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Target’s strong holiday numbers prove retailers don’t need Black Friday anymore

Target has announced that in 2021, it will once again stay closed on Thanksgiving Day.

It’s easy to understand why the retailer is confident enough to state its plans for a key holiday this far in advance: it doesn’t need to be open on Turkey Day anymore.

Target said on Wednesday that comparable sales, a metric that blends online sales and business at stores in operation for at least a full year, rose 17.2%, continuing its red-hot streak of sales gains since the pandemic broke. And that was despite being closed on Thanksgiving, a day that had become in the 2010s the kick-off to the Black Friday shopping extravaganza as store openings started at an earlier and earlier time. (Walmart set the tone in July 2020 by being the first major chain to say it would skip Thanksgiving store hours, giving Target and others cover to do the same. … Read the rest

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SJP to chop 200 roles after review

Wealth manager St James’s Place is to cut 200 jobs from its workforce following a review of the business.

The company says it has been carrying out a strategic review for the past 12 months and identified some duplication of tasks and some unnecessary work which made a number of jobs redundant.

Staff were informed about the changes this morning with some set to be offered voluntary redundancy or, in some cases, a transfer to other roles within the company.

About 1 in 10 of the company’s 2,000 staff will go.

The company has stressed that the changes have been planned for some time are not related to recent calls from activist investor Primestone for a major shake-up of the business.

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It is not believed any of the 4,300 advisers or partners who trade under the SJP banner are directly affected by the job reduction.

SJP CEO Andrew

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3 things to watch for in A.I. in 2021

New developments in artificial intelligence may seem trivial compared to recent events like the Capitol riots in which pro-Trump rioters attempted to subvert the election.

But 2021 will likely be a big year for A.I., and with a new White House administration soon in place, there may be a clearer set of national A.I. policies that will trickle down to the business world. 

Here are three key themes to watch out for:

Federal A.I. funding gets a boost

On New Year’s Day, the U.S. Senate voted to overturn President Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act and authorize $741 billion for defense spending, including the creation of a number of A.I.-related polices. Among the reasons Trump opposed the defense bill was the absence of a provision to repeal Section 230, which gives legal protections to Internet companies that host user-generated content. 

Although the defense bill was mostly geared toward … Read the rest

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Kelly exits as Sesame Bankhall reshuffles exec team

Adviser network Sesame Bankhall Group has given expanded roles to Richard Howells and Ross Liston as part of an exec reshuffle.

As part of the changes, Jim Kelly, group business development director, will leave Sesame Bankhall but intends to continue to be involved in the financial services sector.

Mr Howells will move from his current role as managing director of Sesame Network to become Sesame Bankhall Group’s chief operating officer.

He will oversee the delivery of services to 11,000 advisers and will be responsible for the development of IT and digital and data systems.

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Mr Liston, currently managing director of Bankhall and PMS Mortgage Club, becomes Sesame Bankhall Group’s new managing director for distribution.

His role will include responsibility for Sesame Network, marketing and events teams. He will also lead relationship management and client engagement activity across the group’s three brands: Sesame, Bankhall, and PMS.

Both will continue

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These Fortune 500 companies are halting contributions to Republicans (and Democrats) in the wake of Capitol attacks

For years, Wall Street, and Corporate America more broadly, were willing to put up with President Trump’s often erratic behavior because he delivered the tax cuts, deregulation and tariff reforms they wanted.

But last week’s deadly attack on the Capitol in which mobs of his supporters stormed the heart of American democracy, egged on by the departing President and some of his allies in Congress, as lawmakers sought to ratify the victory of President-elect Joe Biden, was a step too far.

Now, some large corporations, like hotel operator Marriott International and insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield are halting donations to Republican lawmakers who sought to disrupt the certification of Biden’s victory. Others, notably Wall Street giants Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan are temporarily halting political donations altogether.

“We will not support candidates who do not support the law,” Citi head of global government affairs Candi Wolff told staff in an internal … Read the rest

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Third of UK children concerned about retirement

Nearly a third of schoolchildren are concerned about saving enough for retirement, according to a new survey of young people.

