Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Economic Update August 2017

Monday, August 21st, 2017

Within this month’s update, we share with you a snapshot of economic occurrences both nationally and from around the globe.

Economic growth improves in key countries
– China economy shows strong signs of strengthening
– Australian employment data continues strength
– Rates on hold in Australia and the United States (US)

We hope you find this month’s Economic Update as informative as always. If you have any feedback or would like to discuss any aspect of this report, please contact Michael Berinson or his office.

There were some notable economic growth numbers released in July. After a few years of declining (but still stellar) growth numbers in China, the latest statistic was back up to 6.9%. The new China leadership team is about to be ushered in and the Chinese know how to throw a party. On top of that, the China Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) came in at 51.4 for manufacturing and 54.5 for services – both in the sweet spot. Throw in 11.0% for Retail Sales and 7.6% for Industrial Output and you have what Keating might call, ‘a beautiful set of numbers’.

Turning to the US, the anaemic growth in Q1 was overshadowed by the June quarter coming in at 2.6%. True it’s not the 3% that the Fed is aiming for or the 4% that Trump was dreaming of. But 2.6% is really solid. Unemployment is low at 4.4% and 222,000 jobs were created in June when only 180,000 new jobs were expected. It is true that wage growth was low at just 0.2% but you can’t have everything all at once can you?

Even Australia was looking good. We had some very nice jobs and unemployment data – against the trend of 2016. For whatever reason, the labour force data are looking better. But the RBA chimed in at the start of July saying that 3.5% is our ‘neutral’ interest rate. That is, rates should be at 3.5% when things are chugging along. Since we are sitting on only 1.5%, there are a lot of hikes in the pipeline!

It was a bit silly to advertise that opinion just now and an Assistant Governor had to come out and hose things down. Retail sales did come in at a biggish 0.6% for the month. We’re not cooking on gas but at least we are cooking again.

As we go around the world the United Kingdom (UK) is starting to struggle a little with its latest growth of only 0.3% for the quarter and Brexit looming large. Prime Minister Abe in Japan has gone from rock star status to a meagre approval rating of 29.9% in a few years. The Royal Bank of Canada bumped up rates to 0.75% from 0.5%.

So the dice are still rolling. Fortunes are rising and falling but there seems to be no basket cases anymore and there is lots of good news.

We became aware of a new expression this week. It’s been out but under the radar for a few years. It’s still worth sharing. On asking why stock markets – particularly in the US – remain strong – the new catch phrase is that it is a TINA market. Not as in Turner or Arena, but it is the acronym for ‘There Is No Alternative’. Money has to be invested somewhere when cash rates are so low.

TINA puts a safety net under markets for a while but we must be vigilant for when Tina starts singing.

So where to from her? Trump is floundering but his economy is doing well. The Australian economy seems to have stabilised. To us, it looks like a smooth ride ahead – until we see otherwise.

The current US reporting season has been unusually strong meaning that increases in earnings are supporting recent stock price strength. Can it go on? In a word, yes!

The big Tech Companies are having mixed results but they are looking strong. We should never be complacent but the second half of 2017 doesn’t look too bad at all. Perhaps we all deserve a break after the trials and tribulations of 2008 – 2015.

Asset Classes

Australian Equities

The ASX 200 was flat for the month of July. The Materials sector was the strongest on the back of some very strong commodity price movements. Healthcare took a beating at 7.5% with Utilities ( 5.3%), Telcos ( 4.3%) and Industrials ( 3.2%) not far behind. Financials (+1.2%) put in a creditable performance. A big sector rotation just took place.

Our August reporting season is just getting underway. As always, the companies’ outlook statements will be crucial for the future of our market. We have found some recent softening in broker forecasts of company earnings and dividends. At least that downgrade has resulted in our forecasts for capital gains to be only a tad under the long-run average.

Foreign Equities

The S&P 500 fared a bit better than us in July posting a solid +1.9% capital gain. The London FTSE also did well at +0.8%. Emerging Markets were particularly strong at +4.1% on the rising tide of commodity prices.

Our expectations for Wall Street are for a good finish for the year despite the strong first seven months of +10.3%.

Bonds and Interest Rates

With the “Fed” (US Federal Reserve) on hold again in July, the next chance for a hike is at the September meeting. But most forecasters are not expecting another hike this year. The odds of a rate hike by December are priced in at a little under 50%.

The Fed is widely expected to start its balance sheet repair in September. This amounts to gradually lowering the $4.5 trillion bond debt down to $2.5 trillion over a number of years. Since this policy will gradually raise long rates on its own, there is no reason for the Fed to also raise the underlying Federal Funds rate at the short end.

