Archive for the ‘Wealth Creation’ Category

Are you over 30? You need to read this…

Monday, August 21st, 2017

Superannuation is, and will continue to be, a hot topic in the financial advice industry. No matter what your age, once you begin your working life superannuation should be in the back of your mind, but MoneyTalk magazine have uncovered some confronting statistics that it’s worth thinking about if you’re around the age of 30.

If you’re 30 years old today, you have 35 years left in the workforce and need to save enough superannuation to fund you for 35 years of retirement. Now, many of you may be thinking – ‘Hold on a minute, I don’t need to save for that many years!’ well, with the ever increasing medical improvements you just might. The median age of death is increasing by 0.6 years every year, and currently sits at age 84. If this rate continues, by the time today’s 65 year old’s reach their mid 80’s, life expectancy could have been bumped up to around 94 years old!

If you’re in your 30’s or 40’s today, it’s not unlikely that you could need to fund your retirement until the age of 100 – an intimidating prospect for many. If you’re going to live to 100, and only work until you’re 65 it is estimated that you’ll need a nest egg of $3,000,000 – but how are you going to achieve this?

1. Review your superannuation fund now

When reviewing your superannuation fund, take a detailed look at the investment returns and any fees to be paid. Take special notice of tax being deducted from your account before payment needs to be made, this can equate to thousands of dollars’ worth of lost investment returns over the years.

2. Consider making extra contributions

The younger you start contributing extra funds to your superannuation account, the better off you will be. However, there are strict limitations of how much money you can contribute to your fund, and in what capacity you can contribute- familiarise yourself with these rules so as to avoid any mistakes.

3. Build up non-superannuation investments

Think about bettering your financial situation as a whole, rather than focusing solely on your superannuation. Think of how best to build your investments outside of your superannuation, with a view to eventually transferring them into your super in the most tax efficient way. You Financial Adviser can help you to plan this out.

4. Consider gearing

Borrowing to invest money is not suitable for everyone, be sure to speak to you Financial Adviser if you are considering this as an option to boost your superannuation. If done correctly, gearing can be used both inside and outside superannuation.

No matter what your current age, you must consider and plan for your financial future – invest your time as well as your money into superannuation planning.

Source: Money Matters Magazine, December 2016.

An article 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.

 

New year, new start

Monday, March 13th, 2017

how to make New Year’s resolutions that stick

How many of last year’s New Year’s resolutions did you keep? If you can’t even remember them all a year later, let alone whether you stuck to them, you’re not alone. One survey found that 58% of Aussies break their resolutions within the year. And 15% of those do so because they forgot what they promised they’d do in the first place.i

That doesn’t mean that you can’t set and achieve things you actually want. You just have to be smart about the way you do it.

Turn visions in to goals

When someone asks you to picture your ideal lifestyle, what you see in your head is actually a collection of dozens of different goals. It’s important to break it down and articulate those goals if you want your vision to become a reality.

This is easier than it sounds. Just say you want to ‘enjoy life more’. To make a start on this, you could write down a list of social activities and hobbies you love doing or would really like to try. Then turn each one in to a task that fits with your schedule and can be planned ahead of time, like ‘Make a date with a friend twice a week’ or ‘Book in for an evening class every month’. If your schedule is jam packed, set corresponding time management goals like ‘Leave work on time at least 3 out of 5 days’.

Tell people

Think of your friends and family as your cheerleaders and supporters in reaching your goals. If you tell them what you’re aiming for and why, they’ll be better able to help you. They might even be able to join you on your way. For example, if you decide you want to lose weight and get fitter, ask around for a gym buddy or someone to join you on walks. Or if you’re ready to make a change in your career, start putting the word out amongst your network, that you’re open to new opportunities.

