Saturday, 24 September 2016

Checking my credit report (and it’s not great news)

From the fortunate position I currently find myself it’s unlikely I’ll ever need or want to take on any form of debt ever again.  That said I’m also a plan for the worst just in case kind of guy. Incidentally, the end result of which is usually a nice upside surprise but you just never know.

So with this in mind I decided to finally, having never checked it previously, check in on my credit report and score.  I used as its ‘free for life’ but there are a few of them out there including Experian and Equifax who offer free 30 day trials.  Just don’t forget to unsubscribe with those or you could be paying up to £14.99 per month for every month you forget.  Not an insignificant amount.

If I’m being honest I was expecting a nice credit worthiness upside and the actual result surprised me somewhat.  So let’s look at what they have on me:
  • Personal Information.  They have my date of birth and history of addresses.
  • Financial Account Information.  They have my American Express Platinum Cashback credit card which shows a long and perfect history of repayment as I direct debit full payment every month.  They show my current account but have no record of my cash savings accounts.  Unfortunately they also show a store card with a missed payment of £4 which is not even mine.  I’ve disputed that which they say can take 28 days to resolve.  So checking my credit report has already been of value.
  • Electoral Roll.  I’m showed as being registered and the details are correct.
  • CIFAS (the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service).  I positively get “THERE ARE NO CIFAS WARNINGS REGISTERED AT YOUR ADDRESS(ES).”  

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Rearranging my YouInvest SIPP

I have had a YouInvest (formerly Sippdeal) SIPP (Self Invested Personal Pension) wrapper since 2011.  It came about when I first started transferring expensive insurance company based Stakeholder and Group Personal Pensions across to SIPP’s to save on expenses.  Over the years this SIPP has grown steadily to become a significant portion of my wealth as it now contains circa £200,000.

Within the YouInvest SIPP I was holding the following three investment products:
  • The Vanguard FTSE U.K. All Share Index Unit Trust with annual expenses of 0.08%;
  • The Vanguard U.K. Inflation-Linked Gilt Index Fund with annual expenses of 0.15%; and
  • The iShares European Property Yield UCITS (IPRP) with annual expenses of 0.4%.

For the privilege of using the YouInvest SIPP wrapper I was also paying annual expenses of £300 which was coming in the form of:
  • A YouInvest SIPP custody charge of £25 per quarter as my SIPP value was greater than £20,000; and
  • A YouInvest Funds (Unit trusts and OEICs) charge of 0.2% per annum but which was capped at a maximum of £50 per quarter

Life was good and even though I didn’t like paying the £300 per annum I didn’t do anything about it as to correct it I would have had to be out of the market and might lose significantly more than I gained.  That was until I received a notification from YouInvest in early August 2016 that they were intending to change their charging structure from the 01 October 2016 which included a great reason [sic] for the change – “We believe this will be easier to understand, whilst maintaining AJ Bell’s commitment to offering some of the lowest charges in the market.”

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Can you afford to not DIY invest

Grant Thornton has completed some research (free FT link or Google “How much do you really pay your money manager?”) which concludes that someone entrusting £100,000 for 10 years to a UK financial adviser or investment manager would pay an average 2.56% annually for financial planning services and financial product expenses.  Let’s look at what that might mean during both the wealth accumulation and drawdown (assuming no annuity is purchased) phases of a typical investor.

Wealth accumulation phase

When it comes to investment return, excluding expenses, I believe that active investing is a zero sum game resulting in average performance no better than that of the market average.  Of course there will be some winners and some losers, particularly in the short term, but that’s for another day.  Today let’s therefore assume that the investment return these money managers achieve is that of the market.  Let’s look at a couple of possible portfolios.

Unfortunately, the Vanguard LifeStrategy funds have only been around 5 years or so which isn’t enough time to use for this study as I need 10 years (or so) of data.  Vanguard does however have an interesting Asset class risk tool (h/t diy investor (uk))which allows you to input a period and an asset allocation.  Let’s create a reasonably balanced portfolio with 60% stocks, 35% bonds and 5% cash and run for a period of 10 years.

10 year time frame, 60% stocks (FTSE UK All Share Total Return Index), 35% bonds (FTSE British Govt. Fixed All Stocks Total Return Index (1983 - 2013) and BarCap Sterling Aggregate Total Return Index), 5% cash (LIBOR 3-month average over the year)
Click to enlarge, 10 year time frame, 60% stocks (FTSE UK All Share Total Return Index), 35% bonds (FTSE British Govt. Fixed All Stocks Total Return Index (1983 - 2013) and BarCap Sterling Aggregate Total Return Index), 5% cash (LIBOR 3-month average over the year)

The result is an average annual investment return of 5.59%.  So with this return what does our investor have left after a few subtractions.  Firstly, let’s subtract the erosion caused by inflation.  The RPI has averaged 2.87% over the last 10 years.  Subtracting that gives us a real return of 2.72%.  Now let our money manager and the investment products s/he is peddling take their cut of 2.56%.  Oops our real return is now 0.16%.  Looking at it another way our average money manager/investment product provider is taking 94% of our real return, leaving us with 6% only, which is hardly conducive to long term wealth building.  It also gets worse as that will be before portfolio turnover costs, taxes and trading costs to name but three.  After those we’ve probably nearly done no better, or maybe even worse, than matching inflation which might mean we’re actually even going backwards.