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Chasers can’t compete with genuine IFAs

It is interesting to note that many people working for claim-chasing companies now planning to move into the realms of providing financial advice are described as ex-insurance company employees and ex-brokers (a decidedly outdated term that smacks more of product sellers than advisers).

Why did all these people quit their jobs with insurance companies (probably with a steady salary and a good pension scheme) and with financial advisory firms? Many people might well surmise that the ex-insurance company employees were made redundant and that the ex-brokers simply could not hack it as true financial advisers, whether in the independent sector or even as even tied agents.

So on what basis should we assume the “advice” they will be peddling as employees of claim-chasing firms will be any better than that of the firms for which they used to work? How many of these people were actually in advisory roles with their previous employers? Most of them, I suspect, may well have been admin wallahs who have never in their lives given members of the public anything approaching financial planning advice.

Quality firms that have been giving genuine professional advice for many years need have no fear of claim-chasing firms now aiming to encroach on the territory of the genuine IFA. In most cases, I suggest, they are merely pretend professionals seeking a veneer of respectability to slag off and pick holes in the work done by firms who long ago decided they have no further need of their services as employees.

Julian Stevens

Partner

Harvest IFM

Bristol

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Strong dollar can be a powerful driver of UK dividend growth in 2015

By Robin Geffen, fund manager and CEO 

This year threatens to be a challenging one for UK dividend hunters. Last year saw an all-time record amount paid out in UK dividends — some £97.4bn, according to research from Capita Dividend Monitor. Yet as Capita also pointed out, out the biggest single factor driving the growth in the fourth quarter of last year was easy to identify: the rising US dollar. 

In our view, this trend is much more than simply a one-quarter phenomenon. It is actually the most profound issue to get right as a UK equity income investor in 2015. We believe that the US dollar will continue to strengthen significantly from its current level. This is due more to the US economy’s demonstrable de-coupling from the rest of the world than to a view on the UK. The US has a strong chance of tightening monetary conditions this year without jeopardising growth or de-stabilising its housing market. The same can unfortunately not be said about the UK.

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