11 February 2009
Up to 300,000 with-profits bondholders are approaching a deadline that allows them to withdraw their investment in full without penalty, according to exitwith-profits.co.uk.
Nearly 800 mortgage brokers shut down last year and many more closures are likely this year, says the FSA.
Advisers have applauded Standard Life's decision to compensate pension sterling fund investors after last month's surprise revaluation but the firm should not expect them to come running back with open arms just yet.
Abbey has revealed it is to consolidate its intermediary operations with Alliance & Leicester which includes shutting down several regional offices.
The Association of British Insurers is calling for the consideration of a single prudential supervisor across the European Union as part of its plan to help restore confidence and trust in European financial services.
It has long been the foundation of the typical investor's portfolio but UK equity income funds are starting to get stiff competition from their overseas counterparts.
More than half of would-be first-time buyers were unable to find a mortgage through an adviser in the last quarter of 2008.
Aegon has reported an expected fourth quarter loss of around £1.08bn and an underlying loss before tax of £179m.
Aifa has challenged the FSA to provide proof to support its claims that consumers have lost trust in financial advisers.
Aifa is calling on member IFAs to complete an online survey which will help guide its formal response to the FSA's Prudential Rules consultation.
Aifa has raised its concerns about NatWest's MoneySense advice service with the FSA.
The Association of Independent Financial Advisers has slammed the FSA for increasing regulatory fees for all but the smallest IFA firms, warning medium-sized firms will face increases of 90 per cent.
The Association of Independent Financial Advisers and the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries have announced the formation of a regulatory fees strategy group.
Pensions expert Ros Altmann has slammed the FSA for allowing financial institutions to pull out of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and leave savers' money unprotected.
The US may have played a large part in the financial meltdown but leading fund managers believe it could be the first country to emerge from the recession and help lead the global economy out of trouble.
The Association of Medical Insurance Intermediaries has appointed Michael Payne as its first general secretary.
I recently learnt that when recommending protection plans, the FSA now requires the illustration to show the total premiums for the entire term of the plan. I quote from the FSA: "...to ensure that a customer is given appropriate information about the policy in a comprehensible form and in good time so customers can make an informed decision".
The Association of Private Client Investment Managers and Stockbrokers says it is “deeply concerned” that the FSA is forcing its members to pick up the tab for banking failures.
Over the past few weeks, I have been looking at corporate indebtedness, including the risks to the directors of owner-managed companies should personal guarantees be called in.
Assurant Solutions Intermediary has entered into a deal with Personal Touch Financial Services to provide mortgage and payment protection insurance through the network’s quote engine.
Ignis Asset Management has big plans, as head of UK retail sales Austin McBride explains. "We want to be a top five player," he says simply.
Aviva has backtracked on its planned £1bn reattribution to with-profits policyholders after falls in the value of its investments.
Axa has increased the age limit on its life cover from 70 to 85 and doubled the acceptance period to 180 days.
Axa Isle of Man is continuing to levy offshore bond charges on hundreds of its policyholders with deposits in KSF IoM, saying the assets are "not worthless", just "inaccessible".
Consultant director of thinktank Reform Professor Nick Bosanquet has called on the Government to ditch tax on working for people over 65 to encourage older people to continue working into retirement.
The creation of a UK ‘bad bank’ will be the best way to save troubled UK banks, according to asset experts.
Investors who placed their hard-earned cash with active managers in 2008 had a tough year, along with everyone else, as alpha became increasingly elusive in the bear market.
Blackrock absolute alpha fund manager Mark Lyttleton has warned of the "flimsy" absolute return funds he says are increasingly coming to the market.
BNP Paribas Investment Partners is launching a joint venture with Northern Lights Ventures, a US private equity firm focused on the institutional asset management industry.
The FSA says advisers must take measures to ensure the sustainability of their business model in the current economic crisis and is calling on networks to think carefully about increasing numbers at this time.
Do you agree with the Government's claims that the vast majority of people will be better off by investing in personal accounts?Yes 37% No 63%
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been attacked for appointing Sir James Crosby when the FSA knew HBOS had continuing risk failures.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown is reported to have ordered a review of MPs' lucrative final salary pensions.
