Monthly Archives: November 2009

Denise Law

When I learned that Harrods was selling gold bars, I thought “Why not? The department store already resembles a mummy’s tomb.”

But the idea of buying and lugging gold back home might not be as outlandish as it sounds.

Investors want safety – and they see it in gold, according to a new study by TD Waterhouse.

Lucy Warwick-Ching

SIPPs have been on the rise for the past decade, and estimates suggest that half a million of us now have one. But the tide has turned in the past 12 months with a series of reports that have tarnished their image, culminating with the FSA ordering Freedom SIPP into administration.

I met with John Moret, marketing director at Suffolk Life sipp provider last week and he gave me a list of useful questions that individuals – unsure of the security of their sipp – should ask their provider.

Lucy Warwick-Ching

When the HM Revenue & Customs said it was the ‘last chance’ for individuals to disclose their offshore investments, it made it clear that there would be no more opportunities. So today’s announcement that it will be extending the New Disclosure Opportunity by five weeks to January 4 is embarrassing. That ‘last chance’ was, apparently, the ‘second-to-last chance’. And this new ‘last chance’ really is the last… it really is, I mean it this time… 

HMRC is blaming the banks – saying that they have requested more time. But I suspect it is more to do with a less-than-enthusiastic response from individuals. Either that, or a lack of resources to investigate.

Matthew Vincent

Clearly, writing a column for FT Money – as well as a book and several choral compositions – just wasn’t enough for Anthony Bolton.

In Hong Kong earlier today, Fidelity’s star fund manager announced that he was returning to running money, with the launch of a new China focused fund – just two years after he stepped down from a 28-year stint running Fidelity Special Situations.

He gives his reasons in an exclusive column, which will appear in FT Money on Saturday (and on later today).

Already, the news has met with an ecstatic welcome. Chelsea Financial Services’ managing director, Darius McDermott, said: “Nothing quite beats a comeback. Boxing had Ali; cycling had Armstrong; fund management now has Anthony Bolton.” Bestinvest’s senior investment adviser, Adrian Lowcock, said: “Antony Bolton coming back to manage money is going to attract a lot of interest from investors. It would be a brave investor to bet against him.”

I think it will be a fascinating experiment in whether Anthony’s fundamentals-based, due diligence approach to stock-picking really can work in China. Consider some of his recent FT Money columns…

Lucy Warwick-Ching

Following on from this morning’s surprise victory for the banks on overdraft fees on personal bank accounts Sharlene Goff, retail banking correspondent, talks about how the OFT will act and the future for overdraft charges.

For the full story read the story in full on, Banks in victory on overdraft charges

Alice Ross

Less than 3,000 people have taken out an alternatively-secured pension ASP) since this became an option in April 2007.

This is quite surprising – it shows how tiny this market is.

Matthew Vincent

So there we have it: the Supreme Court has this morning ruled that bank charges for unauthorised overdrafts cannot be investigated by the Office of Fair Trading – effectively closing the door on millions of pounds worth of compensation claims from 1.2 million account holders.

But not because these overdraft charges have been deemed “fair” by the court, simply because, in this case, the legal concept of “fairness” cannot relate to “the adequacy of the price or remuneration, as against the goods or services supplied in exchange”. Or, in other words, “value for money” is not part of the equation.

What does this actually mean? The banks (and the lawyers) are clearly the winners for now. But who are the losers? According to consumer group Which?, “The bank charges ruling marks black day for consumers – this is a bitter blow for the millions of people who have been patiently waiting to get their bank charges back.” It does, however, beg the question: who are these patient long-suffering people? People who borrowed money they didn’t have, without asking permission – and who then tried to claim compensation for being charged!

I can’t help but agree with Justin Modray, the independent financial adviser who now runs “Today’s Supreme Court ruling in favour of the banks is a blow for consumers, but might at least help discourage irresponsible borrowing”.

More importantly, the other winners are the responsible customers who remain in credit. If the banks had lost, we might all have suffered if free-in-credit banking was withdrawn.

It’s only a black day for those in the red.

For full coverage of this story on, see Supreme Court backs banks on charges.

If you’re a bank customer who was waiting for compensation, post your comment on today’s ruling below.

Josephine Cumbo

The equity release industry is not usually a place for sudden shocks. But some advisers were left a little breathless today by sector heavyweight Prudential’s confirmation that it is pulling out of the market after nearly four years.

The Pru is a household name and was one of three main equity providers; it claimed about 25 per cent market share last year and its strong brand rubbed confidence into a sector tarnished in the past for running rough shod over its elderly customers.

But its withdrawal – largely because returns are not fast enough on the lifetime deals – was sudden and seemed to catch many on the hop, including the industry’s key supporters who rushed out statements today saying they believed the industry still had a strong future – even without a big fish like the Pru.

Lucy Warwick-Ching

We’re always being told to start saving for retirement early but how do we do it? Mike Fosberry, director at Smith & Williamson the accountancy and investment management group, ran me through a few of the things people should be doing this morning:

Lucy Warwick-Ching

It’s official, JJB Sports and Topps Tiles tops this year’s list of Christmas retail losers.
Latest analysis by financial website The Motley Fool, reveals that for those companies that are saddled with excessive debt, hampered by declining sales and burdened with low valuations, it could be a make or break Christmas.

On their own, falling sales, low market value and mounting debt are not a problem. But together they can form a lethal cocktail that can quickly turn a retail high-flyer into a back street has-been.

The Motley Fool’s analysis uncovers ten retail winners and losers listed on the London stock market.

The FT’s Money blog is a forum for the latest news and insights from the UK’s personal finance scene. Matthew Vincent, the editor of FT Money and his team of reporters will upload their views and insights on what’s happening in the industry and how this affects people’s finances.

This blog is no longer active but it remains open as an archive.

Sign up for our daily email
Follow on twitter

About our bloggers

Lucy Warwick-Ching is the FT’s new Money Online Editor and has been a UK Companies reporter covering tobacco, pubs and leisure companies as well as the deputy editor on House and Home.

Matthew Vincent is the FT’s Personal Finance Editor and was previously the editor of Investors Chronicle, where he also devised the award-winning online video The Market Programme, and produced the BBC-FT standalone magazine ‘How to be Better Off’. He presents the weekly FT Money Show audio podcast, and previously worked on the BBC TV programmes Short Change and Pound for Pound.

Alice Ross is deputy personal finance editor of FT Money. She specialises in pensions, investments and investment trusts. Alice joined FT Money in April 2008 - prior to that she was deputy editor at Money Management magazine.

Ellen Kelleher has been a personal finance reporter in the UK for close to four years. Before arriving in London, she worked in the FT's New York bureau where she covered the insurance sector.

Steve Lodge is a personal finance reporter on FT Money specialising in savings.

Josephine Cumbo has written about all aspects of personal finance but currently specialises in insurance. She also covered company news for Prior to working at the FT she was a news reporter for the ABC.

Tanya Powley is a personal finance reporter on FT Money specialising in mortgages and the housing market. Tanya joined FT Money in November 2009 after working in Australia covering personal finance for the Australian Financial Review and its sister magazine Asset. Prior to that, Tanya wrote about mortgages for UK trade newspaper Money Marketing.

Jonathan Eley is editor of Investors Chronicle, and has been with the title for ten years. Before that he worked for newswires and trade journals in London, New York and Hong Kong.