Weekend press review: Vital statistics

by | Jul 2, 2018

Share this article

Facebook Open Graph

At a time when London is considering its position in the event of a non-services customs union, the Financial Times has perhaps sprung a surprise on us all by reprising a report from the Resolution Foundation that says the capital is actually a drag on the national productivity figures.

That, of course, is a classic case of being able to prove anything with statistics. London’s economic growth is easily outpointing the rest of the UK in terms of overall development, the figures are being skewed by the fact that most of the current growth is coming from lower-waged activities, from a substantial influx of new arrivals, and – not least – by the much longer working hours that are normal in sectors such as catering, hospitality and so forth.

The point being that productivity is measured in terms of economic expansion per person per hour. Which in turn means that the relative (though slight) fallback in productivity from finance and IT sectors since the financial crisis of 2008 looks doubly bad

But let’s not run away with the wrong idea. Output per hour in London is still a third higher than in the UK as a whole, and wages are 34% higher than the average, according to the Resolution Foundation. It’s just that London’s output per working hour has fallen by 1.0% since 2010, against a 1.4% increase in the country as a whole.

More telling, perhaps, is that inflation-adjusted earnings per hour have fallen by 7% in London since 2009, compared with a 4% fall for the UK as a whole. Pay for new male entrants has fallen by 19% since 2009, according to the report, but by 10% for females. On the other hand, those who were in employment before 2009 have not suffered any ill effects.

You see what we mean about proving anything with statistics? But between the lines there’s a clear picture emerging of a capital whose streets are a little less obviously paved with gold.

95% of working mothers who are currently seeking part-time senior jobs in banking, accountancy and finance would “leave in a heartbeat” if they were offered jobs with an employer who offered a more supportive working culture for women with families. That’s what a new survey from recruitment hub 2to3days says, anyway. Shall we fill in some of the gaps?

Money Mail features an interview with Juliet Turnbull, who founded her job search agency for women seeking part-time employment for working mothers three years back, and who now has 28,000 women on her books. Women with children want a better work-life balance, she says, but the overwhelming majority of her members say that there is a severe shortage of part-time opportunities in financial and accountancy businesses. With the result that many are forced to shoehorn their lives into working practices that are designed for others, and where everything is predicated on full-time salaries.

But it’s not just exhausted mothers who are seeking better work/life balances, says Turnbull. A whole millennial generation has seen its fathers burning out through work overload, and it’s looking for something better. Evidence that she might be getting her point across comes from an increased level of interest in 2to3days.com from Lloyds of London, Nationwide, Santander and the Confederation of British Industry. All power to your elbow, Ms Turnbull.

Sir Jon Cunliffe, the deputy governor at the Bank of England has been talking to Sunday Times Business section reporters, warning of more pain to come as the risks in the global economy could be damaging for Brexit-bound Britain. Escalating trade wars, problems in China and strains in emerging markets are all mentioned as potential problems. Signs of tensions are being felt in the markets. The Times reports that investors pulled £22.5bn out of stock market funds last week, the second-highest weekly total on record after the outflow seen during February’s market meltdown, although market levels have proved to be pretty resilient of late. Whether – and for how long – this will continue is the million dollar question.

The Sunday Times Money section is reporting on last week’s FCA retirement outcomes review, highlighting its findings including that a quarter of customers who opted for drawdown from their pensions, have no idea what fees they are paying. Also, it is concerned that 60% of savers didn’t know what their pension pots were invested in. The review warned that charges were “complex, opaque and hard to compare”. The Sunday Times also quotes research from Hymans Robertson into the big differences in charges levied by different providers. It then goes on to ask a number of pension companies for their drawdown fees and found a “confusing array of charging structures”.  No news here for professional advisers however.  Details of the FCA’s plans to introduce new rules around disclosure of charges and perhaps a charge cap are expected to follow in due course.

In his regular Personal Account column in the Sunday Times, Ian Cowie has technology stocks on his mind. He talks about shares in the Faangs (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google) and suggests that collective investments such as Polar Capital IT and Alliance Technology were sensible approaches to take for investors trying to get exposure to this sector.

Finally, the Sunday Times has a report on the new breed of smartphone apps that allow trading on the stockmarket through mobile apps. It’s an interesting development following on from the success of Robinhood, which has taken the US by storm since it launched a few years ago. The apps reviewed in the ST are DABBL and ETORO as well as Trading 212.  Apps from Hargreaves Lansdown, AJ Bell and IG are also reviewed. This is a development that we will all be watching with interest to see the implications it has for investing in future.

The Financial Mail on Sunday takes a look at the Evenlode Global Income fund in its fund focus column. Jeff Prestridge highlights how lead manager Ben Peters approaches the management of the fund from his base in leafy Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire. This fund was launched in November 2017 in an attempt to diversify the business which, to date, has focused on the Evenlode Income fund. There were worries that if the fund gets much bigger, it might hurt performance and therefore an initial charge has now been applied to the Income fund. In the article, Peters explains that they felt it was logical to extend their research into global equity income and launch a new fund as they’d always had some overseas holdings in the income fund. The Global Income fund focuses on delivering dividend growth above inflation by investing in a concentrated portfolio of 40 companies with the emphasis on identifying those which are in dominant market positions. The Global Income fund has already reached £100million.

Share this article

Related articles

Trending articles