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Click on the picture to be taken to the latest news 

 

August 2018 GBPEUR Currency Forecast

by Jonathan Watson

GBPEUR looks like it could remain, once again in the trading parameters we are now becoming very familiar with. This is all essentially down to the lack of any significant news to push exchange rates outside of the interbank levels of 1.11-1.15 we have become very accustomed to in 2018.

Whilst GBPEUR rates have been under pressure once again from Brexit as fresh uncertainties put pressure on the pound, the news Theresa May will be taking over personally in the Brexit talks has helped the pound to bounce back slightly as we finish July.

Theresa May’s Chequers plan failed to unite the party and the resignations of key members of government including Boris Johnson and David Davis did see sterling lower. With MP’s on the summer recess the absence of any fresh negative Brexit news had seen sterling bounce slightly higher, buoyed also by the prospect of the Bank of England raising interest rates.

However, with Brexit uncertainties hanging over the pound and all manner of potential outcomes including another Referendum, a Hard Brexit and a snap election, to name a few, GBPEUR may remain on this lower side throughout August.

More of the same on GBPEUR?

Central bank actions will be in focus in August, in particular the Bank of England meeting on the 2ndAugust. The market is still pricing a hike in and any serious positivity here could send sterling back towards the 1.14-1.15 interbank levels.

What to me, appears more likely is a ‘dovish’ hike, which means it would be soft in tone and probably accompanied by cautious commentary as to the extent of any future hikes. This would echo the last hike in November 2017 where sterling fell despite the hike, because of the dovish comments.

The recent European Central Bank (ECB) meeting has seen the Euro struggle under pressure from policy makers in the Eurozone to match their desire to raise interest rates, versus the concerns over whether the Eurozone economy is actually ready for this.

The current uncertainty over whether or not the ECB will act could also see the single currency softer, counteracting any weakness by the pound. Concerns over the Eurozone being dragged further into Trade Wars could also put pressure on the single currency as markets are concerned at the potential negative impact on the ECB in raising interest rates.

However, Donald Trump did meet with Jean-Claude Juncker which resulted in an agreement to reduce any trade barriers. This did initially see the Euro strengthen but could be an issue down the line for the Euro in August.

Conclusion

It is probable that GBPEUR will remain in the familiar interbank ranges between 1.11-1.14 as markets await something substantial on Brexit to push outside of these levels. Economic data should keep some volatile trading patterns within this range, it does appear the pound will remain on the weaker side and clients with a Euro buying requirement might find a more defensive position is sensible to protect from any losses.

Jonathan Watson | Associate Director | Foreign Currency Direct

Email: jmw@currencies.co.uk | Web: www.currencies.co.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)1494 725353 | Freephone: 0800 328 5884

Six tips for protecting and growing your wealth

 

By Rob Kay, Senior Partner, Blevins Franks

Today presents many challenges to preserving your wealth and seeing it grow over time. Alongside economic uncertainty surrounding Brexit, we have endured years of ultra-low interest rates and an ever-changing tax and regulatory landscape. All this makes it harder for investors to achieve returns that are not eroded by inflation and taxation.

At times like this, careful planning plays a particularly important role in securing your financial security over the long term. Here are six key tips that can help.

  1. Establish a suitable strategy

When it comes to investing, one size definitely does not fit all. What will suit you depends on your specific objectives, time-frame and attitude to risk. With an ill-fitting investment portfolio, you could find that your money is not working hard enough or is difficult to access when you need it. Even worse, it could be eaten away entirely.

It is crucial that your portfolio is created and managed to meet your particular set of circumstances and goals, including your requirement for income. For example, are your investments tailored for your life in France, where your expenses are mostly in euros, or are they better suited to someone living in the UK?

  1. Understand your appetite for risk

Before investing, establish the right balance of risk and return for your peace of mind. Different investment assets represent varying levels of risk, from cash and fixed income assets (government and corporate bonds), to equities and ‘real assets’ like property.

It is extremely difficult to effectively assess your own tolerance for risk. Instead, speak to an experienced adviser who can ask the right questions and use appropriate tools to create a clear and objective risk profile for you. They can then recommend an appropriate blend of investments to match your profile.

Remember: without some element of risk, you may struggle to outpace inflation, especially with longer term bank deposits and todays’ low interest rates. Explore options that help control risk within your comfort zone, such as staggering the timing of riskier investments to reduce exposure to market movements.

  1. Identify your timeline for investing

The longer you have to invest, the more risk you can generally afford to take. With time, you can ride out market volatility and benefit from compound returns (interest on interest, for instance). Understanding your time horizon is also the key to ensuring your investments offer the right level of ‘liquidity’. You never know when your plans may change – for example, needing to return to the UK unexpectedly for family or health reasons – so make sure you hold some liquid assets that can be sold if you need to access your capital or change your strategy.

  1. Insist on diversification

The higher your concentration in one particular investment type or area – including the UK –  the higher the risk. Spreading out investments across asset classes, geographic region and market sectors limits exposure to any one area. You can take diversification further by choosing an adviser who uses a ‘multi-manager’ approach to spread your investments out among several carefully-selected fund managers.

  1. Incorporate effective tax planning

To help maximise real returns and protect your wealth for future generations, factor in tax planning when setting up your portfolio. Look for arrangements that can shelter capital from tax while providing a tax-efficient income, and that enable you to transfer wealth to your beneficiaries with minimal bureaucracy and inheritance taxes.

