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Pandemic pushes 154,000 into early retirement

Over 154,000 people aged 55-64 have opted for early retirement due to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report.

The LV= Wealth and Wellbeing Monitor found that over 154,000 people aged 55-64 have opted for early retirement because of redundancy and reduced income.

A desire to reduce their risk of exposure to Coronavirus or the pandemic made them reassess their priorities in life, the research revealed.

The LV= research among those who were still working at the start of 2020 revealed that 3% of those aged 55-64 have taken early retirement due to the pandemic.

The research also found that 4% of those aged 55-64 have accessed some of their pensions savings to supplement their income because they have been made redundant or seen their earnings decline.

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The LV= research also highlighted that people were often unprepared for early retirement.

Of those surveyed, 86%

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Google outs suspected North Korean hackers

Google security researchers are warning people to be on the lookout for a squad of sly hackers believed to be North Korean agents.

Like last year’s Twitter VIP account takeovers, the newly discovered hacking campaign, unveiled Monday, shows the effectiveness of so-called social engineering—or good old-fashioned trickery. In this case, the hackers lured victims by presenting themselves, through fake online personas, as friendly computer security pros.

The attackers sought first to establish their reputations. They did this, in part, by uploading doctored YouTube videos of supposed hacks to show off their skills. (“A careful review of the video shows the exploit is fake,” Google researchers noted.) They also blogged about the inner workings of software vulnerabilities, sometimes impersonating legitimate cybersecurity experts in “guest” author posts.

After building credibility, the hackers moved to ensnare their marks. They sent messages to cybersecurity pros using a variety of channels: Twitter, … Read the rest

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1825 CEO Scott exits for Royal London

Julie Scott, chief executive of Standard Life Aberdeen’s Financial Planning arm 1825 for the past four years, is leaving for a new role as chief customer officer at Royal London.

Her departure follows a number of job cutbacks and changes at 1825 last October.

Ms Scott holds the roles of CEO of 1825 and interim lead for Personal business at Standard Life Aberdeen.

In a revamp of its UK Adviser & Personal divisions SLA is now looking for a CEO of its Personal arm. In the interim, Noel Butwell, chief executive of the Adviser arm, will act as CEO of Personal.

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Also in the UK Adviser & Personal divisions David Mouille, formerly of Citi Bank and Merrill Lynch, has joined the corporate development team and will report to James Aird. He will support growth in the Personal sector.

1825 has made a eight acquisitions in the past five

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Clubhouse reaches a $1 billion after taking off some nine months ago

It’s hard to understate the buzz around Clubhouse, the social media startup that reached a reported $100 million valuation when it had just 1,500 users.

Now some nine months after its launch, the company revealed over the weekend that it had raised another round of funding led again by Andreessen Horowitz’s Andrew Chen. While the company did not disclose a valuation, a source familiar with the matter says the company is now valued at $1 billion even though it has yet to post a revenue. The Information previously reported that the company had received interest to raise at the unicorn status.

Free to all users and currently operating without ads, Clubhouse currently boasts an estimated 200 million weekly active users on the back of its voice-based chatrooms. With the additional funding, the company says it plans to create an Android app, start a program that allows creators to get … Read the rest

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FSCS levy to soar by a third to top £1bn

 

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme is forecasting a levy for 2021/22 of £1.04bn, up £339m from the £700m raised the previous year due mainly to soaring numbers of claims.

The FSCS expects continuing failures in the SIPP sector and says the cost of compensating victims of the collapsed mini-bond firm London Capital & Finance is much higher than expected.

The FSCS said in its Annual Plan and Budget out today: “We expect further failures of self-invested personal pension (SIPP) operators. Claims in relation to SIPP operators are forecast to account for £336m of the Investment Provision’s anticipated £345m compensation costs. The compensation cost for this class is a significant (89%) increase on 2020/21, mainly due to expectations that firms in this sector may fail.”

