What's Your Investment Type?

What better way to finish off the financial year than with some consideration about investments? This week we'd like to broadly discuss the different types of asset classes and how these may or may not be right for you, depending on your circumstances and preferences.


Investment Types
Broadly speaking, there are four main types of investments available to everyone. These include:
1. Cash: money in the bank, savings accounts, and term deposits.
Pros: There's a lot of certainty around having money in the back. It's easily accessible and doesn't drop in capital value. This is a low-risk investment.
Cons: This type of investment also has low long-term returns, particularly in the current low rate environment. Cash also doesn't protect against inflation as there is no underlying capital growth unless you physically add more to it.

2.  Interest: Government or semi-government bonds, or corporate bonds. These investments are issued by these organisations in an attempt to raise funds and with the promise of a fixed return to the investor.
Pros: This is still considered a "safe" investment but it generally offers a better return than straight cash investments. Long-term averages have fixed interest returns sitting at around 2% higher than cash.
Cons: Bonds can be traded on the bond exchange, meaning they can drop in capital value. Risks are also associated with lower grade bonds, meaning the issuing source may have difficulty in paying you back your initial investment amount.

3. Property: This class of asset includes residential properties, commercial or industrial premises, vacant land, and listed property companies.
Pros: We and see it and touch it! The property also gives you returns from two areas, both capital growth in the value of the property as well as some income by way of rent. These returns are generally higher than both cash and fixed interest. You can also use your equity in properties to borrow against.
Cons: Property values can drop and stay down for some time. There are also high transaction costs in buying and selling these, namely from stamp duty, capital gains tax and agent fees. Property can also often take some time to sell.

4. Shares: An ownership stake in a company is purchased by an investor, allowing them to share in the growth of that company as well as a portion of the profits, by way of dividends.?
Pros: This asset class gives the highest long-term rate of return, slightly edging out property. It's easy and cheap to sell shares if you need money quickly, and it's also simple to spread your share investment out, thereby reducing your risk. As an investor, you also generally receive your returns from two areas – growth and income.
Cons: Shares move up and down on a daily basis, thanks to the daily nature of the share market. They can drop in value quickly and take some time to return to previous highs. Because of the ease of buying and selling shares, some investors panic and sell when markets are down, thus crystallising their loss at the wrong time.

So, which one of these is right for you? For most people, the best investment strategy is to have a mix of all of the above. If your wealth accumulation is your goal, then having a focus on shares and property will be your best overall strategy. But if you can't stand the possible up-and-down movements of this type of investment, head towards the smoother ride from cash and bonds. Just remember, risk and return are related, and relatively good long-term returns can't be achieved without taking on some risk with your investments.

If you'd like to discuss your investment options more with us, just remember we're only a phone call or an email away.

Investing 101 - Making Sense of Investment Terms

When it comes to investing, it can be a minefield for both the amateur investor and the professional alike. But one point to remember is that not all investments are created equal, and those that suit you the best may depend on your stage in life, and how comfortable you are in taking on risk.



Here are a few fundamentals to consider:

1. Assets can be divided between roughly two categories: "defensive" and "growth".
The defensive side of things provides a buffer for you and has less volatility (up and down movement) and is generally associated with investments such as cash, term deposits and bonds. This is the safe stuff and has a lower associated risk, as well as a lower return. The "growth" side of things is made up of property, Australian and international shares, and commodities. The return from these types of assets generally comes from two areas – the increase in the value of the investment as well as the income they generate through dividends or rent.

2. Risk and return are related
Evidence from investors and academics points to one undeniable conclusion: returns come from risk. Investment rewards are rarely accomplished without taking a risk, but not all risks carry a reliable reward. Everything we have learned about expected returns in the share markets can be summarised in three dimensions:

a) Shares are riskier than bonds. In turn, they offer higher expected returns as a reward.
b) Small companies have higher expected returns than large companies. This makes sense because small companies are more of an unknown quantity.
c) Lower priced 'value' shares offer higher expected returns than higher priced 'growth' shares. A value share is one that is out of favour for one reason or another. The level of exposure to these areas will determine the risk and reward for an investor.

3. Diversification reduces investment risk
Investing without diversification is exposing yourself to unnecessary risk. Avoidable risks are holding too few shares, speculating on specific industry sectors or countries and following the predictions of others. These are risks that don't provide a reliable reward.

By spreading your investments across different types of asset classes you can build a total portfolio for all conditions. This is because while one asset class is performing poorly, another may be doing well. This is not to say diversification is complete protection, but it is insulation to reduce volatility. We hope you have found some useful tips in this week's "Money in Life" series. Remember not to leave these items to the last minute and also know that we're only an email or phone call away if you would like to seek advice on any of the above.

Much has been going on in the background with the Banking Royal Commission of late, and we feel it would be timely to comment on how this relates to your superannuation funds. As we've mentioned in previous weeks, we're big fans of the wealth accumulation benefits that the superannuation system offers, mainly through tax savings on both contributions and the underlying investments your super holds.


What we're not a fan of is the vertical integration system that many institutional super funds have been using for years, and the negative impact this has had on some people's superannuation fund balances. Sadly, we have witnessed several devastating occurrences when assisting and representing clients who have previously been serviced by the bank and institutional financial planners.

Many (but not all), of the problems highlighted, have stemmed from the vertical integration model that exists within the major banks and institutions. They employ the advisers whom the clients deal with. They own the platforms that host the clients' money. They own and manage the funds where the clients' money is invested. The conflict of interest is immediately apparent. The adviser will inevitably be incentivised to keep a client's money within the corporate structure. As an ASIC report from earlier this year found:

While the big institutions' approved product lists were made up of 21% of in-house products and 79% of external products, when a client's money was invested, 68% of the time it went to their in-house products.

And what happens when the bank or institution is placed before a client? Only 25% of the advice given by the big institutions was considered to be compliant by ASIC. 65% was considered non-compliant, with 10% considered non-compliant with significant concerns. The issue of non-compliance partially stemmed from recommending new financial products when there was no demonstration that a client would be better off.

So how does this relate to your superannuation and why does it matter? When most Australians reach retirement, superannuation is the biggest asset they have alongside their house. It's also the most accessible when it comes to funding income in the retirement years. This means that the more you have in super the better, and you also get a benefit from a higher performance, relative to the risk of the investments.

So what should you do about your super in light of what we're learning from the royal commission?

1. Ask for a second opinion on your fund if you don't know how to look up the fees and performance data or what this actually means for you.
2. Get clear on the type of fund that will work best for you. This might be a basic industry fund, a retail fund with more flexibility, or a Self Managed Super Fund, depending on your goals.
3. Review your super regularly against a reputable benchmark. This is not a set-and-forget asset for you, so make sure you're receiving what you're entitled to.

As always, if you are unclear about your position in relation to your super, make it a priority to seek professional advice. The laws around super are extremely tight, and at best, there are serious penalties for non-compliance, at worst you could well be leaving yourself in a worse financial position during your retirement years.

Choosing the Best Super Fund for You

We talk about Super a lot when it comes to tax planning and wealth creation, but you certainly want to make sure you've got the right vehicle for the job. If you get the selection right, you'll have many happy years of investment returns ticking away in the background. 

If, on the other hand, you get it wrong, you'll literally see thousands of dollars pass you by over the lifetime of your fund. Here are a few things you need to be aware of:

1. Understand the different types of funds available. These fall into three broad categories:
Industry Super funds (including government funds) - In a nutshell, Industry Super Funds are generally lower cost options with a reasonable amount of investment choice. They would appeal to the investor who has a low level of complexity, doesn't what much involvement with their super, and is after lower fees. Where these types of funds won't suit is if your situation is more complex, or if you're wanting a higher degree of control and transparency over the underlying investments you're holding. Our opinion is that these funds are ok for many people in the accumulation phase, but they are less than optimal when it comes to drawing a pension.

