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Shares are back in fashion but will the new wave of traders turn into investors?

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shares are back in fashion but will the new wave of traders turn into investors

If you wait long enough most things come back into fashion.

The moustache, UK garage and tight trousers are testament to that (although be warned that if they’ve been mentioned here, they’ll already be on the way out).

But another thing that’s bang on trend in lockdown and more relevant to a clean-shaven, drum and bass-purist, baggy-trousered This is Money reader, is buying and selling shares.

This year has seen a jump in direct share investing, as we highlight in our rise of the lockdown share trader article.

This phenomenon has been credited with driving part of the resurgent stock market in the US – with personal investors making up almost 20 per cent of trading volumes according to a Bloomberg Intelligence report – and anecdotally I’ve been hearing about it over here too.

No company epitomises the lockdown trading boom more than Tesla - its shares have been chased up (and down) and are consistently among the most popular on platforms

No company epitomises the lockdown trading boom more than Tesla – its shares have been chased up (and down) and are consistently among the most popular on platforms

More people are investing directly in shares and it’s a younger generation driving a large part of the interest.

Traditionally, share-buying in the UK has skewed towards older investors who came of financial age at a time of personal stockbrokers and financial advisers, who helped them build a portfolio.

Many of these investors have continued directly hold at least some shares, while the younger generation of investors coming up through the ranks has preferred funds.

The US has long been a more stock market-orientated nation than the UK – we prefer the soap opera of the property market – but while direct share-investing over there remains popular, the mutual fund industry is huge and in latter years Exchange Traded Funds looked like the party to be at.

However, a combination of the Robinhood effect – named after the popular commission-free trading app – and some very high-profile and high-flying tech star stocks, has driven a surge in interest in buying shares directly.

That has increased by an order of magnitude in lockdown, as people found themselves at home, or not working, and traded a rapidly rising market.

Some of it has even been put down to people switching from sports betting while there was a lack of live action

It’s happening in the UK too. Figures that we pulled together from established DIY investing platforms and Britain’s fee-free share dealing apps showed a jump in share purchases and an increase in younger investors.

Between March and September, app Freetrade saw an 80% increase in UK customers, with the biggest portions being made up of those aged 18 to 25 (27 per cent) and 26 to 35 (42 per cent).

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Interactive Investor saw new accounts opened by 25 to 34 year-olds in April and May increase by a staggering 238 per cent.

Other platforms told a similar story and said that overall share trading was up by a lot across all ages

What’s interesting is the difference between the shares that are being bought on the upstart free trading apps and the established players, which still charge about £10 to buy and sell shares.

For the established DIY investing platforms, such as II, Hargreaves Lansdown, AJ Bell and Fidelity, big name UK companies dominated, ranging from Lloyds, to Shell and BA-owner IAG.

In contrast, between April and July, Tesla, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Boohoo were most popular at Freetrade.

The question is whether we are really seeing a rise in investing or speculative return-chasing trading?

There is a difference between an investor and a speculator and you have to wonder how many of this new breed of investors are planning on holding those Tesla shares in five years’ time.

I have friends who have been getting into buying shares in lockdown and some have made handsome returns, yet the stories I hear are about getting in and out and making a profit.

As long as you know and accept the risks of share trading that’s fair enough.

It will be interesting to see if this whets their appetite for investing and the new wave remain shareholders long-term.

One thing that will help that is if trading costs can be pushed down by the free trading apps and if we can get a better form of digital share ownership, suited to the 21st century.

Hopefully, that will be the case because having more people holding a stake in companies, making a profit from them, and taking an owner’s interest in how they are run is a good thing – whether it’s in fashion or not. 

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I paid lunch fees ahead of lockdown but the nursery won’t refund me the money – what can I do? 

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i paid lunch fees ahead of lockdown but the nursery wont refund me the money what can i do

I have a problem with our nursery. At the beginning of last March, we paid all the fees for the lunch of our daughter upfront. 

Now the nursery is refusing to refund the money because they say that the lockdown wasn’t its fault. 

After a few months trying to get our money back we’re getting no further responses from them. How can we claim our money back?

Taken my lunch money: Many parents have paid nursery fees as well as lunch money in advance ahead of lockdown - do they qualify for a refund?

Taken my lunch money: Many parents have paid nursery fees as well as lunch money in advance ahead of lockdown – do they qualify for a refund? 

