Meeting the Bank of England

Bruce Janman and I have just attended a meeting with an Agent of the Bank of England; and a very interesting event it was too, because her job is to talk with businesses in the East Midlands in order to gather information that is fed back to the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), as part of their deliberations.

You would think that this was very much a “tell” meeting, where the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street spoke from on high and listened to nobody – but nothing could be further from the truth – more of which later. In fact, it was made very clear to us that views passed back through the regional Agents is influential (but not necessarily decisive) in the MPC’s deliberations. If course most of the members are non-bank employees and therefore have their own antennae out. But it is useful to know that there is a concerted effort to find out what business people think.

Whatever happens on Thursday’s meeting will not be influenced by our discussion on Tuesday; the timescales are too short. But in any event, our input about the way high street banks are treating customers – both individual and corporate – was more systemic than to do with interest rates.

Actually, what the BofE does with interest rates will be unlikely to filter through to mortgages and corporate borrowing, because the retail banks are still in desperate straits and need to build up their reserves before they can start operating in the way that the economy needs. That is why they are so reluctant to pass on the BofE’s rate cuts and why the work of the MCP has been marginalised.

What was most telling about the Agent’s comments was that they really do understand the pain that people are going through and “some of the best minds in the UK are working towards resolving the current economic crisis.” Because this lady was not a politician, I found myself believing her and feeling more confident about the future.

I also think it was helpful to know that they really are listening to what people say; their programme has enabled them to soften the somewhat “rose tinted spectacle” view put over by the Treasury and their realism is refreshing; not just about the likely length of the recession, but also about how little they can influence real interest rates, so that they are aware of the need for other actions. After all, their primary target is to keep inflation on target and this does not include allowing it to go negative for any length of time, which would be just as damaging to the economy as having it at a sustained high level.

Have your say
The upshot of this meeting was that it was agreed that there would be a future more formal discussion at some time in the not too distant future. So if there are any views you would like to have expressed (or questions asked) please let Bruce know as soon as possible.

If you are wondering what to do, about your investments and retirement planning contact Robert Bruce Associates for individual assistance.

Rip-off Britain – iTunes…

If you drive to work in a Fiat, Ford, Toyota or a Nissan the chances are you could have bought your car for three thousand pounds less in Europe – and if you travel by train you could travel twice the distance on a train in France.

But it's not always the big things that tick me off, it's all the little things – that feeling that I'm being ripped off at every turn. If I buy a music track from UK iTunes I pay about 20% more than I do from iTunes in France or Germany (why?) and 40% more than I would if I paid in dollars – and the same CD that costs me nine pounds in France costs me fourteen in Britain.

iTunes have just added movies on demand to the UK store just compare the price of a TV show in the USA $1.99(equivalent to £1.02 in the UK) but… in the UK we pay £1.89 a staggering 89 pence more. The same is true of the new movie rentals. Take for example National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets…Prices as follows;- 

                USA          UK                 Cost Differential  
To rent      $3.99       £3.49              £1.45  or 42% more expensive

To buy      $14.99      £10.99            £3.33 or  30% more expensive

What a rip off!!

Don't get me started on fuel prices, cigarettes and booze.

But what really annoys me is the way that businesses and politicians try to stop me deciding how and where to spend my hard-earned cash – in a world where I should be able to choose. And why can't I play DVDs that I bought in America? (And have you noticed how if you buy pretty much anything from the US they hit you with a massive import tax before it gets to you?).

We've been told that privatisation is good for the consumer – not if we don't really have a choice it isn't (it didn't do much for my water bills). The government pretends to be the consumer's friend – setting up endless OF-CONs but all these organisations do is sit by while we pay them to watch us getting short-changed.

If at first you dont succeed try try again

Hello, I’m Frances and I’ve worked for Robert Bruce Associates for a year now. I am currently studying for the industry recognised qualifications called The Certificate in Financial Planning, which will make me a qualified Paraplanner when I pass all the exams. Yipeee!


My Top 3 Likes about working for Robert Bruce Associates are:


  • Communicating with our clients and making sure everything is ok for them.
  • The fact that I work for a small company which means everyone’s contribution is valued.
  • There is always more to learn and you can attend some really interesting seminars.

I don’t have any dislikes about working for Robert Bruce Associates; however I do find that some providers can be slow at releasing client information or transferring monies .This means that I constantly have to chase them, and after a few weeks of doing so it can leave you completely disheartened and you feel like you are fighting a loosing battle.. However after what may feel like months and months, we do inevitably succeed; much like the tale of Robert the Bruce and the spider. ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try try again’.

Six Monthy Client Reviews

Here we go all hands to the mill. Michael, Caroline and I have collated all sorts of information so we can start our six monthly reviews of our client’s portfolios. Frances is preparing all the reports and the copiers are doing a grand job. Not a particularly steady half year for investment returns, let’s hope the second half of 2008 is more profitable for our clients. We have adjusted all our portfolios ready to send out and we are placing more emphasis on cash and property in the second half of the year. We have also adjusted the portfolios to take account of modern portfolio theory in association with the Watson Wyatt’s Asset Allocation models more on this will be published on our website shortly.  

We have made some small changes to our website to allow viewers to have more information on IHT Inheritance Tax Liability/Planning as we are having increasingly more hits in this area. Also the time has come to replace our computers to accommodate more efficient office networking solutions.