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Burger chain Byron becomes the latest victim of the pandemic

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Byron Burger has become the latest victim of the coronavirus pandemic after it emerged it is preparing to enter administration.

The upmarket burger chain had furloughed most of its 1,200 staff but struggled to get emergency loans from the Government and is unable to pay its bills.

The trendy business, founded in 2007, expanded too aggressively and made huge losses as the casual dining market became saturated, leading to 20 restaurant closures in 2018.

Overdone: Upmarket burger chain Byron Burger expanded too aggressively and made huge losses as the casual dining market became saturated, leading to 20 restaurant closures in 2018

Overdone: Upmarket burger chain Byron Burger expanded too aggressively and made huge losses as the casual dining market became saturated, leading to 20 restaurant closures in 2018

Overdone: Upmarket burger chain Byron Burger expanded too aggressively and made huge losses as the casual dining market became saturated, leading to 20 restaurant closures in 2018

Byron’s 51 UK branches will still begin a phased reopening in mid-July as bosses try to finalise a sale to save the business.

Restaurants are preparing to open their doors to diners for the first time since late March.

But there are serious fears that Government red tape and consumers’ ongoing concerns about the virus mean they will not be profitable for many months.

Business leaders have already said ministers’ plans to make pubs and restaurants collect customers’ contact details raise serious data protection issues.

Restaurants were handed a lifeline last week after Boris Johnson reduced social distancing guidance from two metres to one metre. But many have not survived the lockdown.

The Casual Dining Group, which owns Café Rouge, last month said it would appoint administrators. 

Celebrity chef Rick Stein said two of his seven restaurants had closed. Pret a Manger only paid a third of its rent bill last week.

KPMG, which has been conducting Byron’s sale process, declined to comment. Byron was contacted for comment.

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New car registrations down by a third in June despite dealers reopening

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UK new car registrations fell by more than a third in June, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) today has confirmed.

Last month’s figures have been eagerly anticipated with showrooms reopening on 1 June as part of eased lockdown measures. The results have provided an initial insight into the auto market’s potential for recovery from the coronavirus shutdown and level of consumer confidence to make big-ticket purchases.

While registrations were down by 35 per cent in June, it was a marked improvement on the declines of 89 per cent in May and 97 per cent in April when visitors were banned from dealerships.

Are these signs of recovery for the UK auto sector? Registrations of new cars fell by a much smaller amount than in the previous two months, though the trade body warn that June figures won't be a clear indication of how the motor industry will fare post-pandemic

Are these signs of recovery for the UK auto sector? Registrations of new cars fell by a much smaller amount than in the previous two months, though the trade body warn that June figures won't be a clear indication of how the motor industry will fare post-pandemic

Are these signs of recovery for the UK auto sector? Registrations of new cars fell by a much smaller amount than in the previous two months, though the trade body warn that June figures won’t be a clear indication of how the motor industry will fare post-pandemic 

Some 145,377 new cars were registered in the sixth month of 2020, the UK automotive trade body confirmed.

That’s 78,044 fewer than in June 2019 – though dealerships in Wales and Scotland remained closed for much of the month.

Despite showrooms in England being allowed to welcome customers back from the start of last month, dealerships in Wales weren’t given the green light to open until 22 June, while those in Scotland had to wait until 29 June.

Around one in five showrooms in England also remained shut throughout last month, meaning today’s figures don’t provide the full scale of the true level of demand. 

In a statement released on Monday morning, the trade body said: ‘The hoped for release of pent-up sales has not yet occurred, with consumer confidence for big ticket purchases looking weak meaning that automotive is likely to lag behind other retail sectors.’

While sales were down 35% in June, it was a a marked improvement on the declines of 89% in May and 97% in April

While sales were down 35% in June, it was a a marked improvement on the declines of 89% in May and 97% in April

While sales were down 35% in June, it was a a marked improvement on the declines of 89% in May and 97% in April

The SMMT said some of these private bought vehicles were orders made pre-lockdown, though the stats show that public demand for cars accounted for more than half of the market

The SMMT said some of these private bought vehicles were orders made pre-lockdown, though the stats show that public demand for cars accounted for more than half of the market

The SMMT said some of these private bought vehicles were orders made pre-lockdown, though the stats show that public demand for cars accounted for more than half of the market

The SMMT described 2020 first-half sales as ‘lacklustre’, with registrations down 49 per cent as almost 616,000 fewer new vehicles hit the road in the opening six months of the year compared to the same period in 2019. 

