Category: Wealth Management

Private BankingWealth Management

Keeping Your Finger on the Pulse of Your Finances

Rather than having to remember passwords, answers to secret questions and telephone length number combinations, bank account holders will instead be identified by their veins.

“It is in men as in soils where sometimes there is a vein of gold which the owner knows not”
– Jonathan Swift

The technology works with the use of an infra-red scanner. Portable and pluggable into any computer USB port, a customer simply places his or her finger inside the device with the unique patterns of their veins being read.

If the finger is approved, the customer will have access to their account within seconds.

The scanner will only be able to read the veins of a living finger, giving the technology a distinct advantage over fingerprint recognition and thwarting fraudsters much more effectively.

While it is the first time the technology has been on show in the UK, the new approach is successfully used in Japan and Poland. In both countries it is used on cash machines, (ATMs), with the customer not having to use a card or remember their personal identification number (PIN).

“Let me remind you that credit is the lifeblood of business, the lifeblood of prices and jobs”
– Herbert Hoover

Initially, Barclays will only offer the vein scanning service to its business customers, with companies registering to use the technology able to register several members of staff. Barclays says the system will allow one person to request the payment with another approving it.

Barclays has said that the expense of the technology in its present form is unlikely to appeal to retail banking customers immediately, but the head of personal and corporate banking for the bank, Ashok Vaswani, explained it was ideal for larger firms:

“For corporate clients who do a lot of large transactions, this makes a lot of sense,”

However, retail devices and use-at-home devices could not be far away, which would create a whole new trend of finger banking.

Queen’s Bank to be Sold
Private BankingWealth Management

Queen’s Bank to be Sold

Reports are suggesting that the sale could generate £600m ($1bn).

The bank, founded in the 18th century, is likely to see interest from bidders across the world. However, it is unclear whether the new Coutts International will be kept as one entity or split up. If it is split, one operation would be based in the UK, the other in Zurich, Switzerland.

The Zurich operation would manage around £20bn of assets, primarily in Asian and Middle-Eastern countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai.

A memo issued to staff by RBS ahead of the public announcement said:

“We will… work with local management teams to explore options including merging the remainder of the current Coutts International business, considering joint ventures or a sale, thereby reducing RBS’s footprint internationally.

“There are no immediate changes for individuals in these businesses and it is important that we continue to work together to deliver for our customers.”

It will be a further watering down of the bank which saw its, African, Caribbean and Latin American private banking operations snapped up by the Royal Bank of Canada in 2012.

In its present form, Coutts International has a presence in seven countries employing around 1,200 members of staff.

HMRC Targets Inheritance Tax Avoiding Trusts
Inheritance TaxWealth Management

HMRC Targets Inheritance Tax Avoiding Trusts

The plans intend to curb the use of trusts, with HMRC consulting over how to prevent people creating multiple small trusts to slash their inheritance tax (IHT) bills. HMRC say the proposals will:

“ensure fairness in the system”

The worst group hit is likely to be the moderately rich with estates valued up to £2m. Without the planning resources of the wealthiest groups they already shoulder a large IHT burden.

In 2011, the Mirrlees report said that the burden for the middle classes was disproportionate.

Official data released last week showed that estates valued at £1m or more paid 69 per cent of the total £3.4bn accrued in IHT through 2011-12. Advisers have said that conversely, the wealthiest paid comparatively little.

Trusts are a common tool used to manage the passing of assets to beneficiaries. However, they are less popular than they used to be, largely as a result of tougher restrictions, with HMRC figures showing that the number of trusts has fallen by 19 per cent since 2008-9.

Under the plans, individuals would be restricted to placing properties into a single ‘nil rate band’ trust. This has a £325,000 ceiling where no IHT is levied.

Under present rules, HMRC has said, a couple aged between 40 and 75 putting assets into trusts every seven years could shelter up to £3.25m from being taxed. That is five times the value the new rules would allow.

It went on to claim that it would be fairer to those who do not use trusts, rejecting criticism that it would disadvantage those using the facilities to make gifts to loved ones.

HMRC also said that a significant number of respondents to the consultation had objected because the plan:

“unfairly penalises sensible and moderate estate planning which up until now has been acceptable to HMRC”.

Advisers on the proposals expect full implementation of the plans with HMRC saying it will apply the new rules to trusts created after June 6 2014.

Singapore's Top 10 Billionaires Revealed
High Net-worth IndividualsWealth Management

Singapore’s Top 10 Billionaires Revealed

In land-scarce Singapore, real estate is king. That is why Philip Ng, CEO of Far East Organization, is the richest man in the Southeast Asian city-state with an estimated net worth of US$5.2bn, according to a new list compiled by Wealth-X, the ultra high net worth intelligence and prospecting firm, of the top 10 Singapore-based billionaires. Nearly 80% of the property tycoon’s net worth comes from his real estate holdings.

Ng’s net worth accounts for about one-fifth of the combined wealth of the 10 individuals on the Wealth-X list, which includes citizens of Brazil, New Zealand and Indonesia who have established their primary business addresses in Singapore and reside there.

Ng, 55, became CEO of Far East Organization in 1991. His father founded the company 31 years earlier, and it has grown to become Singapore’s largest private property developer with 750 properties in the residential, hospitality, retail, commercial and industrial sectors. A notable philanthropist, Ng has given generously to universities and educational institutions in Singapore. The new Jurong General Hospital in Singapore is to be named after his father, Teng Fong Ng, following a donation of more than US$95m by the Ng family in March 2011.

