Author: John Campbell

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“Be unpredictable, be real, be interesting … and tell a good story!”

So says author, James Dashner. And you may be forgiven for believing that he was commenting on the state of the global political and economic landscape – now and in 2016. His view is supported by the two presentations by economic gurus, Andrew Salmon and Jeremy Gardiner, hosted at Chartered House in February and March.

Be interesting

Investec’s erudite Jeremy Gardiner accompanied us to our client functions in various parts of the country to update clients on both Chartered’s news and the economy.

Jeremy’s brilliant presentation shares Investec’s views on the global and domestic economies. We love the fact that Jeremy engages his audience through telling a story and using thought-provoking pictures rather than the usual technical graphs. Some key takeaways are in Jeremy’s article which you can read by target=”_blank”>clicking here.

Be unpredictable

A year ago, with where South Africa was, one would never have anticipated such a recovery in the rand. In January last year one dollar was R17 and now it is R13, the pound was R23 and now it is R16. That is between 30 and 40% difference. It was quite something to see much of our returns being diminished by a strengthening rand! And the year got off to a great start with Markets doing more in January than they did the whole of last year. The lesson is to have a balanced portfolio with a spread of asset classes and not to do anything extreme either way.

Be real
In my last newsletter, I took the opportunity to share Budget Speech highlights. Notable changes were the increase in Wealth taxes; we have seen dividend tax increasing from 15 to 20% and the top marginal tax rate increasing from 41% to 45% for anyone earning more than R1.5mill pa. There are also quite severe tax consequences where you have loaned money to a Trust that has not yet been repaid. You are welcome to chat to your financial planner for clarity on any of the changes.

The Davis Committee was mentioned. It is still looking into changing Estate Duty and circumstances under which this will be payable. We will alert you to any changes that may affect you, but are not expecting any more news on this until late August.

We also shared with our clients some of the post migration issues of the Acsis administration moving to Old Mutual Wealth in August last year. We are well aware that the communications out of Old Mutual Wealth have not been ideal, and are working closely with them to ensure that our clients receive statements of a better standard. It is important to note that if you had money invested with Acsis it is now invested with Old Mutual: there are two Old Mutual businesses involved. Andrew Salmon who was the Chief Investment Officer at Acsis is now the CIO at Old Mutual Multi Managers and we are very comfortable that they are managing your funds as well as, if not better than, they were being managed at Acsis. The administration is being done by Old Mutual Wealth, the business that houses the Living Annuities and Tailored Portfolios and we have had some difficulty with them. They are doing a system upgrade in August 2017 and I have been assured that at this point they will be able to offer us a much better service.

Tell a good story
Lastly, I mentioned some of the amazing articles that our clients have written in our various newsletters and social media. We are so grateful for many inspiring stories and articles. On our travels we were impressed by how many people all over South Africa have been inspired by these articles and in many cases made changes in their lives to live and enjoy more enriching experiences.

Kind regards
John Campbell

Jeremy-Gardiner-Chartered-Wealth-Soluitions-Retirement-Specialists

Jeremy Gardiner’s A to Z

Investec’s erudite Jeremy Gardiner accompanied the Chartered executives to their client functions in various parts of the country to update clients on both Chartered’s news and the economy.

Jeremy’s brilliant presentation shares Investec’s views on the global and domestic economies. We love the fact that Jeremy engages his audience through telling a story and using thought-provoking pictures rather than the usual technical graphs. Some key takeaways are in Jeremy’s article:

Anti-establishment vote
The silent majority. They don’t always know what they want, but they do know what they don’t, and what they don’t want is the status quo: more Clintons, Bushes…or Camerons for that matter. Americans and Brits aren’t alone – also watch France, Italy and Holland this year.

Brexit
Pound nearing 35-year lows, growth holding up so far. Full impact will only be felt over the next five to ten years when corporate leases are up for renewal. Will they stay or will they go? So far, UBS, Goldman Sachs and HSBC plan to move staff.

Cyril
Or Kgalema, or Zweli, or even Pravin. With candidates like these, hopefully we will get it right this time.

Drought
By no means over, but decent rains mean this year’s crops will be much better than last, and that’s reason to celebrate.

France
Three significant terror attacks in the last 18 months – far right led by Marine Le Pen on the rise, fuelled by Brexit and Trump.

