BBC Radio Scotland – Amanda Forsyth on “Good Morning Scotland”

Amanda Forsyth – Investment Manager & Business Development

Amanda Forsyth and BBC Radio Scotland’s Andrew Black discuss the challenges Christopher Edwards might face in resuscitating the ailing Poundworld; the emerging trends in UK employment and wages; and the likely trading performance of Scottish cloud hosting business Iomart.

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BBC Radio Scotland – Amanda Forsyth on “Good Morning Scotland”

Amanda Forsyth – Investment Manager & Business Development

Amanda Forsyth and BBC Radio Scotland’s Andrew Black discuss the drivers that have pushed the FTSE 100 Index to a new high; the likely mix of business reported in the forthcoming update from Halfords; Galliford Try’s trials over the Aberdeen bypass; and Bloomsbury Publishing’s uses for their cash pile.

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The MAM Blog – Scottish Income Tax Rates

Richard Johnston – Financial Planning Director

The Scottish Parliament now has much greater power to adjust income tax rates for Scottish residents and has taken the opportunity to do so for 2018/19.

  • Firstly, the higher rate of tax has been increased from 40% to 41%, with the threshold restricted to £43,430. The corresponding level in the rest of the UK is £46,350.
  • Secondly, the basic rate of income tax has been split into three bands – the first £2,000 being taxed at 19% (the ‘starter’ rate), the next £10,150, being taxed at 20% (the new ‘basic’ rate) and the remaining £19,430 taxable at 21% (the ‘intermediate’ rate).
  • Finally, the additional tax rate, applying to income above £150,000, has been increased to from 45% to 46%.
  • This divergence creates some complexities because the Scottish Parliament’s powers do not extend to savings interest, dividends or Capital Gains Tax – all of which work by being added to the individual’s other taxable income to determine the rate at which they are payable.

    In addition, National Insurance (NI) rates and thresholds are not controlled by the Scottish Parliament. For example, as NI rates are 12% for basic rate taxpayers and 2% for higher rate taxpayers, Scottish taxpayers’ earnings between £43,430 and £46,350 will therefore now be taxed at 53% (i.e. 41% + 12%), before falling back to 43% beyond this.

    Personal pension and charitable contributions are also affected, as the default rate of relief applied remains at 20%, but a Scottish taxpayer will have the right to claim the additional 1%.

    It is therefore clear that the changes introduced will not only lead to additional tax for Scottish taxpayers, but potentially some confusion and administrative burden.

    BBC Radio Scotland – Amanda Forsyth on “Good Morning Scotland”

    Amanda Forsyth – Investment Manager & Business Development

    Amanda Forsyth and BBC Radio Scotland’s Gillian Marles discuss the maturing of the Apple business model; the renaissance of growth at BP; the difference that home delivery makes to Just Eat and Pizza Express; and the management changes at Johnston Press.

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    The MAM Blog – Bitcoin

    Charles Robertson – Senior Investment Manager

    Having returned recently from the USA there was one topic of conversation that frequently occurred and it wasn’t what you would have thought. It was ‘should I invest in Bitcoin’?

    Bitcoin is a virtual or cryptocurrency that was created in 2009. Created/’mined’ by computer code they exist within an interlinked computer system and the maximum number in circulation will be limited to 21 million. A ledger, Blockchain, can store, monitor and be used to exchange the Bitcoin in the ‘real world’ or on-line economies. It is perceived to be attractive because of the limited supply, the lack of regulation and anonymity it affords and the lack of government control. The last two features means that it has also been associated with on-line criminal activity. Bitcoin has displayed a staggering increase in value from 6 cents in August 2010 to more recently when the price has exceeded $8000. The number of exchanges where Bitcoin can be traded and the number of retailers prepared to accept Bitcoin has also increased exponentially. The price has displayed a staggering level of volatility, but after each dramatic fall it has so far recovered and pushed higher.

