Whether contributing to a unit trust, using your annual Individual Savings Account (ISA) allowance or simply investing, having an investment strategy is key to your overall financial planning, wealth management and income preservation. Tax and income tax planning could be a key issue for your objectives.

Your Attitude to Investment Risk

In considering your overall circumstances, we will need to understand your attitude to investment risk. Issues that will influence this could be the time that you have for the investment to grow, your ethical views and the diversification we would recommend.

Diversification can come in the form of investing into different funds within one plan or investing into different plans. Although some funds have performed well in the past (and past performance is not a guarantee of future performance) these may be in volatile funds, increasing the risk to an unacceptable level. Having all your investment eggs in one basket is not always a good idea.

As an example, some investment providers offer links to external fund managers which can improve diversification and potentially reduce risk. This can be achieved with investments such as Individual Savings Account (ISAs), Open Ended Investment Companies (OEICS/unit trusts) and Self Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs).

Term of Investment

How long are you prepared for your funds to be invested? Are you investing for a specific purpose, such as school fees payments, or for a lump sum capital repayment at a specific point in the future?

Income or Capital

The objective of your investment will usually dictate what you want it to do for you. Also the way you contribute, either by lump sum or income will also guide our recommendations. Some clients prefer to invest lump sums to provide income, others wish to accumulate income to build capital. We will need to consider your current and future tax position (both income tax and capital gains tax) before making a final recommendation. The use of Unit Trusts/OEICs, Portfolios, ISAs, Investment Bonds, Premium Bonds (a combination) or other types of investment vehicles may feature in our recommendations.

Active or Passive Investment?

Over the last 10+ years, Chapters Financial has always preferred an actively managed approach to investment. We believe this adds greater value to our client proposition. Past performance is not a guarantee of future performance.

To further this active investment strategy approach to investments, Chapters Financial Limited maintains and updates a regular view of the investment markets. We obviously have our own opinions and add to our robust procedures by consulting with an independent specialist, Steven Williams, Director at Cormorant Capital Strategies Limited on a quarterly basis.

More detail on the work of Cormorant Capital Strategies Limited can be found here.

Chapters Financial Limited is not responsible for the content of external webpages.

Balance and Re-Balance

Many of the recommended investment/pension holdings recommended by Chapters Financial Limited over the years have been diversified into various areas to create a balance based around your overall attitude to investment risk.

As time moves, invariably so does the balance of your investment holding. Because of this we would recommend that you review this balance on a regular basis to ensure that it continues to meet with your attitude to investment risk and your circumstances, which may have also changed over time.

Tax Position of Investment

Individuals - Understanding your individual tax position is vital in recommending the right plan. There is little point in achieving your objectives if any income or growth generated is taxed inefficiently. We will consider using investments that use your tax allowances in an efficient way to gain the most benefit from your investments. Examples of this could be to use your capital gains tax (CGT) allowance, (£11,300 per annum in 2017/2018), and your ISA allowance.

Higher rate income tax usually starts at a level of £45,000 in the tax year 2017/2018. This takes into account the personal allowance which is £11,500 in the current tax year.

ISA / NISA contribution allowance

The ISA/NISA limit for the current tax year (2017/2018) is £20,000.

On 01 July 2014, greater flexibility was introduced in the way this money can be invested (cash and stocks & shares). This is referred to as the New ISA (NISA for short). From April 2016, savers have the flexibility to take money out of their ISAs and pay it back in, without this counting towards their annual ISA allowance.

Also, possibly more interesting for some, the value of the ISA passed on in the event of death to a spouse/civil partner can now continue to enjoy its beneficial tax status into the future.

Help to Buy ISAs

Help to Buy ISAs are a new initiative from the Government, released in December 2015. Although many deposit providers have taken some time to come to market, there are a few attractive offerings now available from household names. Many parents and grandparents have shown interest in these plans for the younger generations who need all the help they can get onto the property ladder. The full details from the Government can be found online at the following address: www.helptobuy.gov.uk

For those saving to buy their first home and contributing to a Help to Buy ISA, the Government will boost these savings by 25%. So every £200 saved would attract a bonus of £50. The maximum Government bonus a saver can receive is £3,000.

Lifetime ISAs

As announced in the Budget on 16 March 2016, a new Lifetime ISA came into effect from April 2017, allowing those aged between 18 and 40 to save up to £4,000 a year until their age of 50. Contributions into the Lifetime ISA will receive a government bonus of £1 for every £4 contributed, up to a maximum of £1,000 a year. The accumulated fund value can be used towards a deposit on a first home worth up to £450,000 or to save for retirement.

Accounts are one per person, not one per home. Individuals will be able to withdraw the savings at any time before the age of 60 for any other purpose, but will then lose the government bonus, and any interest / growth on this, and will also have to pay a 5.0% charge. The Government is exploring whether to allow people to replace their contributions at a later date and to retain the bonus.

After the age of 60, individuals can take out all the savings tax-free.

For those with Help to Buy ISAs, these funds can be transferred into the Lifetime ISA or saving into both can continue. However, the bonus from one fund only can be used to buy a house.

National Savings (NS&I)

From early January 2015, a new NS&I Guaranteed Growth Bond for the over 65's was offered as two bonds. The sale of these bonds ended in May 2015.

We have also seen the maximum holding level of investment in Premium Bonds rise from £30,000 to £40,000 in June 2014. This has now risen further to £50,000 from 01 June 2015.

Junior ISA/Child's ISA

The Junior ISA arrangement, introduced in November 2011, allows a parent / grandparent / other contributor to pay up to £4,128 (tax year 2017/2018) into an account and for any growth to be tax efficient. This is for children born after 02 January 2011 and not eligible for a Child Trust Fund voucher. Many parents and grandparents may find this of interest for the tax efficient accumulation of benefits for their family in the future.

Review - Through the changes that have occurred with ISA regulations in recent years, it is always worthwhile reviewing your existing investment strategy (including ISAs), your asset allocation and your need for income, capital growth or both. This will usually be based on your circumstances and your attitude to investment risk. A guide to investment risk can be found here.

Trusts - The scope for trusts (and Charitable Trusts) to invest has increased significantly in recent years, following the Trustee Act 2001. Again valuable tax savings are available to trusts by using their capital gains tax allowance, (currently £5,650 per annum in 2017/2018).

Think about your investment strategy at the moment, when did you last review this, and is it still doing what you first aimed for? Let us know what you want to achieve.

Currently, the additional rate income tax level of 45% will apply to those earning over £150,000 gross per annum for the tax year 2017/2018. (Please note the taper of pension contribution allowances for those earning over £150,000 gross in our pension section).

Please note that this is for guidance only and we recommend that you seek further advice from an Independent Financial Adviser before proceeding further. The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate taxation and trust advice.