Emerging markets
Out of favour since 2009, were just perking up last year when Trump was elected. Hopefully, the recovery can continue. Commodity demand, improved growth and fundamentals, a search for yield and increased developed market political risk should stimulate further recovery.

Germany
A year ago, with Obama, Cameron and European leaders behind her, Angela Merkel was one of the most powerful leaders in the world. A year on, post Brexit and Trump, she finds herself increasingly isolated. If Germany goes nationalist, where does that leave Europe?

Hlaudi
Outrageous. How do our parastatals get to this point? Would be funny if it wasn’t your money.

Italy
Italy’s banks remain a risk. As does its politics. George Soros described Italy as too big to fail but also too big to save. Hopefully, the government’s €20bn rescue fund will be sufficient to revive the ailing banking sector.

Junk
We came so close! Slightly improved growth this year might save us. The rating agencies like our finance minister and they trust him to do what he says he will do. Could those hell bent on removing him for personal gain, please stop?

Killed
Fifty-one South Africans were murdered every day in 2015. As were over a thousand rhino (up from 13 in 2007), totally unacceptable in a civilised society.

Load-shedding
None last year and none going forward. In fact we now have so much electricity, that we’re set to have a surplus by 2022. Indeed, we apparently don’t need the independent power producers, which would be a shame as the sector has attracted R200bn in investment over the past five years.

Malema and Maimane
Whether or not you’d like to see either of them as president is irrelevant. What is relevant is that our democracy is robust and strong, and now more than ever, capable of keeping government in check.

Nuclear
No load-shedding, an electricity surplus and no need for renewables all make the current rush for nuclear and the secrecy around it, seem suspicious/smell slightly. Bottom line is we don’t need it, can’t afford it, and whilst there is nothing wrong with nuclear per se, one can’t help feeling
that those pushing for it, don’t have the country’s energy needs at heart.

Oil
Up double from what it was, but still less than half of what it also once was. Improving growth and producing country cooperation should see firmer, yet still affordable prices.

Pravin Gordhan
Deserves a medal. Simply doing the right thing should not incur such harassment. Fortunately, good does seem to be triumphing over evil, although sometimes only just. What would we have done in 2016 without him?

Quantitative easing
Still going, after all these years. It’s eight years on from the global financial collapse, and so much of the world is still reliant on economic life support. Beware of the day the public loses faith in quantitative easing.

Rand
A stronger rand makes the price we pay for oil cheaper, which brings down the petrol price and therefore transport costs, which brings down food prices and therefore inflation, and therefore interest rates, which makes the newspaper headlines better, and generally consumers happier. Expect a slightly firmer currency this year thanks to commodities and improved growth, assuming our leaders don’t do anything stupid.

Standard & Poor’s, Fitch and Moody’s
Love them or hate them, but they’ll be back in June (around the ANC five-year policy conference) and in December (around the ANC leadership conference). We
survived last year and should survive this year as well – once again, assuming we don’t do anything stupid.

Trump
So far he’s successfully alienated America’s allies, and embraced their enemies and that’s before he even became president. We’ll miss Obama.

US dollar
Strong as an ox in anticipation of Trump driving growth and profits. Promises to be the currency of the year, although Trump’s complaining it’s too strong, which could induce some weakness.

Vladimir Putin
Traditional foe of the West, and unlikely friend of Trump. Not sure who’s playing who, but given the individuals involved, this relationship could still end in tears.

Water restrictions
Get used to them. In force and here to stay, in some form or another. Nasa says 2016 was the hottest year on record. Isn’t this what global warming experts predicted
would start happening?

Xchange controls
Surely it’s time to put this Apartheid relic behind us? Way too many resources spent on enforcing it, plus sends a very negative investment message. If South Africans can’t be trusted to keep their money in the country, why should anyone else invest here?

Yellen
Chair of the US Federal Reserve – the market anticipates two US rate hikes in 2017, not good news for emerging markets like South Africa.

Zuma
Nkandla, Nenegate, Guptas, 783 charges, spy charges – all bets off the table. Anything is possible – impossible to predict.

Some of the Chartered Wealth Solutions clients who joined us for lunch with Jeremy.

