Fast Growing Independent Equity Firms Doing Business in the UK

There are many independent private equity companies based in the UK that are succeeding in making profitable equity investments for their clients. The top companies are the ones that structure client services that are geared towards meeting the needs of and fulfilling the investment challenges faced by businesses and individual customers struggling to meet tough demands in an uncertain economic climate. They are especially well equipped to actively manage their portfolio of businesses through responsible business practices, which result in lower risks and added value for shareholders. Following is a list of only a few of the highly qualified and dynamic investment companies working out of the UK who excel in helping their corporate customers, blue-chip companies, innovative entrepreneurs and international organizations to reach their goals by making solid equity investments that are profitable in the short run as well as long term.

Greshem Private Equity

Greshem Private Equity is one of the leaders in the range of independent and locally based mid market equity investors. The company has earned a worthy reputation of consistent and successful investments and rich partnerships with local management teams. The firm offers regional services that enable it to provide valuable local contacts with regional knowledge that open the doors to new opportunities for long-term success. All business investments are carefully researched to ensure they are based on a solid business model, are flexible enough to withstand a competitive market, are consistent with the generation of a consistent cash flow and can work seamlessly as partners with Greshem representatives. Some of the sectors that Greshem invests in are industrial businesses, energy and environment, consumer products, business support services and pharmaceuticals.

Rosemont Group

The Rosemont Group is a privately funded investment company established by renowned investment entrepreneur Frederick Achom in 2002 and was recently valued at over $40million. Along with a myriad of investments in popular international brands of luxury products and services, the Rosemont Group is active in the UK equity investment market. The experienced team of investment professionals seeks out existing business ventures with high potential and make either capital investments or utilize its own resources to grow the company. Through its careful selection of high potential start-ups and companies on the ground, Rosemont Group creates investments with long-term capital growth and positive cash flow. The team’s expertise and particular skill sets take into account operations and management, sales, strategic business planning, financial consultations and marketing and promotions. The Rosemont Group is well situated to offer either passive support in the realms of capital or direct resources but in both directions the company provides intellectual capital as well as active support at multiple levels in wholly owned companies, joint venture projects and well-formed partnerships. The Rosemont Group specializes in equity investments from $1 – $10 million, but is flexible when it comes to potential projects or promising partnerships that do not fit within that range.

NVM

As the stock market in the UK is on the road to recovery with a slow moving growth in the economy, NVM has taken measures to succeed during the upswing as its investors share in the company’s growth through its list of carefully chosen funds. The company pinpoints potential UK investment opportunities and manages 200m in funds, including Northern 3 VCT PLC, Venture Capital Trusts and Northern Venture Trust PLC. A total of 4.5million was earned from investments in new venture capital funds and profits from sales of investments reached 2.0 million. Positive trading results are impacting the portfolio worth with generally increased values. NVM takes into account the current market conditions by being very careful when selecting new investments and employs a top-notch investment management team to oversee those investments, which ensures a steady maturing of company portfolios resulting in favorable returns to the shareholders. Providing high returns to investors that are both long-term and tax-free through capital growth and good yields on dividends are the focus of NVM investments. Its professional and experienced venture capital executives work out of offices in Reading and Newcastle upon Tyne where they successfully manage the funds and investment trusts.

Graphite Capital

Placing a major emphasis on the mid market companies, Graphite Capital is a one of the top equity investors in the UK. The London based firm became independent in 2001 but its investors have been successfully raising and managing private equity funds since its inception in 1981. Currently under its equity investment management are funds worth more than 1.2billion.

Lloyds Banking Group

One of the more accessible equity investment firms is Lloyds Bank, which works through offices nationwide and specializes in the areas of corporate finance, capital markets, risk management, international trade and banking. On staff are teams of financial professionals whose knowledge base cover a wide swath of sectors including business services, energy, leisure and health, manufacturing and transportation, retail and consumer products, financial institutions and construction and real estate. Its corporate customer base numbers 30,000 and includes blue chip companies as well as entrepreneurs rapidly reaching new business heights.

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL) is an independent UK company that provides regional equity investment services. The firm’s trademark is its unwavering pursuit of high quality investments and sustaining trust of its clients throughout every level. Deloitte is known for its collaboration, industry expertise, innovation and exceptional client service reaching into such areas as tax consultation, corporate finance and audits.

Equity Release Versus the Halifax Retirement Home Plan – And the Winner Is?

Confusion reigns at a time in life when stability, financial security & freedom to enjoy the fruits of one’s success should be evident. Yes, we are talking retirement, equity release & the increasingly popular Halifax Retirement Home Plan.

Here we discuss the options available to those already retired or the up & coming baby boomer generation, as they prepare to assess how they are to manage in today’s financial maelstrom.

For many, & usually it all boils down to lack of financial planning in earlier life; retirement is none of the aforementioned attributes associated with the longest holiday of your life.