Retail super funds - Retail Super Funds come with a higher level of control as well as transparency, meaning you can see what you're invested in most of the time. These funds are often administered through a specific super fund company, many of which are owned by banks or investment companies. This type of fund would appeal to those who like more involvement with their super funds, but who don't need the complexity of an SMSF. The fees can sometimes be higher than an industry fund, so the returns also need to be higher for this to be the best option.

Self Managed Super Funds (SMSF's) - An SMSF is the most complex type of super fund available but they still operate under exactly the same super legislation as the other fund options. The pros of this fund are ultimate control and transparency as well as some additional investment options (such as investment properties).
The cons come in the form of annual tax returns and audits that need to be completed, as well as a possible time commitment to managing the fund. We'd suggest a starting balance of at least $200,000 to make this option worthwhile.

2. Look at the investment options, fees, and performance
When it comes to investment options, these will vary greatly depending on the type of fund you have. But take the time to research what's available and most importantly, consider the asset allocation of your investments. If you're still a long way from being able to access your super, make use of a higher risk option so you can get your returns up over time. Also look at the fees you're being charged and consider if these are value for money. You'll likely encounter administration fees and investment fees, but the ones you really want to avoid are contribution fees or performance fees – these are a gouge. There's also a lot of information online about the relative performance of your super investments and it certainly pays to check this out. If you're after a comparison as to what your fund should have earned, just let us know and we can provide this.

3. Insurances – don't forget these
Lastly, don't forget your insurances. You may automatically have some of these issued in a super fund and many of these insurances are quite a low cost. Weigh up what you think you might need versus what you have in your super funds before you go and change funds quickly – you may just lose the cheapest insurance you had by doing so.

This is a short summary of some considerations for your super funds, but please let us know if you need help in this area. Super is a vital part of your wealth creation journey and it pays to get it right.

Can You Make Super & Tax Work Better Together?

If you've been reading our blogs for a little while now, you may have picked up on the fact that we're big fans of superannuation. Yes, the Government keeps fiddling with it and yes, you have to wait a long time to get at it. But despite these downsides, superannuation is still the best tax haven we've got for long-term investing. For this week's update, we're giving you a little bit of background on the very close relationship between your superannuation and how it's taxed.



As explained on the Moneysmart website, everything you need to know about Super and Tax is as follows:

1. How Super Contributions are taxed
The amount of tax you'll pay on your super contributions depends on the type of contribution and your personal circumstances.

2. Employer and salary sacrificed contributions
Also known as concessional contributions, employer and salary sacrificed super contributions are taxed at 15% when they are received by your super fund. The current limit on this type of contribution is $25,000 per year.

3. Personal contributions
After-tax personal contributions and those received by the fund from the money you're deemed to have already paid tax on and are therefore not taxed when they are put into your super fund. The current annual limit on this type of contribution is $100,000 in most cases.

4. How Investment Earnings are taxed
Income which is earned in the fund (investment earnings) is taxed at a maximum rate of 15%. Capital gains on assets held for longer than 12 months within the fund will be taxed at 10%. The amount of tax your fund pays can be reduced by tax deductions or tax credits. For example, a growth fund may only pay an average of 7% tax because its dividend income entitles it to tax credits.

5. How Super Withdrawals are taxed
It may feel like you've had to wait a long time, but there are certainly some tax benefits when it comes to finally accessing your super. When you become eligible to access your super you can take a super income stream to provide you with a regular income, or you can withdraw all or part of your benefit as a lump sum.

6. Super income streams
The tax treatment of super income streams depends on whether you're over or under age 60, still working or permanently retired. If you are aged 60 or over your income will usually be tax-free. If you are under age 60 you may pay tax on your super pension.

7. Lump sum withdrawals
If you are aged 60 or over any withdrawals from a taxed super fund are tax-free. Different rates may apply to untaxed funds, such as government super funds. If you access your super before age 60 you may pay tax on withdrawals. You can withdraw up to the low rate threshold, currently $200,000, tax-free. This is a lifetime limit and is indexed annually. The threshold does not include the tax-free portion of your super account, which will be returned to you tax-free. Any amounts over the low rate threshold will be taxed at 17% (including Medicare Levy) or your marginal tax rate, whichever is lower.

As you can see from the above outline, there's quite a bit of consideration that needs to go into accessing your super. For this reason, we suggest getting us involved if you have any questions on this or other topics, we're only an email or phone call away.

Tips to Minimise Your Tax Ahead of EOFY

Now that the end of financial year is just around the corner, it's time to put some real focus into your tax minimisation strategies. For many of us, living with the benefits we have in Australia does mean that we have to pay a portion of our earnings in tax, but no one wants to pay more than their fair share. Listed below are some ideas for you to implement, but just make sure you've got them covered before June 30.


1. Pay and delay if you can
Now is a perfect opportunity to pre-pay some expenses that you'll likely carry through with you into the next financial year. For example, see if you can pay for subscriptions, the cost of your income protection policy, conferences and membership fees all before June 30. Also, ask your lender if you're able to pre-pay any of your interest for the next financial year. Then if the opportunity arises, see if you can put off receiving income before the June 30 deadline. This might be achieved by holding off on issuing invoices or even reviewing your term deposit maturity dates.

2. Reduce capital gains
If you're sitting on capital losses on some of your smaller share investments and you don't have a long-term plan to continue holding these, it may be a good time to sell these shares and use the losses to offset against any gains you've made earlier in the year.

3. Top up your super and salary sacrifice
Topping up your super can be one of the best deductions around, as you're still the holder of the money, minus the 15% contribution tax. This is different to claiming a deduction on paying bank interest as once that expense is paid, the bank has the money rather than you. Concessional contributions are allowed for up to $25,000 per person under 75, so make use of these limits. For a couple, that's up to $50,000 between them that can be set aside to accumulate in a lower tax environment. Don't forget that if your employer is making contributions for you, you're only able to salary sacrifice by the difference to take you up to the $25,000 limit.

4. Small business immediate asset write off up to $20,000
If you're a small business, this is definitely something you want to make use of although this allowance has now been extended to 30 June 2019. If you buy an asset and it costs less than $20,000, you can immediately deduct the business portion in your tax return. You are eligible to use simplified depreciation rules and claim the immediate deduction for the business portion of each asset (new or second hand) costing less than $20,000 if you have a turnover less than $10 million (increased from $2 million on 1 July 2016), and the asset was first used or installed ready for use in the income year you are claiming it in.

5. Charitable gifts
If you're thinking of making a charitable donation it's best to do so before June 30 as you'll most likely be able to claim the full donation amount. 

Remember not to leave these items to the last minute and also know that we're only an email or phone call away if you would like to seek advice on any of the above.

The 2018 Federal Budget. Making Sense of it All

The Federal Treasurer, the Hon. Scott Morrison MP delivered his third Federal Budget on 8 May 2018. Income tax cuts will be delivered over a six-year period, through a combination of tax rate threshold changes and tax offsets. With regard to superannuation, the maximum number of members in a self-managed superannuation fund will increase, and those with good record-keeping and compliance history may move to a three-yearly audit cycle. The work test for certain individuals aged 65-74 will be removed, and certain longevity retirement income products may be more concessionally treated under the age pension means testing than originally proposed.

This Summary Provides Coverage of the Key Issues in Relation to You:

1. Personal income tax - A number of changes have been proposed to reduce personal income tax on a staggered basis over a six-year period from 1 July 2018.