Carterbar has acquired Hartlepool-based Retirement Options, its fourth acquisition in 12 months.
Alternatives' specialist Castlestone Management launched in 1996 as a family office and only opened products to the UK retail market last year.
Association of British Insurers assistant director of health and protection Nick Kirwan is calling on advisers and providers to clear up consumer confusion over the amount of protection offered by employers.
Cofunds' new chief executive Brett Williams says retirement planning will be a major growth area for the platform.
The Financial Services Consumer Panel has called for greater consumer representation on the board of the FSA.
The cost of advice for some consumers may rise following the introduction of adviser charging, says law firm CMS Cameron McKenna.
The Treasury select committee grilling of former bank bosses leaves several questions begging amid the debate about the sincerity of their apologies.
Blue Sky Asset Management is revamping the counterparty information on its website to help advisers and investors understand counterparty risk in structured products.
Pensioners with index-linked annuities could see payments fall if deflation hits the UK.
Tory MP for Wokingham John Redwood claims the Government failed to check Royal Bank of Scotland's accounts adequately before buying shares.
Last week's front-page Money Marketing article included comments implying the approach taken by ifs School of Finance is less valid merely because it is different from the CII's Diploma.
In August 2007, the wholesale market for mortgage debt began to freeze up quickly, so quickly, that Northern Rock became insolvent within six weeks.
Standard Life has warned that recent changes to legacy rules should not make people complacent about writing a will.
We expect newsflow and economic data to be extremely weak for several more quarters. We are all too aware of the distressing rise in unemployment around the world and it is clear that consumer spending is in rapid decline - for example, US consumption fell by over 3 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2008.
The Government has been accused of spinning the findings of its report into means-testing and personal accounts and ignoring the damage that could be done to many people's pension pots.
Is the net inflow of funds into Isas in December significant following seven straight months of outflows?
EEA Group, the equity, environmental and alternative investment group, has appointed John Hobson as chief executive officer.
Police in the North-east have charged eight people in connection with an alleged mortgage fraud claimed to involve the use of stolen identities.
F&C has made a number of enhancements to its proprietary fund screening tool.
Some asset management companies may struggle to find the resources to close or merge underperforming funds, says the FSA.
PMS is calling on brokers to reconsider using the word mortgage in their company titles.
Fund of funds net retail sales have almost halved for the second year in succession, according to figures from the Investment Management Association.
Advisers looking to improve their protection knowledge are being encouraged to to register for Friends Provident next online seminar.
The FSA has revealed that it did find problems with HBOS’s control infrastructure even before Paul Moore’s sacking.
FSA deputy chairman Sir James Crosby has resigned from his post at the regulator.
The FSA has published a suitability assessment template following last year's thematic review into pension switching advice.
FSA chairman Adair Turner has admitted that the regulator failed to recognise the “systemic risk” that developed within the banks, but insisted that watchdog staff should still receive bonuses.
The FSA has fined Darwin Lewis Clifton, OBE, 59,500 and Byron Holdings Ltd 86,030 for insider dealing.
The FSA has revealed that its four-year investigation into a fraudulent mortgage broker has led to his arrest and imprisonment.
The FSA has set aside £10m in its 2009/10 budget to increase staff salaries that are not on par with industry norms, as well as 15 per cent of total staff salaries for potential bonuses.
Over 10,000 small firms will pay lower FSA fees than last year according to the regulator's business plan, despite an increase in the annual funding requirement by £117m to £437.7m.
The FSA has pledged to investigate the ‘purported regulatory blockages’ stopping investors and advisers identifying the underlying counterparty of certain structured products.
Financial services firms are likely to pay a Financial Services Compensation Scheme levy of £186m in 2009/10, up from £130.8m in 2008/09.
The Financial Services Skills Council has warned advisers that current qualifications cannot be guaranteed to meet the new minimum requirements under the retail distribution review.
Hargreaves Lansdown has warned Standard Life pension sterling fund investors that the fund still holds over 40 per cent in mortgage-backed securities and could therefore see a further fall in value.
