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Ex-IMA exec Nicoll to head RDR

Former IMA deputy chief executive Sheila Nicoll is to replace Dan Waters as FSA head of retail policy, becoming the new head of the retail distribution review.

Nicoll joined the FSA from the Investment Management Association in October 2007 as director of the retail firms division, where she will remain until a replacement is found. Money Marketing revealed last week that Waters would be quitting the RDR to head a new retail conduct risk division.

Nicoll started her career at the London Stock Exchange in 1982, where she worked for 10 years on a range of policy issues. She represented the LSE in the formulation of the the Financial Services Act 1986, the investment services directive and other key European and domestic legislative measures.

In 1992, she joined the Association of Unit Trusts and Investment Funds as director of legal and fiscal affairs and became deputy chief executive of Autif’s successor organisation, the IMA.

She says: “I look forward to the move to retail policy and to tackling the many regulatory challenges in that area.”

Baronworth Investment Services director Colin Jackson says Nicoll is a good choice due to her experience in the investment market. He says: “Sometimes, organisations take on high-powered high-fliers who have no experience in the market. Hopefully, with Nicoll’s background, she will do a good job.”

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Apple: a stellar technology story

By Ali Unwin, head of technology sector research

Apple recently announced the highest-ever recorded quarterly net profit ($18bn), with the sale of 74.4 million iPhones helping the company deliver $74.6bn of revenue for the quarter ending December 2014. These sales were largely driven by strong demand for the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Highlights included Chinese iPhone sales doubling year-on-year and unit growth of 44% in the US — supposedly a well-penetrated market. Apple ended the quarter with $178bn in cash on its balance sheet, having generated a staggering $30bn in free cash flow during the quarter.

At Neptune, we have been long-term believers in the Apple story, and continue to hold the stock in a number of our portfolios based on the company’s long-term growth prospects. This is predicated on our belief that Apple has proved thus far that it can — unusually for a consumer electronics company — maintain high margins for a sustained period of time, even as adoption of new technology slows down and competitors produce similar-specification products.

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