July 2024

With the shortest day behind us, the longer days ahead will give us a chance to enjoy the outdoors, even if there’s still a need to rug up.

Technology stocks have driven Australian shares, and global markets, to new highs in the last 12 months. The S&P/ASX 200 finished the financial year 7.8% higher, slightly less than the previous year. Technology stocks gained 28% during the year.

In the US, the S&P 500 index rose 14% in the first six months of 2024 in one of the strongest performances since the dotcom bubble of the 1990s. Tech stocks were behind much of the gain, in particular AI chipmaker Nvidia, which overtook Microsoft and Apple as the world’s most valuable public company last month.

An interest rate cut is widely expected in September in the US but in Australia, many commentators predict another rate increase before the end of the year to help tame inflation. The RBA left interest rates unchanged at 4.35% at its June meeting but news that annual CPI was up by 4.0% in May compared with 3.6% in April will give the Bank cause for concern.

The Australian dollar ended the financial year almost where it began at just under US67 cents, after 12 months of volatility with highs of almost US69 cents and lows under US63 cents.

Being informed is the key to avoiding scams

While it seems we all like to think we are clever enough to outwit a scam, Australians collectively lost more than 480 million to scams last year.

Every year scammers get more sophisticated in the methods they use to part us with our money – or our valuable personal information. It’s important to recognise that even the savviest of us can fall victim to scams that are ever evolving to take us for a ride.

Let’s look at the scams that are having the most impact – and how to avoid them.

Phishing scams continue to reach new heights

The most common type of scam, and one that continues to increase in prevalence is known as phishing. The reason these scams are so common, is that unlike romance scams targeting those looking for love, or financial scams targeting investors, phishing scams target everyone – and everyone who has an email account, or a mobile phone is vulnerable.

There were nearly 109,000 phishing-related scam reports last year, with losses amounting to $26.1 million (up 6 per cent year-on-year).i

These may come in the form of text messages or emails from a scammer pretending to be a legitimate business or government entity you know and trust.

They are designed to convince you to provide personal information to steal your identity or to be able to access bank accounts and/or superannuation accounts. Or they can simply be asking you to part with your money to pay an overdue invoice, a “fine,” or tax debt.

There are also the scammers who pretend to be a person you know, in order to extract money from you. A classic that’s been doing the rounds is the “Hi mum/ dad” text where the scammers pretend to be one of your kids who has lost their phone and urgently needs you to transfer them money.

How to avoid getting caught

So, given how convincing these messages can be, how do you keep yourself safe? The best defence is awareness and knowing what to look for, so let’s look at some common characteristics of scam emails and texts and some of the methods commonly employed by scammers so you can be alert – and stay safe.

  • Urgent call to take action or threats – Scammers will often create a sense of urgency, telling you to take immediate action to claim a reward or avoid a fine or penalty. They are hoping you’ll react without thinking too much about it or checking the legitimacy of the message or email.

    Tip: be sceptical if a message is prompting urgent action and approach with caution.

  • Emails that look like they are coming from a trusted source – Scammers are often quite good at mimicking a business's branding and at first glance can look pretty convincing.

    Tip: Some of the red flags to look for are spelling mistakes or a generic greeting (if the message is from a provider, they should have your name on file).
    Check the email source carefully. Scammers use subtle misspellings of the legitimate domain name. Like replacing "o" with a zero or replacing "m" with an "r" and a "n".

  • Suspicious links – Scammers include links to online forms to capture your information that can look uncannily like the real thing and often send computer viruses and malware through malicious attachments. If you suspect that a message, or an email is a scam, don't open any links or attachments.

    Tip: Hover your mouse over, but don't click the link. Look at the address that pops up when you hover over the link and see if it matches the link that was typed in the message.

    To visit a provider’s website rather than click on a link to a website manually type the official web address into your browser. You could also use a search engine to find the official website and log in that way.

With phishing attempts becoming ever harder to spot and avoid, it’s more important than ever to stay vigilant and equip yourself with tools to make sure you don’t take the bait. If you think you may have fallen prey to a scam, contact your bank and report the matter to Scamwatch.


Going for Gold

Gold fever is in the air and it’s not just the prospect of medals at the upcoming Paris Olympics.

Gold prices have been climbing strongly in 2024 as investors, jittery about the effects of wars in the Middle East and Ukraine, buy up the asset because of its reputation as a safe haven. The spot price has risen more than 18 per cent since mid-February.i

Demand for the precious metal is also being driven by central banks adding to their gold reserves to hedge against currency and other market risks.

For investors, gold has been an alluring buy for centuries thanks to its association with wealth and power. As a precious metal and a physical asset, it often attracts a certain confidence, which is sometimes misplaced.

Patchy performance

Day traders might be lucky enough at times to buy or sell gold for a decent profit by correctly guessing when to get in or out but, generally speaking, gold is not an easy investment to love.

Over the longer term, it hasn’t always beaten inflation, the price can plunge at a time when market conditions suggest it should be rising and its performance against stocks and bonds has been varied.

In fact, there have been long periods of persistently low prices. It languished for around six years from 1988 before recovering and then again for the decade or so leading up to the beginning of COVID-19 in 2020. The uncertainty of the pandemic-era helped spark a rally that has increased the price by almost 38 per cent.

Pros and cons

So, is gold worth considering as part of a portfolio? As with any investment, there are pros and cons.

Like many other asset classes, gold can help to diversify a portfolio and reduce certain risks. During stock market downturns, gold prices often (but not always) begin to rise. Some investors like the idea that it is a scarce, physical asset and, despite its ups and downs, gold has tended to hold its value over time.

At times gold has provided a good hedge against inflation. For example, in the US between 1974 and 2008, there were eight years when inflation was high and during those times, gold prices rose by an average of 14.9 per cent annually.ii But different periods give different results. While US CPI growth was around 6.8 per cent in 2021 and 2022, gold prices were achieving an annual increase of just over 1 per cent.

How to invest

You don’t need to lug home gold bars and hide them under the bed to have a stake in a gold investment.

Of course, it is possible to own gold bullion by buying online or in person from one of a number of registered dealers in Australia. The actual gold can be delivered to you or held in storage for a fee. You could also own physical gold by buying jewellery although there are high mark ups and resale value isn’t assured.

The ASX provides the avenue to buy shares in one or more of the many gold mining companies. You’ll need to do your homework carefully to consider the credentials of the companies. Some are riskier than others depending on the countries in which they operate and their size.

You could also consider exchange traded funds (ETFs) that are linked to or track the gold price. One advantage is provided by funds that hedge currency risk so that your returns won’t be affected by differences in the US dollar. Although with any fund, you’ll need to factor in an annual management fee, which will reduce your ultimate return.

If you’re interested in achieving a balanced portfolio, we’d be happy to help you.

Gold - Price - Chart - Historical Data - News (tradingeconomics.com)
ii Is Gold An Inflation Hedge? – Forbes Advisor

To sell or not to sell is the question for moving into aged care

Moving into residential aged care can trigger a range of emotions, particularly if it involves the sale of the family home.

What is often a major financial asset, is also one that many people believe should be either kept in the family or its value preserved for future generations.

Whether or not the home has to be sold to pay for aged care depends on a number of factors, including who is living in it and what other financial resources or options are available to cover the potential cost of care.

It also makes a difference if the person moving into care receives Centrelink or Department of Veterans Affairs payments.

Cost of care

Centrelink determines the cost of aged care based on a person’s income and assets.i

For aged care cost purposes, the home is exempt from the cost of care calculation if a “protected person” is living in it when you move into care.

A protected person could be a spouse (including de facto); a dependent child or student; a close relative who has lived with the aged care resident for at least five years and who is entitled to Centrelink income support; or a residential carer who has lived with the aged care resident for at least two years and is eligible for Centrelink income support.ii

Capped home value

If the home is not exempt, the value of the home is capped at the current indexed rate of $201,231.iii

If you have assets above $201,231 – outside of the family home - then Centrelink would determine you pay the advertised Refundable Accommodation Deposit (RAD) or equivalent daily interest rate known as the Daily Accommodation Payment (DAP), or a combination of both.

The average RAD is about $450,000. Based on the current interest rate of 8.36% [note – this is the rate from July 1] the equivalent DAP would be $103.07 a day.

Depending on your total income and assets, you may also be required to pay a daily means tested care fee. This fee has an indexed annual cap of $33,309 and lifetime cap of $79,942.

This is in addition to the basic daily fee of $61.96 and potentially an additional or extra service fee.

There is no requirement to sell the home to pay these potentially substantial costs, but if it is a major asset that is going to be left empty, it may make sense.

Other options to cover the costs may include using income or assets such as superannuation, renting the home (although this pushes up the means tested care fee and can reduce the age pension) or asking family to cover the costs.