The RBA kept rates on hold again in July and August. The majority of pundits are expecting the next move to be up but not until at least the middle of 2018 – and possibly 2019.

Our view of needing a cut at home is on the back burner for the moment. We need a little more data to change our call. It all depends upon the next GDP growth number to be posted on September 6.

Other Assets

Commodity prices were on a flier in July. Iron ore was up +15.2%, Brent Oil up +9.8% and Copper up +6.2%. Our dollar was up +3.8% against the greenback.

The volatility index called the VIX was down 3.7% in July. This fear index is around all-time lows.

Since we are a commodity producing and exporting country, the restoration of solid commodity prices bodes well for our total exports and GDP growth.

However, not everyone wins from this sectoral rotation. Healthcare and a number of Industrials names are finding stronger headwinds after a good first half to 2017.

For example, our Healthcare sector is up +13.0% for the year-to-date including the poor 7.5% for July.

Regional Analysis

Australia

Our headline CPI inflation came in at only +0.2% for the quarter or +1.9% for the year. Since the RBA’s target range is 2% to 3%, this read gives the RBA no motive to raise rates anytime soon.

With total employment up around 170,000 in the first half of 2017 – with nearly all of them full-time jobs – we are back on track. During that period, the unemployment rate has been stuck at around 5.6% and wage growth is non-existent.

Europe

The focus in Europe is on what the implications of Brexit are for employment and trade. It will be nearly two years before we find out the full story so we cannot expect much good news from that region in the medium term.

However, the underlying economies are so much stronger than in recent times. We don’t have to waste much energy worrying about Greece and the other ‘PIGS’ countries anymore. Can you remember what PIGS stands for? Those days are gone!

China

The China data have been on a roll for quite a while. Without taking sides, it is hard to conclude after recent data that China is not undoubtedly doing well at the moment. Yes, there are political problems with the US and who would want North Korea as a neighbour – let alone an ally.

But what seems to be forming is a view that China has regained its role as a lead player in the world – as solid and dependable – at least in an economic sense.

US

Trump is hiring and firing quicker than he did on “The Apprentice” – but the West Wing is for real.

The US is facing a number of problems in a month or so but these ‘episodes’ on TV have not stopped US jobs and growth.

We don’t think anyone can reliably predict how this scenario will play out but, as annoying as the tweets and press releases are, the economy is marching on!

Rest of the World

With sanctions on Russia being on the front burner, and the woes of the Venezuelan leadership also up there on many news wires, some instability in oil pricing is likely. Both countries are big exporters.

Article prepared by Infocus Securities

Helping you navigate this year’s Federal Budget

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

Last night the Australian Government handed down its Federal Budget for 2017. It’s important that you take the time to understand what the Budget proposals mean – and how they might affect you personally.
According to Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison, this year’s Budget is founded on the principles of fairness, security and opportunity. Mr Morrison claims that the government’s proposed measures will raise almost $21 billion in revenue over the next four years, returning Australia’s budget to surplus by 2021.Here are some of the key Budget announcements. Note that each of these proposals will only become law if it is passed by Parliament.

Additional non-concessional cap for retiree downsizers
From 1 July 2018, people aged 65+ will be able to contribute up to $300,000 into super from the sale of their principal home, if they’ve owned their home for at least 10 years. The existing restrictions for contributions over age 65 won’t apply for these non-concessional contributions.
What this could mean for you
You may be able to contribute an additional $300,000 to super (or $600,000 for couples), over and above your existing concessional and non-concessional caps. However, if you or your partner receives the age pension, this could cause your entitlements to be reduced.

Super savings scheme for first home buyers
From 1 July 2017, individuals will be able to make extra voluntary super contributions of up to $15,000 a year beyond their employer’s Super Guarantee payments, up to a total of $30,000. These contributions will be taxed at 15% and can be withdrawn to go towards the deposit on a first home. Withdrawals will be allowed from 1 July 2018.
What this could mean for you
When you withdraw your extra contributions to pay for a deposit, they’ll be taxed at your marginal tax rate minus a 30% tax offset. While the tax concessions for these contributions may allow you to save a larger deposit, you won’t be able to access your money until retirement if you decide not to buy a home.

A 0.5% Medicare levy increase from 2019
From 1 July 2019, the Medicare levy will increase by half a percentage point from 2% to 2.5% of an individual’s taxable income. The Medicare levy low-income thresholds for singles, families, seniors and pensioners will increase from the 2016–17 financial year.
What this could mean for you
The increased levy may also result in increases to many tax rates linked to the top personal tax rate, including fringe benefits tax and excess non-concessional contributions tax. Certain lump sum super payments that attract the levy may also be impacted, such as disability benefits paid to people under preservation age.

