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Investment view

Why does it always rain when I visit Birmingham? Is it because I once worked in that fair city and married a Brummie girl, now part of that affluent group known as the ex-wives of Brian Tora? Is it just a reflection that April appears to have arrived late this year? Or could it be that Birmingham does not wish to be upstaged by Manchester? Whatever, I succeeded in achieving a serious soaking as I made, by the skin of my teeth, the International Conference Centre for yet another IFA Events Investment Question Time panel session.

Dave Harris was (no surprise here) playing golf at La Manga. He sent an email to remind me where he was, as if I did not already know. So it fell to me once again to perform the duties of chairman. With markets locked in a relentless sideways drift, a positive cornucopia of companies reporting results and the Equitable Life AGM still fresh in everyone&#39s memory, a lively session seemed in prospect.

My long-standing – and long-suffering – panel members warned me that Birmingham is a tough venue for speakers on the IFA circuit. Apathy often rules, particularly if the weather is poor. Surely not, I responded. Birmingham is a busy, buzzy financial centre. Anyway, what about Edinburgh last year? For those fortunate enough to miss this particular event, we struggled on in a hall three-quarters empty, exchanging views with an audience that appeared largely to have come in to escape some hubbub outside.

While I am only too aware that the Scots consider Edinburgh to be second only to London in investment terms, it was disappointing that more IFAs had not turned out to listen to what an Anglo-Scottish panel had to say. I formed the view that Edinburgh was the city in which speakers could expect to die. Well, take it from me, Birmingham is fighting back. As it happens, this may be less a reflection on the character of the Brummie IFA – or a vote of no confidence in the abilities of the panel members for that matter – than a general disenchantment with the world of investment. IFA Events constructs its exhibition and seminar programme to appeal to a wide range of IFAs – not just those who are investment orientated but mortgage and protection providers, too. It seems that investment is slipping down the list of priorities. With the FTSE 100 index plumbing a three-month low last week, perhaps this should not surprise anyone.

By now, the Golden Jubilee celebrations should be making us feel good about the UK. Our Motherland, unfortunately, has not been looking in too good a shape recently. Economic statistics – admittedly, likely to be revised later – suggest that our economy is now the slowest growing of the G7 countries , the elite group of the world&#39s richest nations. Results are coming in thick and fast from companies big and small. Sadly, it is not all good news here, either. Looking at the figures from Vodafone makes you wonder how the love affair with mobile telephony was ever consummated.

But it is not all doom and gloom. Sponsorship is alive and well and supporting FMCG brands. Persil, the Unilever-owned washing powder, has agreed to sponsor the kit (if that is the appropriate word) of the British naturist petanque team. Now, I know a bit about this game as we have an active league in my village. Playing on the court with bare feet, as well as bare everything else, could be injurious to your health. But it seems that Persil is branding just socks, baseball caps, wristbands and towels. The socks, along with suitable trainers, will protect the nude players from the harmful effects of the gravel when they meet for their international contest in Rotterdam. The purpose of the wristbands and baseball caps are evident. The towels are there so they can wipe their boules.

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Neil Jones is technical support manager with Canada Life’s ican Technical Services Team. Canada Life offers a range of wealth management solutions, including retirement income planning, estate planning and investment solutions from a choice of jurisdictions, including the UK, Isle of Man and Republic of Ireland. The residential nil-rate band (RNRB) was first announced in […]

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