Increase in tax bracket thresholds

The 32.5 per cent upper threshold will be increased from $87,000 to $90,000 from 1 July 2018. This reduces the tax liability of those earning $90,000 or more by $135. A further increase in this threshold to $120,000 is proposed from 1 July 2022. In addition, the 19 per cent upper threshold will increase from $37,000 to $41,000 from 1 July 2022. From 1 July 2024, the Government will extend the top threshold of the 32.5 per cent personal income tax bracket from $120,000 to $200,000, to recognise inflation and wage growth impacts. Taxpayers will pay the top marginal tax rate of 45 per cent from taxable incomes exceeding $200,000 and the 32.5 per cent tax bracket will apply to taxable incomes of $41,001 to $200,000.

Denying deductions for vacant land

Expenses associated with holding vacant land will cease to be deductible from 1 July 2019 and will not be able to be carried forward. Such expenses for land that was previously vacant will only become deductible when construction is complete, approval for occupancy has been granted and the property is available for rent, or the land is used in carrying on a business.

Ensuring tax compliance for individuals
Additional funding will be provided to the ATO to assist its compliance activities around taxpayers that over-claim deductions or entitlements.
The funding will complement and strengthen the ATO's data matching and pre-filling activities.

Improving the taxation of testamentary trusts
Current rules allow minors to be taxed as adults in respect of income paid on assets or cash proceeds held within a testamentary trust. This new measure, commencing on 1 July 2019, will ensure that minors are taxed in a manner consistent with other income earned and prevent assets being placed into a testamentary trust that were not related to the deceased estate.

2. Business owners
Economy-wide cash payment limit of $10,000
From 1 July 2019, any payments for goods or services to businesses that exceed $10,000 will no longer be allowed to be paid with cash. They can only be paid electronically or via cheque.
Transactions with financial institutions and consumer to consumer (non-business) transactions will not be subject to this cash limit.

Extension of the immediate deduction for business assets purchased under $20,000
This will extend for a further 12 months through to 30 June 2019

3. Superannuation
SMSF member limit increase
The maximum number of members allowable in self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs) and small APRA funds will increase from four to six from 1 July 2019.

SMSF three-yearly audit cycle
SMSFs with a good record-keeping and compliance history will move from an annual audit to a three-yearly audit from 1 July 2019. To qualify the SMSF will be required to have three consecutive clear audit reports and lodged their annual returns on time.

Work test exemption for those with balances of less than $300,000
From 1 July 2019 those aged 65 to 74 with a total superannuation balance of less than $300,000 will be eligible to make voluntary contributions in the financial year following the year they last met the work test. Eligibility will be assessed based on the individual's total superannuation balances at the beginning of the financial year following the year that they last met the work test.
Individuals with multiple employers able to opt out of Superannuation Guarantee. Individuals who earn over $263,157 from multiple employers will be able to nominate that their wages from certain employers are not subject to the Superannuation Guarantee (SG) from 1 July 2018. This will allow eligible individuals to avoid unintentionally breaching the concessional contributions cap as a result of receiving SG contributions from multiple employers. Employees who use this measure could negotiate to receive additional income, taxed at marginal tax rates.

Opt-in basis for default insurance inside superannuation
The Government proposes to amend the default insurance arrangement in superannuation funds, which currently requires members to opt-out of cover, to be on an opt-in basis. This change will apply to members with a balance of less than $6,000, under the age of 25 years, or whose account has been inactive (ie hasn't received a contribution) for 13 months or more. The changes are proposed to take affect from 1 July 2019. A transition period of 14 months will allow affected members to decide whether or not to opt-in. The Government will also consult publicly on how to balance retirement savings objectives and insurance cover inside super.

Passive fees, exit fees and inactive super
From 1 July 2019, a three per cent annual cap on passive fees will apply to superannuation accounts where the balance is below $6,000. In addition, exit fees will be banned on all superannuation accounts. Superannuation funds will also be required to transfer inactive accounts (ie that have not received a contribution for at least 13 months) with a balance of less than $6,000 to the ATO. The ATO will proactively reunite inactive accounts with active accounts where the value of the consolidated account will be at least $6,000.

Requiring superannuation fund trustees to offer CIPRs
The Government will introduce a retirement income covenant into the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 that requires trustees to develop a strategy that would help members achieve their retirement income objectives. The covenant will require trustees to offer CIPRs which provide individuals with income for life. The Government will be releasing a position paper for consultation on this measure shortly.

4. Social Security
Expansion of the Pension Loan Scheme
From 1 July 2019 all Australians of age pension age will be eligible, including full rate age pensioners (currently excluded from the scheme). The maximum loan amount will increase from 100 per cent to 150 per cent of age pension. The loan is paid fortnightly, is tax-free and currently attracts compound interest of 5.25 per cent on the outstanding balance.

Extension of the Pension Work Bonus
From 1 July 2019 the bonus will increase from $250 to $300 per fortnight. This means that the first $300 of income from work each fortnight will not count towards the pension income test.
Eligibility will be extended to the self-employed, subject to a 'personal exertion' test, reflecting the intention that the bonus not apply to investment income. 

New means testing rules for lifetime retirement income products
From 1 July 2019 a fixed 60 per cent of all pooled lifetime product payments will be assessed as income. Sixty per cent of the purchase price of the product will be assessed as assets until age 84, or a minimum of 5 years, and then 30 per cent for the rest of the person's life.

5. Aged care
Improving access to residential and home care
The Government will provide additional funding to deliver a package of measures to improve access to aged care for older Australians. The More Choices for a Longer Life package includes 14,000 new high level home care packages over four years from 2018/19 and 13,500 residential aged care places in 2018/19.

Why We Needed the Royal Commission Shake Up

The headlines coming out of the current Banking Royal Commission are a tragic and timely reminder that bad advice can have enormous consequences. It is important to us that you have a clear understanding of what it all means, so we will be giving an explanation as to what some of the problems are with the banking and big insurance company's current advice structures in order for you to make informed decisions.


If you go to a bank or insurance company for financial advice, the reality is that the person providing you with financial advice is employed by the institutions that also have a direct financial interest in you taking out one of their products. This problem of "vertical integration" is a relatively new phenomenon. The early 2000s saw an explosion in corporate deal-making as investment banks reaped handsome fees from their less flashy cousins by advising Australian domestic banks to go on a buying spree of wealth management companies. It was at the time when, Australia's now $1.6 trillion superannuation honey pot was just beginning to flourish, and the banks and AMP thought they'd better get a piece of the action. Fast forward to today and we now have over 85% of the financial planning industry in Australia owned either directly or indirectly by the big four banks and AMP.

Consider this – if you went into a Commonwealth Bank branch and asked to see a financial planner, it's highly unlikely that this financial planner would recommend you put your superannuation with a Westpac super fund, or take out personal insurance with an ANZ policy. Instead, they'll try to sell you the Commonwealth bank super and insurance products and while it may be understandable, it's not necessarily in your best interests.

For this exact reason, the financial planning arm of Schuh Group has always been a non-aligned advice offering, meaning we're in no way tied to the big four banks or AMP. This means we're able to give you completely unbiased advice that's in your best interests, and while we may sometimes recommend a bank owned product, at other times we may not – it just depends on your situation and what's right for you. And this is key.

When it comes to financial advice much like anything else in life, there is no one size fits all solution. The right plan and structure for you and your family will depend on your personal goals, your current circumstances, earning capability and risk level analysis. The role of a financial planner is to support you to clarify your goals and find suitable sustainable solutions to help you realise them. Yes, as a financial adviser there is a return from the products you choose, however, the return we make is only as good as the returns you receive. An independent advisor understands that having clients in a long-term sustainable solution with positive returns is the right path to success. This is not to say that a bank employed financial planner is not aiming for the same outcome, it just means that their portfolio of solutions is limited to the products that their bank or institution offers.

It will be interesting to see what happens to the banking landscape in times ahead, as their advice arms seem to be unravelling of their own accord. This may not necessarily be a bad thing though, provided it doesn't leave customers any worse off during the process and it forces all advisers to provide the best advice possible.

