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Sydney Travel Blog – Part Two Sustainability Investing

After spending New Year in Tasmania I returned to Sydney and met up with the Stewart Investor Sustainability team who have relocated from the Commonwealth Bank building at Darling Harbour to the Rocks area of Sydney (see picture). This historic part of Sydney became established shortly after the colony’s formation in 1788, but was not glamorous as it was on the arriving convict side of town, often frequented by visiting sailors and prostitutes and gained a reputation as a slum area. Debate ranged for many years about the merits of re-developing the area with control given to the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority in 1968. Today renovations have transformed the area into a commercial and tourist precinct with many of the old historic buildings preserved. The Stewart Investors office is located in Hickson Road, home to the ASN Warehouse. This building was originally the Australasian Steam Navigation company and was constructed 1884–1885 and included living quarters at the upper levels. This is the building in the centre with the turret. The Metcalfe Bond Stores (to the right in the picture) are the original warehouse buildings constructed in 1912-1916 and were the place where imported goods remained in storage until a customs duty was paid on them, a situation which may become more common today in the United States if Trump enacts protectionist trade policies. Michael Metcalfe was one of the original founders of the ASN Company. Today the Rocks area and surrounding wharfs are being revitalised and the Stewart Investor team share a building with a variety of businesses including some other boutique asset managers.

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Sydney Travel Blog Part One

After the clear skies in Hong Kong it was good to arrive in Sydney when three days of rain were clearing. Sydney in December allows travellers from the Northern Hemisphere to become reacquainted with summer, with humidity levels at this time of year still relatively low. Much of Australia has suffered a cool, wet spring but summer has now kicked in with temperatures ranging from the mid 20s to low 30s. Whilst States such as Queensland and WA have suffered from the slowdown in the resources sector, Sydney remains buoyant, although there are now some signs that its rampant property market is coming off the highest levels. Sydney property has attracted a large number of Chinese buyers, both attracted by the quality of life available in a bolthole location, and also perhaps a protection against fears of controls on the movement of capital in China and further RMB depreciation. The Australian exchange rate is no longer as strong as it was, although unsurprisingly in Sterling terms prices are higher than 12 months ago when Brexit was not regarded as a likely outcome of the EU Referendum. The impact of the fall in Sterling is noticeable as there appear to be less UK tourists around, but this is being made up, not only by Chinese visitors, but also a lot more visitors from the States who are enjoying the spending power of the resurgent US currency.

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Protecting Yourself and Your Family – All about Insurance

Individual protection needs vary from person to person. Personal circumstances will determine an individual’s need for a type of insurance and the level of cover they require. In the current market place, there are many difference types of insurance policies with many people asking themselves which cover will I need if I get sick or which cover will I need for my family if I die? The main focus of this article is to provide a breakdown of the main types of protection policies to assist clients in deciding which cover may be suitable for them. Read more...

Hong Kong Travel Blog – Dec 2016 Part 2

I took the opportunity to meet up with the highly regarded China team at First State Stewart Asia, who are now a separate unit to Stewart Investors. Their China specialist QQ is a Chinese national with excellent on-the-ground contacts in mainland China. QQ visits China frequently and stated at company meetings it was apparent that things have stabilised on the ground. Chinese company management are now more positive and the wider population has regained the confidence to spend. QQ believes the leadership in China have recognised the role of the market and will intervene less and work more as a referee and policeman. Although it will be a long-term project, the government has closed some inefficient and polluting heavy industry, such as coal mines and steel producers. Favoured industries in China include technology, services and some microbusinesses which have received tax benefits. The authorities in China will continue to tackle environmental issues in the northeast of the country by closing down heavily polluting industries. Read more...

Hong Kong Travel Blog – December 2016

Arriving in Hong Kong in December was much more pleasant than September with the level of humidity having dropped considerably. Furthermore, we were met with blue skies and pleasant temperatures in the range of 20-25C. In general, the best weather in Hong Kong for outside activities is November and December as temperatures are still mild, but humidity levels have dropped from the 95% sometimes recorded in wet spells during the summer to around 70% - 75% at this time of year. Read more...

The Employment & Incentive Insurance Scheme

The Employment & Incentive Insurance Scheme (EIIS): An Approved Tax Relief Investment

The EIIS is a tax relief incentive scheme, which enables investors to claim Income Tax relief in respect of investments made in qualifying companies. It is one of the few tax reliefs that can be claimed against your total income, e.g. rental income, deposit income, annuity income and distributions from approved retirement schemes.

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Pensions – One of the last few remaining tax breaks?

For many years, individuals with earned income liable to the higher rate of tax have made contributions to an appropriate pension vehicle. By doing this, they were (a) saving for their retirement and (b) taking advantage of significant tax reliefs in place in respect of personal pension contributions.

However, due to recent developments, such as cutting the earnings limit to €150,000 from €254,000 and the introduction of a €2 million cap on pension funds, individuals have reservations as to the rationale behind making a personal pension contribution. Some individuals are considering alternative wealth accumulation vehicles, such as investment bonds, fixed long term deposit accounts or property investments. In this article we will consider if it still makes sense to make a personal pension contribution.

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