Month: July 2024

What’s The Fed and Why Does It Matter?

You’ll often hear the twenty four news cycle ask the question “What will the Fed do next” when it tries, often unsuccessfully, to predict what might happen next to global markets.

The Federal Reserve (Fed), as the central bank of the United States, plays a pivotal role in shaping global financial markets, including those in the UK. Although it’s influence can often be more emotional than scientific, driving investor sentiment and gut feel decisions. Its policies and decisions are relevant to UK investment markets for several reasons:

1. Global Financial Influence
The U.S. economy is the largest in the world, and its financial markets are deeply integrated with global markets. As a result, the Fed’s monetary policy decisions—such as changes in interest rates or quantitative easing programs—significantly influence global liquidity and capital flows. This can affect investment sentiment, risk appetite, and capital allocation decisions worldwide, including in the UK.

2. Impact on Exchange Rates
Fed policies directly impact the U.S. dollar, which is the world’s primary reserve currency. When the Fed adjusts interest rates, it influences the dollar’s strength relative to other currencies, including the British pound. A stronger dollar can lead to a weaker pound, affecting the cost of imports and exports between the two countries, and influencing UK businesses that rely on international trade. Moreover, changes in the exchange rate can affect the relative value of returns for UK investors who hold U.S. assets.

3. Interest Rate Parity
The interest rate decisions by the Fed can cause shifts in global interest rate expectations. For UK investors, changes in U.S. rates often lead to anticipatory moves by the Bank of England, either to maintain competitive interest rates or to manage inflation and economic growth. These changes can influence bond yields, mortgage rates, and other interest-sensitive aspects of the UK economy. This has been a key focus of attention in recent years as rising interest rates have been at the forefront of public concern.

4. Investor Sentiment and Market Dynamics
The Fed’s outlook on the U.S. economy, particularly its assessments of employment, inflation, and economic growth, can sway global market sentiment. Positive or negative news from the Fed can trigger risk-on or risk-off movements, impacting UK equities, bonds, and other asset classes. Investors often look to the Fed’s analysis and forward guidance to make preemptive adjustments to their portfolios.

5. Impact on Commodities and Global Trade
The Fed’s monetary policy also affects commodity prices, many of which are dollar-denominated. For the UK, which imports a significant amount of raw materials, changes in these prices can influence inflation and corporate profit margins. Furthermore, since the U.S. is a major trading partner for many countries, any economic measures impacting U.S. trade will also impact global trade networks, including those connected to the UK.

Due to these factors, the Fed’s decisions are closely monitored by UK investors, financial analysts, and policymakers. The interconnectedness of the global economy means that even purely domestic decisions by the Fed can ripple outward, affecting financial conditions and economic prospects in the UK and beyond. It isn’t something we can control or influence however, so however much noise you hear about “What the Fed might do next”, it’s down to you whether you listen

Philanthropy as an Investment in the UK…


In recent years, the landscape of philanthropy in the United Kingdom has undergone a significant transformation. Traditionally viewed as an act of charity or goodwill, philanthropy is increasingly being recognized as a strategic investment with the potential for meaningful social impact. This shift reflects a growing awareness among individuals and institutions of the power they hold to effect positive change in society through targeted giving. In this article, we will explore the factors driving the growth of philanthropy as an investment in the UK and its implications for the future.

Changing Perspectives

Philanthropy in the UK is no longer confined to traditional notions of charity or altruism. Instead, it is increasingly being approached through the lens of strategic investing, where donors seek measurable outcomes and long-term impact. This shift in perspective has been fueled by several factors, including a desire for greater transparency and accountability in charitable giving, as well as a recognition of the interconnectedness of social, environmental, and economic issues.

Moreover, the rise of social entrepreneurship and impact investing has provided new avenues for individuals and institutions to align their philanthropic efforts with their values and goals. By investing in innovative social enterprises and initiatives, philanthropists can not only address pressing societal challenges but also generate financial returns that can be reinvested to further amplify their impact.

