Posts Tagged ‘retirement planning’

The benefits of consolidating your super

Friday, January 5th, 2018

If you’ve had a few jobs over the years, it’s possible that you’ve got a few different super funds with small balances in each. It’s easy to forget all about them until the annual statements arrive, but the sudden influx of paperwork can often leave you feeling dazed and confused.

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission reports that there are billions of dollars sitting in unclaimed or “lost” superannuation accounts as at 1 January 2017, with thousands more accounts added to the list each month. Inactive accounts with balances of less than $6,000 are transferred to the ATO, so if you think you might have some old superannuation accounts, don’t hand it over the government, claim it!

This year, instead of ‘filing’ your statements in the bottom drawer and forgetting all about it until next year, take the plunge and consider consolidating your accounts. That way, you’ll be saving fees, reducing your paperwork, and making it easier to keep track of arguably one of the most valuable investments you’ll ever make – your retirement savings.

Here’s a few steps to get you on your way:

Choose your fund – talk to us so we can sit down and help you decide which super fund is best for you.

Check your insurance – before you start closing your accounts, we can help you make sure your insurance needs are covered in your chosen fund.

Advise your employer – make sure your employer knows where to pay your super guarantee contributions – speak to your payroll or HR about any paperwork they may need from you or your fund.

Rollover your other accounts to your chosen fund – you can do this online through the myGov website, or you can transfer your super by using a form and sending it to your chosen fund. Some funds have an online process for combining your super too, so it’s a good idea to check what’s going to be easiest.

Visit the SuperSeeker service at www.ato.gov.au or via your MyGov account at www.my.gov.au for more info.

As always, we’re here to help, you so if you’d like to talk this though, give us a call. We would love the opportunity to assist you in your journey to a better financial future.

Article by TAL

Economic Update – January 2018

Friday, January 5th, 2018

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

2018 shaping up as another good year for investors

– Global growth co-ordinated
– United States (US) tax reform
– Strong jobs growth in Australia

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

After almost a decade of economic woes around the world, all the major economies are starting to come good together.

China, as we expected, not only stayed strong, it also gathered a little pace towards the end of 2017. The US certainly gathered momentum finishing the year at a rate of 3.2% pa.
Even Europe is looking strong, but the big surprise is the way that the third largest economy, Japan, has at last put five strong quarters back to back.

When growth is co-ordinated like this, it is much harder for any individual country to fall into recession anytime soon.

But the prospects for 2018 became even better after Trump got his tax reform through at the eleventh hour. It is doubtful if analysts have yet fully digested the consequences. It may well be that macro and market forecasts will be revised upwards in the next few months.

Citi produces a ‘surprise index’ for many major countries. It is based on how often analysts’ forecasts are beaten by the actual events. The US index stands at a reading of +73 which is a six-year high. The Australian index stands at 10.9! We keep thinking things are better than they really are.

Global growth is likely to keep us well out of recession, but we are likely to continue to underperform. Our jobs creation has been strong all year – largely because of immigration. Our unemployment rate stubbornly stands at a moderately high 5.4%

The Westpac consumer sentiment index stands at just above 100, but that is only for the second month this year. NAB’s business conditions and confidence indexes however, remain consistently strong.

Major share markets did well around the world with Wall Street being the stand-out performer. But Australia didn’t do too badly after a bad reaction to various bank inquiries. The ASX 200 posted growth of over 13% over 2017 when dividends and franking credits are factored in.

There are a number of things to watch out for in 2018. The Brexit negotiations between Britain and Europe are progressing without any major problems so far. The new US Federal Reserve chairman looks set to make two or three rate hikes, while our RBA is not expected to move in 2018.

Our Royal Commission into Financial Services might cause some angst, depending how press releases are handled.

The more difficult possibility to assess is Trump’s wish to commence a big infrastructure programme. In the election campaign he was talking about a trillion-dollar deal, but that has since been scaled back to 200-300 billion dollars. With tax reform behind him, we should see some movement on this front in January.

The ASX 200 closed at the highest level since December 2007 on the penultimate trading day of 2017, and we see growth of about 5% in 2018 – but that means that the November 2007 peak is unlikely to be surpassed this coming year.

We see strong growth continuing on Wall Street in 2018. But, if analysts revise earnings forecasts upwards in January based on company tax cuts, we might see very strong growth in the first half of the year.

On the commodities front, copper, gold and oil prices did well in 2017. It would be sufficient for our resources sector to have a good 2018 if these prices just hold over 2018.

In conclusion, we see it unnecessary to take on extra risks in 2018 to chase returns. Volatility on share markets was unusually low in 2017, and that is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.

We wish you all a safe and prosperous New Year.

Asset Classes

Australian Equities

Our market was seemingly stuck in a tight range from mid-2017 but then it blasted through 6,000 at last – and it even finished 2017 above that psychological barrier.

The Resources sector led the charge in December to give the broader index a boost of 1.6% for the month.

The Financials sector was down slightly for the year, but there were outstanding double digit returns to be had in all other sectors except for Property, Telcos and Utilities.

