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Viewing posts categorised under: Spectrum-IFA Group

The Spectrum IFA Group and Blackden Financial join forces

By Spectrum IFA
This article is published on: 26th May 2020


One of Europe’s leading expatriate advisory companies today announced the acquisition of a 50% shareholding in Geneva based financial planners Blackden Financial, the transaction having been concluded on Friday following discussions which began last year.

The move forms part of Spectrum’s ongoing strategic growth in Europe and expands its existing Swiss operation based in Lausanne. Blackden’s name, office and personnel will be retained.

Spectrum, established in 2003, specialises in financial planning for English speaking expatriates across Europe, operating from twelve regional offices in France, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg. Blackden (also founded in 2003) operates exclusively in Switzerland from its central Geneva premises, providing investment, pension and savings solutions to a predominantly high net worth expatriate client base.

Spectrum Director, Chris Tagg, commented “Having observed Blackden Financial’s success over many years, we recognise the team’s disciplined advice process, high professional standards and commitment to long term client service. We are pleased to be investing in a company, and in people, knowing that the essential features of good business practice are already in place. We look forward to continuing the growth of our expatriate financial planning services across Switzerland.”

“The stake in Blackden allows Spectrum to further develop its Swiss based expatriate investment and tax planning capabilities, whilst giving Blackden access to locally compliant solutions in some of Spectrum’s EU markets including France, Italy and Spain.”

Chris Marriott, founder and CEO of Blackden, added “Having specialised in advising Swiss based expats for the last 17 years, we are delighted to complete this deal, which complements and strengthens our presence locally, and look forward to Spectrum’s involvement in the next phase of our business development.”

Michael Lodhi, Spectrum’s Chief Executive Officer and co-founder said “I have known Chris Marriott for more than 15 years, we were instrumental in the creation of The Federation of European Independent Financial Advisers (FEIFA) and I am delighted that we can now work together on a commercial basis.”

blackden financial

The Spectrum IFA Group Conference 2020 – Athens

By Gareth Horsfall
This article is published on: 28th January 2020

The Spectrum IFA Group Conference 2020 - Athens

This year The Spectrum IFA Group annual conference was held in Athens. I attended it from the 23rd to the 26th January. As usual we had 2 full days of conference and a little time to ourselves as well. The time to myself this year proved enlightening as you will see from the image above. This is 100% Greek graffiti. I happened to stumble across it during a lone walking tour early in the morning, not so far from the Roman Agorà. It certainly gave me a chuckle, but also give an insight into the mentality of a certain sector of Greek society (whoever they might be), although it’s no surprise given their ongoing economic malaise at the hands of the EU.

Graffiti aside, the conference was full of the usual morsels of information (some more controversial than others) flowing from the investment and financial sector, but we were also treated to some much more interesting information on a bigger theme which is more likely to have an impact on our lives and the way we invest in the future. In this E-zine I will touch on the morsels, and the big idea that is circulating in asset management circles.

So let’s start with the appetizers:


If you follow the news you will know that the impeachment of US President D. Trump is underway. Whilst it was felt that this is uninteresting for investment markets, what is stranger is the opinion that Trump has actually been good for the US economy, employment and corporate profits. This is indisputable regardless of your opinion on his moral values. I can recall a conversation I had with a female taxi driver in Rome just before Christmas who was also telling me something similar. She said that no matter what you think of him, he has pretty much lived up to the promises he made to the US voting public. Love him or loath him, does this mean he could be in for another term? We will find out later this year.

Conversely, the financial markets are much more concerned about a US future led by Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. This would likely lead to periods of big instability in the financial markets and in our investment portfolios. It begs the eternal question about morals versus money!


Take no notice. They don’t matter. The fact that Trump can tweet about trade wars and the markets hardly take notice anymore just shows that the ongoing details of the trade spats between nations has little effect on our investments. Trade Wars will take 5-10 years to resolve and so have very little bearing on our investment objectives. However, this doesn’t mean to say that we shouldn’t be mindful of them, for example too much exposure to companies who are heavily invested into Chinese imports are potentially companies to avoid or have a minimal allocation to.


Most of you know my personal position on Brexit (I am a reluctant remainer, just to be clear!), but if you are an ardent remainer you may not wish to read on.