It calculated that some 240,000 private sales have been lost since consumers were told to ‘stay at home’ and retailers forced to close from 23 March, resulting in an estimated £1.1 billion loss to the Treasury in VAT receipts alone.

Are these signs that the motor industry will recover quickly? 

But June figures show there is appetite for new cars among motorists, despite millions of workers remaining on furlough until the end of July or on reduced hours and salary as businesses move towards increasing operating levels back to pre-Covid levels.  

Demand from private car buyers was down by just 19 per cent last month, with 72,827 new motors appearing on driveways.

The SMMT said some of these vehicles were orders made pre-lockdown, though the stats show that public demand for cars accounted for more than half of the market.  

This was also due to fleet sales being down a substantial 45 per cent, as businesses paused purchasing amid expenditure reviews.

Industry insiders said the true picture of consumer confidence will not be revealed until the wider retail and hospitality sectors re-open and society and the economy begin a gradual return to normality. 

And they remain concerned that with the government’s Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme winding down and major employers across all sectors announcing significant job losses, spending is going to shrink further in a ‘depressed market’.  

Car dealers in England were allowed to reopen - with extensive coronavirus measures in place - from 1 June

Car dealers in England were allowed to reopen - with extensive coronavirus measures in place - from 1 June

Car dealers in England were allowed to reopen – with extensive coronavirus measures in place – from 1 June

Showrooms in Wales weren't given the green light to welcome back customers until 22 June, while dealers in Scotland were only allowed to open their doors from 29 June

Showrooms in Wales weren't given the green light to welcome back customers until 22 June, while dealers in Scotland were only allowed to open their doors from 29 June

Showrooms in Wales weren’t given the green light to welcome back customers until 22 June, while dealers in Scotland were only allowed to open their doors from 29 June

Dealers across the UK have had to incorporate one-way systems, install hand sanitiser stations and put in place strict cleaning protocol to ensure the safety of the visiting public

Dealers across the UK have had to incorporate one-way systems, install hand sanitiser stations and put in place strict cleaning protocol to ensure the safety of the visiting public

Dealers across the UK have had to incorporate one-way systems, install hand sanitiser stations and put in place strict cleaning protocol to ensure the safety of the visiting public

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, explained, ‘While it’s welcome to see demand rise above the rock-bottom levels we saw during lockdown, this is not a recovery and barely a restart. 

‘Many of June’s registrations could be attributed to customers finally being able to collect their pre-pandemic orders, and appetite for significant spending remains questionable.

‘The government must boost the economy, help customers feel safer in their jobs and in their spending and give businesses the confidence to invest in their fleets. 

‘Otherwise it runs the risk of losing billions more in revenue from this critical sector at a time when the public purse needs it more than ever.’

Pictured: A Porsche in Chiswick, West London. Face masks, wipes and gloves are at the entrance for customers and staff to use, along with tape on the floor to guide people

Pictured: A Porsche in Chiswick, West London. Face masks, wipes and gloves are at the entrance for customers and staff to use, along with tape on the floor to guide people

Pictured: A Porsche in Chiswick, West London. Face masks, wipes and gloves are at the entrance for customers and staff to use, along with tape on the floor to guide people

A customer wearing a face mask to protect against coronavirus as part of efforts to enforce social distancing in the car servicing department at the Trident Honda car dealership in Ottershaw, England

A customer wearing a face mask to protect against coronavirus as part of efforts to enforce social distancing in the car servicing department at the Trident Honda car dealership in Ottershaw, England

A customer wearing a face mask to protect against coronavirus as part of efforts to enforce social distancing in the car servicing department at the Trident Honda car dealership in Ottershaw, England

The automotive retail sector employs more than 590,000 people and, with a £200 billion turnover, is one of the UK’s most valuable economic assets.

The SMMT warned last month that without government support, one in six UK motor industry workers’ jobs are now at risk.