If you'd like a second opinion on any of your bank-owned products, please don't hesitate to ask. We'll compare these to the other products available and give you an unbiased opinion on what's right for you and your situation. 

Our vested interest is seeing your wealth grow over time, not to line the pockets of the bankers. Call us today on 5482 855.

First Quarter Review for 2018

Global economic data remained encouraging during Q1, though after a long period of relative calm and upward movement volatility again reared its head in equity markets. While towards the end of the quarter the potential for trade wars heated up. In the US, economic data continued to be supportive. US business confidence reached a multi-decade high in March. GDP for Q4 2017 was revised upwards to show growth of 2.9%, and while industrial activity slowed – as measured by the ISM manufacturing index – it continued to indicate expansion.

The US Federal Reserve raised rates by 25 basis points in March, from 1.5% to 1.75%. It did not, however, alter its overall rate projection of three hikes for 2018. This announcement quelled some concerns, but escalating US-China trade sanctions precipitated a renewed bout of turbulence in March.

In the eurozone, GDP growth for Q4 2017 was confirmed at 0.6% quarter-on-quarter and unemployment stable at 8.6% in January 2018. However, forward-looking surveys painted a picture of slower growth. The composite purchasing managers' index (PMI) hit a 14-month low in March and annual inflation was 1.1% in February, below the European Central Bank's (ECB) target. ECB chairman Mario Draghi noted interest rates would not rise until the end of the quantitative easing program.

While UK economic growth remained sluggish, in its February inflation report the Bank of England nudged up its growth forecast for 2018, from 1.7% to 1.8%. There was further progress with Brexit negotiations, with an initial agreement struck on the terms of a transition period for after the UK formally exits the EU.

The Japanese economy experienced a soft patch in Q1 2018 with many indicators of production and consumption slightly slipping. The most pervasive influence came from the switch in US policy towards increased protectionism. Investors were also taken by surprise by a sudden change in stance of players engaged in discussions on North Korea's nuclear ambitions.
In Australia, the Reserve Bank left its own benchmark cash rate unchanged for a record equalling 18th consecutive meeting at 1.5%, pointing to strengthening economic growth alongside continued low inflation.

The Bloomberg Commodities index turned negative in Q1. Weakness came from industrial metals amid global trade tensions. While copper was particularly weak, down 8.3%, energy again recorded solid gains. Brent crude continued to rally amid confidence OPEC would maintain production cuts throughout 2018.

And The Overview for Australia

Asset Class Returns; the following outlines the returns across the various asset classes to the 31st March 2018.

It was a mixed first quarter for global equity markets in 2018, with an upsurge in volatility from the very low levels of 2017 a major talking point.

US equities began 2018 strongly, buoyed by ongoing strength in economic data, robust earnings and the confirmation of a major tax reform package. However, the latter part of the quarter saw a marked increase in volatility. Investors first digested the destabilising potential of an elevated US inflation reading and the possibility that the Federal Reserve (Fed) may need to become more proactive in raising interest rates in order to keep upward price pressures under control.

Eurozone equities delivered negative returns in the first quarter, with the bulk of the declines coming in March. Markets began the year on a firmer footing but worries about the path of US interest rates and the outlook for global trade led to declines for the period overall. Sentiment towards UK equities was poor as the FTSE All-Share fell 6.9%. Overseas buyers shunned the market amid ongoing political uncertainty and a weak outlook for economic growth.

After a strong start to the year, Japanese equities followed a similar pattern to other global markets and ended the quarter 4.7% lower. The heightened uncertainty resulted in a stronger yen against major currencies. Corporate results to December 2017 showed very positive trends.

Emerging markets equities registered a positive return in the first quarter, despite a rise in market volatility stemming from tensions over global trade. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index recorded a positive return and outperformed the MSCI World and although Chinese equities were volatile towards the end of the quarter, given rising trade tensions with the US, the market recorded a positive return and outperformed.

Australia was dragged down by its heavyweight banking sector as the potential impact of the Banking Royal Commission began to weigh. In sectoral terms, the other big losers on the Australian market were telecommunications stocks, utilities, REITs and energy.

If you would like to understand how any of the recent global activity has impacted you or would like to understand how investing can support you to reach your goals, give the Schuh Group Wealth Managers a call.

With thanks to DFA Australia for charts.
This material is provided for information only. No account has been taken of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person or entity. Accordingly, to the extent that this material may constitute general financial product advice, investors should, before acting on the advice, consider the appropriateness of the advice, having regard to the investor's objectives, financial situation and needs. This is not an offer or recommendation to buy or sell securities or other financial products, nor a solicitation for deposits or other business, whether directly or indirectly.

This week's money in life series focuses on a topic that may bring up thoughts and feelings that we don't like discussing on a day to day basis. We don't like to think of dying but it is going to happen to all of us one day. So, when our time does come what is the legacy we are going to leave? We can look at a legacy in terms of 'something that is part of you, your history, that will remain once you have left this earth' and also in a material sense as 'the money or property that you leave behind when you die'.


Last week we spoke about the importance of how you spend your retirement and this in a way is going to contribute to the legacy of your history that you leave behind. Other things that will contribute to the legacy you leave will be how you made a contribution during your career, with family and friends and just in how you lived your life in general. Yes, this is a long topic for contemplation and maybe too in depth to cover off here. However, what we can look at – which is a touch easier – is the financial part of the legacy equation and the assets that you leave behind.

After you have spent a lifetime of work accruing your assets, you owe it to yourself to make sure that when they pass to the next generation you are doing it in a way that won't deplete all that hard work you have done and also to make sure that your assets go to the people that you want them to go to. Estate planning is an area that we feel is as important as any other aspect of our role here at Schuh Group.

We encourage all of our clients no matter what age to have current wills and enduring powers of attorney in place and we work with them to ensure that the contents of their will reflect what they wish to occur in the event of something happening. Outside of establishing your Will, the other area that we work with our clients on is how their Estate passes to the next generation. Depending on how your assets are structured there can be tax implications that can greatly reduce the overall value of the legacy that you leave behind. It is important to start looking at this pre-retirement so that you can put the best strategies in place to reduce any tax liability that may occur when your estate is distributed.

If you would like to discuss your current Will, Estate or any Retirement planning we are only an email or phone call away 07 5482 2855 .

Most of the information we are given about retirement is about our finances – will we have enough? What's the best investment strategy? What sized pension will we get? All of this is important, but it's only part of the real story. If you are nearing retirement or you are retired, you have been around long enough to realise that there's more to happiness than the size of your bank account. We realise that retirement, like most things in life, has both positives and negatives. These can be some of the best years of your life when you have the freedom to do what you want when you want and they can also be boring, frustrating and lonely.



Retirement is a big step for most of us. It may be a step taken after much thought and planning or an optimistic leap into the unknown. Given that the number of Australians transitioning into retirement will increase in coming years, it is important to understand about preparing for the transition, and what strategies are successful to ensure a good quality of life when you get there. While most of us plan pre-retirement, research findings also suggest that you should continue planning during retirement in order to promote your well-being and live a full and active life. Planning and reflection on what you want can help you work out whether you have the resources for a successful retirement. Even if you are already retired, continual planning can kick-start a conversation about setting new goals, trying new approaches or seeking help in particular areas that may have been overlooked. Here are our top tips for a terrific retirement:

1. Having a positive attitude towards your future

Your ability to 'roll with the punches' will dictate how you approach most areas of your future life. There are life changes that you can expect in retirement; both positive and challenging. In fact, sociologists have identified at least six separate "life transitions" that will affect most people as they move through their retirement life (which is why we say that retirement isn't one long life phase). Perhaps the greatest transition of all is the one that you see each time you look in a mirror and see yourself change. It is easy to forget that "getting older" is a physical issue, not a mental one. As Satchel Page once asked, "How old would you be…if you didn't know how old you are?"

