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Glossary of Terms

This list is by no means exhaustive and if you come across any technical terms on our website which are not explained below, please let us know.


When you top-up an occupational pension, by making extra contributions into a scheme that’s run by your employer, you make an ‘additional voluntary contribution’.


This is the maximum amount of money you can put into your pension funds in a given tax year, and still claim tax relief.


At retirement you have the option to buy an annuity with your pension fund. It’s a payment that’s usually paid monthly, which you’ll receive as a guaranteed regular income during your retirement.


Asset allocation is the process of investing in a range of different assets such as equities, property and bonds. By diversifying the assets into which you invest, you can protect against any reduction in value of any one or more asset class. Asset allocation depends on your investment plans and attitude to risk.


An authorised firm is one that has permission from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to carry out regulated activities.


When named beneficiaries, who can’t be changed in any way, have the absolute right to trust capital and its income from age 16 in Scotland, or 18 in England and Wales.


Simply put, you are a basic rate taxpayer if you are earning below the higher tax rate threshold and more than the ‘Personal Allowance’.


This is the pension you receive from the government as a result of paying National Insurance (NI) contributions throughout your working life.


A beneficiary is a person named in a will or under a trust as entitled to receive a bequest or benefit.


There are two main types of Bond 1. A type of security held on a debt, with a company or the Government for example. 2. A single premium life assurance investment bond.


Business Property Relief (BPR) is an established form of tax relief that gives people an incentive to invest their money into trading businesses. It was introduced in 1976 to ensure that inheritance tax wasn’t paid on small businesses. Shares in a BPR-qualifying business can be left to beneficiaries free from inheritance tax, provided they have been owned for at least two years at the time of death.


If the value of assets that you own increase in value, then you may need to pay Capital Gains Tax (CGT). For example, selling shares for more than you paid for them could involve paying some CGT. You get an exemption for capital gains tax up to a certain limit each year and only pay CGT on any gain over this amount.


These are a type of defined benefit pension scheme that are offered by employers. The benefits at retirement are based on your earnings and length of membership of the scheme.


A Chartered Financial Planner is currently one of the highest distinctions of financial adviser qualifications, set at level 6, or the equivalent of having taken a university degree. Chartered Financial Planners have proved that on a technical level they are at the top of their game.


The Child Trust Fund (CTF) is a long-term savings and investment account for children. In December 2010, the Government decided to stop opening CTFs, but those which had already been set up by then are designed to make sure that your children have savings up until the age of 18.


This is a payment that’s made to a financial adviser for services that he or she provides, based on a percentage of the value of the investment or premiums paid. It’s paid to the adviser by the product provider. If your adviser takes a commission, you may not need to pay any fees. From 2012 commission is no longer allowable in respect of Investments or Pensions, but might still be payable in respect of older plans and Life Assurance or other forms of insurance.


The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure of inflation used by the British Government for its UK inflation target. It measures changes in a ‘basket’ of goods and services purchased by households.


When you opted to leave the State Second Pension (S2P) or State Earnings Related Pension Scheme (SERPS), this was known as contracting out. You would have received a rebate on or contributed less to National Insurance. The ability to Contract Out ceased in April 2012 for money purchase pensions and April 2016 for defined benefit pensions, however you may still have ‘Contracted Out’ benefits from the past.


These are Bonds that are issued by companies when they need to borrow money. As an investment, they often offer higher rates of return than banks and building societies but with a varying amount of risk depending on the financial security of the company issuing the bond.


This is an insurance policy that you take out so that you can rely on having a lump sum paid if you’re diagnosed with a specified critical illness. Group Critical Illness benefits are often part of a company’s Employee Benefits offering.


If you’ve borrowed money, then you are ‘in debt’, typically owing interest as well as the money initially borrowed.


In this type of pension scheme, members receive a set pension income on retirement – based on their final salary or average earnings in employment and how many years they’ve been working for the company. It’s may also be known as a final salary scheme.


In this type of pension scheme, the amount of money you will have in your retirement fund depends on the amount of money you (or your employer) put in, where the money was invested and how much it grows. It’s also known as a money purchase scheme.


A Discounted Gift Trust has two parts; the first is the same as a Gift Trust in that once monies are gifted into the trust the seven year period that the donor needs to survive starts. The difference is that the donor sets a level of income that they wish to receive from the capital for the rest of their life at the outset of the trust. Depending on various factors such as the level of income, age, health etc. this gives the donor an immediate ‘discount’ on the original gift that is potentially liable to IHT for the seven year period. The donor has no access to the original capital but will receive an income for the rest of their life. This income cannot be varied or stopped in any way. It is also not possible to pass on any monies from the trust to the beneficiaries until after the donor has died, this is far less flexible than other trust options.


