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RETIREMENT ANNUITIES AND THEIR ADVANTAGES EXPLAINED

By Gerard Visser, Financial Planning Consultant at Alexander Forbes

 

There are a number of ways to save and a retirement annuity fund, is one of the potential investment tools which offer a tax efficient way to save towards retirement.

You can invest lump sums or make regular contributions into your own investment portfolios within a retirement annuity. The earliest age you can retire from the fund and make withdrawals is 55 years old.

 

At retirement you can take up to one third of your fund value in cash, subject to taxation, and the remainder can be used to either invest into a living annuity or purchase a fixed annuity, to pay yourself an income at retirement.

 

When choosing your investment portfolios for your retirement annuity, it is important to understand that a retirement annuity, as well as any other pre-retirement investment vehicles, follow Regulation 28, which limits the amount of exposure in certain asset classes. For example, you cannot have more than 75% in equities (includes local and offshore equities). This is to decrease risk for the investor and help protect and diversify portfolios.

 

What happens to your funds when you pass on?

The trustees of the retirement annuity fund will allocate your fund value to your dependents and nominated beneficiaries as is required by law. You can nominate beneficiaries for consideration with a retirement annuity and this nomination will assist the trustees of the fund in allocating the funds on your death. Typically, people whom are financially dependent on you will receive funds. Always ensure that you list all your beneficiaries for your retirement investments or contact your adviser for the necessary forms to have them listed.

 

Why save towards a retirement annuity?

Some of us might already have pension or provident funds which we use to save towards retirement and it might seem like you and/or your employer are making sufficient contributions, but in many cases this alone might not be enough to retire on, depending on your specific need.

When your contributions for your pension or provident funds are calculated, it is based on your pensionable salary and not your cost to company. The rule of thumb is that if you save 15% of your salary over 35 years, you could potentially receive 75% of your salary as a pension, as long as you received reasonable investment returns.

The problem is that your pensionable salary is usually only about 70% of your cost to company (depending on the company you work for). For example, if your monthly package is R15 000, you would need to retire on the equivalent of R11 250 (75%). However, your pensionable salary which your contributions are based on, is less at R10 500 (R15 000 x 70%). If we use the general rule of thumb it provides a pension income of only R7 875 (R10 500 x 75%), which is much lower than you might have thought.

 

You can make up the shortfall by investing additional contributions of your non-pensionable income into a retirement annuity.

 

Besides making up shortfalls, probably the biggest benefit of a retirement annuity are the tax benefits and deductions individual tax payers get for investing in a retirement annuity. With a retirement annuity you can deduct your contributions from your taxable income. Currently the limit you can deduct is 27.5% of the greater of remuneration or taxable income limited at R350 000 per year. Excess contributions are carried forward to the next tax year.

 

Other advantages of a retirement annuity are:

  • Compound interest – as you are investing over a long period, you earn growth on the growth.
  • Supporting your dependents – you can provide for those you leave behind. Your RA benefit is not subject to estate duty, and creditors cannot access your hard earned retirement funds.
  • Long-term stability -​​ you can ride out short-term fluctuations in the market in order to target long-term real growth, which pays off when you retire. ​​​​​​​​​​
  • Freedom of choice subject to regulation 28 mentioned above – you can choose your underlying investment portfolios, giving you flexibility in how your contributions are invested and how they grow.
  • Disciplined savings​​​​​​​​ – not being able to access your retirement savings before age 55 is a good thing.
  • There is no tax on interest or capital gains on your investment in the fund.

According to Alexander Forbes Member Watch, only 6% of members retire with a replacement ratio of 75% or more. What this means is that if your pensionable salary is R20 000 then a 75% replacement ratio means an income of R15 000 in retirement. Therefore, keeping up with your contributions and preserving your benefits should be at the top of your list when it comes to saving for retirement.

 

Finance

WILL BLOCKCHAIN REVOLUTIONIZE FINANCE?

By Ken Timsit, ConsenSys

 

Over the last 10 years, researchers, software developers, start-ups, and large companies have been conducting experiments aimed at determining whether networks based on blockchain technology can ultimately – in whole or in part – replace the infrastructure on which financial institutions and capital markets are built.