The annual tax-take from VAT, VED and other duties on new car sales to private buyers alone amounts to some £5.4 billion, while the sector also helps drive the UK’s £82billion automotive manufacturing industry, supporting a further 168,000 high-skilled and high-paid jobs in communities across every nation and region of the UK, and delivering billions to the economy every year.

Alex Buttle, director of car selling website Motorway.co.uk, said July figures will ‘probably give us a clearer idea where consumer confidence and appetite to buy is right now’, as the suggestion of pent-up demand for new vehicles will have dissipated, providing a clearer indication of demand.

‘The worry is that in the current economic climate, with many people unsure about their jobs when they come off furlough, the new car market will be slow to return to a sense of normality, without any meaningful incentives from the Government to turbo-charge growth,’ he added. 

Vauxhall's recently released new-generation Corsa was the best-selling new car in March. Though the SMMT said many of the registrations could be deliveries of orders made before the lockdown was put in place

Vauxhall's recently released new-generation Corsa was the best-selling new car in March. Though the SMMT said many of the registrations could be deliveries of orders made before the lockdown was put in place

Vauxhall’s recently released new-generation Corsa was the best-selling new car in March. Though the SMMT said many of the registrations could be deliveries of orders made before the lockdown was put in place

Corsa tops sales charts – and electric car demand keeps booming 

In June, Vauxhall’s brand new Corsa became the UK’s best-selling car, with 4,528 registrations last month.

It was just ahead of its biggest rival, the Ford Fiesta (4,386 registrations), which has been the nation’s favourite new motor for 11 years running, and knocked the Tesla Model 3 from the top of the standings for the previous two months.

With 4,200 sales, the Toyota Yaris was the third most-bought new car, suggesting plenty of demand for the supermini market.

In fact, June was a strong month for the Japanese brand as a whole, with Toyota dealers selling the third largest volume of new motors last month.

With 11,709 registrations, Toyota dealers shifted 311 more vehicles than it did in the same month of 2019 – a year-on-year increase of almost 3 per cent.

Ford dealers saw the most activity, selling 13,622 vehicles (down 38 per cent), ahead of VW showrooms, which sold customers 12,421 cars (down 39 per cent).

MG Motor, which is owned by Chinese firm SAIC Motor UK, celebrated its best ever sales results for the month, with the brand selling 2,025 cars – its biggest ever June and its second highest volume month ever, after March 2020.

MG Motor said it was celebrating its best June on record - a small victory at a time when the motor industry is struggling

MG Motor said it was celebrating its best June on record - a small victory at a time when the motor industry is struggling

MG Motor said it was celebrating its best June on record – a small victory at a time when the motor industry is struggling

Battery-electric car sales rose by a massive 262%t in June, as registrations increased from 2,461 in June 2019 to 8,903 last month

Battery-electric car sales rose by a massive 262%t in June, as registrations increased from 2,461 in June 2019 to 8,903 last month

Battery-electric car sales rose by a massive 262%t in June, as registrations increased from 2,461 in June 2019 to 8,903 last month

And as well as success stories for individual manufacturers, there continued to be plenty of demand for alternative-fuel vehicles, with battery-electric car sales up 262 per cent in June, as registrations rose from 2,461 in June 2019 to 8,903 last month.

Plug-in hybrid sales were also 117 per cent higher, while demand for conventional ‘self-charging’ hybrids was up by 19 per cent. 

Seán Kemple, director of sales at Close Brothers Motor Finance, said the figures showed the signs of the UK motor industry beginning to ‘reap the rewards’ of returning from lockdown, despite through big changes in June.

He compared the demand levels to those in other countries, where motor dealers were allowed to re-open a month earlier than showrooms in England. 

‘The V-shaped recovery that we’ve already seen in China and Germany should be mirrored in the UK – we all have our fingers crossed as the country starts its ascent,’ he explained.

