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HIDDEN COSTS WHEN INVESTING… AND HOW NOT TO GET HIT

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By Annie Charalambous, Head of Communications at ETX Capital

 

According to recent figures, Brits plan to increase their investments by almost a fifth in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic – with Gen-Z traders most keen to jump on the markets.

But are those looking to boost their profits paying over the odds without realising? A recent study claims UK investors often pay up to six times more in fees than advertised, costing some traders up to tens of thousands of pounds long-term.

ETX Capital is committed to shining a light on common hidden fees that can trip up new traders. Here’s how you can avoid feeling the pinch.

 

Taxing times

New traders are often unaware that profits made on their stocks and shares are subject to tax, in the same way they pay tax on salary earnings.

If your investment earnings are over £12,300 in a single year, you will have to pay Capital Gains Tax. This will either be 10 or 20 percent, depending on your annual income tax band.

However, married couples can ‘pool’ their tax-free allowance – meaning they can collectively earn up to £24,600 in trading profits each year without contributing Capital Gains Tax.

Some alternative savings vehicles also offer a larger tax-free allowance. For example, you can stash up to £20,000 each year in an ISA and earn interest on your cash.

For those looking to diversify their portfolio, many gold and silver coins are also exempt from Capital Gains Tax as they are technically legal British currency.

 

Commission costs

As with any commercial service, fund managers and platform providers that help traders set up and manage their investments will charge fees for their service.

However, the size of these costs can catch out unsuspecting investors. According to research, commission costs average 1.03 percent in the UK – around double the equivalent fees in the US.

While these costs are unavoidable for those who need support managing their investment funds, it is possible to reduce them. Research investment platforms and fund managers to ensure you find the most cost-effective commissions for your assets.

Alternatively, you may be able to avoid commission if you have the knowledge of the markets and are comfortable with the risk. If so, there are plenty of accessible platforms that will educate you on how to manage your stocks, forex, commodities and more. Although, keep in mind that you’ll likely have to pay fees to trade on these platforms.

 

Not that Stamp Duty

All stocks bought in the UK valued at £1,000 and over are subject to Stamp Duty Reserve Tax (SDRT). At 0.5 percent of the asset price, this can soon add up.

This tax is usually absorbed as part of a total fee charged by a fund manager. However, if you manage your own investments, you’ll need to submit details of your assets to the government in good time to skip late payment fines.

While SDRT marks a relatively small fee compared to the rewards on offer for successful investors, many may still wish to diversify their portfolios to avoid mounting tax bills. A common example is adding corporate bonds, which are exempt from SDRT.

 

Farewell feels

Many budding investors starting their trading journey simply aren’t thinking about what happens when you withdraw funds or transfer them to another platform. And for some, this means getting hit with unexpected ‘exit fees’.

These charges are typically written into the terms and conditions of an investment service and while many platforms and brokers have recently agreed to waive exit fees, there are still plenty leaving traders with a shock when the time comes to withdraw cash.

Exit fees are usually charged as a percentage fee of the withdrawn sum, which can represent a significant cost for longer-term investors.

It’s important to check for exit fees, which may also be referred to as ‘redemption fees’, before signing up for a platform or partnering with a fund manager. And those looking to escape these charges should look for providers that simply don’t apply them in the first place – or at least check the expiry date.

 

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Pro Tips To Consider Before You Decide To Refinance Your Vacation

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Refinancing debt is when you attempt to apply for a new loan or debt instrument. The goal is to get more favorable terms than you had with your previous contract, such as a lower interest rate or longer term. It’s a fairly common thing for people in debt to try and do.

Vacation refinancing occurs when you take out vacation loans from a lending entity, such as a bank, credit union, or credit card company. Then, you try to refinance that particular debt. In some instances, it may work in your favor.

There are a few factors that you should consider before you move in this direction, though. We’ll talk about some of them right now.

 

1. Lower Interest Rates

Refinancing isn’t typically very hard to do if you can find an entity willing to work with you. That’s true with vacation debt and debt stemming from other things as well.

However, it is never to your benefit to refinance if you can’t get a better interest rate. This is certainly the case with vacation debt refinancing. A lower rate should be one of your main priorities if you’re pursuing this option.

If you can’t find an entity willing to give you a better interest rate if you refinance your vacation debt with them, it’s not going to be worth your time.

 

2. Simplification

It’s also possible that you didn’t get a single loan, but that you spread out the costs of your vacation among a few different credit cards.

If so, you may want to refinance your vacation debt. In this scenario, you’re paying several different entities instead of one, which can get a little confusing. Maybe you have vacation debt on a few different cards with different interest rates and payment dates.

Refinancing can simplify paying back the money you owe from that vacation. Just like refinancing for other financial obligations, you can usually set up a system where you’re paying back only one lending entity, and you owe a set amount to them on the same day each month.

 

3. Compare Offers

A mistake that those with vacation debt sometimes make is taking the first refinancing offer they get because they feel like the terms are acceptable. Maybe they are, but it does no harm to shop around to see if you can find better terms.