The February reporting season is only just around the corner, so this is the time for companies to ‘confess’ if they are likely to miss their guidance for earnings. We found analysts have started revising their forecasts in an upwards direction for the last month or two. Therefore, we are expecting a good “report card” in February.

Foreign Equities

The S&P 500 index recorded another positive month in December making it 12 in a row for 2017 and the first time on record! We do not, however, think the market is over-priced by more than two or three percent.

2017 market growth has been dominated by the big tech companies. Some are looking to Amazon to become ‘master of the universe’ by establishing a major presence across a broad array of industries.

The strong Japan economy has supported its Nikkei index to record near 20% growth in 2017.

Bonds and Interest Rates

The RBA was on hold again and is unlikely to raise rates before the end of 2018. Indeed, another cut is quite possible before the next hike.

The Fed hiked rates in December, making it three for the year. Their so-called ‘dot plots’ show that they collectively expect three more hikes in 2018, but the market has only priced in two. The Fed is unlikely to want to risk too much so two is much more likely than four. US inflation is still below target.

Other Assets

Oil and copper prices were firmly higher in 2017. Iron ore prices were down on the year, but staged a very strong comeback, returning 36% from the lows experienced throughout the year.

Regional Analysis

Australia

Over 60,000 new jobs were created in November – the latest published data point – and two-thirds of them were full-time. However, the unemployment rate was stuck at 5.4%.

Around 1,000 jobs were created on each day of the year (on average), but it seems much of this was matched by immigration flows. Price and wage inflation are also stuck at below target rates. However, we at last got a better than expected growth in retail sales (+0.5% against 0.3%).

The government presented its mid-year report card (“MYEFO”) in December, which argues the deficit is better than that which had been previously expected.

China

China has reportedly been spotted exporting oil to North Korea which got Trump’s hackles up. But other than that, there is less reported bad news about China’s economy. Of course, any developing economy starts to slow gradually as it reaches economic maturity.

We do not see China’s economy being a problem for us in 2018.

US

After a bumpy ride, a tax reform bill passed through Congress giving Trump one victory for 2017.

The infrastructure programme could be even trickier to get through, as the size of it will require a public/private joint venture. That means the private sector will have a big say on which projects start first. That will put the Democrats off-side as they always want to lead with the public interest.

If the bill makes some progress in 2018, the US economy looks set for continued growth for a few years to come.

Europe

Greece finally came out of recession in December! While the European Union as a whole still has some problems to work through – notably Brexit – the general mood appears to be positive.

Rest of the World

Japan’s Q3 growth figure was revised upwards to 2.5% from 1.4%.

Article by Ron Bewley for Infocus Money Management

Make your super last

Friday, November 18th, 2016

3d-person-getting-it-right

Australians enjoy one of the highest life expectancies in the world, which means you can look forward to a long and healthy retirement. Here’s how to make sure your super lasts.

Did you know that Australia is now one of just four countries in the world where both men and women can expect to live into their eighties?¹ While that’s fantastic news, it also makes saving for retirement more important than ever.

Almost half of Australians over age 40 are worried about outliving their retirement savings, while many are confused about the best way to achieve the retirement lifestyle they dream of.² But by getting good advice and planning ahead now, you can take control and enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing your future may be secure.

Work out how much you need

The first step is to figure out how much income you want to receive each year in retirement, and how much you may need to save in order to get there.

Plan for different stages of retirement

It’s also important to think about how your spending patterns may change during your retirement, to plan ahead accordingly.

For example, in the early stages when you’re at your most active, you’re likely to need more funds for travel, sports and recreation. Then, as you enter a more relaxed phase of retirement, you’ll need to be ready for possible health issues, so you can afford the care you need as medical treatments are becoming more sophisticated and more expensive every year.

When you crunch the numbers, you may find you’re facing a super gap. An effective way to grow your super savings while potentially paying less tax may be via salary sacrifice.

You may also want to keep your options open for the later years when you may need more intensive health support, including specialised accommodation.

Also don’t forget to factor in lump sum spending on big ticket items, such as home renovations or a new car. Because, as retirements grow longer, our cars and appliances are increasingly likely to fade away before we do.

Boost your super

When you crunch the numbers, you may find you’re facing a super gap. An effective way to grow your super savings while potentially paying less tax may be via salary sacrifice.

Even a small contribution can make a big difference over time, as you earn returns on your contributions. When you invest pre-tax income through salary sacrifice, you may also benefit from the 15% concessional tax rate on super contributions, putting you even further ahead.

Currently you can contribute $30,000 a year up to the age of 50 in concessionally taxed super contributions (which include employer super guarantee contributions), or $35,000 if you’re aged 50 or over. Note – changes to super come into effect in 2017.

Finally, if there is a large sum you will like to contribute to super, you will need advice as there have been dramatic changes to how contributions are made.

Review your investment option

Our super is one of our most valuable assets, so it’s not surprising many of us seek to protect it by investing in a low risk option. But it’s also important to remember that trying too hard to avoid risk today could expose you to a greater risk — running out of money tomorrow, when your savings don’t produce the returns you need for a comfortable retirement. So it’s important to choose the right investment option for your goals and investment time-frame.

