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Q&A with PFS CEO Keith Richards

Financial Planning Today caught up with Personal Finance Society CEO Keith Richards about his impending departure from the professional body, how he sees the Financial Planning profession’s state of health and his plans for the future.

Financial Planning Today: What made you decide to leave the PFS and what do you plan to do next?

Keith Richards: There is rarely a right time to leave when there is often more to be done but most of my early goals and aspirations for the evolution of the society, its membership and in supporting the CII’s change programme have largely been realised, so now feels like the right time and equally allows the CII to further implement changes. 

Shortly after taking up the position of chief executive, the PFS board agreed to a strategic transformation to evolve the role and purpose of the Society to become a more modern, relevant and inclusive

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Govt announces £120m LCF compensation scheme

Treasury minister John Glen today announced a £120m government-backed compensation scheme for LCF mini-bond victims which will pay up to 80% of losses up to a maximum of £68,000.

He said the government would establish a scheme that would be available to all LCF bondholders, including those who have not already received compensation from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Some 11,625 investors lost savings worth a total of £237m when LCF collapsed with the majority so far not compensated by the FSCS due to questions about whether their investments were regulated or not.

 

Mr Glen, economic secretary, said the government-funded scheme was being set up due to “the unique and exceptional nature of the situation concerning London Capital & Finance (LCF).”

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The government scheme will provide 80% of LCF bondholders’ initial investment up to a maximum of £68,000. Where bondholders have received interest payments from LCF or distributions

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3 Chartered Planners join London firm as partners 

London-based Chartered Financial Planning firm Partners Wealth Management (PWM) has recruited six new partners, including three Chartered Financial Planners.

The expanding firm, based in the City, has attracted the new partners over the past six months.

The firm says the challenges of Covid-19 have failed to hold back the company from growing.

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The new members of the firm are:

  • Kat Smilewicz – a Chartered Financial Planner who joins from Tilney. She previously worked for Investors, a private hedge fund in Poland.
  • Harjinder Bhatti – a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Securities & Investment with over 18 years of City and financial advice experience at BNP Paribas Wealth Management and UBS Wealth Management.
  • Georgi Bennett – a Chartered Financial Planner, who joins from Skerritt Consultants after beginning her career in the City in life assurance and private equity.
  • Tom Fitzgerald O’Connor – with 20 years’ experience in wealth
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CMA remains opposed to FNZ-GBST merger

The Competition and Markets Authority has provisionally found that platform engine FNZ’s £150m purchase of rival GBST would raise “significant competition concerns” following a review of the deal.

The CMA reassessed the deal following its request to the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) for a remittal of its original ‘Phase 2’ decision to block the merger. 

This request was made after FNZ appealed to the tribunal.

After re-examining the deal the CMA has again concluded that it could lead to less competition in the market and result in higher platform costs for investors and advisers.

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The CMA is to consult on its provisional findings and proposed remedy which could see FNZ being forced to sell of GBST but potentially buy back a selected number of capital market assets. These assets would be restricted to those that do not affect GBST’s competitiveness in the supply of retail investment platform solutions,

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Editor’s Column: A small but important step forward

This week I did something rather different. I put on a pair of black work shoes, a decent work shirt and a pair of trousers. I then went to my annual business meeting at our accountants.

In normal times this would not warrant the slightest attention but it was the first time in a year I’ve had a face to face business meeting or indeed put on my work clothes (mightily impressed they still fitted despite the lockdown lard).

It was, you might say, one small step for man, one giant step back towards normality. You may have done something similar.

I have to confess it felt good for the first time in 12 months to be getting dressed up for a business meeting. It was slightly unexpected as I planned the meeting to be a virtual one but the accountant said do you want to come to the office?

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FCA bans and fines Warwickshire adviser

The Financial Conduct Authority has banned former Dickinsons Financial Management adviser Simon Varley from working in financial services and fined him £68,300 for “lacking honesty and integrity.”