Give yourself (the right amount of) time

Yearly goals, especially ongoing ones, can be hard to keep track of. Try to work out a reasonable time frame for your goal. Some small things might be quicker, and feel less significant – but you can always build on your results. And some things just take time. For example, you’re unlikely to save up for a new car or lose 20 kilos in a month. But you might lose two kilos, or save X-percent of the amount you need. Consultant Todd Herman reckons the ideal time frame for the brain to plan around is 90 days, and that it’s better to do a series of goals ‘sprints’ rather than one long marathon.

Keep track of your progress

If you’re the kind of person who uses to-do lists – on paper, in an app, or in project management software – you’ll know how satisfying it is to tick something off. If you’re not in the habit of keeping lists, now is the time to start. Your list shouldn’t just be one point – your resolution with a check box next to it. Break it down in to smaller milestones. Say you’ve resolved to improve your diet – set yourself little achievements like ‘went a whole week without eating favourite junk food’. To make it fun, try a smart phone game like Habitica.ii

Don’t wait ‘til December 31st

It might be a New Year tradition, but you don’t have to wait for one particular time of year to set goals and resolve to change your life. With the right attitude and a bit of planning, you can start working your way towards a goal any time.

Speaking of this, we’re here to help you set and achieve your money-related goals. Don’t wait for an annual appointment to chat; drop us a line any time, we’d love to hear from you!

i. finder.com.au, Be a geek and live in Tasmania: How to win at New Year’s resolutions

ii. Habitica

General Advice Warning This information is of a general nature only and neither represents nor is intended to be specific advice on any particular matter. Michael J Berinson Pty Ltd strongly suggests that no person should act specifically on the basis of the information contained herein but should seek appropriate professional advice based upon their own personal circumstances. Although we consider the sources for this material reliable, no warranty is given and no liability is accepted for any statement or opinion or for any error or omission.

Being prepared for surprises – good and bad – is a smart financial strategy

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

worried-man-with-hands-on-head

While none of us can predict the future, we can do a lot to lessen the shock that can arise from unexpected events and emergencies at any time of life. For retirees relying on investments for day-to-day living, having a contingency plan means you’ll be prepared for any surprises that could derail your financial security and lifestyle goals.

Your financial plan has you on the right foot, but it can be a good idea to make sure you have a sufficient safety net to protect your retirement income, and other long-term investments, from one-off or cascading personal life events that can crop up at any time, which especially affect people at or after retirement. Examples include sudden illness, an accident or disability, the death of a spouse, or those same events affecting close family members such as children, siblings or aging parents. It’s also not unusual for changes to superannuation benefits or pensions to affect retiree expenses.

Other surprise expenditures that can interrupt your income stream might be emergency repairs to your home and investment properties due to everyday wear and tear or a severe weather event; maintaining the family car; or if a beloved pet racks up a large bill from the veterinarian. Having a savings safety net can also come in handy should you need to help out a relative, such as a son or daughter losing a job, or suffering unexpected health or life costs.

Your financial plan may already include a savings safety net – if so, that’s great news. However if you set your plan in place some time ago, you may want to consider talking to your financial planner to ensure that you have enough flexibility in case of a rainy day. Insurance provides another form of safety net, helping you to deal with unexpected losses.

From general insurance covering fire, flood and theft of property and vehicles to life insurance that provides important financial support to a family, many of us take a set and forget approach to our policies. But take the time to review your protection, checking that values are still up to date, perhaps organising for new quotes on policies, and making sure that you are covered for the events of concern to you.

Mind the gap

Preparing for events that may never happen can be overwhelming, but it’s really a matter of managing the gap between enough funds to cover your retirement goals, and a safety net of savings to protect those funds. That’s the ideal scenario, but many retirees and those approaching retirement are carrying more debt than ever before. Average mortgages and other property loans held by people approaching age 65 have more than doubled since 2002, and credit card debt is up 70 per cent, according to a report by Kellyresearch. 1

The report also shows that “increases in wealth through rising asset values, easy credit, and higher earnings” have led to a higher standard of living for working households.2 But a higher standard of living based on debt is unsustainable. That’s why retirees need to be careful about debt liability and having a focus on building up superannuation to the detriment of other forms of saving, because both approaches lock up funds that may need to be accessed quickly. That’s where contingency planning comes in.