July registration figures are expected to give a better indication of consumer demand for new cars, according to various experts from the motor industry

July registration figures are expected to give a better indication of consumer demand for new cars, according to various experts from the motor industry

July registration figures are expected to give a better indication of consumer demand for new cars, according to various experts from the motor industry

Some insiders have warned that the next problem the sector faces could be caused by a lack of supply of new cars, with manufacturers operating at reduced production levels post lockdown

Some insiders have warned that the next problem the sector faces could be caused by a lack of supply of new cars, with manufacturers operating at reduced production levels post lockdown

Some insiders have warned that the next problem the sector faces could be caused by a lack of supply of new cars, with manufacturers operating at reduced production levels post lockdown

The SMMT warned last month that without government support, one in six UK motor industry workers' jobs are now at risk

The SMMT warned last month that without government support, one in six UK motor industry workers' jobs are now at risk

The SMMT warned last month that without government support, one in six UK motor industry workers’ jobs are now at risk

He warned that if demand continues to grow, it will put ‘immense pressure’ on car makers. 

‘Faced with social distancing restrictions, job losses, and falling profits, it will be no easy task [for manufacturers] to kickstart production to pre-Covid-19 levels,’ he added. 

‘Beyond the immediate uplift, once available stock has been swept off the forecourts, buyers will likely face long waiting times for their cars which will slow recovery. 

‘The whole market has been caught in the net; manufacturers, dealers, and finance providers alike are dealing with a sudden surge in demand while recovering from the financial impact on their business. 

‘Support from the Government will be crucial to get the sector back to strength, as will the expertise from dealers to help consumers feel confident in their big purchase.’

Michael Woodward, UK automotive lead at Deloitte, said: ‘The automotive industry is taking positive steps towards recovery from the impact of Covid-19.  

‘Despite the year-on-year decline in sales, these results will have exceeded many people’s expectations. 

‘Dealerships have worked hard to encourage consumers back through their doors. However, the full scale of these efforts may not be reflected in June’s figures as supply issues delay some registrations.’

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How do state pension top-ups work

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Please can you help a slightly confused retired teacher?

I was born in February 1955. After 21 and a half years of full-time teaching in the state sector I took early retirement aged 57 in 2012 and since then have been receiving my teachers’ pension though the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.

I have not had any paid employment since that date.

Please explain: I'm a retired teacher and need to know how state pension top-ups work

Please explain: I'm a retired teacher and need to know how state pension top-ups work

Please explain: I’m a retired teacher and need to know how state pension top-ups work

In 1976 I married my husband (also a full-time state sector teacher for 40 years) and stayed at home as a housewife raising our four children until I commenced my teaching career.

I am not due to receive my state pension until my 66th birthday in 2021.

My latest state pension forecast based on my National Insurance record up to April 2019 is for £130.21 per week. My ‘Contracted Out Pension Equivalent’ estimate is £67.09.

It also states I have 40 years of full contributions, one year to contribute before 5 April 2020, eight years when I did not contribute enough, and the most I can receive by topping up any missing contributions from financial years 2013/14 to 2019/20 is £149.48 per week.

It lists individual amounts to pay for missing years.

Please could you advise me how many years of missing contributions I would have to buy back to make up my current shortfall of £19.27 per week?

Steve Webb: Find out how to ask the former Pensions Minister a question about your retirement savings in the box below

Steve Webb: Find out how to ask the former Pensions Minister a question about your retirement savings in the box below

Steve Webb: Find out how to ask the former Pensions Minister a question about your retirement savings in the box below

Also does it matter which of the years I buy back? For example: 2018/19 is £761.80, 2017/18 is £741, whereas 2016/17, 2015/16, 2014/15 and 2013/14 are all £780 per year.

Thank you so much for any insight and assistance you can give me. I do find it all very confusing.

SCROLL DOWN TO FIND OUT HOW TO ASK STEVE YOUR PENSION QUESTION    

Steve Webb replies: I hope that one day the Department for Work and Pensions will produce an online calculator where you can indicate which years you want to buy to top up your state pension and it will tell you what effect this will have on the amount of pension you will receive.

But until we get to that point, unfortunately you are largely left to work it out for yourself and in fact are at risk of wasting money if you pick the wrong years.

It is a kind of government sponsored ‘Russian Roulette’ with your money.

How is your state pension calculated?

The way that the new state pension is worked out is in two stages. The first is to look at what you had built up by April 2016 when the rules changed. This is called your starting amount.

The second is to take account of years of contributions since that date. Let us look at each in turn.

