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The time for onshore investment bonds has arrived

Onshore investment bonds are a tax-effective wrapper available for investment planning for the medium to long-term

Delivering a well-balanced portfolio to provide tax-efficient income and growth for clients is more challenging for advisers than it has been for many years and will be further impacted by the freezing of personal allowances announced in this year’s budget.

As a result, it is now more important than ever for advisers to consider the merits of the available tax wrappers, such as onshore investment bonds, when they are supporting clients to achieve their personal and financial goals.

Onshore investment bonds can be an exceptionally useful solution alongside ISAs and pension wrappers that advisers use in their client’s financial planning. Investment bonds can hold funds across multiple asset classes enabling them to meet varied investment risk appetites. This makes the investment bond very useful for individuals that require growth, income in retirement or planning to fund long term care, together with the trust, intergenerational wealth transfer and inheritance tax planning that are often associated with them.

Why onshore bonds?
One of the frequent questions we encounter is “Why should I hold a fund in a life wrapper when I can hold the fund directly?”

The answer, is that holding investments within a life wrapper delivers important benefits that gives much greater control over how and when clients pay tax, particularly when used with a trust to support long-term planning.

For example, clients can:
• Make five per cent withdrawals tax-deferred for 20 years
• Benefit from tax efficiency due to there being no Capital Gains Tax to be paid or dividend allowance to consider
• Choose from a wide range of funds, ETFs and investment trusts and use an investment platform if desired
• Switch funds without incurring a tax charge
• Assign the policy to a basic rate taxpayer with the potential to minimise future tax bills
• Have the opportunity for the policy to continue beyond the original policyholders lifespan – when additional lives have been assured from the outset.

Onshore investment bonds are also straightforward to administer on an ongoing basis because they do not have to be included in a client’s tax return unless a chargeable event arises.

They can also help a wider number of clients than you might imagine and are not just for those nearing retirement. People tend to have more wealth and investable income than they realise and utilising onshore investment bonds could enable broader tax effective planning.

The ability to achieve investment growth, supplement income and utilise certain trust structures for future inheritance tax planning are just some of the reasons why the time is right for investment bonds to play a more central role in the financial adviser’s armoury.

What to expect from an onshore bond provider?
For advisers considering investment bonds, there are fundamental questions to ask of the provider. The most important is whether their offering is open architecture. In other words, do they offer a large range of funds from third party fund managers. This provides advisers with flexibility and choice so they can deliver the right investment solutions for their clients.

Why HSBC Life?
Our product, the HSBC Life Onshore Investment Bond, is a lump sum investment providing clients with the potential for capital growth while still allowing them to make withdrawals from their investment. Our open architecture approach enables clients to choose from an approved universe of investments which includes: over 3,800 funds including sustainable funds (Investment Trusts, Open Ended Investment Companies (OEIC), Unit Trusts and Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs)) from more than 200 fund managers.

HSBC Life has grown from the 11th largest onshore bond provider in 2016 to 3rd in 2021 with over 10% of the market. The business is driven by delivering a top quality service to clients and is proud to be the holder of the Defaqto Gold Service rating for our onshore investment bond. During the pandemic we adapted our service model to be more digitally focused and expand beyond face to face meetings. This included extensive use of video conferencing platforms and the acceptance of scanned documentation to complement where possible our digital standalone bond application process.

Why choose the HSBC Life Onshore Investment Bond?
The HSBC Life Onshore Investment Bond gives access to a range of investments to reflect different risk profiles, asset types, investment styles or geographic focus. Clients can move between investment options without immediately having to pay tax. It also allows for multiple policies/clusters to be held within one product, making it easier to manage future needs e.g. funding care fees and/or legacy planningThe HSBC Life Onshore Investment Bond can also be placed into a trust which may provide an immediate or future inheritance tax saving. It is possible to take regular withdrawals from investment bonds and the HSBC Life Onshore Investment Bond allows an automatic 10% regular withdrawal if required.

What’s next?
We believe in supporting face-to-face advice and one of the best ways we can do that is by making admin processes as automated, digital and intuitive as possible.

Whilst large strides have been taken in recent years to embrace the use of digital solutions and accelerated during the pandemic, ongoing use of paper based forms by Advisers remains significant. We aim to help those who want to cut down on admin and make the transition to digital so they can focus on their key skills of giving advice.

Over the next few years, we’ll see increasing areas of investment and retirement planning going digital because it reduces costs, is more secure, leads to fewer mistakes, reduces the risk of losing documents and has a positive impact on the environment by using less paper and resources.

Advisers will also be working with younger clients seeking advice, such as those inheriting wealth and they will expect to be able to access and monitor their wealth portfolio digitally. At HSBC Life, we are also focused on how to deliver technology to advisers in a way that best suits their businesses.

The HSBC Onshore Investment Bond is not designed for non-UK taxpayers, non-UK residents and short-term (less than 5 years) investors. The value of investments can fall as well as rise and your client(s) may not get back what they invested. For some investments this can also happen as a result of exchange rate fluctuations as shares and funds may have an exposure to overseas markets. HSBC Life (UK) Limited cannot be held responsible for the investment performance of the HSBC Onshore Investment Bond. The value of any tax benefits described depends on individual client circumstances. Tax rules and rates may change in the future. HSBC Life (UK) Limited cannot be held responsible for any future changes in legislation.

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