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Brexit and DB transfers: the week in news

Brexit and DB transfers: the week in news

At the end of a week that saw the UK trigger Article 50 to leave the European Union, it is time to trigger the week in news. There is no need for negotiations here.

1) Brexit begins

After nearly a year, the phoney war is over and the British government has triggered the legal mechanism which will see the UK leave the European Union.

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Investment veterans gave their view on what it could mean for currency and assets, with Richard Stone, chief executive of the Share Centre, saying the value of the pound would continue to sag over the next two years, particularly if the Bank of England is tempted to keep interest rates low to support the economy.

Meanwhile Michelle McGrade, chief investment officer of TD Direct Investing, said investors need to stop being blinkered by politics and should instead focus on the fundamentals, such as market confidence, unemployment, and inflation.

Also this week, data from Thomson Reuters Lipper revealed that European equity funds, including the UK, had suffered outflows amounting to £6.4bn since the referendum, causing the sector to plunge to the bottom of the fund flow table.

2) DB or not DB, that is the question

The regulatory issues surrounding defined benefit transfers continue to prey on the minds of advisers, nearly two years after the pension freedom reforms came into effect.

This week financial planner David Penney, a former regulator who worked on the 1990's pension review, warned of FCA action over the spate of defined benefit (DB) transfer requests being made since pension freedoms came into force.

Meanwhile advisers were warned to consider the risks of advising clients against transferring out of a defined benefit pension scheme, in the light of recent record high transfer values.

So advisers should be careful about transferring DB pensions, and careful about not transferring them. Clear as mud then…

3) Breakin’ up is hard to do

With so many people worried about Britain’s Brexit bill from the EU, perhaps it was timely that some Vanguard clients found themselves in the same position.

The asset manager will close the US Discoveries fund after the sub-investment manager, Granahan Investment Management, decided to end its 31-year relationship with Vanguard.

But Andrew Flowers, a chartered financial planner with Buckinghamshire-based Vizion Wealth, criticised the company after it forced some of his clients to encash their holdings, giving them a total capital gains tax bill of £30,000.

He questioned why Vanguard couldn’t have merged the fund to prevent the tax bill but the company said it couldn’t find an equivalent fund to accept the assets.

4) IFA avoids jail over grooming conviction

A financial adviser snared trying to meet a 15-year-old girl for sex by a group of vigilantes was spared jail this week.

Jonathan Hunt, 41, set up a profile on the internet site Badoo with the profile “looking for a pretty girls to date. Will treat you on dates and make you feel very special xx…”.