When the DWP look at your record up to April 2016 they first work out what you would have got if the rules had not changed.

Next, they compare this with the amount you would get under the new rules as at April 2016. They then base your pension on the higher of these two figures.

In your case, under the old rules you would have built up a full basic state pension. This is because your long teaching career plus any credits from time bringing up children covers the 30-year target.

But you would probably not have built up much earnings-related state pension. This is because you were a member of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.

Under the new rules, the target is 35 years for a full flat rate pension. But, crucially, they would then make a deduction for your years in the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.

This is labelled as the COPE (contracted out pension equivalent) figure on your statement. In your case, this is quite a large figure.

My working assumption is that the amount you had built up by April 2016 would be larger under the ‘old’ rules, and this has a big impact on which years you should top up.

How do you work out which top-ups to buy?

The next step is to take account of years of contributions from 2016/17 onwards. Here the calculation is relatively simple.

The full pension for 35 years is currently £175.20, so each year from 2016/17 onward gives you £175.20/35 or £5 per week.

(I note that your statement was issued in 2019/20 when the full rate was £168.60, so each extra year earned you £4.82. Four years would earn you £19.27, which is in line with the information you have supplied.)

In terms of which years to buy back, it is always safest to consider years from 2016/17 onwards.

If you are short of a full pension then any extra year from 16/17 onwards will add a fiver a week at current rates. In your case you can add four years from 2016/17 to 2019/20 inclusive.

You may be wondering why buying back any of the years from 2013/14 to 2015/16 inclusive would not also boost your pension?

The reason is that your 2016 starting amount is almost certainly based on the old rules, and includes a full basic state pension based on 30 years of contributions.

If you bought back an extra year before April 2016, this could not increase your basic state pension as at April 2016 because it is already at the maximum rate.

I have to say that it is deeply unhelpful that DWP have in effect sent you a letter suggesting you pay them money which would not actually boost your state pension.

This is hardly the most consumer-friendly way of communicating with people, and the sooner this process is changed, the better. 

ASK STEVE WEBB A PENSION QUESTION 

Former Pensions Minister Steve Webb is This Is Money’s Agony Uncle.

He is ready to answer your questions, whether you are still saving, in the process of stopping work, or juggling your finances in retirement.

Steve left the Department of Work and Pensions after the May 2015 election. He is now a partner at actuary and consulting firm Lane Clark & Peacock.

If you would like to ask Steve a question about pensions, please email him at pensionquestions@thisismoney.co.uk.

Steve will do his best to reply to your message in a forthcoming column, but he won’t be able to answer everyone or correspond privately with readers. Nothing in his replies constitutes regulated financial advice. Published questions are sometimes edited for brevity or other reasons.

Please include a daytime contact number with your message – this will be kept confidential and not used for marketing purposes.

If Steve is unable to answer your question, you can also contact The Pensions Advisory Service, a Government-backed organisation which gives free help to the public. TPAS can be found here and its number is 0800 011 3797.

Steve receives many questions about state pension forecasts and COPE – the Contracted Out Pension Equivalent. If you are writing to Steve on this topic, he responds to a typical reader question here. It includes links to Steve’s several earlier columns about state pension forecasts and contracting out, which might be helpful. 

If you have a question about state pension top-ups, Steve has written a guide which you can find here. 

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Managed to save some extra money during lockdown? Get started in investing

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Though the restrictions on movement during lockdown have left many with a case of severe cabin fever, an unexpected upside has been Britons spending less and saving more. 

The most recent data from the Office for National Statistics released this week, revealed that collectively, we have saved £157billion in just three months.

Meanwhile Bank of England figures show £11billion was poured into British easy-access accounts through March and April, compared to just £2.7billion during the same period in 2019. 

A new survey has revealed the average Briton has saved £495 during lockdown

A new survey has revealed the average Briton has saved £495 during lockdown

A new survey has revealed the average Briton has saved £495 during lockdown

A combination of working from home and the near-enough complete closure of the hospitality industry means the vast majority of people don’t have their usual daily expenses and aren’t going to the pub after work on Friday – or any other day for that matter.

Meanwhile, major spending on holidays, weddings and home renovations has also come to a halt, meaning even bigger savings for some. 