In the number two spot – and the youngest billionaire on the list – is 32-year-old Brazil-born entrepreneur Eduardo Saverin, co-founder of Facebook. Saverin moved to Singapore in 2009 and renounced his American citizenship ahead of Facebook’s IPO filing in 2012, a move that reportedly saved him millions of dollars in taxes.

New Zealand-born Richard Chandler is third on the list. Chairman of the Chandler Corporation, a Singapore-based business group that invests in public and private equity, his net worth is US$2.8bn.

There are 27 billionaires in Singapore with a combined net worth of US$64bn, according to the Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census 2013.

Bitcoin to lead to
Private BankingWealth Management

Bitcoin to lead to “Tidal Wave” of Private Money

The innovation of non-conventional types of money – such as Bitcoin – has been fuelled by mounting restrictions on financial freedom. Constraints on commerce, the erosion of financial privacy and a wish for greater quality have been the driving forces in the emerging market for private money.

New Private Monies: A Bit-Part Player? by Kevin Dowd argues that states must allow a level playing field as far as private money is concerned. For too long the government has stifled competition between state-backed and private currencies. Instead, central banks should welcome competition as it forces them to offer consumers greater choice and improved quality.

A weakened ability to store value, growing restrictions on finance, oppressive taxes and a lack of financial privacy have resulted in growing frustration at state controlled money. The superior nature of private currencies combined with the financial freedom they offer has led to their increasing attraction.

Bitcoin enables its owners, among other things, to protect their wealth, make investments free from government control and retain a level of privacy, making it increasingly attractive. The price of Bitcoin rose from 3 cents in April 2010 when first traded, to over US$900 in January 2014.

The relationship between restrictions on individual freedom and demand for private money is also identified in the paper. The increasing constraints on personal freedom have led to private money becoming more and more popular as it enables people to do what would otherwise be illegal. The market for private monies will continue to thrive as long as states restrict and prohibit various forms of commerce.

Commenting on the report, Mark Littlewood, Director General at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: “If government were to embrace private monies rather than suppress them, there would be profound implications for individual freedom. Bitcoin has proved widely successful as an alternative form of exchange and as way of restoring financial freedom. It is just the beginning however. Fierce demand for private money will drive innovation, creating a tidal wave of new and superior forms of exchange.”

Who are the World Cup’s Richest Players?
High Net-worth IndividualsWealth Management

Who are the World Cup’s Richest Players?

Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal’s forward and captain, has been named as the wealthiest footballer competing in this year’s World Cup by ultra high net worth intelligence and prospecting firm Wealth-X.

With an estimated net worth of US$230m, Ronaldo’s personal fortune accounts for nearly one quarter of the combined net worth of the 10 players in the Wealth-X World Cup Rich List, beating other high-profile soccer players such as Lionel Messi from Argentina and England’s Wayne Rooney.

Nearly all of the footballers on the list are current or past players in the English Premier League, the only exceptions being Messi and Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

England has more ultra wealthy soccer players on the Wealth-X World Cup Rich List than any other country: forward Rooney (US$95m), and midfielders Frank Lampard (US$60m) and Steven Gerrard (US$55m).

The 2010 World Cup champions, Spain, have only one ultra wealthy footballer on the list, Fernando Torres, who has an estimated net worth of US$50m.

Host nation Brazil, which last hosted the World Cup in 1950 and since then has established itself as a dominant power, winning football’s greatest trophy a record five times, does not have a player on the Wealth-X list although their star player, Neymar, has an estimated net worth of US$25m.

Buffon, who has an estimated net worth of US$50m, is the only goalkeeper in the list, which primarily consists of midfielders or strikers.

 

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Not the Brits
High Net-worth IndividualsWealth Management

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Not the Brits

According to a survey by YouGov on behalf of direct bank first direct, for almost a quarter of people in the UK a sudden windfall of up to £50,000 would be enough to change their lives, with only 12% hankering to be millionaires.

They have no interest in “flashing the cash” by going on exotic holidays or buying expensive sports cars, the researchers found. Instead, they just want enough money to pay off their debts and treat their families.

And almost one in five (19%) confessed that even if they did come into life-changing wealth they would not change their jobs.

The poll of 2,300 adults was conducted to discover what “life-changing” means in post-recession Britain.
Andy Forbes, Head of Products at first direct, said: “We might dream about a Lottery jackpot, but the reality is that most of us aren’t interested in bigger houses or flash cars. Instead, we just want the simple security of knowing we can pay the bills each month and not get into more debt.

“These days we equate financial happiness with being able to provide simple treats for our families, rather than having enough money to quit our jobs or go on luxury holidays.”

The survey also found that:

For just over half the population (52%) a minimum of £100,000 would be a life-changing amount, while almost one in eight (12%) say they would need £1 million.

A quarter of people said paying off their debts would be the biggest priority.

Just over one in ten (11%) would invest a big windfall, with a similar number using the cash for a holiday or a new car.

60% of women said they would use any new-found wealth to change their looks

While only a third of women said a sudden financial windfall would lead them to changing their friends, 45% would look at swapping their partners

Londoners are most likely to ditch their partners, while the Welsh are tops when it comes to loyalty to partners and friends.

 

Wealth Management Portal Launched
Private ClientWealth Management

Wealth Management Portal Launched

Multrees Investor Services, the independent custody and consolidated reporting specialist for wealth managers and private investment offices, has launched Multrees Compass, an online interactive web portal to transform the wealth advisers’ experience and help them manage their clients’ assets more efficiently.

Multrees Compass offers wealth advisers a range of functionality and tailored services based upon their clients’ needs. Under one single sign-on solution, Multrees Compass provides a suite of integrated services including content management, portfolio modelling, order management and accounting, multi-level business intelligence reporting, and analytics.