1. Household savings and retirement: Where has all my super gone? A report on superannuation and retirement for CPA Australia by KELLYresearch, October 2012.
2. Ibid.

SOURCE: Colonial First State Investments Limited

 

Economic Update – November 2016

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

dollars-with-stethoscope-on-it

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

Global economic growth story strengthens!

– US, UK and EU economic growth surprise on the upside

– China growth strengthens

– Australian inflation strengthens

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 our office.

The Big Picture

Last month we reported that Australian economic growth surprised with a more than solid +3.3% for the year. This month we can add that United Kingdom (UK) growth came in above expectations at +2.3% for the year – in spite of prior concerns about the negative impact of Brexit. United States (US) growth rounded off the month with a much better than expected +2.9% while the European Union (EU) delivered a more modest, but most welcome surprise on the upside, +1.6%.
China came in again at +6.7% growth but the partial indicators of Retail Sales and Industrial Output backed-up the story. Other indicators were even stronger.

What is really important is that, at last, interlinked growth is emerging as export markets open for each other. Sadly growth in Japan is still struggling but it has been struggling for more than two decades. Japan’s main problem is a falling population. Unlike many other countries, including Australia, net migration inflows help stimulate growth.

While one should never get too excited about one good month’s data, it is the co-ordinated growth that is starting the buzz. As a result, bond yields are starting to rise and that may put a bit of a dampener on our high-yield equities.

At home, inflation also surprised. It came in at +0.7% for the quarter or +1.3% for the year. But that, on its own, is insufficient to change the Reserve Bank’s (RBA) view on what to do with interest rates.

The new inflation data means that the RBA does not have to cut rates for that reason – nor does it have to hike to control inflation. It was a ‘Goldilocks’ number.

But our employment data continues to worry us. Jobs are increasing in a trend sense – and the unemployment rate is falling. But what continues to happen is a substitution of part time work for full time. Given that the average working week for full-time workers is 39 hours and only 17 hours for a part-timer, the individuals concerned are doing it tougher – but the collective, Australia is doing better!

The US is going to provide even more of a lead than normal in the coming months. The Trump v Clinton election is not as simple as previous elections. The FBI just weighed in by reopening the emails case on Clinton. Trump continues to take flak from all sides. Rightly or wrongly on each side, such a situation spells market volatility in the short run.
In the medium to longer term, even US presidents don’t have that much power. They need the backing of Congress.

The US Fed is possibly going to hike rates by 0.25% in December. Last December, when they hiked for the first time in nearly a decade, they predicted four rate hikes for 2016 but so far there have been none. While many economists, and some Fed members, are calling for the Fed to get the process moving soon the Chair, Janet Yellen, has left the door open for more of a wait and see approach. She has stated that she wouldn’t mind if the US economy ran a little too hot for a while.

So long run economic and market prospects are building strength and the so-called ‘earnings recession’ for listed companies on Wall Street seems to have already turned the corner. Once they have a new US President sworn in, we could have a nice settled, but growing, market. Until then, we might find the road a little bumpy.

Asset Classes

Australian Equities

The ASX 200 looked like having its worst month since January but a great last day made it a less severe 2.2% for October! Interestingly, the index started to ignore overseas leads towards the end of October. Some of this behaviour is probably due to global bond yields rising on signs of economic strength – and a possible hike in US rates by the Fed.

It is so important – particularly in the case of Australia – to note that sectors have been performing very differently at the moment. The so-called high-yield sectors [Financials, Property, Telcos and Utilities] are well down on the year to date by 2.9% – even after dividends are taken into account. But the other seven sectors have collectively experienced strong double digit growth – at +12.5%.

Foreign Equities

Wall Street’s S&P 500 fell a little less than the ASX 200 at 1.9% for the month. On the other hand, the London FTSE posted a gain of +0.9% and the Frankfurt DAX +1.5%. But it was left to Asia for some stellar results with the Tokyo’s Nikkei up +5.9% and the Shanghai Composite gained +3.2%.