2. A clear vision of the kind of life that you want.

When you think of the word 'retirement', what vision comes to mind? Is retirement a work issue for you, or maybe a financial and investment plan? Far too many pre-retirees make the mistake of thinking that the financial plan and the retirement plan are the same things. They think that the "life and living" part of retirement will take care of itself. This stage of your life deserves a more holistic look and plan than simply assuming that you are beginning a thirty-year-long weekend. What do you want your life to look like? What changes do you anticipate along the way? How will you get the most out of each and every day? Those are important questions as you contemplate your move into this next phase of your life.

3. A healthy approach to mental and physical ageing.

It is one thing to say that you want to be positive about the future. If that is true for you, then healthy ageing will be a major part of your retirement plans and lifestyle. While the ageing process is normal and affects us all in different ways, there are some things that we can all do to ensure that we "put time on our side" by looking after ourselves. Most people think that being healthy physically is the key to healthy ageing. In retirement, healthy mental ageing is just as important (and some would say even more so.) How much do you understand the basic principles of healthy physical and mental ageing? Are you doing something each and every day to nourish your need to use and expand your mind or to honour your body and do what you can to maintain your physical health?

4. A positive definition of 'Work'

Your work is the thing that you do to contribute your skills, experience, labour or knowledge to society in some way. It is also a way for you to "self-actualise" and create positive stress in your life. Even when you leave the traditional workplace, you will still have a need to share your workplace strengths and transferable skills. If you have a positive attitude towards the workplace, then the desire to have a retirement free from any kind of work becomes irrelevant. A wise person once said, "If you love what you do, you never have to work again!" By the way, work doesn't have to be full-time, it doesn't have to be something you don't like to do, and it doesn't even have to be for pay! Many retirees use volunteering as a way to replace the things that they miss most about their previous work.

5. Nurturing family and personal relationships

Our close personal relationships define us, give us a purpose for living our lives and encourage us to create life goals. We all have a basic need to share our lives, experiences and life journey with those closest to us. In retirement, our friendships and close relationships may offer us the validation that we may have received in the workplace. Those relationships give us the opportunity to "connect" on many levels with someone close and to share ourselves. Psychologists have identified our desire to share ourselves as a basic human need. This need is often satisfied in the activities that we enjoy with our spouse or partner, friends and family. Researchers have found that people in satisfying personal relationships have fewer illnesses and higher levels of good overall health. That's the clinical rationale. In real life terms, having people close to you who will share your life and be there for you will not only add to your overall life enjoyment but will also add years on to your life!

6. An active social network

As you get older, your social support network becomes increasingly important. You draw your social support network from a much broader social and friendship network. Successful retirees generally have robust social networks that provide them with friendship, fulfilling activities and life structure. As part of your retirement plan, you might want to think about the quality of the social network that you have today and your plans to build it. One of the lessons that we can learn about the ageing process is that our social networks begin to shrink–if we aren't continually adding to them. You can join clubs, meet new people and get out of the house to do new things. In retirement, you are going to want a lot of people who you can count on and it makes good sense to continue to seek out new opportunities to socialise.

7. A balanced approach to leisure

Leisure is a fundamental human need. We use it to recharge our batteries, to act as a diversion in our lives, to create excitement, anticipation or simply to rest and contemplate. Things change, however, when leisure becomes the central focus of our lives. Leisure, by its very nature, loses its lustre when it is the norm in our life rather than the diversion. For many retirees, the idea of leisure is associated with "not having to do anything". In the end, a lack of stimulation affects our mental and emotional state and then ultimately our physical well being. There is a big difference between "time-filling" activities and "fulfilling" activities that we look forward to. In retirement, leisure activities often replace workplace functions to meet the basic needs that we have. Successful retirees balance their leisure over many different activities and take the opportunity to do new things and not get into a rut.

8. Maintaining 'financial comfort'

Some retirees feel that a happy retirement is guaranteed by financial security. However, there is no price tag on successful retirement. As someone once said, "having a million dollars is NOT a retirement plan!" Financial comfort refers to being able to manage your life in a satisfying and fulfilling way using the financial resources that you have. If financial discomfort contributes to retirement stress, then your financial plan becomes a negative rather than a positive. The keys to achieving financial comfort are to have a clear understanding of the financial resources you have and the demands on your money that will come from the life you lead (both now and in the future). One good way to look at your financial situation in this next life phase is to think about the three "buckets" that you will have to keep filled in order to achieve financial comfort:

  • Your "essentials" bucket, which will pay for all of your basic needs
  • Your "lifestyle" bucket, which will fund those fun things that you dream of doing in retirement
  • Your "nest egg" bucket, which will fund any emergencies that may arise, provide you with a sense of security through good and challenging times and ultimately will form part of your legacy

  • A wise person once said "While there are lots of books available on retirement, the only book that really matters is the one that you write yourself!"

How to Help Your Kids Get Out on Their Own

A lot has changed since the baby boomers and older Gen X'ers were their children's age. Generally, back in their "younger years", they would not have found themselves living at home with Mum and Dad into their late 20's and possibly their early 30's. This trend to "stay home as long as possible" which is increasingly prevalent with many Gen Y'ers & Z'ers either choosing to stay at home or having to stay at home because of costs. Statistics cite that nearly 25 per cent of people aged 20 to 34 continues to live in the parental home in 2018 and that the trend is only going to increase.

So How Can You Help?

Well for many Gen X'ers and baby boomers with kids still at home (that maybe should have moved on a few years ago), it is really about helping your kids to "fly the coup" while also protecting them at the same time. So, let's look at some of the main reasons as to why children haven't left home and some tips on how you can best help them out of the nest and into their own place.

 Housing Affordability:
One of the biggest causes of "kids staying longer" is housing affordability – both renting or saving for a house deposit seem to be harder each year. We have seen property prices and rents escalate dramatically in some areas without the growth in wages to match. With this in mind, your goal needs to be to teach your children good savings habits from as young as possible. Living at home can create a sense in your children that they have a large disposable income, so money may be spent on non-essentials and entertainment. This is then a habit that continues through later life. Start by helping them create a budget with a savings plan included and support them to understand how to prioritise their spending and forgo (sacrifice) those items that are not necessary. It will be important for them to know that the accumulative effect that their daily coffee or weekend outing costs. If they're working, encourage them to save at least 20% of their weekly income into an account they can't easily touch.

University Fees and Living Costs:
University fees and the cost of living whilst at Uni is also another reason why children are staying in the nest longer. Hopefully, if you do have an adult child living at home they are doing a little bit of work to help supplement their living expenses. If they aren't it may be wise to give them a push in that direction. As much as it may pain you to talk about it, now is a good time to start educating your children on personal finances. We suggest that you talk to them about the monthly expenses you are paying on their behalf and the student loan that they are accruing. Talk to them about reducing any debt they've accumulated and discussed interest rates with them, pointing out they should be paying off the highest interest debts first. Whilst they may not want to pay much attention at this time in their lives, the goal is that when they finish university they will find a job and be faced with managing their own finances so by ensuring they are in the know you are going to help give them a flying start when they're off on their own.

