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Author: Provision Wealth

2017-18 saw strong returns for diversified investors – but there’s a few storm clouds around

Date: Jul 04th, 2018

The past financial year saw solid returns for investors but it was a story of two halves. While the December half year was strong as global share markets moved to factor in stronger global growth and profits helped by US tax cuts, the last six months have been messier and more constrained – with US inflation and interest rate worries, trade war fears, uncertainty around Italy, renewed China and emerging market worries and falling home prices in Australia. But will returns remain reasonable or is the volatility of the past six months a sign of things to come? After reviewing the returns of the last financial year, this note looks at the investment outlook for 2018-19 financial year.

A good year for diversified investors

The 2017-18 financial year saw yet again pretty solid returns for well diversified investors. Cash and bank deposits continued to provide poor returns and the combination of low yields and a back-up in some bond yields saw low returns from bonds. The latter resulted in mixed returns from yield sensitive investments, but Australian real estate investment trusts performed well helped by the RBA leaving rates on hold.

Reflecting strong gains in the December half as investors moved to factor in stronger global growth and profits assisted in the US by tax cuts global shares returned 11% in local currency terms and 15% in Australian dollar terms. Australian shares also performed well with the ASX 200 rising to a 10-year high and solid dividends resulting in a total return of 13%. Unlisted assets have continued to benefit from “search for yield” investor demand and faster growth in “rents” with unlisted property returning around 12% and unlisted infrastructure returning around 13.5%.

As a result, balanced growth superannuation returns are estimated to have returned around 9% after taxes and fees which is pretty good given inflation of 2%. For the last five years balanced growth super returns have also been around 8.5% pa.

click to enlarge

*pre fees and taxes, except Balanced Funds which are post fees and taxes
Source: Thomson Reuters, AMP Capital

Australian residential property slowed with average capital city prices down 1.6%, with prices down in Sydney, Perth and Darwin. Average returns after costs were around zero.  

Key lessons for investors from the last financial year

These include:

  • Be cautious of the crowd – Bitcoin provided a classic reminder of this with its price peaking at $US19500 just when everyone was getting interested in December only to then plunge 70% in price.

  • Turn down the noise – despite numerous predictions of disaster it turned out okay.

  • Maintain a well-diversified portfolio – while cash, bonds and some yield sensitive listed assets had a tougher time, a well-diversified portfolio performed well.

  • Cash is still not king – while cash and bank deposits provided safe steady returns, they remain very low.

Expect more constrained returns and volatility

We expect returns to slow a bit over the new financial year and just as we have seen over the last six months volatility is likely to remain high. First the positives:

  • While global growth looks to have passed its peak the growth outlook remains solid. Business conditions indicators –  such as surveys of purchasing managers (Purchasing Managers Indexes or PMIs) –  are off their highs and point to some moderation in growth, but they remain strong pointing to solid global overall.

Source: Bloomberg, AMP Capital

In Australia, growth is likely to remain between 2.5% and 3% with strong business investment and infrastructure helping but being offset by a housing slowdown and constrained consumer spending.

  • Second, solid economic growth should continue to underpin solid profit growth from around 7% in Australia to above 10% globally

  • Third, while we are now further through the global economic cycle there is still little sign of the sort of excess that normally brings on an economic downturn – there is still spare capacity globally, growth in private debt remains moderate, investment as a share of GDP is around average or below, wages growth and inflation remain low and we are yet to see a generalised euphoria in asset prices.

  • Fourth, global monetary policy remains very easy with the Fed continuing to raise rates gradually, the ECB a long way from raising rates and tightening in Japan years away.

  • Finally, share valuations are not excessive. While price to earnings ratios are a bit above long-term averages, this is not unusual for a low inflation environment. Valuation measures that allow for low interest rates and bond yields show shares to no longer be as cheap as a year ago but they are still not expensive, particularly outside of the US.