The gap between the best and worst annuity rates on the market has widened in the past year, according to the annual annuity review from Moneyfacts.
Hargreaves Lansdown has revealed a 28 per cent increase in operating profit in the second half of 2008.
New Star head of fund of funds Mark Harris says he wants to stick with the firm following its acquisition by Henderson.
Protection sales have held up for many providers despite the current economic crisis.
Hexam has launched an onshore version of its global emerging markets fund under the management of Bryan Collings.
Bankhall founder and Paradigm chief executive Paul Hogarth is spearheading the launch of a new offshore property investment company.
If I told you I had just read an article about the optimism and anticipation being savoured by Henderson at the prospect of the company becoming a top-five UK fund manager in the wake of its latest acquisition, you might well snort at my already being a few weeks behind the times.
Ex-HBOS chief executive Andy Hornby told MPs on Tuesday that he tried to move the company away from a reliance on wholesale lending to minimise its risk position.
This week, former HBOS chief executive Andy Hornby argued he tried to save HBOS by putting the brakes on mortgage lending and share buy-back from the very beginning of his tenure.
I have noted with interest the antipathy expressed by letter writers towards with-profits investment bonds and the advisers who recommend them.
Life planning has the power to inject trust and confidence back into the financial services industry, says IFA Life founder and chief executive Phil Calvert.
My nephew Ben started at university last October. The place he is at now was not his first choice but he missed out by one A-level grade.
The Institute of Financial Planning is warning the public of the risk of investing in complex and opaque structured products sold by banks in a bid to supplement their income in the low-interest-rate environment.
The Investment Management Association has called on the FSA to give clear, substantive reasons as to why there is such a significant increase in supervisory costs for large firms.
Up to 50 per cent of IFAs will not be trading as "independent" advisers in the post-RDR world, says Positive Solutions chief executive Jim Reeve.
UK Consumer Price Index fell in January to 3 per cent down from December's 3.1 per cent.
Norwich Union director of marketing protection Richard Verdin is calling for more product providers to help IFAs refocus their models to tap into business protection.
Investment advisers face a huge increase in Financial Services Compensation Scheme levies to £44m this year, up from just £9m last year.
Japanese equities were one of the better-performing asset classes in 2008 and managers are calling the region a possible safe haven for 2009 but Adviser Fund Index panellists are reluctant to increase their exposure, which is already quite low.
Premier Asset Management has appointed Mike Jennings to take responsibility of its European growth fund from March 1.
Ten J.P. Morgan Asset Management offshore funds will be available to advisers on Cofunds from Monday.
I think I have found an excellent way for Mr David Kenmir to occupy his mind, and his time, when he moves on from the FSA in the next couple of months.
Kinder Institute founder and president George Kinder believes that advisers who follow the life planning movement could be worth up to five times more in value than commission-based firms.
The KSFIoM depositors action group have urged the Manx government to outline the benefits offered by its proposed scheme of arrangement versus a liquidation of the bank.
Legal & General has denied reports that it is in talks with the FSA about the amount of money it should set aside for bond defaults.
Legal & General has more than doubled its credit default reserves to £1.2bn and claims its surplus capital stood in excess of £1.6bn at the end of last year, quashing reports about its weak capital position.
Legal & General Mortgage Club has added BuildLoan to its proposition to offer members access to self-build and renovation finance.
LaSalle Investment Management has strengthened its Asia Pacific team.
The FSA has warned that life insurers must properly review underlying credit developments to ensure they are clear about the true state of their balance sheets.
For me, full realisation that the UK was entering recession came when I heard that Woolworths was closing. Woolworths was the place where, as a child, I bought records, birthday cards and pick 'n' mix.
Lloyds Banking Group has revealed its HBOS arm lost £10bn over 2008.
Lloyds TSB chief executive Eric Daniels has admitted that Lloyds TSB would have liked "three to five" times more man days to have done enough due diligence on the HBOS acquisition.
Falling interest rates mean the value of assets that can be held in a trust that is potentially liable to pre-owned asset tax will increase by 32 per cent without incurring the charge, says Skandia.