These are useful when the donor wants to keep some control over who benefits from the assets and when. Unlike the bare trust, beneficiaries can be changed at any time.


This is the process of spreading – or ‘diversifying’ – your investments over a range of assets, so that you reduce your exposure to risk. By diversifying your investment, if one type of investment falls in value, then the remaining ones may not fall at the same rate, or at all.


These are payments that are made to shareholders by a company from any profits that the business has made.


This is a term that’s used to describe a company’s issued stocks or shares. If you own shares in a company you own some of the company’s equity. It can also be used to describe the amount, or value, of your home that you own. If you ‘have equity’ in a property, it means that you own a portion of it above the value of any debts secured on that property, such as a mortgage.


Equity release is the process of using the value of your home to raise cash – releasing the equity. There are two main types of equity release scheme available: lifetime mortgage (sometimes known as equity release mortgages) and home reversion schemes. When the property is sold, the plan provider reclaims their loan and any interest due with the remainder going towards the plan owner or to their estate.


For inheritance tax (IHT) purposes, an individual’s estate is calculated as being his or her total assets less any liabilities at the time of their death. Proper estate planning could save your family hundreds of thousands of pounds, because IHT (sometimes called ‘death duty’) will be charged on what you leave behind, over the IHT threshold at time of death. Currently, IHT is due at a rate of 40% of the value of all the assets you leave behind on death above the IHT threshold.


Ethical investments are opportunities offered by businesses or funds that aim to avoid companies involved in some kinds of activities, but instead favour those involved in other activities. For example, companies trading in armaments, cigarettes, animal research or alcohol are unlikely to be considered ‘ethical’ – but a company that is highly committed to recycling or human rights issues, may be considered to have an ethical bias. They might also include investments in companies which engage in positive, socially responsible actions. Ethical investments can also be known as ‘green investments’ or ‘socially responsible investments’.


This is the form which your financial planner will complete with the details of your personal and financial circumstances, prior to giving you any advice.


A final salary pension scheme is another description of a type of defined benefit scheme.


This is another name for a ‘bond’ or ‘corporate bond’. The amount of interest you receive, when you invest in a fixed interest security, is stated at the time of purchase. These are usually regarded as a lower risk investment than stocks or shares.


An interest rate that’s fixed is one that doesn’t move up or down for a set period of time.


This is a way of drawing your pension fund in retirement. The level of income is set depending on the size of your fund and your income need. It is possible to take all of your fund, none of it, or anything in between. Because of the potential implications on tax and your retirement income needs it is vital to ensure that you consider carefully the level of income you choose to take.


A free cover limit is also known as the ‘Free cover level’ or ‘No evidence limit’. A free cover limit or the no evidence limit is the amount of cover that each individual policy member within a Group Life Assurance, Group Income Protection or Group Critical Illness policy can have without any requirement of medical evidence or underwriting.


A General Investment Account (GIA) is a wrapper set up when you open your portfolio, which may hold investments and cash. It allows you to hold a broad range of investments including some which you may not be able to hold within other wrappers, usually for tax reasons. Taxation Growth within a GIA is subject to capital gains tax (CGT). Individuals have an annual exemption, for the year 2019/20 this is £12,000. This means on a joint portfolio the total of gains possible before becoming liable for CGT is £24,000 (based on the assumption that you have no other gains from other sources that need to be considered). For any sales carried out when rebalancing the GIA, we consider any potential capital gain that might arise to keep within the exemption limit. Each year you will also be able to transfer up to the value of your annual ISA allowance of unit trust holdings from your GIA to an ISA, therefore sheltering the holdings from any further income or capital gains taxation.


Gifts of an amount up to the nil rate band, £325,000, can be given with no immediate IHT liability. To be effective for IHT the gift must be ‘irrevocable’. The same seven-year period (as mentioned in Gifts to Family) applies to gifts into trust, the donor needs to survive for seven years to make the gift exempt. As with outright gifts, you can insure against death within the seven-year period by taking life assurance. The main difference is that an individual, as trustee of the plan, would retain control over the capital and therefore when any payments are made to the beneficiaries. Only the original gift is potentially liable to IHT during the seven-year period, any growth on the capital belongs to the trust and the trust beneficiaries and is not liable to IHT. Once gifted the donor does not have access to the original capital or any income it generates.


As long as gifts made are to a registered charity, they are excluded from your IHT calculation. Where more than 10% of your net estate is left to charity you can benefit from a reduced rate of IHT at 36% on the remainder of your estate.