Against this though there are a few storm clouds:

  • First, the US economy is more at risk of overheating – unemployment is at its lowest since 1969, wages growth is gradually rising and inflationary pressures appear to be picking up. The Fed is aware of this and will continue its process of raising rates. While other countries are behind the US, its share market invariably sets the direction for global markets

  • Second, global liquidity conditions have tightened compared to a year ago with central bank quantitative easing slowing down and yield curves (ie the gap between long term and short-term bond yields) flattening.

  • Third, the risks of a trade war dragging on global growth have intensified. While the share of US imports subject to recently imposed tariffs is minor so far (at around 3%) they are threatened to increase. Our base case remains that some sort of negotiated solution will be reached but trade war worries could get worse before they get better.

  • Fourth, emerging countries face various risks from several problem countries (Turkey, Brazil and South Africa), slowing growth in China, concerns the rising US dollar will make it harder for emerging countries to service their foreign debts and worries they will be adversely affected by a trade war.

  • Finally, various geopolitical risks remain notably around the Mueller inquiry in the US, the US mid-term elections and Italy heading towards conflict with the EU over fiscal policy.

A problem is that various threats around trade and Trump, Italy and China have come along at a time when the hurdle for central banks to respond may be higher than in the past – with the Fed focussed on inflation and the ECB moving to slow its stimulus and less inclined to support Italy.

What about the return outlook?

Given these conflicting forces it is reasonable to expect some slowing in returns after the very strong returns seen in the last two years. Solid growth, still easy money and okay valuations should keep returns positive, but they are likely to be constrained and more volatile thanks to the drip feed of Fed rate hikes, trade war fears, China and Emerging Market worries and various geopolitical risks. In Australia, falling home prices in Sydney and Melbourne along with tightening bank lending standards will be drags. Looking at the major asset classes:

  • Cash and bank deposit returns are likely to remain poor at around 2% as the RBA is expected to remain on hold out to 2020 at least. Investors still need to think about what they really want: if it’s capital stability then stick with cash but if it’s a decent stable income then consider the alternatives with Australian shares and real assets such as unlisted commercial property continuing to offer attractive yields.

Source: RBA; AMP Capital

  • Still ultra-low sovereign bond yields and the risk of a risking trend in yields, which will result in capital losses, are likely to result in another year of soft returns from bonds.

  • Unlisted commercial property and infrastructure are likely to benefit from the ongoing “search for yield” (although this is waning) and okay economic growth.

  • Residential property returns are likely to be mixed with Sydney and Melbourne prices falling, Perth and Darwin bottoming and other cities providing modest gains.

  • Shares are at risk of a further correction into the seasonally weak September/October period given the storm clouds noted above, but okay valuations, reasonable economic growth and profits and still easy monetary conditions should see the broad trend in shares remain up – just more slowly. We continue to favour global shares over Australian shares.

  • Finally, the $A is likely to fall as the RBA holds and the Fed hikes adding to the case for unhedged global shares.

Things to keep an eye on

The key things to keep an eye are: global business conditions PMIs for any deeper slowing; risks around a trade war; risks around Trump ahead of the US mid-term elections; the drip feed of Fed rate hikes; conflict with Italy over fiscal policy in Europe; risks around China and emerging countries; and the Australian property market – where a sharp slump in home prices (which is not our view) could threaten Australian growth.

Concluding comments

Returns are likely to remain okay over 2018-19 as conditions are not in place for a US/global recession. But expect more constrained returns (say around 6% for a diversified fund) and continued volatility.


Source: AMP Capital 4 July 2018

Important note: While every care has been taken in the preparation of this article, AMP Capital Investors Limited (ABN 59 001 777 591, AFSL 232497) and AMP Capital Funds Management Limited (ABN 15 159 557 721, AFSL 426455) makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or completeness of any statement in it including, without limitation, any forecasts. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. This article has been prepared for the purpose of providing general information, without taking account of any particular investor’s objectives, financial situation or needs. An investor should, before making any investment decisions, consider the appropriateness of the information in this article, and seek professional advice, having regard to the investor’s objectives, financial situation and needs. This article is solely for the use of the party to whom it is provided.