Extension of the deductibility threshold for small businesses
The government will extend the existing accelerated depreciation allowance for small businesses by 12 months to 30 June 2018.
What this could mean for you
If your small business has aggregated annual turnover below $10 million, you’ll be able to immediately deduct the purchase of eligible assets costing less than $20,000 where they are first used or installed ready for use by 30 June 2018. After that date, the immediate deductibility threshold will revert back to $1,000.

New levy for major banks
A major bank levy will be introduced for authorised deposit-taking institutions (ADIs) with licensed entity liabilities of at least $100 billion (indexed to Gross Domestic Product (GDP)). The levy will equate to an annualised rate of 0.06% – for example, the levy on a bank deposit of $500,000 will be approximately $300 pa. Superannuation funds and insurance companies won’t be subject to the levy.
What this could mean for you
It’s unclear at this stage how the levy will be implemented, and what the impacts might be on clients/customers and shareholders.

Incentives for investment in affordable housing
From 1 January 2018, resident individuals who invest in qualifying affordable housing will be eligible for an increase in the capital gains tax (CGT) discount from 50% to 60%. This increased discount will also apply to eligible Managed Investment Trusts (MITs) as of 1 July 2017.
What this could mean for you
To qualify for the higher discount, your residential property must be rented to low-to-moderate income tenants at a discounted rate and be managed through a registered community housing provider. You also need to hold the investment for at least 3 years. If you invest in an MIT, you’ll be eligible for the 60% discount if the trust invests in affordable housing that is available to be rented for at least 10 years, and you hold the investment for at least 3 years.

Restrictions on deductions for residential property investments
From 1 July 2017, depreciation deductions for residential plant and equipment (e.g. dishwashers and ceiling fans) will be limited to investors who actually incur the outlay – not subsequent owners. Also from that date, investors will be unable to deduct travel expenses related to inspecting, maintaining or collecting rent for a residential rental property.
What this could mean for you
If you’re a subsequent investor in a property, the acquisition of existing plant and equipment will be reflected in the cost base for CGT purposes. Grandfathering applies to plant and equipment that forms part of a residential investment property as at 9 May 2017 and will continue to give rise to depreciation deductions under current rules. The new rule around travel expense deductions applies to all property investors, including SMSFs, family trusts and companies.

Tax changes for foreign tax residents and property owners
Foreign or temporary tax residents will no longer have access to the CGT main residence exemption on properties acquired after 7.30pm AEST on Budget night (9 May 2017). Also from Budget night, foreign owners of residential property that is not occupied or genuinely available on the rental market for at least six months per year will be subject to an annual levy of at least $5,000.
What this could mean for you
If you’re a foreign of temporary tax resident and you held an existing property before Budget night, the property will be grandfathered and you’ll be able to continue claiming the CGT main residence exemption until 30 June 2019. However, from 1 July 2017, the CGT withholding rate that applies to foreign tax residents will increase from 10% to 12.5%.

New thresholds for HELP debt repayments
From 1 July 2018, income thresholds for the repayment of HELP debts will be revised, along with repayment rates and the indexation of repayment thresholds.
What this could mean for you
A new minimum threshold of $42,000 will apply, with a 1% repayment rate. A maximum threshold of $119,882 will apply, with a 10% repayment rate. Currently, the maximum repayment threshold for the 2017–18 financial year is $103,766 with a repayment rate of 8%.

Reinstatement of Pensioner Concession Card entitlements
Pensioners who lost their Pensioner Concession Card entitlement due to the assets test changes on 1 January 2017 will have their card reinstated. Those who lost their entitlement were instead issued with both a Health Care Card and a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. However these cards provided access to fewer concessions than the Pensioner Concession Card.
What this could mean for you
If your Pensioner Concession Card entitlement is reinstated, you’ll have access to a wider range of concessions than those available with the Health Care Card, such as subsidised hearing services. Your Pensioner Concession Card will be automatically reissued over time with an ongoing income and assets test exemption. You’ll also retain the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, ensuring you continue to receive the Energy Supplement.

Increased pension residence requirements
An individual currently needs to have at least 10 years’ residence in Australia (at least 5 of which are continuous) to qualify for the age pension or disability support pension. From 1 July 2018, they’ll need to have at least 15 years’ residence in Australia or either a) 10 years’ continuous residence including 5 years during their working life, or b) 10 years’ continuous residence and not in receipt of an activity-tested income support payment for a cumulative period greater than 5 years.
What this could mean for you
This measure may impact you if you have less than 15 years’ residence in Australia or less than 5 years’ residence between age 16 and age pension age. However, existing exemptions will be maintained for humanitarian reasons or if you became unable to work while you were an Australian resident.