Job Security:
Lastly, job security also plays a strong role in why kids are staying longer. From not being able to find a job after university to becoming unemployed through restructuring or redundancy, loss of income is not just an emotional time for those involved it also creates socio-economic limitations. The important key to helping your kids if they are out of work and struggling is to remind them that periods of unemployment happen, but they need to "bounce" quickly and get back out there. And be sure to not sacrifice too much yourself. You are also at a stage in life where you should be creating wealth for retirement, meaning your support for them must be balanced with your own goals at this time. If they are making a little money, ask them to pay some rent and then agree on some responsibilities such as cooking dinner, cleaning and washing that they can do to help out. You are not a hotel, and the responsibility will also help them to stay on track and get back to work faster. Give them a timeframe on how long they can stay back at home, make this realistic but not too long. We have all had dreams of becoming rock stars or the next Warren Buffet but sometimes career expectations need to be managed. Giving your kids a timeframe on how long they can stay will put boundaries in place and give them an understanding of what is needed right now. With work, it is generally easier to get a new job when you already have one.

Across all circumstances, it is important to share the responsibility of living with your children – financially, emotionally and practically. Be transparent and honest with them and support them to understand money so that they can make better decisions.

We hope you have found some useful tips in this week's "Money in Life" series. Remember we are only an email or phone call away if you would like to seek advice on how to help plan your family's wealth now and into the future.

 

Tax Tips to Save You More

Are you wondering whether you'll be paying too much tax this financial year? Minimising your tax where legally possible is a big part of your current and future wealth creation, not to mention that it's a smart thing to do.


If you're unsure about how you're traveling this year, don't leave your tax planning to the last minute. Consider getting a set of interim reports prepared by our office, which will show you exactly how your profit and income levels are tracking. If it's looking like you'll have a handsome tax bill after June 30, then now is the perfect time to arm yourself with information and do something about it. A set of interim accounts can be prepared to the end of March 2018, which then gives you a further three months before June 30 to get organised to make any changes necessary. We sometimes hear that the cost of the interims puts people off having them prepared, but in many cases, the cost is a minor expense if we can save you thousands in money you would otherwise be giving to the ATO.

The main tips to consider in the lead up to tax time are:
1. Consider superannuation contributions as a great tax deduction. For those under 75 and still working, a concessional contribution of $25,000 is available, and you'll only pay 15% tax on that amount of money, compared to your potentially higher personal tax rate.
2. Is your depreciation schedule up to date? If you've got business assets you can be claiming depreciation on, make sure these are listed and all up to date in order for your accountant to maximise any claims.
3. Prepay interest. If you've got borrowings, you may be able to pre-pay an amount of the interest, thus claiming that expense in the current financial year.
4. Consider making a charitable donation. Not only will you be able to claim the expense against your income, you'll also be making a difference for others.
5. The $20,000 instant write off is still with us, but not for long. If you buy an asset and it costs less than $20,000, you can immediately deduct the business portion in your tax return. The $20,000 threshold applied from 12 May 2015 and will reduce to $1,000 from 1 July 2018, so get in quick if you're thinking of buying something.
6. Look to write off bad debts if you won't be getting them back in the current financial year.
7. Pay your staff super on time if you'd like to claim the deduction for this. If you happen to leave the last quarter's payment until the next financial year, you won't be able to claim it.

So put some planning in place this year and get in early. We're here to help with all of your tax planning needs, and we'd love to help you where we can. To minimise your tax bill this year, give us a call today.

Franking Credits; What You Need to Know

You may have read in the media over the last week that Labor has announced that it would abolish imputation credit cash rebates for shareholders under Federal Labor's latest tax policy were it to be elected at the next Federal election.


Franking and Refunds Explained
Dividend imputation was introduced by the Hawke-Keating Labor government in 1987, to prevent so-called double taxation of company profits. This meant that shareholders did not need to pay tax on their dividends, for which the company had already paid tax.

But there was a shift in 2000, when the Howard-Costello Coalition government amended the policy, making it more generous for SMSFs and self-funded retirees - a policy which still exists today.

The effect of this change is that shareholders who pay no tax - or pay a lower rate of tax than the company (30 per cent) - can convert excess franking credits into cash refunds from the Australian Taxation Office. When companies pay dividends, they can include franking credits (or imputation credits) for shareholders who can then use it to offset their personal tax. Without franking credits, companies would be taxed on their profits, and individual shareholders would then be taxed on those same profits. If it is introduced in July next year, as Opposition Leader Bill Shorten hopes, it will be a massive change to the dividend franking system that was introduced by Paul Keating in the late 1980s and extended to include refunds for low rate taxpayers by John Howard nearly 20 years ago.

What Would This Mean For You?

The people most affected by Mr. Shorten's proposals will be individuals who pay little or no tax, given that the ability to use franking credits to offset taxable income will remain intact. Anyone whose tax liability is greater than the franking credits to which they would be entitled will not be affected. This includes members of large superannuation funds. Pooled, or traditional, super funds pay tax at the entity level and have sufficient tax liabilities across the fund, such as contributions and capital gains tax, against which the franking credits can be offset. This is the case regardless of whether the saver is still adding to their super in the accumulation phase or drawing a private pension.

And yes it does mean that fund members with pension accounts are effectively subsidising members with accumulation accounts.
The problem that self-managed super fund trustees find themselves in is that if they have a pension account – which by definition was commenced with less than $1.6 million of assets – they have no taxable income that can be used to offset the franking credits. Individuals who have reached the age pension age and are able to earn up to $29,000 tax-free under the seniors and pensioners tax offset (SAPTO) rules will also be affected.

Under the current system, of course, if these groups of investors own fully franked shares, they are able to claim a refund from the Tax Office for a sum that is equal to the amount of tax paid by the company. This can add between 10 per cent and 20 per cent to the amount of income derived from a share portfolio. Some commentators are saying that these changes if introduced would follow rather too quickly from the January 2017 changes to the means testing of the age pension. Those changes cut 100,000 retirees off from the age pension altogether and reduced the amount of age pension 300,000 more individuals were entitled to. The political argument about the policy centres on who would be most affected and how well off they are. Labor's policy said it would be wealthier retirees who are most likely to claim cash refunds because share ownership is highly concentrated amongst wealthier households. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said half the benefits of the total benefits of the cash refund scheme go to the biggest 10 per cent of super funds which have balances above $2.4 million.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said Labor could not claim no-one would pay more tax when the policy raises $59 billion over 10 years. Senator Cormann called it a $59 billion tax hike. "More than a million retirees, many of them pensioners or part-pensioners, will pay more tax under this proposal," Senator Cormann said. The Opposition said its policy had been costed by the independent Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO). The ALP would not release the costing, but said the PBO found that the policy would save $11.4 billion in 2020-21 and 2021-22. Labor said charities and not-for-profit institutions, including universities, would be excluded from the change. The new system would start in July 2019 if Labor was to be elected at the next Federal Election which should occur early in 2019.

If you would like to discuss any financial options with the team, we are always just a phone call away

Financial Checklist For 'Empty Nesters'

Well, they've finally left the nest and now you're trying to get reacquainted with your spouse! The kids leaving home can either give you a great sense of freedom or leave you struggling to find other activities to fill in your time. Either way, it's the perfect time to review your financial plans and set yourself on course for the next stage of life.


It's important to do some planning around this stage, as it's also a time when we see many people making major financial mistakes. This can manifest in a few ways – either blowing the spending budget on lavish holidays or regular dinners out or finally launching into a major house renovation that unfortunately sets you back for years. Examine again what's important for you and plan a smart strategy to move ahead. Here are some tips to help with this phase:

1. Check in on the retirement savings.
Even though you'll feel like you can only just put your head above water now, consider how many more years you'll want to work for and what you'd like your retirement income to look like. It may be an ideal time to increase that salary sacrificing into super, and finally clear that mortgage once and for all.

2. Re-evaluate your cashflow
Now that the kids are gone, you probably don't even have to buy as much food! We'd always suggest looking at your budget at least every two years, so make it a priority to get clear again on what your living expenses are. This will help you determine what surplus cashflow you have and where it would be best to direct these funds.