Because of rising claims the FSCS will go ahead with a supplementary levy of £78m to be invoiced in February although the FSCS said this was

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The founder who decided to to stop fundraising and instead hold onto her equity

This is an installment of Startup Year One, a special series of interviews with founders about the major lessons they have learned in the immediate aftermath of their businesses’ first year of operation.

Many founders fall into the trap of believing that fundraising is a rite of passage in the startup world. But it can also be hugely distracting, discouraging, and if you are a female, the odds aren’t good, to put it politely.

Former Air Force pilot and self-described serial entrepreneur Riley Rees initially went the traditional route with her startup, Sofia Health. Founded in 2019, Sofia Health is a digital platform for connecting prospective patients with physicians and specialists in western, alternative, and holistic medicine.

Estimated to be worth $120.8 billion, the mental wellness market was recently defined for the first time by the Global Wellness Institute as consisting of four sub-segments: self-improvement; meditation and mindfulness; … Read the rest

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Editor’s Column: FSCS levy reform can’t come too soon

If I was a Financial Planner I would likely be infuriated by the news today from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme forecasting a levy on regulated firms of over £1bn over the next 12 months, up 30% on the previous year.

The seemingly inexorable increase in the levy has undoubtedly left many advisers hopping mad but perhaps it’s time for some cooler thinking.

It’s too often forgotten that the levy pays for invaluable compensation for consumers who have lost money due to their adviser or provider failing.

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That seems to me a worthwhile job and I suspect most planners and advisers accept that too. Ditching the safety-net is not an option.

One could argue the protection is too generous and that consumers should take more responsibility for their investments but ultimately the FSCS underpins consumer protection in the UK. It’s not a perfect solution but for investors who

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How I tripled my money in bitcoin—then lost almost half of it

This is the web version of Data Sheet, a daily newsletter on the business of tech. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox. 

Fortune’s quarterly investment package came out this week and it’s filled with stories about tech.

That’s probably not surprising given that tech stocks have been surging for a while now. The S&P 500’s tech sector gained 44% last year versus 18% for the overall index. Collectively, the big six–Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Tesla, and Facebook–are now worth over $8 trillion. To some it’s an obvious bubble, to others a logical response to the winners of the year of COVID.

With tech’s big sway in the stock market, I’m benefitting indirectly and so are you, most likely. All of my investments are in mutual funds, mainly low-cost index funds, and they’re topped up with the big six and other … Read the rest

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FSCS £1bn levy warning is a ‘scandal’ – PIMFA

Wealth manager trade body PIMFA has attacked the FSCS forecast today of a £1bn compensation levy as a “scandal” which points to regulation failing consumers and firms.

The trade association said the industry has reacted with “disbelief” over the plans for a levy a third higher than the previous year amid a backdrop of soaring claims and firm failures.

PIMFA says the soaring FSCA levy highlights that urgent regulatory reform is needed.

Tim Fassam, director of government relations and Policy at PIMFA , said the soaring cost of the levy is a symptom of a system that is out of control.

PIMFA wants the Treasury to find an alternative way of funding the FSCS levy which is used to compensate savers and investors when their provider has failed.

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The levy has soared due to pensions and SIPP failures and the collapse of £236m mini-bond firm London Capital &

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A Loon comes down to earth

This is the web version of Term Sheet, a daily newsletter on the biggest deals and dealmakers. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox. 

It was an admittedly loony project in the first place: Loon, a much-hyped project aiming to deliver internet via helium balloons, will be shuttered, Google’s parent company Alphabet said late Thursday.

Formed nearly ten years ago within the tech giant’s “moonshot”-focused research lab, X, the hope was to use the balloons to send internet service into areas that have limited to no internet access. While the numbers are hard to come by, an estimated 3 billion to 4 billion people in the world today still can’t shop online (or read this newsletter).

So it makes sense that many tech giants and flashy billionaires view the practice as a major business opportunity: Elon Musk has Starlink; Richard Branson and SoftBank have OneWeb; Jeff … Read the rest