The dangers of Lifestyling and what it is.

What is lifestyling I hear you say?  Is it a way of living life in a certain way or style?  Do I like the hippy flowery look, or am I a minimalist person who likes clean lines and simple taste?

Well, none of these actually – it relates to an investment process which is normally linked to a personal pension.  In the old days people would have a pension and when they got to retirement age at maybe 60 or 65, they would retire and take an income from their pension pot which was normally in the form of an annuity or guaranteed income.

Now as you approach this day of financial freedom or retirement, you would not want anything to go badly wrong in the markets especially if you were going to buy an annuity.  This is because this pot which you have built up over many years was there to buy your annuity to provide an income for the whole of your life. So many advisers often recommend that as a client approaches retirement, they should lower the risk of their portfolio to protect the capital amount that they have achieved.

The problem with this is that many clients do not have an adviser to check this.   This created a problem especially as the number of advisers has generally declined over the last 20-30 years.  So, to combat this some of the insurers and pension companies introduced Lifestyling which was a system built into your pension to automatically sell down your higher risk assets, such as equities and buy lower risk investments such as Fixed Interest.  This lowers the risk of your portfolio as you approach retirement.

Great I hear you say – problem solved nothing to worry about!  Well, it depends.  Sometimes Lifestyling can work to a client’s advantage if the timing is right, however this will be down to luck because it is an automated process and arranged by a computer which will not take into consideration what is happening in the markets.  So, for instance if you were approaching your retirement and it just so happened that that the software was going to sell down 10% of your equity holding in March 2020 i.e. at the bottom of the market during the recent pandemic or the 8th March 2022 when European markets were at their lowest because of the Ukraine/Russian war, this might not be the right decision to sell when equities are at a low value.

Plus, if you did not take your pension at the time, then it could be the case that you were invested in low risk investments for a considerable period – e.g. your retirement age is  60 and you did not actually retire until age 70.  We recently had a new client who was affected by this and could not work out why her pension had stopped growing because the pension company automatically had de-risked her portfolio to 100% cash for 10 years.

So, what is the answer – well it is never clear cut and will depend on many aspects of your situation and includes the following points:

  1. Have you hit your target pension pot to provide the level of income you need in retirement?
  1. What level of risk should you be taking with your pension portfolio?
  1. Does this level of risk match your Capacity for Loss this level of risk appropriate for your financial circumstances?
  1. Is an annuity the right option for you or should you be considering Drawdown instead?

These are all questions that an IFA will help you answer so that you can take control of your pension and make it work for your situation.  If you would like to speak to an adviser here, please call 01753 290111 or visit

Whilst a lifestyling fund can be the right choice for some people it does not suit everyone, and we would always recommend getting advice if you are not sure which option is the most appropriate for your situation. 

Obviously, the value of units can go up and down and past performance is not a guide to the future performance.  This document does not constitute advice and a pension may also have other valuable benefits which are not mentioned in this article.  This document is dated May 2022 and if you are reading this 3 months or more after this date, then there is a chance that this information is no longer up to date.

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Moving to the US? You’ll need to move your SIPP too!

Relocating to another country can be exhilarating and stressful. There are so many little things to consider – and so many huge things to sort out. Your pension scheme may be pretty low down on your ‘to do’ list, but it shouldn’t be.

Many UK citizens moving to the US may assume that their self invested pension plan (SIPP) is something that doesn’t really need attention. That it can just remain where it is and they can use it as they would have done when living in the UK. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Here, we share with you our experience of helping people sort their SIPP when moving to the US

More about SIPPs and moving to the US

Let’s start at the beginning and look at SIPPs a bit more closely. Most people who have worked as an employee in the UK for any stretch of time will have some kind of pension plan. Employers are now duty-bound to enrol their employees in a pension plan and freelancers are also likely to hold a SIPP into which they can pay money, topped up by the government.

Your SIPP will be managed by a provider who will need to be informed of any changes to your tax residence status. Those who aren’t in the know, or who are willing to remain ignorant to the rules and regulations, may decide to not inform their SIPP provider that they are moving to the US, but this is not a sensible approach. 