Corporate Philanthropy

Corporate philanthropy has also played a significant role in driving the growth of strategic giving in the UK. Many companies are recognizing the importance of integrating social responsibility into their business models as a means of creating shared value for both shareholders and society. This has led to the emergence of corporate social investment programs that prioritize initiatives with the potential to deliver both social and financial returns.

Furthermore, corporate partnerships with non-profit organizations and social enterprises have become increasingly common, allowing companies to leverage their resources and expertise to address complex social issues collaboratively. Through these partnerships, businesses can make a meaningful difference in their communities while also enhancing their brand reputation and employee engagement.

Government Support

The UK government has also taken steps to encourage philanthropic investment as a means of addressing social challenges and driving economic growth. Initiatives such as the Social Value Act and the creation of social investment tax relief schemes have incentivized private sector investment in social enterprises and community projects. Additionally, the government’s commitment to promoting the UN Sustainable Development Goals has provided a framework for philanthropic efforts to align with broader global priorities.

The Future of Philanthropy

Looking ahead, the growth of philanthropy as an investment in the UK shows no signs of slowing down. As individuals and institutions continue to recognize the potential for social impact through strategic giving, we can expect to see greater collaboration across sectors and increased innovation in philanthropic approaches.

Moreover, the ongoing digitization of philanthropy is likely to democratize access to giving opportunities, enabling a broader range of donors to participate in driving positive change. Platforms such as crowdfunding and social impact investing networks are already connecting donors with projects and organizations that align with their interests and values, making philanthropy more accessible and transparent than ever before.


The growth of philanthropy as an investment in the UK represents a fundamental shift in how we approach social change and community development. By harnessing the power of strategic giving, individuals, businesses, and government entities alike have the opportunity to address some of the most pressing challenges facing society today while also creating sustainable, long-term value for future generations. As we continue to explore new models and methodologies for philanthropic investment, the potential for transformative impact remains immense. However, it also has it’s challenges.

Financial planners are adapting to accommodate how some clients wish to invest in a more philanthropic manner. The investment options available are still in a state of flux and cover very diverse objectives, from ESG (environmental, social and governance) investing, to impact investing.

For some it will be about de-selecting investments in specific sectors such as fossil fuels or weapons. This is arguably not philanthropy, and could be better described as ethical investing, but it is very much on the rise. For others it will be about actively choosing a specific business to invest in because of what it does for society. Every investor will have their own expectations on risk and returns.

It is not yet a mature, well defined market, and so it is important that we manage your expectations and and explain the risks along the way if this is something important to you.

Pensions and Politics…

Pensions have been a big topic in UK politics for some time, nevermore so than in an election year. That’s no surprise to us given their crucial role in the financial security of millions of citizens, but not everyone is as interested and engaged in pensions as we are! Here’s a quick summary of why pensions have been at the forefront of UK politics in recent years.

The UK is Getting Older
The UK, like many developed countries, is experiencing significant demographic shifts. The population is aging, with a growing proportion of retirees compared to working-age individuals. According to the Office for National Statistics, by 2042, the number of people aged 85 and over is projected to double. This demographic change puts immense pressure on the pension system, raising concerns about its sustainability and adequacy. The same can be said for social care. It also means that the average age of the electorate is getting older. The ‘grey vote’ has long been coveted by all parties, not just because of the increasing numbers, older voters tend to turn out and vote in greater percentage terms also. Securing the support of people over 60 is incredibly important for an election win.

The State Pension Will Come Under Pressure
The state pension is a critical component of retirement income for many UK citizens. However, debates around its adequacy and the age at which it should be accessed are heating up. The state pension has benefited from the ‘triple lock’ which has been incredibly valuable to pensioners at a time of high inflation, but many argue this is insufficient to support a comfortable retirement, particularly with rising living costs. On the other hand, questions have been raised about whether the triple lock can be maintained given its cost to the public purse, and there is ongoing debate about further increases to state retirement age to reflect longer life expectancy. These issues are central to voters’ concerns, especially for those nearing retirement age.