Angelique Ruzicka from This is Money responds: It’s understandable that you’re frustrated with your nursery, considering that you’ve paid for something that your daughter never had. 

There are, unfortunately, many other parents in your predicament.

It’s also created an awkward situation. While on the one hand you want your money back you hardly want to clash with the very people who are meant to take care of your child and who you’re likely to see on a regular basis at drop offs and pick-ups.

This is what prompted the Competitions and Markets Authority to pen an open letter to the early years sector back in July.

The watchdog warned that the early years sector could face legal action from parents for ‘illegal and unfair practices’ during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

They also warned nurseries and pre-schools not to emotionally blackmail parents with threats of closure or tell them that they will lose a place if they are not able to carry on running their businesses following any refunds or part-payment agreements.

CMA’s enforcement action threat 

The CMA says it is not engaging in any enforcement action and now, more than two months on, it appears to have the same stance. 

This unfortunately means that parents are still left to fend for themselves.

When we asked for an update on its stance on early years organisations not refunding parents, a spokesperson for the CMA said: ‘The pandemic has been incredibly tough on everyone, including nurseries and childcare providers, but that doesn’t mean that parents should be left struggling to cover the cost of a service they haven’t received.

‘Some have negotiated a voluntary contribution to maintain their service but these have to be fair and reasonable. 
Pacey spokesperson 

‘The CMA has published an open letter and advice to the sector, reminding childcare providers to treat consumers fairly and offer refunds when they are due.

‘We know that some nurseries will request a small contribution to running costs, and some parents may be happy to support them, but any arrangements should be mutually agreed and reflect our advice. 

‘Many providers are already doing the right thing, but this extra information should be a strong reminder to those still refusing to respect consumer rights.

‘If people need help with making a claim for a refund, they can get in touch with a consumer advice organisation such as Citizens Advice or consider seeking legal help.’

We also approached the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (Pacey) for a view. 

A spokesperson from Pacey said: ‘These are difficult times for parents and providers. 

Every time a service has to close due to Covid, a nursery or childminder is likely to make a financial loss that only adds to the sustainability challenges they have faced for many years. 

If people need help with making a claim for a refund, they can get in touch with a consumer advice organisation such as Citizens Advice or consider seeking legal help 
Competitions and Markets Authority spokesperson

‘Consumer law is clear that parents shouldn’t be charged full or substantial fees while their childcare provider is closed.

‘Whilst it is difficult to give advice without seeing the specific contract, in general a provider can charge parents for a contribution to overheads such as staffing, rent etc. when closed. 

‘Some have negotiated a voluntary contribution to maintain their service but these have to be fair and reasonable.

‘Ultimately we need government to recognise that childcare services are vital for our economic recovery and to put in place additional support to help providers cope with temporary closures due to Covid-19, especially as so many are having to close for days at a time due to delays in accessing Covid-19 tests even though they are priority workers.’

Legal action 

The early years sector has been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

A report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies shows that the total loss of income from parent fees has put a quarter of the private sector nurseries at risk of running a significant deficient during lockdown with less than £4 of income for every £5 of costs.

It also reveals that childminders have been particularly badly hit with almost 30 per cent of them now earning less than £4 of income for every £5 in costs.

While this refusal of a refund goes against what the watchdog is recommending, this is probably why your nursery is holding onto the funds.

But there are a few options open to you. 

You can either come to a compromise and ask for a part refund. 

If that still doesn’t sit well with you or if it’s not agreed to then it’s best to send something in writing asking for your money back and highlighting a link to the CMA’s letter. 

This will help to provide proof of correspondence should you take further legal action.

If this is still ignored, then get in contact with your local Citizens Advice Bureau or contact a solicitor for help.

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Is it worth buying a dashcam? How footage could help insurance claim

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is it worth buying a dashcam how footage could help insurance claim

The popularity of dashcams has sky-rocketed in recent years, with motorists using the devices to protect themselves on the road, deter thieves and capture unusual behaviour.

Their increased use has had a positive impact for drivers who have faced insurance claim disputes, according to a study,

A poll of motorists found that a third who use dashcams in their cars – or cameras attached to motorcycle helmets – have successfully proved they were not at fault for an incident on the road by submitting footage to their insurer.

