Thanks for the input so far. Regarding the high interest account sidetrack, I just meant that I'd already stored the funds in the best easy access accounts currently available while I do some research, to save someone suggesting it.
I considered it, but property currently makes up a third of my total net worth so I don't really want to expose myself to it much further. We also had recent nightmare tenants who trashed a property and broke in again after they'd moved out, so right now I'd rather drag myself over three miles of upturned plugs than go through that again anytime soon.
In anticipation of breaking the 40% tax barrier this year, can anyone summarise the benefits of pensions for higher rate tax payers in my situation, and what types of pensions I should start researching? This is an entirely new area for me, so I feel like I need an idiot's guide. On the plus side, I know a lot more now than I did last week.
I used to own a BTL. And I only had good tenants who paid on time. And I STILL found it a massive pain in the rear. My personal opinion is, though, that property is the best bet. Just my view. That being said, I have invested my money instead into Funds and I am happier as a result. Even an impending crash is less stressful than an impending tenant default or annoying phone call asking for a boiler repair etc.
Regarding your pension: I have my stocks and shares ISA, my unwrapped trading account, and my pension (a SIPP) all with Halifax. Just like with my ISA and trading account, I have my SIPP invested in VLS. A SIPP pension is thus just like an ISA or trading account - except you cannot access the money until you're 55. Other than that, there is no difference to you.
Tax-wise, paying into your SIPP/pension each month means that as far as the taxman is concerned you are earning less (because the pension money is deducted from your gross earnings. This then puts you back into lower-taxband territory. You therefore avoid paying 40% tax on the upper part of your salary. Pensions are therefore very tax efficient things for higher-rate earners who want as little as possible taken by the tax man.