Getting to the heart of the matter

   

We can’t mend a broken heart, but we can ensure that financial support is there for you when something does go wrong.  Major illness in connection with the heart is a fundamental of Critical Illness Cover, and should this happen, we want to give you the best chance of a successful claim.

You might be asking yourself what the differences are and whether these different definitions actually matter in a critical illness product. Let’s take a closer look by first reminding ourselves what these conditions are:    

   Heart attack – Blood flow to the heart is interrupted, leading to part of the heart muscle dying due to lack of oxygen

   Cardiac arrest – When the heart literally stops beating

   Heart failure – When the heart stops functioning properly and cannot pump blood effectively.

Heart failure is usually a chronic degeneration or weakening of the heart, whereas a heart attack and cardiac arrest are instant and sudden events.  When looking at heart disease, early intervention can help prevent these conditions from happening in the first place.

With critical illness cover, several serious heart surgeries can be included, such as coronary artery bypass grafts. This type of surgery helps improve blood flow through the heart, hopefully preventing a future heart attack from happening. Some less severe forms of surgery, such as coronary angioplasty, are additional benefits. 

I know most people don’t want to think about such things, but hopefully you’ll agree that when it comes to matters of the heart, we, as advisers do think about them and can help you plan for the unexpected.

For more information call us now on 0141 956 5525

Will your family suffer if you die?

Only 7 per cent of people in the UK who support someone financially have spoken with an adviser about long-term financial protection, according to research.  The findings were a part of a global study by HSBC which quizzed more than 13,000 people across 13 countries to look at levels of financial security.

The analysis found 27 per cent of UK respondents supporting someone financially have never had a conversation about long-term financial security should something happen to them – not even with friends and family.  This compared to 22 per cent globally.

But unexpected life events can have knock-on financial consequences for the whole family and 81 per cent of people in the UK said their family would not manage well if they had to significantly reduce their support to them. 

Based on the research findings, HSBC has now identified four actions which can help people better prepare their family.  This includes 1) identify your priorities, 2) assess your finances, 3) plan for the whole family and 4) discuss what the family’s needs are for the future.

The figures from this research are frightening.  Many people seem to be lacking even a basic level of financial protection whilst at the same time are seemingly happy to spend hundreds of pounds a year on what some might be deem to be luxuries, such as, mobile phones and satellite TV.  People try not to think about the possibility of serious ill-health or early death, or tend to think that these things only happen to ‘other people’, but that’s simply not true.

‘My wife is seeing aliens’: Five terrible tax return excuses

It is that time of year again!  Correct, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has announced its annual list of terrible excuses for non-submission of self-assessment tax returns.  Every year the taxman seems to receive only the most imaginative, bizarre, and – if this year is anything to go by – supernatural claims about why people have been unable to fill out their forms on time.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC director general of customer services, said that people should get in touch if they are having trouble.

‘Each year we’re making it easier and more intuitive for our customers to complete their tax return, but each year we still come across some questionable excuses, whether that’s blaming a busy touring schedule or seeing aliens. However, help will always be provided for those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time.’

‘We also receive absurd expense claims from vet fees for a rabbit to room service at a hotel. It is unfair to make honest taxpayers pick up the bill for other people’s spurious claims, so HMRC will only accept sincere claims such as legitimate expenses for a job.  If you think you might miss the 31 January deadline, get in touch with us now – the earlier we’re contacted, the more help we can offer.’

1. Aliens exist…

Despite various space agencies, scientific research projects and even amateurs investing their time and energy on space exploration, the answer to the question ‘do aliens exist?’ seems to have come from an unexpected source.

Never one to overpromise and under-deliver, the revenue has said that one customer’s excuse for not filing his tax return on time involved strange creatures from out of space.

‘I couldn’t file my return on time as my wife has been seeing aliens and won’t let me enter the house,’ was apparently one excuse they received.  Not entirely sure what he meant by ‘seeing’, but we can only hope that if the couple were asked to take the creatures to their leader, that HMRC permanent secretary and chief executive would have been top of the list!

2. Thespian Theatrics

We all know the type of person who would try and get away with not submitting their tax return on time with an imaginative excuse.  This one, however, seems to be a bit different.

When questioned by the revenue about why he had not filed on time, one thespian answered:

‘I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play.’

We love this excuse so much, not least because whoever made it must have been deadly serious! The show must go on!

Alas the poor star struck actor was not able to use this excuse to get out of paying the tax man.

3. The ex-wife, vertigo, and some stairs

Of all the events that could combine to create a toxic concoction of inability to send one’s tax return in on time, this has to be one of the best.

So you get divorced, and in a bid to make everything really difficult for you, your ex-wife (knowing full well that you suffer from Vertigo), leaves your tax-return upstairs! What are the chances of that? How could she?!

‘My ex-wife left my tax return upstairs, but I suffer from vertigo and can’t go upstairs to retrieve it.’

Maybe call her my friend, it is probably worth it to avoid the fine.

4. ‘My business doesn’t really do anything’

Of all the excuses submitted to HMRC for non-submission of tax returns, this one seems to be far too candid for the person’s own good!