Jaco Cebula, Chief Technology Officer at Multrees, said: “Multrees Compass uses market-leading technology to provide wealth managers with a holistic visual display of their own client information and seamless access to Multrees’ range of wealth management tools and services. Just as everyone has their own combination of apps on their smartphone, each wealth manager will have a tailored combination of services based on their log-in; reflecting their specific business models and requirements.”

Chris Fisher, CEO of Multrees, said: “It is crucial that we continue to invest in technology to be able to adapt quickly and efficiently to changes in the wealth management industry. Our clients have unique requirements and their resources are finite. They want easy access to professional information and control over their clients’ investments to provide a premium service that addresses new regulation. We are committed to providing this support so that clients remain at the forefront of the industry.”

Nigel Pilkington, Chairman of Multrees and senior Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB executive said: “Multrees has really listened to the industry, thus showing their commitment to supporting clients through dynamic technology solutions, quality products, and effective services that help them to grow their businesses. It’s another milestone on the journey, empowering wealth managers to focus on addressing the multiple needs of their clients and to safely and easily navigate the increasingly complex wealth management marketplace.”

Millionaires' Top Five Past Investing Mistakes
High Net-worth IndividualsWealth Management

Millionaires’ Top Five Past Investing Mistakes

The top five most common mistakes made by millionaires are failing to diversify, investing without a plan, making emotional decisions, failing to review a portfolio, and placing too much focus on previous returns, finds a poll by one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organisations, according to a new survey.

In the global deVere Group survey of 880 high-net-worth clients, when asked to reveal their number one investing mistake before seeking professional advice from deVere, 23% cited failing to adequately diversify their portfolio.

22% responded investing without a plan, 20% said it was making emotional decisions, 16% answered failing to regularly review the portfolio, and 14% claimed it was focusing too heavily on the history of an investment’s returns.

5% cited other errors, including impatience, investing near the top of the market, adhering to recommendations from acquaintances, and paying tax on the investments unnecessarily, amongst others.

Those polled by the organisation, which has more than 80,000 clients worldwide, are based in the UK, the US, South Africa, Hong Kong, Japan, the UAE, Indonesia and Thailand and have investable assets of more than £1m.

Of the survey, Nigel Green, deVere’s founder and chief executive, observes: “Interestingly, there are minimal differences between the top five most common investment mistakes previously made by high-net-worth individuals.

“This close weighting could suggest that, according to the respondents, all of them are almost equally as significant and costly – and therefore must be avoided.”

On the breakdown of the poll, he continues: “As the survey highlights, failure to diversify a portfolio is widely regarded as one of the most common investment pitfalls. Spreading your money around is a vital tool to manage risk. However, it must be used correctly. Diversification will only add real value if the new asset has a different risk profile.

“The poll underscores how 22% of today’s millionaires have also in the past fallen into the all-too-familiar trap of randomly investing, or investing without a structured, robust plan. Anyone who has an investment plan can expect their portfolio to outperform those without a plan. To my mind, unless you have a sound investment plan you are gambling, not investing.

“Most decisions in life are emotional to some degree but making excessively emotional decisions can prove deadly when it comes to investments because they are blighted by prejudices and biases. Working with an independent financial adviser is one recommended way to help take excessive emotion out of the equation.

“16% of respondents cited that failure to review their portfolio on a regular basis was their number one investment mistake. This is not surprising as even the best portfolios can go off-target over time. Investments need to be reviewed and potentially rebalanced at least annually, preferably more often, to ensure they still deserve their place in the portfolio and that they are still on track to reach your long-term financial objectives.

“Additionally, high-net-worth individuals told us that they have in the past been caught out by relying too much on historical returns and not giving enough importance to future expectations. The future investment situation is likely to be different from time-aged averages. Past averages may have little bearing on the current environment and therefore the actual returns you receive.”

deVere Group’s CEO concludes: “Mistakes investing can and do occur – it is how they are best avoided, or at least mitigated, that is the key to success. Learning lessons from people, like those we polled, who have overcome these common investment mistakes to go on to accumulate significant wealth in the longer-term is a way to reduce costly errors.

“Due to the complexities of investing and the potentially devastating effects of committing expensive avoidable errors, the best thing to do is to seek advice from a professional independent financial adviser who will help circumnavigate the common and not-so-common pitfalls. Avoiding just one of these mistakes – and there are many others – can literally make the difference between poverty and financial freedom.”

Jerry Seinfeld Hollywood's Richest Actor
High Net-worth IndividualsWealth Management

Jerry Seinfeld Hollywood’s Richest Actor

With an estimated net worth of US$820m, comedian Jerry Seinfeld is laughing all the way to the bank.

The 60-year-old entertainment icon emerged as the wealthiest actor on the Hollywood and Bollywood Rich List compiled by ultra high net worth intelligence and prospecting firm Wealth-X.

To compile the list, Wealth-X identified the wealthiest TV and movie actors from the US and India. The combined personal fortunes of the stars on the list total US$4.68bn.

The co-founder of the eponymous TV comedy “about nothing” significantly increased his fortune through off-network syndication deals for “Seinfeld,” giving him at least US$400m in the fifth syndication agreement last year. He has also acted in numerous films, including the animated feature “Bee Movie.”

