Friday, January 8, 2010

Have Bank Mangagers merely become 'fluffers' for their Financial Planning Consultants?

A client of mine lodged a six figure sum in her AIB current account just before Christmas. Within 48 hours the bank manager was on to her acknowledging the lodgement and asking if she had any 'plans' for the money. The client is savvy enough to recognise what she would consider to be a genuine interest in her finances and what was a sales pitch. The client told the manager that she had 'plans' for the money and the telephone conversation ended. The client subsequently received a letter from the bank manager listing '..some Deposit Options for consideration.'

As I understand it, AIB are under pressure to take in as much deposit money as possible as it is their principal source of funding at the moment. The bank says that they are continuing to "target a progressive reduction in their loan to deposit ratios" and that they are selling some assets as part of an ongoing strategy to successfully unlock "shareholder equity for its core business activities". Last time I checked, 'core activities' meant 'Deposit Taking' and 'Lending' not 'Holistic' Financial Planning.

I'm finding it difficult to reconcile what they are saying and what they are doing. If they are so anxious to take money in via Deposits, why are they continuing to use their deposit base as a gravy train for the investment products that they offer through AVIVA?

The letter that I mentioned above, titled "Deposit Options", also contained the following paragraph : "Ideally we recommend you to meet with Financial Planning Consultant who will cover off all the options available including some long term funds with potential to outperform Deposits."

Seriously; have the Bank Managers merely become 'fluffers' for their Financial Planning Consultants?

The use of the words "all the options available" suggests that the Financial Planning Consultant might recommend a Deposit Account, perhaps with another institution, that is offering a higher rate of interest. It also implies that the Consultant may recommend an investment product from all the options available on the market. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Consultant would either recommend an AIB Deposit Account, an AVIVA Investment Product or a combination of both. They don't recommend the more competitive products available elsewhere on the market.

I think that it's about time that someone took them to task on the way that they present themselves to their customers. It is about time that they were banned from the 'sharing' of Deposit Account holder information with their Investment Salesmen/women. It is also a pity that the Department of Finance did not make some reference to the movement of Deposits with Banks to Investments with linked companies, when they decided to Recapitalise the Banks last February.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

'Personal' Financial Review of 2009


* Brendan Investments - Pan-European Property Plc. Fund - Small investment in December 2007 - Very happy with it's progress, relative to its peers, and the management are doing a very good job. It is a fund that I would expect to do very well.
* Switched an under-performing pension fund from one provider to another as part of a re-balancing of asset allocation. Increase in value of 35% since February 2009 through a combination of investments in Earth Resources, European Equity, Asia Pacific Equity and Gold Funds.
* Took a 50% stake in 3 small commercial property units in 2006, near Helsinki Airport, and all units continue to be occupied, so I am happy about that.
* Had no exposure to Irish Banks Shares.


* A fairly hefty reduction in my income level, but this was expected due to the changes in my business model and recessionary factors.
* Nominal value of 50% share in apartment in Tenerife (purchased in 2000) is obviously down but I have no intention of putting it on the market anytime soon, as family and friends make good use of it.
* Had to dip into savings but was fortunate enough to put something by for the 'rainy days/years'. "Without savings, there is no future."
* The amount of judgements against Banks etc., highlighted in the Financial Services Ombudsman's Reports, for misselling financial products.
* The 'fall off a cliff' service levels from some Life & Pension providers.

Outlook 2010

* Clients will continue to regularly invest in a well diversified portfolios of low-cost unit linked funds, both managed and index-tracking. Personally, will not be making any investments in property but I would not deter clients from investing in some sort of diversified 'liquid' global property funds.
* Continue to offer value to my customers by relying on a fraction of income that other need to operate profitably.
* Funds I like - GARS and Global REIT from Standard Life. Diversified Asset, Earth Resources and Cautiously Managed from Zurich. But, you should buy these from a Discount Broker, so as to reduce costs.