2014 review: who's had a great year, and who hasn't?

2014 winners and losers

The end of 2014 is upon us, so who has made millions this year, and who lost a fortune. Let's take a look at the financial winners and losers of the year.

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The financial winners and losers of 2014
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2014 review: who's had a great year, and who hasn't?

It’s been a great year for property owners with house prices soaring again. The average home increased in value by 8.5% this year, according to the Nationwide House Price Index. If you own property in London it has been a fantastically good new with prices up 21%.

Most homeowners have also benefitted from changes to the way stamp duty is levied. Earlier this month Chancellor George Osborne announced that stamp duty – the tax you pay when you buy a house – would be significantly changed. Now the amount you pay is tiered rather than a set sum depending on the value of your new house. For most people that significantly cuts the tax bill.

For example, someone buying a house worth £280,000 will pay £4,000 in stamp duty now, whereas they would have paid £8,400 under the old rules.

The stamp duty changes have been great news for the vast majority of homeowners but anyone with a house worth over £937,000 will lose out. Stamp duty has risen on higher value houses leaving those at the very top of the housing ladder coughing up more.

He left school at 16 to become a flooring salesman but Mel Morris, 58, rocketed into the Sunday Times Rich List this year with a fortune worth £430m. Most of that fortune is thanks to the addictive computer game Candy Crush. Morris own part of King Digital Entertainment, the makers of the game. It floated in March with a value of £4.2bn, making Morris’ stake worth £407m.

They may earn millions on the pitch but several footballers have seen their fortunes disappear this year. Former England goalkeeper David James was declared bankrupt in May despite only retiring last year. He reportedly earned £20m over his career but says he built up debts after an expensive divorce in 2005.

Another footballer who fell on hard times was Jimmy Bullard. The retired premiership footballer signed up for I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here after admitting to losing £625,000 in an investment scheme that is now being investigated for fraud. The scheme is believed to have cost quite a few footballers a lot of money. But, Bullard is on his way to recouping his losses – he is thought to have pocketed £100,000 for his appearance on the show.

Earlier this year fund manager Neil Woodford left Invesco Perpetual where he had enjoyed years of success and set up the Woodford Fund. It was a risk but one that has paid off. His new fund has had the best performance in its peer group with returns of 7.4% over the past six months compared to a return of 4.7% on his old fund and a FTSE All Share fall of 0.5% over the same period.

It would appear both Woodford and the investors that followed him have been winners in 2014.

The oil world hasn’t had a great year with prices falling to a five-year low of $70 a barrel in December. The oil price fell by 35% between July and December, after staying above $100 a barrel for much of the preceding four years.

The slump in the oil price has hit oil-exporting countries hard. Many have a break even price of considerably above $100 a barrel. For example, Libya needs an oil price of $160 to break even, Iran and Venezuela both need $130 and Russia needs just under $120 a barrel.

2014 has been the year Victoria Beckham stepped out from David’s shadow and began out-earning him. She may have been the most vocally-challenged Spice Girl but Beckham has proved herself as a fashion designer.

In October she was named Britain’s top entrepreneur by business magazine Management Today. She claimed the top spot based on turnover growth and job creation Her fashion business made £30m in 2013 a rise of 2,900% over five years.

The former singer has a £100m fortune, compared to her husband’s £110m, but her star is rising with her business predicted to be worth £200m by 2019, while David’s earnings are falling following his retirement from football.

The payday loan company has enjoyed enormous success since launching in 2007, but seven years later the firm has hit hard times. In June the Financial Conduct Authority found that the firm’s debt collection practices were unfair and ordered it to compensate its customers to the tune of £2.6m. The company then went on to write off the debts of anyone who was more than 30 days in arrears in October – costing it a further £220m.

With the base rate remaining at 0.5% for another 12 months 2014 has been a great year for anyone borrowing money. Personal loan and mortgage rates have hit record lows and credit card companies have been locked in a war that has seen 0% deals get longer and longer.

Anyone with money in the bank will know that 2014 has been another terrible year for savers. With the base rate still stuck at 0.5% the interest rates offered on savings accounts are pitiful. In many cases returns on savings have failed to keep pace with inflation, meaning your savings are worth less now than they were a year ago.

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