Federal Budget 2024-25 Analysis

 

Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ 2024 Federal Budget aims to curb inflation sooner than expected, ease current cost-of-living pressures, and strengthen the economy long-term, with over $8.4 billion allocated for immediate relief measures, tax cuts, and student debt waivers. Additionally, nearly $83 billion will be invested in housing, infrastructure, health, and initiatives to create a resilient economy ahead of the upcoming federal election.

Click here for the full summary and what it means for you.

September Newsletter 2023

 

Footy Finals Fever is here and so is our September Newsletter. The winter chill is slowly retreating and making way for warmer Spring days, perfect for getting out in the garden or enjoying the great outdoors. 

This month we discuss buying insurance through your Super, how the Aussie dollar impacts your investments and some out of the ordinary holiday destinations to spark the travel bug.

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August Newsletter 2023

 

Our August newsletter highlights the potential for sunnier economic conditions as the rate of price increases slows down, according to the Consumer Price Index. Inflation has eased, leading to positive performance in share markets, particularly in the US. However, cost-of-living pressures persist, affecting retail turnover in Australia.

In this edition we delve into electric vehicles, boosting your super with a lump sum and the growing reliance on the Aged Pension in Australia.

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Noteworthy changes coming into effect this new financial year

 

The new financial year officially began on July 1st and there are several changes that have come into effect that will impact individuals, businesses, and the economy. We have outlined a few of the noteworthy changes here:

Increase to Aged Pension qualifying age

The qualifying age for the Government aged pension is increasing to 67 (previously 66 years and 6 months) from July 1st. If you were born on or after 1st January 1957 you must be 67 to be eligible for the aged pension. You can submit your application 13 weeks before you reach the Aged Pension age. Read more on the Services Australia website here.

Superannuation increase – the super guarantee

From July 1st 2023 the super guarantee rate is 11% (up from 10.5%). Further increases of 0.5% are scheduled each financial year until 2025 when the rate reaches 12%. More details can be found on the ATO website here.

Energy bill relief

The government is partnering with state and territory governments to deliver up to $3billion of electricity bill relief for eligible households and small businesses. From July 2023, this plan will deliver up to $500 in electricity bill relief for eligible households and up to $650 for eligible small businesses. Details and eligibility requirements for each state and territory can be found here.

Paid Parental Leave scheme changes

From the 1st of July 2023, there has been a consolidation of the Parental Leave Pay and Dad and Partner Pay into a single payment. It has increased from 90 days (18 weeks) to 100 days (20 weeks), assuming a 5-day work week. These 20 weeks can be shared amongst the birth or adoptive parents (with the birth mother or first adoptive parent’s approval) to best suit their family needs. Single parents can access the full 20 weeks. The modifications provide a more inclusive and flexible approach for families.

If you do not meet the existing individual income test of earning less than $156,647 in the 2021-22 financial year or $168,865 in the 2022-23 financial year a family income test has been introduced. You may be eligible for the Parental Leave Pay if you and your partner’s adjusted taxable income is less than $350,000 in the applicable financial year. The Services Australia provides a full summary here.

Increase to superannuation transfer balance cap

The transfer balance cap will increase from $1.7m to $1.9m, effective July 1st, 2023, due to indexation. This cap is the maximum amount (when you reach your preservation age) you can transfer from your super account (where your money is invested while you’re working) to your pension account (where you can access and use your money in retirement). Details can be found here on the ATO website.

Total super balance cap increase

The total amount of money you have in your superannuation and retirement accounts as of June 30th each year is referred to as your total super balance (TSB) and from July 1st, 2023, the TSB limit will rise from $1.7 million to $1.9 million.  If your super balance goes beyond the TSB threshold, you won’t be able to make any additional non-concessional contributions in the next financial year without surpassing the cap for non-concessional contributions. Read more on the ATO website here.

Increase to government co-contribution threshold

The co-contribution scheme implemented by the government aims to support individuals with lower incomes in saving for their retirement. Under this scheme, eligible recipients receive an additional boost of up to $500 towards their superannuation. Starting from July 1st, 2023, the total income threshold for the co-contribution will be raised from $42,016 – $57,016 to $43,445 – $58,445. Head to the ATO website to find out more.

Cheaper childcare

Starting from July 10, 2023, families earning less than $530,000 will receive an increased Child Care Subsidy (CCS). The percentage of CCS you are eligible for is determined by your family’s income.

The income threshold to qualify for the maximum CCS will be raised. Families earning up to $80,000 will now receive an increased maximum amount of CCS, going from 85% to 90%.

