Good morning and welcome to your Morning Briefing for Monday 15 February, 2021. To get this in your inbox every morning click here.
Woody’s New Clothes
Only one story ruled the financial services airwaves over the weekend, and that was the return of Neil Woodford to fund management. In an interview with the Telegraph, the fallen star manager offered an apology to the investors he had let down, but laid much of the blame at the feet of fund administrators Link, and said he was ready to get back into the saddle to launch a new venture.
Woodford admits he was scarred by needing daily liquidity for retail investors, so there will be a few key differences between his past outfit and his new venture Woodford Capital Management Partners – it will be targeted at professional investors, and will be based in Guernsey for a start.
But elsewhere themes remain: former Woodford Investment Management chief executive Craig Newman will be part of the new business, which will not shy away from the kind of small-caps in sectors like biotechnology that caused Woodford to run into trouble previously.
Those still trapped in Woodford’s retail fund will take little consolation from his apology though. They may struggle to believe his comments in the interview that he never really changed his investment philosophy before things started to go pear shaped, or that things would have turned out okay if he was simply given more time.
What is clear is that the saga has some way to go yet. The FCA investigation continues, and Link is resolutely fighting its corner against Woodford’s accusations.
The reputational hit against the star manager persists; one interview will not have reversed that. The next question is whether institutional investors can look past all of the noise to find enough faith in Woodford’s new business.
Quote Of The Day
It is more important than ever for savers to shop around for the best returns on their money. Shopping around could be the best investment savers make all year.
– Aviva head of savings and retirement Alistair McQueen
The small IFA is under threat. Or so we are being told to believe. While consolidators are continuing to march on the wealth management market, there are compelling reasons why the independent model is valuable and has to hold its place, our Weekend Essay argues.
While no one model has all the answers, from culture to costs and compliance, there remains much to be proud of in today’s independent sector.
Of women say they do not currently pay into a pension fund
Of men say the same
Of women aged under 44 say they do not understand their pension
Of men say the same
Independence Day, Mark 2
If you would rather digest our weekend long-read in audio form, then you are in luck; we’ve turned it into a podcast for your listening pleasure. You can catch up with the archive and make sure you are subscribed here.
Green Suede Clues
Ahead of a major climate change summit later this year, the UK government is making all the right noises about turning the City into a haven for green finance.
It is now putting £10m behind a new research centre, the UK Centre for Greening Finance and Investment, where it will bring academics and researchers together to try and quantify climate risk across portfolios.
There is a dearth of robust data in the area, the government and the centre’s director admit. With so many grey areas in the green, will the centre be able to pin down anything of use to the public or institutions?
Demand for detached houses rose in Covid lockdown (Guardian)
Don’t bet on the dollar heading south as the world starts to recover (The Times)
Bitcoin pulls back from brink of $50,000 (Reuters)
PensionBee to offer customers access to planned IPO (Financial Times)
In case you missed it last week, the major news was that the curtain could soon fall on the 200-year history of the Standard Life name as Phoenix prepares to buy the brand.
Here’s our story with all the details you need to know.
And here is editor Justin Cash with a blog on what it all means for the future of a storied company.