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A bad start to the year…so far…

It is never a nice feeling when markets go through periods when they fall; and it certainly does not help to settle the nerves when we see sensationalist headlines like ‘RBS cries “sell everything” as deflationary crisis nears.’ (Daily Telegraph) or ‘Worst start to market year in two decades’ (   To feel unsettled is natural; to panic and sell out of equities is an unreasonable overreaction to the normal workings of the…
19th January 2016

Expected portfolio returns – there are no guarantees

All investors know that risk and return are related – taking on more (sensible)...

Estimating future asset class and portfolio returns is an important – if tricky – part of the financial planning process.  Advisers may provide clients with an ‘expected’ rate of return for a portfolio as a guide to what it might deliver, on average, over time.  These forward looking assumptions are best based on a horizon of 20 years or more.  Trying to make short-term guesstimates of market returns in the next year or two would be speculation.  In a statistical sense, the ‘expected’…
31st December 2015

Crowdfunding: peer-to-peer lending– a fad or the future?

Much has been written over the years about the increasing disintermediation of the...

Peer-to-peer lending – a fad or the future? Something quite remarkable is going on in the world of finance; it is the disintermediation of traditional financial services providers.  The internet is revolutionising the way in which consumers access traditional financial services.  Crowdfunding is one such area where the middle man (the bank) is being replaced by internet based models.  Put simply, crowdfunding is about matching those who need to borrow money with those who have it and are seeking a return for its…
31st August 2015

Balancing your values with practical reality

Most of us are increasingly aware of the social and environmental impacts of our...

The challenges facing our world There is no doubt that since the industrial revolution in the West in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with its pollution, unbridled capitalism and social division, through to the current industrial and technical revolution in China and other emerging economies, we, as a species, have done immeasurable harm to the planet and each other.  We face some immense challenges and risks that we can’t ignore.  They are broad ranging in scope, probability and likely impact, and include things…
30th June 2015

Pension reforms – challenges and opportunities

New pension reforms came into being on 6th April 2015.  The materially greater freedoms that now exist have much appeal, yet they come with greatly increased complexity both in understanding and in execution.  On balance these reforms are welcome, but the need for high quality advice has never been greater, both to minimise the risks, but also to maximise the opportunities that they provide.   The British have had a love-hate relationship with pensions for many decades.
30th April 2015

The good, the bad and the ugly of VCTs and EIS

Is the tax tail of VCT and EIS investment wagging the investment dog? Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs) and Enterprise Investment Schemes (EIS) represent tax-advantaged opportunities to invest equity capital into very small and often very early stage – or even start-up – privately held businesses.   The words ‘equity’, ‘privately held’, ‘small’ and ‘early stage’ immediately point out some of the risks. There is a certain human appeal towards potentially investing in the next Google or similar tech start-up or…
28th February 2015

The hidden value of great financial planning

There are also some more subtle areas of the value of a long-term relationship...

Almost everyone worries about money, what the future may hold, and the decisions and choices that they will face along the way; yet few realise that financial planning is the key to sorting it all out.  It is the World’s best kept secret.  Everybody needs it, but only a few have unlocked its true value.   For those who have, the equation between the value that they receive from their financial planner and the fees that they pay needs to make…
5th January 2015

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