Despite retirement being 50 years away or more a survey by Scottish Widows found that more than a third of school-aged children (37%) were worried about managing their finances when they are older.

At the ages of 11-14, nearly a third of pupils (30%) say they are already worried about saving enough for retirement. This rises to nearly four in 10 (39%) 15-18-year-olds.

More than eight out of ten (87%) young people thought they should be taught about pensions to prepare them for adult life.

A third of all children (32%) say retirement is something they will “definitely” save up for when they are older. This was a higher percentage than those planning to put money aside to start a family or get married.

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The research uncovered that

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Apple, Amazon remove Parler over accusations the platform helped incite Capitol attacks

Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. are removing Parler from their services, part of a growing backlash after the social media network was among those used to organize Wednesday’s riots at the Capitol.

Apple dropped Parler from its App Store, while Amazon’s cloud unit decided to stop hosting the social media company starting Sunday night. They joined Alphabet Inc.’s Google, which removed the app from its Google Play store on Friday, saying that it created an “ongoing and urgent public safety threat.”

Parler, which is popular with extremist groups seeking an alternative to more mainstream social media sites, has come under fire since the storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. The move by the tech companies will leave Parler ending the weekend without easy access to virtually all of the world’s smartphone users, and scrambling to find a new company to host its services.

Apple’s decision came a day after the … Read the rest

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FSCS declares 13 firms in default in 2 months

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) has declared 13 firms in default during November and December including several wealth management and Financial Planning firms.

A declaration of default by the FSCS opens the door to compensation for clients who can now submit claims to the FSCS.

Among the firms declared in default in the past two months are Optimus Wealth Management Limited (London EC1), Ober Private Clients Limited (Manchester), Walker Woodhead Financial Planning Limited of Bury, Lancs and Dexia PAM Limited (formerly Pembroke Asset Management) of London SE1.

Many of the firms went into administration or liquidation some time ago.

The full of firms in default is below:

November 2020 – 9 firms

  • Barnbeck Limited t/a Brecks Saab, FRN: 312552, Great North Way, Nether Poppleton, York, North Yorkshire YO26 6RB
  • Dexia PAM Limited formerly Pembroke Asset Management Ltd t/a Day Hartley & Pembroke Limited, FRN: 116383, Shackleton House, 4 Battle
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How a data scientist beat the polls by nailing the Georgia senate race

The week of the Georgia senatorial elections, I’ve been following the forecasts by Northwestern University data scientist Tom Miller, who bested most of the polls in the presidential race by missing the margin of Joe Biden’s victory by just 12 electoral college votes. In fact, Miller’s only major wrong call was forecasting a Trump win in Georgia. This time, Miller learned from his misreading of the Peach State and the nailed the outcomes of the two senatorial races. Just after midnight on January 5, Miller predicted Democratic challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff would sweep both races, defeating Senators would Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue by 2% and 1% respectively.

In the final count, Warnock prevailed 50.9% to 49.1%, a margin of 1.8 points, while Ossoff won 50.5% to 49.5%, or by 1 point. Miller was just .2% off on Warnock vs Loeffler, and hit the precise mark on … Read the rest

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Editor’s Column: Time to kick the gloom into touch

 

So are 4,000 regulated firms really going to collapse this year as the FCA has warned this week could happen?

The short answer is probably not although the FCA’s warning should be taken seriously.

There’s no doubt that while Financial Planning has done remarkably well since lockdown that’s not a universal experience and many financial services firms are suffering to varying degrees.

Many regulated firms have been hit. Indeed few of the companies we cover have reported anything but a bumpy ride over the past nine months. Where I disagree with the FCA is the suggestion that thousands of firms could fail this year because they probably won’t.

According to the FCA’s Coronavirus Financial Resilience Surveys published this week 59% of regulated firms have seen their income hit during the pandemic with some of these seeing income drop by a quarter.

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The FCA’s survey suggested that 4,000 firms 

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