‘My business doesn’t really do anything.’

Unfortunately, however true this may or may not be, it probably does not mean that the party involved does not have to fill in a self-assessment form. Even if you earn £0.00, you still need to tell the tax man.

5. I spilt coffee on it

There’s no point crying over spilt milk, but what about spilt coffee?

Well one person was certainly very upset when they spilt coffee all over their lovely tax return. So upset in fact that they were unable to get a new one to send to the taxman in time.

Sadly for the individual HMRC did not accept this excuse for their latte return.   (Sorry!).

 

Why SEI is not investing in cryptocurrencies

We as a Company have used the Investment House, SEI, in conjunction with a number of our Clients investments and have always found them to be an excellent choice with excellent returns.  We therefore respect their views and we thought their views on Bitcoins would be interesting to our readers.  They write…

 

“In the last few months, the rise up of the “cryptocurrency”, led specifically by Bitcoin, has been phenomenal in terms of valuation, headlines and debate. The digital media of exchange, designed initially in response to the financial crisis, has intrigued many from an investment perspective with a growing number of investors considering how they can participate in the supposed revolution and where it fits within their broader portfolio.

At SEI, we don’t believe that cryptocurrencies in their current state hold any place in a client’s investment portfolio. Investing to achieve specific goals is very different from speculating or gambling.

Cryptocurrencies, digital media of exchange originally designed in response to the global financial crisis, are intriguing from an investment perspective. From the beginning of 2017 until now, their combined market value has risen by more than 1000%.
Speculation, Not Investment

While everybody wants an investment that gains 1000% in a year, cryptocurrencies do not satisfy the basic prerequisites that define traditional investments such as stocks, bonds and real estate —which we traditionally think of as assets with return potential. Stocks provide a claim on the expected future earnings of a company that can be realized as dividend payments or price appreciation. Bonds produce periodic interest payments and, under normal circumstances, return the investors’ principal at maturity. Real-estate investments provide rental income and the potential for price appreciation.

The fair value of these traditional investments is typically estimated based on forecasted earnings, forecasted income or assets. However, the fair value of cryptocurrencies is anyone’s guess since they neither generate earnings nor are backed by assets. So while the dramatic and accelerating growth of cryptocurrencies may seem attractive, the only underpinning of this appreciation is the willingness of one investor to pay more than the previous investor. What happens when that stops?

 

The Real Value of Cryptocurrencies
As technology disruptors, cryptocurrencies and blockchains, or the public digital ledgers where cryptocurrency transactions are recorded, do appear to have promise. The digital assets tend to attract individuals seeking a degree of privacy they can’t get from conventional banking and payments systems. Meanwhile, corporations, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and even central banks and government institutions are more interested in the underlying technologies driving cryptocurrencies.

Many organizations are looking at how this technology can be used to improve operations and business outcomes. Their aim is to create a direct, secure and verifiable person-to-person system for payments that would be entirely private and digital, thereby removing traditional third-party intermediaries like banks. Whether this leads to actual paradigm shifts or just fosters marginal enhancements to businesses remains to be seen. Ironically, wider acceptance of these technologies may require more centralization and third-party verification, which would cause them to become more similar to the systems they were designed to replace.

We are confident that our underlying investment managers have the tools to identify companies that may be affected by blockchain-related trends. Should viable cryptocurrency-related investments arise, it will be because the fundamental value of the business case can be cited.

Our View

The cryptocurrency market is just beginning to mature and the supportive value of digital coins remains difficult to price. We view them as speculative instruments at best and possibly worthless at worst, making them an unsuitable investment choice for pursuing important financial life goals—particularly for investors who can’t afford the high risk of permanently losing money.

In our view, it is far too early to consider including cryptocurrencies or blockchain-driven enterprises in a strategic investment portfolio. The recent introduction of derivatives on certain cryptocurrencies is an interesting development, but hardly one on which to build a solid investment case”.

Something chronic

I heard a story recently which I thought was worth sharing.  A young woman had just returned from a mini-break in Tenerife. Twenty girls on a hen weekend, so you can imagine there was a fair bit of eating, drinking and dancing.

I’m told they also did a water park, a boat trip and paddle boarding and after all it’s all about the balance!  There were a few people she hadn’t met before and it transpired one of the girls had type 1 diabetes. The story teller didn’t realise this until the last day because her friend had totally blended into the group, took part in all the activities and didn’t feel different to anyone else..

It was the first time she’d met someone with diabetes – as far as I’m aware anyway – which is surprising when you consider 3.5 million people in the UK have been diagnosed.

They, generally speaking, consider themselves to be normal so why are they so underserved when it comes to accessing financial products like life insurance?

Securing life cover for people who have been diagnosed with a chronic condition can involve detailed medical questionnaires, followed by exclusions, additional premiums or being declined cover. It’s no wonder people have been put off.

We’ve recently seen more innovation in this area with life cover tailor-made for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.  So hopefully the situation is changing.

If this story strikes a chord with anyone, maybe we can help.