For expatriates, this is complicated by having to work with the rules of more than one country. An adviser with cross-border expertise can ensure you meet your tax liabilities, in France and in the UK, while taking advantage of available opportunities.

  1. Regularly review your strategy

Good financial planning is not a ‘set and forget’ exercise. Your circumstances, aims and requirements usually change over time. This may due to moving into a different stage of life, like retirement, or following an event, such as receiving an inheritance. Or you could simply change your mind about what you want to achieve.

You should review your financial planning around once a year to keep it on track. If anything significant happens that might affect the effectiveness or suitability of your portfolio, including a change in the law or tax rules, make sure you bring this forward.

The key to bringing all these guidelines together is ensuring you take personalised, expert advice from a regulated adviser. Whether you are looking at investments, tax planning, estate planning or your pension, it is crucial that your approach is appropriate for you. With the right strategy in place for your life in France, you can protect and grow your wealth – in real terms – not only during your lifetime but for the next generations to enjoy.

All advice received from Blevins Franks is personalised and provided in writing. This article, however, should not be construed as providing any personalised taxation or investment advice.

You can find other financial advisory articles by visiting our website here

Updates from Ryanair

Ryanair, our self proclaimed “Europe’s No.1 airline”, announced a new weekly London Stansted ski route to and from Dole, France commencing in December 2018. Ryanair’s Stansted Winter 2018 schedule includes 124 routes in total with three other new routes to Belfast, Edinburgh and Nantes.

Ryanair’s Robin Kiely declared “Ryanair is pleased to announce a new London Stansted to Dole route commencing in December 2018, which will operate once weekly as part of our Winter 2018 schedule. Customers can now book their trip to Doleas far out as March 2019 getting to the slopes on the lowest fares this winter.  To celebrate, we are releasing seats for sale from London Stansted from just £19.99 for travel until October 2018 which are available for booking until midnight Saturday (30 June). These seats are sure to sell quickly so customers should log on to Ryanair.com today to avoid missing out.”

London Stansted’s Mark Davison said:  It’s great news that Ryanair is adding another new service to its extensive route network already available from London Stansted. Dole is an exciting new destination which I’m sure will prove to be very popular with passengers looking for even more choice when heading off to France.”

Ryanair acquires Austrian Airline

Last month Ryanair welcomed the EU Commission’s decision to approve Ryanair’s proposed acquisition of a 75% interest in Austrian airline, Laudamotion(Ryanair currently owning 24.9%). Ryanair has entered into partnership with Niki Laudato offer competition, lower fares, and more choice for consumers in Austria, Germany, and Spain, which is where the majority of Laudamotion services currently take place.

Laudamotion is currently under threat by Lufthansa who are attempting to remove the 9 aircraft Lufthansa was obliged by the European Commission to provide to Laudamotion in order to allow Laudamotion to restart services.

This is the latest in a series of efforts by Lufthansa to destabilise and damage Laudamotion, which has seen:  Lufthansa fail to deliver 2 of the 11 aircraft they were required to under the EU Competition decision concerning Lufthansa’s acquisition of Air Berlin.  Some of the aircraft that Lufthansa had committed to deliver being delayed until after the summer 2018 season, further reducing Laudamotion’s ability to take up slots and offer S2018 flights and services. Laudamotion only able to operate a 19 aircraft fleet in summer 2018 by wet leasing 10 B737 aircraft from Ryanair. Lufthansa Group delay payment of over €1.5m of wet lease payments properly due to Laudamotion, for flights which Laudamotion operated for Lufthansa in March, April and May.

Ryanair remains committed to bringing competition and choice to Austrian, German and Spanish markets through this investment in Laudamotion and called on the competition authorities to halt Lufthansa’s repeated abuses of its dominant position, which are designed to harm competition and consumers.

Ryanair’s Chief Legal & Regulatory Officer, Juliusz Komorek said:

“We welcome the EU Commission’s decision to approve Ryanair’s proposed acquisition of a 75% interest in Laudamotion. Ryanair remains committed to bringing competition, choice and low fares to the Austrian, German and Spanish markets through our investment in Laudamotion. We urge the EU competition authorities to take action and prevent any further attempts by Lufthansa to damage competition through its anti-consumer behaviour.”

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Stansted consumers and visitorsenjoy lower fares and the latest “Always Getting Better” improvements including:

 

– Reduced checked-in bag fees – lower €25 fee, bigger 20kg bag allowance

– Connecting flights at Rome, Milan & Porto with more airports to follow

– Ryanair Rooms with 10% off Travel Credit

– Ryanair Transfers – wider choice of ground transport with new partner Car Trawler

– Punctuality Promise – 90% of Ryanair flights will be on time

–      Price Promise – find a cheaper fare and Ryanair will refund the difference + €5 to your My Ryanair account

 

Your reading for August . . .

Reviews by Susan Keefe

Tricycle and Friends

by Lester Aradi 

This wonderful children’s books is about a three legged retriever called Tricycle who is adopted by a family, and goes to live at their farm.

Once there, he meets Buckaroo, the miniature donkey. The two quickly become friends, and Buckaroo introduces Tricycle to some of the other animals. Many are adopted too. He soon discovers that there are all sorts, not only other dogs, but horses, llamas, chickens, and honey bees.

