11 March 2009
Protection providers have been thrown a lifeline after the FSA has called on the Association of British Insurers to spearhead an initiative around its total premium requirement.
The Association of British Insurers says major structural changes to the UK regulatory regime would be a “distraction”, but adds that an EU supervisor is needed to oversee national regulators.
Just one year ago, we thought a wrap was what the Scottish Widow wears but the more we heard, the more we began to wonder if this was indeed the case.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been looking in detail at the rules and practice on the deductibility of premiums paid under keyperson policies.
As macro-economic news seems to move from bad to worse, investors' confidence in the value of their investments has been tested, resulting in widespread sell-offs. The shortening of investment horizons that this implies is a cause for concern for AFI panellists.
Advisers have slammed claims that many defined-contribution pension scheme members would have been better off saving in a cash account in light of recent stockmarket turmoil.
Aegon has posted its first ever loss for the fourth quarter of £167m across the international group, as it put aside £922m of extra capital.
Aegon's equity high alpha fund is aimed at pension and institutional investors seeking to maximise returns and access to the AEGON equity team through a pooled fund. The fund manager is Peter Shaw, who currently manages the firm's UK tactical pension fund.
The Association of Independent Financial Advisers has called on the Government to reconsider the exclusion it has placed on IFAs preventing them from applying for its Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme.
The Association of Independent Financial Advisers is urging the Government to scrap the £150 tax limit for financial advice for employees as part of the April Budget.
The Association of Independent Financial Advisers has welcomed Sir James Sassoon’s review of the tripartite system, commissioned by the Conservative party, but warned of the cost involved with overhauling regulatory structures.
Alliance & LeicesterTwo Year Fixed
Alliance Trust Asset ManagementNorth American Equity Fund
Alliance Trust Asset ManagementUK Equity Income Fund
On February 20, Anglo American, the world's biggest platinum producer, scrapped its final dividend. Just over a week later, HSBC, Europe's biggest bank, cut its final dividend by almost a third.
The Association of Mortgage Intermediaries has called on the Government to use the 2009 Budget to re-introduce Mortgage Indemnity Guarantees as a means to aid lending.
The Association of Mortgage Intermediaries has called on Woolwich to reassess its new mortgage tranche management system after members have voiced concerns over waiting times and inability to secure funding.
Arc Capital & IncomeBull & Bear Enhanced Investment Plan 6
Axa FramlingtonUK Blue Chip Equity Income Fund
Axa has released a little blue book of sales aids to help advisers promote protection throughout 2009.
AXA Framlington has recently launched the UK blue chip equity income fund. This was previously the UK equity income fund prior to the fund rationalism programme, which AXA Investment Managers has been implementing over the past year.
The Bank of England was offered £10.5bn in Government bonds from investors yesterday as it began its bond buy up with newly created money.
Barclays has confirmed it is holding talks for the sale of its iShares unit for a reported £5bn.
Baring Asset ManagementBaring Global Agriculture Fund
Baring Asset Management has brought out a global agriculture fund to take advantage of the long-term demand for soft commodities.
Beer & PartnersEIS Scheme
AJ Bell chief executive Andy Bell has written to Chancellor Alistair Darling urging him to allow Sipps to invest in UK residential property as a means to boost the "severely battered" housing market.
Bright Grey this week launched a lifestyle protection product to be sold through comparison site theidol.com.
BlackRock gold and general fund manager Graham Birch is to go on sabbatical for the remainder of 2009.
Last month witnessed huge amounts of money being withdrawn from banks and building societies. Interest rates are so incredibly low that the average instant access account now pays 0.86 per cent. Building society savers are effectively being forced elsewhere in search of better returns.
Sitting, as I was, in the Today Programme studio on the morning of the MPC's announcement, discussing quantitative easing, I could not help but wonder where all this central bank intervention and Government initiatives were likely to take us.
The Association of Independent Financial Advisers is calling on the FSA to allow advisers with qualifications made up of QCA level 3 and 4 components to bridge any gaps with CPD.
Bright Grey has launched a lifestyle protection product to be sold specifically through comparison site theidol.com.
The FSA has banned Anthony Abiona, trading as Renbe Associates, for submitting false and misleading information to lenders.
Do you think the monetary policy committee's £75bn quantitative easing programme will kickstart the economy?Yes 50%No 50%
Do you agree with the Investment Management Association that structured products should be regulated?
Bupa Individual Protection recorded a 38 per cent increase in new business annual premiums during 2008, up 13 per cent on 2007.
