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Don't depend on the state

9:00am Thursday 26th June 2014

As important events go, it was never likely to be on a par with that monumental, jump-out-of-the-bath ‘eureka’ moment which led to the establishment of Archimedes Principle.

Mind the pension gap

12:00am Thursday 15th May 2014

A good friend, a man I’ve known for more than three decades, retired last autumn at the age of 55. Over a beer several years ago, he admitted that he had grown to despise his job. “Why don’t you just leave?” I asked, rather naively. As his shoulders visibly slumped, he sighed. “Because,” he said, resignedly, “the pension is too good. I’d never be able to match it anywhere else.” His pension may have appeared attractive, but the prospect of receiving it would keep him anchored in an unhappy, unfulfilling role for another decade. Last October, his employer asked him to remain for another year, but he was having none of it. He took the money and ran, initially to Mexico with his wife for a longish holiday, before returning home to, well, not much actually. I spoke with him recently. He’s anxious to return to the world of work, but tells me he’s received only a handful of replies to the dozens of CVs he’s distributed, so self employment is the way forward. It transpires that this radical change of plan is the result of a disheartening realisation that his post-tax pension income is not quite as generous as he believed it would be. My friend’s tale is similar to that which many folks will encounter as they enthusiastically, at least initially, enter the early stages of retirement, and explains why so many people in their late fifties and sixties are becoming their own boss. There has been a phenomenal surge in self-employment. According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) last month there are 700,000  more self-employed people than there were in 2008, a rise of almost 18 percent. Yet this astonishing increase is not all attributable to a rebirth of entrepreneurial spirit, evident across Britain since the mid-17th century, but more recently undermined by the dead hand of the state. Granted, the comparative uncertainty of employment, coupled with the attractive, if esoteric appeal of working for yourself has undoubtedly prompted many to echo the words of the marvellously-named Johnny Paycheck and advise their employer that they may “Take this job and shove it – I ain’t workin’ here no more”. Others, however, have fallen into self-employment out of necessity, in much the same way as people who cannot sell their homes become landlords by default. In both instances, the ‘least worst’ option is pursued, probably until something better turns up. Realistically, however, this is an unlikely scenario for someone in their sixties. Significantly, Britons are increasingly realistic enough to accept that they’re likely to work well beyond the official retirement age. Perhaps the government’s message is finally getting through. A study commissioned by pension minister Steve Webb last year warned that the pension gap, ie the difference between what you need and what you actually receive in retirement, was widening. Mr Webb suggested that up to 13 million of us face an austere retirement after not saving enough during our working lives. Those capable of doing so will, therefore, have to continue working, although it’s worth pointing out that millions will do this out of choice, especially when the alternative is so depressing: daytime television featuring Jeremy Kyle. More recently, an HSBC-commissioned a report revealed that almost 40 percent of Britons confirmed that they had either made no financial plan, or were inadequately prepared for anything approaching a comfortable retirement. One third of those who admitted this said they only realised how under-prepared they were after they retired. Statistics published by the ONS suggest that the number of people aged between 65 and 74 who were now ‘economically active’ had doubled during the last decade. There are many reasons why this should be so, including the best of all: keeping going keeps you going. The rise in self-employment, irrespective of why people start working for themselves, is to be welcomed. However, there are millions of soon-to-retire folks who would like the option of working, possibly for themselves, if they wanted, but many would also like to slow down a little too, without feeling as though they had to work. It follows that individuals wishing to keep their options open should plan for their retirement as early as possible, so avoiding the realisation that they haven’t saved enough and find themselves forced into becoming an entrepreneur by default.                

Employer benefits

The Oxford Times: Graham Carson

12:00am Thursday 15th May 2014

Graham Carson of start-up accountancy firm Inca offers guidance to Oxfordshire businesses on how to benefit from the Government’s newly introduced Employment Allowance

What's in a claim?

4:41pm Tuesday 13th May 2014

Duncan Bain, senior associate at the Oxford office of Penningtons Manches, explains how new legislation is aimed at cutting the number of employment tribunal claims

Getting your pension pot

10:00am Thursday 17th April 2014

It has started. Following George Osborne’s ‘revolutionary’ pensions pronouncements in the Budget, it would appear everyone and his brother are now assuming (incorrectly) all 55-year-olds will automatically cash in their pension and conduct a search for better returns.

Pension planning dilemma

9:00am Thursday 20th February 2014

In Spain recently, photographs from Racing Santander’s cup match against Real Sociedad, which showed the home team’s players linking arms on the half way line, suggested the game had gone to a penalty shoot-out.

Companies to watch in 2014

12:04pm Thursday 16th January 2014

Helen Merrington-Rust, of Redmayne-Bentley, sets out her predictions for the year ahead

Resolve to plan ahead

12:02pm Thursday 16th January 2014

Have you noticed how, just when everything appears to be going swimmingly, life has an uncanny habit of hurling you a completely unexpected challenge?