Every one has their own story to tell, and no one cares that Tricyce has only three legs, in fact they are interested to know how he lost it, and if it bothers him. He in return discovers that all his new friends have their own stories to tell, and that the farm is a magical place where they can all live together in harmony.

Through the talented storytelling of Lester Aradi, and the wonderful illustrations of Darwin Marfil, children learn in a very gentle way, through the experiences of Tricycle and his friends, how being different is okay, and as the book progresses they learn about bullying, the importance of adopting animals, and many other things.

That this beautiful Golden Retriever and the farm, with its animals actually exist is the icing on the cake – one day perhaps I will be lucky enough to visit!

Available from Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tricycle-Friends-Adventures-Three-Legged-Retriever/dp/1682617610/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1532522784&sr=8-1&keywords=Tricycle+and+friends

Miles for Bonnie: Finding our Family

by Irene Helenowski

This is a truly inspirational story which takes you on the rollercoaster which is Dave’s life.

Who is Dave? Well Dave was just your average man who runs a diner and gets on with life. That is he did, until his beloved wife Bonnie dies. Now he is a broken man, going through the motions, with a big house and business, but no sparkle in his eye. He has known his waitress Tammy for a long time and she has had her own fair share of misery, but she is a mother and must get on with life, with kids to feed and work she just gets on with things, there’s no place for self-pity.

Then, one evening just before Christmas, at the end of a busy day a client called Nicholas stays to natter, and his parting words have an incredible impact on Dave, taking him down a pathway he could never have imagined.

From that day he changes his life completely, and remembering his dear Bonnie’s words he decides to travel and help people…

As the reader joins Dave on his journey we meet people from all walks of life, each with their own story to tell, and Dave intuitively seems to know what they want, be it a shoulder to cry on, tough love or support. In return he receives love and respect from those who get to know him.

However, home is home and when the yearning for the diner becomes too much he returns. During his absence many alterations have been made to the place, and even bigger plans are afoot. Yet just after his homecoming Dave discovers he is not immune to disaster, and when it strikes he learns he needs help too. Encouraged to write his story, he finds peace in its telling, and then discovers that there are yet more adventure to be had…

With twists and turns, this amazing story simultaneously both pulls at your heart strings and fills you with inspiration. A great read and one which people from all walks of life will enjoy.

Available from Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Miles-Bonnie-Finding-our-Family-ebook/dp/B07FC2885J/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1532522839&sr=1-1&keywords=miles+for+bonnie

 

Toby’s Tails – A Kitten’s Tale

by Susan Keefe

The unconditional love we experience with our pets is a wonderful thing, however, when Toby the Border collie noticed that the cats who were already resident at Fantasy Farm ignored a tiny kitten who arrived there, he decided that he would befriend it. As the friendship developed the author realised that she had to capture this wonderful relationship in pictures and eventually in this lovely children’s book.

Scared and lonely the kitten gradually became more confident, and with Toby’s guidance he learnt about many of the different animals and wildlife around him.

There are lots of sweet little incidents in this enchanting book, for example, one time the kitten brings a mole into the house to find out from Toby what it is, and then wonders why the author wasn’t impressed. When he discovers that humans don’t like wildlife in the house, he typically cat like puts his head in the air and stalks out, as you do when you are only months old.

Life lessons for him abound as the seasons past, and children reading it will not only learn about the special bond which develops between the kitten and Toby but also that acceptance and love can be found in unusual places.

A true story, and one which will be loved by any child who loves animals.

Available from Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tobys-Tails-Kittens-Fantasy-Tales-ebook/dp/B07FK1RZ65/ref=sr_1_1_twi_kin_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1532522899&sr=1-1&keywords=toby%27s+tails+a+kittens+tale

Insights On France’s Prime Residential Market

 

by Mark Harvey, Head of European Sales Knight Frank

“France and its rich cultural tapestry remains an attractive and compelling investment and lifestyle choice.”

How Is The Market Performing? 

Over the last 24 months we have seen a remarkable reversal in France’s prime residential markets stemming largely from a strong Paris market (where prices increased by some 12% in 2017). Against a positive economic and political backdrop, France is now experiencing a buoyant and incredibly exciting residential market rebound. “L’effet Macron”, as witnessed since the summer of last year, has caused a ripple of optimism from Paris to the internationally sought after regions including the Côte d’Azur, Provence, the Alps and South West France, all of which have witnessed a strong turnaround in sentiment, buyer interest and transactional activity.

Who’s Buying In France? 

International buyers continue to be the driving force of prime residential sales. The lull following the EU referendum proved only momentary; with the British demographic once again accounting for up to one in four prime residential purchases. The remaining 75% of buyers typically stem from northern Europe (Benelux, Switzerland, Scandinavia) along with French domestic buyers who account for around one in five of our prime buyers. Buyers from the Middle East, the US and even Asia are also displaying a greater appetite for French real estate.

Where Are The Hotspots?

France is fortunate to have many hotspots – from beautiful cities and charming hilltop villages, to glamorous beaches and award-winning ski resorts. Our carefully considered associate network of offices across France, covering Paris, the Côte d’Azur, Saint Tropez, the Luberon and Alpilles, Gers, Espace Killy, Les 3 Vallées, Megève and Chamonix, are the local experts in these very hotspots. The international appeal of these destinations ensures a constant flow of eager tourists which helps to underpin the underlying market values – perhaps the key reason as to why real estate demand continues to grow in these destinations (with enquiry numbers up 100% compared to 2016).