Dashcam to the rescue: A third of motorists who have uploaded video footage of incidents when making claims said the clips helped to prove they were not at fault for incidents

Dashcam to the rescue: A third of motorists who have uploaded video footage of incidents when making claims said the clips helped to prove they were not at fault for incidents

Dashcam to the rescue: A third of motorists who have uploaded video footage of incidents when making claims said the clips helped to prove they were not at fault for incidents 

It is estimated that around three million drivers in the UK own a dashcam or videoing device that can be attached to a bike helmet.

Comparison site Money Expert surveyed more than 2,000 licence holders and found that 33 per cent used clips captured on these cameras when making an insurance claim and proved they were not in the wrong.

The majority of users of dashcams (70 per cent) said they had bought one of the devices to catch road traffic collisions on film.

One in five people said that they felt installing a dashcam made them a better driver. 

Almost half of these people said it made them more alert while over 40 per cent said it was a confidence booster for when they are behind the wheel.

‘This could simply be because there is now a tiny digital witness to our own road rage outbursts or because it saves us money,’ said the comparison site.  

‘Either way, dashcams appear to be catching on, and catching us in the act.’

The popularity of dashcams has sky-rocketed in recent years, with motorists using the devices to protect themselves on the road, deter thieves and capture unusual behaviour on the road

The popularity of dashcams has sky-rocketed in recent years, with motorists using the devices to protect themselves on the road, deter thieves and capture unusual behaviour on the road

The popularity of dashcams has sky-rocketed in recent years, with motorists using the devices to protect themselves on the road, deter thieves and capture unusual behaviour on the road

But there is another significant financial reason why drivers should be contemplating a dashcam.  

Most insurance providers who offer discounts to those with dashcams usually shave between 10 per cent and 12.5 per cent off the price of policies, though smaller insurers who target young motorists will slice 20 per cent off the cost of cover if the customer says they will always have one of the videoing devices installed in their cars.  

One in five drivers polled said they purchased a camera for their car because they knew it would reduce the cost of their premiums. 

And Money Expert said dashcams could drive down the cost of motor insurance in the near future as over half of those surveyed (54 per cent) said they should become a legal requirement for drivers, with more than two in five (44 per cent) expecting to see the law changed in the next few years.

One in five motorists say they have bought a dashcam because they know they can get a discount on their premiums if they use one of the devices in their car

One in five motorists say they have bought a dashcam because they know they can get a discount on their premiums if they use one of the devices in their car

One in five motorists say they have bought a dashcam because they know they can get a discount on their premiums if they use one of the devices in their car

Dashcams aim to catch collisions, vandals, and road rage incidents. 

Manufacturer Nextbase in July 2018 set up the National Dash Cam Safety Portal, which allows road users to upload film of incidents for the police to review and use as evidence. 

This is Money revealed in March that around 10,000 cases of dangerous driving captured on dashcams were uploaded to the police database in the first 20 months of it going live.

Of these, roughly half have resulted in police action, though some experts claimed that too much footage is being uploaded to the system and police forces simply don’t have the resources to examine all the videos.

Although road rage normally presents itself in the form of a few choice words and hand gestures, it can be a more serious matter. 

A report published by the Department of Transport in 2018 revealed that over the previous three years, more than 5,280 people were either seriously injured or killed because of angry driving and road rage.  

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Have DIY stores run out of shed paint?

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have diy stores run out of shed paint

Early in lockdown, I did what thousands of Britons did: cleared out the garage. Among all of the junk, I found a pot of black Cuprinol Ducksback 5-year Waterproof paint. So I painted the shed.

Bad move. Instead of using my Ducksback shed paint to, well, paint my shed, I should have hung on to it for a few more weeks, then sold it on eBay for a tidy profit.

At the height of lockdown, we got used to shortages: toilet paper, handwash, flour. One by one, the supermarkets got their supply chains in order and those products returned to the shelves. 

DIY mad: Kantar, the retail market analysts, said that in June there was a 48 per cent growth in spend on DIY and garden items in physical stores

DIY mad: Kantar, the retail market analysts, said that in June there was a 48 per cent growth in spend on DIY and garden items in physical stores

DIY mad: Kantar, the retail market analysts, said that in June there was a 48 per cent growth in spend on DIY and garden items in physical stores

But if you’ve been to your local DIY store recently in search of shed paint, you’ll have experienced that empty-shelf feeling all over again.

You might see an own-label tin in such unfashionable shades as Woodland Moss or Forest Green, but I almost guarantee you won’t see any black Ducksback 5-year Waterproof. What about online?