Defence of pessimism

9:00am Thursday 17th October 2013

Have you ever noticed how annual reports so often refer to ‘issues’ instead of ‘problems’? This infuriating substitution was brought to mind recently while I was reading how Ana Botin had berated Britons for their “glass half-empty” view of life in a speech at an Institute of Directors conference.

Key to success is clear vision

10:32am Thursday 9th May 2013

Former Government minister Lord Drayson answers our questions

DIY approach to investing

10:29am Thursday 9th May 2013

Douglas Chadwick, founder of financial website Saltydog Investor based in Long Crendon, near Thame, explains some of the principles behind DIY investing

Taking the Argos approach

10:25am Thursday 9th May 2013

Going short is a strategy beloved by traders and spread bet afficionados who suspect a company’s shares will fall in value.

Transparent technology

11:19am Thursday 21st February 2013

For anyone fed up with those necessary but nuisance-laden rules about not being allowed to take drinks onto aircraft, there may be light at the end of the tunnel.

Have we reached turning point?

11:14am Thursday 21st February 2013

It is hard to believe that back in 1989 the FTSE100 index was only four years-old, the market’s trading floor still dominated by traders in brightly-coloured jackets, a symbol of their brokerage affinity, bellowing out orders and simultaneously gesticulating like frenzied tic-tac men.

Business property relief

11:12am Thursday 17th January 2013

Alison Craggs of Blake Lapthorn highlights the importance of business property relief

Pension dilemma for baby boomers

11:10am Thursday 17th January 2013

I recently reached one of those landmark birthdays which, literally overnight, transfer you seamlessly into a new, if slightly greyer, age band. While I still feel as though I belong in the 15-24 age group, there is in reality one category to which, if the European Commission’s 2012 Ageing Report is accurate, I have moved slightly closer.

Labour of love

9:00am Thursday 13th December 2012

Two friends who met while supplying cakes and flowers to a wedding have joined forces to set up a new business, offering a one-stop-shop of local suppliers for the big day.

Encounter with Mr Bond

9:00am Thursday 13th December 2012

My wife and I recently went to see Skyfall, the latest Bond movie in which Daniel Craig successfully continues to differentiate his more aggressive 007 character from that of Roger Moore and others who have performed the role.

Investors face tax crackdown

9:00am Thursday 15th November 2012

T he annual report into comparative global income tax rates, the Individual Income Tax and Social Security Rate Survey, always makes interesting reading.

Chancellor's pledge

9:00am Thursday 18th October 2012

It is a shame that some condescending art critics and their near cousins, disdainful literary reviewers, tend to unnecessarily over-complicate their language when simple descriptions will generally suffice.

Splitting heirs

The Oxford Times: Splitting heirs

10:16am Friday 17th August 2012

Recently, a friend of mine received a letter from a firm of heir hunters informing him that a distant relative of his had died and inviting him to contact them.

Balancing home and office

10:13am Friday 17th August 2012

People have been working from home for many years but what is new are the sorts of ways people are looking to do it. Then there are the issues it raises for employers regarding IT, harassment, accountability and possible duties of care, including personal injury and health and safety.

Time to take charge of savings

8:20am Thursday 19th July 2012

The credit crunch had hardly been heard of five years ago, let alone identified as an impending financial disaster that would change the world and obliterate great swathes of individual, governmental and corporate wealth.

Pay off your debts

8:40am Thursday 21st June 2012

Curse of the Zombie is one of those ridiculously trashy movies best watched with family or friends when under the influence of alcohol.

Pension deadline for employers

The Oxford Times: Gilliam McCue of Morgan Cole

8:40am Thursday 21st June 2012

Gillian McCue, a senior solicitor at Oxford law firm Morgan Cole, explains why time is running out for the new auto-enrolment pension scheme

Boxing clever

The Oxford Times: Tim Wilson

4:45pm Wednesday 16th May 2012

Tim Wilson, an associate at the Oxford office of Dehns patent and trademark attorneys dodges the ‘pasty tax’ to uncover some good news for innovative firms in this year’s Budget

Why you cannot rely on past performance

4:15pm Wednesday 16th May 2012

Here’s a quiz question. Out of nine different major asset classes, including commodities, UK equities, cash and property, amongst others, which was the best performing in 1999? Answer: the hedge fund sector.

Don't get too greedy

3:52pm Thursday 15th March 2012

Earlier this month, I was asked if a simple, one-size-fits-all investment strategy actually exists. I hesitated, thinking it was a daft question, but thought it might be worth considering in greater detail, though it was a task I approached with some scepticism.

