Tom Becket

Desperately seeking value in the land of opportunity

Recent events in the UK have demonstrated to the world that we are becoming an increasingly irrelevant island in the middle of the Atlantic, as our government behaves chaotically over our “Brexit” negotiations and a Trotskyist looms large over 10 Downing Street. Getting out and about in the world makes clear the lower standing with which our country is now being held and the vague amusement that many people have over our ludicrous situation. Realising this would be a good idea for our politicians.

Read the full blog here.

Tom Becket

Morning has broken

​I’m not sure we should be allowed to describe any political result as a “surprise” anymore, but it’s fair to say that last night was a pretty extraordinary night on many levels.

It has now been confirmed that the Conservative Party will not secure a majority from the election, but could form a government with the help of the Democratic Unionist Party in a hung parliament. This is a very different reality to the confident outcome that many foretold a month ago of a sweeping Conservative landslide victory, which is not a view we shared. Our central expectation was for a small Conservative majority, despite our disbelief at the campaign the Conservatives were running and the complacency that many had over a likely sweeping Conservative victory.

Read the full blog here.

Here we go, here we go….

With all the vigour (and, for some, forced jollity) of a post-wedding conga line, we are now heading for the door marked Brexit.

So, what strategic issues will affect UK defined benefit pensions and what, if anything, can be done to recognise them?

Most schemes will know where they stand at present. And for most, this will be significantly short of a full buy-out position and, probably, short on a scheme-specific funding position (or technical provisions basis). Brexit won’t change any of this in the short term. Life should just carry on as now.

For the full blog, click here.

Tom Becket

La La Land: a market update

​Forgive me, readers, for I have sinned; this is my first confession in over a month. I’m sure this lack of scripture has come as a blessed relief to many, but the truth is that nothing has happened to trigger off a volley of words. Indeed, a prolonged period of low volatility across all asset classes and positive performance trends across the vast majority of investments since the start of the year has created a well-needed pause for breath and a feeling of ‘suspended reality’. While markets have leapt happily higher in this ‘La La Land’ environment, we have been extremely active in our portfolios, taking profits, refocusing our attentions only on those assets where we have extremely high conviction and preparing for bigger battles ahead. Read the full blog here.

From milk-snatching to tablet-snaffling: purging perks makes for clearer pension planning

Back in the early 1970s we had Maggie Thatcher, then Education Secretary, labelled the “Milk Snatcher” for removing free milk for the under-7s. We had it in child-sized glass bottles at school.

Now, the chancellor, Philip Hammond, has become the “iPad Nabber” for taking away employees’ access to discounted iPads and Galaxy Tabs.

Apologies if you’re wondering what I’m on about? One of the more popular benefits under employer salary sacrifice schemes has been the ability to purchase a nice shiny piece of IT hardware (usually a tablet, Notebook or Desktop) with the added bonus of making Tax and NI savings on the purchase price. However, the chancellor has decided to remove the salary sacrifice (tax and NI savings) benefit of doing so. Other salary sacrifice benefits such as Pensions, Childcare Vouchers and Cycle2Work schemes are to remain protected.

For Darren Hedgley’s full blog, click here.