If you go back a year or so and look at the material on financial legislation coming out of the European Union institutions in Brussels and you will find a common thread — all the texts read like bureaucratic documents. No, no surprise there. What other characteristics should legal documents have?
Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor Vince Cable says the implementation of the Thoresen review should take priority over the retail distribution review.
Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor Vince Cable has slammed Barclays for obtaining a court order banning The Guardian from publishing documents on its tax affairs.
Smaller companies are not an area in favour, considering they are often the biggest victims of a struggling economy.
Cater AllenProtected Growth Plan 1
Chief executive Mike Kirsch has left AWD Chase de Vere after a restructuring of the business. He will not be replaced, with his role being split between staff.
Tenet Group has signed a deal with the Chartered Insurance Institute to provide a learning support package for its member advisers who want to work towards the CII’s diploma in financial planning.
Personal pension and Sipp charges to invest in the same external fund differ by up to 1 per cent depending on provider.
During the last week, I have learned of two initiatives from the usually mundane world of income protection insurance.
Collins Stewart Wealth Management has bolstered its multi-manager team with the appointment of Chris Colclough.
Mortgage distributors are striving to offer lenders more stringent tranche management as they compete for available funds. Lenders want control and are looking to networks and mortgage clubs to guarantee that.
Coral and Strutt & Parker Real Estate Financial Services Coral Student Portfolio
The Coral Student Portfolio is an actively managed fund of funds that will seek to profit from the low correlation of assets such as property. It has been launched to market demand for alternative student accommodation fund.
The Conservatives have joined Treasury select committee chairman John McFall in calling for a full investigation into structured product sales in the aftermath of the Lehman Brothers' collapse.
Chancellor Alistair Darling has endorsed calls for the creation of a single regulatory body to act as an independent, technical financial rule-maker across the European Union.
Home and contents insurance provider Uinsure has struck distribution deals with Positive Solutions, Tenet, Money Portal, Openwork and Intrinsic.
Defaqto has revamped the layout of its quarterly multi-manager guide, Blending Talents, to focus on statistics and comment.
There was yet another early day motion laid in the House recently on the subject of enforced annuitisation at age 75 and the potential 82 per cent tax that can hit the pension savings of people over this arbitrary age. This latest EDM once again calls on the Government to consider legislation to alleviate this exorbitant tax situation.
Ex-PFS chief executive Tim Eadon has launched a new IFA firm, Better Retirement, specialising in equity release.
Elderstreet InvestmentsElderstreet VCT Top Up
The problems in financial systems globally - and more particularly in developed economies - are structural. We need to see banking systems, corporates and consumers deleverage their balance sheets. This is going to be a painful process but a necessary one that will take time to work.
EPH Partners, a property advisory group, has launched its first fund - EPH Sverige. It provides investors with the opportunity to invest in Swedish pre-let residential properties.
EPH Partners EPH Sverige PLC
The appetite for corporate bonds shows little sign of abating. Advisers accounted for four out of five bond funds sold in January which amounted to £1.4bn and 25 per cent of all fund sales.
It is amazing how many times the Office of Fair Trading has stymied a simple regulatory solution to the problem of how IFAs charge for their services without real or perceived bias.
The FTSE has closed 0.18 per cent lower 3,857.10 after closing 2.9 per cent higher in Monday’s session with banks holding back on previous gains after pressure on Wall Street.
Credit rating agency Fitch has downgraded Legal & General blaming depletion of the firm’s capital as a result of steep declines in equity and credit markets.
Fortis Life UK is developing an automated system to explain to advisers why policy applications are being loaded.
Franklin Templeton investmentsFranklin US Opportunities Fund
The Franklin US opportunities fund aims for growth by investing in a portfolio of US companies that are leaders or emerging leaders in their industries.
Friends Provident has pulled out of discussions over the potential sale of F&C Asset Management. After talking to a number of interested parties, Friends says it now intends to divest its holding to shareholders.
Friends Provident has posted EEV full-year profits of £420m, up from £16m in 2007, but suffered an £871m loss on an IFRS basis.
The FSA blocked an attempt by revolting shareholders to vote off former chief executive Sir Fred Goodwin from the board, according to the Times.
FSA chief executive Hector Sants has defended the FSA’s future role in banking supervision, highlighting that former Bank of England employees led areas where the regulator had operational failings.
Barclays has been forced to change the contract terms of its fixed rate savings bond after the FSA ruled that some sections are unfair.
The FSA’s director of treating customers fairly Sarah Wilson has resigned from the regulator.
