Personal Finance

Keep a good focus on emerging markets

By Michael Ranis, October 28, 2009

China? Brazil? India? What has the world come to that these are the countries that seem to attract investments from all corners? Is the elevated status of emerging markets just a fashionable concept, or is this the embodiment of a massive transition?

Does it reflect on “the decline of the West” and a rise of new, far-away powers, or just some mirage that will soon fade?

Let us consider a few facts:


Personal Finance: Review your pension

By Ros Altmann, October 22, 2009

Retirement at 65 is becoming a thing of the past. Major changes are under way and you need to be prepared.

At the moment, the state pension age is 65 for men and 60 for women. From next year women’s pension age will rise gradually to reach 65 in 2020. By 2026, pension age will increase to 66 for everyone and keep rising thereafter. The Conservatives have proposed establishing a review to accelerate this timetable, bringing men’s state pension age up to 66 in 2016 and for women by 2022. Any men over 59 and women over 54 will be affected.


Computer says no: the big tax botch

By Mark Lee, October 8, 2009

There is an old adage that “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” I was reminded of this recently after learning that, following a software update, HMRC’s records show a number of taxpayers as being deceased — despite the fact that they are very much alive.


Personal Finance: Don't let inflation catch you off guard

By Ros Altmann, September 17, 2009

Is it time to start worrying about inflation? Over the past year, inflation fears have faded and concerns have focussed on deflation dangers. In fact, the Bank of England’s latest policy of so-called “quantitative easing” — a rather fancy name for printing money — aims to fight deflation, but has potentially significant inflation risks.


Personal Finance: Is this really a bull run in a bear market?

By Michael Ranis, September 2, 2009

Over the past six months or so equity markets have had a very nice run. The MSCI World Index is up more than 50 per cent since the March lows. It is not surprising then that some investment gurus are offering strong recommendations as to how to handle this new situation.


Personal Finance: Tax schemes: sort kosher from treif

By Mark Lee, August 13, 2009

Appearances can be deceptive, wouldn’t you agree?

On the one hand, the taxman is not always as bad as some might think. Recently, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has been issuing warnings about email scams. It seems that some bad guys have been sending emails that purport to come from HMRC and which tell you about tax rebates.

The real purpose of the emails is to gain access to your credit card or bank details. So delete any such email you receive and do not click the links or complete the forms. HMRC say they would never inform us about tax rebates by email.


Personal Finance: The pension problem

By Ros Altmann, July 30, 2009

Are pensions worth the bother? As employers close their pension schemes and stock markets have plunged, the pensions crisis has worsened. Pensions were traditionally a key part of financial planning, especially as our state pension is about the lowest in the developed world. In fact, Britain has more money in private pensions than the rest of Europe put together. However, increasing numbers of people have abandoned pensions. Many will regret this in years to come. Although not right for everyone, pensions can still offer tremendous opportunities.


Use China to predict the future of equities

By Michael Ranis, July 16, 2009

At the start of the century, strong economic growth in places like China and India prompted a new investment perspective.

The BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) concept was born and equity funds were developed to accommodate a new desire to invest in those countries. Soon, some economists proposed that a decoupling between BRICs and developed countries was occurring.