Affordable school holiday activities

Date: Jul 03rd, 2018

We asked our readers for their top tips to keep the kids entertained during the school holidays without blowing the budget

Art and craft, board games and movies at home all proved popular, as did visits to the park, playground, picnics, riding bikes and camping.

And perennial favourites such as taking advantage of museums and galleries with free entry, and visits to the local library, also rated a mention.

Most creative low-cost school holiday activities

If you’re looking for some fresh school holiday inspiration, some of the most creative ideas included:

  • Looking through photo albums together and creating a family slideshow.

  • Putting on a concert or play for friends, getting the kids to create the show, make costumes and props, and make tickets and food for the guests.

  • Getting the kids to write books and turning them into movies.

  • Going on a park crawl, by setting a timer and after an hour at a park, moving onto another one.

  • Using old bottles and jars to create terrariums using succulents and plants from the garden.

  • Getting together with a group of friends and each taking all the kids for a day, so you only have one day to plan and pay for, and some child-free days during the holidays.

  • Making a list of things for the kids to spot then heading out in the car and playing car bingo.

  • Cutting out pictures from old magazines and cards and creating new homemade cards for upcoming birthdays and events.

  • Scouring the internet in the lead up to the holidays for free and cheap activities to create a lucky dip jar to draw from when boredom sets in.

  • Instead of just playing board games, making one, including planning the theme, rules, making the board, cards and questions, then playing it.

 Source : AMP 3 July 2018 

This article provides general information and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account. It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Although the information is from sources considered reliable, we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any investment decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, we do not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person.


Monetary Policy Decision – Statement by Philip Lowe, RBA Governor, July 2018

Date: Jul 03rd, 2018

At its meeting today, the Board decided to leave the cash rate unchanged at 1.50 per cent.

The global economic expansion is continuing. A number of advanced economies are growing at an above-trend rate and unemployment rates are low. The Chinese economy continues to grow solidly, with the authorities paying increased attention to the risks in the financial sector and the sustainability of growth. Globally, inflation remains low, although it has increased in some economies and further increases are expected given the tight labour markets. One uncertainty regarding the global outlook stems from the direction of international trade policy in the United States. There have also been strains in a few emerging market economies, largely for country-specific reasons.

Financial conditions remain expansionary, although they are gradually becoming less so in some countries. There has been a broad-based appreciation of the US dollar. In Australia, short-term wholesale interest rates have increased over recent months. This is partly due to developments in the United States, but there are other factors at work as well. It remains to be seen the extent to which these factors persist.

The recent data on the Australian economy continue to be consistent with the Bank’s central forecast for GDP growth to average a bit above 3 per cent in 2018 and 2019. GDP grew strongly in the March quarter, with the economy expanding by 3.1 per cent over the year. Business conditions are positive and non-mining business investment is continuing to increase. Higher levels of public infrastructure investment are also supporting the economy. One continuing source of uncertainty is the outlook for household consumption. Household income has been growing slowly and debt levels are high.

Higher commodity prices have provided a boost to national income recently. Australia’s terms of trade are, however, expected to decline over the next few years, but remain at a relatively high level. The Australian dollar has depreciated a little, but remains within the range that it has been in over the past two years.

The outlook for the labour market remains positive. Strong growth in employment has been accompanied by a significant rise in labour force participation. The vacancy rate is high and other forward-looking indicators continue to point to solid growth in employment. A gradual decline in the unemployment rate is expected, after being steady at around 5½ per cent for much of the past year. Wages growth remains low. This is likely to continue for a while yet, although the stronger economy should see some lift in wages growth over time. Consistent with this, the rate of wages growth appears to have troughed and there are increasing reports of skills shortages in some areas.