Taking the second spot – and the only Bollywood actor on Wealth-X’s top 10 list – is movie star Shah Rukh Khan, who is estimated to be worth US$600m. Immensely popular around the globe as well as in his home country, India, where he is referred to in the media as “Badshah of Bollywood” or “King of Bollywood,” Khan is also a producer, TV host, co-owner of an Indian cricket club and a philanthropist. He has appeared in more than 50 Bollywood films and is a regular at the annual Cannes Film Festival.

Several Academy Award winners are featured on the list, including three-time Oscar winner Jack Nicholson, who has a net worth of US$400m, which puts the 77-year-old actor in 7th spot. Tom Hanks, who won best actor Oscars for “Philadelphia” and “Forrest Gump,” is in 8th place with a personal fortune of US$390m.

Clint Eastwood, who at 84 is the oldest actor on the Rich List, has an estimated personal fortune of US$370m, making him the 9th wealthiest actor on the list.

Vincent Mercer joins Oracle Capital Group Advisory Board
High Net-worth IndividualsWealth Management

Vincent Mercer joins Oracle Capital Group Advisory Board

Oracle Capital Group, the global independent multi-family office and wealth consultancy, have announced the appointment of Vincent Mercer to its Advisory Board. Mercer, an experienced lawyer, is recognised as an expert in the regulation of financial services in the UK.

Mercer began his career at the London Clearing House in 1983 where he worked on the then emerging UK regulatory structure, contributing to both the Financial Services Act 1986 and the market default procedures in the Companies Act 1989.

His subsequent roles included Head of Risk Management for the London Stock Exchange’s Traded Options Market (1987 to 1991) where his responsibilities included the clearing, settlement and risk management of the Stock Exchange’s former equity options.

Mercer established his own law firm in 1991 which later merged with top 50 city law firm Speechly Bircham, where he became a partner in its financial services group. Vincent retains an ongoing consultancy role with Speechly Bircham.

The most recent appointment to the Advisory Board prior to Mercer was former Home Secretary David Blunkett. The Board is chaired by Martin Graham, former Director of Markets and Chairman of AIM at London Stock Exchange.

Commenting on the appointment Martin Graham, Chairman of Oracle Capital Group, said: “We are delighted to welcome Vincent to our Advisory Board. The expertise he has gained over a long and rich career will be especially valuable in the current complex regulatory environment as we continue to develop and grow the business across our key markets.”

Bridging the Family Business Generation Gap
Family OfficesWealth Management

Bridging the Family Business Generation Gap

The results of new research by PwC, talking to more than 200 family members likely to take over family businesses in 21 countries worldwide, looks specifically at the issue of succession and how family firms prepare for these changes.

The report identifies three areas where a mis-match of styles, ambitions and plans could cause difficulties for UK family businesses which account for over 9 million jobs, around UK £80bn in annual tax receipts and nearly a quarter of
total GDP.

The generation gap

Henrik Steinbrecher, PwC global middle market leader, says: “The world has changed out of all recognition since the current generation took over, and the pace of change can only accelerate in response to global megatrends like demographic shifts, urbanisation, climate change and new technology.

“The handover for ‘first generation’ businesses – those making the transition from start-up venture to family firm – is commonly the most fraught. Of those taking over under these circumstances; 20% say they’re not looking forward to running the business, compared to 8% for respondents as a whole.”

The credibility gap

Bearing the family name can work against the next generation. 88% say they have to work harder than others in the firm to ‘prove themselves’. 59% consider gaining the respect of their co-workers is the single biggest challenge they face.

Promotion to CEO is no longer automatic for the next generation, with a growing number of family businesses being prepared to make tough succession decisions. The survey revealed that 73% said they were looking forward to running the business one day, but only 35% thought that was definite, and as many as 29% thought it at best only fairly likely.

The communications gap

There’s a tendency for some in the older generation to overestimate how well they have run the business, while underestimating their children’s capacity to do this as competently as they did.

Sian Steele, PwC partner and family business specialist in the UK, says:

“Members of the current generation often comment that their children aren’t sufficiently entrepreneurial and aren’t prepared to put in the long hours they did to build the business while, down the hall, their children are wishing their parents would embrace new technology and new ideas.

“This sort of impasse can slow down decision-making and lead to the phenomenon of the ‘sticky baton’, where the older generation hands over management of the firm in theory but in practice retains control over everything that matters.”

The survey reveals that as many as 64% think the current generation will find it tough to let go.

Steinbrecher concludes: “Firms that manage succession well are those that plan many years ahead – ideally, five to seven years in advance – accompanied by ‘sensible conversations’ that address roles, responsibilities, and timings.”

Download the full report at www.pwc.com/nextgen 

 

Mega Advisor Teams Control 42% of the Advisory Marketshare
High Net-worth IndividualsWealth Management

Mega Advisor Teams Control 42% of the Advisory Marketshare

New research from global analytics firm Cerulli Associates, predicts that target-date strategies will capture 63.4% of 401(k) contributions in 2018.

“Mega teams are well situated to attract high-net-worth clients,” comments Kenton Shirk, associate director at Cerulli.

“One of many reasons is their size, which allows advisors to offer a greater breadth and depth of expertise to serve the complex needs of affluent clients.”

The second quarter issue of The Cerulli Edge – Advisor Edition examines how established practices can build a scalable practice model to support continued growth, and takes a closer look at how advisors and service providers can shift their focus from mass-affluent clients to the high-net-worth market.

“Mega teams are also ideally positioned to make acquisitions,” Shirk explains. “Their financial success reduces the burden of financing, and the scale of their operational infrastructure makes it easier to service additional clients.”

“As a growing number of advisors near retirement age, acquisitions will help mega teams grow at even faster rates,” Shirk continues.