Gifts of any amount can be given with no immediate IHT liability. To be effective for IHT the gift must be ‘irrevocable’. The donor (person making the gift) is required to survive a seven-year period to make this gift exempt. This is called a Potentially Exempt Transfer (PET) and is added back to the estate in full if the value of the gift is less than the nil rate band, £325,000, and death occurs within the seven-year period. Gifts of more than £325,000 benefit from tapering relief between years 3-7 where the amount added back at death is reduced on a sliding scale.


If you work for a company, you may have a Group Personal Pension. It’s the name given to personal pension plans offered by employers to employees on a money purchase basis.


Health Cash Plan is a policy which reimburses individuals up to pre-determined levels of everyday medical bills such as optical (e.g. prescription lenses), dental treatment, chiropody, physiotherapy, sports massages, health screening, specialist consultations, personal accident cover etc. This is increasingly becoming part of companies Employee Benefits offering.


Hedge funds are a high-risk investment: they comprise a complicated set of strategies that aims to make attractive returns sometimes using complex financial instruments and often with the intention of creating positive returns despite market conditions. They may require very high initial levels of investment.


You are a higher rate tax payer if you are earning more than the higher tax rate threshold and are paying 40% income tax for the tax year and less than the additional rate threshold.


This is an insurance policy that pays you a monthly income if you’re unable to work due to illness or injury, until you are able to return to work, or you retire, whichever is the sooner. Group Income Protection is often part of a company’s Employee Benefits offering.


This is the tax paid on your income. Generally, all income is taxable. The exceptions are for income falling within personal allowances and income that’s generated from certain tax-efficient investments such as ISAs.


Independent financial advisers (IFAs) are professionals who give financial advice about products and services across the whole market. They act on your behalf and may charge a fee or be paid by commission.


There are two types of Individual Savings Account (ISA): Cash ISAs, and Stocks and Shares ISAs. Each tax year, you can put money into both types up to the annual limits. ISAs aren’t an investment in their own right, they’re a tax-free ‘wrapper’ in which you can shelter investments.


Inheritance tax (IHT) is charged on an estate after a person’s death. It’s currently charged at 40% on amounts above the IHT threshold, which can change every year. A person’s estate includes the total of everything owned, less any liabilities at the time of their death. If this amount is less than the threshold, no IHT is payable.


When you give your money to a bank, to look after, you may receive an amount of money on top in return. That percentage is known as interest. You may also have to pay interest on loans or mortgages when you borrow money.


Any and all proceeds from ISAs are exempt from both income and capital gains tax. On death, however, your ISA will form part of your estate and therefore be liable to inheritance tax if your estate exceeds the nil rate band. When you die, if you’re married or in a civil partnership, your partner will get a one-off increase in their ISA allowance for that year equivalent to what you had in all ISAs combined, known as an Additional Permitted Subscription (APS), this is calculated regardless of any IHT liability.


A ‘joint life’ policy is one that’s taken out by two or more people. Joint life policies can be useful for protecting a family in the event of either or both parents dying.


Junior individual savings accounts (JISA) offer a tax efficient way for parents to invest on behalf of their children, up to certain limits each year. Junior ISAs are available for parents/legal guardians to open on behalf of their children up until the maximum age of 18 years old and a UK resident. A child can elect to open a Junior ISA themselves when they are 16 or 17 years of age. The allowance for Junior ISAs is set every year by the government. Parents can choose to save into a Cash ISA or a Stocks and Shares ISA for this purpose. There are no withdrawals allowed from Junior ISAs until they have converted to an Adult ISA when the child turns 18. If the child has a Child Trust Fund then this must be transferred to the JISA on opening, or the JISA cannot be opened. A child can only have one Junior Cash ISA and one Junior Stocks and Shares ISA. Junior ISAs can be transferred between providers. The Junior ISA allowance for the Tax Year 2019/20 is £4,368.


This is a type of insurance that pays out a pre-determined lump sum on the death of the insured person. Group Life Assurance is often part of a company’s Employee Benefits offering and is typically based on a multiple of an employee’s salary.


This is the maximum amount of money that you can accumulate as pension savings throughout your lifetime and still benefit from tax relief. If the amount you save exceeds the lifetime allowance, then you will have to pay tax on these savings.


A lifetime annuity will give you a regular income for the rest of your life. You buy an annuity with the cash sum that’s built up in your pension fund so that you can have a regular income during retirement. There are different types of annuities to suit your needs and circumstances.