Centrelink rules

For someone receiving Centrelink or DVA benefits, there is an important two-year rule.

The home is exempt for pension purposes if occupied by a spouse, otherwise it is exempt for up to two years or until sold.

If you are the last person living in the house and you move into aged care and still have your home after two years, its full value will be counted towards the age pension calculation. It can mean the loss of the pension.

Importantly, money paid towards the RAD, including the proceeds from a house, is exempt for age pension purposes.

Refundable Deposit

As the name suggests, the RAD is fully refundable when a person leaves aged care. If a house is sold to pay a RAD, then the full amount will ultimately be paid to the estate and distributed according to the person’s Will.

The decisions around whether to sell a home to pay for aged care are financial and emotional.

It’s important to understand all the implications before you make a decision.

Please call us to explore your options.



SEAFG Investment and Economic Snapshot FY2324 Year in Review SEAFG July Newsletter

Winter 2024

With Winter now officially underway, some might be heading north to warm up and others may lean into the cold on the snowfields. Whichever you choose, don’t forget the approaching end of financial year.

A slight increase in the Consumer Price Index last month, to 3.6% from 3.5% in March, has led some economists to predict we’ll be waiting longer for the first official interest rate cuts, perhaps until the end of next year, with little to no chance of a rate rise in the meantime. While inflation has been relatively stable over the past five months, this is the second monthly increase in a row. The biggest price increases were in the housing, food and beverages, alcohol and tobacco, and transport sectors. Retail spending continues to be weak. The 0.1% increase in turnover in April wasn’t enough to make up for a 0.4% drop in March.

The higher-than-expected inflation figures saw Australian share prices take a tumble after reaching a welcome high mid-month. The ASX200 finished the month on a positive note, slightly higher for the month of May. In the US, troubles in the tech sector and a global bond sell-off saw small losses on the Dow, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 while European markets in London, France and Germany also finished the month on a low.

A strong US dollar along with the uptick in Australia’s inflation data saw the Aussie dollar fall from a mid-month peak of just over US67 cents.

How to end the financial year on a high note

As the financial year draws to a close, it's the perfect time to review your financial affairs and set the stage for a successful new financial year. By taking care of essential tasks and implementing strategic planning, you can position yourself for a smooth transition and a strong start for the year to come.

Topping up super

One important item for the To Do list is to top up your super with either concessional (pre-tax) or non-concessional (post-tax) contributions. For example, you could make a voluntary concessional contribution up to the limit allowed and then claim a tax deduction on your personal assessable income for it.

Consider making additional contributions to your own super account or your spouse's account, to take advantage of tax concessions.

If you have unused concessional cap amounts from the previous five years and a super balance less than $500,000 on June 30 the previous year, you may be eligible to make a catch-up (or carry-forward) contribution greater than the annual limit.

Maximising contributions not only helps you build your retirement savings but can also provide valuable tax benefits. But it’s critical to be mindful of your caps and to ensure that you make any super contributions before the end of the financial year to meet the deadline.

Reviewing investments

Reviewing your investment portfolio is a valuable task at any time but particularly now.

For example, you could take a look for any capital gains or losses that could be used strategically to manage your tax liability.

Also, it is worth considering how your portfolio performed over the past 12 months against your goal of capital growth, income, or balance.

You may decide to readjust your goals or your investments to help steer performance in the right direction for the next 12 months.

Of course, if you’re planning any changes, it’s important to check in with us to ensure you're making informed decisions about your investments.

Paying expenses early

Another useful strategy at tax time can be to bring forward any deductible expenses or interest payments before 30 June to reduce your taxable income.

That could include incurring expenses on an investment property, prepaying interest on investment loans, making charitable donations, or claiming eligible work-related expenses.

Make sure you keep detailed records and receipts to support your deductions.

The ATO’s myDeductions app is a great place to start for free record keeping and to assist you to be ready for tax time.

Setting up salary sacrifice

As you look ahead to the new financial year, consider whether a salary sacrifice arrangement might be right for you.

Salary sacrifice allows you to divert a portion of your pre-tax salary directly into your superannuation, which effectively reduces your taxable income and boosts your retirement savings.

You will need to think carefully about your living expenses to work out the amount you can afford to contribute to your super, ensuring you do not exceed your concessional (before-tax) contributions cap of $27,500 (which will increase to $30,000 from July 1 2024) to avoid paying any extra tax.

Your employer or payroll department can help you set up a salary sacrifice arrangement.

Checking your budget

This is a good time to revisit your financial goals and how you’re tracking, and then put together a strong budget for the new financial year that will help get you further along the track.

Take the time to review your income and expenses and identify any areas where you can cut back spending or improve your income.

This exercise not only helps you understand your financial habits but also allows you to reallocate funds towards your goals, such as paying down debt, building an emergency fund, or increasing your investment contributions.

Consult with professionals

Don’t forget to check in with your trusted advisers - financial advisers, accountants, or tax professionals - to make sure you are making the most of any opportunities for financial growth and maximising tax savings.

Taking advantage of our expert advice to review your current financial situation and goals, and check that you are making the best decisions for you can make a difference. It provides peace of mind, ensures that you are complying with any obligations and, importantly, puts you in the best position to achieve your financial goals.

Investment Property: Getting it right

With property remaining a high-priced asset, it’s more important than ever for investors to ensure their property investments are a financial success.

The latest data demonstrates property’s popularity. One-in-five households (21%) owns a home in addition to their usual residence.i

Maximising taxation benefits is one key element but the ATO recently found 9 out of 10 returns were incorrect, so it’s essential to check your paperwork as we approach the end of the financial year.ii

Get your structure right

As with any investment asset, ensuring the right ownership structure for a property asset is vital because it can make a big difference to your tax position each financial year.

It’s also sensible to check if you are using the right structure to help protect your investment from creditors, provide income in retirement, or cope with the unexpected death of a part-owner.

Managing the loan

Once you establish your investment loan, tax still remains a consideration. Any deductions you claim for your loan expenses must directly relate to earning assessable rental income.iii

In cases where money from the loan is used for both private and income-producing purposes (such as a property partly used for rental and partly as your home), you must split your claims into deductible and non-deductible amounts.

If you use the redraw facility on your home’s mortgage to fund an investment property, you won't be able to claim the interest as a deduction if you subsequently use your family home as a rental. There are also capital gains tax (CGT) implications with this strategy.iv

Costs related to loan establishment fees cannot be claimed as a deduction upfront and must be spread over the term of the loan or a five-year period, whichever is shorter.v

Rental deduction dangers

Although many investors focus on the tax deductions they can claim from a property asset, both rental income and deductions are key areas of ATO interest.

Detailed records are required to substantiate all claims and any rental income from ‑short-term arrangements and insurance payouts must be included in your return.vi

You also need to be careful not to overclaim. Many new investors make the mistake of claiming an immediate deduction for initial repairs after purchasing a property. Existing damage must be claimed over several years as a capital works deduction and is used when working out your capital gain or loss when selling.vii

Deductions such as advertising for tenants, professional property management, council rates, land tax and strata fees, building and landlord insurance, and pest control can only be claimed for time periods directly connected to earning income.

Depreciation or capital works?

Property investors are able to claim a wide range of deductions for expenses associated with maintaining and financing property assets, but care is needed.

Claims for depreciation of assets with a limited effective life (such as freestanding furniture, washing machines and TVs), can be made each year, but deductions for capital works must be spread over 40 years following construction. Capital works include improvements or alterations such as adding a driveway or altering the building.viii

Improvements such as renovating a bathroom, are a building cost and must be claimed at 2.5 per cent annually over 40 years from completion.ix

Check your CGT

When it comes time to sell your investment, an important consideration is capital gains tax (CGT). The key to making your investment tax-effective is to ensure you have identified all legitimate expenses contributing to the property’s cost base so you can correctly calculate the capital gain or loss.

The property’s cost base includes the price paid plus your buying and selling costs (such as stamp duty, legal fees and the agent’s commission). You are not permitted to include amounts already claimed as a deduction, including depreciation and capital works.

Any capital gain must be included in your tax return for the income year the property is sold, while capital losses can be carried forward and used in future years.

To ensure you are making the most of your investment assets, call our office today.

Housing Occupancy and Costs, 2019-20 financial year | Australian Bureau of Statistics (abs.gov.au)
iii, iv 
vii, ix 

Enjoy the now and secure your future

Managing your financial situation always involves tension between how you live your life now and preparing for your future – whatever that looks like.

The worry about not getting the balance right and making unnecessary sacrifices now – or not having enough money for the things you want to do in the future is a common and valid concern we hear when we talk to clients. You want to be living your best life now which means not living too frugally or worrying about your future. At the same time, you don’t want the choices you are making now in how you live your life to impact or make impossible the wonderful life you envision for yourself down the track.