Cerulli believes that mega teams will continue to grow their marketshare of advisory assets. Broker/dealers and custodians that proactively help their advisorforces step up to the next asset bracket will be well positioned to share in their success.

Service Delivery Trumps Offerings says Study
Family OfficesWealth Management

Service Delivery Trumps Offerings says Study

The Family Office Exchange (FOX) asked a select group of industry-leading advisors and sophisticated family office executives to identify the hallmarks of state of the art advice in various disciplines of family wealth management at the 2013 FOX Thought Leaders Council Summit.

The respondents reported that how services are delivered, rather than service menu, is the biggest differentiator for leading firms.

The report, titled “The State of the Art in Family Wealth Management,” identified the following as the hallmarks of state of the art wealth management:

– A tendency to ask why before asking how – State of the art advisors approach their work by first ensuring that they understand their clients’ goals

– Communication with the goal of understanding – State of the art advisors communicate strategically and proactively, anticipating their clients’ needs, with regular frequency, as well as responding to on demand requests

– Understanding how all the pieces fit together – State of the art advisors proactively understand the roles and strategies of the other advisors who are on the team and know how and where their strategies impact one another

– Promoting teamwork among advisors – State of the art advisors understand the value of teamwork and actively work to put it into practice in the way they work with their own staffs, with their clients, and with other advisors.

“Our primary intention with this report was to perform a gap analysis and identify the needs of ultra-wealthy that weren’t being met in today’s private wealth management industry,” says FOX Executive Director of Market and Content Development Amy Hart Clyne.

“Interestingly, the study revealed that there is not a services gap. It is how rather than what services are delivered that separates best practice from common practice.”

Over Half Believe Wealthy Starts at £10m
High Net-worth IndividualsWealth Management

Over Half Believe Wealthy Starts at £10m

A recent survey by Oracle Capital Group, the independent international multi-family office, has shown that more than 55% of people believe that to be deemed wealthy today you need to be worth more than £10m.

More than 20% of these respondents believe that you can only be deemed wealthy if you enjoy a personal fortune of £100m or more.

In contrast to previous decades when the term ‘millionaire’ indicated significant personal wealth, it is clear that our perceptions of what it means to be wealthy have changed. Factors such as inflation and escalating house prices have driven living costs higher, and a million GBP in assets no longer has the cachet and purchasing power
it once did.

The results of the survey highlight the impact of the vast personal wealth accrued by many celebrities and other figures in the public eye. Two thirds of respondents believe that the high visibility of wealthy celebrities has skewed our perceptions of wealth, with almost half of all respondents attributing this to the earnings of sports stars.

Of the other respondents, a fifth felt that remuneration in the media and arts most skewed perceptions of wealth, while 18% chose the salaries and bonuses enjoyed by business executives and financial professionals. 13% of respondents believe that the technology sector has most affected our perceptions of wealth, a reflection of the high profile successes of tech start-ups such as facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter which have generated fortunes for
their founders.

Yury Gantman, CEO of Oracle Capital Group, commented: “Clearly the idea of wealth is relative, but what is clear is that the word ‘millionaire’ does not necessarily now conjure up the sense of significant wealth that it did until relatively recently; today, it’s more about being a ‘tenmillionaire’.

“Many people who own properties in the London area have become millionaires by virtue of the dramatic inflation of house prices, but would not necessarily regard themselves as HNWIs (high net worth individuals). This is undoubtedly a reflection of growing living costs which, alongside the housing market, have affected food prices, school fees, travel and other household outgoings, but also – as indicated by our survey – because their own personal assets are dwarfed by the immense and highly publicised fortunes of footballers, film stars, hedge fund managers and tech billionaires.”

UK and Ireland Have Highest Death Duties
Inheritance TaxWealth Management

UK and Ireland Have Highest Death Duties

The UK government would typically take 25.8% from the estate of an individual passing on assets worth US$3m to their heirs, well above the global average of 7.67%. This figure takes into account the doubling up of the £325,000 threshold that is typical when the deceased has survived their spouse or civil partner.

If only the £325,000 threshold is available – for example, because the individual has never been married – the proportion of tax taken by the UK would be far higher, with a tax take of 32.9% on an estate of US$3m.

Several developed countries, including Australia, Israel and New Zealand, have chosen to abolish inheritance taxes in order to create simpler tax systems and encourage the creation of wealth, whether through investment or entrepreneurship.

In the UK, the inheritance tax threshold has been frozen at £325,000 since 6 April 2009 and is expected to remain at the level until at least 5 April 2018. This is actually below the average London house price of £409,881, and not far above the national average house price of £250,000.

This means that a tax that was originally designed to apply only to the very wealthy now affects an increasingly large proportion of the population.

By contrast in the USA the 40% federal estate tax applies only to estates of over US$5.34m, and so only affects those with substantial assets. Moreover, the US has raised the threshold for paying the estate tax several times over the last decade, increasing it to its current level from US$1,500,000 for deaths in 2004 – 2005.

Prime Minister David Cameron has recently hinted that the Conservative Party may revive their previous electoral promise to raise the threshold for inheritance tax to £1m per estate.

Ladislav Hornan, Managing Partner at UHY Hacker Young, says: “big inheritance tax bills can reduce the incentive to keep creating wealth in order to pass it on to your family. They can also deprive the next generation of capital that traditionally has been key to funding the establishment of new businesses.”

“That is why dynamic developed economies like Australia have scrapped inheritance taxes altogether, and some emerging economies have never imposed them.”