Other proposals
• A new Jobseeker Payment will replace 7 existing working age payments from 20 March 2020
• Job seekers and parents who receive working age income support will have increased activity test requirements from 20 September 2018
• The maximum length of the Liquid Assets Waiting Period will increase from 13 weeks to 26 weeks from 20 September 2018
• A one-off Energy Assistance Payment of $75 for single recipients and $125 for couples will be paid for those who qualify on 20 June 2017
• Family Tax Benefit rates will not be indexed for 2 years from 1 July 2017
• A new upper income threshold of $350,000 pa will apply to the child care subsidy from 1 July 2018.

Article provided by Colonial First State

Colonial First State Investments Limited ABN 98 002 348 352, AFS Licence 232468 (Colonial First State) is the issuer of super, pension and investment products. This document may include general advice but does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. You should read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) carefully and assess whether the information is appropriate for you and consider talking to a financial adviser before making an investment decision. A PDS for Colonial First State’s products are available at colonialfirststate.com.au or by calling us on 13 13 36. Taxation considerations are general and based on present taxation laws and may be subject to change. You should seek independent, professional tax advice before making any decision based on this information.

Supporting you through the changes
Depending on your circumstances, the Budget proposals could have an impact on your financial situation and your financial plans for the future. If you have any concerns, or would like to discuss your financial strategy, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us on 08 93492700 or admin@activewealthmanagers.com.au to arrange an appointment.

 

Brexit – “Breaking up is hard to do”

Monday, June 27th, 2016

Global insight

By Ron Bewley*. Brought to you by Infocus

History and the vote
When Neil Sedaka had his 1962 hit “Breaking up is hard to do” it was only four years after the signing of the Treaty of Rome – from where the European Union (EU) was born. France strongly objected to Britain joining for many years, which was the catalyst for many boys in secondary schools across England to question why they had to learn French.

So with Brexit winning the referendum on Thursday, did Britain get what it wanted or needs? We thought the bookies would have got it right with a ‘Remain’ win. Even Boris Johnson (Tory MP and former Lord Mayor of London) and Nigel Farage (MP and Leader of the UKIP party) – the two most prominent “Brexiteers” – didn’t think they would make it on the morning of the referendum – but they did. With the vote at about 48% : 52% and a total casting vote of about 70% (voting is not compulsory in Britain), the people who didn’t vote came in a very close third in the race: 33.6% = 70% x 48% for ‘Remain’; 36.4 = 70% x 52% for ‘Brexit’; and 30% = 100% – 70% didn’t vote)!!

This was not a resounding victory, but it was enough to start the exiting process.

Many of us were glued to the telly all day on that Friday, June 24th. Our reaction changed markedly as the results flowed in. Our first reaction was unrest, because the consequences of leaving hadn’t really been discussed in the media. But we felt calmer as the day progressed. The shock subsided.

So why did Europe want Britain to stay as much as they implored? They must be getting a better deal than Britain! If they trade with Britain now, why wouldn’t they want British goods when they are ‘sans Europe’?

Changes ahead
Of course Britain may stop making Airbus wings in North Wales which then have to navigate canals, the River Dee, the Irish Sea and the English Channel, and more canals to be delivered to Toulouse, and stuck on the bodies of planes. But Britain won’t have to subsidise all of those small farmers any longer in France, Greece and elsewhere. Britain won’t have to pay for our euro MPs to live on the gravy train in Brussels. It is a nontrivial problem to solve and the answer is not known by anyone – yet!

The Bank of England and the European Central Bank have stated they will pour oil on any troubled financial waters. This is certainly not a Lehman Brothers or GFC type event. It is also clear that it will take up to two years for Britain just to exit Europe – it doesn’t change straight away. Indeed, the full transition to renegotiate trade deals could take up to a decade.

So what are the pros and cons? On the downside, the biggest risk is what will happen to London as a financial centre. That could be a big down-side and it could also affect Australian banks in their funding (yes – we borrow from the world, and not the RBA for home loans, so that’s why mortgage rates shouldn’t simply shadow the RBA rate).

But Britain will no longer be told how to regulate its economy by Europe. A Cornish pasty can once again be ‘crimped’ on the top, and not just the side to be properly classified as a “Cornish” pasty. And they can again grow any variety of apples they want! They can even take control of the style of sausages they make and sell!