What Type Of Property Is In Greatest Demand? 

The popularity of different kinds of property depends a great deal on location. In Paris, traditional properties with grand proportions and period features are most in demand, while the preference in the south of France is typically for a local architectural vernacular with a more contemporary interior twist. Budgets vary accordingly, albeit the majority of our buyers look between €2 and €5 million and seek elegant, turnkey ready accommodation with manageable gardens and ideally a breath-taking view. In contrast, in the Alps demand is frequently focused on new-build properties, with off-plan developments representing 80% of the Alpine homes sold across our network last year. The advantages of buying off-plan in France are multiple and might include staggered payments, the most advanced construction techniques and materials, a 10-year guarantee, and a possible VAT rebate of up to 20% for those open to a rental solution.

What’s Your Outlook For 2018? 

The confidence that was cultivated in the market during 2016 continues to gain momentum and as France celebrates a record 2017 when over one million properties changed hands, we expect transaction volumes to rise further. Against a backdrop of historically low interest rates, rising house price inflation, growing economic and political stability, France looks to attract global wealth that will allow its real estate markets to thrive through 2018 and beyond. Indeed, as global uncertainty prevails, France and its rich cultural tapestry remains an attractive and compelling investment and lifestyle choice.

Contact  +44 20 7861 5034, mark.harvey@knightfrank.com

Your reading for July, Reviews by Susan Keefe

The Staircase of Fire

by Ben Woodard
The Staircase of Fire (A Shakertown Adventure Book 3)In writing this exciting adventure story, the author takes his reader back to Kentucky in 1923, a time when racial prejudice was rampant and the Ku Klux Klan were very much at large…

The main character in the story is a fourteen year old boy called Tom. He lives in Shakertown in Mercer County with his granddad, and is an orphan. The tragedies of his life so far, and the memories associated with this have left his mind tortured with guilt and regret. Tom is an Irish catholic and as such is subject to some of the racial hatred which is so apparent against the Negro’s in his town. Perhaps this is why he feels so sorry for the way Rose and her son James are treated when they go to the courthouse to enrol to vote. Rose knows she has the right to vote using the 19th Amendment, however not in Shakertown, here Negro’s are not yet equal to white folk. Watching the mother and son being ridiculed and taken back to their wagon by the town’s deputies, and not helping them, makes the guilt burns deep into Tom’s soul, he is so ashamed of his cowardliness. This shame turns to absolute horror when days later he is waiting to say goodbye to Rose and James as they head off for a new life elsewhere. Instead of escaping the hate, he witnesses a horrific incident which they are subject to, and the memory of it changes his life forever!

He is just starting high school, and life must go on. The only way he can cope is to supress what he witnessed, and being your typical young lad he has a mind full of girls, and football. However the recent guilt and past memories remain in the back of his mind and haunt his dreams. He knows he must find the legendary Shaker gold, hidden somewhere in the town during the Civil War, and escape the town forever. But can escaping a place mean you can escape the memories too?

Fired with determination, and with the help of his cousin Will, Tom begins his search to find the map to the treasure, but it was hidden so long ago and so much has changed since then. Will the boys find the treasure?

If they do, will the money be answer to everything, or will it bring its own demons, after all money is sometimes known to be the route of all evil.
So many questions, and the answers can be found in this exciting rollercoaster of an adventure. Through Tom, his friends, family and the townsfolk we discover what life was really like during this period of time for people of color in America.

An inspiring adventure where the reader discovers that strength of character, the belief in what is right, and facing your demons, is the only answer to true inner peace – Highly recommended.

 

Skooter Girl

by Darielle Mac
Join superheroine Amber as she begins her mystical adventures as Skooter Girl.
The author, Darielle Mac is an international playwright and screenwriter who although primarily has written for the theatre and film has also worked for many great names. She lives in Southwest United States, France and Los Angeles, where when not writing she enjoys a variety of hobbies including falconry, gardening, her dogs, running, biking and sailing.

To compliment her first YA story the author has chosen Dell Barras to be the illustrator of this incredible graphic novel. Dell Barras is a well-known and talented storyboard artiste, working with Marvel comic books and others.

The idea for this outstanding new novel was inspired by the author’s personal adventures, and fuelled by a gift by the inventor of a prototype electric skooter – thus Skooter Girl was born!

The story is set on a remote mystical island called Tir Na Nor which is in a chain of islands in the North Sea. It is Amber’s 16h birthday, and excitedly she arrives at the Dagda’s Academy of Healing Arts, Music and Higher Learning where her dad is a teacher.

At 16 she is an adult and her father expects her to follow in his footsteps, however she doesn’t want to have a normal life. Recently secrets have been revealed to her, opening her eyes to new and exciting things. She doesn’t want to conform or settle down, she want to see the world, and have great experiences. So, being a typical teenager she decides to run away.

This is a wonderfully entertaining coming of age story. The characters are fantastic and it was lovely to read that it is being made into a film. I look forward to reading many more of Amber’s adventures in the future.