 

In today’s electronic databases, any information can theoretically be replicated at will. This is why most governments allow only regulated actors to keep records of digitized assets (banks, depositories), to avoid pitfalls such as the execution of misleading transactions or the creation of artificial assets. With blockchain, these pitfalls can be avoided at the source code of the technology, which is available to all members of the network. The creation of Ethereum enabled a more robust blockchain network capable of “smart contracts”, which once programmed, can run automatically without the results being modified or manipulated.

 

Contrary to what some critics argue, the potential of the blockchain is not the creation of a free and unregulated space in which everyone can invent new financial instruments. Rather, the potential lies in creating a much more efficient and globalized commercial and financial infrastructure, in which many layers of control and intermediation are no longer needed as they are replaced by transparent and immutable IT rules that ensure the same risk management functions.

 

For example, bonds are essential financial instruments on which a large part of our economy and savings are based. The issue and exchange of a bond requires the intervention of several dozen financial institutions (issuers, intermediaries and investors). Some regulated players in this intermediary chain exist mainly to ensure that it is possible to know, at any time, who holds each bond, in order to guarantee their rights to its bearers.

 

It is theoretically possible to simplify these stacks of operators by linking them to a global blockchain network, open to all stakeholders in the industry. The blockchain network can thus ensure at any time that the number of outstanding bonds corresponds exactly to the number of bonds issued, and that each exchange transaction is carried out without the risk of default.

 

The blockchain revolution is first and foremost the reduction of costs and delays caused by the current financial infrastructure. The blockchain revolution also creates innovation opportunities for consumers, savers, and investors.

 

 

The Web3 revolution, often used to refer to the blockchain revolution, will be driven by the reduction in transaction costs, allowing the emergence of new peer-to-peer business models that we are not yet able to accurately predict, but which will probably participate in a rebalancing of the relationships between financial institutions and their clients. Some international peer-to-peer payment and loan-to-peer savings investment models are already attracting increasing interest from the most sophisticated consumers.

 

Where are we in 2020?

Today, the blockchain revolution is still in its infancy. Transaction volumes through blockchain networks, public and private, are low compared to those of existing systems. The fixed costs of the technology are still relatively high, and the user experience leaves something to be desired.

 

However, innovations abound. It is already possible for me, from my smartphone, to buy digital assets whose value is equal to about one US dollar, and to lend them in three clicks to other users who will pay me between 1% and 10% per year for this service, depending on the type of platform.

 

The number of large operational business projects is still small, but very promising. Numerous international commodity trading players have joined forces to create Vakt and komgo, two platforms that contribute to a significant simplification of trade and oil financing. Similar and competing projects, Voltron and Marco Polo, are being launched. On the corporate side, the Capbridge 1x platform (Singapore) already allows shares to be traded on an Ethereum blockchain network. Other important projects such as LiquidShare (France), SIX Digital Exchange (Switzerland), Daura (with Deutsche Borse and Swisscom in Switzerland), Synapse (Hong Kong Stock Exchange) are in preparation. The World Bank, Société Générale and Santander have issued bonds on an Ethereum blockchain network. These initiatives are still experimental but have attracted significant interest from financial institutions around the world.

 

And of course, many projects aim to revolutionize global payments by creating digital assets on blockchain networks that are fixed in Euros, U.S. Dollars or other currencies, such as those of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the South African Reserve Bank, and Union Bank of the Philippines. Since the announcement of the Facebook-initiated Libra project, many governments have expressed concern about the possibility of private companies controlling global payment flows, and have asked their domestic financial institutions to redouble their efforts to explore competing initiatives.

 

All of this is to say that adoption is happening, albeit gradually. The middlemen and intermediaries of the financial world will not be replaced overnight. Moreover, the exact formation or architecture of the new financial system is impossible to predict with accuracy. However, it’s safe to say that blockchain will enable a financial system that is more efficient and yields more value-add to consumers, users, and investors.