M&G has reduced foreign government bond exposure within its cautious multi-asset fund in favour of sterling index-linked and sterling corporate bonds.
The FSA has today announced the appointment of Mark Norris as its new chief operating officer, taking over from David Kenmir who leaves the post in April.
AIM-listed asset manager Midas Capital has reached an agreement with its bank for a waiver of its loan covenants until April 30 to give it time to restructure its borrowing arrangements.
Rating agency Moody's has downgraded Aegon to negative after the Dutch insurer reported an expected fourth quarter loss of £1.08bn and underlying losses of £179m in its preliminary results today.
Moody’s rating agency has downgraded both Lloyds TSB and Bank of Scotland in the wake of HBOS’s £10bn loss revelation on Friday.
Morgan Stanley has launched a new structured product backed by UK Government gilts.
Net mortgage lending dropped £68.5bn in 2008, according to figures released by the Council of Mortgage Lenders.
Scottish Widows, JP Morgan and Fidelity are the worst offenders in the latest Best Invest Spot the Dog list.
The National Association of Pension Funds has called on the Government to guarantee any levy above the current £675m falling on the remaining final salary schemes.
Network Data has confirmed that it will still be taking its top producers on an all-expense paid trip to Marrakech in Morocco.
Mortgage Next has accused networks which are struggling with commission payments of bringing the distribution sector into disrepute.
New Star co-head of multi-manager Mark Harris believes the oil sector could be set for a bounce later this year.
Northern Rock investors have lost their court battle in which they tried to argue that the Government had purposely undervalued the bank.
Norwich Union Healthcare has added Fitness First and Livingwell to its network of health and fitness clubs.
Norwich Union is piloting an early warning system designed to flag up problematic premium payments in a bid to reduce lapse rates.
Qualifications regulator Ofqual has approved accreditation of the ifs School of Finance’s level four diploma for financial advisers.
Only six of the 16 annuity providers involved in the Association of British Insurers' pension transfer initiative are up and running with the new system after it went live in December.
Over the last 12 months, we have had everyone highlighting that the mortgage intermediary should diversify to survive. This, of course, has been absolutely right as few can deny that the salesperson who once looked after the holistic needs of their clients had transformed themselves into mortgage order takers.
Personal Touch Financial Services has acquired Equity Release Solutions and launched its own retirement arm, Personal Touch Retirement Solutions.
BBC business editor Robert Peston has told MPs that his reports on Royal Bank of Scotland, HBOS and Lloyds TSB helped return share prices to their real value.
At a dinner party last weekend, the topic of conversation turned towards the economic woes. The majority of the people around the table were not from financial services and working for a fund management company so I was inevitably asked my view of the equity markets.
The Government is set to allow employers to operate a three-month waiting period when auto-enrolling staff into their pension in exchange for making higher contributions.
To succeed, personal accounts require the trust of the public and of employers. To gain that trust, the Government must be honest about what exactly these two groups are going to get for their money.
Before the mid-1990s, building societies lent 80 per cent of total mortgages in the UK and the Building Societies' Association was the biggest homeloan voice.
PSigma American growth fund manager James Abate says 2009 could be a "momentous year" for the US market with the S&P potentially up by more than 20 per cent.
Financial planners rather than life coaches are best placed to enter the life planning arena, says Helm Godfrey managing director Bruce Wilson.
Moves indicated by the FSA toward more equal treatment of platforms, when compared with other investment providers, raise some fascinating questions.
RBS has reached agreement with the Government whereby only the lowest paid staff will receive any bonuses for 2008.
The recent spate of oil "strikes" protesting about foreign workers over British labour are a sign of just how difficult the economic situation has become. That tendency towards domestic protectionism has been fired up by the state of the UK economy and fear of what the future holds.
Rensburg corporate bond trust manager John Anderson is leaving the firm after nine years.
Advisers have hit out at Northern Rock, claiming it is offering clients direct remortgage deals with Cheltenham & Gloucester.
In Oscar Wilde's play, The Importance of Being Earnest, Lady Bracknell utters the immortal line that once may be regarded as a misfortune but twice looks like carelessness.
