Political shenanigans & stable UK markets

Hand pointing at financial market graph
The markets and Sterling have been relatively stable despite recent political upheaval in the UK
So I grab a week’s trip to visit our daughter in Malta doing a four-week Elective in the Valetta Hospital and I can’t trust you to look after our Prime Minister in that time. I don’t know. The markets and currency have been most resilient – as an ‘uncertainty’ about the possible ongoing uncertainty is replaced simply by the uncertainty of ‘who’ will now follow and what they will be like.

Whilst there is a general clamour and the ‘blood-seeking, baying hordes’ against Boris, whatever one’s views on him, many will rue the day of the departure. The fair-weather or non-descript politicians who love to commentate or poke from the side-lines may well have a very rude awakening down the line when they realise their egos don’t quite carry his (albeit marmite) charisma and clout. That’s not making any comment for or against but a simple factual discernment of the future, that’s all.  
Talking of Malta – a lovely place with some beautiful spots, food and culture but very hot too! However, it is bizarre when we reflect upon the rhetoric we are ‘told’ and remembering that Malta is in the EU, to see the Russian Cultural Centre open… and not seeing a single solar panel anywhere, despite the capacity to install these on roofs, unseen (to avoid damaging the built heritage).
They could then not only generate electricity for everyone’s necessary Aircon but cutting the 96% import of Sicilian fossil-fuel generated electricity under the Med and also cooling the very same buildings by absorbing some heat.
This is what is so wrong with misguided zealots’ protests here – the UK is doing far more than others (and paying more than it should for its energy in taxes) for our 1% footprint on global carbon output but too many countries are still doing little or nothing, regardless of what they’ve signed as civilised nations.
Still, the EU has now agreed that Natural Gas and Nuclear are clean energies for net zero targets and regulations.    

A look at markets and currency  

It has been quite sobering to read that the US S&P500 had its worst half year drop since 1970 (down 21%), the more evenly balanced (but less supported) Dow Jones its worst first half year since 1962 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq down almost 30% for its worst half-year start. It’s been far safer in the UK, though even then, the FTSE250 slipped 20%. The main UK indices – the FTSE100 and FTSEAllShare, have big (primarily non ‘ethical’) multinational energy, defence, banks, mining and tobacco companies within them and negligible tech. Yes, they’re still down but the difference is considerable.
We don’t like losing anything at any time – none of us does and whilst our clients have drifted since their January 5 valuations and that is not what we’d have hoped conversely, to have not dropped by such headline figures as ‘most investors’ elsewhere these days (who now hold some forms of global ‘passive’ funds dominated by those big US assets), is helpful.
At about the same time, the Euro has slipped to its lowest ever levels against the US Dollar; I haven’t seen that reported extensively but very interesting (32% drop since the 2011 peak). The Dollar is seriously mispriced presently – as is Sterling and the Yen for the opposite reasons. Yes, there are plenty of very attractive long-term assets with generous incomes out there and at very attractive prices now and worthy of exploitation – but not in big US Tech, I add.

I don’t expect to see it noted in the ‘Socialist Weekly’ either, but some of the previously richest people aren’t so flush now. I know it’s all relative but the US Tech bubble-melt has seen the leaders lose significant ‘value’ in their shareholdings. In a way, I guess they can never access their money anyway – a whiff of wholesale ‘sale’ and the stocks would plummet anyway. However, it is suggested Elon Musk is down over $70billion, Jeff Bezos down $65billion and Mark Zuckerberg down $64billion. Apparently the wealthiest 500 have lost $1.4trillion this year already.

You will have noted that I have been very reserved on ‘cryptocurrency’ too – you know, Bitcoin and things. The losses there have been huge too (over $1trillion) but then, you know my thoughts – ‘it’ is not regulated, has no substance, no unique use which cannot be substituted by something else, no real scarcity of supply in tangible terms and well… I shan’t go on. Even the so-called ‘stable coins’ which are meant to be backed by real assets… well… why? And of course the whole field is a great stomping ground for the fraudster – apparently one-in-six fraud cases reported involve ‘cryptocurrency’ and also people pinching coins from ‘secure wallets’. Please just don’t participate – have a flutter on the horses instead if you really must. It’s not ‘investment’.


