As a keen runner, I enjoyed watching the impressive performances of our Olympic athletes, Mo Farah and Jonathan Brownlee last weekend, and I will be cheering Bradley Wiggins as the cycling Tour of Britain heads for Dartmoor on Friday.
As a firm believer in charity, I am very excited that this weekend the Devon Air Ambulance Trust will be celebrating its 21st birthday. Like many charities across the West Country, they do invaluable work for local people, fulfilling a vital life-saving role. A successful charity requires diligent trustees, who are increasingly dependent on professional advice to support their decisions which must be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure any investments are suited to the charity’s needs.
We are delighted to host the second Professional Women’s Working Lunch on 11 September 2013 at our office. This time the group will look at how ‘Twitter and Tweeting’ can assist in developing a niche and using community conversations to become known as experts in a chosen field of expertise.
For many years personal pensions have had a tarnished image in many people’s eyes as a result of poor investment performance, high charges and complicated rules despite extremely valuable tax savings. I am excited that we are now entering a new dawn for pensions, which should help employees focus on their long-term financial planning and reverse years of decline in retirement saving where less than half the UK workforce has a private pension and traditional final salary pensions are becoming the exception outside the public sector.
The quiet Summer months are a good time to collate the information required for an annual tax return to avoid a last minute rush in January. Whilst the recent news that the private sector is growing at its fastest rate since 1998 is very welcome, government finances will remain stretched for years to come. As well as the programme of austerity with cuts in welfare spending, the government has given HMRC an additional £1b so it has the teeth to pursue tax evaders more effectively.
I was struck by the clear message that catering for an ageing population will be one of the defining economic and political challenges of the next 50 years in the recently published report by the Office for Budget Responsibility. The number of people aged over 65 is projected to rise by nearly 50% in the next 20 years and centenarians have quadrupled since 1981 according to official figures.
This week the ‘feel-good’ factor is everywhere. We have cheered sporting success, with Murray achieving an amazing victory at Wimbledon, the British Lions triumphant in Australia, and Chris Froome leading the Tour de France. Business confidence in the UK has reached a 13-month high as companies report higher levels of business and increased job creation, supporting the view that the economy is finally on a gradual road to recovery.
A Quarter of Two Halves
The last three months can broadly be divided into two parts, a strong market rally in April and May, followed by a sharp sell-off in June. Despite high levels of volatility, markets enjoyed a strong start to the second quarter.
As a keen driver I was unsurprised this week by the news that Devon and Cornwall face a bill of approaching £1b to fix the potholes in our roads. All too frequently I find myself having to steer around deep potholes on our rutted roads. The last few weeks have certainly given investors a reality call and served as a useful reminder that markets are not a one-way street with falls of over 10% in stock markets.
Despite the best efforts of the government to rebalance the economy over the last few years most of us continue to measure our wealth in terms of house prices. Many commentators had predicted a sharp fall in prices, but in fact the ‘average’ UK house now costs £233,061, the latest rise taking prices above the February 2008 peak, according to the recent LSL Acadametrics survey.