Continental Europeans freely working in Britain may have to go home. Economic refugees in Britain would not as easily get government benefits. Britain can regain control of its borders. People will have to show their passports to travel and get visas to work – just as young Australians do who work in Britain now, and vice versa.

Australia has recently made important bilateral trade deals with the likes of China. It can now make some with Britain without having to convince the other 27 counties that the same rules should apply to them. For example, one deal with Europe was recently scuppered because the Italians didn’t like our proposed anti-dumping laws for their tinned tomatoes.

Domino effect
But who will be the next cab off the rank? Britain joined the then European Economic Community (EEC) when there were just a handful of countries “in Europe” – then some peripheral countries joined – then the far eastern, poorer European countries such as Bulgaria and Romania joined in 2007.

We don’t think Britain would ever have joined if there was a common currency and 27 other countries. The current EU is so different from its forerunners, and is largely led by Germany – and to some extent France – and Brussels.

The EU has a common currency, the euro, across 19 of the 28 countries, but no common fiscal policy. That is, unlike in Australia where Canberra controls much of taxing and spending across the separate states, 28 governments in the EU have no strict common goals. Hence, we got problems with Greece and its debt problems. Greece couldn’t devalue, as it used to without leaving the euro and the EU subsidies it gets.

Scotland is now talking about having a second bite at being a separate nation after Brexit. Scotland largely voted to ‘Remain’ in Europe – as did the south east of England – but the more working class north of England, swamped the ‘Remain’ votes in the single aggregated British vote.

And there has been talk of a referendum to decide where, if anywhere, should be the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (in the UK).

Denmark and others who are not in the common currency but in the EU might be watching closely. If Britain starts to look better off, why wouldn’t they follow suit?

The EU morphed into a grab-bag of unlikely bedfellows. The initial reason for making the union was almost certainly to give Germany and France a voice on the world stage. But they needed to add some chums to make it seem like a real union. Shades of 1989, and the falling of the Berlin Wall are now so close.

Stock markets
Markets usually over-react and they probably have done so this time. It looks like there will be big buying opportunities ahead, but not in our banks until we better know what will happen in that space.

We couldn’t help but notice that the falls on the ASX 200, the London FTSE and the S&P 500 on Friday were all around ?3.5%. But over the week the ASX 200 was only down ?1.0%. We got a bit ahead of ourselves in predicting a ‘Remain’ and then unravelling some positive momentum.

The London FTSE was actually up +2.0% for the week, even after Friday’s big sell-off! The S&P 500 on Wall Street was down only ?1.6% for the week.

The Frankfurt Dax was only down ?0.8% for the week after tumbling over ?6% on Friday night.

With our SPI futures (an indicator of how the ASX 200 is likely to open on Monday as it is traded overnight) up +3 pts for Monday, it is possible order could quickly return to markets.

Football (soccer)

England lives to fight another day in the Euro 2016 football competition. England faces the mighty Iceland at 5am on Tuesday in the last 16. England has only played them once before and England won 6-1. But has Iceland improved or did the other teams just capitulate in the group stage matches? We hadn’t really thought of Iceland as being in Europe. Are they in the EU? No! And Australia entered Eurovision and we are certainly not in Europe.

But if England gets through, it will probably meet France in the quarters – and in the unlikely event England progresses to the semis, it then faces its arch-rival in football, Germany. For England to possibly face France and Germany only days after Brexit, the mettle of these footballers will surely be tested.

What to watch for

Simply watching the finance news on TV might not give you the information you really need. The media has a seeming predisposition to focus on bad news and draw a long bow when connecting some events.

The end of the financial year on June 30th usually brings with it some extra temporary volatility on our stock market as fund managers ‘window dress’ their portfolios to look as good as possible for reporting purposes.

Our general election on July 2nd could cause some volatility in its own right depending on how the voting goes. A hung parliament is the worst result. Our government – of whichever political flavour – needs the power to enact good economic policy.

The Reserve Bank of Australia deliberates on interest rate settings on July 5th. It might cut rates. It might change its interpretation of how the economy is travelling. So more volatility is possible!

On July 14th (Bastille Day!), our June Labour Force data will be released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The recent trend in full-time employment has been falling to the extent that changes in f/t employment have been negative for four consecutive months.

No one really seems to be talking about this – except us at Infocus for the last few months – so if we get another fall and it gets picked up? You’ve guessed it – more volatility.

And in August most listed companies on the stock exchange report their final or half-year results. Since companies must give guidance about changes in performance, many companies upgrade their prospects in July – the so-called ‘confession season’.