Most UK SIPP providers will not support accounts for people who have moved to the US. This is because of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) reporting requirements. SIPP providers are reluctant to hold accounts for those living in the US because they are unwilling to make sure the investments adhere to the US rules and regulations and to keep up with the complex reporting requirements involved. For example, the IRS doesn’t automatically consider some SIPP accounts, such as trust-based SIPPs, as pension structures that are entitled to tax treatment under the US/UK tax treaty.

What is the US/UK tax treaty?

The US and the UK have a favourable tax treaty compared with some other nations. The two countries have a double taxation agreement in place. In reference to the double taxation agreement, it is set out as follows:

‘the amount of any such pension or remuneration paid from a pension scheme established in the other Contracting State that would be exempt from taxation in that other State if the beneficial owner were a resident thereof shall be exempt from taxation in the first mentioned State.’

And continues: 

‘Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph 1 of this Article, a lump-sum payment derived from a pension scheme established in a Contracting State and beneficially owned by a resident of the other Contracting State shall be taxable only in the first-mentioned State.’

This all means that withdrawals from a pension should only be taxed in the country of residence, not the country of origin. It also means that the tax-free lump sum of 25% of the pension, which is available to pensioners in the UK, should also be available in the US.

Therefore, for either citizens of the UK moving to the US, or those from the US moving to the UK, the treaty means that income earned when resident in either country is only taxed once: in the country in residence. 

This favourable treaty means that, as an expat of either nation, the income you receive from your pension, even as an expat, should only be liable for income tax in your country of residence. However, this is only the case if your SIPP account is recognised and approved by the IRS. 

Can I move my SIPP to a US provider?

Some SIPP account holders moving to the US assume that they will simply be able to move their SIPP to a US-based provider. Unfortunately, this can only happen if HMRC approves the provider as a ‘qualifying recognised overseas pension scheme’ or QROPS for short. There are only two QROPS in the whole of the US and you’ll need to work in specific sponsoring companies to invest in these accounts, so it’s a non-starter for most.

So what’s the solution?

Here at Giles Warren Financial  we advise our clients who are moving to the US to give their SIPP plenty of thought. Failing to prepare and take steps to move your SIPP to a provider who supports those not living in the US could leave you without access to your pension fund, or having to pay tax twice on your pension income. 

We have worked with a number of clients who have relocated to the US, some with significant wealth in a SIPP. In our experience, there are providers who will support customers living in the US, but they are few and far between. We can do the legwork in locating and transferring your pensions funds to a SIPP provider who will allow you to reside in the US and help you meet the relevant USA reporting requirements . However, it pays to remember that this process can take a number of months, so preparation is the key. Like all things to do with financial and wealth planning, it’s a good idea to start as soon as possible to ensure everything is in place well in advance of major life events and changes.

Giles Warren explains: “It’s tough, but not impossible to take steps to transfer SIPPs to providers who will consider those residing in the US. We successfully moved a client with in excess of £1m in his SIPP to a provider who took care of all the reporting and solved the issues.”

Risk Warnings:

  • Giles Warren’s advice and recommendations are based on my understanding of current law and taxation, which may be subject to change in the future.
  • The value of investments can, especially over the short term, go down as well as up, and you may get back less than you invest. 
  • While your funds are transferring there will be a period of time where they are out of the market. During this time, they will not benefit from any uplift in market values. Conversely, they will not be affected by any decline in values.
  • The date of this promotion is June 2021, so if you are viewing this after September 2021, then we would suggest calling us to confirm it is still relevant.
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Binfield Lighthouse – our Charity Contribution 2020

For our charity contribution this year, we will be supporting Binfield Lighthouse with food parcels.  They are a local group who voluntarily support people by preparing meals and tuck bags etc so that they can be cooked easily either in their homes or in basic accommodation which does not support a full kitchen.  For instance those who only have a microwave or single gas heater.  Lighthouse currently now support 70 of these most vulnerable people,  including 4  families.  One of which includes a father with 3 very young children, who has had to give up his job to care for his kids.  So instead of jam sandwiches they are all getting a cooked meal, because he struggles to find the time to even get to a foodbank.

