Wrong advice on signing away employment rights
Friday, April 26th, 2013

It was a little strange this week that the Government got through its beazer scheme to encourage employees to sign away employment rights in return for CGT free shares in their employers as the Guardian reported.

It looks like the concession which got the plans through Parliament was a promise that the employees concerned would have access to free, independent legal advice.

Not being a lawyer, I still wonder what this legal advice would be. Like this – the law says you can do this. (Well unless there is a constitutional clash with other laws, in which case employees will need to seek the advice of the Supreme Court.)

Surely it should have been financial advice. As in… Well it is quite difficult to put a value on those employment and redundancy rights, but they certainly have some value in protecting your income a little.

This is compared with a shareholding in your firm which does, to an extent, double up your potential liability. They could be worth quite a bit, but if the firm folds then you lose your job and your shares.

The Money Debate isn’t suggesting that IFAs would be falling over themselves to offer advice on a very tricky area, but surely it should have been independent financial advice, if any advice at all was to be required.


Will platform charges ever become a client issue?
Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

The Money Debate wonders if we have found a candidate for graph of the year. The Platforum, analysing platform charges on Money Marketing accompanying Tranact’s charging shake up is well worth a click because it provides a simple outline comparison of platform charges by portfolio size. It also shows very clearly which platforms are on the cheaper side and which platforms are better for bigger and smaller pots given their charging structures. It may raise an awkward question or two for clients whose portfolios have grown to a size where a different platform becomes demonstrably cheaper. The question may not, quite, be at the point of crossover because of the expense and hassle – but if all things are equalised – does it suggest advisers should consider moving clients. Alternatively, does a well-run, well financed platform, with reasonable charges provide enough justification for IFAs in particular not to have to think about moving. And will we ever get to stage where clients will start to ask if they could be on a cheaper version or not?
Budgets ain’t what they used to be
Friday, March 22nd, 2013

There’s something a bit boring about Budgets these days. It is not that they are fiscally neutral, though that was the case this time. It is not that they are unremittingly gloomy though it was this time. It is more that George Osborne doesn’t really hide things. He says what’s changing and then it changes.

Half the fun of the old Budgets used to be working out where Ed Balls (both in his economic adviser days and as chief secretary) had hidden all the nasty things and the mad U-turns and the like. Or sometimes just the silly things – like telling the industry that annuities wouldn’t be reformed, but not putting the information in the journalists’ packs.  Just a wee oversight really. But all those wee oversights and the finding of them was part of the fun.

At least George calls a spade a spade, not that it is much use for anything apart from digging the hole deeper. Well unless the solution really lies in offering more 95 per cent loan to value mortgages.