|Well, April 5 has happened and year-end investment reports will be produced now. We were manically busy in the run-up to the tax-year end but some people still missed the deadlines for Pensions and ISAs, people who are really in the ‘must use’ camp. We do try!|
We also had considerable funds ready for applications on April 6; best to be earlier in the year to avoid the rush at the end!
So, how will values be? Overall, they will be fair. It’s really been a quarter of two halves, what with Ukraine ramifications manifesting themselves. Some special situations were adversely affected, without compensating bonuses elsewhere but mainstream UK value has shone.
Showing the strangeness, for the month of March, we have exposure to four of the top five of all Investment Trusts in performance terms but we also found ourselves in three of the bottom five (excluding Russia). No-one could have predicted that! Fortunately, the sums we have in the gainers are far bigger than the losers incidentally! The top winner was a mainstream Canadian Income Trust (I mean, who would have that… but we did, as it was far too cheap, regardless of having the ‘right assets’ to respond to the Ukrainian situation as well). Thank you very much!
I also have a headline which reads ‘Worse Government Bond Market since 1914’ – which reflects how bad (or good?) the inflation and related interest spike has made it for those ‘safe’ ‘investment grade bonds’. It has actually ‘inverted yield curves’ too – what does that mean you may ask! Ten year US Treasuries now yield over 2.6% – their highest since 2019 and five times more than their low. ‘Safe investments’ for many will suddenly be looking very poor and Transfer Values for Deferred Pensions will be dropping chunkily, as rates on government bonds are a core factor in actuaries’ calculations.
In this blog, there are also facts on how much natural resource is required for greening our energy production too. Enjoy…
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Quoted investment funds
As we keep saying, most advisers and management firms don’t use these for clients. It makes no odds to us what we use – we can and do buy what we consider is the best thing for clients and from anywhere, anybody and any fund management group. If you want to know why most firms buy ‘unitised’ funds direct from the management companies, I can tell you and the reasons for that – they aren’t all good for the client, I can assure you!
There are more than 400 quoted investment funds on the London Stock Exchange. These are quoted companies, such as Marks and Spence or BP, but all they do is hold investors’ money and invest it for them. When you want to participate, you buy shares from someone who sells them to you, or you apply for new shares when the company floats or raises more money on the markets.
We like them over ‘unitised’ holdings for a number of reasons but do indeed sell-up when we think they are fully valued. A core reason we buy them is because so often we can buy in Trusts at discounts – effectively buying £1’s worth of underlying holdings at say 80p. On top of this, many Funds borrow some money and if they do so and pay very low interest rates (as now), they can make more return on the debt and that all goes to shareholders. These two primary reasons will mean that for us, the average Investment Trust will outperform the average unitised fund, whatever it is and even cheap ‘index-trackers’, because we have a double head start but you must look beyond the headline ‘charges’ figure to stop deceiving yourself about what something ‘costs’.
It is frustrating when so many in our industry look naively only at the headline ‘costs’ of management and none of the extra benefits. They buy a ‘cheap’ passive costing say 0.25%pa yet are guaranteed to underperform us because we can start by buying hundreds of pounds’ worth of Pound coins for £75 and yes, often that special attraction is unlocked – even the Company closes-down and gives everyone their money back (if it doesn’t happen, we don’t care as we still enjoy the capital and income return of that £1’s worth of managed assets for only 75p!).
Today we have no unitised funds. All our collectives are quoted funds and each with special reasons for the purchase – many are very compelling indeed. If you are not with us, unless you are an investment specialist, I assure you, you will not have these types of funds but instead you will have unitised holdings, whether these are in your Portfolio, Bond, ISA, Pension or whatever. If you want to investigate this edge (a difference which can easily pay all the fees we charge for both the management and the advisory guidance and oversight), then it is time you joined us and our Exclusive Club.
That leads me on… M&G has decided to sell all its Quoted Trusts in its ex-Prudential insurance funds… what a silly move and making a short-term opportunity for the few of us who buy in this space, as they are selling ‘at any prices’, so not securing best value for their investors. For us, we’ll take a few of them and enjoy the short-term opportunity which a cheaper price gives us – and trim when ‘normality’ returns…
It is bemusing of these bigger money management companies however… how to sell a large line of something… inform the market it’s coming, then engage brokers effectively to sell at pretty much any price (prices already marked-down in anticipation) and wonder why you haven’t achieved very great returns for all the afflicted investors in their ‘unitised’ holdings (see above!). M&G could easily have dribbled-out lines of stock over an extended period, optimising prices as it went and yet investors trust these big guys with their billions; that’s not how we do it, I assure you! We’re tiny but even then, sometimes with more esoteric holdings we dribble-out stock over months but we do it that way as it achieves best prices and doesn’t disrupt the market. Yes, it’s loads more work for us but we know it’s just another way we can eke-out an extra percentage or two over the typical year and lo! That’s all clients’ fees covered just because of ‘how’ we do things and not what we happen to be holding at all – financial planning and taxation advice and guidance are extra bonuses on top then!