These people are the most vulnerable in our communities and I would like to thank all of my clients who contributed food parcels this year. They will go to local people in the SL and RG postcodes, so your contributions have really helped. My boot was about twice as full as last year and we also had some monetary contributions which we added to our company shopping list. So whilst I do not know exactly what was raised in total – I would estimate it to be about £600. Here’s a picture of me masked up and dropping the food off to them on a wet Saturday morning.

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Retired women could be owed millions in underpaid state pensions

Older women are being warned that they should check for a missing ‘marriage uplift’ that could be worth £10,000 or more, following a series of mistakes.

Under old state pension rules, there was a promise to pay married women a basic state pension worth 60% of the full rate based on their husband’s contributions if their husband’s contributions were worth more than their own.

Women had to manually claim for the uplift prior to March 2008. The claim form was often sent to women’s husbands, meaning many missed out.

A further failure came after March 2008 when the pensions process changed so that the ‘marriage uplift’ changed to happen automatically. The uplift didn’t always kick in, leaving female pensioners out of pocket in many cases.

As a result of this, tens of thousands of women are estimated to have had their pensions underpaid for the last 12 years.

Unfortunately, women are not entitled to 12 years of backdated payments. In accordance with current pension laws, women are only being refunded missed payments for the last 12 months.

In response, a growing number of women are planning to make a complaint of “maladministration” to the parliamentary ombudsman. The women will argue that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) failed to inform them about the need to make a second state pension claim when their husband turned 65.

Some of these women are now receiving refunds from the DWP worth an average of £10,000. Research from Steve Webb, a partner at pensions and investment consultancy LCP, suggests that a very small number of women could be in line for refunds of more than £100,000.

Steve Webb’s report identifies six distinct groups who may be entitled to repayments:

  • Widows whose pension didn’t increase when their husbands died
  • Widows whose pension is now correct, but who think they may have been underpaid while their late husband was alive
  • Divorced women
  • Women over 80
  • The heirs of married women who have died

Women are being urged not to sit back and wait for the DWP to contact them as there are concerns that many eligible women will slip through the department’s checks. You can contact the Pensions Service on 0800 731 7898 if you think you might have been underpaid.

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Should I change my pensions and investments in light of the COVID-19 pandemic?

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These are incredibly difficult times for us all. Our way of life has been turned upside down and many of us have experienced a huge impact on our livelihoods and personal wealth. Much of what we took for granted, from our health and freedom, to our jobs and financial stability, has been temporarily compromised and this has caused a lot of stress for many people.

We, as your friendly, local Windsor independent financial advisors, understand the challenges that the Coronavirus has unearthed and we can help. Despite the lockdown, we are still offering advice and consultations with clients via a webinar link. We have found this is a great way to advise and also reassure clients during this uncertain time.

A huge number of us are now working from home and may have more time on our hands. It’s time to take stock and, for some, an opportunity to reassess our finances and make changes that will help to secure our futures from a financial perspective. When there is so much uncertainty, evaluating our pensions and investments is something we can all do to regain some authority over our lives.

Should I be moving my investments to lower risk funds?

We all know that Coronavirus has hit the markets hard. However, previous evidence shows that pandemics in the past have only resulted in short-lived negative impacts on stock market performance. Although many will instinctively want to err on the side of caution with their pensions and investments in light of the impact of the virus, this isn’t necessarily the best option.

This is a great time to ask yourself whether your investment portfolio and the choices you have made in the past, with regards to your personal wealth management, need to be reviewed in light of the pandemic. Some of the recommendations we would make may not be in line with your expectations. It is possible to play it too safe, for example. Ask yourself, are you confident that your current investments are still suitable?

If the answer’s no, then maybe it’s time to give us a call and see if we can improve your portfolio and boost your returns. If you have some time to spare this week, why not dig out your pensions and investment policies and see if we can help you review their performance and charges. We always welcome calls from established or new clients.

Please call us to discuss your situation on 01753 290111.

Obviously, it’s important to acknowledge that no investment comes without risks and that returns can go both up and down and that past performance is no indication of future performance. We would always suggest that you take independent financial advice to assess your situation before changing your investments.


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Does Your Offshore Investment Policy Cost You the Earth?