A survey by Creditfix.co.uk said 72 per cent of Britons are feeling positive about life after the pandemic with regards to their finances, with the average person saving £495 per month during lockdown. 

And while less spending doesn’t bode well for the consumer economy, a newfound propensity to save certainly isn’t a bad thing. 

But with interest rates remaining desperately unattractive, there are much better ways to make your extra cash go further – investing is one of them. 

This is Money has an extensive collection of guides on how to get started including this one on choosing the best investment platform for you and this one on different investment strategies.

But here are some specific tips on what do you with your surplus coronavirus cash.

Before you consider investing, 'spring clean' your finances and identify any issues that should take priority such as paying off debts or building a 'rainy day' fund

Before you consider investing, 'spring clean' your finances and identify any issues that should take priority such as paying off debts or building a 'rainy day' fund

Before you consider investing, ‘spring clean’ your finances and identify any issues that should take priority such as paying off debts or building a ‘rainy day’ fund

Pay off your debts 

The first thing to do if you’ve managed to save any money is to clear any debts where possible. Paying them off in one go is the best option. 

Credit card bills are usually the first that should be paid off due to high interest rates, which can be anywhere between 10 and 50 per cent. 

If you had £1,000 in debt on a credit card at 18 per cent APR, the average according to MoneySuperMarket, the interest would cost you £180. 

If you had £1,000 in a savings account earning – a rather optimistic given the current climate – 1.5 per cent, the interest earned would be £15. So it makes economic sense to pay off your debt first.

The only exception would be if you happen to have a 0 per cent deal, and you are certain you can pay it off during the interest free period.

It all adds up!

A survey by AA Financial Services has revealed the average amount of money people have saved in a range of areas by not going out during the period of home isolation. 

The biggest savings come from not spending on holidays or city breaks – with an average saving of £124 per month

Overall, the average monthly savings made on eating and drinking out was £57.49 per month.

Other areas where Britons are saving, on average per month:

  • High-street shopping – £53.46
  • Weekend trips and days out – £48
  • Car maintenance and fuel – £84.16
  • Leisure activities e.g. cinema, concerts, gigs, theatre – £36.02
  • Convenience food and ready meals – £27.45

You should also keep some ‘rainy day’ cash savings as a financial buffer for emergencies – it might be that you had to dip into yours during the current crisis, or maybe you didn’t have one at all so now would be a great time to set one up. 

Interest rates are very low across the board though, so take a look at how much cash you need readily available and make sure you are getting the best terms possible. 

Only after these steps should you consider feeding any excess cash that is highly unlikely to be needed in a hurry into investments for the longer term.   

What are you investing for? 

Once you’ve decided to start investing, think about what your goals are which would be very different depending on your age, how close to retirement you are and how much you can afford to lose.

Darius McDermott, managing director at investment research firm FundCalibre, says to imagine your ideal lifestyle.

‘This is a great way of thinking about your end goal – do you want a big wedding or a small one? 

‘Do you want to pay off your mortgage ten years early? What kind of retirement do you want?’ 

Different aims mean different time frames to work towards and risk will vary so investing might not be the best option for some of them.   

If you’re investing for a deposit on your first home which you hope to buy in 2025, knowing what you need to live on when you retire in 2050 is less relevant. 

But if you’re investing to top up your savings pot for later in life, then understanding your spending needs helps to inform what and how you save and invest today.

How much do you want to have?

You’ve thought about your goals but now you need to think what you need to get there and how long it will take you. Are you hoping to make an income or to reinvest?

If you’re just after a bit of extra cash to top up your monthly income – or your pension, depending on your age –  having the money paid out each month makes sense.  

McDermott adds: ‘Lockdown should have made how you spend your money a lot clearer and what counts as “necessities” versus “nice-to-haves”.

‘If investing for retirement, this should help us decide how much money we need and what we would like to have each month. This gives us a much clearer goal than we perhaps had a few months ago.’

But if you’re aiming for a set amount, for a deposit for a home for example, reinvesting aims to get you to your goal faster as your investment earns interest on both the initial amount invested and accumulated interest – this is called compounding.  