Conclusions
Even without Brexit, we would expect a few weeks of heightened uncertainty in our markets. The fundamentals are quite strong – but not brilliant. We anticipate looking back on June and July later in the year, as another blip but no more.

The UK Prime Minister has flagged he will leave office in a couple of months and Boris Johnson, the enigmatic former Mayor of London, will probably succeed. He is a very smart, charismatic man who is likely to steer Britain through change as good as anyone could.

We need to watch for any of the big international banks, like Morgan Stanley and Deutsche, to see if they feel a need to relocate some of their offices, etc.

And at home, the only likely downside to the Brexit seems to be an impact of funding for our banks. Perhaps we can strengthen our relationship with Britain. That should not stop us continuing to have good relations with continental Europe.

Of course, dual citizens (Australian and Continental European) might be less able to go and work in Britain. But plenty of Americans holiday in Britain each year without being EU members.

So it’s time to take a deep breath, put the kettle on and have a cuppa to settle the nerves – just as they are probably doing across Britain right now.

*Ron Bewley(PhD,FASSA)– Director, Woodhall Investment Research

Important information

This information is the opinion of Infocus Securities Australia Pty Ltd ABN 47 097 797 049 AFSL and Australian Credit Licence No. 236523 trading as Infocus Wealth Management and may contain general advice that does not take into account the investment objectives, financial situation or needs of any person. Before making an investment decision, readers need to consider whether this information is appropriate to their circumstances.

Monetary Policy Decision

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

Markets fluctuatuations

At its meeting today, the Board decided to lower the cash rate by 25 basis points to 1.75 per cent, effective 4 May 2016. This follows information showing inflationary pressures are lower than expected.

The global economy is continuing to grow, though at a slightly lower pace than earlier expected, with forecasts having been revised down a little further recently. While several advanced economies have recorded improved conditions over the past year, conditions have become more difficult for a number of emerging market economies. China’s growth rate moderated further in the first part of the year, though recent actions by Chinese policymakers are supporting the near-term outlook.

Commodity prices have firmed noticeably from recent lows, but this follows very substantial declines over the past couple of years. Australia’s terms of trade remain much lower than they had been in recent years.

Sentiment in financial markets has improved, after a period of heightened volatility early in the year. However, uncertainty about the global economic outlook and policy settings among the major jurisdictions continues. Funding costs for high-quality borrowers remain very low and, globally, monetary policy remains remarkably accommodative.

In Australia, the available information suggests that the economy is continuing to rebalance following the mining investment boom. GDP growth picked up over 2015, particularly in the second half of the year, and the labour market improved. Indications are that growth is continuing in 2016, though probably at a more moderate pace. Labour market indicators have been more mixed of late.

Inflation has been quite low for some time and recent data were unexpectedly low. While the quarterly data contain some temporary factors, these results, together with ongoing very subdued growth in labour costs and very low cost pressures elsewhere in the world, point to a lower outlook for inflation than previously forecast.

Monetary policy has been accommodative for quite some time. Low interest rates have been supporting demand and the lower exchange rate overall has helped the traded sector. Credit growth to households continues at a moderate pace, while that to businesses has picked up over the past year or so. These factors are all assisting the economy to make the necessary economic adjustments, though an appreciating exchange rate could complicate this.

In reaching today’s decision, the Board took careful note of developments in the housing market, where indications are that the effects of supervisory measures are strengthening lending standards and that price pressures have tended to abate. At present, the potential risks of lower interest rates in this area are less than they were a year ago.

Taking all these considerations into account, the Board judged that prospects for sustainable growth in the economy, with inflation returning to target over time, would be improved by easing monetary policy at this meeting.

Enquiries
Media and Communications
Secretary’s Department
Reserve Bank of Australia
SYDNEY

Media ReleaseStatement by Glenn Stevens, Governor

Are you a Small Business owner? If so, are you SuperStream compliant?

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

hand holding bag of money

The SuperStream Data and Payment Standard introduces a streamlined method of sending payments and associated information electronically within the superannuation system.

The objective is to standardise the way employers pay super contributions so that information can be transmitted consistently across the super system – between employers, super funds, service providers and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). It allows employers to make all their super contributions in a single transaction, even if they’re going to multiple super funds.

If you or your clients are an employer with 19 or fewer employees the SuperStream standard must be met by 30 June 2016 (assuming the business is not already compliant).

The ATO has begun contacting businesses with 19 or fewer employees about SuperStream. You or your clients may receive a reminder email, SMS, or letter from the ATO about the importance of getting ready for SuperStream by the 30 June 2016 deadline.