The financial marketeers feel that the general election result for Sig.Boris will bring a period of stability to the UK. Most of the asset managers said that they had been increasing their allocation to UK companies significantly since the vote. They are also expecting to see that he will have to follow through on a number of election pledges which could mean massive infrastructure investment and a lot more spending. This will create big opportunities for UK companies as they fall out of the EU.

US companies are also very positive about the UK’s prospects (quelle surprise!). To give you an example, the UK market is the third most important for Estee Lauder, the cosmetics firm, behind the USA, NO 1 and China NO 2. They are keen to invest and grow in the UK, despite Brexit.

And for all the talk of companies upping and offing to the EU, in reality companies such as Packard UK will maintain their base in the UK, but also open EU operations to ensure continuinity across their EU markets.


The big question for the EU is who is going to pay the bills moving forward? When the UK leaves the EU it will leave a massive funding gap and smaller less economically prosperous countries will have to fill the gap. How will this work and is it a sustainable model? Only time will tell.


It may not surprise you to know that the big theme to this years conference was ESG investing. You may be wondering what that is? It stands for Environment / Social / Governance investing. We should also add healthcare into the mix. But, this is generally known as ethical investing, sustainable investing, environmentally friendly investing, green investing, or any number of other terms. But one thing is clear. This is BIG and it’s here to stay.

This is going to be a theme that is everywhere. There is not one person that I talk to who is not worried about the amount of plastic they use, or the slow pace of adoption into circular recycling and a society based on renewables rather than throwaways.

But it’s coming, and expect the pace to pick up. The general consensus of opinion was that any business or sector that fails to adopt, or adapt to the challenges we face in the coming years will very likely go out of business. Consumers are being selective about who they do business with and are making choices based on how company policy sits with their personal views. Equally investment managers have realised this trend are are also aligning their asset management styles with those of their customers, because they can see that prospective investors will avoid investments based on how they match with their ethical views. This in itself could be the biggest catalyst for change that we see. Asset managers are the worlds largest allocators of capital in the world: investment funds, pensions funds, sovereign investment funds etc and now they are starting to look at not just where they place money, but question why they do it. This could be the catalyst we see for real change.

Let’s talk of some examples where real change is taking place:


Consumers and employees are the real capital of any business. Maximizing shareholder returns is now under the spotlight. People are making choices based on how businesses treat their customers and also their employees. Happy employees make for higher profits and more prosperous businesses. To give you an example, I rarely fly Ryanair anymore ( unless I am forced to do so). I struggle with their budget approach to customer service and lack of employee care.

Similarly there is a company in the US called Clorox. They make a range of household cleaning and consumer goods. They recently embarked on a cost cutting exercise and looked to reduce the administration budget by 10% with the introduction of new technology and artificial intelligence into their business. That would normally mean a cull of 10% of the admin workforce but rather than make them redundant Clorox chose to re-employ them into more innovative jobs and to use the human capital in a more productive way. In this way they are being seen as a company with a social conscious and become more investable.


Consumers and employees are the real capital of any business. Maximizing shareholder returns is now under the spotlight. People are making choices based on how businesses treat their customers and also their employees. Happy employees make for higher profits and more prosperous businesses. To give you an example, I rarely fly Ryanair anymore ( unless I am forced to do so). I struggle with their budget approach to customer service and lack of employee care.

Similarly there is a company in the US called Clorox. They make a range of household cleaning and consumer goods. They recently embarked on a cost cutting exercise and looked to reduce the administration budget by 10% with the introduction of new technology and artificial intelligence into their business. That would normally mean a cull of 10% of the admin workforce but rather than make them redundant Clorox chose to re-employ them into more innovative jobs and to use the human capital in a more productive way. In this way they are being seen as a company with a social conscious and become more investable.


I touched on the company Estee Lauder above, but they are also worth mentioning in terms of their record on plastic reduction and environmental impact. 18 months ago Estee Lauder had no view on plastic in their business or the environmental impact of their business on the world. Today they have a permanent board member responsible for monitoring and exploring every aspect of their ESG footprint ( Environmental / Social / Governance) and they have made the decision to move all their plastic products to glass containers.