Bonds and Interest Rates

The US Fed is the big game in town until we glide into 2017. We think there will be at most three 0.25% increases in the US before 2018. That is a very shallow trajectory indeed. The Fed will not do anything to interfere with the nascent growth story.

The RBA needs to, and probably will, give us one or two cuts down to 1% in the next couple of quarters or so. The government is not getting any fiscal stimulus programmes in place so the RBA is our only hope in the short term.

Our economic situation is far from dire but we do not have an atmosphere of wanting to invest in long-term, full-time jobs’ projects. Our official interest rate is so far above all of the major Western competitors (USA, Europe, Japan, etc.) and there is no reason to keep it there.

Other Assets

Commodity prices continue to stabilise and some big ‘houses’ are even predicting continued price rises in oil. What is important for us is that the dire predictions some analysts and commentators were peddling at the start of the year have vanished.

Commodity prices are unlikely to rise far enough to stunt growth. The important thing is that they are stable and viable for continued investment in the resources sector.

Regional Analysis

Australia

We have lost 54,000 full-time jobs in 2016 to date. With official estimates of population growth at +1.4% there are not enough full-time jobs to go around. As it happens, 47,000 of those 54,000 job losses are for men and only 7,000 job losses for women.

It doesn’t take an Einstein to work out the social impact of replacing full-time with part-time jobs. Data is not readily at hand to work out how much the people losing jobs are being paid in part-time employment – but it seems unlikely to be a good swap.

We will never get the old manufacturing jobs back but we are very good in so many other sectors, parliament needs to assist a solution and quickly.

China

China continues to pump out strong statistics on its economy. Of course some just say the numbers are fudged but there is increasing support from a number of independent sources to suggest China is even stronger than the official figures suggest!

China Retail Sales came in at +10.7% and Industrial Output at +6.1%. China’s inflation was +1.9%. This is an impressive set of numbers.

U.S.A.

The US non-farm payrolls (jobs) data have been slightly better in recent months than earlier in the year, but they are still well below the data recorded in 2014 and 2015. The US too has the problem of replacing ‘good traditional’ jobs with lower paying jobs in the services sector. It is a global problem.

The US economy is getting stronger but it is unlikely to ‘pop’ into overheated growth anytime soon – as it often used to do after a lean spell. But that is a good thing. Stability is something that helps investment planning.

Europe

The UK has not imploded after the Brexit vote. We never thought it would. Sensible discussions are taking place about the best way to exit – and not if they should exit. It is nice to see a mature political debate.

‘Rock star’ central banker, Canadian Mark Carney, has flagged he will step down from the top job at the Bank of England. He plans to exit in June 2019 when the UK is set to exit the EU. He believes in a united Europe and so does not want to work in an economic and social environment that he does not believe in.

The ECB President, Mario Draghi, needs to come up with a new plan soon for stimulus or see the bond-buying plan end. If his form is anything to go by, it will be a slow process of coming to make a plan.

Rest of the World

The conflicts in the Russia/Syria (and more) part of the world are going through major transitions. It is inappropriate in an economic report to comment on the rights and wrongs of the negotiations and struggles. But it does look like the impact on markets might start to subside soon.

OPEC seems to be trying to do something sensible about oil prices but some members – and others – are trying to get special circumstance agreements. Given that supply has been well in excess of the current agreement – for years – the impact of a new agreement is moot.

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

Important information

This information is the opinion of PATRON Financial Services Pty Ltd ABN 32 307 788 137 908 AFSL No. 307379 trading as PATRON Financial Advice 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.

Economic Update – September 2016

Monday, September 5th, 2016

business-world-financial-data-abstract-background-15228374

 

 

 

 

 

Economic Update

By Ron Bewley*.  

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

– United Kingdom (UK) confidence bounces back
– United States (US) Federal Reserve claims economy strengthening
– Japan ready to add more stimulus

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 your Financial Adviser.

