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2016: The risers and fallers in a tumultuous year

The year that brought us Brexit and the ensuing political turmoil also had its fair share of thrills and spills in financial services.

Good year: Darren Cooke

Red Circle Financial Planning director Darren Cooke scored a massive campaigning victory in November when the government announced it would ban pension cold calling. Cooke’s petition had not gathered enough signatures for an official response, but the government still took action. Nice one Darren!

Good year: Darren Cooke

Red Circle Financial Planning director Darren Cooke scored a massive campaigning victory in November when the government announced it would ban pension cold calling. Cooke’s petition had not gathered enough signatures for an official response, but the government still took action. Nice one Darren!

Bad year: David Cameron

In June David Cameron was fighting to keep Britain in Europe and keep his career afloat. By July, he was stepping down as prime minister, having gambled everything (again) and lost. Perhaps the worst defenestration this year.

Good year: Michael Johnson

Although he has since lost a key government ally in the form of George Osborne, Michael Johnson’s influence on the then-chancellor really shone in March with the launch of the lifetime ISA at the Budget. Impressively, Philip Hammond now seems to feel duty bound to stick with the policy too.

Bad year: AXA

Lots of AXA clients were left stranded by the closure of the Family Suntrust Sipp in September. On top of that, AXA’s dispensing of its investment pensions and protection business AXA Wealth to Phoenix Group, as well as its platform firm AXA Elevate to Standard Life in May, put the company, and the market, into a bit of a spin. Bonne année!

Good year: Matthew Walne

Another IFA celebrating this year was Santorini Financial Planning managing director Matthew Walne, whose hometown team Leicester City lifted the Premier League title in May. Walne was a New Model Adviser® cover star in 2013 when Leicester were in the second tier of English football, and said the turnaround was ‘surreal’. A bit of an understatement!

Good year: WASPI

Although they did not achieve their overall goal this year, the Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) campaign’s stock went up by virtue of it sticking with the fight for equality and amassing a war chest for legal challenges. That and a massive march on parliament, suffragette style. Impressive stuff.

Good year: Towry

National advice firm Towry ended months of speculation in April by announcing Tilney Bestinvest would buy it for £600 million. The announcement saw eyebrows raised everywhere and champagne corks popping in the boardroom of previous owner Palamon Capital Partners, which got a return of 13 times its invested capital.

Good year: Mark Carney

Having coolly batted off accusations of meddling in the EU referendum campaign in June this year, the Bank of England governor’s stock rose massively in the aftermath of the vote when he looked like the only one in control. With politicians floundering, Carney made crisis management look quantitatively easy.

Bad year: Consolidators

The FCA turned its spotlight on IFA consolidators in December, asking them for information on where clients’ money was invested after acquisitions. We understand that consolidators including Bellpenny and Succession were part of this process. There may be nothing wrong, but arousing the regulator’s interest is never a good idea.

Good year: Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn’s electoral prospects remain in doubt but there is no denying he deserves an award for remaining steadfast in the midst of an attempted summer coup. Regardless of what you think of his politics, there is no denying his firmness in the face of hostility.

Good year: Rory Percival

Regulatory nice guy and nationwide speech-maker Rory Percival is ending the year on a high after quitting the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and setting up his own consultancy. Get your Rory merchandise while his chips are up, we cannot wait to see what he has in store for 2017.

Good year: Nigel Farage

Few could claim Nigel Farage was not a pivotal figure in the outcome of the European referendum in June. Having effectively forced David Cameron’s hand on a referendum, Farage has become the political disruptor of the last decade. And he is still going. Ambassador to Washington, anyone?

Good year: FSCS levies

The year brought with it the almost obligatory rise in the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) levy. The final levy for the year 2015/16 was £319 million, but the 2016/17 levy came in at £337 million. If we had a pound for every complaint…

Good year: Theresa May

Theresa May gets this year’s prize for biggest political winner. Gambling big by staying quiet during the referendum campaign, she emerged as the main contender for Britain’s top political job after Michael Gove went rogue. It did not take much to defeat her final challenger, Andrea Leadsom, to round off an incredible summer of political wrangling.

Good year: Pension transfers

2016 was the year for pension transfers. With the pension freedoms making the prospect of transferring more attractive for some clients, many IFAs were quick to cash in by upping their qualifications. The number of firms with transfer permissions rose 60% this year, which tells its own story.

Bad year: Tracey McDermott

Taking over as interim head of the FCA was always a tough ask for Tracey McDermott, but Osborne announcing in January that she did not want to be in the running for the job full time, live on the radio, must have been nauseating. In McDermott’s own words: ‘I wasn’t exactly delighted about it.’

Bad year: Asset managers

Asset managers will be reeling after a scathing FCA review into their sector in November. Its stock may not have actually fallen, but the assertion from FCA director Christopher Woolard (pictured) that the sector is ‘a market failure in the economic sense’ was certainly a bruiser. 2017 may bring more.

Good year: Aegon

The platform story of the year ended in August with the sale of Cofunds to Aegon. The insurer wanted scale, and it got it, all for a knock-down price of £140 million. Time will tell if the company makes a success of it, but for now it is on the up.

Bad year: Ros Altmann

We are big fans of Ros Altmann at New Model Adviser®, but even we admit 2016 was not a sparkling year for the now ex-pensions minister. Her blindside against Iain Duncan Smith in March was a shocker, as were her changing opinions on Waspi, and her tweets during the referendum went down like a tonne of bricks. That and being sacked…

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