Balance whatever your stage of life

We all have financial goals - whether you are saving for your children's education, working towards that once in a lifetime round the world trip, freeing up finances for a gap year, or setting yourself up for a wonderful retirement. It’s important to balance your ‘now’ with your ‘future’ when it comes to spending, saving, and investing to make sure you can achieve those goals. You don’t want to regret your spending – or on the other hand live a frugal life and look back on opportunities you missed while you were squirrelling it away.

The tension between the ‘now’ and your ‘future’ with respect to your finances can be even more heightened when you have retired. It can be a strange adjustment suddenly not having a wage coming in and living off your savings, super and investments. It’s common, and quite understandable, to worry about not having enough to last the distance, particularly given that a 65-year-old today may live well into their 90’s and could spend up to three decades in retirement.i No one wants to outlive their savings.

However, many retirees live unnecessarily frugal lives as evidenced by a 2020 Retirement Income Review which found that most people die with the bulk of their retirement wealth intact.ii Those that live frugally do so often not from necessity but because they don’t have an understanding of their financial needs, including how these will change over time, and how much they can afford to spend.

How the balance changes over time

That balance is hard to hit. It is different for different people, and your approach to saving and spending will change at various stages of your life.

If you are paying off a difficult to maintain level of debt or in the final stages of scraping together a deposit for a home, making sacrifices now in the way you live life your life might feel OK. Equally if you have spent much of your life building wealth, letting loose the reins a little and going on that cruise might be something you are extremely comfortable with.

Certainty now and confidence in the future

Whatever your stage of life, achieving the right balance comes from having an in-depth understanding of your financial situation now, and establishing and maintaining a personalised plan that takes into account all aspects of your financials – your earning capacity, level of debt, assets and very importantly, the life you want to live today and your goals for the future.

The importance of receiving support with financial planning is reinforced in a recent report which indicated advised Australians are significantly more likely to say they feel confident in achieving their financial goals (71 per cent) compared with those who are not receiving support (55 per cent).iii

The same proportion said that they were living well now, stating their finances allow them to “do the things I want and enjoy in life.” And those receiving advice are also balancing the “now” with their future needs. Those accessing financial advice also indicated they were more likely to be financially prepared for retirement and have a higher savings balance.

This confidence that comes from receiving personalised advice also means being more prepared when people leave the workforce (and a wage) behind. Advised Australians are significantly more likely to feel very or reasonably prepared for retirement (76 per cent), than those without advice (45 per cent).iv

The key to achieving a balance between living your best life now and being financially secure in the future is knowledge. If we know that tomorrow is shaping up well for us, we may worry a little less today, feel a little less guilty when we spend today and be less likely to have regrets about spending - or about missing out - further down the track.


SEAFG Winter Newsletter

May 2024

As winter approaches and the weather grows cooler, commentary around the 2024-25 Federal Budget is heating up, with the government facing the tension between addressing cost of living pressures without contributing to rising inflation.

The cost of living continues to bite with consumers keeping their wallets firmly closed. Retail sales fell 0.4% in March after getting a boost from the ‘Taylor Swift effect’ the previous month and prices continue to rise with a CPI increase in the March quarter to 3.6% annually. Education, health, housing and food recorded the biggest price increases for the quarter.

The markets have been subdued too with the prospect of further interest rate rises both in Australia and the US. The S&P/ASX 200 was down by about 2.5% for April. Some economists are predicting that we may not see the first cuts in interest rates until November. Mining stocks have been generally buoyant as commodity prices continue to surge while the energy and retail sectors have struggled.

The Australian dollar is back from the doldrums mid-month to end April at just over US65c. But with a strengthening US dollar, economists are rethinking their six-month outlooks for the Aussie with predictions now of between US65c and US69c. The surprise player in our currency’s fortunes has been the ailing Japanese yen. Its weakness has been our gain with the Aussie ending April above 100 yen, its highest level since 2014.

More money in your pocket, by paying off your mortgage faster

More money in your pocket, by paying off your mortgage faster

For most of us, our mortgage is our biggest financial burden - and one that’ll be with us for decades. However, it’s important to remember that the life of a home loan doesn’t need to be as long as the contract suggests; you’re free to pay it off faster and take that financial load off your shoulders sooner.

Chipping away at your mammoth mortgage takes a committed plan, so here are some savvy ways to be debt-free earlier than originally planned.

Consider making fortnightly payments

If you're paying your mortgage off monthly, consider switching to fortnightly repayments. It may seem like a trivial move, but by paying half the monthly amount every two weeks you can actually make the equivalent of an extra month's repayment each year. This small move will compound over the life of your loan, reduce the interest paid and allow you to pay off your principal sooner.

Case study

Peta and Alex have a new home loan of $500,000 at a variable interest rate of 6.66% per annum and they’ve chosen to repay principal and interest over a 30-year term. Their monthly repayments at that rate would be $3,213 (not including additional fees and charges).

But if the couple decide to make fortnightly repayments of half their original monthly repayment ($1,607) they would be paying more off their mortgage by the end of the year, i.e., less interest therefore saving them money.

In the long term, they’d pay off their loan more than six years sooner and save around $160,000 in interest (if their interest rate remained the same for the life of the loan).

Make a lump sum payment

A one-off lump sum payment like a redundancy cheque or inheritance as well as semi regular additional payments such as a tax return or work bonus – especially during the first few years of a typical mortgage – could carve years (and cash) off your mortgage and help you get debt-free faster.

It’s important to note that placing a lump sum payment on your mortgage won’t lower your repayments. However, it will help you save on the interest component and lower the total amount of time left on your home loan.

Look at refinancing

By giving your existing mortgage a health check, you could find there is a better rate, or even a better bank, out there for you. Just because you signed on the dotted line for 20, 25 or 30 years doesn’t mean you need to stick with the same lender.

Refinancing could get you a lower interest rate which would ease the hip pocket, but if you can manage to keep making the higher repayments moving forward, you’ll end up reducing the life of your loan.

If you have at least 20% equity in your home and a great credit score, you'll have more bargaining power. Carefully read the fine print to be aware of hidden costs like annual fees or ‘honeymoon’ interest rates that could change after an introductory period, application fees, valuation fees and break fees.

Get into an offset account

You don’t need to keep your savings and your mortgage separate, in fact, they work better together. By putting your savings or even salary in an offset account with a redraw facility, you can reduce the amount of interest you pay but still have access to your funds if you need them.

Ultimately, the more money you keep in your offset account, the bigger the savings and the faster your loan will be paid off.

To work out how you could be mortgage-free sooner while shaving thousands off your home loan talk to us today.

NOTE: Interest rates, fees, regular repayments, and the potential savings will vary depending on your unique circumstances. All calculations have been calculated using the moneysmart.gov.au mortgage calculator.

New increased super contribution caps

New increased super contribution caps


As the end of financial year gets closer, some investors are thinking about the most effective ways to boost their super balance, particularly with an increase in the caps on contributions from 1 July.

The concessional contributions cap, which is the maximum in before-tax contributions you can add to your super each year without paying extra tax, is increasing to $30,000 from $27,500 in the new financial year.i

The cap increases in line with average weekly ordinary earnings (AWOTE).

It is also useful to be aware of payment and reporting timelines. For example, your employer can make super guarantee contributions up until 28 July for the final quarter of the financial year and salary sacrifice contributions up until 30 June.

Any amounts showing on the ATO website for your account are based on when your fund reports to the ATO.

Carry forward unused amounts

If you haven’t made extra contributions in past years, you may have unused concessional cap amounts.

These can be carried forward, allowing you to contribute more as long as your super balance is less than $500,000 at 30 June of the previous financial year.

You can carry forward up to five years of concessional contributions cap amounts.

Getting close to exceeding the cap?

If you’re worried about going over the cap, you may wish to stop any further voluntary contributions based on an assessment of the extra tax you will pay.

For those with two or more employers, you may opt out of receiving the super guarantee from one of the employers.

Meanwhile, if special circumstances have caused you to exceed your cap, it’s possible to apply to the ATO for some or all of the contributions to be disregarded or allocated to the next financial year.

But, if all else fails and you have exceeded the cap, the excess contributions will be included in your assessable income and taxed at your marginal rate less a 15 per cent tax offset. The good news is that you can withdraw up to 85 per cent of the excess contributions from your super fund to pay your tax bill. Any excess contributions left in the fund will be counted towards your non-concessional contributions cap.

Timing is everything

The upcoming Stage 3 tax cuts, which commence on 1 July 2024, may affect the value of your concessional contributions. For some, tax benefits may be greater if contributions are made before the tax cuts begin.

Please check with us about your circumstances to make sure you make the most effective move.