On several websites I used the ‘find stock in your local store’ function to track some down. I live near Chesham in Buckinghamshire – Wickes said it had a tin in Bishop’s Stortford, 55 miles away; Homebase claimed one existed in Maidenhead, a mere 20 miles away. 

But could I have been sure that the eager DIY masses of the Thames Valley hadn’t descended on the store and snatched that precious, single tin?

Amazon? Yes, even now, there’s a variety of sellers if you are prepared to wait for two weeks. Also, the price: £22 for five litres. Normally it’s £12 to £14.

Now, call me a skinflint if you wish, but I have set limits, thresholds, for certain products. So I won’t pay more than £100 for a shirt or £15 for a bottle of supermarket wine. My shed/fence paint threshold is definitely £3 a litre.

What’s happening here? First, we have all gone DIY-mad. Kantar, the retail market analysts, said that in June there was a 48 per cent growth in spend on DIY and garden items in physical stores. That’s year-on year, not from May (when the stores weren’t open).

Painting and decorating, according to Kantar, is the most ‘accessible’ DIY job. This is a kind way of saying even desk-bound numbskulls like me can do it.

Intriguingly, younger DIY-ers are getting stuck in, too: an extra £9million was spent on decorating supplies by pre-family households in June.

Is this a generational shift? The 2003 book How To Mow The Lawn: The Lost Art Of Being A Man was aimed at all those adult males who were hopeless at the things at which their dads were naturally good: mending cars, putting up shelves and, yes, mowing the lawn. 

Maybe now the new generation will be showing up their dads. But they won’t be painting their fences black.

 Over the four weeks to June 14, 2020, wood paint was brought home from 1.7 million trips, up 110 per cent compared with the same period last year. The figures for July and August are likely to be just as high.

At first, I thought the shortage was simply the old retailer’s trick of pretending they were running out in order to make us desperate for the popular product.

Younger DIY-ers are getting stuck in too: An extra £9million was spent on decorating supplies by pre-family households in June

Younger DIY-ers are getting stuck in too: An extra £9million was spent on decorating supplies by pre-family households in June

Younger DIY-ers are getting stuck in too: An extra £9million was spent on decorating supplies by pre-family households in June

If so, Cuprinol, a fine old Danish company that’s now part of the AkzoNobel giant, is playing the long game. I invited it several times to talk about the shortage and why its paint should be in such demand, but answer came there none.

Maybe I should just admit defeat and paint the shed Forest Green. I’ve repainted the house (white), the wall (pebble white), the iron fence (silver grey) and relaid the drive (black ice). 

My dad, bless him, would have been proud of me. But there’s no room for greens and browns in our shaker/Scandi paradise.

Hang on, though. According to author and TV presenter Georgina Burnett (The Home Genie) fashionistas on Instagram are trying to lure us away from that look.

Despite their best efforts, however, grey, greige, whatever you call it, ‘is not going anywhere’, Georgina reckons.

‘I like green in gardens, but it depends which shade. The darker browns? No.’

She recommends blue as an alternative for that ‘Greek garden’ feel.

And the good news is that Wickes has one tin of Cuprinol Beach Blue left in my ‘local store’. It’s in Glossop, Derbyshire – a mere 130.2 miles away.

What your home really needs… a director’s chair 

The director’s chair, a piece enjoying a comeback, was first produced in 1892 by Gold Medal Camp Furniture, a company based in Racine, Wisconsin, in the U.S.

But this wood-and-canvas folding chair rose to fame in Tinseltown, California, where it became popular among silent movie directors, who required lightweight seating that could be easily moved around sets. 

Back in fashion: The director's chair

Back in fashion: The director's chair

Back in fashion: The director’s chair

The celebrated director Cecil B. DeMille even employed a (female) director’s chair boy, a person solely responsible for his chair.

It has remained an essential part of movie-making, with producers, directors and stars each having their own personalised seat. So why is the director’s chair back in fashion, and why does your home need one?

Convenience is one reason: these chairs can be used indoors and out.

Cost is another factor. A pair of blue-and-white-striped chairs costs £50 at Wilko (wilko.com), while Homebase (homebase.com) has a pair of smart green ones for £90.

The Conran Shop has a more high-budget number, pictured, (£125, conranshop.co.uk) or for a personalised design in classic black, head to Amazon (£89.99, amazon.co.uk). Hurray for Hollywood!

Anne Ashworth

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