Larger employers should have been using SuperStream since 31 October 2015.

The link to set up your account with the Superannuation Clearing house is:

https://www.ato.gov.au/business/super-for-employers/paying-super-contributions/small-business-superannuation-clearing-house/.

Excerpt from article published by AIA

How will the Budget affect you?

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

Hand holding dollar notes

This was not your typical Budget. Instead, the Treasurer, Scott Morrison, attempted to build an election platform for the Government and overall, this Budget is quite fair to most people. While there were certainly some major alterations to superannuation, in other areas, such as Centrelink, there were only minor changes.

We’ve summarised some of the key points from the Budget below, but remember these are proposals only and are subject to the passing of legislation, and should be discussed with your Financial Adviser.

  • Introduction of a $500,000, lifetime, non-concessional superannuation contribution cap.
  • A new transfer balance cap of $1.6 million on superannuation that can be held in pension phase.
  • Changes that reduce the tax-effectiveness of transition to retirement strategies.
  • Reduction of the superannuation annual concessional cap to $25,000, regardless of age.
  • Introduction of ‘catch-up’ superannuation concessional contributions for those with super balances under $500,000.

Superannuation

Changes to super were wide-ranging and aimed to help those on lower incomes while trimming some of the more generous concessions available to those on higher incomes.

Lifetime cap on non-concessional contributions

The Government is replacing the previous cap of $180,000 per year (or $540,000 over 3 years under the ‘bring forward’ provisions) with a lifetime cap of $500,000. This will be indexed, presumably on an annual basis. While this change is effective from Budget night, importantly it is also retrospective as it will take into account all non-concessional contributions made since 1 July 2007.

If you’ve already contributed more than $500,000 during this time, the extra amount will not be taxed but you won’t be able to make any future contributions. If you breach your lifetime cap, you can have the excess refunded to avoid penalties.

Reduced concessional contributions cap

The Government intends to reduce the annual concessional contributions cap to $25,000 for everyone, from 1 July 2017. The cap is currently $30,000 for people under age 50 and $35,000 if over age 50.

Concessional contributions catch-up

For those people who have a super balance under $500,000, the Government proposes to allow them to make ‘catch-up’ concessional contributions. The aim of this change is to help people who have irregular work patterns, such as, contractors, the self-employed or women, to grow their super. Unused concessional cap amounts can be carried forward on a rolling basis over a consecutive five-year period. Under the current system, a strict application of annual concessional contributions caps means that those people with irregular work patterns are at a distinct disadvantage, so this addresses that issue. The changes will become effective from 1 July 2017.

Transition to retirement strategies less effective

The tax exemption on earnings in a transition to retirement (TTR) pension will be removed, thereby reducing the tax-effectiveness of a TTR strategy. Withdrawals from TTR pensions will also not be able to be taxed as lump sums. If you are over 60 you will still benefit from receiving tax-free pension payments.

New limit on amount transferred to retirement accounts

In a move to limit the amount of tax-free earnings on your super, the Government intends to place a cap of $1.6 million on the amount you can transfer into your pension account. Any future earnings generated in your pension account will not be affected, even if the balance goes over $1.6 million.

Those people already in retirement will need to reduce the balance of their pension account to $1.6 million by 1 July 2017. The $1.6 million cap will be indexed in $100,000 increments in line with the consumer price index. If you breach the limit then the excess will be taxed at the highest marginal tax rate, a very harsh penalty!

Removing the work test

The government has decided to remove the work test for people aged between 65 and 74 who want to make voluntary superannuation contributions. The advantage for those affected is that they no longer need to satisfy a work test and can receive contributions from their spouse. This measure also applies to small business owners who often want to contribute the proceeds from their business after age 65. This change takes effect from 1 July 2017.

Tax deductions for personal super contributions

This change means anyone up to age 75 can claim an income tax deduction for personal concessional super contributions up to the proposed $25,000 cap. This change abolishes the 10 per cent self-employed test and benefits people who can’t take advantage of salary sacrifice.

Lower income threshold captures more high income earners

This change means that higher income earners will now have to pay an extra 15 per cent on their concessional contributions when their income is over $250,000, down from $300,000 previously.

Assistance for lower income earners

There are two initiatives that assist lower income earners. The first is the Low Income Super Tax Offset, which provides a tax offset to the super fund of the member of up to $500 and effectively refunds the contributions tax that the member’s super fund has already paid. This only applies for those who don’t earn more than $37,000. The second initiative increases the eligibility for the Spouse Tax Offset so that the spouse who receives the contribution can now earn up to $37,000 instead of only $10,800, as was previously the case.

