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Brexit-focused Financial Services Bill gets first reading

The Financial Services Bill received its first reading in Parliament this week as the Government focuses on getting the financial services sector ready for Brexit.

The Financial Services Bill is designed to help ensure the UK maintains its “world-leading regulatory standards and remains open to international markets after the UK leaves the EU.”

It was announced in the Queen’s Speech in December 2019. 

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The Bill has been welcomed by the Financial Conduct Authority which said it will help to maintain high standards and provide greater clarity to firms. It particularly welcomed the Bill’s provisions to amend the Benchmarks Regulation, which is intended to help manage and direct an orderly wind-down of critical benchmarks such as LIBOR. The regulator said it will continue its work with the Treasury during the Bill’s passage through Parliament.

PIMFA, the trade association for the wealth management and financial advice industry, also welcomed the

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This startup wants to help you prepare for America’s next disaster

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There are few experiences more harrowing than an earthquake. Ask Dan Kessler. He obsesses about them.

Kessler is the chief executive of Harbor, a startup that aims to help Americans prepare—at least semi-calmly—for the next disaster, from how to pack a “go bag,” to how much water you should stockpile.

To be sure, there will be another disaster. That might not be good for your nerves, but makes for ideal timing for a disaster prep app. America is grappling with a pandemic, a financial crisis, a potentially contested presidential election, another historic hurricane season, and superpowered wildfires on the West Coast.

Harbor tackles two out of these—natural disasters and COVID-19—plus the usual ailments of modern life: car crashes and house fires. (Next on Kessler’s wish … Read the rest

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Editor’s Column: Financial Planning’s golden opportunity

It’s hard to find a silver lining in current Covid cloud but one of them may be a boost to recruiting the next generation of Financial Planners.

One adviser network, Openwork, has even gone as far this week as urging people working in insurance and banking facing redundancy to retrain as advisers and planners, offering the chance to achieve Chartered Financial Planner status.

This makes a lot of sense. We’ve seen huge cutbacks in the banks’ branch networks in recent years with the inevitable loss of jobs. Some insurance companies

too are increasing automation and shedding staff.

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At the same time the Financial Planning sector has been bereft of recruits and the sector has struggled to grow as a results. A bad press in the past has

deterred bright graduates from considering Financial Planning.

That’s changing. Our Financial Planning Jobs service, for example, has seen a surge in

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How to hold the corporate world accountable

On Tuesday, the Justice Department and 11 U.S. states filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google, alleging, “For the sake of American consumers, advertisers, and all companies…the time has come to stop Google’s anticompetitive conduct and restore competition.” 

Yet, despite widespread, bipartisan censure, Google has been celebrated as a leader in “stakeholder capitalism”; its parent company, Alphabet, ranks fifth out of over 900 companies in JUST Capital’s recently released list of businesses that excel in addressing the needs of workers, consumers, communities, and the environment. Why the reputational disconnect?

The answer is the key challenge of the stakeholder capitalism movement: All too often, corporate goodness cannot be adequately measured and assessed. 

But fortunately, that is starting to change.

There is increasing recognition that we need to depart from the past 50 years of “shareholder capitalism,” but less consensus on what that actually means. Influential actors such as the … Read the rest

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Fidelity buys LGIM’s £5.8bn personal investing arm

Fidelity has acquired Legal & General Investment Management’s UK Personal Investing business which manages £5.8bn in assets for 300,000 clients.

The company says the deal, for an undisclosed sum, will double the number of D2C customers using Fidelity’s expanding Personal Investing business.

Fidelity Personal Investing currently has 280,000 customers with £20.3bn assets under management.

The transaction is set to be completed in the next 12 months and follows Fidelity’s recent acquisition of Cavendish Online.

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Fidelity says on transfer, customers will pay the “same or less” than they do with LGIM.

As Fidelity Personal Investing clients they will get access to an investment and pension platform which includes 3,000 funds, shares, investment trusts and exchange-traded funds which can be held in an ISA, SIPP or Investment Account.

The LGIM clients can also access Fidelity’s online guidance services, investment tools and other services.