 

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Finance

RECOLLECTING 2019 CRYPTOCURRENCY TRENDS & LOOKING FORWARD TO 2020

Marie Tatibouet is the CMO at Gate.io

 

It has been a bold and progressive year for the digital asset market with exciting announcements flowing in from technology behemoths and government bodies around the world. However, Facebook’s launch announcement of Libra (though they are now facing regulatory issues) and China’s new cryptocurrency law caught all the attention, affecting the Bitcoin price, and the overall market sentiment.

In 2019, the global market saw several catalysts emerging for mainstream adoption despite increased scrutiny around several burning issues such as wash trading and security breaches. For over 400 cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, being able to constantly improve on aspects around user experience and fund security is the only way to be sustainable. However, only a handful have real trading volume and technical expertise to build strong trust in the community. For instance, global wash trading has been the hottest topic of discussion in 2019 but new rankings on CoinMarketCap clearly indicate that the industry is working towards eliminating market manipulation.

 

Looking back at 2019

In 2019, digital asset organisations have constantly innovated to attract users but at the same time, the trading process has become increasingly fragmented, spiking the time gap between new users becoming long-term users.

 

Marie Tatibouet

Holding & Lending Funds

Since 2014, the Bitcoin margin trading market has expanded from $10 million to $100 billion. Margin trading has been a great use case in the cryptocurrency space. Many exchanges launched the feature to provide diversity to the trading experience and attracting a huge amount of users to the platforms. It allows traders to multiply their profits on successful trades, providing a range of possibilities for both profits and losses.

Staking is a process where users can buy digital assets and earn interest by keeping (holding) them in a cryptocurrency wallet for a particular period of time. It has proved to be a strong use case for digital asset companies as it encourages user participation. In 2019, staking programs brought stable earnings for cryptocurrency investments made by the users. For instance, HODL & Earn launched by Gate.io in August 2019 has been bringing stable earnings for cryptocurrency investments made by its users. The competitive advantage for HODL & Earn is its annual interest rate, which is as high as 32%.

 

IEO

Crowdfunding as an approach to build and grow products has seen a lot of traction over the last decade or so. One of the highlights this year was the emergence of “Initial Exchanges Offerings”, more commonly termed as IEOs, an alternative to traditional IPOs where companies can raise funds by selling a quantity of digital assets to investors, supervised by cryptocurrency exchanges. With over 1.5 Billion funds raised, IEOs shook the entire cryptocurrency space in 2019.

Owing to the richness and variability that we have seen so far, there has been no one clear winner to pick, but there’s also no ignoring the leaders; Gate.io has the second best average IEO returns, raising over 80 million dollars in its first 5 projects and has similar offerings panned out for 2020.

 

Source: https://medium.com/@neironix.io/top-8-largest-ieo-whats-happening-to-them-now-f7e60a638dda

 

Deals and Discounts 

Discount deals are being increasingly leveraged by digital asset companies, encouraging users to maximize their capital. Holiday seasons such as Black Friday are packed with jaw-dropping discounts. However, as an industry, we should aim to integrate discounts in digital currencies into the mainstream world, which would bring price stability.

 

Dynamic User Relationship

Cryptocurrencies are being taken seriously and companies are designing consumer-specific strategies. It is a great indication of the fact that more and more people are interested in trading digital assets. However, we have a long way to go when it comes to tackling the industry challenges and unlocking value for the entire ecosystem.

 

Regulation, Security, and Mass Adoption 

Central banks of the US, Europe, China, and Ghana are looking at creating their own central bank digital currencies, putting a structure to the adoption of the blockchain technology across finance and other industry verticals. Japan’s recent regulation amendments, China’s new crypto law have laid the right frameworks for mainstream crypto adoption.

While we have major countries pushing for the mainstream adoption, security remains a major concern. Cryptocurrency thefts and frauds in Q3, 2019 annual stand at USD 4.4 billion and this will only increase if fund safety mechanisms aren’t strengthened. Therefore, the strongest will survive as far as digital asset security is concerned.

Nonetheless, blockchain technology is helping to create an innovative and accessible financial system around the world and its mainstream adoption is closer than we can fathom.

 

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