TONY HETHERINGTON: Why leaving this investment service is a Smart idea

Barclays has had serious problems with the running of its investment offshoot ever since it switched customers from its former stockbroking service which seemed to have far fewer problems. Investors found the new scheme was less efficient to the point that it refused to let them buy or sell shares, rendering it pretty much useless and leading to a queue to leave.

Issues: A backlog of investors leaving Barclays has made the problem worse

That is one of the problems Smart Investor has had. The number of people exiting generated a backlog, putting pressure on staff and leading to even more problems.

You have told me you rang Barclays many times, waiting half an hour or more for an answer, only to find you could not speak to anyone who actually handled requests to switch to rival firms.

The closest Barclays came to giving a specific reason for the delay in handling transfers for you and your wife was when staff told you the National Insurance number it held for your wife was not the same as the number quoted by Hargreaves Lansdown. You checked and updated the details, but months later Barclays was still telling Hargreaves Lansdown the two records did not match.

Letters from Barclays provided a fresh layer of frustration. One acknowledged a complaint from you and promised an update a few weeks later. But what arrived was a further letter, itself promising an update a month from then.

I asked officials at the bank’s head office to look into all this. They accepted their systems had recorded an incorrect National Insurance number for your wife.

They told me: ‘The accounts have now been fully transferred and we have offered a gesture of goodwill.’

So far, so good. Except you told me you had received no such offer.

You added: ‘I will never deal with this company again.’ It turned out Barclays had sent £250 to your account, but nothing for your wife. You were told her complaint was being investigated separately.

At this point Barclays tried to refuse to speak to me because your wife had complained to the Financial Ombudsman Service. I had to point out the complaint had been made months ago since when Barclays had certainly discussed it with me in some detail. The bank then changed its mind, saying your wife’s ISA transfer had now been completed.

The bottom line is that the Ombudsman awarded your wife £250 on top of the same amount the bank had already offered.

The Ombudsman ruled that even if records showed an incorrect National Insurance number, this did not justify or explain a delay of six months in making the transfer which the bank’s own guidelines say should take six to eight weeks.

Something went horribly wrong last year in this department of the bank. I have had more complaints about this than other well known issues such as Payment Protection Insurance.

It will take a long time for Barclays to repair the damage to its reputation among customers who used its investment service.

Refusal: The owner of the Villa de Fanabe in Tenerife would not budge

Booking.com told me that when you made your reservation for the Villa de Fanabe, it would have ‘been clear at every stage of the booking process’ that the payment was non-refundable.

Well, up to a point. I waded through about a dozen pages of photographs, information and small print about the villa. There is a section headed ‘fine print’ where you might expect to find cancellation details there, but you would be wrong. 

Instead, there are the usual frequently asked questions, mainly about parking spaces and air conditioning. There is a sub-heading ‘policies’ and if you click on this then some way down the page it does clearly say ‘you will be charged the total price if you cancel your booking’.

To give Booking.com its due, it did do its best to help. I was told: ‘Booking.com has tried to persuade the property [owner] to modify dates or offer free cancellation, but unfortunately they are unwilling.’

As a gesture of goodwill, Booking.com itself has now refunded you €1,040 (about £920). The villa owner has done well out of this though. The villa has been booked again for the same dates so he is getting paid twice.

Slick: The fake website has all the details of the real firm bar the phone number

Well spotted. It is a scam. The letter you received looks as though it came from Capricorn Finance – with an address in Piccadilly, Central London, a proper company registration number, and authorisation from regulator the Financial Conduct Authority.

The letter is signed by director David Cunio and says you are owed £9,472, but you have to pay £1,894 in fees which will be refunded later, along with the £9,472 itself.

Anyone checking would find there really is a Capricorn, with an address in Piccadilly, and it does have the company number shown on the notepaper, and it is authorised by the regulator. One of its directors is David Cunio.

But look closely and you spot the phone number on the notepaper is 0203 290 7465 – this is not the number of the real Capricorn.

The genuine company has been ‘cloned’ by fraudsters who have even set up a fake website at capricorn-finance.com, but with their own phone number. This number is already in my files. It was used a few months ago when fraudsters cloned another company, Satis Asset management, in a similar type of scam.

If you had fallen for the fake Capricorn letter, you would have been told to send your payment by bank transfer to account number 13 29 28 60 at sort code 09-01-28.