Non-concessional cap also increased

The non-concessional contributions cap is the maximum of after-tax contributions you can make to your super each year without paying extra tax.ii

The non-concessional cap is exactly four times the amount of the concessional cap so it increases from $110,000 to $120,000.

If you exceed the cap, you may be eligible to use the ‘bring forward rule’, which allows you to use caps from future years and possibly avoid paying extra tax. It means you can make contributions of up to two or three times the annual cap amount in the first year of the bring forward period. iii

If your total super balance is equal to or more than the general transfer balance cap ($1.9 million from 2023–24 and 2024-25) at the end of the previous financial year, your non-concessional contributions cap is zero for the current financial year.

We’d be happy to help with advice about how the changes in contribution caps might affect you and whether you are eligible for the bring forward rule.

i, ii Understanding concessional and non-concessional contributions | Australian Taxation Office (ato.gov.au)
iii Non-concessional contributions cap | Australian Taxation Office (ato.gov.au)

Caught in the middle: help for the sandwich generation

Caught in the middle: help for the sandwich generation

If you are feeling a bit like the meat in the sandwich you are not alone. The ‘sandwich generation’ is a growing social phenomenon that impacts people from all walks of life, describing those at a stage of their lives where they are caring for their offspring as well as their elderly parents.

The phenomenon is gathering momentum as we are tending to live longer and have kids later. It even encompasses royalty - Prince William has been dealing with a sick father while juggling school aged kids (as well as a partner dealing with serious health issues).

A growing phenomenon

The number of people forming part of the sandwich generation has grown since the term was first coined in the 1980’s, as we tend to live longer and have kids later. It is estimated that as many as 5% of Australians are currently juggling caring responsibilities which has implications for family dynamics, incomes, retirement and even the economy.i

Like many other countries, the number of older Australians is growing both in number and as a percentage of the population. By 2026, more than 22 percent of Australians will be aged over 65 - up from 16 percent in 2020.ii It is also becoming more common for aging parents to rely on their adult children for assistance when living independently becomes challenging.

The other piece of bread in the sandwich is that as a society we are caring for kids later in life. The median age of all women giving birth increased by three years over two decades.iii

And with young people staying in the family home well into their twenties, we are certainly supporting our children for longer. Even after the kids leave the nest, it's also common for parents to become involved in looking after grandchildren.

Taking its toll on carers

While we want to support our loved ones, when that support is required constantly and intensively for both parts of the family, it can mean that something has to give and that ‘something’ is often the carer’s well-being.

Even if you are not part of the sandwich generation but being squeezed at either end – caring for kids or parents, acting as a primary care-giver often requires you to provide physical, emotional, and financial support. It’s common to feel it take a toll on your own emotional and physical health, and sometimes your finances as you sacrifice some of your savings or paid work to help your loved ones.

Support for caregivers

It can be difficult to acknowledge you need assistance but there are a number of ways you can access help.

Deciding what to get help with

It can feel like there is not enough hours in the day and that’s overwhelming. Try to think about what you really need to do and where your time is best spent and consider if you can get assistance with tasks or duties you don’t have to do. This may mean outsourcing things like buying a healthy meal instead of cooking or getting a hand with gardening or lawn mowing.

Think about what others could assist with to lighten and share your load.

Accessing support

There are also support networks out there that exist to take off some of the pressure. Reach out to local support networks via Carers Australia for help identifying mainstream and community supports.

You or your loved ones may also be entitled to government support, under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) or My Aged Care. These programs provide funding and resources to help pay for essential care; from domestic assistance with cleaning and cooking, to home modifications, to 24-hour care for those who require more support.

The importance of self-care

It’s vital to take some time out for yourself and make your own wellbeing a priority. Don’t feel that it’s selfish to take care of your own needs as that’s an essential part of being a carer. Resources like respite care and getting support when needed is an important gateway to self-care.

Managing your finances

Caregiving can put financial pressure on the whole household and has the potential to impact retirement savings. The assistance of a trusted professional can help, and we are here if you need a hand.

Raising kids as well as supporting parents to live their best lives as they age is becoming more common and can be a challenging time of life. While the act of caring is the ultimate act of kindness - the most important thing to remember is to be kind to yourself.



SEAFG May newsletter SEAFG Investment and Economic Snapshot April 2024

Investment and Economic Snapshot April 2024

SEAFG Investment and Economic Snapshot April 2024

Autumn 2024

After a summer of quite extreme weather in many places around Australia, we can hopefully look forward to the cooler, calmer weather that Autumn brings.

While economic bright spots can be found in Australia right now, there are also some less than stellar results.

On the positive, inflation has remained at a two-year low giving some commentators confidence of a rate cut in the coming months. CPI was steady at 3.4% in the 12 months to January. In other good news, business capital investment rose in the December quarter to be 7.9% higher than it was 12 months before and average weekly earnings rose by 4.5% or $81 per week.

It has been a mixed report for retail, with a 1.1% increase in sales for January but that wasn’t enough to make up for the 2.1% loss in December.The Australian dollar remains in the doldrums, weakening below 65.2 US cents after reaching a high of 69.48 near the end of 2023.

Australian shares were up by just over 1% for the month after a shaky start thanks to worries over US interest rates and China. US stocks edged higher during February with the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average reaching record highs during the month. February was dominated by news of the massive profit report by artificial intelligence chipmaker Nvidia, which had a massive effect on markets across the world.

Understanding the new $3m super tax

The much-debated tax on superannuation balances over $3 million is inching closer and those who may be affected should ensure they have considered the implications.

Although it is not yet law, the Division 296 tax should be taken into account when it comes to investment strategy and planning, particularly in relation to any end-of-financial-year contributions into super.

Tax for higher account balances

The new tax follows a Federal Government announcement it intended to reduce the tax concessions provided to super fund members with account balances exceeding $3 million.

Once the legislation passes through Parliament and receives Royal Asset, Division 296 will take effect from 1 July 2025. Division 296 legislation imposes an additional 15 per cent tax (on top of the existing 15 per cent) on investment earnings of a super account where your total super balance exceeds $3 million at the end of the financial year.i

The extra 15 per cent is only applied to the amount that exceeds $3 million.

Given the complexity of the new rules, it is important to seek professional advice so you can make informed decisions.

How the new rules work

A crucial part of the new legislation is the Adjusted Total Super Balance (ATSB), which determines whether you sit above or below the $3 million threshold.

When assessing your ATSB, the ATO will consider the market value of assets regardless of whether or not this value has been realised, creating a significant impact if your super fund holds property or speculative assets. The legislation also introduces a new formula for calculating your ATSB for Division 296 purposes.

The legislation outlines how deemed earnings will be apportioned and taxed, based on the amount of your account balance over the $3 million threshold.

Negative earnings in a year where your balance is greater than $3 million may be carried forward to a future financial year to reduce Division 296 liabilities. If you are liable for Division 296 tax, you can choose to pay the liability personally or request payment from your super fund.

Strategic rethink may be needed

For many fund members, superannuation remains an attractive investment strategy due to its favourable tax treatment.ii

But those with higher account balances need to understand the potential effect of the Division 296 tax. For example, given the new rules, you may need to consider whether high-growth assets should automatically be held inside super.

Holding long-term investments that may be more difficult to liquidate, such as property, within super may be less attractive in some cases, because the new rules create the potential to be taxed on a gain that is never realised. This could occur where the value of an asset increases during a financial year but drops in value by the time it is actually sold.

For some, holding commercial property assets (such as your business premises) within your SMSF may be less attractive.

It will also be important to balance asset protection against tax effectiveness. For some people, the asset protection provided by the super system may outweigh the tax benefits of other investment vehicles, such as a family trust.

Division 296 will require more frequent and detailed asset valuations, so you will need to balance this administrative burden with the tax benefits of super.

Estate planning implications

Your estate planning will also need to be revisited once Division 296 is law.

The tax rules for super death benefits are complex and should be carefully reviewed to ensure you don’t leave an unnecessary tax bill for your beneficiaries.

If you still have many years to go before retirement and hold high-growth assets in your fund, you will need to closely monitor your super balance.

If you want to learn more about how Division 296 tax could affect your super savings, contact our office today.



Tax changes – what it will mean to me

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has announced proposed changes to address ongoing cost of living pressures with all 13.6 million Australian taxpayers receiving a tax cut from 1 July 2024, compared to the tax they paid in 2023-24.i

Now is the time to assess what it means to your hip pocket and what implications it may have for end of financial year planning as a result of the new rules, due from 1 July 2024.

The Federal Government has recently announced changes to the third stage of a series of tax reforms introduced by the previous Coalition government almost six years ago which were designed to deliver tax cuts to most, simplify the tax system and protect middle income earners from tax bracket creep.

The proposed changes

The new rules will see the current lowest tax rate reduced from 19 per cent to 16 per cent and the 32.5 per cent marginal tax rate reduced to 30 per cent for individuals earning between $45,001 and $135,000.