The Big Picture

It is just a year since some reports on the China stock market sell-off last August predicted doom and gloom. As we suggested at the time, it wasn’t a major problem because that market was, and is, in its infancy. The market stabilised, and it is now comfortably above those 2015 lows.

At the end of 2015, some nerves were rattled about the prospects of Federal Reserve rate hikes in the US. While occasional bouts of uncertainty continue to cloud market movements, the successive Fed meetings have gone reasonably smoothly.

In January 2016, the Royal Bank of Scotland told us to ‘Sell everything’ and some other big houses made similar dire predictions. Markets are comfortably up and selling wasn’t the answer.

Oil and iron ore prices dived in February 2016. Iron ore prices dipped below $40 but later climbed to $70. Oil was predicted by some to get down to $20, or even $10, when it was $26. Instead, prices have more or less doubled. Another ‘crisis’ averted!

And then there was ‘Brexit’, and the dire predictions that went with it. The ‘leave’ vote won, but consumer confidence jumped 3% in the UK in the first month following the referendum. Markets are stable and the pundits got it wrong again.

Of course, at some point, an event will come along that will have a medium-term adverse impact on our investments, but most of these stories are simply overblown in quiet news periods. At this point we feel that all of those ‘scare stories’ are fading into oblivion and there are no new major known issues brewing.

At home, our labour force data isn’t great, but the mid-year fall in full-time employment seems to have turned around. Unemployment is stable at 5.7%. Our Reserve Bank is expected to cut rates again – from 1.75% to 1.50% sometime this year – but that is more to align our rate with the rest of the world rather than a reaction to avert major issues at home.

News in August was dominated by the Olympics. Australia was disappointed but ‘Team GB’ beat all expectations. There are big lessons for economic management to be learnt from these results.

Australian Olympic success was at a low in Seoul, 1988. Government funding was pumped in with increasing success to match – until, that is, at Beijing and after.
Great Britain (GB) hit its nadir in 1996 at Atlanta, with only one gold medal being won. The national lottery was born with substantial taxes going to sports’ funding.

In both cases it took time for athletes to respond, but pumping money into a venture alone is not an investment. Just like with migrants, the expression “The first generation makes it, the second builds on it, and the third loses it” might apply to economies and sports alike. But our athletes might now be doing as well – it’s just that others are rapidly improving.

Importantly, Australia was reported to have concentrated funding on our traditional sports. GB, on the other hand, looked for opportunities in sports they had not previously been good at. GB’s plan seems to have thrown up many unexpected successes.

The reaction to the GFC was for governments to cut back on fiscal spending around the world. Now we need well-tailored programmes to start the next phases of growth. Not pink batts, but spending on considered infrastructure projects and the like could be what we need now. But with our government system living on minority leadership for too many years, it is difficult to see from where such a programme will come.

In the meantime, growth might be a little below par but good enough. A shot in the arm for infrastructure could well be the start for a return to our desired long-run growth path.

Asset Classes

Australian Equities

The ASX 200 did lose 2.3% in August, but that followed a massive +6.3% gain in July. Virtually all sectors lost ground in August but market volatility remains reasonably low.

After reporting season in August our view of the fundamentals remains strong, we expect the 2016/17 financial year to be strong. The calendar year-to-date for 2016 posted a gain of +5.6% including dividends.

The high-yield sectors of Financials, Property, Telcos and Utilities continued to seriously lag behind the other sectors in 2016 y-t-d including dividends. Indeed, capital losses in high-yield have more than wiped out dividend payouts. The total returns of the ‘other’ sectors have exceeded +14% y-t-d.

Foreign Equities

Wall Street hit some new all-time highs in August. The VIX fear index reached quite low levels suggesting markets are quite settled even if August was not a strong month for markets.

With a rate hike in the US unlikely before December, only the Presidential election seems likely to interfere with a smooth finish into the end of 2016.

