Today’s question: What has been your industry and personal highlight of the year so far, and what do you expect to see for the rest of the year?
Bruce Wilson, managing director, Helm Godfrey
My highlight of 2010 so far is the fact that there finally has been acknowledgement that there is life after retirement and that many people simply cannot finish working at 65. Working as many years as possible – while a financial necessity for some – is a lifestyle choice for others and I am very happy that the new coalition government has recognised this. Looking towards the second half of the year, I think the coalition will face its biggest challenges. The crisis highlighted the fact that changes need to be made, but I wonder if the government will be able to carry the people with them through all the tough times ahead. Financial responsibility is being put back onto the individual and I think the Government, and indeed all of us, are in for a rocky road.
Ryan Hughes, senior fund manager, Skandia Investment Group
Industry highlights of the year include having a change of government, albeit, not the clear majority that would have been desired to properly get the debt mountain under control, and China finally announcing it was going to let its currency revalue a little. Personal highlights for me would be seeing the Skandia Global Dynamic Equity Fund, our first fund fully using tactical asset allocation, reach its first birthday with exceptional outperformance; being significantly underweight Europe during the PIIGS crisis; and going overweight Japan for the first time in the careers of some of the investment professionals in the team. Looking forward, I certainly expect there to continue to be some quite extreme market volatility as investors react to contrasting data that will either confirm the recovery or dent expectations. I also think there may be tensions within the coalition government as the outcome of the spending review becomes known. This will be a huge test to the strength of the coalition.
Alastair Conway, sales and marketing director, Cofunds
2010 has so far been a tough year for employees and their pension pots. The continuing closure of big company final salary schemes has given consumers a wakeup call on how they think about saving for retirement, or as it is increasingly becoming a transitional period, post-work living. This was one of the reasons behind our decision to launch the Cofunds Pension Account in H1 this year – an effective way for investors, working with their advisers, to help plan for their post work years. Looking forward to the rest of the year, a key milestone will be the publication of the FSA platform CP which should go some way in clarifying the position the FSA has taken on a number of issues including rebates and unbundling. The delay in the publication of this paper makes us cautiously optimistic that the FSA has taken on board the feedback we and others have provided and that we will see enhanced disclosure and choice emerge as the themes of their consultation paper.
Stephen Young, CEO, Sesame Bankhall Group
This has been an interesting year to date and having now passed the half way marker I would have to say that my personal highlight so far has been the successful integration of Bankhall into the Sesame Bankhall Group structure, ensuring that all three brands are working in harmony. Despite the challenging conditions that this year has thrown in our direction, I am very much looking forward to seeing the business continue its recovery and go from strength to strength. The second half of 2010 will be an exciting time for us and we await the FSA’s platform CP with interest, especially given the upcoming launch of our new wrap proposition.
David Ferguson, chief executive, Nucleus
2010 is proving to be a pivotal year for the platform industry as more and more IFAs are beginning to fully understand and appreciate the importance of choosing the right platform for their business. This has led to my personal highlight of the year so far: posting our first operating profit. Looking forward to the rest of the year, our main aim will be to complete the strengthening of our team and going through £2bn of assets. The main priority of the wider platform industry should be ensuring positioning itself for the RDR and all the opportunities it will bring.