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M&S Financial Services sees profits surge

Marks & Spencer Financial Services increased its half year profits by 20 per cent to £45m, from £37.5m buoyed by a surge in life and pensions news business.


M&S Financial Services saw its new annualised life and pensions business grow 98 per cent to £1.9m in the half year to September 1998, compared with £993,000 in the same period last year.


The growth came on the back of an aggressive re-pricing of its term assurance. New single premiums surged 359 per cent to £660,000, from £145,000 and annual premiums rose 94 per cent to £1.9m from £979,000.


M&S increased funds invested in its four unit trust businesses by 143 per cent to £146m over the half year, up from £60m in the same period last year.


Total funds under management rose 33 per cent to £865m, from £650m.


The finance arm plans to roll out a cash and equity Individual Savings Account in April.

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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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