“By contrast in the UK, the Exchequer has become increasingly reliant on the substantial income streams generated by inheritance tax. It has been seen as a lucrative way to extract tax revenues from a relatively ageing population: retirees frequently have lower levels of taxable income, but substantial assets such as mortgage-free homes.

“As more and more UK families are caught in the inheritance tax trap, pressure for major reform is growing.”

Our study found that European countries generally levy the highest inheritance taxes of all, with EU countries in the study taking 15% tax on the inheritance of a property of US$3m, nearly twice as much as the global average of 8%. Many emerging economies have traditionally not imposed inheritance and estate taxes which are seen as discouraging wealth creation. For example, China, India and Russia all have no inheritance taxes.

Mark Giddens, Partner at UHY Hacker Young, comments: “Inheritance tax has become a big earner for the UK Treasury, and inevitably, as rocketing house prices push more and more people into its scope, there is a greater incentive to plan ahead and try and reduce the liability.

“There are specifically targeted investment reliefs from inheritance tax which encourage people to continue to invest productively by making investments in unlisted trading company shares. These can be used as a route to reduce the tax exposure.

“There are also gifting exemptions that allow individuals to pass on wealth while they are still alive, so that inheritance tax can be mitigated entirely if an individual makes gifts to their heirs at least seven years before their death.”

“But it would be simpler and more effective by far for the Treasury to scrap the tax altogether or at least to increase the threshold at which it is paid in a meaningful way, something that David Cameron has been dropping heavy hints about.”

The Art to Investing in Art
Private ClientWealth Management

The Art to Investing in Art

 

Art is the ultimate symbol, the ultimate luxury item. Put aside the yacht, the garage, the fleet of Bentleys and vacate the Hyde Park 1 address. Art is where it’s at. But is it a wise investment?

As a dealer in fine art of 28 years, I tend to act with restraint, even scepticism at the words, ‘investment in art’. I am not even sure I believe in the concept. This is a more rarefied and, dare I say it, subtle world where vast fortunes can be made, and indeed lost. This being the case, the following advice is crucial to the success of any purchase in art:

• Seek advice from auction houses and dealers
• Miracles don’t happen
• A little knowledge is a dangerous thing
• Never buy a name, always buy a picture. If you can combine the two, you have achieved your goal
• A painting is worth what someone will pay for it
• Selling a piece of art takes time. With the help of a dealer, timing your sale to the exact moment when the art is in high value can save you time and substantial costs.

A crisis-free investment?

Let’s say you had invested $250,000 with me between 1994 and 1996 in one particular area of the market, Russian Art from 1890-1930. By 2008, you would have seen a return of $5,000,000, or 20 times your original investment. If you had invested $3,000,000 around ten years later (2005-6), you would have seen a return of $8,500,000 by 2008, giving a nice return of 250% over three years. Sound spectacular? Apparently, over the first period you would have seen greater reward with shares in Gazprom, and over the second you might have seen a greater return in gold, real estate or zinc.

These art sales and the profits thereof take on a far greater significance when you consider that they all took place between October 2008 and June 2009, the eight months that followed the world financial crash. Whilst it can’t be said that a profit was made on every painting sold, it is the second group of figures, the profits posted on paintings purchased between 2005-2006, that are the most striking. Myself and the collector in question bought on the crest of a boom in the art world and yet we sold successfully during a financial trough when many others were less fortunate.

There was no science involved, no calculated nor specially-directed investment on the side of the buyer. We simply stuck with the tried and tested method of buying not names, but pictures. The exact meaning of this is simple and refers us in part to a quote from Forbes.com that, “art market indices mostly track high-performing works, and ignore the duds – skewing both risk and return figures”. In very simple terms, many artists of world renown painted many thousands of paintings of which only a fraction are worth buying. To a dealer or other expert, it is no great science to spot the better pictures from the so-called ‘duds’.

If sold today, the return on the paintings in question would look considerably more, with the stock purchased between 2005 and 2006 likely to fetch $15-17,000,000. While this offers evidence to the claim that people ‘move into collectibles’ when times are rough, it also shows that great art, great paintings, will always find a buyer and that art may even somehow be a “financial-crisis-free” investment. The great science, however, is how to buy these commercial items. This is where the secret to being a clever buyer lies.

The role of the dealer

If you are offered a painting by Malevich for $5,000,000 which, according to the sellers, is worth $40,000,000 on the open market, you are not being offered a real Malevich but an offer to go and physically burn $5m worth of $100 notes in a public square. These paintings are almost always accompanied by certificates of authenticity from ‘noted academics’ who are almost all either incompetent or simply corrupt.

My maxim when offering advice on these ‘miracle’ paintings is simple. Would either of the two leading auction houses, Sotheby’s and Christies, or any credible dealer, offer them for re-sale? If the answer is no then the painting should be avoided. Sadly, the world of Russian Art has been cursed with such paintings but blame lies firmly with the academics. They simply have no experience of the art market – how could they from their ivory towers? – and are not financially liable for their opinions.

The dealer is the filtering mechanism; experienced at buying and selling they understand where the potential
pitfalls are.

A dealer will also help a client with the promotion of his paintings, for example, organising for items to be reproduced in books or shown at museum exhibitions. Whilst some clients prefer anonymity, I try to persuade them of the value of showing an item in public. By increasing a painting’s exposure, you increase its value because, by virtue of it appearing in a museum, the Art establishment has given it an official seal of approval.

A competent dealer will also help research a painting, frequently finding information that will increase its value. For example, a work from my collection was found to have been owned by the great tenor Fyodor Chaliapin and illustrated in a book from 1918. Whilst a clever market analyst might be able to put an exact percentage figure on how much this increased the value of the work, I am more sanguine. A painting is worth just exactly what a buyer is prepared to pay for it – the aforementioned work was finally sold for much more than I could possibly have hoped.

