Annie Shaw – Seems she does listen

Interesting week in December 2016, Annie Shaw (an unqualified financial commentator) decided to start on Twitter, her and a number of Finance Industry trolls hawked around with some unfriendly banter.

A financial journalist Annie Shaw wanted to know how the Money Trainers Pension Training was legal?

Her tweet was quickly followed up by another couple of professional trolls who don’t really seem to offer much in the way of genuine help for the consumer.

In my world financia  journalism is on it’s knees. What was once a profession held in the highest regard is now struggling. I would certainly encourage any of you reading this, to treat anything you read in newspapers as suspect. The industry does not have the expertise anymore and certainly doesn’t deserve much respect. For them it’s about the clicks and the advertising, sod standing for something.

    Annie Shaw – Financial Agony Aunt Extraordinaire started a little rant. Which I assume means she is probably not qualified, or experienced in many financial matters, but is of course a writer on the topic – and quite prolific. That’s a bit like taking medical advice from the ‘fat bloke down the pub’. Interesting, but on balance probably flawed.

As mentioned before, there was  time in the dim and distant past when a view from someone like her may have stood for something. In reply to Annie I have this to say.

I am not sure who put you on a pedestal, most of your writing is unusable in terms of making a financial plan, soundbites is about it. I get that you’re media savvy – well you are a journalist by trade.

Your website  carries advertising for Schroders (note) – hardly a  fund manager that should warrant support given it’s heavy fines and sanctions by a number of regulators worldwide, didn’t see any mention of that anywhere on your website. Ok, I agree a good number of it’s funds perform above average historically, however don’t see that it’s worthy of promotion above all else.

Note – subsequently removed

Unit prices can fall as well as plummet, past performance is not a guide to the future performance. Charges are also important for consumers, Schroders are not a low cost fund. So you are promoting them without any warnings or alternatives. Nice.

You could do your readers a favour and promote low cost tracker funds or ETF’s.  I wonder why you don’t – methinks the reason you don’t is because of some vested interest I’m sure, are Schroders paying you for the ads?

Your own disclaimer tells me all I need to know about you “Nothing on this website constitutes or is intended to be financial advice” it’s just Annie’s opinion and of course the blatant advertisements for a fund management business of questionable repute.

So let me ask you about the the legality of some financial things before I answer the issue of my legality under the banner.

  • How is it legal for pension providers to transfer pension funds to a scam provider?
  • How is it legal to accept fund based income by financial advisers? You wouldn’t consider instructing a solicitor/doctor (or any other profession) on that basis. Nor would you have to pay your Oncologist a percentage of income for your annual check-up.
  • How is it legal to ask consumers to fund MAS levy’s and PI insurance costs, FOS costs,  and FCA costs indirectly and then hide these costs within the advisers business.
  • How is it  legal to allow pension providers to maintain high charging funds/products when they offer a lower cost version?
  • How is it legal to offer ‘Robo Advice’ which really isn’t advice?
  • How is it legal to allow pensions to be sold when there are other clear options like reducing debt or repaying mortgages? Pensions are of course just deferred income according to Steve Webb, not that he should have much credibility on the matter considering his unaffordable “Triple Lock”,
  • How is it legal for the Government to force savings into pension schemes that have a percentage of fund charge? Inc Nest, B&CE et al.
  • How is it legal for the financial services industry to be given tax breaks in relation to VAT.
  • How is it legal for poorly performing fund managers to continue to offer their rubbish and not be responsible for the returns?
  • How is it legal for advisers to to choose ‘managed funds’ instead of using proper asset allocation models? Having helped develop one of the first of these for advisers back in the dark ages of 2001 I know how easy it really is.
  • How is it legal for the industry to still sell mirror funds when everyone knows the investment returns are not not the same, yet the charges are usually higher

Why would it be illegal to highlight all of theses things (and more) in a safe and controlled way and teach non financial people the truth about the industry you seem so willing to support?

In terms of what I do, it’s legal. Of course it is. I provide a financial education, like you. However rather than getting paid by a third party like SAGA or a newspaper, my customers pay me directly. I don’t have to run ads for Schroders on my sites (I still feel that this is a financial promotion and should be removed or you should be regulated)

Do I provide ‘advice’ as in ‘regulated advice’ – no. I did for over twenty eight years, but learned that I could help more people by providing  education instead of advice. The problem with the advice industry is, it’s too busy looking into it’s own navel, instead of changing things.

Or are you saying that consumers should buy into what you are selling instead, what because you are the wise old sage?

I think it’s great that you are at least carrying some articles from Paul Gorman. One financial adviser I do have a great deal of respect for, having worked with him for a big chunk of my working life.

Keep up the good work in this area Annie. However I don’t think his article which carries the ad’s above it is fully compliant. It’s not possible for an Independent Adviser to be seen promoting a single product without compliance approval or having considered the readers needs specifically and  a formal recommendation made. Does he even know you are running these ads above his content?

Meanwhile, a financial education, delivered by a qualified and experienced industry professional is perfectly legal and the right thing to do. If I can show consumers of financial products what has been done to them and then teach them how to deal with it, that’d be a good thing right?

When people I educate are able to move pensions from really rubbish providers, like Abbey Life, Allied Dunbar and also include the likes of  Scottish Widows, Aviva et al. And can start to switch from other providers allowing them to reduce pension charges from over four percent pa to those that do it for less than one. That’s a good thing right?

If I can show them how to  avoid

  • Really rubbish investment funds, including the with profits/mirror fund sector
  • Adviser charges of 1% every year
  • Scheme charges of 2% every year
  • Funds don’t outperform the index

And also to explain

  • How the Government Advice website – MAS omits big chunks of information
  • Why the newspaper Financial Columns are no more than adverts and the opinion of one, rather than an educational truth.

All of these things are important I am sure you’d agree?

I do what MAS and the Pensions Advisory service don’t do. Show those that want to make changes to their planning how it should be done, in a safe way. I also provide a money back guarantee on all of my training and facilitate collaboration.  Don’t see many advisers offering to refund fees for non performance, yet all of my services come with a guarantee.

Are you really saying that what I do should be illegal?  If you are my dear you are deluded – it’s what you could  be doing. It’s what the regulator and other bodies could be doing, but don’t  – because the industry doesn’t want the truth out in the wild.

Perhaps if you focused on the some the above rather than producing lightweight and meaningless fill in for the ads,  your readers might learn something. Then again it’s not about them is it Annie.

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