Oh in the name of the wee man, here we go again. Last time – 2014 if you please – some wag dubbed the Scottish independence referendum ‘the neverendum’ (actually it was first used for one of the Quebecois referenda) and that resonated with a lot of people on both sides. We now face another 15 or so months of this and I’m not sure I can take it, irrespective of valid and sincere views for and against. So I propose to make the Update a neverendum-free zone, if that’s OK with you: a little oasis in the desert of indyref2. We shall camp out there together, you and I, and let the…dunno, stuff that happens in deserts happen outside. Sand and that, probably.

I wrote last week about headwinds for those who make their coin charging percentage-based fees on portfolios, and judging by my postbag many of you really don’t like hearing about that sort of thing. So you’re going to hate this week’s Update. I’d recommend skipping the rest of this, reading the first link below because it’s properly important, giving what you can and then going about your day.

For the rest of you, have a wee read of Alistair McQueen’s article here about withdrawals from pension pots, which is roughly the same issue attacked from a different direction.

Whenever I’m asked to describe what our bit of financial services does, I normally say something pat like “it exists to make already quite wealthy people marginally wealthier” and then amble off in search of drinks. There is some truth in that, I think: certainly where new business for the advisory sector is concerned. But of course it’s not the whole story, and many of you will have a relatively mixed client bank reflecting how advice businesses have evolved over the last couple of decades.

Alistair writes from the perspective of a pension provider who looks after auto-enrolment small pots right through to quite large SIPPs, and a slowdown in savings rates along with an acceleration in withdrawals to meet the basic costs of living along with a knock on asset prices – a double drawdown if you will – is naturally a concern. Most of you won’t be so worried about the first or maybe even the second of those. But I think you should be, because as every financial planner knows life isn’t linear, and just because someone’s got a decent pension with you doesn’t mean they’re not feeling it elsewhere. Or perhaps a family member is, and a bit of tax-free cash looks like quite an attractive way to help out.

I was struck by this wave of Schroders’ annual adviser Pulse research which showed bearish sentiment from 57% of respondents – up from just 12% in November 2021. A good bull is hard to find – 7% are feeling frisky compared to 41% in November. These are big changes, and while ‘core’ financial planning clients with plenty put by will just need steadying, there will be many, perhaps in the nether regions of your filing cabinets, who are feeling it more.

Maybe all this goes away soon, who knows? But if it doesn’t, amongst other effects we’ll see younger investors – the next generation of financial planning clients – sitting on their hands as mortgage rates drift up, and already dropping savings ratios taking one in the eye. A time, then, for pragmatism over purism, and for fulfilling the financial planning promise of not only being there for the good times.

#LANGCATLINKS

  • Something important for a change. I’d like to draw your attention to this JustGiving page in the memory of Peter Mann’s son Blair. Many of you will remember Peter from his time helming Skandia; he is now interim chair of Bravura. Another young man down – and the charity Peter has chosen to support looks wonderful. Have a read and give what you can.
  • Off-platform pensions are still a competitive space and here’s Standard Life (the new one not the old one) to prove it.
  • A fun piece from editors of Professional Adviser over the years here.
  • And your music choice this week is something lovely to ease you into the weekend – which for those of us with kids up here will be the first weekend of summer holidays. Do feel free to melt into this live version of Lowri Evans and Tom Mcrae’s Only Skin.

See you next week

Mark