We all go through life thinking retirement seems a distance over the horizon. From getting that first job, raising the children & moving up the ranks in the employment world, our lives move forward apace.

But the inevitable will reach us all one day & without foresight retirement could be the biggest challenge in your lifestyle thus far.

So how should we prepare & how do we invest in our futures to ensure a retirement of fulfilment?

The spoken word, ‘hope for the best, prepare for the worst’ must have a ring of truth when it comes to retirement planning. It’s a recipe on the menu that’s always put on the back burner & one on the ‘to-do’ list of things that can wait until tomorrow… YOU CAN’T.

Looking back at that first job is where the seeds should initially be sown. Whether it’s joining that company pension scheme or making your own provision, a pension should be the life jacket for your retirement.

The old adage of the earlier you start a pension the less you need to pay in later is gospel & with the tax advantages on offer they still represent one of the best ways to build a pot of gold for the future.

But there are other options now available which represent a safer alternative & more hands on approach such as real estate.

The buy to let market is currently undergoing transformation in the current economic climate, with rental incomes outstripping savers returns on bank & building society accounts. There is also the potential capital appreciation aspect of owning a property which has been a tried & tested route for many over the longer term.

Property is a tangible asset; you have control over how it looks, you can manipulate it & affect its value. The sole aim of these actions is to build asset value & thereby probably without hindsight, can build yourself a ‘retirement vehicle’.

So let’s see which vehicle will suit your requirements & enable you to navigate down the retirement highway…

Firstly, the question that needs to be asked is whether an income or capital lump sum is required? Given the fact that most tax free cash requirements are for capital, the options are then narrowed down to affordability in retirement.

The next important consideration is whether one can support the monthly payments of an interest only mortgage, or are finances so tight that no further monthly payments are required throughout retirement. The answer to this will filter us towards the ultimate decision; that is whether the solution is an interest only lifetime mortgage or a roll-up equity release scheme?

On the one hand you have an interest only mortgage, where monthly payments are required to be maintained for the rest of your life & results in a continuously stable & level balance during the remaining term.

This is in complete contrast to a roll-up equity release plan, which requires no monthly payments whatsoever, but allows the interest to compound & the balance of the mortgage to get larger.

Let’s have a look the features of each option further.

Roll-Up equity release scheme

· Classified as a Lifetime mortgage, hence no term is specified

· Schemes are regulated by the FSA & are also members of SHIP

· Equity release schemes start at age 55

· No income required for eligibility

· Maximum release is 55% of the property value (with ill-health)

· Credit history is not a major concern to equity release companies

· No monthly payments required

· Increasing balance as the interest is compounded monthly or annually

· Flexibility of drawdown schemes available to take regular cash releases with guaranteed reserve facilities. This ensures future cash availability with no further costs.

· Interest rates are fixed for life

· Reduced, or no inheritance left for the beneficiaries of the estate

· Executors have up to 12 months in which to repay the lender, usually by sale of the property

Halifax Retirement Home Plan

· Classified as a Lifetime mortgage, hence no term is specified

· Pensioner mortgage & regulated by the FSA

· Starting age is 65, however with enough pension income, over 55’s are acceptable

· Retirement income alone will determine how much that can be borrowed

· The maximum amount borrowed is capped at 75% of the property valuation

· Credit history is checked & any adverse record could result in a declined application

· Monthly payments must be maintained to avoid repossession

· Mortgage balance remains exactly the same throughout the plan term

· Further advance application required to borrow additional funds & will be credit assessed each time for affordability.

· Option of tracker & fixed rates available, initially for a maximum of 5 years. Therefore, no guarantee of the future costs of the monthly mortgage payments.

· Reduced inheritance, albeit a specific amount which the beneficiaries will know the extent

· Beneficiaries have 18 months in which to sell the property, after death or the mortgagors moving into long term care.

So the winner is?

There is no actual winner in this pensioner mortgage market.

Both schemes have the advantages & disadvantages depending upon one’s retirement finances.

However, if a good retirement & disposable income is available & future affordability secured, then certainly the Halifax Retirement Home Plan is justifiable for the applicants & more so for the beneficiaries. Nevertheless, it is vitally important that steps are also taken to protect each party to the interest only retirement mortgage in case one applicant dies as the survivor will still need to maintain the monthly payments. Therefore, life insurance should always be considered on the Halifax Retirement Home Plan.

Alternatively, for those on lower incomes, less of a disposable income & are not too concerned about their children’s inheritance, then a roll-up equity release mortgage could be their preference. The roll-up equity release schemes have no effect on monthly budget & can never result in repossession based on lack of affordability or missed payments.

These schemes can be classed as a ‘mortgage of last resort’ as once all the alternatives have been considered & eliminated. Equity release roll-up can always be the backup plan. Even more so should one default or struggle with the affordability of an interest only lifetime mortgage such as the Halifax Retirement Home Plan, as equity release schemes can be used to clear the Halifax mortgage.