We can also talk about Rentokil. Not a company with the best ‘green credentials given its use of chemicals and record on non-humane disposal of pest animals. But, Rentokil have understood the changing trends of consumers and the CEO has put in place a process to find 100% non toxic chemicals to eradicate pests. He also wants to find humane solutions for the treatment and disposal of pest animals and insects. However, this comes at a price and typically it costs 3 times more for these solutions…is the customer ready to pay this price yet? This is the kind of journey that a company like Rentokil has to monitor and adapt to.


The social aspect of investing has also become a prominent factor in a company’s’ investability. This may have less environmental credentials, but the investors are now looking at products where companies have taken time to consider the true purpose of a product and alter it accordingly.

To explain this we can use the example of the US households goods company Clorox again. They have a wholly owned subsidiary of the business which is a charcoal maker in the USA and has a market share of approximately 50% share of the entire US charcoal market.

A few years ago they asked themselves, What is the purpose of charcoal? One might say it is for cooking, heating, etc. But they found that its purpose is to facilitate social gatherings. The biggest users of charcoal in the USA are age 25 and under. Charcoal’s primary purpose is social gatherings for millenials. So, Clorox conducted research and found that most people have a beer when they BBQ and that it takes, on average, 13 mins to drink. They went away and adjusted their charcoal recipe so that it came to the optimum cooking temperature after 15 minutes. Sales have rocketed. They showed that they were thinking more about the reason for their product and adjusting it to their clients needs and tastes.

Lastly, let’s take a look at the:


and then a short word of warning

The world is aging rapidly and countries around the world are going to have to adapt to older populations. The Italian healthservice, the NHS and many other governmental run health services are going to struggle to cope with the demands from an increasing number of patients in the next 10 years. Technological solutions will be required to meet these needs and these solutions are coming. Innovation is happening: robots and artificial intelligence are already taking the place of surgeons and are proving, in a lot of cases, better than human doctors at performing basic operations. Virtual reality is also a development which might mean a doctor can work in many places at the same time.

An example of a company spearheading development in this area would be the Smith and Nephew, leaders in global medical technology. They have developed wound dressings that can last for 3 or 4 days and notify the nurses when they need changing. This is time saving for nurses to concentrate their time on more important and potentially more urgent matters.

This is just one example, but one where rapid change is already taking place.

And lastly a word of warning: BUBBLES

Like any trend, but especially investing trends, they can find momentum and then become ‘too’ popular. This could also be the case with ethical investing. It has seen massive interest in the last 12 months and whilst it is recognised that these trends are here to stay, because consumer behaviour is changing, it could create bubbles in investment markets. So, whilst it is impossible to say right now what will happen, it is not outside the realm of possibility in the next couple of years that these trends start to take hold and more and more people pile into this sector.

However, you can avoid the worst of this, even if you want to be a part of it. Simply avoid anything too good to be true, don’t invest in anything without a track record, use professionals to guide you and avoid investments that merely have a trendy sounding name without doing some research first.

Change is coming, and probably faster than we might think.

The Spectrum IFA Group: A corporate partner, a generous friend

By Spectrum IFA
This article is published on: 16th May 2019


As a small NGO, Street Child EU is always on the lookout to build relationships with corporate partners as a means of strengthening our long-term fundraising ambitions. We are always grateful when, after approaching an organisation, they take the time to contemplate our vision and give consideration for the potential benefits of our projects. Yet, even with our proven track-record, this is a competitive industry, and securing regular funding is a painstaking and uncertain process. Thankfully, every so often, we encounter a corporate organisation that immediately identifies with our philosophy and subsequently demonstrates an admirable commitment to transforming our ambitions into reality – The Spectrum IFA Group is one such case.

Over the years, this Financial Services Organisation, has shown an unwavering dedication to providing hope to some of the world’s most marginalised groups and disadvantaged children, their donations to Street Child thus far reached 14,000 € . Street Child’s relationship with The Spectrum IFA Group stretches back to 2016, when they provided us with a generous donation for our Girls Speak Out programme. This project was set in the difficult context of post-ebola Sierra Leone and Liberia. Our mission aimed to support at least 20,000 girls to access and sustainably remain in quality education. When The Spectrum IFA Group provided us with 3,750 € we could immediately family business grants for the Street Child team in the capital of Sierra Leone, central Freetown. This meant that 65 individual caregivers were given the means to protect and nurture the vulnerable children in their care. The grant also enabled an extra 65 girls and 65 of their siblings to attend school – totalling 130 children for whom education had previously been out of reach. Moreover, the donation has had a wider impact of providing an additional 195 family members with access to an increased income. Overall, this has been a great source of optimism in the community, wedging open a door of opportunity for future generations of children in Freetown.