The current 37 per cent marginal tax rate will be retained for those earning between $135,001 and $190,000, while the existing 45 per cent rate will now apply to income earners with taxable incomes exceeding $190,000.

In addition, the low-income threshold for Medicare levy purposes will be increased for the current financial year (2023-24).

A single taxpayer with a taxable income of $190,000 paid $59,967 tax in 2023-24. Under the revised rules, they will now pay $55,438 tax, a tax cut of $4,529. While still a reduction in tax paid, this compares with the $7,575 tax cut received if the original Stage 3 tax cuts had proceeded.

On the other hand, low-income earners will receive a bigger tax cut under the revised rules.

A single taxpayer with a taxable income of $40,000 who paid $4,367 in tax in 2023‑24, would have received no benefit from the original Stage 3 tax plan, but will now receive a tax cut of $654 under the revised rules.

Implications for investment strategies

For high-income earners, the key take-away from the government’s new changes to the tax rules is you will now receive a lower amount of after-tax income than you may have been expecting from 1 July 2024.

This reduction makes it sensible to revisit any investment strategies you had planned to take advantage from your larger tax cut to ensure they still stack up.

For example, the smaller tax cut for some may impact the effectiveness of property investment.

Investment strategies such as negative gearing into property or shares, however, may become more attractive. Particularly for investors close to the new tax thresholds and looking for opportunities to avoid moving onto a higher tax rate.

Timing expenditure and contributions

Investors considering repairs or maintenance for an existing investment property should revisit when these activities are undertaken. Depending on your circumstances, this expenditure may be more suitable in the current financial year given the difference in tax rates starting 1 July 2024.

Selling an asset liable for CGT also needs to be reviewed to determine the most appropriate financial year for the best tax outcome.

Other investment strategies that may need to be revisited include those involving making contributions into your super account.

If you are considering bringing forward tax-deductible personal super contributions, making carry-forward concessional contributions, or salary sacrificing additional amounts before 30 June, you should seek advice to ensure the timing of your strategy still makes sense.

If you would like help with reviewing your investment strategies or superannuation contributions in light of the new rules, contact us today.




Evidence-based ways to hold back the hands of time

You can’t stop the clock, so the saying goes, but humanity has spent a long time trying to slow down or even reverse the effects of aging.

Even today it can be hard to distinguish those measures that work from those that may not work and avoid those that may be downright dangerous! Fortunately, science- based public health research has some of the answers, so for some medically backed ways to stay healthy as you age- read on.

But first let’s look at mankind’s long history of trying to stop the clock, or at least slow it down a little. Anti-aging practices included the Egyptian queen Cleopatra bathing in donkey’s milk, 16th century French courtesans drinking suspended particles of gold, and the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon’s infamous quest for the legendary fountain of youth. Unfortunately, many of these measures weren’t successful and may have actually shortened rather than lengthened the live spans of those trying them.

Today the quest continues…

The quest for the fountain of youth has not ceased - it’s just taken other forms in today’s society. The anti-ageing market is ever expanding and expected to be more than $119.6 billion globally.i

American tech centimillionaire Bryan Johnson is a significant contributor to that figure, reportedly spending $2 million a year on a complex regime designed to reduce his biological age from 45 to 18, which includes injecting himself with his 17-year-old son’s plasma.

The truth is, aging is natural. Our bodies aren’t meant to stop aging entirely. But the good news is that there are some tried and true, medically proven ways to stave off many of the problems associated with aging and, in some cases, slow down the aging process. While none of these are groundbreaking discoveries, it’s worth keeping in mind that you don’t have to spend all your money or waking hours to stay healthy as you age.

Tips for living well and living long:

Move it!

That treadmill at the gym may not be a time machine but it can play a part in slowing down the clock. In fact, research showed that those who ran a minimum of 30-40 minutes, five days a week, had an almost nine-year “biological aging advantage” over those who lived a more sedentary lifestyle.”ii Doctors call physical exercise a “polypill” because it can prevent and treat many of the chronic diseases associated with aging and it’s never too late to start getting the benefits from regular exercise. Even a daily walk can do wonders!

Stress less

It’s no secret that being in a constant state of stress is wearying and can make you feel older than your biological age, but recently scientists confirmed that exposure to stress can cause inflammation and damage to DNA in cells, which in turn can accelerate aging.iii The good news is this can be reversed using stress busting techniques such as mindfulness meditation, breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation which can lead to improvements in various biological markers associated with aging.

Nourish yourself

While there is plenty of hype around the plethora of “superfoods” that are touted to possess anti-aging qualities there is no one food that will significantly impact the aging process and turn back the clock. However, the food and drink we put in our bodies day after day does make a difference to our health as we age. Research from the worlds “Blue Zones” - areas where people tend to reach the age of 100 - demonstrate the benefits of a relatively plant-focused diet consisting largely of vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes.iv

Maintain a positive mindset and embrace aging

Finally, it’s also worth considering that as we can’t beat the clock, we might as well accept, if not embrace, the gifts that come with age (wisdom and a longer-term perspective come to mind!).

And moving through life with a positive mindset about the aging process might also give you more days to enjoy. A study recently confirmed that those with a positive view of growing older lived seven years longer than those who complained about it.v

All in all, life is to be lived to the fullest and it’s precious because it’s finite. Do what makes you feel healthy and gives you joy now and that will also help you to enjoy life in the future.


SEAFG Autumn Newsletter SEAFG Market Update Feb 24

Summer 2023

It’s December – the month that always seem to race by as we approach the end of the year and all the festivities it brings. We hope you all have a lovely, happy, and safe festive season.

On the economic news front, there was some good news. Consumer prices eased by more than expected in October. The news that inflation may have been tamed means interest rate rises may be behind us, for now. The positive data also led to a jump in the Australian dollar, taking it to a new four-month high.

Retail spending slowed in October after a short-lived boost in August and September. But, in a further sign of good times ahead, business investment in the September quarter increased by 0.6% to almost $40 billion.

In mixed outcomes for sharemarket investors, there were some devastating lows this year, and a flat performance as November ended, but the ASX200 is up 4 points since the beginning of the year. The unemployment rate has increased slightly to 3.7% with an extra 27,900 people out of work in October.

Overseas, China’s plan to bolster support for infrastructure drove iron ore prices 36% higher than the low in May. Although prices slipped $4 in November from a one-year high of $138 per tonne. While oil prices have steadied with cuts to production on the table to reduce stocks. Brent crude ended the month at around $83.


November 2023

In October this year, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 1.2% (and 5.4% over the previous 12 months). This resulted in the new Reserve Bank Governor Michele Bullock to raise interest rates by 0.25% last week.

The most significant price rises were Automotive fuel (+7.2%), Rents (+2.2%), New dwelling purchases by owner-occupiers (+1.3%) and Electricity (+4.2%).

While housing prices are still rising, up by 7.3 per cent for the 12 months, and total dwelling approvals recorded a sharp decline in July.

Consumer confidence is continuing to slowly improve. The ANZ-Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence has now increased for a record 26 weeks in a row. Unemployment was up slightly by 0.2% to 3.7%, meaning an extra 36,000 people are now looking for jobs.

China looms large as a threat to Australia’s economy. As our largest two-way trading partner, China’s worsening economic conditions are concerning for Australian investors although stronger demand from steel producers led to a small increase in iron ore prices.

October was a rocky month for global equity markets, but November is off to a positive start. Time will tell if we get a sustainable rally into Christmas.

A positive property outlook for some

Residential property investors have been on a wild ride in recent years as prices slumped during the pandemic then quickly skyrocketed before losing ground again.

Now, with prices levelling out or slowly increasing, there is good news around the corner, according to some analysts.i

A combination of positive indicators for housing could help to fuel further price rises.

With a widespread view that the Reserve Bank’s interest rate increases are beginning to work to ease spending, some believe we may see the first rate cuts as early as next March. Add to that the increase in migration and the fall in new house construction, and residential property gains may follow. CBA Chief Economist Stephen Halmarick is forecasting a 7 per cent rise in house prices this year and another 5 per cent in 2024 claiming that, by this time next year, prices will return to “all-time record highs”.

The sustained levels of high demand clashing with historically low levels of for-sale listings are also pushing prices up, according to the Property Investment Professionals of Australia (PIPA).ii

In the meantime, some investors are doing it tough with rising interest rates and the end of fixed interest rate mortgages sometimes a contributing factor. The number of short-term property resales made at a loss has jumped, according to property analysts CoreLogic, from 2.7 per cent a year ago to 9.7 per cent in the June quarter this year.iii The median loss was $30,000, for houses sold within two years, compared to a median profit of $75,000.