Your Horoscope for July 2018

Cancer( 21 June – 22 July ) – You may find that you are more able to earn a living from what you love doing. Being in a position of responsibility or authority is something you place a high value on.It’s time to start fresh with regards to how you go about satisfying your needs for security and comfort, as well as to take charge of your life by taking the necessary steps to make yourself feel good and secure. You may merge your interests with those of others, as you find yourself looking for an ideal  connection. Favorable Dates : July 1, 3, 10, 12, 19, 21 Favorable Colors : Blue & Yellow

Leo ( 23 July – 22 August ) – You are likely to be more sensitive to what seem like outer world pressures that force you to examine some of your deepest desires and attachments.Your spiritual life is richer and more rewarding than ever. Help is available exactly when you need it. Some of your work is done in seclusion, or you work behind the scenes this month. For a peaceful existence, avoid serious dating, mating and relating this month as the situations and people you attract around those times will bring complications. Avoid sweeping decisions which are volatile. Favorable Dates : July 1, 2, 10, 11, 19, 20 Favorable Colors : Green & Yellow

 

Virgo ( 23 August – 22 September ) – Your flair for wit and charm will serve you well as you’ll need to acquire new contacts and massage old ones to keep ahead of the game. Financial problems will work themselves out as if by magic, and you might find a way to make money from an unexpected source. A deep faith that everything will work out is with you now. You will eliminate some deep-seated habits and attachments that have been keeping you back from feeling emotionally freeand  emerge healthier and stronger. Favorable Dates : July 3, 7, 12, 16, 21, 25 Favorable Colors : White & Grey

 

Libra ( 23 September – 22 October ) – You would be working on perfecting the art of intimate bonding with another person on a deep level. You are also getting a grip on finances, especially those that you share with or that come from others. You feel considerably more free to be yourself, and others tend to accept you more readily.You are especially practical, realistic, and your judgment is sound–and you derive much satisfaction from practical accomplishment. The key to harnessing this wonderful energy is to identify and find pleasure in the simple things that make you happy. Favorable Dates : July 2, 6, 11, 15, 20, 24Favorable Colors : Green & Yellow

Scorpio( 23 October – 21 November ) – Issues of personal courage, confidence, and independence come to the fore.There may be an alteration in routines to make adjustments with career or professional demands. A health matter may affect professional concerns. A change of work methods or skills will bring a change in your status or position.Learning to rely on yourself as well as enjoying a close partnership is what this period is about. Some will be determined to rise through the ranks and succeed. Others will focus on service to the wider community.FavorableDates : July  6, 7, 15, 16, 24, 25 Favorable Colors : White & Blue

Sagittarius ( 22 November -21 December ) –It is a time when you truly begin to face your duties as a career person. You will find yourself in the spotlight, and what it is exactly that you have been building may come up for inspection. Some of you find yourself receiving recognition and career “rewards” at this time. You will not focus on where you are going as much as you focus on where you stand.You may need to curb an inclination to overspend–feeling good could bring you to the stores as you temporarily forget about the future. Favorable Dates : July  4, 9, 13, 18, 22, 27 Favorable Colors : Yellow & Grey

Capricorn ( 22 December – 19 January ) – This monthbrings with it a fair measure of reality and objectivity, so that whatever relationships you may have at the beginning of the month or want, will be defined and re-defined.Some of you are moving towards a less materialistic value system, and others may be encountering unexpected circumstances that bring about a fluctuating or uncertain income.  Make clear decisions about what you have the time and energy to do and what you must put aside. That way you will flourish. Favorable Dates : July  2, 4, 11, 13, 20, 22 Favorable Colors : Red & Purple

Aquarius ( 20 January – 18 February ) – This is a power month, with more power to you as the month progesses. You have special charisma and magnetism in this period.  Your creativity is stimulated, but so is your excitability and your need for freedom. You have exciting options if you wish to travel, teach, study, move or explore publishing. Time it right, though, and focus on making changes in your life. Your reward could be new freedom. You’re getting along well with your partner/mate, and in fact, they are a big help in the moment. Favorable Dates : July  2, 5, 11, 14, 20, 23 Favorable Colors : Green & Yellow

 Pisces ( 19 February – 20 March ) – For most of you, this period is more about taking a closer look at, and re-assessing, your attitude and confidence. The blind  optimism that may have carried you to date comes up for inspection.There is also a risk of overindulgence and other forms of extreme behaviour. You will be exploring issues of dependence and independence in your life. Too much dependence on others can undermine your own self-confidence–and your relationships in the process. Excessive self-interest can undermine your close personal relationships–and can actually work against your better interests.Favorable Dates : July  5, 9, 14, 18, 23, 27 Favorable Colors : Green & Red

 Aries ( 21 March – 19 April )This is a month of increased confidence and initiative for you. Others are following your lead now. It’s an excellent month in which to present your ideas, state your case, or simply get upto date with your emails, phone calls and paperwork.Money should be improving this month. You become more compassionate, empathetic, and sensitive.This month marks a new era in love, when you will either take an existing relationship to the next level, or find yourself flirting with a partner who could change your life.Favorable Dates : July 8, 9, 17, 18, 25, 27 Favorable Colors : Yellow & Blue

Taurus ( 20 April – 20 May ) – You are getting a grip on finances, especially those that you share with or that come from others. You want to create a distinct first impression on others, and you tend to do just that. Furthering your personal ambitions and interests comes more easily during this cycle.The best advice for increasing your earning power now is to nurture your latent inventive or progressive, future-oriented talents.After some brief but informative deep thoughts, you enjoy the many sweet treats the month sets out for you with your trademark wit and liveliness.Favorable Dates : July 3, 4, 12, 13, 21, 22 Favorable Colors : White & Blue