A frustrated global consumer base, all cooped-up and unable to spend bulging savings and with trillions pumped into the system to counter the Pandemic economic reaction, is a sure recipe for hyper-inflation. Add-in supply chain disruption and then a war, with tight employment markets and throw-in an over-zealous ‘greening’ (in simple practical terms of how quickly the world can change) and it means inflationary increases haven’t finished yet. This massive and necessary global change (Climate Change reaction) adds colossal costs, regulation, politicisation, pariah-status treatment for ‘bad’ industries and exacerbates disruption to the supply chain of many of the very commodities required to achieve the climate saving goals. This is before realising ‘we’ have forced fossil fuel companies to dump dirty subsidiaries to unfriendly nations (yes, Russia and China amongst them) and are now reaping the results of our vulnerability. This is the recipe for stagflation.
However, in fact it is not a new set of circumstances and it has been suggested it is similar to 1946-8 though of course WW2 was far, far worse than Covid’s ravages. The good news is that ‘supply and demand’ did settle again, as the markets reacted, yet US inflation rose from 3.1% to 20.1% in March 1947. During this time, the 140million previously rationed Americans bought 20million fridges, 21.4million cars and 5.5million stoves. It all settled-down comfortably and surprisingly the Stock Market managed to look after itself – as we remember that quoted companies which can increase their goods and services’ prices to reflect inflation are one of the best ways of protecting savings from the increases. Those with $1 in their bank account though saw its real value drop to 79.9c in just one year.
Yes, it is still out there and we continue to be astonished at how people who have had money appear (inheritance or whatever) are so susceptible to scams. We’re not blaming ‘them’ (or you if you have some) but please DON’T USE AN UNREGULATED ENTITY.
Don’t also buy property speculations over the internet – whether it’s a fabled ‘flat in a Manchester development’ or something in Cardiff offering ‘guaranteed rental returns of x%’ or a holiday lodge for investment. When it goes wrong you have no protection whatsoever and anyway, you don’t need to do this – there are plenty of great opportunities on the mainstream markets for proper investments. Use an advisory or investment management firm like us and if we are negligent you can go to the Financial Ombudsman Service and claim up to £375,000 each and there is ultimate protection available through the FSCS as well if the firm you use goes bust, even when we don’t hold clients’ assets anyway so they are separately protected – they are all with independent global custodians.
Sadly, we have been informed of yet another ‘secure loan firm’ being unable to pay its interest, surprise, surprise. So the promised 7.5%pa from Astute Capital used to fund residential property developments, backed by mortgages over the properties, bonds listed on the Vienna Exchange (the what?) – you don’t need to do that and PLEASE – DON’T.
How stupid are we all with our financial decisions?
Now please bear with me… but this is why we need guidance and advice, especially if we are not amongst the talented! Well-known comedian, Mr John Cleese, who has produced many management and training guides and videos in his time, refers to social psychologist and psychology Professor, David Dunning from Cornell University, who has conducted tests into ‘stupidity’. And in a nutshell, the problem is that if we are very, very stupid, he ascertained that we would not know – because it takes a degree of relative intelligence to recognise that we are that stupid in the first place!
So in order to know how good you are at a skill, you need to have the same capability in that skill to be able to adjudge that you are good at it! The flip side is that if you are absolutely no good at a particular skill at all, you also lack the ability of knowing that you are no good at that skill…
Now, once that is out of the way, isn’t it time that you entrusted your financial assets to a Firm which is good at what it does and can adjudge the levels of comparative skill that it has (without, I trust, being arrogant!) and that when you don’t possess those specific skills (and with the relevant acumen, experience and so on), it is time you used a Firm like us which you can trust to do its very best for you and it can use those skills for your benefit?
Gas-fired turbines v green energy production
One 100mw natural gas-fired turbine needs 300 tonnes of iron ore, 2,000 tonnes of concrete and 100 tonnes of speciality metals and minerals – roughly the size of a residential house. To generate the same output from wind turbines takes 20 x 500-foot-high wind turbines, which have needed 30,000 tonnes of iron ore, 50,000 tonnes of concrete, 900 tonnes of non-recyclable plastics, 1,000 tonnes of speciality metals and minerals (eg copper) and cover 10 square miles. If ever these decisions and issues were binary…!
Paying to a recipient’s bank
It’s great these days that most banks now confirm that the bank details you are about to use for payment are ‘correct’ before you press ‘send’. However, a client reminded us to be careful! If emails have been hacked, then fraudsters can pretend to be your solicitor, financial adviser or whatever and then send you a message – or intercept messages and change the bank details for a genuine firm to their own.
I don’t say this to frighten anyone but sometimes it can be worth sending £1 and seeking receipt confirmation from the genuine firm first! It’s sad too though isn’t it, when sometimes for larger sums I have to say – a cheque is safer! (It also avoids internet daily limits set by most banks). We also have our Bank details on our website so these can be checked.
Our Charitable Foundation has been pleased to support ROTOM recently and also to send an ambassador from the Milton Family!
The Charity supports elderly people in Uganda. Upon her return, trainee nurse Leonie was asked to provide an interview with the local radio station. Well done Leonie! Here it is if you wish to listen-in to her experience! Leonie on The Voice FM
Here is an article too: Nursing students volunteer in ‘eye opening’ Uganda mission
We are pleased to see that the FCA is looking again at this market, where the average money withdrawn is £125,000 apparently. There are big fat commissions to those selling the stuff and we have seen some horrors which should never, ever, have happened in the first place, as the problems we come across with some people have never really been made clear to those taking the debt.
I fear too many think this stuff is like candy from a sweet shop. It is not and for most of the enquiries we see, it is very rare to be our recommendation and we have no axe to grind.
Philip J Milton DipFS CFPCM Chartered MCSI FPFS FCIB
Chartered Wealth Manager