PIPA’s annual survey to gauge property investor sentiment found just over 12 per cent of investors sold at least one investment property in the past year.iv Less than a quarter of those houses sold went to other investors, continuing a trend that has been happening for several years.

Almost half of those who sold said they were concerned about governments increasing or threatening to increase taxes, duties and levies.

Where are rents headed?

Will rents continue to rise or stabilise? Experts’ views are mixed about the short-term outlook for the rental market.

The Reserve Bank says the continuing shortage of rental housing is likely to support ongoing increases in rents.

The rents paid by new tenants provide a good indication of price movements in rental housing. Actual rents paid by new tenants increased by 14 per cent over the year to February 2023. Since the onset of the pandemic in 2020, rents paid by new tenants have increased by 24 per cent.vi

But CoreLogic predicts a slowing in rental price growth next year, saying rents rose for the 35th month in a row in July but monthly growth has eased over the past four months. It says the expected drop in interest rates next year combined with softer income growth and stretched rental affordability will contribute to a slowing in rents.

Build-to-rent growth

Australia’s growing build-to-rent (BTR) market is getting a boost with tax concessions from governments eager to increase housing stock.

BTR projects, common in Europe and North American, see landlords build a large-scale residential development intending to hold it for the long-term while renting the apartments for as long as three years with rent increases locked in. Rents are often slightly higher than market averages in return for better communal amenities such as roof gardens and gyms.

Institutional investors, such as super funds, are also getting onboard with the projects, favouring the steady income stream.

While Australia’s BTR market is mostly being driven by large developers and global players, smaller private investors are also getting in on the act. On the plus side, BTR offers regular income, often better returns and the chance to minimise expenses, not to mention the government tax concessions.

On the downside, there is the possibility the concept might not take off in Australia and that vacancy rates may be higher. Meanwhile, the locked-in rental increases may not keep pace with rapid market changes.

ii, iv 
v, vi 


Yours, mine & ours - estate and succession planning for modern families

Navigating complex family relationships and blended families can be challenging at times and particularly when a family member dies.

A good estate plan can help to make sure your wishes are carried out when you die. An estate plan, of which a will is the first and most important part, can ensure your estate is distributed in the way you want. It can also help if you become incapacitated, particularly when it includes an enduring power of attorney and a medical power of attorney that indicate who should be in charge of your affairs and any relevant instructions.

Professional advice is vital in estate planning to make sure that you have considered all the issues, including tax matters, and that your loved ones are protected. It is also important to clearly communicate your wishes, particularly when there are complex issues involved, so that your wishes are clearly understood.

Here are some of the issues to think about.


A binding death benefit nomination should be at the top of your list when you are considering the distribution of your superannuation funds.

This makes certain that your super death benefit is paid to those you choose because without one, the trustee of your super fund will make their own decision.

The nomination is usually valid for three years before it lapses and must be renewed.

Blended families

If you have been married more than once and/or have children with more than one partner, your will helps to effectively provide for those you choose.

You may wish, for example, to ensure that your children receive the proceeds of your estate rather than your spouse or ex-spouse. Alternatively, you may need to ensure your will protects your current spouse from the claims of previous spouses.

When it comes to the family home, the type of home ownership is important. If you have purchased as 'joint tenants', the entire asset will pass to the surviving spouse. On the other hand, if you have purchased as 'tenants in common', each spouse can distribute their share of the house to others.

You may also wish to include a ‘life interest’ in the home so that your current spouse can continue to live in the home until their death before it ultimately passes to your other beneficiaries.


Any existing family trusts should be reviewed with a blended family in mind. Check that the trust deed provides clear instructions for succession, if you want to ensure your children from past relationships are catered for.

Your will can also establish new trusts, known as testamentary trusts, to provide for any dependents with disability, when you are worried that a child may waste or misuse your assets, or to allow for young children.

A testamentary trust can also help to protect your adult child’s interests if they were to divorce a partner or are facing bankruptcy. Any inheritance they receive from you would become part of their property and can be considered in a divorce settlement or called on by creditors.

Handing on a business

If you are in business with partners, or would like to hand on the family business to one child but not others, a life insurance policy may be a useful strategy – sometimes known as estate equalisation – to even the distributions from your estate.

In the case of a business partnership, you would name your partner or partners as beneficiaries of the life insurance policy, to effectively ‘buy you out’ of the business. Where it’s a family business due to be handed on to one child, your life insurance would go to your other children to match the value of the business.

Note that it is crucial to continually review the value of the business and the value of the life insurance to ensure they remain current.

Estate planning can be tricky and emotional, particularly when your circumstances are a little more complex. So, get in touch with us to ensure your estate plan meets your wishes and takes account of all the issues.



Destinations to fire up your passions

The world is an amazing place, with so much to see and do. In fact, sometimes it can feel as though there is so much to experience it can be quite a challenge selecting a destination, but if you follow your heart and explore your passions when planning a trip you can’t go wrong.

Considering the plethora of amazing places and experiences our world has to offer, it’s a shame that many people, overwhelmed by choice, stick to going back to places they have visited before. In fact, a poll conducted in the US confirmed that three out of four people always go back to the same places.i

If you are keen to avoid the ‘same old, same old’ but short on ideas, it can help to think not of where you want to go, but what you want to do. One travel trend that’s not going away any time soon is the desire for genuine experiences. Just look at Airbnb – in addition to being an accommodation platform it now offers a massive range of around 41,000 ‘experiences’ across 93 countries and more than 2000 cities.ii

So, what do you look for when there is a big wide world out there with so much to see and do? Think about what you and your travelling companions love. 

If you have a ‘need for speed’

The Tour de France is known as the greatest race on Earth. The endurance needed to ride over 100kms a day for three weeks across some of the world’s most physically challenging terrain, is incredible. Every year spectators line the routes to be part of the atmosphere and it’s even possible to hop on a bike and experience some of the stages for yourself.

If you prefer the roar of engines and the smell of burning rubber and high-octane fuel, maybe the Monaco Grand Prix is for you. With a course that is the most difficult on the F1 circuit winding through the streets of the city, it’s certainly a race like no other.

Closer to home, another race like no other is the Alice Springs Camel Cup. The antics of the notoriously unpredictable dromedaries and their riders makes for a hilarious day out.

If you want to marvel at our natural world

The famous Bandhavgarh National Park in central India is a stunning wildlife destination where you have the best chance out of anywhere in the world to spot a wild Bengal Tiger.

And if you want to stay in Australia, head to Ningaloo Reef in WA where you can snorkel with the gentle giants of the shark world – whale sharks, which can measure up to a massive 10 metres.

If you’re an adrenaline junkie

Get your pulse racing with white river rafting on the Colorado River, passing through the iconic Grand Canyon or fly down the fastest zip line in the world in Wales at an eye-watering 200 km/h.

Or for an amazing local experience, walk along the harbour bridge in Sydney on one of the world’s longest bridge climbs and gaze out on an unparalleled view of the iconic harbour.

If you like to sample fine wine

For the wine buffs – not for nothing is Bordeaux France, is considered by many to be the world’s foremost region for wine. If you need to narrow the field a little further, the vineyards of Saint Emilion were the first to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

And Australia is no slouch in the wine stakes either, with the Baross Valley in SA widely considered Australia's preeminent wine region, famous for its Shiraz.

If you were born to shop

In terms of sheer variety and abundance of styles and shops, New York City is the shopping Mecca that dreams are made of. Or fossick for exotic treasure in Istanbul's Grand Bazaar, the world’s oldest and largest undercover market.

On a smaller scale, but closer to home, Salamanca Market in Tasmania is a vibrant streetscape of the state's finest artisan products.

With so many amazing experiences to be had, think about how you like to spend your time to come up with an itinerary that will tick all your boxes whether you want to race, explore, sip, or shop.


SEAFG Budget Analysis

A surplus for now but stormy seas ahead

Treasurer Jim Chalmers bills his 2023 Federal Budget as an economic strategy to help ease cost-of-living pressures.

To that end, he has delivered a modest but welcome package of cuts to healthcare, housing and energy costs as well as boosts to welfare payments for single parents and the unemployed.

Banking an unexpected bonus in increased tax revenue and rising commodity prices, the Albanese government has aimed to help the most disadvantaged while also looking ahead with new plans for renewable energy, defence and the arts.

But it has kept its spending under control to deliver a forecast $4.2 billion budget surplus – the first in 15 years.

The Treasurer sums up his second budget as “a plan for security, for prosperity, for growth”.

The big picture

While the first budget surplus in a decade and a half is to be celebrated, the joy will be short-lived. By next year’s budget, it’s expected there will be a return to small deficits for the next few years.

That’s because the global economy is slowing thanks to persistent inflation and higher interest rates. Aside from the pandemic and the 2007 Global Financial Crisis, the next two years are expected to be the weakest for global growth in more than two decades.

