One of my old History teachers used to regularly cite the phrase “history is a seamless garment” which he quickly attributed to AJP Taylor (his own Tutor I think). I am not so sure, perhaps it is more of a patchwork quilt.
One of the many common gripes investors have is the great paperchase that they (and we) have to undergo on a regular basis. Well intended regulation, designed to protect has created a mountain of collected paperwork. Sadly, most of it is entirely useless with illustrations that will never be accurate (because they assume a world that none of us live in) and leave you wondering why you bothered with them.
This deep frustration is compounded when mergers and acquisitions happen. Most investors are left to become detectives of their own past, trying to piece together old pension companies and employers who have similar names that are then changed over time as they become consumed by the largest businesses who have largely survived through inertia.
Last week Old Mutual became the new formerly known as. For the “contemporary” music buffs amongst you, this is not the same problem that “Prince” had with his owners, err I mean production company… as he elected to become a “squiggle” so as to avoid confusion that he was not Prince, but the artist (formerly known as Prince) now “squiggle”.
I wonder if Pension and Investment companies might one day become simply are symbol, even then, it wouldn’t really help most of us with our own filing system. We came close recently as Standard Life Aberdeen Investments, tried to make itself edgy, using the name ABRDN. Read that aloud phonetically (a burden?). Some time ago Skandia attempted to use a colon – see below : (at least that’s what I assumed it was).
THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE
Anyway, back to Old Mutual – a name that was always going to struggle as a new, innovative brand, they have now become Quilter, (now the headline makes a bit more sense right?) which is (as they all are) a mash up of various companies now selected and reselected to create something that might hopefully suit someone. I am not having a go at Quilter, its simply another example of name changes that I’d suggest may not be “permanent” the irony of this being the name of an insurer amuses me.
Quilter, like those before them, will have written to you if you have an Old Mutual arrangement, or a Skandia Investment Solutions, Skandia, : or Selestia. However, it’s possible that you treated it as unrequested junk mail, not recognising the branded envelope.
The big winners are the printers, paper suppliers and design agencies who all get to re-do their work of a few years ago again, or again again.
However, in this instance, as Selestia, Skandia Investment Solutions and Old Mutual were all really like a basket into which other people’s funds were placed, you have the added benefit of a myriad of fund name changes as well. If you are confused, you have my genuine sympathy and I would encourage you to exercise patience with your shredding, being sure that you are destroying the right documents as even the policy/account/plan numbers may have altered to suit a new computer system.
In fairness to these gigantic businesses, it must be a terribly difficult task to move everyone onto the same technology solution which requires human checking and one of the reasons they amalgamated was to remove as many costs (humans) as possible making the job rather harder than it needed to have been. Still, I am sure that the new digital system that cost the GDP of a small country will not require an upgrade for at least another round of drinks. They may of course find that the benefits of new technology are a double-edged sword, with the ability to move away being easier than moving internally.
So, if you have any questions about the patchwork of possible arrangements that you may have, please ask. Hopefully Quilter will not have us all in stitches. I’m certain that your call is truly important, so much so that finding staff to take it remains the clearest priority.
Alternatively you can let us, your financial planner, worry about this stuff so that you can get on with your life.
You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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