If 2019 is the year you plan to get your finances in shape, a positive first step is to make sure you are saving and investing in as tax-efficient a manner as possible. Making use of your annual £20,000 ISA allowance should therefore be a top priority.

ISAs (Individual Savings Account) can be a highly effective saving tool as you don’t have to pay any income tax or capital gains tax on returns that come from the growth of investments. Nor do you pay income tax on interest income.

If paying less tax on your investments sounds attractive now is the time to make some important decisions.

This year’s ISA allowance will be lost if not used before the tax year end on 5 April so the sooner you take advantage the better.

SHORT-TERM CASH

Savers can choose between investing the allowance in cash, stock and shares, or a mixture of the two. Traditionally, in Scotland we have shown ourselves to be a cautious bunch. In the 2015-16 tax year, the most recent year for which data is available, 76% of individuals invested wholly in cash. Everybody needs cash savings for an emergency fund and cash ISAs are a valuable tool for holding money that you might need to spend in the foreseeable future, whether for emergency expenditure or for regular, planned outgoings such as school fees. If you need to build up this shortterm savings fund, then cash ISAs make sense.

However, cash ISAs are not the risk-free choice that some people believe. Cash ISAs have been paying less than inflation in recent times, meaning they have not kept up with rising prices and have therefore lost value in ‘real’ terms.

LONG-TERM SHARES

For those looking for more ambitious returns on their money, and who can afford to commit money for years rather than months, stocks and shares ISAs invested in the stock market offer the potential to earn higher returns which will offset the impact of inflation.

According to research by Brewin Dolphin, over the past 10 years, the return on the FTSE All Share index, after taking inflation into account, has been 5.1% a year. A £10,000 investment would have turned into £16,454, meaning a real profit of 64.5% - over and above increases in the cost of living. By contrast, the return on cash after taking inflation into account has averaged -1.36% a year, eroding the value of a £10,000 investment by £1,280.

Of course, stocks and shares ISAs are not for everybody. Shares can be volatile and values can vary from one day to the next. However, there are a number of ways of reducing the risks of stock market investing.

Investing in a fund or portfolio of funds reduces your exposure to losses from any one company because you end up holding dozens of individual shareholdings.

Also investing over a longerterm horizon reduces the risk of making an overall loss.

ISA SAVING: DON’T DELAY

  • Every adult can save up to £20,000 in ISAs this tax year.
  • You can’t carry the allowance to the next tax year, so if you don’t use it by the 5 April deadline you will lose it.
  • You can invest your allowance in cash, stocks and shares, or a mixture of the two.

HeraldScotland:

Stephen Martin, Head of Office at Brewin Dolphin Glasgow

INVESTING FOR CHILDREN

Expert financial advice can help you to maximise the potential of the tax savings on offer. If you have children, the conventional adult ISA allowance shouldn’t be the only allowance on your radar. A separate allowance means you can also put up to £4,260 a year into a Junior ISA account on behalf of a child. With a JISA, the money is locked away until the child’s 18th birthday, at which point it becomes an adult ISA and they can do what they like with the money. As with adult ISAs, the annual allowance can be invested in cash, equities or split between the two.

As one of the UK’s leading wealth managers, Brewin Dolphin can help you to devise the most effective ISA plan for your circumstances.

In a demonstration of our commitment to help clients meet their financial goals, we have recently added seven new staff to our Glasgow office.

Among the new recruits is experienced financial adviser Tom O’Brien, who has joined the firm as a financial planner. Tom previously spent more than a decade at Close Brothers, where he helped private clients manage their financial affairs. Joining Tom in the financial planning team is Jade Doherty, who has joined Brewin Dolphin as a financial planning assistant. Jade spent more than eight years at Santander and HSBC in a variety of roles, including as a personal banker.

The firm has also appointed Rosanna Loy, Alison MacDonald, and Neil Morran as investment management assistants working across the private client, portfolio management, and IFA teams, respectively.

Meanwhile, Eleanor Shields and Cara Scouller have joined as financial planning administrators.

GROWING IN GLASGOW

The new appointments take Brewin Dolphin’s total headcount in Glasgow to 42, after a particularly strong year for our team in the city. Stephen Martin, Head of Office at Brewin Dolphin Glasgow, said: “These new appointments underline Brewin Dolphin’s commitment to Glasgow, which last year was among the best performing in our network of 30 offices in the UK and Ireland.

“It’s a real testament to the growing strength and depth of our team over the past 12 months. With volatility returning to markets and the economic outlook uncertain, we’re seeing an increasing need for trusted and expert advisers. We serve the financial needs of our clients in Glasgow and across Scotland with a global outlook, as we aim to help them achieve their financial goals.”

Please contact Stephen Martin in our Glasgow office on 0141 221 7733 to discuss your needs and arrange a no-cost initial meeting.

You can also visit our website www.brewin.co.uk to find out more about our team across Scotland.

This article appeared in The Herald on the 26th Jan 2019

The value of investments and any income from them can fall and you may get back less than you invested.
Please note that this document was prepared as a general guide only and does not constitute tax or legal advice.
While we believe it to be correct at the time of writing, Brewin Dolphin is not a tax adviser and tax law is subject to frequent change. Tax treatment depends on your individual circumstances; therefore you should not rely on this information without seeking professional advice from a qualified tax adviser.