The following is an equity release tip – to ensure that equity release can act as a safety net, if you are looking to borrow on a Halifax equity release scheme then always consider & keep within the loan-to-value limits of the equivalent equity release scheme rules. If you do this then you have equity release as a fall back to switch to in the future.

There are many more tips & advice available on this subject, but as always seek an independent financial adviser who is qualified & experienced in these two specialist fields.

Is Your Business Overweight? How to Determine the Financial Health of Your Business

It’s common for small business owners to measure their financial health based on their income statement or bank account balance and deem their business “fit” if the bottom line looks good. To reveal why this approach can be deceptive, let’s apply a dieting metaphor.

Only looking at the bottom line is the equivalent of “sucking it in” when you look in the mirror. Sure, it looks like you’ve lost some weight, but what happens when you exhale? You might appear skinny for a moment, but that version of the situation isn’t accurate.

In terms of your business’ health, the balance sheet is the “real” you. Think of the income statement (also called the profit and loss statement) as your diet log. It tells you how well you did in a specific time period—last week, last month, or last quarter. We all know that there are good weeks and bad weeks on a diet. If you only look at one week or month, are you getting a true picture of your overall health? Of course not.

The balance sheet, on the other hand, is based on everything you’ve ever done. In our diet metaphor, it accounts for how much you’ve exercised and what you’ve eaten over your entire lifetime. The sum of all that information is what you see when you stop sucking it in.

To understand this metaphor, you need to understand what the balance sheet is and how it relates to the income statement. Your income statement contains information about what has occurred in the current period. Revenue, cost of goods sold and expenses are some of the account types found on the income statement.

To get an accurate picture of what’s happening in your business, you must adhere to the matching principle. That means you record expenses and cost of goods sold when you have earned the revenue that they are related to (if an expense is not related to revenue, you record it during the period it is used). The balance sheet accounts hold these revenue and expense items until the period in which they are earned or used. We use accounts such as prepaid insurance, customer deposits, and accrued payroll to classify these things on the balance sheet.

Income statement accounts only reflect transactions in the current accounting period. At the end of the period, the net profit or loss is moved to the equity section of your balance sheet (to retained earnings). This means that the balance sheet reflects all prior period revenue, cost of goods sold, and expenses in the form of retained earnings. The equity section also shows how much you’ve invested in and drawn out of your business. The equity section, therefore, shows what the company is worth to you.

So, how do you know if your business is “over weight”? Take a look at your debt to equity ratio (total liabilities divided by total equity). Compare that to your industry average and you’ll have a pretty good indicator of your business’ weight. Too much debt and not enough equity means your business is, in fact, overweight—even if your current period income statement looks healthy and you have money in the bank. Because everything shows up on the balance sheet, you can rely on it to depict the financial health of your business.

How to Make Sure UK Equity Release Schemes Do Not Affect Your Means Tested Benefits

Firstly, There is no tax to pay on the money released from your home, provided it is your main residential property.

Releasing capital from your home that takes your savings over £10,000 can affect your means tested benefits if your income is less than the minimum the state says you need to live on. Therefore you should ensure that the balance of any equity release money left over after spending cash on immediate needs does not take you over the ten thousand pound threshold. At least not for a long period, as money entering and leaving your account very quickly is unlikely to alter the situation.

Non means tested benefits such as disability benefit and attendance allowance are totally unaffected by the extra money created from your equity release, but invalidity grants for home adaptations could be influenced, even if your savings are less than ten thousand pounds. In this context if you are seeking such grants, you should first establish your position with the local authority before entering into an equity release scheme and definitely before instructing any work to commence.

Pension Credit is a means tested benefit that could be reduced or even extinguished by equity release money arriving into your account. Pension credit payments are added to your income if you are over aged 60. This is to top up low level earnings or the state pension so that you have the minimum weekly income that the state says you need to live on. After 5th April 2010 this is £132.60 for a single person and £202.40 for a couple. If your savings exceed £10,000, every £500 over this amount can reduce your weekly pension credit by one pound.

If your circumstances change during the five year period from when you were assessed for pension credit you do not need to notify the Department of Works and Pensions. People over aged 75 at the time their pension credit decision was made do not have a time limit.

National Health Service benefits are available for persons that are claiming Pension Credit. These include free prescriptions, dental treatment, free eyesight tests, vouchers for spectacles and even reasonable transport costs for health treatment.

Council Tax benefits are available for people on low incomes that may be claiming pension credit. The amount of council tax benefit reduces proportionately as the level of savings increases from £10,000 to £16,000.

The best way to ensure that your means tested benefits are not affected by equity release is to consult an independent equity release adviser at the equity release schemes website who can provide you with an indication of the level of any benefits that may be reduced. Some advisers have access to computer software that can assess the effects of equity release schemes on state benefits.

As a general rule, make sure that the amount of equity you have released does not take your savings over the £10,000 threshold after you have spent money on essential items.