Tax Relief on Pension Contributions
This is always a contentious issue and viewed as a big vote winner. Higher-rate taxpayers receive more generous relief than basic-rate taxpayers, leading to debates about fairness and potential reforms. Counter proposals often include capping tax relief or introducing flat-rate relief to make the system more equitable and to increase government revenue. These proposals are met with mixed reactions, as they could impact higher earners’ incentives to save for retirement. There is also the question of how tax relief is equalised between defined benefit and defined contribution pension schemes. Any cuts to public sector schemes, for example, will also raise objections from public sector workers, even if they are just the same as the private sector. More recently there is fierce debate (at least amongst the financial services sector) about the contribution limits imposed for pension tax relief, both annual and over the course of a lifetime. These limits have seen a great deal of tinkering recently as it is probably politically easier to change them than make wide-sweeping change.

Pushing Investment Into the UK
There is a stated desire from both Labour and the Conservatives to change the rules on how we invest pension monies in a way that pushes more money into the UK economy. Diverting more institutional pension money towards the UK is central to their growth strategy, and whether you agree with this level of intervention into investment decisions, it clearly has some momentum now.

Private Pensions and Auto-Enrolment
Auto-enrolment, introduced in 2012, has been a significant policy success, bringing millions into workplace pensions. However, there are concerns about whether contributions are high enough to ensure adequate retirement savings. The current minimum contribution is 8% of qualifying earnings, but experts suggest this may not be sufficient. Political parties are discussing potential reforms, such as increasing contribution rates or expanding coverage to include more low-income and part-time workers. This has to be balanced against short term problems such as the cost of living crisis and wage inflation for employers.

Pension Freedoms and Flexibility
The pension freedoms introduced in 2015, allowing individuals aged 55 and over to access their defined contribution pension pots more flexibly have been widely popular. However, this flexibility has also led to concerns about people exhausting their pension savings too quickly, exposing themselves to financial insecurity in later life. Additionally, there are worries about the potential for scams and mis-selling, making regulation and advice crucial topics in the election debate.

Intergenerational Fairness
This is the counter argument to the policies pitched at current pensioners, with younger generations facing challenges such as high housing costs, student debt, and precarious employment. Many younger voters feel that they are at a disadvantage compared to older generations who benefited from more generous defined benefit pension schemes and stable employment. Political parties are being scrutinized on their policies to address these disparities, ensuring a fair and sustainable pension system for future generations.

Gender Pension Gap
The gender pension gap remains a significant issue, with women, on average having lower pension savings than men due to factors such as career breaks, part-time work, and the gender pay gap. Addressing this gap requires targeted policies, such as enhanced maternity leave contributions, better support for carers and measures to tackle the underlying causes of the gender pay gap. Political parties are under pressure to demonstrate how they will ensure that women are not disadvantaged in retirement.

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Considerations
There has been growing interest in how pension funds are invested, with increasing emphasis on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors. Some voters are now more concerned about the ethical implications of their investments and the role of pensions in promoting sustainability. However, there is also plenty of comment and opinion that this is less of a priority in a time when people have less disposable income and more immediate concerns. Political parties have been responding with policies that encourage or mandate the inclusion of ESG criteria in pension fund investment decisions, aligning retirement savings with broader societal goals. You only need look at the wide ranging policy making on fossil fuel consumption to see how polarised this debate has become.

In Summary
Pension policy is a critical issue for this and future UK elections, reflecting their fundamental role in ensuring financial security in retirement. All of the above points contribute to the complexity of the pension debate and as you can see there are opposing interests. No party is likely to pacify retirees at the same time as resolving the problems young people face. The need to win votes and take a short time view is one reason many in financial services are asking for an independent commission to be set up to take politics away from pensions in much the same way the Bank of England set interest rates, but it’s probably too important a topic right now right now for any Party to give control away.