In 2017, The Spectrum IFA Group once again willingly answered Street Child’s call to action by providing support for our Breaking the Bonds Project in Nepal. Street Child was implementing an ambitious plan to reverse the effects that decades of discrimination have inflicted upon the Musahar community. With a donation of 5,000 € we made great strides in our efforts to free Musahars from bonded labour and disrupt this cycle of poverty. The donation has enabled 27 Musahar girls to complete our livelihoods support program which, through a careful combination of business skills training and life skills workshops, has given these Musuhars the resources and skills needed to propel them towards economic independence. In 2018, The Spectrum IFA Group reiterated their support for the Musahar community by donating an extra 3,000 € to the cause.

This organisation has always been interested in receiving project updates from the field, and we have always happy to oblige with photographs and case studies. They have kindly used these materials to show off during presentations at company events, encouraging even more donations by The Spectrum IFA Group’s staff. It is important for us that our corporate partners show off the projects they have funded with this kind of pride. It is important that corporate organisations engage with NGOs out of a genuine interest in social progress and The Spectrum IFA Group clearly does so.

All to often corporate partnerships cannot stand the test of time, but the relationship between The Spectrum IFA Group and Street Child is strong and looks set to stay. We have already shared positive initial conversations in relation to our new project in Afghanistan and furthermore, an extra 2000 € donation already indicated for a new Musahar project. We are tremendously grateful for the trust and support The Spectrum IFA Group has continuously offered us. Our experience with The Spectrum IFA Group is a testament to the fact that the NGOs and Corporate organisations can positively bridge the gap between these differing industries in order to pursue a common goal.

Soti, a Musahar in Nepal has benefitted from business skills training to establish a steady income for herself and her children.

In Central Freetown, Sierra Leone, Aminata been supported through the Girls Speak Out programme. She can now attend School regularly and has aspirations to one day become a teacher

*Note: The names of individuals have been changed to protect their privacy and identity

Spectrum’s Daphne Foulkes appointed to Chair of the European Pensions Institute

By Spectrum IFA
This article is published on: 12th June 2018


Spectrum’s Daphne Foulkes, a board member of FECIF (The European Federation of Financial Intermediaries and Financial Advisers) has been appointed to Chair the newly formed European Pensions Institute (see attached FECIF press release).

We are delighted with this recognition of Daphne’s skills and work representing European IFAs within the trade body. Daphne will be taking on this role in addition to her Spectrum duties.

The European Federation of Financial Advisers and Financial Intermediaries (FECIF) was chartered in June 1999 for the defence and promotion of the role of financial advisers and intermediaries in Europe.

FECIF is an independent and non-profit-making organisation exclusively at the service of its financial adviser and intermediary members, who are from the 28 European Union member states, plus Switzerland; it is the only European body representing European financial advisers and intermediaries. FECIF is based in Brussels, at the heart of Europe.

Corporate Responsibility

By Spectrum IFA
This article is published on: 20th March 2018


Every year, like many organizations, The Spectrum IFA Group is approached for support from many charities. As a company, we budget to support international charities and causes close to our staff and our clients’ hearts. Please find below links to causes that Spectrum thought both worthy and interesting.

Street Child

In 2018 one of the charities we are continuing to support is Street Child. Street Child is a UK charity, established in 2008, that aims to create sustainable educational access for some of the world’s most vulnerable children. Street Child initially started with one location, 100 children and four social workers.

Since then, Street Child has continued to grow into a dynamic charity, assisting some of the world’s most vulnerable children in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria and Nepal. Through creating educational opportunities, Street Child has helped thousands of children lead a more positive life and opened up future opportunities for them.