Bonds and Interest Rates

The RBA kept rates on hold again in Australia. The Fed Reserve’s second-in-command caused some volatility with his comments, shortly after Chair Yellen made her views known. While Yellen saw the chance of a hike strengthening with good economic data, Fischer went further putting September back on the table. December is still our call for the first hike.

Other Assets

Oil prices have seemingly stabilised on talks between OPEC and Russia. At current prices, oil is too cheap to warrant shale oil to come back on stream in the US and too high to cause major concerns going forward.

The VIX volatility – or fear – index reached a low for 2016 during August. Our dollar did vary somewhat over the month but the change on the month was relatively small.

Regional Analysis

Australia

On the face of it our employment data grew strongly, but full-time employment fell while part-time employment did the work. The unemployment rate was steady at 5.7%.

Trend full-time employment – the official preferred method – has started to pick up – possibly because of the earlier rate cut.

China

The month started reasonably well with the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) at 49.5 for manufacturing – which is just below the break-even 50 level. The services version of the PMI continues to be well above 50 as the domestic economy takes over from infrastructure expenditure.Mid-month retail sales and industrial production did miss forecasts by a fraction but not enough to worry markets.

U.S.A.

Janet Yellen talked up the strengthening US economy at the annual Central Bankers’ conference in Jackson Hole. There is no doubt that employment data has bounced back strongly from the earlier mini-slump. But two good numbers are not enough to eradicate all discomfort.

Europe

The Brexit vote won at the end of July. August Retail Sales surged at +1.4% against an expected +0.1%. UK confidence also surged from a three year low to 109.8 from 106.6. With Olympic success as well, it seems the UK has side-stepped the issues that some worried about earlier in the year.The Bank of England did cut its rate at the start of August and also pumped in some unexpected monetary stimulus.

Germany’s GDP came in at +0.4% for the quarter smashing expectations. There are also other pockets of mild success. Brexit will happen slowly so trade deals can be renegotiated far before trade becomes an issue.

Rest of the World

Japan can’t win a trick, as they just recorded another month of deflation. Japan is pledging to continue to stimulate the economy as required.Japan’s problem is its falling population. Many countries, such as ours, would also look a little glum if populations were not growing!

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

This article is brought to you by Infocus.

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.

How to make insurance more affordable at tax time

Monday, June 27th, 2016

piggy bankDid you know you can save money by buying your insurance in super? This is because super can offer both cash-flow benefits and tax concessions.

Most super funds offer insurance that can help you, or your dependants replace your income if the unexpected was to happen. This includes Life, Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) and Income Protection insurance.

While these types of insurance can also be bought outside super, you’ll have to fund the premiums from your own cash-flow and you probably won’t get any tax breaks if you buy Life and TPD insurance.

On the other hand, when you insure inside super, the premiums are deducted from your super balance. This means you can arrange the amount of cover you need without having to pay the premiums from your cash-flow.

This may mean you’ll use up some of your super money which could help you meet your living expenses in retirement and while this could make a difference when you’re no longer working, it’s important to think of what could happen to your family’s lifestyle in the meantime if you don’t have the right level of cover.

If you or your family faced financial difficulty you could run out of savings very quickly, well before your intended retirement date. So insuring in super could be a great solution if you don’t have enough cash-flow to pay for the premiums.

Even if you think you could pay the premiums outside super, there are still cost-effective benefits of insuring inside super. This is because if you make super contributions, there are some tax concessions, regardless of whether the contributions are used to buy insurance. For example:

  • if you’re an employee and eligible to make salary sacrifice contributions, you may be able to buy insurance through a super fund with pre-tax dollars
  • if you earn less than 10% of your income from employment (eg if you’re self-employed or not employed), you can generally claim your super contributions as a tax deduction, and
  • if you earn less than $49,488 each year, of which at least 10% is from employment or a business, and you make personal after-tax super contributions, you may be eligible to receive a Government co-contribution of up to $500 in 2014/2015. That could help you cover the cost of future insurance premiums.
    To find out more about insuring inside super, please contact our office.

Source: MLC