They say that one sign of age is when you feel that nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.
I must be getting old because I am getting the feeling of déjà vu this December all over again.
So I have decided to get ahead of the game. I am writing the Christmas 2014 column now, so we can get it out of our system.
So, the Christmas 2014 headlines are:
Head of distribution predicts death of the IFA sector for the 27th year running
In a year that saw the market share of independent advisers increase again, their share of FOS complaints drop and IFA’s to be identified once more as the most trusted source of advice, Mr Fotherington-Smyth said “These results just show that consumers do not understand the importance of the product. When they do, all these successful IFAs will be doomed, doomed I tell you.”
Alternative Investment firm declared in default
After a promising start, Global Matrix New Opportunity Uranus fund was declared in default after audit showed a negative net asset value.
The Bahama based fund was set up to capture ‘alpha’ in the growing Morocco to Mongolia rice export trade, via loan notes issued in the Cayman islands.
Head of distribution Mr Smyth-Fotherington said: “This was a fantastic opportunity that was going superbly until we ran out of champagne, sorry, money. It’s all the advisers’ fault. Blame them”.
Regulator shuts door after horse has bolted
The regulator has withdrawn the permission of Grabit and Run Distribution Limited, almost nine months after 10,000 IFAs emailed and tweeted that the firm was stealing clients’ money.
Despite having no permissions to give advice, and no qualified advisers, the firm carried on ‘acquiring’ money from clients until the directors were seen at Heathrow boarding a flight to South America. The regulator said that it had to move in a measured way, as all the warnings and whistle blowing from advisers could have just been a commercial ploy to interfere with a competitor.
All client losses will have to be paid for by the firms that warned the regulator that the clients were being allegedly stolen from.
Advisers give up 100,000 hours for pro bono work with clients
The main Financial Daily newspapers warned their readers about accepting pro bono advice from chartered and certified financial planners. Head of editing for distribution said “these so called advisers are very expensive and will sell you funds where there are some charges. We think highly qualified advisers working for free is bad value – they should actually be paying their clients to give to them great advice.”
Chancellor simplifies pensions
In the March budget, the Chancellor stated he was simplifying the pensions arrangements for all.
From now on blonde people, born on an even numbered day would be allowed to put 12.367 per cent of their income into pensions, minus the overseas blind person’s allowance, adjusted for 1996 inflation rates.
For bald men, the allowable rate will be monthly adjusted, three month in arrears, based on the aggregate of the FTSE 250 and the Dow Jones. This amount will be subject to inspection and review. The basis of the review will be published in the 2015/16 tax year.
Mr Fythe-Smotherington, spokesman for HMRC said: “Whilst this simplification looks like complication, taxpayers should expect the full force of HMRC enforcement should any error be made”.
I do so hope I am wrong about the above. I do hope that this time next year we can look back at a year where we can put the strains and mistakes of the past behind us, and have had a great year, building our firms, giving great advice and repairing some of the lost trust between advisers, regulators and the media.
We work in a great business but it is a frustration that so much of the good done is lost in the background noise. Advisers, in particular, continually justify the trust placed in them by their clients. Its time this was recognised.
On that positive note, Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you and yours.
Phil Billingham is director of the Phil Billingham Partnership and is a financial planner and director of Perceptive Planning Limited