Inflation is low and is likely to remain so for some time, reflecting low growth in labour costs and strong competition in retailing. A gradual pick-up in inflation is, however, expected as the economy strengthens. The central forecast is for CPI inflation to be a bit above 2 per cent in 2018.

Nationwide measures of housing prices are little changed over the past six months. Conditions in the Sydney and Melbourne housing markets have eased, with prices declining in both markets. Housing credit growth has declined, with investor demand having slowed noticeably. Lending standards are tighter than they were a few years ago, with APRA’s supervisory measures helping to contain the build-up of risk in household balance sheets. Some further tightening of lending standards by banks is possible, although the average mortgage interest rate on outstanding loans has been declining for some time.

The low level of interest rates is continuing to support the Australian economy. Further progress in reducing unemployment and having inflation return to target is expected, although this progress is likely to be gradual. Taking account of the available information, the Board judged that holding the stance of monetary policy unchanged at this meeting would be consistent with sustainable growth in the economy and achieving the inflation target over time.

Source: Reserve Bank of Australia, July 3rd, 2018


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Secretary’s Department
Reserve Bank of Australia

Phone: +61 2 9551 9720
Fax: +61 2 9551 8033


Do I need an accountant to do my tax return?

Date: Jun 29th, 2018

Depending on whether your finances are straightforward or more complex, you may choose to do your tax return yourself or engage a professional.

If you have multiple sources of income, various investments, possibly your own business or have lots of deductible work-related expenses, using an accountant (who’ll need to be a registered tax agent1) to prepare and lodge your tax return may be useful.

However, if the only income you earn is from your employer and you don’t have many deductions to claim, or investments you’re making money on, you might choose to lodge your tax return online yourself via myTax, which is accessible through the Australian Government’s myGov website.

If you’re not sure which way to go, here are a few pointers that might help you with your decision.

Lodging your tax return yourself

If your finances are relatively simple, you might consider lodging your own tax return (which you’ll need to do by 31 October, for the previous financial year), while saving money on what a registered tax agent might charge you.

According to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the benefits of lodging your tax return online via the myTax system is it’s safe, secure and most of the information from your employer, bank and government agencies will be pre-filled for you by around late August2.

Meanwhile, even if your situation is a little more complex, you can still use myTax if you have investments, rental properties, capital gains or are a sole trader3.

On top of that, the service is available all day, every day so you can lodge your return at anytime and you’ll generally get your refund within two weeks, which may be faster than doing it another way4.

Engaging a registered tax agent

If you do want to use a registered tax agent to prepare and lodge your tax return, it’s important to note you will pay a fee for their service, but it’ll typically be deductible in next financial year.

Note, tax agents must be registered with the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) and you can find a registered tax agent or check whether a person is registered by visiting the TPB website5.

If your finances are more complex, going down this path may provide you with peace of mind, as it could save you time, highlight deductible work-related expenses you didn’t know about, while ensuring all your claims are legitimate.

On top of that, most registered tax agents have a special lodgement program, which means they can usually lodge returns for their clients after the usual 31 October deadline, but you’ll need to contact them beforehand to ensure that’s something you can take advantage of it you want to.

Other things to note

Whether you plan to lodge your tax return yourself, or use a professional, you can use the myDeductions tool in the ATO app to save a record of your deductions throughout the financial year, which you can upload at lodgement time.

To ensure you’ve got all the relevant information you need ahead of filing your tax return, check out the ATO’s tax time checklist .

If you seek futher assistance please contact us on |PHONE|  .

1, 5 ATO – Lodge with a registered tax agent paragraph 1
2, 4 ATO – Lodge online (Benefits of lodging with myTax)
ATO MyTax replaces e-tax paragraph 2

Source : AMP 28 June 2018  

This article provides general information and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account. It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Although the information is from sources considered reliable, we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any investment decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, we do not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person.


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