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The Financial Ironmonger Blog No 4/2017

The Financial Ironmonger Blog No 4/2017

Every week our guest blogger, David Oakes of Mosaic Money Management (aka The Financial Ironmonger), shares with us his take on some of the major UK and overseas macro and political events that shaped the previous week.

Please be reminded the value of investments, and the income from them, may fall or rise. The views expressed in this article are those of the author at the date of publication and not necessarily those of Chelverton Asset Management Limited or Mosaic Money Management. The contents of this article are not intended as investment or tax advice and will not be updated after publication unless otherwise stated.

–THE FINANCIAL IRONMONGER BLOG NO 4/2017–

I find it somewhat curious to be typing this as Theresa May lunches with the Donald; it is easy to overestimate what can be achieved in the short term, but no one can doubt that the President has moved very quickly in his first week in office. The relationship between our two countries remains very important, despite burning down the White House in 1814, and firing a Trident missile towards Florida last summer. Stuff happens.

Clearly, much of what he plans will not happen within the two years before the “mid-term”, or the four years until the next election. But it is the direction of travel that matters, it being better to travel than arrive, an old stock market adage.

In the meantime, we have lots of elections to focus on, in Europe. These start on February 23rd, with two by-elections in constituencies deserted by their sitting Labour MPs, both of which they seem certain to lose. Quickly followed, on March 2nd, by the election for the Northern Ireland Assembly, perhaps the most binary political system yet seen.

For the main course, we have the Dutch elections on March 15th, which might also be the date when the UK invokes Article 50, the trigger to leave the EU. No one seems to know, having fired this shot, whether we can then change our minds, much as one phones to apologise after a particularly serious supper party.

There is a distinct sense that life is moving on rather faster than the system can keep up, albeit that the Donald will have to get agreement from the Capitol, which might not be obviously forthcoming. As to Trident, whatever the shortcomings, it remains the fact that the only country that the USA have shared the technology with is the UK. And if you buy a box of fireworks, some are bound to miss function.

The hysterical reaction of the media to both Trump and Brexit continues, such that many journalists seem to have formed a circular firing squad. And in this new era of fake news, and alternative facts, the profession has never been needed more. It is concerning that six of them, covering the marches in DC last weekend, have been charged with felony, which comes with a ten year jail ticket. One to watch.

Closer to base there are problems of another sort. BT has discovered an accounting scandal in its Italian unit of the order of £530 mn, which knocked the shares down 21%. Apparently, this came to light after a tip off, which says little for the senior management team, or the auditors, PwC. The FT described this as the financial equivalent of having rats in the kitchen, an experience all too vivid for one of our readers.

Not to be left out, RBS announced that another $4bn has been set aside for improper activities in America, and that may not be the end of it. Curiously, the share gained on the back of this. The SNP, which dominates Scottish politics, should be demanding that the Royal Bank of Scotland change its name since it is not obviously Royal, Scottish, or even…

Instead, their leader Nicola Sturgeon, is trying to engineer a way of staying within the EU, which takes 18% of the country’s exports as opposed to the 63% that enter the rest of the UK. Otherwise, there will be another referendum, she threatens. There is no way that Spain, or indeed France would grant her wishes, or that she could win a vote; not the sharpest pencil in the box.

–MORE ABOUT OUR GUEST BLOGGER, DAVID OAKES–

David joined Manchester stockbroker Henry Cooke, Lumsden in 1977 and after becoming a member of the London Stock Exchange in 1984 held a number of senior positions within the firm including Managing Director of the in-house fund management company and member of the Executive Committee.

After senior appointments at Cazenove Fund Management and latterly Mercater Capital Management, David joined Mosaic Money Management in 2013. He has successfully managed private client and fund portfolios for over thirty years and has particular expertise in providing a multi manager service to his loyal client base.

The Financial Ironmonger is a hat-tip to Ironmonger Lane, the location of Chelverton’s London office.