Gemini ( 21May – 20 June ) – This month should help you make watertight plans for your mind, body and spirit in a way which serves all of them, at the same time. This period in your life is generally dedicated to self-improvement. You are developing your ideals and your commitments. Ideals and spiritual goals that you may have worked with earlier seem superficial or not particularly useful to you now.It feels good to break out of your shell a little and to take a few healthy risks. Acquaintances, siblings, or casual friends and communications may be catalysts for this new self-expression.Favorable Dates : July 1, 4, 10, 13, 19, 22 Favorable Colors : White & Red

 

 

 

Looking after your pension starts with avoiding scams 

By Rob Kay, Senior Partner, Blevins Franks

There has never been more choice for what Britons can do with their pension. While this freedom is generally welcome, unfortunately it has brought a sharp increase in pension scams attempting to defraud people out of their retirement savings. 

British police revealed around £43 million was lost to scammers in the three years that followed the government’s 2014 pension freedoms announcement – a record £8.6 million in March 2017 alone. However, pension industry figures estimate that true losses, including unreported cases, could actually exceed £1 billion.

How common are scams?

Citizens Advice UK estimate a staggering 11 million people received unsolicited calls or texts about pension services just in 2015/16.

Not only are scamming attempts widespread, their tactics can be highly sophisticated and convincing. A Citizens Advice survey revealed only 12% of people who were confident they would be able to spot a scam were able to do so. That means nine out of ten missed the common warning signs.

Where are scams targeted?

Scammers look for opportunities to separate you from your pension funds, most commonly through transfers.

‘Defined benefit’ or ‘final salary’ UK pensions are particularly lucrative, as the unusually high transfer values being offered by some providers can amount to hundreds of thousands of pounds. Transfers to a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) are also targeted. For many British expatriates, a QROPS provides a suitable way to bring their pension with them and unlock tax, estate planning and currency benefits.

There can genuinely be significant advantages in transferring your UK pensions, but you should take extreme care to do what is right for you while avoiding falling foul of scams. It is crucial to explore all your options and seek regulated, personalised advice before taking any action.

How can you spot a scam?

While around two in five pension scams start with a cold call or text, they can also stem from unsolicited contact in person, online or through the post.

Tell-tale signs include offering access to your pension before the age of 55 (‘pension liberation’) or unusually high and guaranteed returns, typically over 5%. Some include cash incentives, such as ‘commission rebates’. They often offer unusual or ‘exotic’ investment opportunities; recent examples have included vineyards, storage pods and even truffle trees.

Generally, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is; no investment is guaranteed. Once you transfer your pension, it is too late. You could not only end up losing some or all of your pension benefits, you could face a UK tax bill of 55% plus penalty fees.

Something else to be aware of is that many companies offering pension services are unregulated. Whether they aim to defraud you or not, these are unprotected investments that risk losing your money, with no opportunity for compensation if things go wrong.

How can you protect yourself?

Be extremely suspicious of anyone contacting you out of the blue offering a ‘free pensions review’. Before giving out your personal details, check the ScamSmart website (www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart) and thoroughly research the person or company you are dealing with. A simple online search can reveal whether an adviser is regulated or on any warning registers. You could also look for consumer reviews, ask around your local community and follow up references. In any case, do not sign anything under pressure and without fully understanding what you are getting into.

Whether you are a British resident or not, you should take professional advice and use a provider that is authorised and regulated for the conduct of pension business by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). All regulated advisers should carry out a high level of due diligence when recommending the full range of options for your particular circumstances.

However, make sure you still check for quality. An FCA study of pension ‘mis-selling’ concluded that less than half of people transferring final salary pensions did so as the result of ‘suitable’ advice. In practice, many people benefit more from staying put and receiving a guaranteed retirement income for life than cashing-in for a one-off payment. Worse still, the FCA found only 35% were given good advice on where to reinvest their transferred funds, “opening up the risk of pension savings ending up in inappropriate or scam investments”.

Make sure your adviser puts your interests above their commission. They should take account of your needs, objectives, personal circumstances and risk appetite to find a tailor-made solution for you and your life in France.

For many people, pensions play a key role in determining their financial security through retirement, so getting it wrong could have serious consequences. It can only take a moment to lose a lifetime of savings, but with careful planning and suitable professional advice, you can both protect and make the most of what you have for years to come.

 This article should not be construed as providing any personalised investment advice. You should take advice for your circumstances.

Grape News from your friendly Terroiriste !  

Pre-apocalyptic edition 

by Merrick Marshall 

On the assumption that Trump has not fired his “nice and new and smart” missiles which he said were coming but never said when…”it could be very soon or not so soon at all” here is another Grape News to help while away the hours before Armageddon.

Out with the new and in with the old

With the advent of driverless cars, drone deliveries and a robotic labour force seemingly just around the corner it’s pleasing to learn that some in the wine industry are heading in the opposite direction and turning their backs on technology.

Increasing numbers of wine makers are returning to more traditional and historic methods of vinification avoiding the use of bariques and steel vats instead favouring the use of amphora in either traditional clay form or terracotta.