As a result, the government expects Australia’s economic growth to slow from 3.25 per cent in 2022-23 to just 1.5 per cent the following year, before recovering a little to 2.25 per cent.

In this environment, the treasurer continues to mark inflation as the government’s primary economic challenge. He says that is why the budget is “calibrated to alleviate inflationary pressures, not add to them”.

The good news is that the Reserve Bank says inflation is falling slightly faster than it had first forecast and has now passed its peak.i It is expected to be around 4.5 per cent by the end of the year, a long way from last year’s CPI rate of 7.8 per cent.ii

Easing the cost of living

The government’s $14.6 billion package of cost cuts aimed at helping some of those most affected by rising costs covers energy bills, health and medical services, and welfare payments.

There will be energy bill relief to around five million households and one million small businesses. From July 2023, eligible households will receive up to $500 and eligible small businesses up to $650.

The government will also introduce a number of energy saving programs for households including low-interest loans and funds for upgrades to social housing. And there will be access to better information on reducing energy bills.

Health and medical

Countering a major expense for many, the government is pouring in billions of dollars to ease health and medical costs and access to services.

It will spend an extra $3.5 billion to provide incentives to doctors to bulk bill Concession Card holders and children under 16. It’s expected that the increased bulk billing incentive will help around 11.6 million people.

The cost of medicines is also likely to change for many who suffer chronic health conditions. From 1 September 2023, some patients will be eligible to be prescribed two months’ worth of medicine at a time, instead of one month’s worth. It’s expected this change will cut the number of visits to GPs and pharmacies, and the government estimates at least six million people will see their bills for medicines reduced by half.

The government is also providing $2.2 billion over five years for new and amended listings to the PBS, including treatment for cystic fibrosis.

Meanwhile, to improve access to care and reduce the strain on hospitals, a further $358.5 million will be spent to open a further eight Urgent Care Clinics. The clinics will bulk bill and remain open for longer hours.

Welfare boost

Income support payments including JobSeeker, Austudy and Youth Allowance will rise by $40 a fortnight following a concerted campaign by lobby groups in the months leading up to the budget.

And, recognising the extra challenges faced by older people looking for work, those aged 55 and over and out of work for at least nine continuous months, will now receive the higher rate JobSeeker payment currently paid to those over 60. Around 52,000 people will receive the increase of $92.10 a fortnight.

There will be more support for eligible single parents from September 2023. They will receive the Parenting Payment until their youngest child turns 14 (currently up to eight years old). Those receiving the payment will also benefit from more generous earning arrangements compared to JobSeeker. Eligible single parents with one child will be able to earn an extra $569.10 per fortnight, plus an extra $24.60 per additional child, before their payment stops.

Housing assistance

While rents continue to climb sharply around the country, the government has provided only limited assistance to renters. Those receiving Commonwealth Rent Assistance will see a 15 per cent increase in their payments from 20 September 2023.

Eligibility for the Home Guarantee Scheme will be expanded beyond first home buyers to include any 2 eligible borrowers beyond married and de facto couples, and non-first home buyers who have not owned a property in Australia in the preceding 10 years.

The government’s other housing initiatives are medium to long term solutions to the housing crisis.

There are new tax incentives to encourage the construction of more build-to-rent developments. The government claims an extra 150,000 rental properties could be delivered as a result in ten years.

The government is also focusing on providing more affordable housing by supporting more lending to community housing providers for social and affordable housing projects.

Pay rise for aged care workers

Severe staff shortages in the aged care sector, largely been driven by low wages, may abate a little with the government’s commitment to fund a pay rise.

More than $11 billion has been allocated to support an interim 15 per cent increase in award wages.

Support for families

Childcare will be cheaper from July 10, when the government subsidy will increase to 90 per cent for families on a combined income of $80,000 or less.

For families earning over $80,000, the subsidy rate will taper down by 1 percentage point for every additional $5,000 of family income until the subsidy reaches 0 per cent for families earning $530,000.

A more flexible and generous Paid Parental Leave scheme will also be introduced in July. A new family income test of $350,000 per annum will see nearly 3,000 additional parents become eligible for the entitlement each year.


Superannuation is in the government’s sights and employers and individuals with larger balances will be affected.

The concessional tax for those with balances exceeding $3 million will increase from 1 July 2025 to 30 per cent. Earnings on balances below $3 million will continue to be taxed at the concessional rate of 15 per cent.

Meanwhile from 1 July 2026, employers will have to pay their employees’ super at the same time they pay their wages. The government says that in 2019-20, employers failed to pay $3.4 billion of super owing to their employees.

Looking ahead

The stormy global economic outlook will keep Australia on its toes for the next two years or so but the government has attempted both to support those who are particularly vulnerable now and keep an eye to the future with some bigger thinking.

Moving forward, the government wants to position Australia a “renewable energy superpower” with a new Net Zero Authority to help attract new clean energy industries and help workers in coal regions to find new jobs.iii

The arts received a boost with almost $1 billion going to art galleries, museums, arts organisations and the film sector to help address “a decade of chronic underfunding”.iv,v

And there is the much debated investment in defence – more than $30 billion over the next ten years. Treasurer Chalmers says that while we may have a lot “coming at us – we have a lot going for us too”.

Information in this article has been sourced from the Budget Speech 2023-24 and Federal Budget Support documents.

It is important to note that the policies outlined in this publication are yet to be passed as legislation and therefore may be subject to change.

RBA says inflation has passed its peak
ii https://www.rba.gov.au/publications/smp/2023/feb/economic-outlook.html
iii https://www.pm.gov.au/media/national-net-zero-authority
iv https://www.arts.gov.au/news/2023-24-federal-budget-revitalise-arts-sector


SEAFG Budget Analysis

May 2023

As the days get shorter and temperatures begin to fall, Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers delivered his second Budget on Tuesday 9 May.

The good news is that there are signs inflation is slowing. The latest figures show the annual rate at 7%. The March quarter saw prices rise just 1.4%, the lowest increase in two years, although consumers are still feeling the pressure of rising prices in a number of areas. The most significant contributors to inflation remain fuel and utility prices, medical and hospital expenses, tertiary education and domestic travel costs.

The welcome inflation easing and a rally on Wall Street buoyed local markets a little with the ASX200 ending the month slightly higher.

The unemployment rate remains at a near 50-year low of 3.5%. With consecutive months of strong growth in female employment (up 81,000 over the past two months), the female participation rate increased to a record high of 62.5%.

The Australian dollar held on at just over US66 cents against the US dollar.

Meanwhile iron ore prices have been tumbling as China’s property market falters and there are fears the falls could continue.



How to get super ready for EOFY

Superannuation has dominated recent headlines, with proposed changes announced by Treasurer Jim Chalmers. While the details of these changes still need to be released, it’s worthwhile turning our focus to superannuation balances as we approach the end of financial year.

There are lots of different ways to top up your super, but if you want to take advantage of the opportunity to maximise your contributions, it is important not to wait until the last minute.

One of the simplest ways to boost your retirement savings is to contribute a bit extra into your super account from your before-tax income. When you make a voluntary personal contribution, you may even be able to claim it as a tax deduction.

If you have any unused concessional contribution amounts from previous financial years and your super balance is less than $500,000, you can also make a carry-forward contribution. This can be a great way to offset your income if you have higher-than-usual earnings this year.

Another easy way to boost your super is by making tax-effective super contributions through a salary sacrifice arrangement. Now is a good time to discuss this with your boss, because the Australian Taxation Office requires these arrangements to be documented prior to commencement.

Non-concessional super strategies

If you have some spare cash and have reached your concessional contributions limit, received an inheritance, or have additional personal savings you would like to put into super, voluntary non-concessional contributions can be a good solution.

Non-concessional super contributions are payments you put into your super from your savings or from income you have already paid tax on. They are not taxed when they are received by your super fund.

Although you can’t claim a tax deduction for non-concessional contributions because they aren’t taxed when entering your super account, they can be a great way to get money into the lower taxed super system.

Downsizer contributions are another option if you’re aged 55 and over and plan to sell your home. The rules allow you to contribute up to $300,000 ($600,000 for a couple) from your sale proceeds.

And don’t forget you can make a contribution into your low-income spouse’s super account - it could score you a tax offset of up to $540.

Eligible low-income earners also benefit from the government’s super co-contribution rules. The government will pay 50 cents for every dollar you pay into your super up to a maximum of $500.

Your tax bill can benefit

Making extra contributions before the end of the financial year can give your retirement savings a healthy boost, but it can also potentially reduce your tax bill.

Concessional contributions are taxed at only 15 per cent, which for most people is lower than their marginal tax rate. You benefit by paying less tax compared to receiving the money as normal income.

If you earn over $250,000, however, you may be required to pay additional tax under the Division 293 tax rules.

