Saturday, 5 September 2015

August 2015 Update

The month has been another busy one with day trips to York and London and an overnighter up in Yorkshire for my Mum's birthday. However all this hasn't worked out too expensive in the scheme of things as we used my leave last week for a "staycation" instead of travelling further afield, so there were no expensive hotel bills as anticipated. The plan had actually been to wait and see what the weather did and take the tent somewhere if at all possible, bailing out into a hotel if necessary, but there was altogether too much rain and wind for us to be able to raise the enthusiasm to pack our bags so we bought a local footpath map, packed picnics and "discovered" the area on and around our doorstep instead.

The good news is that the final part of my husband's TFLS finally turned up. Most of it stayed in our new NationWide current account to keep the balance topped up over the £2,500 and so gaining the maximum 5% interest, but £500 was invested in the Scottish Mortgage global equities IT we hold. I just happened to make the buy on "Black Monday" , however the timing was more by luck than by design as we had planned to do it anyway. It did no harm to buy at the lower price though. (This trust is currently trading at a 2.42% premium to NAV so I do have some misgivings about buying more, but it is just about the only exposure we have to American large caps at the moment and the charges are fairly cheap at 0.51%).

My FSAVC still hasn't made its way into my SIPP. Fidelity went down somewhat in my estimation when they phoned at the beginning of the month asking why I hadn't returned a bit of paperwork they needed to progress the transfer, and then obviously came across the said form in my file half way through the conversation. I'm used to this kind of administrative fiasco with Interactive Investor but I did think (hope?) that Fidelity were a different kettle of fish. Maybe not. I'm now almost 8 weeks into the transfer (the maximum time they quote for it to complete) but not holding my breath. It took iii over 6 months to transfer in both mine and my husband's ISA, so I know full well that patience is a virtue (and the only way to stay sane) with these things.

Further administrative incompetence meant that my instruction to reduce my work's pension AVC from £500 to £200 per month was not activated in time to make the change by the time my salary was paid at the end of the month (despite my asking for it to be done on the 2nd). This, although annoying, is probably a blessing in disguise as boosting my AVC pot is a very tax efficient way of increasing my post-retirement funds and being forced to put in a little, if unplanned, extra is not such a bad thing. Hopefully payroll will manage to make the change by the end of this month though, as our monthly budget requires that my salary is at a certain level now that my husband only has his pension coming in.

The financial news this month has been dominated by the volatility in world markets sparked off by the steep drop in the Chinese stock prices and the fear that growth there is slowing down. This has meant that our combined portfolio has dropped this month despite the fact that we have ploughed in over £1,000. The total is down from £126,304 at the end of last month to £124,759 this and is recording an investment loss of 4.7% for the month. (This figure includes our ISAs and my private pension and AVCs but not our DB pensions.) However on the whole we are fairly comfortable with the turbulence as I secured the cash we will need for the next couple of years to see my son through his MA course by selling funds a couple of months ago and took some further profit from our Japanese and Bio-Tech investments at the same time. It will be interesting to see what the coming months (and years?) bring.

On a more serious note we have all been further, and tragically, reminded that we live, and act in a global environment by the ongoing refugee and migration issues. The opportunities brought by global trade and travel also bring responsibilities. Simplistic nationalism backed up by barbed wire fences just won't work for very much longer and Europe is being forced to recognise this. Escaping war at home is one of the the current drivers, but in the future mass population migration may well involve many more desperate people moving around the globe trying to escape the effects of climate change. Personally I'm pessimist about our ability to reduce carbon emissions enough to prevent very real problems. We continue to dig fossil fuels out of the ground even though the harm reduction plans we are pretending to put in place mean that we cannot possibly burn them, the UK government massively reduces subsidies for renewable energy and we continue to reward CEOs for deepening the climate change crisis. This year is set to be the warmest on record, intensifying patterns of extreme weather. In the light of all this the ongoing market "blips" and the effects they have on our portfolio pale into insignificance. Hey ho.


  1. The satellite measurements show there's been no warming for the last 18 years. The whole Global Warmmongering imbroglio started off largely as incompetence and gradually became a huge fraud. There are a million things more worthy of your attention.

    1. There has been much discussion about the accuracy and relevance of the satellite data as you probably know. I prefer to base my thinking on the body of evidence and consensus of opinion amongst the vast majority of the scientific community. It's getting increasingly difficult to do otherwise, however attractive an option that might be.

    2. There is no useful consensus "of the scientific community". Most scientists have read none of the original work; not many have the technical knowledge to assess it anyway. I have and I do. It's tosh - most physical scientists are clever chaps, but by golly the early global warmmongers weren't. Much of the work was simply dim. Since then their positions have been defended by fraud. It's all a great scandal.

    3. I would describe the consensus described here as very "useful" and the summing up of the situation fairly unequivocal.

      "Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals1 show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position. The following is a partial list of these organizations, along with links to their published statements and a selection of related resources."

      I cannot understand your reference to "fraud" as I cannot see who stands to benefit.

      Hopefully time will prove you right (and 97% of the publishing climate scientists wrong) for the sake of all our grandchildren.

      For now we will just have to agree to differ

    4. "I cannot understand your reference to "fraud" as I cannot see who stands to benefit." Everyone who wants new research grants, everyone who wants new research students, promotions, tenure, or even nice trips to conferences, or the chance to exert political power without the vulgarity of being elected to office.

  2. Hey Cerridwen

    Nice buy on Black Monday, albeit a lucky one! I unfortunately bought just before the price drop, ah well, such is life haha!

    Sorry to hear that you are experiencing admin issues with Fidelity - I recall all too well reading about what you went through with II so I hope it all goes through a lot quicker.

    As an aside, can I just wonder out loud why the warm climate seems to bypass Manchester - I wouldn't mind a bit of global warming where we are - barely turned off our central heating for the 'summer', now we're about to turn it back on again, haha! :-)

    1. Hi weenie,
      Yes, it's pretty nippy for early September here too :-)

      But the UK is unusual in having such a cool summer - "NOAA said the first six months of the year was the warmest on record around the globe – 0.09C higher than the previous record set in 2010" - look at all the red on this map.

  3. It seems that anything to do with pensions takes ages. I transferred one from an old employer to my current one and it took about 6 months.

    Good work on your black Monday purchase and getting the cash you need before the markets went all cray cray.

    1. Thanks Mr Z. The pension transfer is proving even more tricky than I thought it would be as described in my more recent post.