Everyone who comments on investments ends up with egg on their face from time to time. Over the last year, Russia has been my egg. It never reached the high valuations seen by other emerging markets but it has nevertheless fallen the furthest.
Former HBOS bosses have rejected claims by a former risk director that a sales culture led to the firm's problems.
Schroders has reported a 69 per cent drop in pre-tax profits for 2008, down to £123.1m from £392.5m for the year ending December 31.
Schroders is to close John Teahan's UK income defensive fund, citing poor market conditions.
An adviser has hit out at Scottish Widows for sending out marketing material enticing existing protection policyholder clients to review policies and go direct through the provider.
Scottish Widows has followed the lead of other life insurers and cut the majority of its with-profits bonuses by half.
The Serious Fraud Office has announced that it is to launch a preliminary inquiry into the UK operations of AIG Financial Products Corps.
The Bank of England once again dropped interest rates, this time to an all-time low of 1 per cent, in an attempt to get the lending market moving.
SimplyBiz and Compliance First have announced that it will refund the Chartered Insurance Institute exam fee for every passing grade its members achieve towards a diploma qualification in 2009.
Skandia Investment Group has added Invesco Perpetual corporate bond fund to its UK fixed-interest blend to replace Gartmore corporate bond.
Almost 90 per cent of small directly-regulated advisers feel unsupported by providers, according to a survey by IFA portal Panacea.
Nationalised banks could be turned into mutuals rather than be returned to the private banking sector, building society bosses have told MPs.
Firms struggling to survive the credit crunch are not taking enough care when dealing with rising consumer complaints, according to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Having been in New Zealand now for nearly a week, I am finding much the same message in this nation to that emerging from Australia. Watching events on the other side of the world, it seems that nervous markets persist but buyers are still to be found as the FTSE 100 index approaches 4,000 or the Dow Jones Industrial Average heads towards 8,000. At least, that is how it was feeling at the middle of last week. I hope things do not alter too fast.
Swiss Re chief executive Jacques Aigrain has resigned from his post at the reinsurer.
The Pension Protection Fund faces an uncertain future as the economic downturn stretches its resources. It currently pays 90 per cent of scheme benefits to deferred members and employees and 100 per cent to existing pensioners, with a limit of £28,000 a year. It is funded by mandatory levies made on the employers of all UK salary-related schemes.
Legislation and political initiatives often introduce uncertainty to an investment outlook but with climate change, one can argue they mostly represent forces for stability.
A further three pension schemes were transfered to the Pension Protection Fund last month, equating to an additional 745 people who are now due compensation.
I first started using a platform in 2003 just after a lot of the main platforms were marketed but I approached the task of choosing one with trepidation.
Towry Law has today opened new offices in Glasgow, which will serve as the base for its 28-strong Glasgow team.
As an industry, we are still considering the full ramifications of the retail distribution review but the proposals will present opportunities and challenges for all advisers.
Truestone is cutting its exposure to European equities for new clients and looking to phase clients with existing investments out of the market over the next six months.
The Bank of England has admitted that the UK is now in a "deep recession"
Unum has enhanced its group income protection plan by reducing costs and increasing the free cover level.
The best thing since sliced bread is an expression I have never understood as I don't rate sliced bread. For me, it is a half-baked expediency, an apology for the real thing - a bit like some thoughts on improving financial services.
Venture capital trust managers are urging the Government to relax current restrictions and cut out bureaucracy.
The biggest booms have historically been based on property and leverage - as have the subsequent busts. Unfortunately, the latest boom was of this kind. It also occurred after a long period of stability, when interest rates and inflation stayed low.
While the City was digesting the latest interest rate cut last week, the DWP slipped out its latest report on personal accounts and how auto-enrolment will be the answer for most workers.
Bank bosses lined up on Tuesday to apologise for their role in the economic turmoil.
Intelligent Pensions has slammed NPI for applying a 28 per cent market value adjustment to a with-profits policy transfer.
XL Capital is axing 10 per cent of its workforce after recording a £1.8bn net loss during 2008.