    Perhaps it is the rise in value that has prompted so much discussion and persuaded so many investors to become involved. People are prepared to trade and accept Bitcoin because other people are prepared to accept Bitcoin. If this source of demand is materially reduced for whatever reason (and my best guess would be some form of synchronised interference by governments) then recent investor behaviour does start to look a lot like ‘a mania’, the epitome of the so-called ‘greed trade’.

    This week saw the launch of Glint Pay Services which has the aim of ‘re-introducing gold as money’. Based on a debit card and supported by mobile technology, it will allow people to store rights to gold i.e. a very different type of currency to Bitcoin. Gold as a currency has been in existence for nearly 3000 years, but over the past few years the performance has fallen well short of the price rise seen in Bitcoin. However, I can say with a degree of certainty that gold will have a value in 10 years’ time, but I am far less confident about making the same statement about Bitcoin, particularly if we are in a period of investor mania. So would I invest in Bitcoin right now? The answer would be no, but the development of cryptocurrencies is a phenomenon that is likely to last and so should be monitored carefully.

    On my trip the ‘Trump effect’ was also discussed a fair amount, but I will save that for another time – perhaps it should be in the form of a Tweet!

    Amanda Forsyth selected as finalist in Investment Week’s ‘Women in Investment’ Awards

    Amanda Forsyth – Investment Manager & Business Development

    Murray Asset Management is delighted that Amanda Forsyth has been selected as a finalist in Investment Week’s ‘Women In Investment’ Awards, in the category of ‘Fund Manager of the Year’ for small- to medium-sized firms.

    Ruthven Gemmell, Chief Executive of Murray Asset Management, said, “I am pleased, but not surprised, to have Amanda’s expertise recognised in this way. She has brought her years of experience to bear for our clients, and provides a role model for younger women in the investment community.”

    Amanda said, “It is an honour to have reached this stage of the awards process, particularly when I look at the company I keep on the shortlist.”

    The winners of the Women in Investment Awards will be announced on 29th November.

    The MAM Blog – Defined Benefit Pension Transfers

    Richard Johnston – Financial Planning Director

    Recently, there has been a surge in individuals transferring their entitlement within defined benefit (DB) pension schemes (e.g. a final salary pension scheme) to a defined contribution (DC) arrangement (e.g. a personal pension) – and with good reason.

    Why the Sudden Interest?

    The ability to transfer the entitlement has always existed, but the sums offered have increased significantly since the Brexit referendum of June 2016 as a result of changing economic factors which influence the calculation performed by the DB schemes’ actuaries. (Specifically, the reduced Gilt yield and increased inflation rate are largely responsible).

    As DC arrangements have become much more flexible in recent years, this has also increased the demand for such plans. Many people view the transfer as an opportunity to enhance the potential inheritance for their children, given that the income from a DB scheme often ceases upon death (unless there is a surviving spouse), whereas a DC pot can be inherited – potentially with little or no tax being payable.

    Who Can Transfer?

    Essentially, any person with benefits within a ‘funded’ DB scheme can transfer (so excluding schemes such as those applying to the NHS and Civil Service), but normally only deferred members (i.e. those no longer actively accruing entitlement) are likely to pursue it, given that it would otherwise be necessary to opt-out of the scheme.

    From a practical perspective, however, there is a legislative requirement to obtain independent financial advice if the value involved is over £30,000 and so those with transfer sums below, say, £150,000, may find it unviable to pursue the matter.

    For a person in their late 50s, current transfer values are typically 25-30 times the annual deferred pension income and so this can be used as a means of estimating.

    How to Proceed

    Firstly, it is important to obtain a guaranteed transfer value quotation from the scheme which, once presented, is guaranteed for three months. The main concern with doing this is that most schemes only permit members to obtain one valuation each year – but otherwise there is no cost to requesting it.

    The next step is to approach an appropriate and qualified financial adviser so that they may assess the valuation, discuss the pros and cons, and advise accordingly.

    Murray Asset Management provides this service, so please get in touch if it interests you.