Archive: 2013

  1. The Old Lady’s Children Showing Their Age

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    Last week’s systems’ failure at the RBS was symbolic of the old clearing banks and their creaking 1970’s main frames. Those that have spent the money on flashy front end structures are merely flattering to deceive, as they divert attention away from the fact that many have not invested effectively in modern integrated technology, and in the case of RBS & Natwest we see the result of trying to continuously patch ageing mainframes systems. The result is inevitable when you don’t invest effectively in your core infrastructure, and inevitably your basic process starts falling down around you. After all good commercial banking is, or rather should be, a financial utility, just as water, electricity and gas are of a similar ilk.  (more…)

  2. The Markets

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    You really need to take predictions with a grain of salt. Consider these esteemed opinions: 

    • “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” Thomas Watson, Chairman, IBM, 1943
    • “Who wants to hear actors talk?” H. M. Warner, Founder, Warner Brothers, 1927
    • “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” Charles Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899 

    It’s important to remember the fallibility of experts as we head toward a new year and pundits begin pontificating about the events of the past and predicting what may be ahead.


  3. Making Pensions Sexy? No But At Least Interesting

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    It has never been easy, but now it’s going to be damn difficult. Auto-enrolment is underway and is the precursor to compulsory pensions which, if our politicians had any strategic thinking, they would be introducing immediately. However, the potential client base for this is quite understandably suspicious and often quite hostile. This shouldn’t be unexpected; after all, pensions don’t exactly have an enviable reputation. (more…)

  4. A Lot Can Happen in Nine Months

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    The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement produced few surprises and no giveaways.

    In March 2013, George Osborne’s job security looked similar to that of a Premier League manager. Talk was of a triple dip recession, government borrowing was stuck at £120bn and the Office for Budget Responsibility was running out of red ink for its projections. (more…)

  5. Savers “must keep track of Pensions”

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    Workers are being urged to keep track of their pension savings with a survey suggesting that 25% of over-55s have four or more pension pots.


  6. The Markets

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    In 2006, Time Magazine’s Person of the Year was ‘You.’ The magazine declared that 2006 was about: 

    “…Community and collaboration on a scale never seen before… It’s about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.” 

    Last week, in America,  J.P. Morgan named EVERYONE the winner of the “Most Promotional Retailer Award.” While communities across America are very interested in Black Friday sales, these events are less about empowerment and more about brawling for consumer goods. It’s a popular activity. In fact, a case could be built that one of the newest Thanksgiving holiday traditions involves the telling of riveting Black Friday (and now Thanksgiving Day) tales that describe retail shopping bravado and adventure.


  7. Financial Planning Week: A Financial Plan is Peace of Mind

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    Financial Planning is for life – not just for Christmas. A recent survey finds people making financial plans for Christmas but failing to make comprehensive plans for their future.


  8. The Markets

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    Okay. Okay. If you’ve been trekking through Siberia or Patagonia for about a year, then maybe it surprised you to hear the minutes from the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee meeting showed it expects to begin tapering Quantitative Easing (QE) in the coming months. 


  9. The Markets

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    If you found holiday songs or Beatles tunes humming through your head last week, it may have been your subconscious processing world and market events.