GDPR, Power of Attorney, BREXIT, Donald Trump and Bitcoin

May 9, 2018

Enclosed is a document which explains how we are obliged to deal with your personal data in the future. This is an industry wide European initiative and you may already have had phone calls or letters from other financial organisations or charities confirming that they have your permission to hold your personal data. This is unrelated to the recent publicity about Facebook and other technology companies who have been sharing personal information for profit. This publicity does however highlight the need for a clear understanding of what is permissible. This document is very comprehensive and gives each client a high level of confidence that their personal information will be stored in a safe way and in how it may be used in future.

In the particular case of our firm we never share any data with any other firm of any kind. Many other companies do share your information but in future they will need your express consent. If you surf the internet you do this many times without thinking, hence the ability of advertisers to track you so effectively. We are confident of our procedures to keep information stored safely but are required to keep a continuous check for any personal details which can be discarded. Part of this new requirement is to minimise all data which is stored even if it is safe. Overall there is considerable work for all organisations which store personal data but it will provide greater confidence for everyone and if any company breaches the rules the penalties will be very serious.

I am very glad that many of our clients have now appointed someone to be power of attorney for them. If you have not done so here is a quick reminder of the need for it. In the event that you are not able to manage your own affairs it is not automatic that a family member can do so. Regardless of how much or how little money you have there needs to be an application to the Court in order to take financial control. This is a tedious and expensive process. If someone is taking control of your money without your approval this requires Court approval to avoid potential theft. If you have made an appointment while in good health it is a simple matter to have the Power of Attorney implemented as it only needs the approval of your GP to say that you are unable to control your money. The other major issue is the need to keep very careful financial records and to present them each year to the Court. I have both a Power of Attorney and this other forced controllership for individuals so I know very well how both operate and the frustrations of the latter. Please contact me if you have any queries about this vital issue and I would be happy to speak to any of your family members who may need advice on this subject.

What is the outlook for your money in the current economic climate? We are facing continuous change and uncertainty in politics and economics too. It would be a very brave person who would predict with certainty how Brexit will end. We have agreed a transition period to allow an orderly exit but it could keep being extended as in the case of Norway. Big business here and in Europe is opposed to Brexit and business leaders have the potential to raise endless complications to any dissolution of current arrangements. The Irish border question seems to be insoluble at present given the political realities of this island despite everyone’s best efforts to solve the riddle of an invisible border. Despite many uncertainties investment markets remain relatively calm as they seem to be adjusting to an era of much less clarity and predictability than has been the case historically.

Perhaps Donald Trump is the bigger threat to economic stability with his trade tariffs and tweets. He seems to be prepared to actually carry out the promises he made in the election campaign. Time will tell how useful they will be but the tax reforms for business have been helpful to markets and have made the US more competitive internationally. One would hope that the dispute with China will end with some compromise all round but with a positive outcome for the US. There is no doubt that China gets the better of the current trading arrangements but it is to be hoped that they will make some concessions and that a proper trade war will be averted. Trump has many very smart advisers so he will be aware of the implications of his actions. Overall all the major economies are growing well and this is very unusual so the consensus among economists is that markets will make progress in the medium term but that we will need to accept volatility in the short term.

Finally, please do not ask us to advise on Bitcoin. Some very informed experts consider it to be fundamentally worthless while others think it is the way forward. However it is backed by nothing unlike normal currency and while it gets harder and harder to find more Bitcoins there is no limit to the number of different coins which could come into existence in the future. I have studied it as much as I can but cannot solve the puzzle of why it has any value in light of limitless potential similar coins in the future.

Yours sincerely