Welcome to our Latest Integra Bulletin!
We hope this bulletin will keep you up-to-date with topical financial matters that can directly affect you… and your money!
May you live in interesting times...
...an ancient Chinese curse which seems even more relevant today than ever!
Bloomberg is an extremely well respected US publication which produces business and market news, data, analysis and video. Their news editor John Micklethwait has penned an interesting article on the current situation in Europe and we thought you would like to see what he has to say, in light of the imminent Brexit Referendum.
"Post-war Britain famously lost an Empire and has yet to find a role in the World: now, Germany has acquired an Empire of sorts but can't work out how to run it. All of Europe's problems - the flood of Syrian refugees, the euro crisis, Vladimir Putin's belligerence, the euro zones anaemic growth, Greece, Eastern Europe's drift towards rampant nationalism and of course Brexit - keep landing in Angela Merkel's lap.
Usually the German Chancellor has coped by "kicking each problem down the autobahn" in the hope that solutions would turn up somehow, but these days she lacks the power and seemingly often the inclination to lead Europe, so the problems just drift along."
It is interesting to read how Europe and the role of some of its member states are viewed by commentators outside of Europe.
Pensions - the problem that won’t go away
Sadly, the collapsed retailer BHS has highlighted a growing problem which UK Government must now address, that of inadequate occupational pension provision.
Sir Philip Green has been accused of 'feathering his own nest' at the expense of the BHS Pension Scheme and staff in their final salary scheme now have had to be bailed out by the Pension Protection Fund... a fund which is effectively financed by everyone in a pension, leaving the rest of us with the vague sense of being played for chumps.
How, one wonders, can the owners of a big business be allowed to apparently milk millions of pounds in fees and other 'financial baubles' over a period of years, whilst simultaneously allowing a £571 million black hole to grow in the employee pension fund? Hopefully, politicians and regulators will get answers quickly and take positive action.
If this problem is not addressed, BHS is unlikely to be the last collapse of a well-known brand, with the taxpayer subsequently left picking up the pieces.
A recent study estimates that as many as one in six final salary schemes are in currently in danger of failing and thus, will need rescuing over the next decade.
One thing which is going upwards of course is life expectancy, meaning pension funds will need ever more money to pay the pensions of an ever ageing population.
We all know that the State Pension age is being increased as the Government struggles to balance the budget and this exact same problem is shared by many private schemes.
In 1960 the average British lifespan was 69 years... growing to 73 by 1980... and incredibly to 81 years in 2014. What might it be in another 10 or 15 years' time? This dramatic increase is putting tremendous pressure on our pension funds, the National Health Service and of course, our Social Services. There is no hiding from the fact it will be a difficult challenge to accept the existing shortfalls and thereby to fund the cost increase in the various benefits and services which are directly linked to living longer... but it is a challenge we must now all rise to.
It seems all political party’s want to shy away from delivering such an unpopular message. But we are faced with the stark reality of having to contribute more... or accepting a lower standard of benefits in later life.
"As the Louisville Lip falls silent , the world mourns a King, a Hero.”
The death of Muhammad Ali last Friday stirred a worldwide wave of shock and regret at the passing of an incomparable champion.
He had a political importance and glamour without parallel
He wasn’t perfect of course and for all of his prowess in the ring he could be careless with his words.
But his infectious spirit made him far more friends than enemies.
In his later years as his physical health declined he became a powerful force for peace and reconciliation travelling the world meeting with premiers and visiting children with illness and disability to inspire them.
The media is full of quotes paying homage to the great champion but who could argue with a quote from the American President when he said "he shook up the world."
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