Anti-detriment provision removed

Anti-detriment payments used to effectively refund the superannuation contributions tax paid by a member who died. This increased the lump sum death benefit paid to spouses, former spouses and children. The government wishes to remove this provision because it reduces the amount of tax they receive from super funds. This change will be effective from 1 July 2017.

Centrelink

Support for unemployed young people was increased with the announcement of a program to encourage them to explore the potential of self-employment, while offering subsidies for businesses to employ young people. Additionally, from 1 October 2016, job seekers will enter the Work for the Dole phase after 12 months of participation in ‘jobactive’, instead of the current six months.

Taxation

To address bracket creep, the government has proposed an increase in the 32.5 per cent personal income tax threshold from $80,000 to $87,000. Business also benefits, with a proposed reduction of the company tax rate to 25 per cent. This new rate will be phased in depending on the size of the company or its turnover.

Issued by IOOF Investment Management Limited (IIML) | ABN 53 006 695 021 | AFSL 230524. IIML is a company within the IOOF Group of companies, consisting of IOOF Holdings Limited | ABN 49 100 103 722 and its related bodies corporate.

50% of couples under 40 won’t have enough to retire

Monday, December 7th, 2015

The article below highlights the importance of taking action and control now to ensure you have a financial plan for your future, and not leave this to fate or luck. So why not act now, and give our office a call to set up an appointment for a confidential, no obligations chat with Michael.

A new report claims that 50% of Australians under the age of 40 won’t have enough money to retire, despite the rise in the super guarantee.

The 2015 Stockpot Fat Cat Fund Report has taken aim at higher fee funds, and claimed that most of today’s 30 year olds will not be able to live in retirement without relying on the Age Pension.

“It’s terrifying to think that most 30 year olds will not be self-sufficient at retirement. To have a modest retirement, the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia estimates a couple needs $34,051 per year to cover living costs,” Stockpot CEO Chris Brycki said.

Brycki said a couple aged 30 with a combined income of $120,000 in 2015 will only have $23,104 per year in retirement if they remain in a fund with high fees. He said the average 30 year old couple would also pay close to $450,000 in fees by the time they reach retirement.

Article by Adam Smith from WP

The 6 Major Financial Steps in Your Life

Friday, October 2nd, 2015
  1. Getting Married

One of the most exciting times is when you are about to get married. It is thrilling to begin planning and preparing for the wedding. After the wedding you will begin your financial life together. Money is one of the most difficult topics to deal with in a marriage. It is important to address this issue from the very beginning of your marriage. This will help you and your spouse work towards the same goals. Open communication about your finances will help your marriage be successful.

  1. Buying Your First Home

Another big and exciting time is when you purchase your first home. This is a big decision and commitment. You need to be sure that you are ready to purchase a new home. Additionally you need to understand the terms of your mortgage. You should have enough money set aside to cover emergency home repairs. It is also important to consider the additional cost of insurance and property taxes. If you plan carefully you should be able to transition into home ownership easily.

  1. Finding a New Job

After a few years in the workforce, you may be ready to move onto a new career. You can look for promotions inside your company, or you may look elsewhere to find better benefits and a more lucrative salary. This is an important step. You want your income to continue to grow, and making the move at the right time, is part of that. You should make sure that you are prepared to make the changes a new job would require. You can also take additional classes or certification training to make yourself more marketable.

  1. Buying a New Car

You may also reach a point where you want to buy a new car. A car is necessary in most cities. It is important to prepare yourself for this purchase. If possible you should pay cash for your car, but if you can’t you need to shop for the best loan options available. Additionally you should be careful on how much you spend on your car, because a payment can limit what you can do in the future.

  1. Getting Out of Debt

Once you begin to settle down in the working world, you should get serious about getting out of debt and using your money wisely. Once you are debt free you can begin to accumulate real wealth. This will help you to achieve your dreams and move forward. If you continue to make payments you are limiting what you can do with your money.

  1. Investing Your Money

Additionally you should begin to seriously invest your money. You will be responsible for your own retirement costs. Investing is essential if you want to live comfortably and not worry about your later years. It can also help you pay for your children to attend college. Investing your money can be intimidating if you do not understand what you are doing.

We can assist with a Financial Plan tailored specifically for you. So why not come in and have a chat with Michael Berinson, our Senior Financial Planner. He can help you plan your future, and make the most of what you have – no matter what stage of life you are at. Your first discussion is at no cost to you, so why not give us a call on 08 93492700 to book your first appointment.

An article by Miriam Caldwell