This is a Santander account, so I tipped off the bank. Officials there thanked The Mail on Sunday, saying: ‘We are always grateful to receive information about suspected fraudulent accounts. We will act swiftly to investigate and block accounts where appropriate.’

Meanwhile, at the genuine Capricorn, director Stuart Dixon told me: ‘We have had several calls from the public. We have notified the regulator and sent them a series of documents.

‘I am hoping the Financial Conduct Authority will shut down these guys. They are not connected with us in any way at all.’

Neither the regulator nor the fake Capricorn responded to invitations to comment.

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Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group

 

July 28, 2018

Sources: Daily Mail

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    1 February 07, 2019
  • Sanlam's list of the 14 best income UK funds yields 5.6%

    Sanlam's list of the 14 best income UK funds yields 5.6%

    ld but when it comes to long-term returns they are among the most reliable.</p><p>The Barclays Equity Gilt study shows £100 invested in the UK stock market in 1899 would have been worth £16,004 by 2017 - but would have reached £2,635,984 with dividends taken into account and reinvested.</p><p>The tricky part for investors is navigating their way through the stock market and spotting the companies that can deliver over time – or the fund managers who are good at unearthing them.</p><p>If you can find an investment that pays out dividends as reliable as clockwork then the returns will build up over time</p><p>For the latter, there are a few handy reports that come out each year and the latest edition of one of them Sanlam’s White List has just landed.</p><p>It looks at total income, capital growth and volatility over the past five years in an attempt to name the best prospects for investors. The top 14 fund on it have an average yield of 5.6 per cent.</p><p>Sanlam names Troy Trojan Income, Axa Framlington Monthly Income and Miton UK Multi Cap as its top three UK income funds.</p><p>The Sanlam study is worth a look for some pointers, but there is, of course, the question of why would you even use a fund manager?</p><p>Plenty of investors choose to research and buy individual shares themselves, but the reality is that many people don’t have the time to do that properly.</p><p>For those who would rather outsource the hard work to someone whose job it is and has greater resources to do it, a fund or investment trust is a wise move.  </p><p>You could pick a tracker that simply follows the stock market and picks up the dividends along the way – the broad UK stock market index, the FTSE All-Share, currently yields a chunky 4.29 per cent.</p><p>However, that does mean relying heavily on a fairly limited number of companies to do the dividend heavy lifting – and these tend to be big, mature firms with limited opportunities for growth, such as Shell, BP, HSBC and GlaxoSmithKline.</p><p>Alternatively, you could find a fund or investment trust manager who goes looking for dividend prospects among smaller and medium-sized companies with headroom to grow.</p><p>This is something that is well worth bearing in mind when weighing up funds or investment trusts and Sam Lees, at Fund Expert argues that ‘the consistency of growth in the income a fund pays out’ is as important as any of the measures in the Sanlam study.</p><p>This is one of the reasons why I favour funds and particularly investment trusts that look for dividends lower down the company scale than among the giants of the FTSE 100.</p><p>What’s also important is avoiding the dividend traps.</p><p>These are the companies that look like they pack a hefty payout, but only have a big eye-catching yield due to a collapse in their share price - and a dividend cut or worse is on the way.</p><p>In my early days of investing, my first experience of a dividend trap was HMV. I was lured into its shares by an 8 per cent yield, thinking that as the last remaining music store on the High Street the firm couldn’t possible fail. I was wrong and it went bust (and recently did so again).</p><p>I imagine there were more than a few income fund managers who also made that HMV mistake, but the advantage of a fund or trust is that your money is spread around, so at least you are not too heavily affected by such a collapse.</p><p>Investing for income through an investment trust carries an extra advantage too, they are able to hold over some of their payouts in the good years to help cover the bad.</p><p>Investing has proven to be the best way to beat inflation and grow your wealth over the long-term, but how do you get started?</p><p>And if you do already invest but feel you’ve lost track of your goals or ended up with a jumble of investments, how can you improve things?</p><p>In this podcast, Simon Lambert and Georgie Frost dive into how to be a smarter investor.</p><p>They bust the jargon and look at why people should invest, how to get started, what investments you can choose and how to find the right ones for you.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.</p><p>Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday &amp; Metro Media Group</p>

    1 February 07, 2019

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