For those earning over $80,000, the subsidy may begin at 90% and decrease by 1% for every $5,000 of additional income earned by the family. This means that your subsidy amount may either increase or remain the same, depending on your circumstances.

If you have multiple children aged 5 or under, it is still possible to receive a higher rate of subsidy for one or more of your children.

If you are currently receiving the CCS these changes will be applied automatically. The Services Australia has the full summary of changes here.

 

 

May Newsletter 2023

 

While we await the delivery of the Federal Budget by Treasurer Jim Chalmers on May 9, we are keeping our eyes on the cash rate decision from the Reserve Bank of Australia which many predict will be another pause.

In our latest newsletter we explore how an emergency fund delivers peace of mind, May’s market movements and resident superstar Ash Irwin talks about credit scores.

Click here to read more

April Newsletter 2023

 

Daylight savings is officially over, the mornings are getting chilly and Easter is just around the corner. To say we are egg-cited is an understatement!

In our April Newsletter we talk about how interest rates may be affecting your investments, Associate Will Clark talks about his pathway to becoming a Financial Adviser and we wrap-up our first Common Sense Investing information evening post Covid.

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March Newsletter 2023

Autumn is here and with it the return of our Common Sense Investing information evenings for the first time post Covid. We are so excited and can’t wait to welcome everyone back into our auditorium, all of the details are in the March newsletter with the first presentation on Wednesday 29th March at 6:00pm.

Also in our newsletter we touch on the importance of being flexible when planning for retirement and the new star rating system for aged care making family choices easier when moving a loved one into aged care accommodation.

Read more

2022 Year in review

The year began on an optimistic note, as we finally began to emerge from Covid restrictions. Then Russia threw a curve ball that reverberated around the world and suddenly people who had never given a thought to the Reserve Bank were waiting with bated breath for its monthly interest rate announcements.

2022 was the year of rising interest rates to combat surging inflation, war in Ukraine and recession fears. These factors combined to create cost-of-living pressures for households and a downturn in share and bond markets.

Super funds also suffered their first calendar year loss since 2011. Ratings group Chant West estimates the median growth fund fell about 4 percent last year.

The big Picture

Even though investors have come to expect unpredictable markets, nobody could have predicted what unfolded in 2022.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February triggered a series of unfortunate events for the global economy and investment markets. It disrupted energy and food supplies, pushing up prices and inflation.

Inflations sits around 7 to 11 precent in most advanced countries, with Australia and the US at the low end of that range and the Euro area at the higher end.

As a result, central banks began aggressively lifting interest rates to dampen demand and prevent a price and wages spiral.

Rising inflation and interest rates

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) lifted rates eight times, taking the target cash rate from 0.1 percent in May to 3.1 percent in December. This quickly flowed through to mortgage interest rates, putting a dampener on consumer sentiment.

Australia remains in a better position than most, with unemployment below 3.5 percent and wages growth of 3.1 percent running well behind inflation.

Despite the geopolitical challenges, Australia’s economic growth increased to 5.9% in the September quarter before contracting to an estimated 3 percent by year’s end, in line with most of our trading partners.

Volatile share markets

Share investors endured a nail-biting year, as markets wrestled with rising interest, inflation, and the war in Ukraine.

Global shares plunged in October on interest rate and recession anxiety only to snap back late in the year on hopes that interest rates may be near their peak. The US market led the way down, finishing 19 percent lower, due to its exposure to high-tech stocks and the Federal Reserve’s aggressive interest rate hikes. Chinese shares (down 15 percent) also had a tough time as strict Covid lockdowns shut down much of its economy.

Australian shares performed well by comparison, down just 7 percent, thanks to strong commodity prices and the Reserve Bank’s relatively moderate interest rate hikes.

Energy and utilities stocks were strong due to the impact of the war in Ukraine on oil and gas prices. On the flip side, the worst performers were information technology, real estate and consumer discretionary stocks as consumers reacted to cost-of-living pressures.

Property slowdown

After peaking in May, national home values fell sharply as the Reserve Bank began ratcheting up interest rates. The CoreLogic home value index fell 5.3% in 2022, the first calendar year decline since the global financial crisis of 2008.

As always though, price movements were not uniform. Sydney (-12 percent), Melbourne (-8 percent) and prestige capital city properties generally led the downturn. Bucking the trend, prices continued to edge higher in Adelaide (up to 10 percent), Perth (3.6 percent), Darwin (4.3 percent) and many regional areas.

Rental returns outpaced home prices, as high interest rates, demographic shifts and low vacancy rates pushed rents up 10.2 percent in 2022. Gross yields recovered to pre-Covid levels, rising to 3.78 percent in December on a combination of strong rental growth and falling housing values. However, its likely net yields fell as mortgage repayments increased.

