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Is your business prepared?

Andrew Carnegie, the American industrialist and philanthropist, once said “men and women, not machines, are the real source of profits in any business”. Interestingly, whilst business owners insure their equipment, buildings and cars, most have...

Discounted gift trusts

I will be at our seminars presenting on discounted gift trusts, which I touched on at our annual investment seminars earlier this year. “What is a discounted gift trust?” I hear you ask?  Well, a discounted gift trust is an Investment Bond...

Don't get caught out by the unexpected

Farmers work tirelessly to run an efficient and profitable business and to provide an income for the family, but what happens if disaster strikes and you can no longer work.  Is there anything that can reduce the impact to that loss of income and halt...

Protecting wealth for future generations

It is said that failing to plan is, in fact, planning to fail.  That certainly seems to be the case when it comes to protecting your wealth for future generations.  Nicola Ward, Associate and Financial Planning Manager at Birkett Long IFA,...

Discounted gift trusts explained

At the recent Birkett Long inheritance tax investment opportunities seminar we covered some of the options available to help an individual reduce their inheritance tax liability.   These included a Flexible Reversionary Trust, a Discounted Gift...

Exam success puts Chris' career on fast-track

Hard-working Chris Jarrold has qualified as a Financial Planner after passing five exams in 18 months. Chris, from Coggeshall, joined Colchester-based Birkett Long IFA in 2015 after gaining experience in the pensions, investment management and banking...

Innovative team shortlisted for Money Marketing Awards

Birkett Long’s experienced team of Independent Financial Advisers has been shortlisted for Money Marketing’s Best Small Adviser of the Year award. The 12-strong team recently became a separate entity, Birkett Long IFA LLP, providing innovative...

Study pays off for paraplanner

Two years of study have paid off for Shane Ali who has just qualified as a Paraplanner with Birkett Long Independent Financial Advisers. Shane decided on a career in the financial services profession as this would suit his strengths, which include...

Pensions update - changes to death benefits

There have been many changes to pensions recently, one of which is that policyholders are now allowed to pass on their pension savings to a nominated beneficiary, potentially without having to pay a tax bill.  It is thought this relaxation of the rules...

Growing our own experts

I am pleased to advise that Paul Chilver, one of our financial planning managers was promoted to Associate level at Birkett Long IFA, with effect from 1 June 2016.  Paul joined Birkett Long as a trainee at age 17, undertaking exams in his own time,...

Providing for your children or grandchildren

Investment bonds are a form of collective investment which, unlike unit trusts and other investment types, use an insurance policy as the “wrapper” for the underlying investments.    This has a number of tax advantages, one being that...

Equity release - could it be right for you?

In the UK in 2016, there are 23 million people aged 50 and over.  We all know that in recent decades life expectancy has increased and it is expected that over the next 17 years the number of people aged 65 plus will rise by 40%.  In Age UK’s...

Newly qualified - Kate Barnett

Kate Barnett joined Birkett Long in January 2014 as a trainee paraplanner, having previously worked in the legal team at the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). With Birkett Long's encouragement and support, Kate progressed quickly through...

Trainee financial planning scheme is right on the money

Birkett Long Independent Financial Advisers has launched a financial planning training scheme to bring new talent into the business. Its first trainee is Chelmsford-born Joe McArdle who will spend the next two years training on the job and learning from...

Promotion has hardworking staff celebrating

Two members of staff at the well-respected Essex firm Birkett Long are celebrating after learning they have been promoted to Associates. Daniel Sturman, a commercial property solicitor who has been qualified for 10 years, is based in the Chelmsford office,...

Don't under-estimate your value as a parent!

Most parents insure their houses, their cars and even their pets but don’t stop to consider how important it can be to insure themselves! A recent study by LV* suggested that the cost of raising one child to the age of 21 is more expensive than the...

Kate's joy at exam success

Kate Cudmore has become a fully fledged Financial Adviser for Essex independent financial advice firm Birkett Long after passing all six of the Chartered Insurance Institute’s Financial Planning Exams. The 33-year-old former paraplanner from Great...

Gifts...all year round!

There are ways to reduce inheritance tax liability on death.  Below, I highlight some of the gifts that can be used without your needing to survive seven years following a gift, together with an investment option that we will cover at our seminars in...

Case study on Family Income Benefit insurance

Sue and Graham Smith have divorced.  They have a daughter, Millie, aged six and a son, Thomas, aged nine.  The couple have agreed that Millie and Thomas will live with Sue, and Graham will pay £900 maintenance per month (£450 for each...

Child maintenance

Maintenance payments often form part of a divorce settlement and can therefore be legally binding.  Whilst this provides some security of payment for a fixed period of time, what is often overlooked is that the payments would cease on death of the...