Blue chip purchases

Dealers have a phrase, ‘to talk a picture off the wall’. Indeed, I have been involved in several deals where Party 1 has a painting that they have no intention of selling but Party 2 is so keen to obtain the work that they will make an offer far above the ‘market price’ which, in itself, is something difficult to quantify. I enjoy such deals because the painting in question is usually a masterpiece and both parties are getting blue-chip returns – either a museum quality painting or an inflated price.

To overpay is fine, to underpay is potentially fatal. There simply are no bargains around. I can quote tens of examples. Twelve years ago, a client tried to haggle on a purchase, insisting on a 10% discount which, taking into account his overall wealth, was unnecessary. I explained that he was making a major mistake and he eventually withdrew his terms. The painting is now worth 15 times what he paid for it.

Buy the art, not the investment

The art market is, essentially, like any other: supply and demand are the motors. However, in the case of the blue chip ‘investments’ that I advise on, supply is running out and demand is strengthening.

To successfully invest in art one needs to be detached, less rational and less in control, leaving many of the decisions to those better qualified than yourself. Listed below, however, are the key things to remember:

• Find a trusted dealer
• Be patient
• Don’t expect miracles, no one lets great works sell at a discount
• Don’t buy names, buy pictures
• Go blue chip
• A painting is worth what someone will pay for it
• Don’t haggle
• High prices for the greatest works are always justified
• Enjoy it

In my opinion, the last word should come from Larry Gagosian, one the greatest dealers in the world today: “An art investment can also be a bad investment.” Therefore, buy the art, not the investment. If you have the great art that others covet, you’ll make money.

SME Entrepreneurs Announce Budget Wishlist
Private ClientWealth Management

SME Entrepreneurs Announce Budget Wishlist

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Businessmen give their views on what they want to see in the forthcoming Budget, which is to be announced by Chancellor George Osborne on Wednesday 19th March, 2014.

Anthony Rushton, CEO of leading online advertising auditing company Telemetry (www.telemetry.com).

“I want the government to announce solid Research and Development (R&D) tax benefits for Internet based tech providers.

“Also, there should be an increase in Entrepreneur Relief from £10m to £25m with improved terms for activation.

“Finally, I think the Chancellor should announce a reduction in stamp duty in the housing market.”

Scott Fletcher, Chairman and founder of Cloud Specialists, ANS Group (www.ans.co.uk).

“There should be a focus on encouraging business investment using the tax system in particular, employment of young people, capital investment, and Digital Economy.

“They should also abolish business rates for start-ups and abolish university fees in STEM – we need thousands more engineers.

“The Chancellor can save billions by investing in the Cloud, something that the government is not yet fully taking advantage of.

“It has proven to be more flexible and better value for money for businesses up and down the country. It could save the government billions, reducing the need for so much austerity and allowing government to reduce business taxes to encourage investment.”

Will Davies, co-founder and Managing Director of leading property maintenance firm, aspect.co.uk.

“I wonder if we focus on the Mansion Tax. As proposed, it seems like a crazy idea as it will hit many UK nationals as opposed to hitting foreign investors, which is the main intention.

“We think it will hit our market as large numbers of London home owners will have to fund this additional money annually. This will hit the amount they have to spend on improvements to their homes. Surely there must be a more efficient way to tax foreign money investing in UK property?”

Societe Generale to Sell Private Banking Activities
Private FundsWealth Management

Societe Generale to Sell Private Banking Activities

The transaction will be structured as a business transfer. At completion, Societe Generale group will receive a cash consideration of US$220m for the franchise (subject to adjustment based on the net asset value and assets under management at completion) and will free up around US$200m of equity.

Further to the transaction, Societe Generale announces that it has entered into a memorandum of understanding with DBS to develop a commercial partnership combining the strengths of the two franchises for the benefit of their respective clients. The partnership will give Societe Generale’s clients access to DBS’ Private banking offering in Asia. In addition DBS’ clients will have access to Societe Generale Private Banking’s offering in Europe as well as to Corporate and Investment Banking solutions.

The transaction is subject to approvals from the relevant authorities and is expected to be completed in Q4 2014. It is expected to have a positive impact on the Group net income and on the Basel 3 Common Equity Tier 1 ratio.

Societe Generale Private Banking will be in a position to free up investment capacities to accelerate its development in its core markets and to further strengthen the services offered to its clients in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.

Societe Generale remains committed to Asia, in particular in Corporate & Investment Banking, where it has successfully focused on its strengths over the past three years and reached a strong sustainable growth.

In Asia Pacific, the Group is present in 11 countries, where it has more than 6,000 employees. Leveraging on its universal banking model and leading positions, the Group offers domestic and international clients present in the region solutions ranging from financing and investment to cash management services.

deVere Group Backs IFS Concerns
High Net-worth IndividualsWealth Management

deVere Group Backs IFS Concerns

One of the world’s largest independent financial advisory groups is supporting a leading economic think tank’s warnings about the UK’s reliance on tax revenue from a small number of better
off individuals.

It comes after its own research finds a growing number of the well-paid are looking to move themselves and their funds out of the UK.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) is raising concerns that “lumping more taxes on the rich” is putting the country’s long-term finances at risk; whilst deVere Group reports that more than half (56 per cent) of its UK-based ‘high earner’ clients say they want to leave Britain within the next five years.