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Offshore investment policies can be a great way to boost your wealth if you are an expat. However, timing is key, so it’s always best to arrange your policy before you move abroad. Some policies have been known to come with high fees and penalties that result in next to no return on your investment over a short period of time i.e. 5 years. Here’s our guide to avoiding the traps and getting the most from your offshore investment.

Why do expats use offshore investment policies?

Offshore investment bonds, if arranged by a regulated Independent Financial Advisor, such as Giles Warren, can provide legitimate tax benefits to those living overseas. They are reasonably complex products, but our clients trust us to explain how they work and their advantages and limitations.

These types of products aren’t always suitable for expat investors, and we unfortunately have seen several clients come to us with unsuitable offshore investment policies. We would therefore encourage our clients, existing and new, to consult us before moving abroad so we can help them find the right kind of policy.

What should you watch out for?

Investors taking out offshore investment policies often find that there is a lack of transparency because most jurisdictions are unregulated, unlike UK advisers. Expats are often sold products that can leave them with high charges and early redemption penalties.

Not only do many expats take out policies that are inappropriate for their needs, but they often have no idea what ongoing fees they are committing to when they first take out their bonds.

How to get the most from your offshore investment policy

There’s a simple way to ensure that you don’t fall foul of an inappropriate policy with outrageous charges, and that’s to arrange your policy with a regulated IFA, such as Giles Warren before you move abroad. If you’re already an expat, get in touch with us by email so that we can assess your requirements and perhaps book in a meeting when you’re next visiting the UK.

Offshore investments can provide expats with a welcome boost to their wealth and, when allocated correctly, can help to save tax and boost your wealth. However, we would recommend using a regulated IFA with the job of arranging these complex products for you or you could find yourself lumbered with a policy that has high early redemption penalties and is taxable when you return to the UK.

The value of investments can go down as well as up and you may get back less than the amount invested.

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Get involved with our Reverse Advent calendar food bank scheme this Christmas

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In a bid to help those in need this Christmas, we are encouraging our clients to get involved with the Paradigm Reverse Advent calendar scheme. We are supporting our local food bank in Bracknell and would love it if you could find time to donate a few food items this festive season to make sure that everyone, no matter their circumstances, gets to enjoy some Christmas treats this year.

How can you help?

The Reverse Advent idea has been thought up by the clever people at Paradigm with whom Giles Warren Financial  works. The idea is to add a food item to a box or bag each day of advent, before donating the bag in time for Christmas. The food is then distributed to those who can not afford to buy what they need for their families over the Christmas season.

More and more people are living below the poverty line in the UK and the food bank charity, The Trussell Trust, reported experiencing a 23 per cent increase in demand for emergency food parcels in the six months from April to September 2019. This was the sharpest rise in demand for five years.

Christmas is a time for celebration and fun, but it’s also a great time to reflect on how lucky we are and how the festive season can be a difficult time for less-fortunate members of the community. By gathering food over the advent period and donating food staples and treats to hungry people living nearby, we can all give a little something back this Christmas.

How to donate

Once you’ve gathered your Reverse Advent food donations together (you don’t have to include 24 items, just whatever you are able to put together – all donations are welcome!) take them along to the Giles Warren Financial offices, at 59-60 Gainsborough House, Thames St, Windsor SL4 1TX. We will donate your bags and boxes to the local food bank in Bracknell to ensure they get to the people that need them most.

Alternatively, you can take your donations directly to your local Trussell Trust food bank. Click here to find your nearest branch.

Remember: you’ll need to ensure that the food items you donate are non-perishable. Tinned meat, tinned fruits and vegetables, tinned fish, biscuits or snack bars, fruit juice or cordial, pasta sauces, tinned sponge puddings, tinned tomatoes, cereals, custard, tea or coffee, pasta and rice are all good options.

We hope to see you at our offices soon! Thank you from the team at Giles Warren Financial Ltd.


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Can looking after your grandchildren help to pay your pension?

woman holding baby near window


Over the past decade or so, family dynamics have changed fundamentally. Parents with adult children are increasingly sharing their homes with their offspring well into their 20s and 30s. With the housing ladder beyond the reach of so many younger people and the burden of student debt hanging over their heads, it’s now normal to start adult lives under mum and dad’s roof.

