Fund managers pay UK politicians £236,000 for speeches and adviceApril 15, 2019
Asset managers have paid UK politicians hundreds of thousands of pounds for speeches and advice over the past 12 months as investors desperately search for an edge as Britain messily negotiates its departure from the EU.
Political figures on both sides of the Brexit divide — including Boris Johnson, Iain Duncan Smith, David Davis, John Redwood, Damian Green and Ken Clarke — received thousands of pounds to share their insights with UK and US investment companies.
The payments made by fund managers to politicians — on top of their basic MP salaries of £79,468 — have drawn criticism from consumer rights champions.
“It is hard to see what value these politicians add,” said Mick McAteer, co-director at the Financial Inclusion Centre, a consumer advocacy group. “Investment managers would be better off not wasting money, and focusing on reducing costs for investors.”
Since April 2018, asset managers have paid MPs at least £126,000 in speaker fees and more than £110,000 for advice. Politicians are required to disclose additional income in the publicly available register of members’ financial interests.
The biggest payment by an investment company was made to Mr Johnson, the former foreign secretary and a probable contender for leadership of the Conservative party, who received £94,507 from GoldenTree Asset Management, a New York hedge fund manager, for a speech in November. He also received travel and accommodation, details of which were not disclosed.
Mr Johnson was scolded by a parliamentary committee this week for failing to declare, in a timely fashion, income from a property he co-owned in Somerset.
Mr Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader who backed Brexit, was paid £5,000 by PineBridge Investments for a speech in September last year; £3,000 by State Street Global Advisors for a panel discussion in November; and £4,500 by UBS for a speech at a hedge funds conference in the same month.
Mr Clarke, the Europhile Tory backbencher and former chancellor, received £6,000 for a speech at WisdomTree’s annual investment conference in January. The exchange traded fund manager revealed in a tweet that the talk covered Brexit and its effect on the UK.
Almost all the politicians receiving sizeable payments were Conservatives, though Vince Cable, the outgoing Liberal Democrat leader, earned £3,000 from State Street Global Advisors for a speech, which was paid directly to a local charity.
Mr Green, a former close ally of prime minister Theresa May, was paid a total of £7,000 for two briefings at Janus Henderson. “I gave advice on the current political situation, with particular emphasis on the progress of Brexit, for senior staff,” Mr Green told FTfm.
Politicians also received thousands of pounds’ worth of hospitality from fund managers. David Davis, the former Brexit minister, accepted a paid-for trip to Davos, the World Economic Forum’s annual get-together in February, from Standard Life Aberdeen.