Four major banks in the U.K. – Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Banking Group and Santander – are developing their own robo advisors aimed at mass-market consumers. According to The Financial Times (subscription required), one of them expects to launch within the next two months. Most of the large U.K. banks stopped giving advice following regulation in 2013 that made it uneconomical to do so for small accounts, and they see robo advice as the way back into the market. For now, the banks are waiting for a March review by the Financial Conduct Authority and Treasury, which is to address the advice gap for consumers, before finalizing their plans.
Retail investors couldn’t run faster from large-cap mutual funds in 2015, redeeming $46 billion from large blend funds, $31 billion from large growth funds, and about $24 billion from large value funds during the year, according to Morningstar data. But these funds—the most unloved of 2015—are exactly what investors should be looking for in 2016, says Russel Kinnel, director of manager research for Morningstar. The fund tracker suggests that investors buy fund categories that are suffering outflows. Often such unloved funds are close to hitting a trough and about to enjoy a revival. A few top unloved picks include: the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index (VTSAX), AMG Yacktman (YACKX T. Rowe Price Blue Chip Growth (TRBCX), RiverPark/Wedgewood (RWGFX), Sound Shore (SSHFX), and American Century Value (TWVLX). “Going back to 1994, the unloved have beaten the loved in all but one three-year period,” Kinnel writes.
For all the folks who say millennials and GenXers need financial advice, here’s a statistic to bolster their argument. Two-thirds of Americans make at least one major financial mistake—such as overspending on credit cards, missing a payment, or defaulting on a loan—before age 30, according to a recent survey by Credit Karma. And the consequences can be lasting. More than 60 percent of the 1,051 Americans surveyed between the ages of 31 and 44 said they were turned down for a credit card after making a mistake. About 26 percent said the mistake forced them to move back in with their parents to recover financially. “These early mistakes can have a lingering impact on the quality of people’s lives and we feel that with better, targeted education and learning tools for new-to-credit consumers, this cycle can be broken,” Credit Karma CEO and Founder Kenneth Lin said.
Hermès' Birkin bags may cost between $10,000 and $150,000 each (it takes 18 hours to hand craft each one), but apparently they're also a safe investment these days. According to Racked.com, Baghunter compared the investment returns of gold, the S&P 500 and these exclusive handbangs and found that the Birkin increased in value more than 500 percent over the past 35 years. And unlike gold and stocks, the value of the bag has never decreased, earning an average annual value increase of 14.2 percent, compared to 1.9 percent for gold and an 11.66 percent nominal return for the S&P. "There is a difference between luxury and ultra-luxury," Baghunter founder Evelyn Fox told Luxury Daily. "While the luxury market suffers during worse economic times, the ultra-luxury market is impervious to economic factors that can affect other industries such as high-street retail and stock markets." Good luck finding one. Hermès doesn't sell them online and boutiques are notorious for being stingy about who they let buy them.