You can save up to the specified annual LISA allowance a year in a Lifetime ISA as a lump sum or by putting in cash when you can. The state will add 25% of your contributions monthly to your ‘pot’. You can save into a Lifetime ISA if you are between the ages of 18 and 40 and a UK resident. The withdrawals are limited to after you are 60 years of age (retirement), or earlier if you are purchasing your first residential home. Any withdrawals out with these scenarios will incur a 25% penalty. As the LISA only allows you to save a proportion of the standard ISA allowance per year, the remaining ISA allowance can be credited to a Stocks and Shares ISA, a Cash ISA, or spread between both. The Lifetime ISA allowance for the Tax Year 2019/20 is £4,000.


A loan trust is used as means to take the growth from your investments out of your estate. As you lend your money to the trust, the original capital is repayable to you on demand, and as such still part of your estate, but the growth on this capital belongs to the trust and the trust beneficiaries. The use of the loan trust ‘freezes’ that part of an estate. The growth is out with the estate from day one while the amount of the outstanding loan remains part of the estate. While not as effective as a gift, taking longer to remove the capital from your estate, a loan trust can play a key role in effective IHT planning.


Mediation is the process that parties enter into in an attempt to resolve a dispute without court proceedings. It’s usually undertaken in the presence of a ‘mediator’ – someone with a neutral opinion who can voice the issues of both parties.


Medical underwriting is a health insurance term referring to the use of medical or health information in the evaluation of an applicant for coverage, typically for life or health insurance.


The government has introduced tough money laundering laws in a bid to combat international crime and terrorism. This means that financial planners and other professionals need to check that you are who you say you are when you first instruct them. They may also ask for proof of identity if you have not instructed them for some time. Usually, identity is provided with a form of photographic document – such as your passport.


Occupational pensions, personal, group personal, stakeholder, Free Standing Additional Voluntary Contributions (FSAVCs) and Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs) can be called money purchase pensions. You can choose where your contributions are invested. The size of your fund depends on your contribution levels, over what time period you invest them, and how well your investments grow.


National Insurance (NI) contributions are an amount of money that’s paid to the Government a percentage of your income if you are aged over 16 but under the state pension age and you earn more than the minimum threshold. They go towards providing for state pensions, as well as other state-provided benefits. If you are an employee, NI is deducted from your pay before it is paid to you.


Every Individual has what is known as a Nil Rate Band which is currently £325,000 or for a couple £650,000 without attracting Inheritance Tax.


This type of insurance policy pays a regular pre-agreed amount for a stated time if you can’t work for specified reasons.


A parent or grandparent can contribute up to £2,880 a year into a pension for a child. And, this contribution will benefit from a 20% tax relief ‘top up’ from HM Revenue and Customs, amounting to an annual contribution of £3,600. The child won’t be able to access the pension before they’re 55 — as things currently stand. Pensions benefit from tax efficient growth and a 25% tax-free lump sum when accessed in the future. Bearing in mind the long timescales involved and compound returns, this option could generate a significant sum. That said, pensions aren’t suitable for shorter-term needs like education fees and home deposits.


A personal allowance is the amount of income that you can earn each year before you start paying income tax.


From April 2008, Personal Equity Plans automatically became Stocks and Shares ISAs (see the glossary definition of an Individual Savings Account).


A personal pension’s a policy taken out through a pension company. You pay contributions, and it’ll pay you an income when you retire. Your contributions are invested in funds, which you can choose in line with your attitude to risk and plans for the future.


PMI is an insurance policy designed to meet some or all of the costs of private medical treatment. It is also known as private health insurance. PMI policies are designed to meet the costs of having private medical treatment for an acute illness or injury on a short-term basis. PMI cover is commonly part of a company’s Employee Benefits offering.


A company pension scheme must be a qualifying pension scheme to meet the requirements of automatic enrolment. It must also meet the minimum levels of contributions or allow benefits to build up at least at a minimum rate. Qualifying schemes may be either defined benefit schemes or defined contribution (money purchase) schemes. Employers have different options available to them when selecting a suitable qualifying workplace pension scheme.


Qualifying years are those tax years in which you’ve paid a certain amount of National Insurance contributions. A minimum number of qualifying years must be built up during your working life to qualify for the full basic state pension. This can also be the number of years’ service with an employer in which pension benefits in a Defined Benefit Scheme have been built up.


This is a mortgage that pays off both the capital borrowed and interest due at the same time. Pay all the repayments and the mortgage will be fully repaid at the end of the term.


The government started the process of increasing the tax-free limit by way of the Residence Nil Rate Band (RNRB) in 2017. The measure will be fully in place by 2020, and will mean that for each individual, up to a further £175,000 or for a couple £350,000 could be excluded from IHT. The family home will be excluded from IHT, up to a total value of £175,000 for an individual or £350,000 for a couple so long as it is passed onto direct descendants. This RNRB is however reduced by £1 for every £2 above a net estate of £2 million. Once the Residence Nil Rate Band is fully introduced in 2020 a couple could have an estate valued at £1 million which would be exempt from Inheritance Tax.