At the same time many winemakers are rediscovering historic grape varieties that have either disappeared through neglect or because they were deemed no longer fashionable.  An example of this is the Tesco “St Mont” that I recommended in the last News. A blend of local and traditional grape varieties from that part of southwest France.

The Weather

I appreciate that it is in the national psyche to bemoan the weather but quite frankly this years offering has been so damn awful and depressing that if ever there were justification in complaining about the grey, damp, cold climate then this is it. Even though it is April I have resorted to sipping a glass of Notte Rossa, Primitivo di Manduria (£10 M&S) to revive my flagging spirits. The best way to describe this wine is that it is the vinous equivalent of an old and much cherished blanket. It wraps you up in a cloak of warmth and security redolent of the old Readybrek (remember?) adverts on TV that showed a child with an orange outer glow as they merrily skipped to school (you may recall this was a period when children could skip to school without fear of paedophile grooming or gang knife culture). The wine is dark, warm, hearty, generous, packed with winter fruits and berries and with a level of alcohol that promises a hazy but happy evening. A proper winter warmer for an English spring! A mini-break to Puglia without the hassle of travelling. By the way, the Primitivo grape is known as Zinfandel in the USA. Keep some back for your next summer BBQ (2019?).

Of course, just to prove the point, since I started writing this the weather has turned full circle and we have experienced 29 degrees and the hottest April days since 1940! As I write now the temperature is 6 degrees and raining and we are forecast sleet and snow next week!! English weather…

UK Own brand wines

Little by little the supermarkets have been increasing their own brand wine offerings. The good news is that not only has the range increased but the general quality has as well.

Many of the leading retailers such as Tesco (Finest), Sainsbury’s (Taste the Difference), Waitrose, M&S in addition to Aldi and Lidl have been forming partnerships with leading wine makers to produce high quality varietal wines often reflecting the signature grape of a particular region as well as the current fashionable varieties such as Pinot Grigio and Prosecco.

Some of my own recommendations include: –

Tesco Finest Chianti Classico Riserva – £6.40 (on offer) A typical example of this classic wine. Excellent value.

Tesco Finest Pinot Grigio: Again a classic example of this grape that is not as thin as others.

Lidl- Benevantano Fiano (white grape that produces a luscious, silky and fruity dry wine) 2016

Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Gruner Veltliner, Traisental 2016 (Made by Markus Huber)

Lea & SandemanWhiteBurgundy 2016 (£13.95) own label white Bordeaux.

Waitrose-Douro Valley Reserva Quinta da Rosa 2016 (£11.49 but currently £8.99)

As port sales continue to fall more Portuguese wine makers are turning their plentiful skills to making traditional still wines often using the blend of port grapes as is the case with this wine. Victoria Moore (Telegraph) compares it to a “deeper, darker, wilder sort of claret and better than Bordeaux “at this price point. I am waiting to taste it.

Portugal

We have just returned from a short trip to the wonderful city of Lisbon. This time round the most impressive wines tasted were rosés. José Maria da Fonseca produces a stunning Private Collection rose (2017) – (£12.28 from Portugal Vineyards on-line) made from the Muscat grape, which would suggest a slight sweetness. The wine is dry and if anything tastes of peaches reminiscent of the viognier grape. The wine is made in Setubal just across the river Tagus opposite Lisbon and is famous for its sweet fortified wines that taste of burnt caramel and sultanas. Should you find yourself in Lisbon do go and pay a visit to “By the Wine” which is a fantastic wine bar that serves traditional cold platters and some small local hot plates (grilled squid etc).

The other impressive rose is called Assobio DOC-Esporao (2016 also from Portugal Vineyards on line) made by Murcas from the Douro region of Portugal. Another dry wine with a blush colour the wine is made from a blend of traditional “Port grapes” (Touriga Nacional, Tinto Cao, Tinto Roriz, Rufete). This is a fantastic salmon pink rose and worth the purchase price just for the beautiful picture on the bottle!

We finished one particular meal of sliced meats and local cheeses with a beautiful light and silky red, Periquita Reserva also from Setubal – (around £10-12 Dulwich Vintners) which is similar in style to a medium bodied gamay Beaujolais but with more vanilla from its time in oak barrels. A lovely silky mouth-feel, red berries and strawberry with vanilla finish. Fantastic with beef, cold meats and cheeses.

Talking about light red wines, if you like Bordeaux reds but sometimes would prefer something less full-bodied then do try Premier Vin du Chateau de Pitray 2014 – Majestic £11.99. This wine is from the less glamorous Bordeaux district of Castillon, Cotes de Bordeaux that often throws up some very good value wines. The wine is a blend of merlot and cabernet franc and the omission of the traditional cabernet sauvignon produces a less tannic and easier drinking wine.

Camel Valley

Having recently visited the beautiful village of Clovelly in north Devon I suggested to my family somewhat wistfully that we should drive to the Camel Valley Vineyard as it was “just down the road”. After the groans had subsided we set off. An hour and a half later we arrived and to say it was underwhelming was an understatement! Normally in such circumstances one is surrounded by vines but the slopes were so steep around the winery that there were few in evidence. The “winery experience” was disappointing and I headed straight to the dog house where I was left for the entire journey home.

I did take the trouble of putting a bottle of Camel Valley Rose Brut 2015 (Waitrose £29.99) in the fridge before our departure and in order to recover my position with my family opened it immediately on our return.