Despite the downturn, CoreLogic reports housing values generally remain above pre-COVID levels. At the end of December, capital cities combined were still 11.7 percent above their March 2020 levels, while regional markets were a massive 32.2 percent higher.

Looking ahead

While the outlook for 2023 remains challenging, there are signs that inflation may have peaked and that central banks are nearing the end of their rate hikes.

Even so, the risk of recession is still high although less so in Australia where the RBA has been less aggressive in applying the interest rate brakes.

Issues for investors to watch out for in the year ahead are:

  • A protracted conflict in Ukraine
  • A new COVID wave in China which could further disrupt supply chains across the Australia economy, and
  • Steeper than expected falls in Australian housing prices which could lead to forced sales and dampen consumer spending.

If you would like to discuss your investment strategy in the light of prevailing economic conditions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Note: all share market figures are live prices as at 31 December 2022 sourced from: https://tradingeconomics.com/stocks.
All property figures are sourced from: https://www.corelogic.com.au/news-research/news/2022/corelogic-home-value-index-australian-housing-values-down-5.3-over-2022

https://www.chantwest.com.au/resources/another-strong-month-for-super-funds-as-recovery-continues/

https://tradingeconomics.com/country-list/inflation-rate

https://www.rba.gov.au/statistics/cash-rate/

https://www.rba.gov.au/snapshots/economy-indicators-snapshot/

https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/economy/national-accounts/australian-national-accounts-national-income-expenditure-and-product/latest-release

https://www.rba.gov.au/publications/smp/2022/nov/economic-outlook.html

The Best Inventions of 2022

 

 

With all the doom and gloom presented in mainstream newspapers, with increasing interest rates and volatile markets, in the office we were very happy to see some positive news coming out of the TIME Magazine this month.  It was the headline “The best inventions of 2022 – 200 extraordinary innovations changing our lives” that got us excited and hopeful for the future.

Here are a few that caught my attention…

As the mum of an impressionable 2-year-old it was exciting to see Mattel have bought out a Barbie that is based on Inspiring Women, designed to celebrate courageous women who took risks.  The doll is not the usual depiction of a “Barbie” that they are well known for, they are reflective of real-life women and role models and in this case, Dr Jane Goodall.  Mattel are not only thinking of the people they are representing via their brand, but the impact they are having on the environment and are using a minimum of 75% recycled materials.  They have plans to expand the series to include Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt, Maya Angelou and Florence Nightingale.

Most of us would be aware of the new “buy now, pay later” boom and arguably how problematic and detrimental they can be for your finances.  Fintech start-up Accrue Savings have flipped the script, encouraging people to save now and buy later.  Customers set up a free savings account and make auto deposits towards the purchase of a specific goal.  Progress is rewarded with cash given out by participating merchants – they have 35 on board so far including SmileDirectClub, Eterneva and Casper.  Currently only available in America, if it takes off it’s likely they will expand to the rest of the world.  It is reminiscent of traditional layby but with modern technology.  A far better way to purchase items you need, rather than on credit.

If you have had coffee in our office, you are in the minority of coffee drinkers that enjoy a superior brew.  Everyday, two-thirds of Americans drink coffee that is stale or poorly brewed.  For anyone who has travelled to America, this is no surprise!  This is because ground coffee beans begin to lose their flavour within hours of being ground.  Cometeer have developed a solution, a system that brews coffee 10 times stronger than a standard cup, then flash freezes it with liquid nitrogen to lock in peak taste for months.  The frozen capsules cost $2, are a high-quality single origin, packed into recyclable aluminum and dissolve in just 8oz of hot water.  Sounds like a great option for home use, where you don’t have access to an espresso machine and barista.

It is hard enough teaching children to read, let alone those who are visually impaired.  When kids are learning braille in schools, teachers can let them know how they are doing.  However, when they are working at home, teachers often don’t have the tools to assess and provide feedback.  The American Printing House for the Blind and Tinkerbell Labs have developed Polly, a wi-fi enabled device that provides braille learners with instant audio feedback, allowing teachers to assign and assess homework remotely.  Imagine how hard it would have been for blind children to learn during the pandemic and how far behind they may have fallen because they couldn’t access remote education.

The impact of our collective human footprint on the environment is causing people to think about their own actions and look for positive steps at their disposal.  When speaking with clients, more and more have the goal of installing solar panels on their homes however even with the government rebates, the cost is substantial.  A company called GAF Energy has developed a low-cost solution, Timberline Solar.  It is a complete rooftop system featuring solar energy shingles that can be installed by a roofer and a nail gun.  They are really trying to disrupt the existing solar companies to make it more accessible and affordable.  Be sure to keep an eye out for when they hit the Australian market, hopefully in the near future.