Set a ballpark figure as your goal and decide how much you’re going to put aside each month after your initial lump sum to help you get there and how long you’d like it to take. 

Of course investing comes with risks and nothing is ever guaranteed so think long and hard about what you’re willing to lose. 

How to invest 

There are several ways to invest and the abundance of options can sometimes be overwhelming and make things appear more complicated than they really are.

First of all, are you after tax-free investing? There are several ways to do this, with an array of different limits and benefit. 

Saving for a first home or towards retirement could mean investing into a Lifetime Isa is the best option, though there are lots of restrictions so read about the pros and cons here

A self-invested personal pension is another alternative. Read about these in our Sipp guide here.

There are fewer restrictions with an ordinary stocks and shares Isa, but limits to watch out for. Have a look at what’s on offer here.  

For funds, most people invest via a platform, such as Hargreaves Lansdown, Interactive Investor or AJ Bell.

You can also invest directly through an asset manager, where you can more easily access trading systems and monitor portfolios. 

Juliet Schooling Latter, research director at Chelsea Financial Services, says when thinking about which platform to use there are a number of things to consider. 

‘The first is the products they offer, then the service they offer and then the price,’ she said. ‘Each of us will have different needs so a platform that is right for one may not be right for another. 

‘You have to decide if they have what you want – funds, trusts, shares – what level of service you require – only online, for example, or the ability to talk to someone on the phone – and how much you are prepared to pay for that. 

‘When looking at costs also remember that the headline figure may not be truly representative – are there add-ons for certain services you may require.’ 

You should also consider how often you think you’re going to trade as some platforms charge per transaction while others offer a certain number of trades for a set monthly fee. This will affect which pricing structure you might choose. 

Interestingly, lockdown has led to an explosion in the use of digital investment platforms, many of which offer commission-free trading (though make sure to read the small print!).

A study by Finder.com revealed younger generations in particular are embracing investing following the initial coronavirus market crash. 

This includes platforms such as Moneybox, InvestEngine and Wombat, which invest largely in ETFs, or names such as Freetrade and Trading 212 which invest directly in shares. 

Read our guide for more information on how to choose a provider.   

The biggest saving people have made during lockdown has come from not spending on holidays – with an average saving of £124 per month according to AA Financial Services

The biggest saving people have made during lockdown has come from not spending on holidays – with an average saving of £124 per month according to AA Financial Services

The biggest saving people have made during lockdown has come from not spending on holidays – with an average saving of £124 per month according to AA Financial Services

What to invest in

Just like there are plenty of ways to invest, there are even more options when it comes to deciding what to invest in.

You can invest directly in stocks or shares or via a fund or investment trust from different industries across different countries across the world and of varying sizes.

Exchange-traded funds or ‘passive’ funds are one option that has been growing in popularity over recent years due to having cheaper fees versus their actively managed fund counterparts.

If you do decide to pick individual shares then make sure you research companies very carefully, learn to understand how to read their balance sheets and financial statistics and don’t just get swept along by what the hot tips of the moment are.

A good rule of thumb is, if your cab driver is recommending an investment, it’s probably peaked. Bitcoin was a great example of this. 

Similarly, keep up to date with the latest fund and trust information by reading their factsheets, usually accessible via the investment house’s website. 

This is Money’s investing page also has links to loads of tools including share prices, fund factsheets and broker views. 

If you need some guidance on which funds to invest in, there is plenty of research and help available on investment platform websites themselves or research websites such as FundCalibre and Square Mile. 

The what’s what of investing

Shares

When you buy shares you become a partial owner of the company. The value of your investment rises or falls as the value of the company rises or falls on the market. 

It also brings a share in any profits that might be distributed through dividends. Often forgotten is that being a shareholder also brings some power and responsibilities.

As a shareholder you have a right to vote on key decisions, including directors’ pay, at the annual meeting or on particular issues like takeovers when they arise.

Funds 

When investors talk about funds they are typically referring to either unit trusts, or open-ended investment companies, Oeics. 

The idea is that as the fund invests in lots of different companies’ shares or bonds, the risk of you losing all your money is less than it would be if you were in a single company’s shares. 

Most funds will have a manager who will aim to beat the market and provide the best return for investors (although, often they do not manage to do so.) 

