Ian Cowie

Five questions to help you take control of your pension

If you want something done properly, it often pays to do it yourself. So it must be good news that as of 6 April, when George Osborne’s pension reforms take effect, it will be easier than ever to run your own pension fund, because you won’t be forced to retire as an investor when you

Investment special: How to come out top in the pensions revolution

Three years after The Spectator called on the Chancellor to ‘stop treating pensioners like babies’, his Budget this year gave everyone greater choice about how we enjoy our life savings. While more column inches have been expended on the outside chance that some pensioners might blow the lot on a Lamborghini, less has been said

Investment special: Tax allowances – use them or lose them

As if to demonstrate that every silver lining has a grey cloud, next month’s top-rate tax cut also means there will be less help in future from HM Revenue and Customs to boost high earners’ retirement funds. So there are just a few weeks left in which people fortunate enough to be able to write

Investment: Will bonds crash as shares rise?

Tim Price: In a normal market, maybe. But not in this one UK base rate squats at 0.5 per cent, its lowest level in history — or since the formation of the Bank of England in 1694, which is much the same thing. With sporadic signs of inflation and patchy evidence of recovery, plus a new


Like sinister Siamese twins, the words ‘pension’ and ‘scandal’ seem to have become joined at the hip. So perhaps it is no surprise that some very good news — perhaps the coalition’s most important extension of choice during its first year — was largely ignored by the media last month. Most people these days are

Look for the silver lining

Outsourcing firms and insurers may find opportunity in the government’s fiscal crisis It’s an ill wind that blows no good and, counterintuitively, some companies could benefit from next week’s government belt-tightening. Despite fears that spending cuts may stall fragile economic recovery, firms which provide services more cheaply than the public sector may enjoy increased turnover

Blue-chip opportunities despite euro turmoil

Ian Cowie says some of the Continent’s best companies are offering mouthwatering dividend yields these days Pity the poor estate agents. Now there’s a phrase you don’t see very often. Barely had they begun to market Spanish villas and French gîtes as bargains because of the weak euro, than the pound began its precipitous decline.

Time to bet against excessive pessimism

Just as directors’ dealings often reveal more about the immediate outlook for their companies’ shares than can be gleaned from annual reports, it often makes sense to follow what fund managers do, rather than what they say. So it was a pleasant surprise over lunch the other day to find myself in step with one

Do it yourself: the joy of SIPPs

If you think pensions are boring, how exciting do you think poverty in old age will be? I only ask because conventional attitudes to this problematic topic are not just dangerous but also out of date. Most people know that failing to save will not prevent them growing old. Fewer realise how recent rule changes

The East powers ahead while America stumbles

Ian Cowie asks whether high-growth economies such as China’s are a safer bet than those of the debt-laden West Emerging markets have been the most profitable game in town for several years now, even after the setbacks some suffered toward the end of 2007. True, the bears enjoyed a bit of a picnic when China

Don’t put your money under the mattress

Extreme stock market volatility and the crisis at Northern Rock have prompted some crass comment about how to look after savings in uncertain times like these. Probably the worst is the glib recommendation, so often trotted out during a panic, that you might as well keep your money under the mattress. But the only people

Don’t leave it all to Gordon by mistake

Ian Cowie says the simplest ways of avoiding inheritance tax are the best — especially when the law keeps changing If there is one thing worse than paying inheritance tax, it is discovering at the graveside that an expensive IHT-avoidance scheme has proved a waste of money, in addition to what you are going to