Dear Friend

So as I write, the US S&P500 index and the NASDAQ (technology index) have broached their previous record highs. What is going on? Read about cash levels further down. I am reminded of the peak of the Nikkei Dow index in 1989, at 38,957 and the market then the largest in the world. Twenty-one years later, it is still down by 41%. ‘Oh but this is different’ they all cry. ‘We’re in a new paradigm’. Yes, of course we are. ‘Expect the unexpected’ said the wise guru – very few seem to be doing so. I feel much safer thank you in asset-backed investments – if Tesla, for example, drops by 90% will that have much effect on those? No. Watch-out where your money is invested if it is not with us.

The average US stock is still down 7% from its peak so all the gains are really from Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Alphabet and Microsoft. Apple is up $1trillion in twenty-four months – all very ridiculous. So, if it was good to buy then, when are all these smiling investors going to think it is good to sell? It must be right even for them at some point, if they are any good, eh? Do they really think that these companies will sustain their places in the sun for ever (I am reminded of Icarus…) and were they saying the same at the time about Kodak, Enron, Tobacco companies, oil stocks, banks, motor stocks…

Indeed, I have seen it all now. You will recall in April when the price of crude oil went negative – effectively the oil suppliers had to pay people to take physical delivery of the black stuff (the price is now back to circa $45 a barrel)? Lots of people will have made millions out of that anomaly, even taking it and ‘selling it forwards’ there and then for say $30-$40 simply by delivering it on a few months later. Well I have seen a reason promoted for buying Bitcoin, noting that its floor is zero and not negative as it doesn’t ‘exist physically’ so therefore it is a better commodity to buy than all the rest as a consequence… can you believe it? I think the fact that it doesn’t really exist at all might be a little flag to investors maybe…

And everyone – please don’t overlook messages which may be in your spam box… sometimes important messages from known sources can end-up in there so have a look every so often, especially if you are expecting a message! We are trialling a new idea to avert this happening with clients – with text messages to alert clients sometimes that an email is en route (as we don’t know whether we are treated as a ‘friendly’ address!).


We thought it was time to revisit our ‘we need to see what is happening first’ approach to jobs as a consequence of Covid19. Whilst there are still practical, physical difficulties, we feel we can begin to look forwards to some semblance of normality returning ‘soon’ – certainly not instantly but at some point and with this in mind, we have made some prospective roles available – go and have a look

Indeed, we may find that ‘conditions’ encourage some like-minded advisers ‘out there’ or possibly those dealing with Tax and Accountancy or Probate and Wills to think it is time to reassess their own futures and we may have some suggestions for them too.


Dealing with Estates – Probate

I have mentioned before how some professionals dealing with estates are just, well, so unprofessional. In fact, it is one of the reasons why we moved into the market and have been writing wills and assisting loved ones with the estates of their nearest and dearest for twenty years now and yet we continue to not be shocked at some of the behaviour we witness elsewhere.

What makes us so angry is that often it is the perception that ‘you have to appoint a lawyer’ and you certainly don’t. There are some great ones out there of course and we are pleased to use them and commend them for relevant tasks but frustratingly so often the poor experiences come from this august profession and I have to ask ‘why’? Is it because the Solicitors’ Regulatory Authority isn’t firm enough on the miscreants, that the Law Society isn’t strong enough to issue appropriate guidelines or that the Legal Services Ombudsman has no teeth (which it doesn’t) in relation to complaints?

I have mentioned before a relative’s Great Aunt’s Estate. She died in April 2017 and matters are still not completed. There was primarily a Flat in London which sold last year. My relative wanted to appoint us to manage the legacies for the children. There have been no distributions to them and no responses of any help to confirm even that the executor is happy with the appointment to absorb the responsibility for them in relation to looking-after minors’ investments. There may well be some odd assets still to be sorted but that is no excuse for holding onto a significant sum, uninvested and of course the usual – no responses to enquiries for anyone – an all too regular trait I am afraid (and of course yes, executors have to be wary to not ratchet-up too large a bill on such things but this is not the case here). I remember a legal executive once telling me that he had had clients query billing which said ‘charges based on the time taken’ – we read that as the number of professional hours actually expended on work but the client was concerned it meant the number of years… It really is totally unacceptable.

Then this week, another death, this time at the end of May. The local law firm involved had gone bust and the work is all being undertaken by another firm. However, the death was at the end of May and to date, the Family has not even had the ‘terms of engagement’ to sign to start the process of dealing with the Estate.

Please can I ask – to whom have you entrusted this work in regard to your affairs? It’s hard enough our families having to deal with our death in the first place but if you find you have entrusted your Estate to such as these… that makes it even worse for them. Please think very carefully – and ask about why we are rather different and have accolades for our compassionate and efficient service which cares about all those involved in the process – and typically for a rather more compassionate price than many too and NOT based on a rather extortionate percentage of the whole estate’s value before even starting charged work on top too, as most of them do!

Woodford and Link

I have commented before about how Link, the administrator, could so easily have closed-down the remaining funds in the Woodford Trusts by allocating the remaining stocks to individual investors alongside their original holdings or by creating a new Investment Trust to manage them-down.

Instead, it has conducted fire sales and one of the bigger buyers has made a $74million gain in a matter of weeks by selling stocks on to others quickly. As I have said before, there were the problems which caused the implosion and then, has the winding-up made matters far worse than they needed to have been – I fear ‘yes’ is the answer and that is unforgiveable.



