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Editor’s Column: Is buying Nutmeg a nutty decision?

 

I have to confess that I scratched my head this week when I heard the news that JP Morgan Chase was buying the loss-making robo-adviser Nutmeg.

Has someone at JP Morgan gone a bit hazelnut, I thought? Why buy a loss-making business that on most accounts has under-performed since it was launched nearly 10 years ago?

And why buy into a sector, the robo-advice market, that most have already written off as failing to get off the launchpad.

On reflection, however, I think it could end up being a rather smart move in time – but perhaps not for obvious reasons. A study of the global wealth market published this week by Boston Consulting gives us some clues.

But first what has JP Morgan bought and why? Ostensibly it has acquired Nutmeg as a platform to launch into the mass savings market under the Chase brand. JP Morgan, by all

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JP Morgan buys Nutmeg

JP Morgan Chase has acquired loss-making digital wealth manager Nutmeg as it looks to expand its retail digital wealth management offering.

JP Morgan said the acquisition will complement the firm’s UK digital bank due to be launched under its Chase brand later this year.

Nutmeg has over 140,000 clients with over £3.5bn of assets under management. It claims to have been the first ‘digital wealth manager’ in Europe to reach £2bn in assets under management.

The digital wealth manager offers a range of investment and pension products and was launched in 2012.

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In its most recent financial results the firm posted a pre-tax loss of £22m, the third year in a row of major financial losses.

JP Morgan had already announced a product partnership with Nutmeg in November.

Sanoke Viswanathan, CEO of international consumer at JP Morgan Chase, said the team is building Chase in the UK from

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Brown Shipley appoints ex-Brewin director as chair

Wealth manager and Chartered Financial Planner Brown Shipley has appointed experienced industry professional Kath Cates as chair of its board of directors.

The appointment, subject to regulatory approval, will see Ms Cates replaces Rory Tapner, chair of Quintet Private Bank, who was interim chair of Brown Shipley.

Ms Cates has more than 30 years’ experience in financial services and has held senior roles based in the UK and overseas. 

She has served on the boards of several financial services companies including Brewin Dolphin. She also sits on boards within the Columbia Threadneedle Group; TP ICAP; United Utilities Group and until recently, RSA. 

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During her career she spent more than 20 years at UBS, where she held roles as global head of compliance and general counsel and was appointed to the UBS global investment bank board. She went on to be appointed global COO of the wholesale bank at

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State Pension deferrals drop to record low

The number of people receiving an increased State Pension after deferring the benefit has dropped to its lowest level since the figures started being recorded in 1999.

In September 7.7% of State Pensioners (959,000 people) were receiving an increased weekly amount after deferring, according to new figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). That compares to a peak of 11% in 2004 when 1.25m pensioners received extra income.

The majority of the fall was from women whose State Pension age began to rise from age 60 in 2010. Women now constitute 73% of those receiving extra pension, down from 80% in 2004.

Since 6 April 2016, those deferring can receive 1% more income for every nine weeks they defer. This equals a return of nearly 5.8% extra for every year deferred.

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Those who reached State Pension Age before April 6th 2016 can still opt to defer

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Fidelity Intl CEO Richards becomes a Dame in honours

Fidelity International CEO Anne Richards has become a Dame in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

She has been honoured for her contribution to financial services, women and science.

Apart from her work in financial services and supporting the development of women in business she worked for Cern, the European centre for nuclear research, for a number of years earlier in her career and has maintained an interest in science. 

Fidelity said: “We’re extremely proud that our CEO Anne Richards has been awarded a damehood in this year’s QueensBirthdayHonours which recognises outstanding achievements from across the UK and Commonwealth.”

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Dame Anne said: “I’m delighted to receive this honour and I hope it highlights to women, and those have had little exposure to the financial services industry, the wonderful career opportunities it can offer.”  

Fidelity recruited investment professional Dame Anne in 2018 from rival M&G where she was CEO of

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Transact staff to return to the office

Staff at adviser platform Transact will start to return to the office from August as the platform pilots a hybrid working model.

Some staff will return to the firm’s City of London-based firm during August with all staff members to return in September, according to the platform’s latest update for financial advisers from CEO Jonathan Gunby.

The platform will be piloting a hybrid working model with a minimum of three days each week in the office for full-time staff.

Mr Gunby said that while working from home has been effective, the firm has found that some things are better done at the office.

He thanked advisers for their patience during the home-working period and acknowledged that the platform, “hasn’t always met, in every respect, some of the same high standards of the pre-pandemic era.”

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The platform has also undergone a ‘campus refresh’ to support the highbred working model.

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Treasury must fix £17bn pensions error say MPs

MPs on the influential Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have published a damning report criticising the Treasury for failing to fix what it calls a £17bn error on public service pensions that has disadvantaged younger workers, women and other groups.

The PAC reports says the Treasury should have foreseen age discrimination issues that gave rise to the 2018 McCloud judgment.

The McCloud judgement found the Government had discriminated against younger pension scheme members by not giving them the same protection as older workers.

In 2011 and 2015 the Treasury introduced reforms designed to make public service pensions more sustainable and affordable, but a 2018 Court of Appeal judgement (the McCloud judgement) then ruled parts of the reforms were unlawful.

According to MPs on the PAC, instead of fixing the problem the Treasury now wants pension scheme members to pay the estimated £17 billion cost to fix the mistake, despite the Treasury

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Editor’s Column: Let the banter return

It was good to get away last week for a break to sunny Devon, beating the G7 hordes heading to the South West. 

We stayed in the lovely seaside town of Sidmouth and had a very pleasant week, our first holiday since last year (apologies if you haven’t been away yet, I know it can be irritating hearing about others’ holidays).

The hotel and staff were great, if a little rusty at times, having just been opened for a couple of weeks, in line with the Covid restrictions. I did sense, however, that many were relieved and pleased to be back to work.

We actually booked the hotel in January, taking a punt that holidays would return. It paid off but the fact we could cancel at any time before going was a welcome insurance policy.

I am glad we did not dither in booking though because dithering and procrastination

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Hybrid models the future of Financial Planning – report

Hybrid robo advice and traditional advice models are the future of Financial Planning according to a new report.

Advice delivery could be up to 80% faster for firms that adopt a hybrid advice model, according to the report from technology provider Ignition and consultancy firm Altus Consulting.

The report claims that hybrid advice ‘a method of advice provision whereby technology enhances, rather than replaces, the work of a financial adviser’ is the way forward for Financial Planning firms looking to offer a better consumer experience.

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Terry Donohoe, CEO Europe at Ignition, said the Coronavirus pandemic forced Financial Planners and their clients to rely on technology more than ever before. He claims this change has provided a “much-needed impetus to encourage businesses to re-think old habits and provide what is actually a better consumer experience.”

He said: “We have seen that there is real demand in the UK financial

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Aegon unveils financial wellbeing tool for the nation

Pensions and investment company Aegon has launched a Financial Wellbeing tool aimed at helping 45m UK adults assess their personal financial wellbeing and how to make improvements.

The new tool is based on Aegon’s recent Financial Wellbeing Index which analyses people’s financial health and the influence that mindset plays in influencing financial wellbeing and Financial Planning decision-making. 

The report found that more than 19m people (36%) in the UK are struggling with their financial wellbeing and that just 16% of the population (around 8.6m people) combine healthy finances and a positive money mindset.

Some 12%, or nearly 6.5m people, scored poorly in terms of financial wellbeing and financial mindset.

With this in mind, Aegon believes 5 in 6 of the population, or 45m people, could take action to improve their financial wellbeing. This view has inspired the launch of the tool to everyone, not just Aegon customers, the firm says.

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