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Independent board to hold sway

The NPSS should be governed by an independent board with the statutory duty to look after investor interests and publish an annual Parliamentary report, the Investment Management Association has told MPs.

In a briefing paper to MPs, the IMA says it is not lobbying for the introduction of the scheme but, if it is implemen-ted, the issue of governance will be crucial to its success.

The IMA is working on its response to pension reform minister Stephen Timms’ call for industry engagement over his proposals for an independent board based on the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee. It says the board would be made up of experienced investment professionals with a statutory duty to act in the best interests of investors in the scheme above all other considerations.

It says the board should be fully transparent, producing an annual report to Parliament and scrutinised by Parliamentary committees.

The IMA says the board would set the overall investment strategy and appoint fund managers on a competitive basis, with firms removed or added on a rolling basis.

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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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