It is always nice to have a testimony and we have just had the below from one of the Organic clients where we guided him informally and free of charge on his compensation claim. We stopped him signing-up with one of these parasitic claims management companies which have been so oppressive with their unsolicited contacts to the victims of the scam.These are his words:-

I thought I would just update you with my FSCS claim, that you have been advising me on. I had good news yesterday that the claim has concluded with a positive outcome. I will receive just over £48k from the FSCS within the next week or so. This covers all the losses so far. Just wanted to say thanks to all your team and the advice given to me, and not using a claims company who would have taken a good chunk. Please use this to let other people know the system works and you can get funds back that were lost.

Had he used a claims’ company and despite the money just sitting at the FSCS for collection now, he would have lost as much as £23,000 to them. Isn’t that disgusting? Even had he appointed us formally to coordinate the paperwork for the claim instead, etc, our charge would have been probably £400.

Worried about banks’ cash running-out?

Are you worried that the system is running-out of cash? Do you know what the commercial banks’ biggest problem is at the moment? They have too much cash and can’t use it. Take America’s biggest banks – they have been flooded with $2.4trillion in deposits since the year beginning.

This takes the total to an ‘unprecedented’ $15.65trillion. J P Morgan alone has had $406billion of new deposits in the second quarter, more than the total deposits held by the fifth biggest bank! Strange times. Hyper-inflation on the way? Maybe, maybe – something is needed to devalue cash and to allow governments to repay their colossal debts by reducing their real value. Alternatively perhaps a simple cash tax – a neat 2% here or there to help repay those debts… it may be too tempting to legislators…

‘An Englishman’s Home Is His Castle’

Yes, I am a believer in owning your own home – if it fits. However, often it doesn’t and for the financially mercenary amongst us, maybe it’s not such a wise idea at all! Ignore the fact that everything is in Dollars but this is a fascinating calculator which suggests renting is better than buying – perhaps especially if the capital values are so high at the start, as they are (so probability for further significant increases or even staying at these levels is so low compared to a high probability of falls). At these levels it cannot be called an ‘investment’ can it?

Sometimes it can be a clear line of advice – someone who is only going to be in an area a short while for example or a seller who has not found the ideal place to buy so keeping the powder dry till the best opportunity arises and then he can jump-in without first having to sell somewhere else. Renting may be less secure but no capital maintenance costs, only a month’s notice to up sticks and disappear as opposed to tens of thousands in costs if you decide you’ve bought the wrong place in which to live. Indeed, if as with financial products we all had to have a ‘quotation’ showing the typical ‘management’ costs of buying and holding a property, many of us would be dissuaded immediately – a bit like cars! I mean, we bought a car in 2007 for over £30,000 and it is worth as much as £500 now… we knew what would happen but there were no ‘product particulars’ nor ‘key performance indicators’ to tell us about that nor the payments made to salesman, manufacturer and vendor with average figures for typical maintenance charges – I wonder why not!


It’s Not ALREIT At All

So we recommended that considering investing in the odd Commercial Property Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) is not such a bad idea at the moment. There are all sorts of other interesting and attractively valued Loan Funds out there too where you can buy a Pound’s worth of loans for a deep discount to their face value. Trouble is, most private investors now are barred from holding many of these from their new brokerage platforms they use, including the biggest! Why? The brokerages are scared and demand ‘professional investor’ status or the issues of ‘Key features’ before an investor can buy even if they allow the shares at all. That means we can buy bargains for our clients which the private investor can’t access. We have no constraints. So… if you want to enjoy some of the things we are able to do for clients, then send us some money for a discretionarily managed pot – no advice and there’s no fee to subscribe! You can do this as portfolio, ISA or Pension – whatever is best for you.

Turning Away Clients

Apparently, the majority of advisory firms is declining to take-on new clients. This can be for a number of reasons but being too busy is surely one, let alone the lack of financial viability for the work in some cases too. It does reintroduce an interesting dynamic though – how much do you value your financial adviser? If he is very good, then value him and indeed consider what you pay to keep him so he is there when you need him! (I use the masculine use of the word in English style and not to be sexist of course – there are plenty of great women advisers!).

Risk Warning

Stock market investments can offer income through the payment of dividends and interest and good opportunities for capital appreciation over the longer term. By this, generally we mean periods in excess of five years, preferably much longer. However, we can never promise you particular returns, especially in the short-term. At any point in time but especially in the short term, your capital could be worth less than the original amount invested as some of the selected holdings may fall in value, regardless of expectations at the time of acquisition. We may also invest in funds that hold overseas securities. The value of these investments may increase or decrease as a result of changes in currency exchange rates. Returns achieved in the past cannot be relied upon to be repeated.

To remind you, why do I send out occasional emails? Because everyone can save money. We have no connection with any companies mentioned and you have to make your own contacts and satisfy your own enquiries. What is in it for us? If we can prove that we are knowledgeable and that our service and advice have good value, then you might contact us for professional financial planning and investment help. You don’t have to do that though and there’s no charge for emails. If simply they save you money, then accept them with our compliments! However, you’ll know where we are!

If you have any queries of any form or indeed any subjects you think I could include, please contact me. I also refer you to our website We celebrate our 35th anniversary in 2020 and have been publishing a well-respected independent column in the local Paper for most of that time and free client newsletters as well.

Do not forget however the usual caveats – this is not ‘advice’ and you are encouraged to seek that before embarking upon any financial route involving investments, etc.

My best wishes

Philip J Milton DipFS CFPCM Chartered MCSI FPFS FCIB
Chartered Wealth Manager
Fellow Of The Personal Finance Society, Fellow Of The Chartered Institute Of Bankers