An important and current project is called Breaking The Bonds. Members of the Musahar caste are traditionally involved in bonded labour and face extreme economic hardships and discrimination as a result. The experience of bonded labour, other socio-economic factors, and discrimination within the community and at school combine to make the Musahar community one of the least educated groups in Nepal. Bonded labour has been a traditional caste-based practice in Nepal. It is found mostly in agriculture, but also in domestic work and brick kilns. Labourers are paid little or no money for work and find themselves constantly indebted to their masters, rendering them unable to break out of the poverty cycle. Despite most forms of bonded labour being abolished by the Government of Nepal, over 66,000 households were still found to be affected by it in the seven Terai districts.

  • 23% – Of girls never enrolled in school
  • 29% – Of girls had dropped out
  • 46% – Of 15-19 year olds could not read Nepali
  • 62% – Of 15-19 year olds had no math competency
  • 45% – of parents claimed that teachers were bad or absent
  • 56% – of children would want to go to school if only their parents would encourage them
  • 47% – of children weren’t enrolled in school due to their compulsion to earn and contribute to the family income

We hope you find the information of interest and agree with our support. If you would like to learn more about Breaking The Bonds please click here

The Spectrum IFA Group supporting Village by Village

By Spectrum IFA
This article is published on: 21st July 2017


As one of it’s chosen charities, The Spectrum IFA Group is supporting ‘Village by Village‘ in 2017. We were delighted to receive the following letter and photos from it’s CEO Neil Kerfoot. Their mission is to reduce the needless suffering and deaths of children living in poverty in remote rural African villages.

Morning Spectrum,

Hope you are happy & healthy.

Thanks again for the donation to the solar homework lights project, we asked one of out staff to pop around to a pupil’s houses at night just to see how the children were getting on with their solar lights. We sometimes find we offer solutions to issues in the community the community then finds interesting added value additional uses for the items we provide.

We asked one of the pupils on the solar homework project to write in his own words how he found the solar lights.(See Below with photo’s, his Mum looks like she is not to be messed with!) In this case the little boy mentions he uses the light at night to go to the loo. This is really important not to see where you are going but to let the snakes know you are coming so no one gets any surprises (including the snakes, giving then time to slither off). Snake bites at night are a problem in Ghana especially in children who because of their smaller bodies can not disperse the poison as well as fully grown adults.

“It helps me to learn. I also use it when I have to visit the toilet in the night. Thank you village by village for this light that helps me to study at night. It helps in some of the domestic things we do too. Richard aged 13 Pupil from Abenta Village School, Nr Adowso, Eastern Region, Ghana. (The photos are all a bit staged but what was nice and you can not tell from the images is the visit was a surprise but before we were allowed to take any photos both Mother and son wanted to put on their best clothes for the photos/you to show they were worthy of your support)

Me da se (“Thank you” in Ghanaian)
Neil Kerfoot MSc
Chief Executive of Village by Village

Tips on choosing a Financial Adviser?

By Amanda Johnson
This article is published on: 11th July 2017


This is a very important question and one raised many times in forums and during seminars. I think there are six key factors in choosing a financial adviser who will be right for you:

Can I work with the adviser?
A financial adviser is someone who is not just here for your needs today, but someone who will be around for the long term. As your needs change, your adviser needs to be able to go through these changes and tell you when the French or UK government make changes that can impact your financial position.

Who do they work for?
It is important that you get an understanding of the company your adviser works for. Google them, or look for forum threads, to see how other expatriates have found dealing with them. It is important to know not just that they have a good reputation, but that they are quick to act in the event of any issues which may arise.

Are they regulated within the country you live?
Whilst the UK can still “passport” financial products to the EU, there is no guarantee that this will continue seamlessly after Brexit. One way you can ensure whatever happens that you face the least amount of change is to deal with a company regulated in the country where you live.

What is the advisers experience and history with their company?
Has your financial adviser a history of financial advice and not just a background in financial services? You want to ensure that the knowledge they have is relevant to your financial needs. It can also provide comfort if you know your adviser has been with their current company for some time.

Can they provide testimonials from recent customers?
There are few better ways of putting your mind at rest than asking your adviser if you could speak over the phone to one of two of their existing customers. It provides great peace of mind, when looking at a new financial partner.

Are they open and transparent, regarding any costs and fees involved in using them?
When you first meet your adviser, ask them for any terms of business and how working with them would progress. Be sure to ask whether there are any upfront costs involved and what the ongoing fee structure will be. You should know in advance of any commitment how they will deal with you and your estate.