The wine is made from pinot noir (I assume that they buy this in) and is made in the traditional method. According to Camel Valley sparkling wine was made in England as early as 1660 and an Englishman called Christopher Merret presented a paper to the Royal Society on how to make sparkling wines. Please note that this was 30 years before the French made theirs! Apparently Camel Valley uses the Merret Method today.

As with most English sparklers the wine is seemingly expensive especially when there are many quality alternatives available (mentioned in previous Grape News) but simply put this is the best sparkling rose I have tasted and in my opinion far better than the Laurent Perrier Cuvee Rose that everyone raves about. So, find a special occasion and do try it and I am sure you will enjoy the fine dry and fragrant summer fruit, balanced acidity, delicate mousse and long length. Well worth the purchase price.

Lastly, if you have a particularly obnoxious boss or colleague then I have tracked down the wine that you should buy for them . . . I have no idea if it’s any good but that’s not the point! (photo above !)

Happy drinking!  Merrick

June 2018 GBP/EUR Currency Forecast 

by Jonathan Watson

Introduction

The pound is continuing trading at some of the better rates against the Euro in the last year with interbank levels around 1.14. Considering the highest level in the last year has been 1.16 and the lowest 1.075, we are still at a very good level of buoyancy for Euro buyers.

June sees plenty to move the currency market with lots of key economic news including interest rate decisions from the UK and Eurozone, plus the latest EU Summit where further progress on Brexit could be confirmed. Despite much progress there are still some key unanswered questions over the UK’s future relations with the EU and any resolution or indeed continued lack of clarity would impact rates.

Politics is also an issue in Italy where concerns over the direction being taken by the new Italian government has weakened the Euro and raised fresh questions about the longer-term direction for European politics and the single currency.

Mixed signals for the pound and Euro  

The Euro ended May in a worsening state from the Italian political situation but the weakness on sterling at the hands of a lack of any interest rate hike has counteracted the move, leaving us range bound. With mixed signals on both pairs I would not be surprised to see GBPEUR remain once more in the familiar ranges of 2018. The last month has seen 3 cents movement between high and low whilst the last 3 months has seen just 4 cents worth.

Whilst a strong move outside of these ranges between 1.12 and 1.16 is less likely the potential to move higher towards the end of June stems from the EU Summit. David Davis, the Brexit secretary has announced a Brexit White Paper (proposal) to be released in June and combined with the EU Summit, 28thJune, could form a key driver for the pound in June.

There is a real chance any positivity might present itself earlier in the month owing to when the news is released. At all of the previous summits the pound has risen in the week before as speculation over what will be decided is eroded with leaks and highly publicised announcements.

European Politics is going to be vital in June as speculation over Italy’s direction continues to weigh on the Euro. Previously high expectations the Eurozone was on a firm political direction has been shattered with worries the Italians might longer term seek to exit the Euro and embark on welfare and tax reforms against the grain of EU guidelines.

Such fears may be compounded as the Eurozone economy has not been performing as strongly as many expected with some key economic data releases in May coming in below par.

Central banks could trigger movements on GBPEUR?

The European Central Bank (ECB) will meet on Thursday 14thJune which will see some big news regarding the prospect of future interest rate hikes or a reduction in their QE (Quantitative Easing) program. Lately, the Eurozone data has not quite been up to scratch and this has put some pressure on the Euro and raises the prospect of a weaker Euro from this meeting.

The latest Bank of England interest rate decision is Thursday June 21stand whilst I do not expect a huge amount from the decision, interest rates remain a huge area of interest. There is lots of potentially for volatility around this event as interest rate speculation has been such an important driver for the pound.

In March and April the recent strength on both the pound and the Euro kept the pair range bound, it might be that we see comments from both central banks that weaken the pair and so also keep us within these ranges.

Friday June 29thwill see the latest UK GDP (Gross Domestic Product) data released, this was the data that so knocked confidence in the UK interest rate hike expectations. Ultimately, with the Bank of England linking any future hike so closely to the GDP data in Q1 when they met in May, the release of Q2 data on GDP will be one of the most interesting in the future.

I see potential for the pound to Euro rate to rise and retest the 1.16 level if there is continued uncertainty over Italy and the pound starts to benefit from an increasingly improved outlook on Brexit. However, what appears most likely is us continuing to trade within these more familiar ranges of 1.13-1.15 as the market continues to struggle to see any significant reasons to push either currency into fresh territory.

Whilst anything is possible on the currency markets the increased clarity over Brexit should prevent any major move lower for the pound. GBPEUR seems most likely to continue the gentle path higher it has been edging out towards the mid-teens. Clients looking to buy or sell the pound or Euro should be making careful plans for a very busy month ahead with a number of key events which may move the rate.

If you have any currency transfer to consider buying or selling, and wish to check your exchange rate and understand better the currency markets and all of your options, please contact me Jonathan Watson on jmw@currencies.co.uk

Exchange rates on this page are interbank rates and indicate where the market is trading to show the performance of a currency pair. They are not indicative of the rates which we offer. The information on this article is provided free of charge for information purposes only. It does not constitute advice to any person on any matter. Foreign Currency Direct plc makes every reasonable effort to ensure that this information is accurate and complete but assumes no responsibility for and gives no warranty with regard to the same.