High earners' pension relief cut

Following the 2015 summer Budget, those earning more than £150,000 will no longer qualify for an annual allowance of £40,000 (the annual allowance is the maximum that can be paid into a pension in a single tax year).  Instead, high earners...

Finances on divorce the legal position

When a couple enter into a marriage they are undertaking a duty to support one another, both emotionally and financially. What many spouses do not know is that, in the event of separation, whilst the emotional duty may come to an end, the duty to financially...

Pensions are not like bank accounts after all!

Following the implementation of the pension freedom rules in April 2015, tabloid headlines have given us the impression that pensions now operate like a bank account.   Although pensions have become more flexible, the reality is that they cannot be...

Where are all the Independent Financial Advisers?

A dearth of quality Independent Financial Advisers is hampering the expansion plans of one of the oldest and largest financial advisers and law firms in Essex. Birkett Long partner and Business Development Director David Cant explains how the firm is...

Trustee investments...take advice

The role of trustee is not to be undertaken lightly, especially as trustees are personally liable should a beneficiary claim some form of negligence. Trusts are often created as a result of an instruction in a will, especially when someone wants to leave...

New face at independent financial advisers

Independent financial advisers in Essex, Birkett Long, has welcomed a new face – financial planning manager Mike Greely. As a married father of one Mike knows a thing or two about providing for the future of a family and has had 13 years in the...

Don't put off organising your financial affairs

The future can seem a long way off; however, the reality, of course, is that it’s not!  This is why planning ahead and making the right decisions today will give you peace of mind, knowing that your personal and financial affairs are organised in...

Protecting your family

As a parent, you want to provide the best for your children and plan for their future.  We all know that raising children is expensive.  In 2011 the average cost of raising a child was £133,848 and in 2013 this had increased by 15% to...

Bosses give apprentice his dream job

A Basildon young apprentice has impressed his bosses at Essex legal firm Birkett Long so much that he’s now on the road to a career in financial services after they gave him a permanent job in the Financial Services business in Colchester. Sam...

Silver-service celebration

A celebratory afternoon tea event, complete with cake, at Colchester’s Wivenhoe House Hotel marked the silver anniversary of the Financial Services team at Essex law firm Birkett Long. For a quarter of a century the department has been giving...

ISA changes - It's all change for ISA rules and investment limits

On 19 March 2014 in the Government’s 2014 Budget the Chancellor, George Osborne, surprised the Financial Services industry by announcing major changes to the Individual Savings Account (ISA) rules.  It was announced that ISAs would be reformed...

Growing and protecting your money - free seminar

If you are looking for good ideas about how to invest and grow your money, Birkett Long, legal and independent financial services firm, is staging a free seminar in Colchester and Stock. Paul Chilver, a financial planner with the firm, says people...

Growing and protecting your money

With the Bank of England base interest rate held at a record low level of 0.5% for over four years, bank and building society savings account interest rates remain unattractive. Investors with bank and building society Cash Individual Savings Accounts...

How much are mum and dad really worth

As a parent, you want to provide the best for your children and plan for their future.  As we all know raising a child/children is expensive, in the last two years the average cost of raising a child has increased by 15% from £133,848 in 2011 to...

Workplace pensions auto enrolment

Over the next few years all employers will have to auto-enrol all “eligible” workers into a workplace pension scheme.  The biggest employers started doing this in October 2012, when the Pensions Act 2008 came into force. An employer must...

Faceless financial advice?

On 31 December 2012 the landscape for giving financial advice changed drastically. The Financial Services Authority, now Financial Conduct Authority, brought into effect the Retail Distribution Review (RDR).  The intention of the RDR was to raise...

Lower risk investment opportunitieis

With the Bank of England base interest rate being held at a record low level of 0.5% for over four years, bank and building society savings account interest rates remain unattractive. Investors with bank and building society Cash Individual Savings Accounts...

The financial jigsaw - putting the pieces together

During 2012, Britain slipped into the first double-dip recession since the 1970s – a time which saw a period of economic stagnation throughout much of the Western world – and at the time of writing, fears grow of a triple-dip recession with a...

Invest in your future with help from an expert panel

Seasoned and potential investors looking for investment opportunities and financial advice will benefit from the knowledge of a panel of experts at a free event run by Legal and Independent financial advisers Birkett Long in February. ‘The financial...

Have your cake and eat it

Gifts that mitigate tax As you may have seen on page 1, four brave members of Birkett Long entered the Trailwalker UK 2012 in aid of Oxfam and the Gurkha Welfare Trust.  This gruelling walk involved trekking 100km across the South Downs in less than...

Behind every good law firm...is a great accounts team

The Accounts team at Birkett Long looks after the financial management of the firm - a very complex and fast moving environment. The cashiers deal with all move- ments of money in and out of the firm, processing thousands of transactions each month, which...