Sloppy reporting  

I should laud the fact that we made the Sunday Times again on June 19 but frankly, it was sloppy reporting by Ali Hussain. He seems to not like financial advisers and anything investment-wise, other than the peddling of ‘cheap passives’, despite that strategy unwinding significantly since the New Year.   Of course he is entitled to his views but our dialogue over the Blue Planet fiasco left him ignoring so many of the facts but instead he relied upon the contact he says he had from a ‘client of ours’ (though we suspect someone actually connected to Blue Planet itself as our clients wouldn’t have inferred what he noted has been said to him!).
Well, he doesn’t authenticate his sources despite being challenged on that point, that’s for sure and nor does he check market information including the extent of our ownership of this Trust. He is keen to flag things despite the Trust only representing 0.5% of our total client assets – meaning that 99.5% of our assets are in other things about which he doesn’t care.  
He reports ‘statements’ as if they are quotations from me whereas they were from Blue Planet, all about ‘risks’ and things like that, as if he (or they) have any idea about how we manage clients’ capital successfully. I have tried very hard to educate him but it seems a lost cause. And to add insult to injury… he uses an old photograph of me when I had hair – I mean… I have been without for years now!
Unfortunately, the Murray family (owners of 30% of the Trust and managers) are incensed that they have lost not only most of their Family’s financial security by their actions but also their management fees as they have so shrunk the Trust, but they are doing their hardest to somehow turn the attention away from their actions. Hmmm.

The article also gives publicity to Samuels Solicitors in Barnstaple who are in league with Blue Planet and Mr Murray and who have already issued the threat of defamation proceedings against us. Funnily enough I haven’t heard a sausage since. Curious indeed!  

Claims against miscreants  

Over the years we have helped many people secure compensation for negligence, downright fraud and simple bad behaviour. This included the Organic fraud where we ‘inherited’ 1,600 investors, almost all who had been defrauded by shady advisers or those involved with Organic, related ‘brokers’, salesmen or the Resort Group International with its Cape Verde Hotel scams. We have also pursued claims against parasitic claims management companies which have taken up to 48% commission from compensation simply awaiting the poor victims at the FSCS – horrific – including a barrister who was reported to the Bar Council!

However, there is a gap in the legislation (or the FCA is not doing its job) in that if a firm is trading, the rejected complaint goes to the Ombudsman. If an award is then made, no one enforces it if the firm doesn’t pay! This is ridiculous and FCA rules note this is a serious disciplinary matter which could result in strike-off but does it happen?  
We have had two instances now and this is the latest: Client left to courts after CMC failed to pay Fos award  (This was against Claiming4u – Karmen Funding Ltd).  

As you can see, we do our best to publicise such things, to push for action to ensure victims are compensated and firms breaching these important rules are tackled by the FCA. Over the years, the numbers of shams and scams we have raised before the FCA count in the hundreds and sadly too many have continued trading without action for years afterwards in some instances. It seems (as with so many government organisations) that it is easier to attack the complicit, law-abiding and to make them pay up, than it is to act against the law-breakers and close them down.
It is the regulated industry too which pays in every year to fund the FSCS and the FOS and at the end of the day, consumers of legitimate and honest advisers, etc have to pay for that protection. Last week I was informed that a previous miscreant involved with Organic, who then went on to be a director of CMC Money Redress Ltd, has now established a law firm with others to undertake claims – the morality stinks, does it not and they take colossal sums from every claimant.

Remember too that both The Ministry of Justice (which oversees the legal world) and the Financial Conduct Authority encourage investors with concerns and claims against financial advisers to use the FREE services and not lawyers, barristers nor claims companies. The MOJ has said: “It is straightforward to complain to financial firms directly and if necessary to the ombudsman service or FSCS. Complaining yourself is free, and you will keep any compensation you receive without any fees being deducted.”

In fact, claims management companies MUST highlight the free services and if they don’t do that they are breaching regulations. Funnily enough these professions don’t seem to highlight this opportunity and they aren’t charities. If aggrieved investors engage lawyers, even those misrepresenting themselves as ‘no-win-no-fee’ charlatans, they could end up paying considerable fees and defence costs against lost causes full of unsubstantiated allegations.
If you remain concerned about a possible scam or investment loss, why not call the Financial Ombudsman Service on 020 7964 1400 for impartial guidance or check your options in this document, which we are not ashamed of publishing for guidance: https://www.miltonpj.net/documents/Complaints%20Procedure.pdf
With our compliments, we have helped guide hundreds to use free services for genuine claims, especially over the Organic fraud and yes, many have become trusting clients but there was no ulterior motive on our part other than helping these poor victims.


Interesting economic times  

Despite the realities which we can all see and lots of protesting about the cost of living, HMRC tells us quietly that there has been a 44% increase in the numbers of Income Taxpayers now paying higher rates of tax. That is 5.5million people – so when you exclude children, that’s over one in ten adults of all ages. Back to Malta, but the National Living Wage there is half what it is here and the inflationary impact of ‘that’ is quite noticeable, though not in ‘everything’.      


Like it or lump it, it’s here and we all need to work to make the most from the opportunities and limit the financial constraints. I was intrigued to see that we can all now identify retained EU laws which we can scrap.
There is a dashboard of 2,400 laws upon which we can ‘vote’. This will lead to the ‘reforms that will create a crucial boost to productivity and help us bring the benefits of growth to the whole Country.
Have a look here:- https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/retained-eu-law-dashboard    

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