Welcome to our last blog of the year as we look back at 2017 in our own boring money Panto. Disclaimer: Gratuitous festive and occasionally laboured pantomime wordplay follows!
We can now save more tax-free than before. Hurrah!
Swipe right for these new property Prince Charmings who become exempt from stamp duty (up to £300,000), pay less stamp duty up to £500,000 AND also may get the Lifetime ISA potential.
Lifetime ISAs offer a pot of gold to the under 40s.
These savings accounts will deliver up to £1,000 a year of free money for first-time buyers (spot a trend?) under 40. Nice app Moneybox launched their LISA this week. Worth a look if you need investing to be made as easy as it gets.
Robo a go-go
HSBC, Nationwide and Santander are all launching robo advice next year, and RBS pushed its robo onto stage this month under the more popular NatWest brand. This isn’t any flash in the pan. All the big guys are taking it very seriously and brokers have estimated this could be a $6.5 trillion market globally by 2025. Giant Aviva took a large stake in minnow Wealthify this year, who offer easy investing from just £1. BlackRock bought a chunk of seriously clever Scalable Capital. And Nutmeg added its first £1 billion from investors.
Workplace pensions start to shape the golden (retirement) egg
Most employees now have 1% being siphoned off our monthly pay packets with another 1% coming from our employer. At current rates it’s a bit like watching a Sumo wrestler eat a grape. BUT from April 2017 we will pay 3% and employers will pay 2% in these pensions – so it’s ratcheting up. Stick with it and see this nest egg grow over time.
Fairy godmother low-cost Vanguard launch a direct to customer offer in Blighty
Although they haven’t spent anything on shiny marketing or online resources yet, this is a good solid option for online investing. The simple low-cost approach is a catalyst for change amongst some corporate Ugly Sisters who still overcharge and revel in smug complexity.
Interest rates went up
But let’s not get giddy. They went up by stuff all, from stuff all, to stuff all. Watch for another hike next year though as this 0.5% Sleeping Beauty starts to stir.
The pantomime baddie inflation got out of control
Inflation has hit 3.1% which is a pretty big clue that another interest hike is probable. Food costs have jumped. In news which shocked the nation this week, the BBC reported brussel sprouts have correspondingly risen by 8.9% this year.
And the big got bigger
The country’s biggest online broker Hargreaves Lansdown clocked up its millionth customer. And Interactive Investor swallowed a relative goat, adding the larger TD Direct business to its books and becoming the second largest broker in the land. With a fixed fee model, these guys look seriously competitive for larger accounts. Look out Hargreaves! He’s beh-iiiind you!
The audience went mad for bitcoin, pushing values up by an unfathomable 17 x since January. (Although it could well be 22 x or indeed 12 x by the time you read this.) This cryptocurrency has been up and down like Widow Twanky’s bloomers, most recently fuelled by futures being offered which facilitate access and also allow people to short bitcoin.
As for us at Boring Money we have had a great 2017, building some foundations and setting things up for a big 2018. We have 4 new bods joining in January which will take us to 12 people. We’ve had just shy of 200,000 visitors to the website this year. 250,000 views of our videos. 90,000 views of our Best Buy tables. Blog subscriptions from 800 to 5,000+. And our audience is unusually youthful for finance - about 75% of you are under 55 – but still mostly male with a 65/35 split today.
We'll test your basic financial fitness and report back with a scorecard. What's fit, what's flabby and how to shape up.