Flooding: Sink or swim

Over the last few years we have seen widespread disruption and damage caused by flooding.  The Met Office predicts that climate change will lead to an increase in extreme weather events, meaning the UK will have to learn to live with severe flooding. ...

A year in the life of Birkett Long - what we've been up to

With our South Essex office now over a year old, working with clients and business partners is going from strength to strength. Following our announcement in our last edition that we would be opening a South Essex office in Basildon in October 2011, working...

What...or whom...do we need to protect?

We insure our homes, our cars, our phones and our holidays but sometimes we forget to insure ourselves. In a survey carried out by Bright Grey, nearly 2,000 people were asked what they insure.  Home contents insurance (84%), car insurance (78%) and...

Action for the start of new 2012/2013 tax year commencing 6 April 2012

Mike Cracknell from Birkett Long examines how you can make the most of tax efficient financial planning opportunities before the current tax year ends on 5 April 2012 and the new year commences 6 April 2012. 1. Make the most of Individual Savings Accounts...

Lifes inevitabilities

The fact that you will need a funeral is one of life’s inevitabilities.  However, the cost of even the most basic funeral is out of reach for many people.  Funeral costs have risen, on average, by 7.32% per annum over the last five years...

Workplace pensions

Background   The 2003–2005 Pension Commission reviewed the UK pension system and concluded that: i. up to 12 million people were not saving enough to provide for their retirement, ii. the State Pension could not meet the financial commitment of...

EIS and VCT

One of the negatives for pension savers is the new annual £50,000 limit on contributions, and this is already causing high earners to look for alternative forms of tax-efficient investment, such as Enterprise Investment Schemes (‘EIS’),...

Pensions liberated

The new tax year marks a new era for pension saving in which the keynote is flexibility. With effect from 6 April 2011, the obligation to crystallise pension savings in the form either of an annuity or a restricted type of pension drawdown called...

Junior ISAs - April update

The Treasury has announced that the successor scheme to Child Trust Funds (‘CTFs’), dubbed Junior ISAs, will be available in November 2011 and will have an annual contribution limit of £3,000. Also that the investment limit for existing...

More choice over pension

New pension rules - giving greater flexibility to individuals taking retirement benefits - are expected to be operative from 6 April 2011. Historically, individuals have had to set up a lifetime annuity or move into an Alternatively Secured Pension (ASP)...

Tax planning in general terms applicable to 2011

Employers should utilise salary sacrifice for their employees making pension contributions to an employer's pension scheme to contra rises in both the rate of Primary and Secondary Class 1 National Insurance.   Third party pension contributions -...

Action before tax year end 5 April 2011

For individuals with a "relevant income" of £130,000 or more (i.e. effected by the "anti-forestalling rules") for the 2010/2011 tax year, to make gross pension contributions to the value of £20,000 or £30,000, as...

Annuity rule axed

In another major pensions concession by the coalition Government, the requirement that pension savings must be 'secured' by the purchase of annuities is to be scrapped as from April 2011. Savers will be able to maintain their pension policies in...

ISA limits increased

The Government has announced that the annual ISA investment limit will be increased from £10,200 to £10,680 with effect from 6 April 2011. For a couple, this means that £21,360 can be invested with no tax on dividends or interest, no...

Venture Capital Trusts

Interest in Venture Capital Trusts ('VCTs') has been subdued for the past couple of years. Investors have fretted about the global economy and managers have preferred to sit on cash, the return on which has usually been lower than their costs. ...

Junior ISAs

Following the demise of Child Trust Funds (‘CTFs’), the Government has announced that an alternative tax-free savings plan for children is to be introduced, which has been dubbed the Junior ISA. The new product will be available from the Autumn...

Lifetime allowance

The maximum value of the pension pot which can be accumulated during an individual’s working life without incurring a tax penalty (the “Lifetime Allowance”) will be reduced from the current level £1.8m to £1.5m from April 2012....

Annual allowance

The maximum pension contribution on which tax relief is allowed is also changing. With effect from 6 April 2011 a new limit of £50,000 p.a. will apply to personal pensions and other defined contribution schemes, whether the payments are made by the...

Simpler pension rules

The new coalition Government indicated that it is committed to simplifying pension schemes and granting tax relief on contributions paid. Although subject to possible further amendments, the most significant rule changes are: Permitted contributions The...

People in their fifties should plan for care home costs now, says Essex solicitor

With care home fees expected to double in the next 20 years, people in their 50s are being urged to take action now to cover costs and ensure loved ones are not left empty handed. That is the message from a leading firm of Essex solicitors which is offering...

An unusual use of equity release

Graham and Susan had been married for more than 40 years but sadly irreconcilable disagreements had led them to seek a divorce. At 63 and 62, Graham and Susan were retired and living on pension. The family home was without mortgage and valued at...

