rushed to put stimulus packages in place to protect their economies and businesses.” (more…)


April Market Commentary

In March, the coronavirus outbreak seemed to steal all the headlines, giving us almost hourly updates as it transformed our lives, and made the word ‘unprecedented’ feel like an understatement. Inevitably, there has been a serious impact on world stock markets, which have suffered their worst quarter since 1987. (more…)


March Market Commentary

Not the election of Donald Trump, not the US/China trade dispute. Not even Brexit. We cannot recall a single issue having so completely dominated a month’s news – or threatened to have such serious consequences – as the outbreak of Coronavirus in China. (more…)

What can we expect in the Budget?

With the government’s first budget set for 11 March, we wanted to take a look at some of the main measures that are expected to be included. Will the Conservatives adhere to the spending commitments made in their manifesto? Or will they do a u-turn on some? Here are a few of the key areas to look out for: (more…)


February Market Commentary

China grabbed the headlines again in January, but this time not for trade. On 31st December, the Chinese authorities had notified the World Health Organisation of an outbreak of pneumonia in Wuhan City, Hubei Province. Today the country is in lockdown, the death toll is rising fast, the number of infected is rising faster. (more…)


January Market Commentary

The end of the decade saw the US/China trade dispute continue to make plenty of headlines. However with Donald Trump signing a long-awaited ‘phase one’ agreement on 15th January, it appears 2020 could see tensions ease. Trump is currently due to travel to China later in the year, where ‘phase two’ of the deal will presumably be concluded. (more…)


December Market Commentary

The beginning of November saw the World Trade Organisation authorise China to put $3.6bn (£2.8bn) of tariffs on US goods. The following week it was reported that a potential trade deal between the two countries could see tariffs ‘rolled back’. (more…)


November Market Commentary

The beginning of October brought us the Conservative Party conference and a plethora of promises and fiery speeches. Meanwhile world stock markets were tumbling on fears of a global sell-off and the US/Europe tariff war joining the US/China dispute. By the middle of the month President Trump declared himself ‘optimistic’ about trade talks with China. (more…)