Mr Varley’s actions left Dickinsons without professional indemnity cover and the firm went into voluntary liquidation as a result.

The FCA said he knowingly performing a controlled function without approval and provided investment advice to retail customers when he knew he was not qualified or approved to do so.

The regulator also found that Mr Varley failed to act with integrity as a director (CF1) and compliance oversight (CF10) controlled function (CF) holder and “is therefore not a fit and proper person”.

Mr Varley worked at Dickinsons Financial Management Limited (Dickinsons), a small Warwickshire-based financial advisory firm, where he held a customer adviser function (CF30) until January 2013.

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Following the Retail Distribution Review, the regulator introduced rules requiring advisers to hold

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Bamford Media relaunches after cuts in staff 

Bamford Media, the company set up by leading Financial Planner Martin Bamford four years ago, has relaunched with a new name after the pandemic forced the business to make staff redundant and close its office.

The company has been renamed Bear Content and given a new focus, Mr Bamford said.

The young company, launched to provide media services to Financial Planning firms, found the pandemic tough and was forced to make staff redundant and give up its office. Half of the remaining team have also been put on furlough.

The cutbacks have left just three remaining staff, Martin Bamford and colleagues marketing manager Kathryn Watts and content production executive James Spooner.

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Ms Watts has written a blog about the changes: https://bearcontent.co.uk/importance-purpose/

The company was launched four years ago to provide digital marketing to companies, particularly Financial Planning firms. It provides digital marketing, podcasting and other media services.

Mr

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Fidelius and deVere launch joint UK planning venture

 

International wealth manager deVere Group has set up a “strategic partnership” with UK Financial Planner Fidelius Group to serve expats returning to the UK.

A new brand called Fidelius deVere will be launched to provide bespoke Financial Planning to returning expat clients. 

As part of the deal, deVere UK has applied to surrender its UK permissions as the venture will be run under the regulatory framework of Fidelius. The new venture is due to launch on 1 May. 

The deVere UK Mansfield office will remain unchanged but will work with the Fidelius network of UK offices to run a total of six UK offices. These are located in Bath (headquarters), Bridgewater, Cheltenham, Chelmsford, London and Mansfield. 

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deVere, which advises on over £7.2bn of funds around the world, has an existing relationship with Fidelius, of which Pacific Asset Management (PAM) is a shareholder. PAM also works alongside dVAM, deVere’s

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Premier Miton to launch European sustainable fund

Premier Miton is set to launch the Premier Miton European Sustainable Leaders Fund on 10 May.

The fund will invest in European companies offering the chance of long term sustainable growth in areas such as health and wellbeing, affordable and clean energy and technological advancement.

Invested companies will need to demonstrate sustainable business characteristics and will be analysed on a range of ESG factors, such as their contribution to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the environmental and social impact of business and corporate governance factors.

The fund will be managed by Premier Miton’s European equities team led by head of European Equities Carlos Moreno, assisted by Thomas Brown and new hire Russell Champion, who joins Premier Miton later in 2021. The team will work with Helene Winch, Premier Miton’s head of Responsible Investing.

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The investment team will look for undervalued companies that can create shareholder value through

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Tavistock shareholders reject exec incentive scheme

 

Plans for a new executive pay scheme at Financial Planning firm and takeover target Tavistock have fallen through after shareholders failed to support the move.

As a result, a company general meeting planned for today has been cancelled.

The company said that only 66.4% of shareholders voted in favour of the scheme, below the 75% threshold needed.

Some 33.6% of shareholders cast their votes against the scheme.

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The company has separately found itself a takeover target from new AIM-listed company TEAM plc but has rebuffed the offer. The company said today that the unwelcome TEAM approach was supported by “small grouping of former employees and disaffected shareholders.”

Tavistock wanted to revamp its executive incentive scheme to reduce the reliance on share options and said the revamped scheme would help boost profits. It previously said the share option scheme was “no longer fit for purpose.”

By the voting cut

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