2017-Budget-Speech

The 2017 Budget Speech – the lion speaks today

Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, has won respect, locally and globally, for his courage and resilience in the face of tremendous pressure. Today’s Budget Speech was arguably his most challenging to date …

His assertion: “If lions work as a team, they will bring down even a buffalo” makes it clear that our FinMin intends South Africans to work together to bring about the economic transformation that will, in the words of Oliver Tambo: “create a united democratic and non-racial society … to remake our part of the world into a corner of the globe of which all of humanity can be proud.”

Here follows a summary of the main points of the Speech:

Personal income tax
A new tax rate of 45% has been introduced for those who earn above R1.5 million per year.

Tax threshold
This refers to the amount of income you earn before you need to pay tax. The new thresholds are as follows:

  • if you are under age 65, your yearly tax threshold is R75,750;
  • if you are between 65 and 75, the threshold is R117,300; and
  • if you are 75 or older, the threshold is R131,150.

Interest exemption
The interest exemption amounts remain the same. If you are under age 65, the annual interest exemption is R23,800, and if you are 65 and older, the exemption is R34,500.

How will the tax threshold and interest exemption changes affect you?
If you are between the ages of 65 and 75, you can earn a yearly income of R117,300 plus R34,500 interest before you have to pay tax. If you are 75 or older, you can earn an annual income of R131,150 plus R34,500 interest before you have to pay tax.

Tax-free savings account contribution increased
From 1 March 2017, you can contribute R33,000 per year toward these investments, in which all returns are tax-free.

Dividends Withholding Tax
A surprise in this Budget Speech is that Dividends Withholding Tax will increase from 15% to 20%.

Retirement Fund contribution deductions
Retirement Fund contribution deductions are standardised across all types of Retirement Funds. A significant benefit for those earning up to R1,27 million a year is that they can deduct up to R350,000 on their Retirement Fund contributions. The deduction is, however, capped at R350,000 (even if you are contributing more than this!).

Capital Gains Tax (CGT)
The effective tax you’ll pay on capital gains may increase if your tax rate goes up to 45%.

If this is the case, the maximum effective tax will be as follows:

  • Individuals and special trusts: 18% (inclusion rate of 40%)
  • Companies: 22.4% (inclusion rate of 80%)
  • Trusts: 36% (inclusion rate of 80%).

The capital gains exemption thresholds remain the same:

  • The annual exclusion stays at R40,000
  • The exclusion amount on death stays at R300,000
  • The primary residence exclusion stays at R2 million.

Adjustments to medical aid tax credits
Medical tax credits have been adjusted for inflation as follows:

  • R303 per month for the main member and the first dependant on a medical scheme; and
  • R204 per month for each additional dependant.

An important factor to bear in mind is that Treasury is considering a possible reduction to medical tax credits in future. This will be to finance National Health Insurance (NHI).

Estate Duty
Estate Duty tax remains unchanged at 20%. You are allowed a basic deduction of R3.5 million on your estate when you die. You do not pay Estate Duty on the value of your Retirement Funds or on the value of the assets you leave to your surviving spouse.

The Davis Tax Committee has submitted its proposals on the Estate Duty system, and we will keep you abreast of developments.

Loans to Trusts
From 1 March 2017, existing and future loans to Trusts will attract 8% interest per year. This is taxable in the lender’s hands. The 8% interest will be deemed a donation, and will attract donations tax of 20% each year. Please speak to your financial planner to discuss how this affects you.

Offshore Special Voluntary Disclosure Programme
SARS will start receiving offshore third party financial data from other tax authorities this year. If you have undeclared offshore assets and income, Government has offered a Special Voluntary Disclosure Programme. This has been extended to 31 August 2017 to enable you to regularise your affairs.

Changes to transfer duty
There has been only one change here: if you buy a property up to the value of R900,000 (previously R750,000), you will pay no transfer duty.

Tobacco, alcohol and fuel
You will pay between 6% and 10% more for your favourite tipple and smoke. Should you wish to add a Coke to your Klippies, await Treasury’s pronouncement on sugar tax.

Tax on fuel will increase by 39c per litre from 5 April.

Conclusion
Ever optimistic, our Finance Minister ended with the following sentiment:

“If we make the right choices, and do the right things, we will achieve a just and fair society, founded on human dignity and equality. We will indeed transform our economy and country so that we all live in dignity, peace and wellbeing.”

Warm regards
John Campbell

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