What lies at the core of worryingly low levels of trust in pensions?
Long-term financial products, such as pensions, are trusted by less than a quarter of over 55s who have accessed their pension pots, according to a recent ‘Which’ survey. It may be tempting to simply put this phenomenon down to the fairly recent introduction of pension freedoms. After all, an unwelcome bedfellow to more choice is often more decision-making, demanding more time and attention.
A ticking time bomb for retirement finances equates to market opportunities
• With the ticking-time bomb of maturing interest-only mortgages together with inadequate retirement pots, more and more home-owners at the end of their full-time working lives are seeking ways to maintain their lifestyle into increasingly lengthy retirements.
• The existence of a booming demand for retirement lending therefore comes as little surprise and many forward-thinking financial providers are clearly focused on this opportunity.
Bdifferent has its finger on the pulse when it comes to rules of thumb
As part of the FCA’s Financial Advice Market Review, the Financial Advice Working Group was tasked with establishing some simple rules of thumb which, when combined with timely ‘nudges’, empower individuals to take action on their financial needs.
Pension provider alert! How well will your non-advised drawdown communications stand up to FCA scrutiny?
The FCA recently unveiled its 2017/18 business plan and non-advised drawdown sales are firmly in the spotlight in the form a thematic review, specifically focusing on sales processes and ongoing communications. It will be homing in on sample companies and checking that customers are being given the information they need to make informed decisions when deciding to draw upon their pension pots.
Millennials - UK’s biggest population group – are you well prepared to target the investors of the future?
As the largest UK population group, the impact of the millennial generation upon the world of savings, investment and pension companies is set to be of immense proportions. As the first digital natives, they do things very differently from previous generations and existing research hints that they may have different priorities too when it comes to investing.
European fund selectors considered BlackRock to be the top asset management company for passive funds and it also led the field across no fewer than 13 other asset classes including Global and European Equities, ETFs and Absolute Return Funds (the last being jointly with Nordea).
Fund range increasingly important for European fund selectors
Financial research specialist Bdifferent has revealed a few nuggets of information from a recent European Fund Selector syndicated study, run in partnership with Investment Europe. The study tracks the views of around 350 fund selecting professionals across Benelux, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the Nordics on a yearly basis.
According to a recent study undertaken by financial services research specialist Bdifferent, market volatility and geopolitical uncertainties look to be taking their toll in terms of a consensus on where to find best returns.
Whilst active funds continue to be the mainstay in most client portfolios, Asian fund selector views are very mixed in terms of strategies and themes. As little as six months ago, the UK and Europe were regarded as relatively ‘safe bets’ but, although some still consider Europe Small Cap to be attractive, many say they are now avoiding or scaling back in both arenas. Similarly, some are also drawing in their horns as far as the US is concerned, reflecting some sentiment of current over-pricing.
There seems to be no new ‘safe bet’ crown-wearer as far as Asia fund selectors are concerned. Confidence seems to have grown somewhat in China, in which holdings were underweight last year, according to some. And, in the quest for returns, an element of previously recorded nervousness around emerging market equities appears to have dispersed. Closer to home, Asia as a whole is being increasingly called upon by some as a source of relatively stable funds.
The one and only consistent theme emerging is an increasing use of multi asset or multi strategy products for the more cautious investors, together with a growing focus on alternatives in search of diversification and growth.
Kim Bell, co-founder of Bdifferent, says ‘Our Asia Fund Selector syndicated study runs every six months so we’re perfectly placed to pick up on changes in trends and this degree of uncertainty is interesting. In previous studies, fund selectors have tended to have a clear steer on where to find relative safe havens for returns but this time it has been different. It highlights how quickly views can alter during volatile times and why our asset manager clients very wisely choose to keep their ears continually close to the ground.’
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Advisers and investors taking a pragmatic view on Brexit
It's been two weeks since the UK voted to leave the EU and hardly an hour goes by without some form of scare-mongering headline from the news feeds. Naturally, there is uncertainty over the practical implications of Brexit and how all will pan out over the course of time.
However, based on Bdifferent's research amongst advisers over the past couple of weeks, most appear to be fairly measured in terms of their level of concern. Whilst the markets currently seem to be taking the UK’s departure in their stride, advisers believe they will be unsettled for some time to come. But, as one adviser put it:
'If we've done our job properly, our clients will have a globally diversified portfolio, designed exactly for these types of event so the impact on clients' investment outlook, should be minimal.'
While worried about what their holiday Pounds will buy them in Euros and Dollars, investors seem to also have tempered reservations about the effect on their investment portfolios. Indeed, some are looking at the current situation as an opportunity to invest in UK and European equities in the hope that what comes down will inevitably go back up.
'It's not a global crisis. We've seen volatility before and we've ridden the storm.’ said one investor.
Our view at Bdifferent? Sadly, we no more have a crystal ball than anyone else in the industry and inevitably there are still concerns bearing in mind the period of change and upheaval that lies ahead. One thing we are sure of is that, now more than ever, product providers need to stay close to their customers to monitor changes in sentiment, listen to their needs and develop and refine products appropriate to their needs. In essence, putting the customer first will always be paramount, regardless of how events unfold.
Asset Manager alert! One size does not fit all in Asia
English may be the main business language but, when it comes to Asset Managers wanting to ensure they’re communicating with Asia fund selectors in the different market regions in the right way, it’s about so much more than just language.
For example, when it comes to talking via social media, did you know that 88% of fund selectors in Hong Kong use the equivalent of WeChat/WhatsApp for business, while only 44% of Singapore fund selectors do the same? And that Facebook is frequently used for business by 40% of Taiwanese fund selectors, whilst only 9% in Singapore do the same?
And UK based Asset Managers beware – UK fund selectors are still way behind their Asian colleagues in terms of social media adoption.
Bdifferent at the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
How squirrels, mice, ostriches and pilot fish came to live under the UK Pension Freedoms
Before the introduction of Pensions Freedoms in the UK came widespread speculation that consumers would cash-in their pensions and, especially in the case of small pots, rapidly blow the lot. The prospect of large swathes of the population leaving themselves next to nothing to live on in their old ages rang alarm bells in the media. Apocryphal tales abounded of flashy Italian cars bought with pension fund cash poised to speed off from dealership forecourts.
Technology Enabled Care - Implications for UK insurers
The convergence of mobile monitoring devices with digital technology, telecoms and healthcare technology is set to enable greater self-management of health and can alert professionals to changes in conditions and deviation from health or medication regimes – this is Technology Enabled Care and it looks to be a market which is set to boom.
So what are the implications for the insurance industry and how will TEC play out in the longer term ?
Contact Graham Bell to find out more about this exciting new syndicated study - call +44 (0) 1293 601901