Whether you want to register for our newsletter, attend one of our road shows or speak to me directly, please call or email me on the contacts below & I will be glad to help you. We do not charge for reviews, reports or recommendations we provide.

Le Tour de Finance

By Spectrum IFA
This article is published on: 20th June 2017


Le Tour de Finance has just finished another stage of it’s annual tour with three well attended forums in the 06 and 83 departments of the Cote d’Azur.

Due to the lovely early summer evenings, two of the sessions were held from 6.30pm culminating with a relaxed wine presentation and buffet in the lovely settings of the Mas Shabanou in Roquefort les Pins and the Bastide St.Mathieu in Grasse. The third event was held at the normal time of 10.30 in the equally lovely setting of Le Clos des Roses in Frejus.

As part of the long term commitment from the team organising Le Tour de Finance, senior representatives of large financial institutions were on hand to give brief presentations, but more importantly, were there to answer varied questions from the attendees.

Coaxed out from behind their desks, these senior executives from companies such as Tilney, Prudential, Rathbones, Momentum Pensions, SEB and Currencies Direct give short presentations on a range of subjects and then welcome questions from the floor. This really is the chance to get those all important questions answered by the professionals.

This unprecedented access to a range of international and independent experts is what sets Le Tour de Finance events apart.

After the summer recess, Le Tour will continue in October:
5th October – 13610, Le Puy Sainte Réparade
6th October – 11300, Gayda, Languedoc
17th October – 53470, Martigné sur Mayenne
18th October – 14570, Clecy
19th October – 22100, Lanvallay

If you would like further information or would like to book a place, please contact us or visit the dedicated Le Tour de Finance website for further information on the future events.

The objective of Le Tour de Finance is to provide expatriates with useful information relating to their financial lives. We try and cover frequently asked questions that we receive from our clients, however, it would be helpful for us to know what your particular areas of interest might be. If you’d like to send us your question please click here to complete the form.

Supporting Village by Village

By Spectrum IFA
This article is published on: 16th June 2017

village by village

Every year as part of our Corporate Responsibility The Spectrum IFA Group supports three very worthy charities. This year we have decided to support Village by Village.

Supporting Village by Village changes the lives of so many children and families living in poverty in Africa and one project supported is to help those living without lighting. The organisation works in local primary schools and with the help of the teachers identify those children who do not have access to electric lighting in their homes at night and then lend that child (During school term) a solar light so they can do their homework.

Supporting Village by Village

In October 2016 they started testing which is the best light to use, they received a selection of solar lights from a friendly UK solar light supplier (At a great discount) and got the kids who are going to be using the lights to write a report on the best one. The one below was the winner. The organisation noticed the kids using it with an old beer bottle so it gave more light and a softer green effect and stood a bit higher, giving more light. It replaced the old, homemade kerosene lights that are expensive, bad for health, bad for the environment and dangerous.. photos of the before and after testing can be seen in the link below.

So the money is being well used to buy solar lights, pay local teachers to allocate and collect the lights to ensure accountability and for the staff to monitor and evaluate the project, find new village schools and ensure the effective running of the projects.

More information on Village by Village can be seen here

Should anyone wish to donate you can do so here

Investing in turbulent times – presentation, Costa del Sol

By Spectrum IFA
This article is published on: 15th June 2017


The Spectrum IFA Group and Tilney Investment Management co-sponsored an excellent presentation and lunch on 13th June at the exclusive Finca Cortesin Hotel & Spa on the Costa del Sol. The Spectrum IFA Group was represented by our local adviser, Charles Hutchinson, assisted by his wife Rhona and Jonathan Goodman who attended along with Richard Brown, Lewis Cohen and Harriette Collings from Tilney.

For this event, around 25 attendees were invited and selected for this exclusive venue. They were given a very interesting interactive talk by Richard and Lewis on investing in these turbulent times, followed by a mingling lunch and refreshments in the Moroccan Room where everyone was able to personally discuss their questions with staff from both companies in a glorious and relaxing setting with gardens and fountains close by. The feedback from the attendees has been most impressive.

Spectrum was very proud to be involved with Tilney in this superb event. It is hoped this will be repeated again in the future.

Financial Advice Spain
Financial Advice Spain