Selling at a premium

5:05pm Thursday 16th February 2012

Tim Wallbank, partner at Banbury accountants Whitley Stimpson, offers tips on getting best value when selling a business in a harsh economic climate

'Value added' tax for homes worth more than £2m

The Oxford Times: Harry St John

5:03pm Thursday 16th February 2012

The highly controversial levy, which will see a tax of one per cent of the value of a home over £2m, could be introduced in the Chancellor’s Budget next month after persistent lobbying from Business Secretary Vince Cable.

Dividend payments can disguise corporate woe

5:01pm Thursday 16th February 2012

Last summer’s abrupt demise of the News of the World (NoW) came as a complete shock, although it is probably fair to say some did not shed a tear at its passing.

Privacy: ignore at your peril

11:06am Thursday 8th December 2011

Tom Maple, of Henmans solicitors in Oxford, looks at privacy law in the light of the News of the World scandal

Does the economic crisis have a silver lining?

10:45am Thursday 8th December 2011

Perhaps the greatest corollary of the protracted financial crisis has been the maintenance of corporate profitability. Though capital investment and recruitment may have been sidelined, many leading companies continue to report impressive profits and set dividend payouts at levels comfortably covered by earnings.

'Nifty fifty' warning

4:51pm Thursday 17th November 2011

I read a briefing note written by Merrill Lynch recently which suggested investors could be approaching an “attractive entry point” for equities and other risk assets following the recent sell off.

Looking for dividends

4:57pm Thursday 20th October 2011

The decision by National Savings & Investment (NS&I) to withdraw its enormously popular inflation-linked savings certificates earlier this month acted as another body blow for investors anxious to circumvent that horrible combination of low interest rates and rampant inflation.

Giving the High Street a sporting chance

8:00am Thursday 18th August 2011

Nowhere are Britain’s economic ills more evident than on our high streets. Most small retailers (and many big ones) are struggling. Demand for secondary trading positions is negligible, while a stroll down virtually any high street will only confirm that the volume of boarded-up shop fronts rises with depressing regularity.

Reprieve for an old friend

8:00am Thursday 18th August 2011

Paul Holt, business manager for Newbury Building Society, welcomes the U-turn on the scrapping of the cheque

Inflation: winners and losers

The Oxford Times: Hans Price

12:27pm Wednesday 17th August 2011

Hans Price, divisional director of financial planning firm Brewin Dolphin, Oxford, explains how inflation is impacting on our spending power

Death of print is exaggerated

8:10am Thursday 21st July 2011

Most of us have a favourite time for reading. Mine is around 11pm, when, slumping in an armchair with a newspaper or magazine (books are for holidays), has the effect of concluding the day with an ideal sense of completeness.

How to raise that cash

4:00pm Thursday 19th May 2011

Graham Nixey, Long Hanborough-based senior associate with Secantor, a network of part-time finance directors, explores the funding process for small and growing businesses

Location fuels demand

8:00am Thursday 19th May 2011

Nick Owens, senior associate in Oxford law firm Manches’ residential property team, is witnessing a strong recovery at the top end of the city’s housing market

Will lawyers now think twice?

8:00am Thursday 19th May 2011

Russell Jinks, a senior solicitor with south Oxfordshire firm Slade Legal, has reservations about the Government’s intervention into the area of personal injury claims

Study the balance sheet

8:00am Thursday 19th May 2011

There was a time, not too long ago, when it was possible to identify a seriously under-valued asset, buy it and move it on rapidly for a profit.

Extra leave for new dads

12:06pm Thursday 14th April 2011

Vicky Schollar, a solicitor in Blake Lapthorn's Employment team, examines how the new additional paternity leave legislation operates

Learning to share

12:01pm Thursday 14th April 2011

Bruce Potter, a partner with Oxford law firm Morgan Cole, discusses the implications of shared services for local businesses

Avoiding the tax trap

12:03pm Thursday 14th April 2011

Janice Parker, director of personal tax at Oxford-based Critchleys accountants and business advisers, reveals how thousands of people could fall into a new tax band and suggests what can be done about it

New age is dawning

11:56am Thursday 14th April 2011

Andrew Egan, an employment specialist with Wantage law firm Charles Lucas & Marshall, explains the impact on employers of the Government's plans to abolish the default retirement age

The rain in Spain ...

11:24am Thursday 14th April 2011

I was in Gibraltar for two days on business earlier this month and, important stuff completed, took the opportunity to venture a little further up the Spanish coast, a few miles west of Marbella, a place I have never previously visited.

Hold on to what you have

11:26am Thursday 14th April 2011

Mark Barclay, of the St. James’s Place Partnership in Oxford, outlines the importance of wealth management

Stock market risk

8:30am Thursday 17th March 2011

In a recent article, I mentioned the steady, continuing exodus by savers and investors away from savings accounts paying pitifully low levels of interest into more adventurous, higher-yielding securities, such as shares.



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