Alongside this change is the growing role that grandparents are playing in their grandchildren’s lives. Once your adult offspring have finally flown the nest and started their own families, you may find that you become vital childcare providers for their little ones.

Back in 2011, the government realised how important this childcare role is and changed the National Insurance rules to allow grandparents to receive NI credits for looking after their grandchildren.

What is the Specified Adult Childcare Credit?

This credit works by transferring the National Insurance credit associated with claiming child benefit, from the parent of a child (under 12) to a family member who has taken on a childcare role for that child when the parent returns to work. To be classed as an eligible family member, you will need to be:

1) a ‘non-resident parent’

2) grandparent, great-grandparent or great-great-grandparent

3) brother or sister

4) aunt or uncle

There are also some other relatives by marriage that be considered, so check here for the full list.

How can the Specified Adult Childcare Credit help you?

For each week you provide childcare for your grandchild, niece or nephew, you can receive a Class 3 NI credit. These credits are needed to build up your State Pension entitlement. If you have gaps in your National Insurance Contribution, which could leave you with a reduced State Pension, this credit scheme could help you plug these gaps.

Am I eligible for the Specified Adult Childcare Credit?

In order to qualify, child benefit needs to be claimed for the child or children in question. If the parents are not entitled to child benefit, then no National Insurance credits will be available.

Another major eligibility issue is that the parent of the child must qualify for child benefit and must also have a qualifying year for National Insurance without the need for the Class 3 credit afforded to them automatically when claiming child benefit.

In order to receive the Specified Adult Childcare Credit, you must fill in an online application form, giving the following details:

· Your personal details

· The child’s details and the periods of care

· The child’s parent/the Child Benefit recipient’s personal information

· The signatures of both the applicant

If you currently work, you may find that you already have a full year’s NI contributions and therefore, there will be no need to claim the Specified Adult Childcare Credit. There is an online tool that allows you to check your NI record here. (Please note that by clicking the links in this article, you will be leaving our website and we can take no responsibility for 3rd party website content.)

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What happens to my life insurance if I don’t die?

woman-3186741_1920Taking out life insurance is one of those things that most people realise they should be doing at some point in their lives. For many, this is when they make a major life-changing commitment, such as buying a house, getting married or having children. We get to that point where we realise that the world doesn’t revolve around us and that others will be directly impacted by our decisions.

The decision to start paying out a sum each month to financially protect your family in the event of your death is a very selfless one, but this doesn’t make parting with the cash any easier. In fact, many people start to wonder, ‘can you get your life insurance money back’? and even ‘does life insurance pay out if you don’t die?’ Here’s my attempt to answer these (surprisingly common) life insurance questions:

Can you get your life insurance money back?

In the case of most whole-of-life life insurance and term life insurance policies, which are the two most common types of life insurance, you will not have your premiums returned to you. Whole-of-life life insurance covers you until you die and then pays out, regardless of when that is. Term life assurance pays out if you die within a pre-agreed term. However, if you do not die during that term, the policy will not pay out and you will not receive your premiums back.

There are some circumstances where you may be able to opt for a ‘return of premiums rider,’ which could mean that you get some or all of your premiums back in certain situations, but this could also lead to much higher premiums in the first place.


Does life insurance pay out if you don’t die?

Sorry guys, but we all know the old phrase, “nothing in this world can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Everybody dies. However, WHEN is a key factor in whether or not you will receive a life insurance payout.

If you pass away within the term of your term life insurance, or at any point if you have whole-of-life cover, you are likely to receive a payout. However, if you are still alive at the end of your term life assurance, you won’t receive a payout.

Term life insurance can be an option for those who feel they only need cover for a certain period. For example, if you feel your insurance is to protect your spouse against the cost of paying the mortgage alone, then you may decide to take out life insurance that lasts as long as your mortgage.

The advantages are that term life insurance is often cheaper than whole-of-life cover, however, there is a risk that you will never receive a payout.

Some life insurance policies include critical illness cover, which usually pays out when you are diagnosed with certain serious illnesses. If you have this type of cover, you could well receive a payout even if you don’t die.

Taking out life insurance isn’t always an easy decision to make and no one likes to think of their own or their loved ones’ mortality. That’s why it’s a good idea to talk to an objective third-party, like an independent financial advisor about your options.



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