These are just a handful of the ground-breaking innovations that have a positive impact on the world and will continue to drive economic growth, changing our lives for the better. They are a timely reminder of how technology has improved our lives tremendously over the years and can continue to do so into the future.  After all, innovation is timeless.

Click here for TIME magazine’s full list of the best inventions of 2022 https://time.com/best-inventions-2022/

 

Written by Elise Anderson (Director & Senior Financial Planner, CFP® (BCom FP))

Referenced: TIME magazine Nov. 21/Nov.28, 2022

Plugging into Technology Stocks

On August 2, Apple became the world’s first company to reach US$1 trillion in market value. It took 42 years to get there from humble beginnings in an LA garage, but a handful of younger technology companies collectively known as the FANGs – Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google – are already nipping at its heels.

What do they have in common? All have used innovative technology to create new markets, often beginning with a single product or service. Think Apple’s early desktop computers, Amazon’s online book retailer, Netflix’s streaming service, Facebook’s social network and Google’s search engine.

According to Forbes magazine, these tech giants have become so much a part of everyday life that their products or services are regarded almost as utilities, as essential to modern living as power or water.i They have also used technology and digital transformation to redefine customer experience in a way that is leaving traditional companies behind.

While their products and services may be cutting edge, their investment appeal is old school. Legendary investor Warren Buffett has been a major Apple shareholder for some time. He is known to look for stocks with reliable, long-term earnings at an attractive price with a strong ‘moat’. A moat might be a brand name, key products or high barriers to exit. Switch your iPhone for another brand for example, and you lose your iTunes music library and countless apps you downloaded.

China unleashes BATs

While Apple and the FANGs are US-based, they face stiff competition in the global tech stakes from China’s BATs. Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent may not be household names in Australia, but they deserve to be on investors’ radar because they are a dominant market force not just in China but increasingly elsewhere as well.

Hong Kong-listed Tencent Holdings is known as China’s equivalent of Facebook. Tencent was the first Asian company to reach the US$500 billion stock market valuation mark. It’s WeChat social media platform recently reached an eye-popping one billion members and it’s also involved in online gaming, music, e-commerce and smartphones.

Alibaba (China’s Amazon plus eBay) is the world’s biggest retailer. It’s New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) listing in 2014 was the world’s biggest and this year it became the second Asian company to be valued at more than US$500 billion.

Baidu (China’s Google) is the second most widely used search engine in the world. It’s also moving into mapping, artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles. And these are just the biggest of many emerging Chinese tech stocks.

Opportunities and challenges

The tech giants are also beginning to expand into new business areas such as cloud storage, music and video streaming. Some are also growing by acquisition, with Facebook buying What’s App and Microsoft buying LinkedIn.

Yet big does not necessarily deliver success. Facebook’s share price recently fell 19 per cent in a day. The sell-off was due partly to concerns about the company’s ability to deal with privacy issues, but also to a flattening out of user numbers. China’s BATs also face challenges from the worsening trade dispute with the US.

So how can Australian investors participate in the dynamic technology sector without getting burnt?

Getting down to business

Diversification is the key to investing in the world’s leading tech stocks, while minimising the risk of individual companies performing poorly. The simplest way to gain exposure is via a traditional managed fund or an exchange-traded fund (ETF) which can be bought and sold on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) like individual shares.

For the broadest exposure there are global technology funds. A popular way to access the FANGs plus Apple, Microsoft and others is to choose a fund that tracks the Nasdaq 100 Index. Although the US-based Nasdaq exchange is home to a wide range of companies, it is well known for tech stocks.

Tech companies are often seen as exciting, but investors would do well to follow Buffett’s lead and make sure that the fundamentals are sound, looking at their financial health and ability to deliver sustainable returns. If you would like to talk about your investment strategy, give us a call.

i ‘Apple and the rise of the trillion dollar firm’, 6 August 2018, https://www.forbes.com/sites/dantedisparte/2018/08/06/apple-and-the-rise-of-the-trillion-dollar-firm/#6eecde0c631d

Any advice in this publication is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way. Opinions constitute our judgement at the time of issue and are subject to change. Neither, the Licensee or any of the National Australia group of companies, nor their employees or directors give any warranty of accuracy, nor accept any responsibility for errors or omissions in this document. Before making a decision to acquire a financial product, you should obtain and read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) relating to that product. Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way.

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