Some voluntary personal contributions may also provide a handy tax deduction, while the investment returns you earn on your super are only taxed at 15 per cent.

Watch your annual contribution limit

Before rushing off to make a contribution, it’s important to check where you stand with your annual caps. These are the limits on how much you can add to your super account each year. If you exceed them, you will pay extra tax.

For concessional contributions, the current annual cap is $27,500 and this applies to everyone.

When it comes to non-concessional contributions, for most people under age 75 the annual limit is $110,000. Your personal cap may be different, particularly if you already have a large amount in super, so it’s a good idea to talk to us before contributing.

There may even be an opportunity to bring-forward up to three years of your non-concessional caps so you can contribute up to $330,000 before 30 June.

If you would like to discuss EOFY super strategies or your eligibility to make contributions, don’t hesitate to give us a call.



How do interest rates affect your investments?

Interest rates are an important financial lever for world economies. They affect the cost of borrowing and the return on savings, and it makes them an integral part of the return on many investments. It can also affect the value of the currency, which has a further trickle-down effect on other investments.

So, when rates are low they can influence more business investment because it is cheaper to borrow. When rates are high or rising, economic activity slows. As a result, interest rate movements are also a useful tool to control inflation.

Rising steadily

For the past few years, interest rates have been close to zero or even in negative territory in some countries, but that all started to change in the last year or so.

Australia lagged other world economies when it came to increasing rates but since the rises began here last year, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has introduced hikes on a fairly regular basis. Indeed, the base rate has risen 3.5 per cent since June last year.

The key reason for the rises is the need to dampen inflation. The RBA has long aimed to keep inflation between the 2 and 3 per cent mark. Clearly, that benchmark has been sharply breached and now the consumer price index is well over 7 per cent a year.

Winners and losers

There are two sides to rising interest rates. It hurts if you are a borrower, and it is generally welcomed if you are a saver.

But not all consequences of an interest rate rise are equal for investors and sometimes the extent of its impact may be more of a reflection of your approach to investment risk. If you are a conservative investor with cash making up a significant proportion of your portfolio, then rate rises may be welcome. On the other hand, if your portfolio is focussed on growth with most investments in say, shares and property, higher rates may start to erode the total value of your holdings.

Clearly this underlines the argument for diversity across your investments and an understanding of your goals in the short, medium, and long-term.

Shares take a hit

Higher interest rates tend to have a negative impact on sharemarkets. While it may take time for the effect of higher rates to filter through to the economy, the sharemarket often reacts instantly as investors downgrade their outlook for future company growth.

In addition, shares are viewed as a higher risk investment than more conservative fixed interest options. So, if low risk fixed interest investments are delivering better returns, investors may switch to bonds.

But that does not mean stock prices fall across the board. Traditionally, value stocks such as banks, insurance companies and resources have performed better than growth stocks in this environment.iAlso investors prefer stocks earning money today rather than those with a promise of future earnings.

But there are a lot of jitters in the sharemarket particularly in the wake of the failure of a number of mid-tier US banks. As a result, the traditional better performers are also struggling.

Fixed interest options

Fixed interest investments include government and semi-government bonds and corporate bonds. If you are invested in long-term bonds, then the outlook is not so rosy because the recent interest rates increases mean your current investments have lost value.

At the moment, fixed interest is experiencing an inverted yield curve, which means long term rates are lower than short term. Such a situation reflects investor uncertainty about potential economic growth and can be a key predictor of recession and deflation. Of course, this is not the only measure to determine the possibility of a recession and many commentators in Australia believe we may avoid this scenario.ii

What about housing?

House prices have fallen from their peak in 2022, which is not surprising given the slackening demand as a result of higher mortgage rates.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed an annual 35 per cent drop in new investment loans earlier this year.iii

The changing times in Australia’s economic fortunes can lead to concern about whether you have the right investment mix. If you are unsure about your portfolio, then give us a call to discuss.

ii https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2023/02/inverted-yield-curve-predicts-australian-recession/
iii https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/economy/finance/lending-indicators/latest-release




Think you’ll never fall for a scam? Think again!

It’s no secret that scammers are getting more sophisticated. As this is an ever-evolving space, scammers are constantly developing new ways to part you with your hard-earned cash - and they cast their net wide. 

While it’s easy to think “it will never happen to me”, people who never expected to be victims of scams are actually among the most vulnerable to being taken advantage of. While the stereotype is that older people are the most likely to be scammed, Gen Xers, Millennials, and Gen Zs are actually more likely than seniors to report losing money to fraud.i

The reality is scammers don’t discriminate and people of any age or demographic who believe they are too smart to be tricked may be less careful and more likely to suffer a loss.ii  And the losses are considerable. Australians were expected to lose around $4 billion to scams in 2022.iii

Here are some scams to be aware of that are doing the rounds:

Texts or calls from a trusted brand

One of the most common scams at the moment is where a criminal pretends to be a trusted brand or government agency getting in touch to collect personal information or demand a payment. You may be contacted by email, social media, phone call, or text message and they will often direct you to an official looking website.

It’s easy to be taken in via text message as it can appear to be from a legitimate sender as the scammer uses ‘alpha tag’ technology to register a mobile number with a word or acronym – the ATO (Australian Tax Office) for example.

Beware of clicking on links and if you get a text message or call that doesn’t seem right, you can find the official contact details on the company’s website and call them to verify the scam.

Buying and selling

Scammers prey on consumers and businesses that are buying or selling products and services.

As a buyer you may pay the money and never receive the goods you have paid for. To protect yourself be on the alert for scams - if the advertised price looks too good to be true, it probably is. For rental properties or holiday accommodation, only use reputable online booking agents.

As a seller, you may be tricked into believing the buyer has paid in full or even paid over your advertised amount, including sending falsified payment receipts to support their claim. The buyer may then request a refund for overpayment. To protect yourself, don’t accept a mobile payment from someone you don’t know and never accept or refund a deposit for more than the selling price.

False billing scams request you or your business to pay invoices for services or supplies you did not order so always double check and query demands for payment if in doubt.

Tugging on the heart strings

Dating and romance scammers often make their approaches on social media or dating sites and will go to great lengths to gain trust. Protect yourself by never giving money or goods of value to someone you have never met in real life.

Scammers also appeal to our emotions by impersonating genuine charities to ask for donations after natural disasters or major events. To avoid being scammed approach charity organisations directly and check an organisation’s credentials on the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC) website to see if they are a genuine charity.iv

Attempts to gain personal information

These include when a scammer gains access to your personal information by using technology.

Consider using multifactor authentication, a security measure that requires one or more proofs of identity to grant you access to any applications you use regularly and change passwords regularly, making sure to choose secure passwords.

Taking a little extra care to be aware and alert to the possibility of being scammed could save you a lot of heartache. Of course, we are here to help if you think something may be a little suspect.


SEAFG May Newsletter

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 per cent last year.i While this is bad news for members, it’s worth remembering that super is a long-term investment, and that the median growth fund is still 11 per cent above its pre-Covid high of January 2020.ii

Australia key indices December Share markets (% change) Year to December
  2021 2022   2021 2022
Economic growth 4.6% *5.9% Australia All Ordinaries 13.6%   -7.2%
RBA cash rate 0.1%   3.1% US S&P 500 27.0% -19.3%
Inflation (annual rate) 3.5% ^7.3% Euro Stoxx 50 20.9% -11.7%
Unemployment 4.2% #3.45% Shanghai Composite   4.8% -15.1%
Consumer confidence 104.3   82.5 Japan Nikkei 225   4.9% -10.9%

*Year to September, ^September quarter # November
Sources: RBA, ABS, Westpac Melbourne Institute, Trading Economics

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.

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

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 per cent in May to 3.1 per cent in December.iv 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 per cent and wages growth of 3.1 per cent running well behind inflation.v

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

Volatile share markets

Share investors endured a nail-biting year, as markets wrestled with rising interest rates, 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 per cent lower, due to its exposure to high-tech stocks and the Federal Reserve’s aggressive interest rate hikes. Chinese shares (down 15 per cent) also had a tough time as strict Covid lockdowns shut down much of its economy.

Australian shares performed well by comparison, down just 7 per cent, 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 per cent), Melbourne (-8 per cent) and prestige capital city properties generally led the downturn. Bucking the trend, prices continued to edge higher in Adelaide (up 10 per cent), Perth (3.6 per cent), Darwin (4.3 per cent) and many regional areas.

Rental returns outpaced home prices, as high interest rates, demographic shifts and low vacancy rates pushed rents up 10.2 per cent in 2022. Gross yields recovered to pre-Covid levels, rising to 3.78 per cent in December on a combination of strong rental growth and falling housing values. However, it’s 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 per cent above their March 2020 levels, while regional markets were a massive 32.2 per cent 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:

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


ii As above

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

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


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

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