3. Cut the money cord between you and your kids
While you'll always want to be there for your kids, you're not doing them any favours by continuing to pay for their expenses or to give them money. Give your kids the gift of financial independence and encourage them to take care of this area on their own. You also don't want to drain your own retirement position by having to pay for things that your adult children are now more than able to cover themselves. Stop doing their washing, buying them food or paying the phone bills – they can do it themselves now!

4. Reassess your insurance needs
Now may be a perfect time to reduce the amount of insurance you're holding if your family needs have changed. Insurance is not meant to be something you hold forever – it's a tool to ensure the family position is stable when an unforeseen event happens. If your asset position has improved, you may not need as much cover as you did once upon a time.

5. Check in on your estate plan
Now that the kids are grown up you may have noticed that some of them are more financially able than others. You may also want to name one or some of your children to act in estate roles, such as being a backup executor for your Wills or as a second power of attorney. Also, consider how much you may like to leave your children and what you need to do now in order to make that a reality.

Your transition from active parent to empty-nester can be a challenging one, but with smart financial moves to guide you, it can be a joyous one, filled with new opportunities and new challenges. And to help all of our clients in this transition phase we will be holding one of our Retire Right nights in the coming months. The Retire Right evening takes you through all of the areas you need to consider and provides you with a solid understanding of your options for investment, saving and retirement funding, so that you can live your future the way you choose and maybe leave a bit for the kids too!

If you would like more information on the next Retire Right night near you, register here.

Planning for kids with particular focus on those expensive school years is the first practical thing you can do to ease the burden of your children's education. So for all of you, "Gen Yers" starting to have kids, this week is for you! 

Some important questions you may want to consider are:

1. How much will my children's education cost?
2. How do I invest for my children's education?
3. When should I start investing for my child's education?
4. What types of savings plans are available?
5. Should I put investments in my child's name?

If you are thinking of sending your child to private school for some or all of their schooling, the fees could potentially be over $200,000 per child depending on the school you're considering. At the other end of the scale, whilst public schools are much cheaper there are still costs and fees involved (which at the time can be a big outlay from your budget). But, thinking about your children's schooling when they are born can help you plan for the type of education you're after.

Once you have worked out how much you need it is time to put a savings plan into place. There are a variety of investments you could use from high interest earning bank accounts to managed funds. What you choose as your investment vehicle should be dependent on the time frame you have to invest. If your child starts high school next year and they are going to go to a private school then a high-interest savings account may be your best option. If your child is only 1 and you are thinking of private school for their high school education then you have a longer time frame of around 10 years to save, so could look at an investment such as a small share portfolio or even an education bond.

When considering your child's education, don't forget to consider yourself. It's not all about them. If you have a mortgage it may be wise to offset the education savings account against the mortgage thus reducing your interest and helping you pay off the mortgage sooner. Discuss this option with your bank – you may be able to set up an entirely separate offset account or line of credit against your home that you regularly pay into.

If a savings account is going to be the best option for you, the regular savings amount is the most important factor. For example, starting with a $1,000 initial investment and adding $100 per week to it will give you around $29,000 to put towards schooling over a 5 year period, even with today's low interest rates. Stretched out over a 10 year period and that figure becomes almost $62,000.

If you go down the path of a small share portfolio, you should also consider whose name you are investing the money in. You may be able to invest in your child's name for a limited time as once they start earning larger amounts of interest the tax payable can be quite high. It may be more prudent to open the account in the parent's name with the lowest marginal tax rate or that of the parent that may not be working. The other option could be to set up a family trust for which you should seek specialist advice.

An option not to be forgotten is the investment or education bond, which may have tax advantages, particularly to those who are at a high marginal tax rate. These investments allow you to save regularly, earn a rate of return higher than bank interest, and withdraw the investment amount tax-free if you've held the investment for over 10 years. For a good long-term approach, this might be an option for some parents.

Our advice is to work out how much you may require for education costs, start early, chose the right investment vehicle for the timeframe you have, think about yourself and get the right advice!

We hope you have enjoyed this week's "Money in Life" series. Remember we are only an email or phone call away if you would like to seek advice on how to help plan your family's wealth now and into the future.
Well, we've arrived at our discussion for this week – the money side of things when you decide to get married. This milestone is a huge move in anyone's life, as it's a time filled with excitement around planning and moving onto a new phase. For many couples, the planning of the actual wedding and honeymoon take precedence over the boring and not as exciting task of the planning of the financial side of your future... However, just as important as the dress, the cake and the destination of that one big day, is the day-to-day realities of how you will plan, save and invest for times ahead.


Money can be one of the primary sources of disagreement in a relationship, and that is why before you say "I do", it is important that you and your partner take the time to discuss and agree on a "money plan." This includes understanding how tying the knot can impact your financial obligations and potentially affect how you structure your finances. Keep in mind, however, that finances and taxes can vary greatly depending on an individual's or a couple's specific situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional to discuss your personal situation and get the best plan in place for you.

Here are five things to consider when it comes to how marriage and money can work together:

1. Understand what your relationship with money actually is for both of you. This is definitely a discussion you should have before you walk down the aisle, but research shows that couples who have a similar relationship with their finances generally stand a better chance of staying together. And this makes sense – if one person only likes saving and the other person only likes spending, it will be increasingly difficult to find a happy medium if there is no compromise. It's also worth talking about the financial education (or lack of it) you've grown up with because we're initially very much shaped by the way our parents handled their money.

2. Work out what combined living actually costs. If you're just moving in together for the first time, or if you're changing your living arrangements, there will be new and perhaps additional costs to factor into your budget. Think about your combined rent or mortgage repayments, car expenses, bills, and private health just to name a few. You may find that the cost of having two people under the one roof sends your combined spending either up or down, but getting really clear on this number is your best starting point.

3. Decide on a personal spending amount for each of you and keep it separate. One of our main cashflow strategies is to separate your weekly personal spending from your other money that's used for bills, investments, and savings. Transfer your weekly spending amount to your spending account and use this money to cover gifts, dining out, transport and groceries – all the day to day spending. This works for couples because you each have your own allocation of personal spending deposited into your individual bank accounts, and you each have discretion over how you spend your weekly allocation. Just try and stick to the determined amount! Then with your remaining cash flow, you can set up automatic payment of bills and invest for your goals.

4. Set your goals together. If you're wanting financial success, you both need to know what you're saving and investing for in order to stay motivated, and also to ensure you don't dip into those savings. It's so important to set those investment goals together so that you're aligned and both planning for the bigger picture. When two people are on different pages with what they're wanting form money, the outcome can be disastrous and lead to regular conflict. Get clear on this from the start and put a plan in place together. Being accountable to each other for working towards your plan will also give you a better chance of reaching this.

5. Update your Wills. Getting married actually cancels any previous Will that you already had in place, so make sure you visit your solicitor soon after to get another one done. If you, unfortunately, passed away before having done this, you'll be deemed to have died "intestate" (without a Will), which makes estate planning a lot more complicated and time-consuming for the remaining spouse. Also, revisit your nominated beneficiaries on your super funds. Remember that a spouse can receive a super benefit tax-free, which may also include some life insurance if your super has a policy in place.

We hope you have enjoyed this week's "Money in Life" series and remember we are only an email or phone call away if you would like to seek advice on how to help grow your wealth now and into the future.

The Volatility Beast Returns in 2018

Well, there it is. The correction that we've been told has been coming every month since January 2017, finally arrived. Over? Probably not, but it was needed.

Needed? Yes needed. Nothing in life comes for free. 2017 was an extremely rare year where the entrants enjoyed a free pass to the park and none of the rides had any bumps, jumps or scares. The biggest decline happened early in 2017 and then equity markets happily chugged upwards. How should you deal with the correction we've had in recent weeks? Ignore it. Like all downward movements, there are the regular tea leaf readings, inferences about past crash behaviour being an indicator of the future, along with the unveiling of scary stats and charts reminding us of uncharted territory. In other words, we're expected to believe it's eerily similar to 1987, 2008 and the great depression, but it has the possibility to be much worse!

