SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE: Companies managing clients’ wealth have a responsibility to analyse the risks of independence and advise those customers accordingly and there are no easy answers, delegates were told.
Haig Bathgate said issues around the referendum were coming up on a daily basis with clients.
He said: “We are striving to give them the best advice, not instructing them how to vote. Fund managers need to work out what political change means, look after a client’s interests and manage risk accordingly.”
George Renouf of Alliance Trust said his company had to plan with the interests of its clients, as well as shareholders and staff, in mind.
The most successful firms were those which could adapt, whatever the circumstances, he added.
He said 80 per cent of Alliance Trust’s customers were outside Scotland and their questions were around what would happen to their investments in relation to existing UK institutions including the Financial Conduct Authority, HMRC and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
“These are very difficult questions to answer,” said Renouf. “They might include, ‘How will you ensure my savings are covered by the FSCS? Will pension savings continue to be tax-free in an independent Scotland? How will Alliance Trust, registered in Scotland, continue to administer my UK Isa?”
The business mitigation work going on included what he described as “operational flexibility to complement our existing business in Scotland – not instead of, but as well as”.
He added: “We have a commitment to customers that we will continue to operate with these products, but until we are told what the parameters are, we can’t say what we will do exactly.”
Bill Jamieson said he was getting an increasing number of questions about whether to move capital, and suggested this would resonate increasingly across the IFA community.
He said: “On the most basic level, if you take out an Isa, in which currency will you cash it in? If you can’t answer that, never mind the minutiae.”