That’s where personalised advice from a professional adviser can make a difference. Your adviser can help you calculate how much super you’ll need, then find the best strategy to reach your goal. Talk to your adviser today, call our office to book a meeting.

¹Australian Bureau of Statistics, Aussie men now expected to live past 80, 2014.
² Investment Trends, Retirement Income Report, December 2013.
Article by Colonial First State

Give yourself more flexibility in the lead up to retirement

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

take-control-your-retirement

Nowadays, we’re living for years longer than ever before. 60 is no longer old age! So it makes sense that you want the flexibility to approach retirement in a way that suits you. A transition to retirement strategy enables you to access part of your super while you are still working and has a number of benefits.

Boost your super and supplement your income

There are two main benefits of a transition to retirement strategy:

Maximising your super – You can continue to work while drawing an income from an account-based pension. By doing this you can salary sacrifice as much of your pre-tax salary to super as possible while receiving an income from your pension. This allows you to increase your retirement savings without reducing your income. This can also be extremely tax-effective because pension payments are generally taxed at a lower rate than your salary.

Supplementing your income – If you want to move into part-time work before you retire but don’t want your income to drop you can use your pension to supplement your salary.

Ease yourself into retirement

You can choose different transition to retirement strategies depending on what is most important to you. If you believe you have enough retirement savings you could still benefit from a transition to retirement strategy. For example, if you wanted to renovate your home before retirement you could keep working full-time and use the extra income from your transition to retirement pension to pay for the work. That way you get your home improvements done before retirement without taking on any debt.

Are you eligible?

You can take advantage of a transition to retirement strategy if you meet the following conditions:

You are aged between 56 and 65 years of age
You are still working
You transfer some, or all, of your super account to a transition to retirement pension

Important considerations for high income earners

It you earn a high income it’s important to consider the concessional contributions cap before deciding to salary sacrifice as part of a transition to retirement strategy. If you exceed the concessional contributions cap, which is currently $35,000 for the 2015-2016 financial year, you may be taxed an extra 31.5% tax on any contributions above the cap.

Set it up right from the start

Transition to retirement strategies can provide significant tax savings and benefits, but they can be complicated. For this reason we strongly recommend that you talk to us in the lead up to retirement, so that the strategy you put in place is right for your personal situation. Come in and have a free, no obligation initial chat, and then take it from there. 

Earning A High Income Won’t Automatically Make You Wealthy

Monday, September 5th, 2016

business-growth-success-financial-graph-1912306

When you earn enough money to pay for everything you need there’s no reason to save regularly, right? Wrong. There’s far more to becoming wealthy than earning a high income as suggested in the well-known proverb ‘The art is not in making money, but in keeping it’.

High income earners can make the worst savers

It’s an unfortunate fact of life nowadays that the more you earn, the more you tend to spend. Today, there is so much pressure to spend money on the latest gadgets, prestigious fashion labels and having a picture postcard home. We’re living in a spending culture where the next best thing is always just around the corner.

When you earn a higher than average income it’s easy to justify upgrading your lifestyle here and treating yourself a little bit there. After all, you’ve worked hard to earn that income and you want to get some enjoyment out of it.

And even if you don’t think of yourself as the type of person who is careless with their money, there may be other factors at work. Behavioural scientists have shown that it’s human nature to seek instant gratification. We’re much more likely to do something that makes us feel good now, like spoiling our loved ones with lavish gifts, than doing something that’s better for us in the long term, like saving some of our money.

You reap what you sow

You may be able afford a high standard of living now but could this lifestyle be maintained if you stopped working?
To get the full benefit of your income you need to cap your spending and get into the habit of putting away part of what you earn every week or month. This way your money can start working for you.

There are many benefits of having spare cash around:

You will have money set aside for any small emergencies so you don’t have to worry about how you will cope if something goes wrong

You will be able buy things with cash rather than credit cards. Many retailers offer discounts for paying with cash. And you’ll be saving money because you won’t be paying interest on credit card purchases.

Importantly you will have spare money for investing which will help you grow and protect your wealth over the long term.

The more you save, the more you will earn

Regular investing also gives you the chance to boost your savings by taking advantage of compound interest. Compounding, or earning interest on your interest can make a significant difference to the value of your savings or investments over time. The longer you save, the greater the effect of compounding.

Let’s look at a simple example that shows the power of compound interest. Say you had savings of $20,000 and each month you put away $500. In just 10 years that $20,000 would have grown to $110,074, assuming the interest rate on your bank account was 5%. Of that, $30,074 would be the compound interest that you’ve earned along the way.

Spend wisely and enjoy the benefits of saving

Starting a savings plan is one of the simplest and easiest ways to save money. Your savings are kept in a separate account to your everyday spending account, so you won’t be able to spend this money as part of your weekly expenses. It will also attract a higher rate of interest, which if left to accrue in the account, will help you get your goal of wealth creation underway.

Article prepared by Infocus Wealth Management