Making the Most of Your Pension

You save money in your personal pension for the majority of your working life but is the return you receive at retirement the best available? If you automatically take the retirement benefits from your existing pension provider you could be losing out. In...

Birkett Long explains the Emergency Budget

George Osborne has just delivered his first Budget as Chancellor of the coalition Government and has certainly made his presence felt. Facing a huge deficit in the public finances, his radical and tough five-year plan features new measures which aim to...

Predictions from Birkett Long ahead of Emergency Budget

1. Capital Gains Tax Q: What is Capital Gains Tax? A: A tax payable on the difference between the value of an asset when you acquire it and the value when you dispose of it. Even if you give it away and make no profit at all. It is particularly...

Careful Planning - New Tax Laws

Those with taxable income in excess of £100,000 per annum face a significant increase in personal taxation as from 6 April 2010. An individual’s Personal Allowance (£6,475 – 2010/11) will be reduced by £1 for every £2 of...

Pensions - How much is enough?

Over the last two decades the pension barometer has swung away from the civil servant “final salary” style of scheme to the now more common “money purchase” scheme. In simple terms (with the aid of various tax relief concessions) a...

Almost nine in ten borrowers fixing their mortgages

Fixed-rate mortgages have become increasing popular among residential homeowners after borrowing rates for three, five and ten-year deals dropped between March and May, a UK broker has said. Stephen Smith, Director of Housing at Legal & General, said...

Family keep home after landmark SRB ruling

A family has won a landmark court case that has enabled them to keep their home after they almost lost it through a sale and rent-back (SRB) scheme. Shrewsbury couple Paul and Amanda Jackson entered into an SRB deal after getting into mortgage arrears. SRB...

Mortgage lending 'too restrictive to meet demand'

Banks need to lend more to meet high demand from potential property buyers and pull the UK out of the economic downturn, says the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA). The NAEA, which represents UK estate agents, believes the majority of buyers in...

Poverty levels among UK's elderly "shocking"

A charity has described European Commission figures revealing high poverty levels among over-65s in the UK as "shocking". Data from the European Centre showed that the UK has the fourth highest level of poverty among over-65s in the 27 member...

Property market 'leading UK out of the recession'

Unemployment in the UK might be at a 12-year high amid the ongoing problems caused by the recession, but property investors could have one foot on the road towards economic recovery. According to Gary Smith, president of the National Association of Estate...

Property investors urged to track mortgage rates

Investors have been urged not to take their 'eye off the ball' when it comes to bagging a good mortgage deal while the Bank of England base rate is relatively low, at 0.5 per cent. Neil Young, Chief Executive Officer of property management firm the...

FTBs warned not to use loans to fund deposits

Using a bank loan to fund a deposit on a property purchase is effectively taking out a 100 per cent mortgage 'through the back door' and will not be accepted by lenders, a mortgage expert has warned. Louise Cuming, Head of Mortgages at price...

Absence of high LTV mortgages 'causing market stagnation'

The property sector is suffering as first-time buyers (FTBs) remain priced out of the market due to the absence of high loan-to-value (LTV) mortgages, an expert has warned. Louise Cuming, head of mortgages at price comparison website Moneysupermarket.com,...

Firm urges clampdown on insurance cheats

Honest consumers with genuine insurance claims could be losing out as more people attempt to abuse the system amid the economic downturn, research has suggested. Gordon Hannah, Director of Claims and Operations at insurance firm esure, said fraudulent...

Broker: Consumers favouring long-term fixed-rate mortgages

More homebuyers opted for longer fixed-rate mortgage deals in May to protect themselves against further economic volatility, research has suggested. Figures published by Mortgage Force, the national broker, have shown that 56 per cent of fixed-rate deals...

Start of Year Tax Planning

The early months of the tax year are a good time for savers to think about tax planning for the current year. In particular, now is a good time to think about investments that produce regular income – if you can find them. If you expect to have a...

Final salary pension 'crippling' struggling businesses

The CBI has warned that firms struggling to survive the recession risk being dragged down further by their final salary pension schemes. Many businesses face closure unless they are given more time to pay off the shortfalls, the lobby group claimed. It...

Top Tax Tips

The current 2008/09 tax year will be remembered for an unprecedented series of financial and economic events. With Bank solvencies, cash flow and in some instances merely financial survival in the foremost thoughts of many, it is more important than ever to...

Equity Release

Managing an active retirement can present significant problems for the many people who are blessed with good health but cursed by the effects of the poor performance of pension funds and low annuity rates over the last two decades. This combination of...

Year End Tax Planning Checklist

Here is a quick checklist of things you should look at before the tax year ends on 5 April. It is not exhaustive and, of course, all financial planning should be done with proper professional advice. Ask before you act! Income Tax If one of a couple is a...