Better after the storm

The FTSE250 saw its biggest rise in a long time

I hope that your hatches are battened-down adequately against the latest storm bringing wild and wet conditions across much of the UK. Do keep safe.

So after a law firm’s review, Nat West shares plunged more on the comments into the shenanigans over the attempted removal of Mr Nigel Farage’s account than the latest quarter’s accounts suggest. It was and is a poor show and has created a storm of similar complaints from individuals who also had marching orders from the Bank (and others it seems) for spurious reasons. Just imagine, it seems your bank could decide that it doesn’t want you, simply because a staff member(s) disagreed with your politics, your hobbies or other matters of potential discrimination and decided to create trouble for you, so making a case to eject you. Even Klarna has now stopped shooting entities offering its services as it decrees them ‘unethical’ – just imagine – encouraging people to buy stuff they can’t afford on credit isn’t unethical… hmmm.

The Nat West Farage case, like him or not, is one of the worst backfiring cases of ‘managing reputational issues’ I can recall for a long time – the Bank’s Ratners’ moment…. The FCA is now reviewing Nat West’s processes and governance and that won’t go away in a hurry. The biggest shareholder by far is still HM Government…

Anyway, today is a better day for the UK markets. Investors will be pleased to hear with one of the biggest rises on the FTSE250 for a long time. The Fed’s comments on likely interest rate policy have been welcomed by the markets and especially the battered real estate sector too with some significant gains. Of course it will never be universal and yesterday GRIT Real Estate shares slumped on a great presentation of where the Business is and when it is going but a cut dividend didn’t help. 10% of its tenants are now US embassies so pretty strong security. I suspect most of these general positive moves are as much on the back of the government bond market where bond yields fell significantly on the Fed’s comments.

However, regardless but to great extent when certain assets are so oversold anyway as ‘now’, there becomes an inevitability that a bounce will happen – without needing a catalyst which the ‘market’ has to try to invent after the event – it can simply be that the selling stops and a little buying (without much supply) has an exponential effect on prices. I have referred before to the coin flipping from heads to tails – one swallow doesn’t make a summer but maybe that happened yesterday and of course, the month of October is over – always superstitiously seen as a worrying month for shares from past collapses (and the great storm of 1987). However, it is still not time to sell but time to buy with some great income flows accessible, as far as we interpret matters.

Finally, forgive me for taking the moment to note that Director Mr Felix Milton is marrying his fiancée Emma on Saturday and then disappearing for his honeymoon! We trust they will return fully refreshed and he will be full of stories about Nosy Be and then South Africa, Emma’s homeland! Naturally our very best wishes to them both and for their life together. I am sure the investment each of them is making in the commitment together will be rewarded handsomely over the years, even if Mum and Dad’s wallets will take a while to be replenished!

More good news

Only a tiddler this time but still adding £200,000 to aggregate client assets on the news, yet another closed-ended fund announces a restructuring – our 13th this year. Starvest is proposing to close-down and the shares jump 60% on the day and since more than doubling from its very recent low. It plans to distribute its two largest assets to shareholders. As I say, this bonus is an ‘extra’ for investors who were in the fund for a particular purpose but closing-down unlocks the deep discount to the net asset value.

Our clients have a raft of these types of investment vehicles so there will be more – all returns extra to what the market gives us already. If you or your adviser only uses unitised holdings then you will never see such bonus because there is never a ‘discount’ to the value of the underlying assets in the fund.

Top 100 Financial Advisers

Thank you to Citywire New Model Adviser too for again announcing we are in the ‘Top 100’ ‘which celebrates the best of the professional financial planning community’

Top 100 2023: See the penultimate 25 firms on the list (

Taxing matters

We hear that HMRC is sending letters to people saying they don’t need to complete a Tax Return any more. That might sound like great news but it is not, when you have a tax liability or are likely to have a liability! For example, the increase in the State Pension means from April it will be nudging the Personal Allowance for many people. If you have a PAYE pension as well, your coding will adjust to cover but if you don’t, how else can you calculate and then pay the tax? If you don’t, the Taxman will find you through his back door enquiries and penalise you later with interest and fines.

On top of this, the investment income allowances for dividends and interest have already been cut too. Capital Gains Tax allowances are also much lower. This also means that more people will be obliged to complete a Tax Form. In itself, for many people this incurs a new ‘tax’ then, they have to engage a professional firm (like ourselves – we are very economic and efficient!) to do this for them and so the bill, however small, is an extra cost – a new ‘tax’. Don’t forget too that the Return has to cover details of all your income so not just the bit creating the tax bill. (We’ll also try to guide you on saving tax, etc so that helps soften the blow!). Chancellor? Please relent and remove the cuts to ease the administrative pressures! It won’t cost much lost tax!

I have to say that there is merit in considering the system in some other countries which demands that everyone does a Tax Form anyway – otherwise, how can the State know exactly how its tax policies can impact its revenues etc if it doesn’t know everyone’s tax details? However, that would be unpopular here!


A shocking article in the FT by Professor of Finance Aswath Damodaran at the Stern School of Business at New York University adds a rather different slant to investing for perceived good reasons – environmental, social and governance.

ESG is beyond redemption: may it RIP (

I have never seen such a candid rendition. He says so many things which should make the ‘industry’ do some navel gazing and we said at the time when it was all the flavour – was ‘ethical investing’ simply another latest excuse to market (at big profit) concepts to investors to entice them to invest, on the possible misrepresentation they would be doing ‘some good’ by their subscriptions? Sadly too, many scams also took place on the back of ‘doing good’ and institutions (let alone individual investors) did not do the same degree of due diligence before investing significant sums in them and lining the promoters’ pockets quite unethically…

Unfortunately many well-intended investors have found already that what they thought they were buying has cost them dearly in return terms. They have had an excessive link to high risk technology investments and also renewables where financing and assured prices for energy generated (or not generated) were not as safe as was presented either.

He says ‘ESG scores measure everything. Consequently they measure nothing’. Is he right? We have also long-noted that all investments are aware of these issues and already have to adapt their businesses, etc to react to the demands placed upon them by their stakeholders – customers, employees, suppliers, communities, shareholders, regulators and governments… This even includes ‘bad’ companies where the pressures from without either force change for ‘good’ or force them out of business.

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


Risk Warning

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