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Supreme Court backs Covid-19 insurance payouts

The Supreme Court has mostly accepted an FCA appeal which opens the door to Covid-19 business interruption (BI) insurance payouts.

An estimated 370,000 SME policyholders could be helped by the judgment.

Last year the FCA launched a business interruption insurance test case to seek a judicial judgment on whether insurers should pay out after many argued Covid-19 interruption was not covered by policies. 

The Supreme Court today delivered its judgment on the test case and substantially allowed the FCA’s appeal on behalf of policyholders. 

The FCA says this should complete the legal process for impacted policies and means that many thousands of policyholders will now have their claims for coronavirus-related business interruption losses paid. Payouts could total millions of pounds and help thousands of small firms as well as preserving jobs.

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Sheldon Mills, executive director, consumers and competition at the FCA, said: “Coronavirus is causing substantial loss and

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Editor’s Column: Why putting cash before clients is a mistake

I was mightily impressed this week by the words from the expanding senior team at Glasgow-based holistic Financial Planning firm Murphy Wealth.

Their words reminded me once again that while there are many ways to run a Financial Planning business, focusing entirely on acquiring funds under management – with little regard to client happiness and wellbeing – is not one of them.

Their firm, a lifestyle planning firm and therefore on the ‘holistic’ wing of the Financial Planning profession, announced a couple of senior appointments this week as it plans to expand this particular approach.

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It promoted John Moran to be its new executive chair and Neil Bage to the new role of chief behavioural officer. I do not know many Financial Planning firms with CBOs yet but it could well be the coming trend. It’s perhaps best seen as an extended COO with some behavioural science included.

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Quilter launches scam reporting tool

Wealth management and Financial Planning giant Quilter has launched a new online tool for reporting suspected impersonation scams.

Anyone who believes they have been exposed to, or have fallen victim to, an impersonation scam that features a clone of Quilter’s branding or marketing materials, can use the tool to report their concerns directly to the firm.

The online tool will report suspected scams directly to Quilter’s financial crime team, who will assess the legitimacy of the investment proposition in each individual case and provide a response directly to the consumer the next working day offering support and guidance on next steps.

Investment scams that impersonate a regulated financial services firm have surged in recent years, increasing by 634% since 2010. Impersonation scams accounted for 37% of all FCA warnings issued between 2010 and December 2020.

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Quilter’s brand has been used by scammers in the past in an attempt

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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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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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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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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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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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Mattioli Woods client assets reach £10bn

Wealth manager, pensions and employee benefits firm Mattioli Woods’s total client assets have hit a milestone £10bn, according to its most recent trading update.

Gross discretionary assets under management hit £2.9bn.

The trading update was issued in advance of its interim results for the six months ended 30 November 2020, due to be announced on 9 February 2021.

The firm said it is in a strong financial position with £18m of cash at the end of the period.

During the period, Mattioli Woods completed its £25m takeover of private client firm Hurley Partners. It has acquired a number of wealth managers, Financial Planners and pension firms in recent years.

The trading update said Hurley Partners is integrating and performing well.

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Ian Mattioli MBE, chief executive of Mattioli Woods, said: “The first six months of this financial year saw a continuation of the economic and political uncertainty that was

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Newton hires Aviva Investor’s ex-CEO as new head

Newton Investment Management, part of BNY Mellon Investment Management, has appointed former Aviva Investors CEO Euan Munro as its new chief executive.

The appointment is subject to Financial Conduct Authority approval.

Mr Munro will join Newton in June and will report to Hanneke Smits, CEO of BNY Mellon Investment Management.

Earlier this week Aviva appointed insider Mark Versey as the new chief executive of its Aviva Investors division.

Prior to Aviva Investors Mr Munro was head of global multi-asset and fixed interest investing at Standard Life Investments. He joined SLI as an inflation-linked fund manager from Scottish Provident in 1995 and is a Fellow of the Faculty and Institute of Actuaries.

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Euan Munro, chief executive officer designate of Newton, said: “This is an exciting time to be joining Newton – a global asset manager full of talented people, high quality investment solutions and an incredibly strong heritage in

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