The Retail Prices Index (RPI) is a government defined measure of inflation which tracks the change in the cost of a basket of retail goods and services.


Some investments are riskier than others. For example, an investment in the stock market is riskier than money put into savings accounts – there’s more chance of something going wrong and you losing money. Riskier investments tend to offer potentially higher returns as compensation for the risks involved. This is also known as the ‘risk premium’.


A Self Invested Personal Pension is a type of plan that allows you, or your appointed fund manager, to make choices from a wider range of investments than other personal pension schemes offer. With a SIPP you can invest such things as in the shares of any company listed on a stock exchange, commercial property, mutual funds.


This is a personal pension in its most simple form. A stakeholder pension will allow you to make a minimum investment of £20 per month and offer a range of funds in which to invest – and there must be no penalties for transferring away from the fund. Your employer may offer access to a stakeholder pension scheme.


Your basic State Pension is based on your National Insurance contributions. You may also qualify for the additional State Second Pension if you are employed, based on your earnings and National Insurance contributions.


The State Second Pension is an additional pension that’s paid on top of your basic State Pension. It was called SERPS until 2002. Self-employed people are not entitled to a State Second Pension. The introduction of the new State Pension in April 2016 spelled the end of the State Second Pension. State Pension under the old rules was made up of 2 parts: the basic State Pension and the Additional State Pension (the Additional State Pension is sometimes called State Second Pension or SERPS). Members of defined benefit pension schemes (normally a final salary or salary-related pension scheme), are likely to have been contracted out of the Additional State Pension. Any pension scheme at work before April 2012, some stakeholder and some personal pension schemes may also have been contracted-out. If you have been contracted-out of the Additional State Pension at any time before 6 April 2016, this will be taken into account when calculating your starting amount for the new State Pension.


Investing in a Stocks and Shares ISA means that rather than earning nominal interest in a cash deposit, your money is invested in the stock market appropriately, across a spread of equities and deposits that are chosen to match your opinions and the level of market volatility you are prepared and comfortable to accept. You can save into a Stocks and Shares ISA if you are over the age of 18 and are a UK resident.


Both terms mean the same thing: companies’ stocks and shares that can be bought and sold. Owning a share in a company means owning a part of that company, or owning some of that company’s stock and an entitlement to a share in the profits in the form of dividends.


This reduces the annual allowance for people with an adjusted income over £150,000 and a threshold income over £110,000. Key facts • The annual allowance is reduced for individuals who have ‘adjusted income’ over £150,000 a year. • The annual allowance reduces by £1 for every £2 over £150,000, rounded down to the nearest whole pound. • The maximum reduction is £30,000, so anyone with an income of £210,000 or more has an annual allowance of £10,000. • The reduction does not apply to individuals who have ‘threshold income’ of no more than £110,000. People with high income caught by the restriction may have to reduce the contributions paid by them and/or their employer or an annual allowance charge will apply.


Tax credits are payments made by the government. Usually, they’re made to people on low incomes, to families with children, or to registered carers.


Tax Efficient Investing is the process of investing in such a way as to minimise the amount of tax paid. This could mean using tax-efficient investments such as ISAs, or making contributions to your pension. This should not be mistaken for Tax Evasion which is deliberately acting in a way which


From April 2008, TESSAs automatically became ISAs.


This is a policy that provides a guarantee to pay a specific amount of money, during a pre-agreed period of time, if you die. It is a form of Life Assurance.


These are ‘open-ended’ investments in which the underlying value of the assets is directly calculated by the total number of units issued multiplied by the unit price less the transaction or management fee charged and any other associated costs. There are many different unit trusts available, all investing in different assets.


An unsecured pension is a way of taking an income from your pension fund,. It does involve incurring some risk to the value of your pension fund. There are two types of unsecured pension – a short-term annuity and income withdrawal (also known as Flexible Drawdown).


These are interest rates, offered by banks and financial institutions on loans or deposits, that may change according to circumstances. For example, a movement in the interest base rate set by the Bank of England would usually be an influence.


A whole-of-life assurance policy lasts throughout your life so that your dependents are guaranteed a payout should you die as long as the premiums are kept up.


This is the area of law that governs the interpretation of wills and the distribution of the estate of people who have died.


Yield is a general term for the rate of income that comes from an investment, expressed as an annualised percentage and based on its current capital value.