Nigel Green, founder and chief executive of deVere Group, comments: “The IFS is absolutely right to raise the alarm on ‘soaking the rich’ because these people, typically, have the resources to move to lower tax jurisdictions if the tax burden in the UK becomes too great. They are internationally mobile.

“Should they emigrate – and according to a recent deVere poll a high number very well could – government finances will suffer considerably because they contribute a disproportionately large amount to the state’s coffers. 30 per cent of all income tax and 7.5 per cent of total tax revenue is paid by those earning £150,000 a year or more.

He continues: “In a recent survey of more than 190 high earning clients, more than half revealed that they are considering a move to live and work or retire overseas within the next five years. The primary reason for this is that they feel taxation in Britain is stifling their financial ambitions.

“They tell us that they believe their hard-work, aspiration and success is being punished and they fear more punitive taxes on achievement could be on their way. As such, many are considering their options outside the UK.

“This should be a wake-up call for political leaders because the state is reliant on these people’s taxes.”

Mr Green concludes: “If the government is serious about having the better-off pay more tax, they should cut rates further and allow them to become wealthier. This would incentivise top achievers, who prop-up ‘The System’, to remain in the UK. However, I suspect that implementing this economically-sound philosophy would be political suicide for many politicians in the current climate.”

Investor Confidence in UK Shares
Private BankingWealth Management

Investor Confidence in UK Shares

After a strong year for UK shares, the Lloyds Bank Private Banking Investor Sentiment Index survey shows private investor confidence in asset class is at its highest since the survey began
in March 2013.

According to the monthly survey, the net sentiment1 among surveyed investors has risen to  38 at the start of January, with over 47% of respondents holding a positive view just 9% holding a negative view, while 31% held a neutral view. This is in sharp contrast to March 2013, when the figure was just over 16, with nearly 34 per cent holding a positive view and over 17% negative, while 38% held a neutral view.

Despite periods of volatility, the FTSE 100 enjoyed a strong 2013, rising 14.4% in the best year for the index since 2009 when it made gains of 18.66%. Meanwhile, the FTSE 250 of smaller companies finished 2013 at an all-time high of 15,935.35.

The year 2013 saw a number of positive news stories about the UK economy including improved economic indicators and company earnings. Lloyds Bank Private Banking currently holds a positive view towards UK equities, with an overweight position in its client portfolios towards the
asset class.

In other global markets, private investors looked beyond market concerns towards US equities following the first round of the government’s reduction in quantitative easing. Net sentiment improved towards the US stock market between December and January rising nearly seven points to 7.

Investors surveyed also remain broadly negative towards Eurozone stock markets, with sentiment staying firmly in negative figures at -21. However, this is a substantial improvement on lows of -59 in April 2013. Japanese shares also reached their highest net sentiment in the survey’s history, climbing almost five points from the previous month to 13 in January 2014.

Lloyds Bank Private Banking maintains a neutral stance towards US equities, but sees value in the Eurozone and Japan, holding an equity overweight position in both these markets.

Commenting on the latest Investor Sentiment Index, Ashish Misra, Head of Investment Policy at Lloyds Bank Private Banking said: “It’s encouraging to see investors placing more faith in the UK stock market, and good news for British companies ahead of the first earnings season of 2014.

There has been a slew of positive economic data out of the UK throughout 2013, suggesting that the recovery is gaining momentum, and it’s likely that investors’ views towards the UK stock market are reflective of this.

“The increase in sentiment towards US equities was perhaps surprising given the QE taper that began just before Christmas, although US equities outperformed every other global equity market except Japan in 2013. We remain neutral towards the US and see the best opportunities for equity investors currently in the UK, Japan and the Eurozone.”

RiverPeak Wealth Appoints Marianne Hay
Private BankingWealth Management

RiverPeak Wealth Appoints Marianne Hay

Marianne Hay has joined the Advisory Board of RiverPeak Wealth, the newly launched wealth management firm.

Hay, who has headed global wealth and asset management groups including roles as CEO of Europe, Middle East and Africa Wealth Management at Morgan Stanley, Citi and Standard Chartered, will offer advice on the growth and development of the business.

Launched in December, RiverPeak Wealth provides portfolio management, investment analysis and financial planning advice.

Nick Parker, RiverPeak Managing Director, commented “We are delighted that Marianne is joining us in an advisory capacity. Her past experience and skills will prove invaluable to us, and our clients, as we grow the business.”.

Hay added “The wealth management market in the UK continues to be fragmented with no clear market leader. RDR has given RiverPeak Wealth an opportunity to develop new ways of providing wealth advice. I am looking forward to helping RiverPeak’s directors meet their ambitious goals over the months ahead.”

RiverPeak Wealth Expands Senior Team
Private BankingWealth Management

RiverPeak Wealth Expands Senior Team

James Powell, former director of private banking at Banque Havilland, is joining newly launched wealth management firm RiverPeak Wealth as Managing Director.

Launched in December, RiverPeak Wealth provides portfolio management, investment analysis and financial planning across London and the South East.

Powell, a private banking and financial planning veteran of 20 years, will be joining former colleague and founder Nick Parker at the helm of the business.

At Banque Havilland, Powell was responsible for establishing and growing the bank’s London branch. Previously, he was a wealth structuring specialist and then a private banker at Citi Private Bank.

Commenting on his new role, Powell said: “RiverPeak is filling the gap in the market for a wealth management and financial planning firm which goes beyond the usual product sell to provide a highly personalised private banking style service that is usually only experienced by the very wealthiest individuals and families. I’m excited about our offering plus the support and interest RiverPeak is already generating amongst UK financial influencers and business leaders, and importantly prospective clients. “