General News

Why I Still Won’t Invest in Banks

I do not hold any bank shares at present, and have no plans to change that policy. But I thought it would be worthwhile to look at the results announced by Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) yesterday for the third quarter. That particularly is so now that the revelations about the HBOS takeover are coming out on a daily basis. The announced results were positive. The prospective dividend yield on Lloyds is now near 6% and the p/e is about 9, which is ...

ShareSoc and the GDPR: help wanted!

As the director with responsibility for ShareSoc's IT systems, our board has asked me to look into the implications for ShareSoc of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This regulation comes into force in May 2018, and there are severe penalties for non-compliance. GDPR completely overhauls the current Data Protection Act. I have had a preliminary look at the requirements for compliance and they seem rather onerous, even for a small organisation like ShareSoc. Considerable work is required to audit, document ...

Obituary – Steve Marshall

The Daily Telegraph ran a lengthy obituary on Steve Marshall today, who died recently at the young age of 60. It covered his financial career in a not particularly complimentary way although some might say he took on a lot of difficult positions. He first came to public prominence when he became CEO of Railtrack after Gerald Corbett was forced to resign, despite having minimal experience of the railway industry. Railtrack was part of the former British Rail that had been privatised ...

ETFs and Index Trackers – More Dangerous Than You Think

Lots of financial pundits have encouraged investors to be “passive” investors rather than try to pick stocks, or invest in funds that do that latter (“active” funds). Even the FCA has recently criticised active funds for being more expensive and the additional management fees end up impacting negatively on overall returns over time. So persuasive writers such as John Bogle have convinced many to take the “no brainer” route of buying Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) or other index tracking funds. But there ...

RBS Shareholder event hijacked by other stakeholder groups

RBS announced excellent results today (4/8/17) and their share price soared 4% to £2.67 in early trading. For detailed commentary see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/08/04/rbs-posts-rare-half-year-profit-eyes-amsterdam-move-staff/ . Things are looking better. The RBS...

RBS Shareholder Event on 31 July

I am looking forward to the RBS Shareholder Event on Monday 31 July in London. RBS had dropped regular shareholder briefings, but, following our shareholder committee campaign, have now reinstated...

The VCT Investors Group Campaign

A university academic has just joined the VCT Investors Group and he emailed me with this interesting story and commentary, which other readers might find of interest…. As you...

AIM Rules Review

The London Stock Exchange have published a document entitled “AIM Rules Review”. ShareSoc, including me personally, have criticised the LSE in the past for poor regulation of the AIM market. Many investors view it as a casino because of the numerous problems of fraud, poor disclosures, many delistings or simple bankruptcies in AIM companies. See the ShareSoc campaign page here for more information: https://www.sharesoc.org/campaigns/campaign-improve-aim-market/  As you can see we made a number of recommendations on how to improve the AIM market, and ...

National Grid and Electric Cars

National Grid (NG.) have published a paper entitled “Future Energy Scenarios” which spells out the impact of future trends in energy consumption, and by implication how it might affect their business. For example, the forecast demand for electric cars might add 30% to peak electric power demand, thus requiring the equivalent of five Hinkley Point C nuclear plants. Even if people only charge their electric cars in off-peak periods, the additional demand could be very substantial. If you live in London, you ...

Performance Fees – Don’t You Just Hate Them?

I mentioned in a previous blog post the result of a performance incentive fee for the manager at British Smaller Companies VCT (BSV) which resulted in total fees of 6.9% of net assets last year. Another similar example is that of Proven VCT (PVN) who managed to do even better at 8.8% of assets for the same reason. This problem of excessive and perverse performance fees has recently been covered in the FCA’s “Asset Management Market Study” and in a very good ...