The first Friday in February saw the fall on the Dow Jones being 665.75 points. Rounding up it was 666 – the devil's number and apparently to some that were a harbinger of hell about to be unleashed. Unlikely. The Tuesday following's fall was 1175 points and to put the fall in some sort of perspective, the Dow Jones wasn't even worth 1175 points until April 1983. 35 years later the whole weight of that index is a 4.6% daily loss!
Could a correction become a bear market or a crash? This is always possible, however, the time has shown almost no corrections go further to become crashes. Given enough time, most turn into buying opportunities. As one of our favourite charts shows (now updated through to the end of 2017), on average, the ASX portion of a portfolio will get bashed downwards 12% every year, but 75% of the time (since 1985) you're still getting a positive return for the overall year. In addition, you can expect three 5% declines in any one year.

It's usually a recession that sets off serious bad times in equities. So why are sharemarkets tumbling when we have the opposite economic conditions in the world's biggest economy? It's because investors are starting to realize what that growing economy means – inflation and more interest rate hikes.
Rates fell to historic lows in the financial crisis and have only recently started to rebound, although not yet in Australia. Low rates make investors turn away from fixed interest and cash to embrace shares. With rates rising, shares become less attractive. At the same time, an expanding economy means companies can expect greater long-term growth and corporate profits remain robust. While President Trump's giant corporate tax cut hasn't even worked its way into the equation yet.
As usual, if the rough times aren't over, don't sell the good stuff that has served you well in hopes of avoiding the market carnage. If you are inclined to, remember there is no way you'll know when to buy again. Despite a correction often being the best time to buy, most investors don't have the fortitude to don their floaties and enter the choppy water to grab a bargain.
 
As for the headlines, you'll note they still haven't become more inventive: "50 billion wiped off the market". While we're still waiting for "50 billion wiped on the market". And while the market falls led the news earlier this month, during 2017 the US markets had 12 consecutive months of gains and Australia had 10 positive months. Reporting on any of this good stuff was still relegated to the business section. It's partially why we feel the loss more than the gain. Though the downside happens significantly less, it's afforded significantly more attention. Last year was an anomaly with the markets. Now it's normal programming.


Starting a family, whether planned or unexpected is a time of great joy and for most some fear, panic and overwhelm. Bringing children into the world will generally bring with it quite a large change to your existing financial position and presents its own unique set of challenges and considerations.

There are differing figures all over the internet about the cost of raising a child in the Twenty-first century and some of them can be quite daunting. From $233,610 to raise a child born in 2015 to the age of 17, up to $406,000 to raise a child back in 2013. Regardless of the figure, the fact that remains is that having a child and being able to comfortably support them, continue to live your life and ensure that you have adequate protection in place requires planning and consideration. Below are some tips and also some questions you need to ask yourself when starting a family:

1. To start saving for a baby you might need to consider if you need to cut down on some expenses, especially if you don't have much of a budget surplus and savings plan already in place. This will also be good practice if you are going to stop working once your baby is born and particularly if you are going to take unpaid maternity leave for any length of time.

2. Adequately assess what items you may need to buy in advance. This could be things for the baby's nursery through to upsizing your car or making renovations to your home or moving to a bigger home or unit if you rent.

3. Prepare a budget and try to stick to it during the 9-month period. This will ensure that you have enough funds to pay for the extra baby items you'll need when they arrive. Once they arrive it will be important to sit down and review your budget regularly based on their needs and requirements.

4. Research what parental leave you are entitled to with your employer. Ask the questions "how much time do I get off?" and "how much will I be paid and how long for?" This will help you to decide if you need to increase your savings before having a baby. If you decide you don't want to go straight back to work once your paid entitlements end you will need to assess how much you will need for the length of time you take off and then budget and save accordingly.

5. Look at your health insurance, does it cover the birth costs for your baby? Will you be able to have your baby where and how you want to? Will your current health insurance cover your little one when they are born, or do you need to update it?

6. What will happen if something happens to you or your partner at this crucial time? Where will your income come from if you are unable to work and have a new mouth to feed? Make sure that you have adequate protection in place that will give you peace of mind if something did go wrong.

7. If you'd like to send your children to private school, start saving for that straight away. The cost of private schooling can be in the tens of thousands each year, so it's best to start building a nest egg for this cost as soon as the child arrives.

8. Do you need to update your Will? Having a child is one of those life events that require a revision and updating of your Will. You want to ensure that if something happens to you that your estate is in order and the people that need to benefit from it do. And don't forget to nominate a guardian for your child.

And remember, we are only an email or phone call away if you would like to seek advice on how to help plan your families' wealth now and into the future.

Buying a house has become somewhat of a dilemma for our Gen Y's and even potentially some Gen X's due to the increased price of housing, particularly in our Eastern capital cities. When you start thinking about buying a house it is important to be clear on what you can afford and then work backwards from there. 


When deciding on your "first house budget," begin with the facts and look at how much you can afford in terms of mortgage repayments, particularly if the house is going to be your primary place of residence. This will then help you work out how much you can borrow and what your deposit will need to be. There are some great calculators available on bank websites that can help you work this out.
Once you do this you will have a good idea of a purchase price that is affordable for you. The other option here is to go into your bank or give them a call and tell them you want to work out how much you could borrow to purchase a house and what deposit you may need.

Tip – With interest rates at an all-time low be careful not to over-borrow. It is important to think forward and be realistic in terms of what sort of impact an interest rate rise would have on your cash flow if you had a mortgage. Would a 1% rate rise put you under financial stress, could you handle the increase in repayments and still live comfortably?

The next big step is the deposit. Where is it going to come from? Are you going to have to save it or maybe your parents would be willing to gift you the deposit (or loan it to you) or they might offer to go as a guarantor to help you out. If you need to save then the first place to start is creating a budget. You would have received our budget planner last week and we have included it again this week in case you missed it. Using this template you will be able to work out how long it will take you to save your deposit based on your current surplus cash flow. From here it will be best to open a high interest earning account to save your deposit, it may be an idea to shop around and find an account that makes it harder for you to withdraw from whilst encouraging you to save – accounts like ING seem to have good parameters around this. Then it is all about getting into the habit of saving regularly for your deposit which will help you over the long-term as this is the exact same discipline you will need to apply when you're eventually paying down your mortgage. In the May 2017 Budget the Government announced a plan to save for a first home deposit through Superannuation called the 'First Home Super Saver Scheme' which has not been legislated as at January 2018 but it may be worthwhile to keep an eye on this as an option to give your deposit a boost. 

For some of the people reading this item, it may not be the first house you are buying and you may be considering purchasing property as an investment… Our tips here are to look at the rate of return that you would receive from the property. At the moment we are generally seeing around a 2% to 3% income return on residential investment property so unless there is a significant lift in the underlying value of the property, you may want to look at diversifying your investable funds into other asset classes such as shares. Diversification is a word you will hear us talk about regularly. Basically it is spreading your investible funds across different asset classes like shares, property, fixed interest or cash. The allocation that you put toward each of these asset classes comes down to the returns you are seeking and your level of comfort with risk. It is also important to look at the liquidity of your investible assets (how easily you can sell them) and the time frame you want to invest them for.

Tip – If you are looking at property as an investment option and are going to be looking at a buy/sell strategy, make sure you speak to your financial adviser or accountant about taxation issues such as capital gains tax and always take into consideration the fees associated with buying and selling property as this will affect your rate of return.

We hope you have enjoyed this week's "Money in Life" series and remember we are only an email or phone call away if you would like to seek advice on how to help grow your wealth now and into the future.
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