It’s helpful to understand that many lending entities will want you to refinance with them. They can potentially make a profit from the deal from both interest and maintenance fees. Because of that, you’ll want to compare rates from different lending entities before you refinance your vacation debt with them.

 

Vacation Refinancing Can Be a Smart Move

Refinancing debt from your vacation may make sense from a financial standpoint. You’ll always want to compare rates from any companies that offer you this option. You might use a spreadsheet to see which one looks the most favorable.

You should also only refinance vacation debt if it will result in a lower interest rate on your debt. The least amount of interest you need to pay on your vacation debt over time, the better.

Simplification is one more factor that might go into this decision. If you have several entities to which you’re paying money stemming from vacation expenses, such as credit card companies, it can make your life easier to refinance with a single company. That way, you’re paying only one entity a set rate one time per month.

Refinancing vacation debt can often benefit you, and it’s certainly worth looking into for the reasons we mentioned.

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Out of office, home and away, moving up, moving on; when security goes AWOL

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Steve Bradford, Senior Vice President EMEA, SailPoint 

 

The financial services industry has one of the highest rates of insider data breaches, costing on average $21.25 million in the past year alone. Whether it’s an employee acting with malicious intent, or through accidental data mishandling, staff have access to sensitive information and systems that make them a constant vulnerability. And this threat only escalates when staff go on the move.

With the summer holiday season upon us, thoughts will be turning to well-deserved time off, travel and downtime. However, for many, especially in the financial industry, the notion of waiting until the summer months to sample a new life was not feasible. In the period following Covid, the industry has suffered at the hands of the Great Resignation as burnt-out employees left for new roles. As a result, research from PwC suggests that financial services leaders have had to prioritise employee retention amid the swathes of staff exiting.

This exodus is not just a threat to the workforce itself. It also results in greater threats to resilience, security and compliance. Ensuring that the doors to the organisation’s data are appropriately locked behind them is vital whenever employees are on the move. When a staff member leaves a bank or financial institution, security leaders must ensure they have not inadvertently handed over the keys to the safe as a leaving present. Revoking any and all access and privileges to company data must be a priority.

 

Don’t leave the door ajar 

Disorganised, ill-managed and manually-processed access requirements and identity management protocols are an open invite for security breaches.

However, it is not just those leaving for good that pose a threat. Recently promoted your long-serving payroll manager to a longed-for role in financial oversight? That positive move could result in entitlement creep, where the permissions to data, apps, information and systems she enjoyed in payroll follow her to her new home.

Permission creepers are those staff who collect permissions and access rights as they go through their career, picking up credentials to systems and data as they go. Of course, to restrict the opportunities for hacking, insider threat or illegal or incompliant activity, permissions should only be granted when relevant and required for an individual’s job. However, too many companies allow permissions to creep by not taking a proactive approach to access. This can result in toxic permissions combinations, where employees are granted inappropriate access to the systems, making fraud and error far more likely.

Even a simple summer holiday can provide an open-door opportunity. We are all conscious about signaling to would-be home burglars that we are going away on holiday, and we will take steps to protect our property in our absence. The same principle applies to businesses with staff out of the office on vacation – potentially logging in from insecure locations or signaling to cybercriminals that their attention is elsewhere.

The results of leaving the door ajar are costly. According to the IBM Cost of a Data Breach Report 2021, the average cost of a data breach in the financial sector is $5.72 million.

Permissions creep, unrevoked access and unmanaged identity provide the perfect conditions for the insider threat to propagate. As Gaurav Deep Singh Johar, of the Information Systems Audit and Control Association explained, “While these challenges are present in any institution, insider threats pose a greater risk for banks. There is a big reputational impact, thanks in part to increasing regulatory oversight.”

 

Don’t let permissions security set sail into the sunset

Financial organisations are complex landscapes, with labyrinthine corporate structures and siloes that cast a dark shadow over access and identity visibility. However, identity security technology is moving fast. Now, automated systems powered by AI and machine learning mean that permissions can be automated and access granted on a need-to-know basis, based on individuals’ employment status, roles, and responsibilities.

An automated system will quickly track down and disable ex-employees’ accounts and automatically halt permissions creep as employees move about the organisation.

The same technology can now also be even more diligent than that, monitoring access requirements based on any change in the workforce, like people being out of the office.

The evolving variety and fluctuating workforce mean that the insider threat can only be met with automated, streamlined identity security that moves as quickly as employees themselves. Without intelligent, streamlined identity governance, banks cannot ensure they are in a state of compliance, nor ensure cybersecurity in real-time. They also miss out on opportunities to improve operational efficiency and reduce the risk of fraud and error. Automation also ensures the accuracy and completeness of data sets so critical for keeping on top of compliance and delivering critical services.

As financial workforces are on the move, home and away and to pastures new, now is the time for banks to give identity security its time in the sun. Do not let shifting sands collapse the walls around you. Wherever your employees are coming from and going to, robust security and sustained compliance start with automated identity management.

 

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