You buy a unit in the fund. Note, if a lot of investors start to withdraw their money from an open-ended fund, the manager can ‘gate’ the fund. This is what happened with Neil Woodford’s flagship income fund last year, and many commercial property funds earlier this year. 

Investors’ money is locked in until the manager re-opens trading. 

There is no limit on how many people can buy into an open-ended fund or the number of units, the fund just gets bigger and bigger. 

Investment trusts

Investment trusts are similar to funds in that they are run by a manager and invest in shares of other companies. 

However they are listed companies themselves with shares that trade on the stock market. Investors can buy or sell these shares to join or leave the fund, but new money outside this pool cannot be raised without formally issuing new shares.

Trusts can be considered riskier than unit trusts because their shares can trade at a premium or discount to the value of the assets they hold, known as the net asset value.

They can also raise debt to invest, which open-ended funds cannot. Investment trusts also appoint a company board, which can act as a check on the investment manager. 

Corporate bonds

Corporate bonds are used as a way of raising money for businesses – it’s essentially a certificate of debt issued by major companies.

When you buy bonds you are lending money to a company in exchange for an IOU. The IOU has a term and at maturity (typically five or ten years) the sum invested is returned in full.  

The only thing that might stop this is if the company actually goes bust. 

Once you’ve decided what you’re going to invest in, consider how you’re going to make your money work.

Jason Hollands, of investment advisers Tilney, says: ‘Hurried decisions may not be the best ones and while the sharp falls in stock markets this year present buying opportunities for those with cash to invest for the longer haul, it is understandable that many people will be feeling especially nervous about investing in the current climate when the news has been so grim.

‘Stock markets are lurching all over the place as they react to the latest news about coronavirus infection rates and actions being taken by government and central banks. 

‘Investing in drips and drabs over time can help reduce the chances of ploughing a large sum in on a day prices bounce but then subsequently subside.’ 

Stick to your knitting

There is always a huge temptation to sell an investment if it suffers a fall in value, just as it’s tempting to buy a share that is doing really well and being hyped up. 

But it’s better, once you have a system in place, to stick to it and try not to make any rash decisions, especially if there’s a market sell-off as was seen in March this year.  

This doesn’t mean it’s best to rush to invest either during sell-offs. It’s impossible to tell when the market is at its bottom, so even if you invest on what you think is a low, things might fall further.

If you really want to make the most of a market dip, drip-feeding is a more sensible approach.

It’s better to slowly feed into the market, especially now, as it will still be volatile and there will be swings. Investing your entire pot in one go could be painful if markets were to fall dramatically immediately after.

There are going to be ups and downs at all times but over the longer-term, studies highlight the benefits of being invested through market cycles. 

Joe Healey, investment research analyst at The Share Centre, adds: ‘Powers such as compounding will help build your capital over time. The earlier investors start, the more time these powers can generate healthy returns in the long term.’ 

Spread your risk 

A key thing to remember to make your portfolio as ‘recession-proof’ as possible is to be diversified. Don’t hold all your eggs in one basket by investing solely in the UK or in one industry or asset class. Even worse, in one company.

And do look at other fund structures such as investment trusts. They can be particularly beneficial when it comes to down periods as many hold ‘revenue reserves’ – which is dividend income held back in the good years to help fund payouts in the bad years.  

No investment is risk-free however, and there will be bad times as well as good times. But long-term, it’s likely your coronavirus cash will grow into a nest egg you can be proud of.  

Find a financial adviser you can trust with This is Money’s help

Whether you are investing to build your wealth, want your pension to fund the retirement you hope for, or are considering passing on an inheritance, it helps to have someone on your side with an in-depth knowledge of tax, investing and how to make financial plans.

The value in good independent financial advice is that it will continue to pay off for many years to come.

Many of our readers recognise this, but one of the things they regularly ask us for is help in finding an adviser that they can trust.

This is Money has partnered with Flying Colours Life to help people find an adviser. It specialises in financial lifestyle planning and helping people to find high quality trustworthy advice. 

Flying Colours Life’s approved advisers offer a free no-obligation consultation, so you can work out if they can help you. If you don’t feel that they are right for you, there is no pressure to see them again.

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