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Happy days

Have you noticed how the news is always negative, gloomy, alarmist, frightening and worrying?

But in spite of the constant diet of bad news by the media, to quote former prime minister Harold MacMillan, “We’ve never had it so good”. Why do I believe this?

During my lifetime, I have seen our living standards increase dramatically. Material wealth has increased substantially. Two-thirds of the population own their own homes. Most adults own a car and electronic goods are cheap and commonplace these days.

The amount of leisure time has increased a lot for most people, as people now enjoy much shorter working days and most get paid holidays.
People are living healthier lives and many diseases which previously killed people now have cures.

Longevity has improved significantly. Twenty years ago, life expectancy of men was 73 and women 79. Today, it is 78 and 82 . Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions predict that 10 million people alive today in the UK will live to 100.

I think things are going to get better and better. Living standards will improve, leisure time will increase, health will improve and longevity will increase.
Our lives will improve significantly in a number of keys areas such as the five identified by futurologist Richard Watson in his book Future Files. These are ageing, power shift eastwards, global connectivity, Grin technologies (genetics, robotics, internet and nanotechnology) and the environment. This book is a fascinating read.

We are already beginning to see a number of these trends emerging. The most striking trend is that of the internet.

A number of retailers are struggling, going bust completely or going into administration.

The old-fashioned model of shops is quickly being overtaken by the internet, particularly due to the faster connections enabled by broadband, where goods and services can often be bought cheaper, quicker and in the comfort of your own home or business.

What implications does all this have for financial advisers? This means having a good website, internet marketing including email broadcasting and social media, using mobile devices, holding online meetings and so on.

Embrace these changes and really go for it. Remember the future’s bright, the future’s broadband.

Tony Byrne is financial planning director at Wealth And Tax Management


As it happened: Webb at work and pensions select committee

11.29: After committee chair and Labour MP Anne Begg elicitis another confirmation from Webb there will be no more delays to the roll out of auto-enrolment, the session ends. 11.25: The minister says he was disappointed the majority of responses to the consultation on early access were negative. He tells MP’s he has “sympathy” with […]

Morgan Stanley sells Quilter

Morgan Stanley Smith Barney is selling wealth manager Quilter to private equity firm Bridgepoint. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed but Quilter has been sold “in partnership” with the management team. The sale is expected to complete in the first quarter. Quilter had a total of £7.6bn in funds under management at […]


Steve Bee slams “out of date” Webb over small firm advice claims

Steve Bee has hit out at pensions minister Steve Webb for saying it his goal to make it unnecessary for small firms and low earners to seek advice over auto-enrolment. Giving evidence to the work and pensions select committee yesterday, Webb said it would be “crazy” if most firms had to seek out expensive financial […]


Govt says FCA should consult on early warnings

The Government is pushing for the Financial Conduct Authority to be required to consult firms and individuals before it publicises that they are the subject of an ongoing enforcement investigation. The Treasury has published the financial services bill this morning, which sets out in law how the regulatory structure under the Prudential Regulation Authority and […]

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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