Stuart Welch, global head of personal investing

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Last night’s debate didn’t change a thing: Biden is still a 2-1 favorite to win, betting market says

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Last night’s debate in Nashville didn’t change the odds of Joe Biden beating Donald Trump to win the presidency on November 3rd.

That’s the verdict from one of the most closely watched political betting markets. Smarkets, a U.K.-based gambling company that allows wagers on political contests as well as sporting events, says Biden’s chances of winning remain unchanged at 67%, while Trump has a 33% chance of retaining the presidency.

The Electoral College forecast also wasn’t shifted by the final presidential debate of the 2020 campaign, with state-by-state wagers implying a 317-221 Electoral College victory for Biden, according to Smarkets.

There was a slight move in Biden’s favor in some key battleground states, according to Smarkets’ betting. The Democrat’s odds of winning Florida ticked up slightly … Read the rest

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LCF pay-outs reach £38.1m as claims process drags on

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme has paid out just over £38.1m in compensation to LCF customers, a substantial increase from the £20m paid out by August when the body increased the team allocated to the case by nearly 80%.

In its latest update, the body revealed that it has worked with Capita to create an artificial intelligence (AI) approach to help review 700,000 telephone recordings. The accuracy of the AI was then checked manually by the team before making any claims decisions.

Without the use of AI, the body said it would not have been able to start paying claims until January 2021. It decided “this timescale was not acceptable given LCF customers had already been waiting many months for us to be able to confirm the outcome of their claim.”

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There has been criticism of the FSCS and FCA for a slow response to the LCF mini-bond

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Is it time for a regulatory revamp in Congress?

Two government officials yesterday admitted what many Big Tech critics have argued for years: Lawmakers and regulators have done a bad job of managing monopolies.

Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust committee David Cicilline and Federal Trade Commissioner Rohit Chopra spoke at a virtual event hosted by the American Economic Liberties Project, a lobbying group focused on battling monopoly power. They suggested that the U.S. needs new laws to prevent companies from engaging in anticompetitive behavior as well as improved regulatory enforcement to crack down on companies that break the rules. 

“We need to end the era of weak enforcement,” Chopra said on the Zoom call. 

Both Congress and regulators have become increasingly concerned with Big Tech’s growing power and their history of squashing and scooping up rivals. And the battle against Big Tech has bipartisan interest, though in some cases for different reasons.

Already, the antitrust committee had … Read the rest

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Quilter reports Q3 recovery in net inflows

 

Wealth manager Quilter has reported a year on year rise in assets and a modest recovery in inflows.

Assets under Management and Administration (AuMA) were £109.5 billion at the end of September compared to £108.2m in Q3 2019.

Year to date net inflows were £1.2 billion compared to £0.2bn in net outflows in 2019.

Third quarter gross sales showed a modest decline on 2019 at £2.7 billion (2019: £2.8 billion).

The company said it saw “solid” Quilter Investment Platform gross flows of £1.2 billion (2019: £1.4 billion).

Figures were less positive at Quilter Financial Planning. In the three months ended 30 September it saw a drop in inflows from £0.6m to £0.4m. Year to date it saw a drop from £2m to £1.7m.

The Quilter Investment Platform re-platforming project is on track, the firm says, with around 80% of platform assets to be migrated by year-end.

Major second migration will

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In pursuit of ‘net zero,’ Spain’s Iberdrola bets big on America

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Bilbao-based utilities and renewable giant Iberdrola’s buying spree will expand its reach further into the U.S., the company said Wednesday, by acquiring Albuquerque-based PNM Resources for $4.3 billion.

The deal represents the growing might of a group of fast-moving, low-carbon utilities companies—increasingly coming from abroad—in the race to decarbonize America’s energy sector.

The deal folds PNM Resources—which serves homes in Texas and New Mexico and has 2,811 MW in capacity—into Avangrid, the much larger northeast-U.S. utilities and renewables company in which the Spanish Iberdrola holds a roughly 80% stake.

Avangrid has 7.1 GW of power capacity, largely in wind and solar, and holds $32 billion in assets across 24 states, the company says on its website. It is split into two businesses: one an electric and natural … Read the rest