The FSA has issued a consumer warning about Kent-based advisers The Financial Associate Limited and is urging customers of the firm to contact the regulator.
The FSA has issued a consumer warning about UK Expatriates Independent Financial Advisory Services, which operates form Middlesbrough and Wrexham.
Adair Turner has claimed that for the FSA to do its job better in the future than it has to date, it is going to need to pay its staff even more than it does already.
The FSA has warned investment firms' senior risk control personnel and non-executive directors must be willing to challenge senior management on the adequacy of internal risk controls.
New mortgage lending has fallen 48 per cent in the year to Q4 2008, while the number of repossessions shot up 68 per cent.
The FTSE 100 fell over 50 points this morning with Aviva and Prudential among the biggest fallers.
The FTSE 100 has gained 6.3 per cent this week, closing up today at 3753.68 on Monday's open of 3,530.73.
Advisers believe more funds are likely to move across to the newly launched IMA UK equity income and growth sector as the search for yield gets tougher.
GartmoreEuropean Absolute Return Fund
Gartmore has made its absolute return investment process available to retail investors with the creation of its European absolute return fund.
M&G head of retail fixed income Jim Leaviss says yields on mid- and long-dated gilts could fall to as low as 2% following the launch of the Bank of England’s quantitative easing programme.
The Government’s decision to add Lloyds Banking Group and RBS to the public balance sheet will give an artificial boost to public finances, says New Star’s Simon Ward.
Exact is calling on the Government to use local authority lending to fill the mortgage lending shortfall.
The Government’s recent intervention is trashing cash and pushing investors who are seeking greater income into riskier assets, says Hargreaves Lansdown head of research Mark Dampier.
The Government has announced that employers will be allowed to operate a 90 day waiting period before they need to auto-enrol staff into a private pension scheme after 2012.
We all let out a huge, collective sigh of relief as we sat in the packed-out auditorium listening to the king of the FTSE addressing this year's National Association of Pension Funds investment conference in Edinburgh yesterday.
Hargreave Hale, the stockbroker and fund manager has acquired W H Ireland’s Lancaster office as part of an expansion of its regional business.
Hargreaves Lansdown has added the SVM UK absolute alpha fund to its Wealth 150.
After years of so-called light-touch regulation, the financial crisis seems to be bringing about a significant change in attitude to regulation from politicians of all descriptions and from the bodies responsible for the oversight of the financial world.
Henderson chief executive Andrew Formica says the group will look to retain the majority of New Star funds, with managers in some situations likely to oversee more than one fund.
New Star lynchpin Guy de Blonay has provided Henderson with a timely boost this week after announcing his intention to join the firm at the completion of the proposed merger.
Brokers are disappointed after Lloyds revealed it would only increase mortgage lending by £3bn over the next 12 months.
HSBC Global MarketsProtected FTSE Bonus Plus Plan III
So, the Norwich Union ads tell us, Aviva is who they always wanted to be. It is their lost identity, their true selves, their very soul. Ironic that the campaign includes an American actor who believed Bruce Willis was an improvement on his real name. Good job he was tough.
Financial services social networking website IFA Life has launched a directory of advisers who use Twitter, to make it easier for consumers to find IFAs online.
IFA firms offering independent, multi-tied and execution-only services will be the most successful business model in the post-RDR world, according to a panel of industry experts.
Cirencester Friendly chief executive Paul Hudson says more IFAs are placing income protection business with friendly societies after realising the benefits for their clients.
IFG Financial Services Ltd is forming a dedicated sports and entertainment management Team based in its Manchester office.
Ignis Asset Management has signed a three-year sponsorship contract with Middlesex County Cricket Club.
HBOS employees were able to by-pass security systems to enter customers accounts and copy confidential details, leading to more than £4 million being stolen, a court has been told.
Mortgage product numbers dropped below 3,000 for the first time, according to Trigold.
Multi-manager specialist FundQuest says target return products with reinforced protection are tipped for growth in the multi-asset sector.
JPMorgan Asset ManagementUS Equity Income Fund
Morgan StanleyFTSE Defensive Gilt-Backed Growth Plan
Legal & General has reduced the number of critical illness claims declined due to non-disclosure to just 4 per cent.
Law firm Goldsmith Williams has set up a specialist equity-release referral service for advisers.
The FSA will not be able to legally impose a blanket ban on factoring in the retail distribution review, says Sesame.
The lending industry has hit out at last week's cut in bank rate to 0.5 per cent.
Will the FSA be the next institution to fall? A new report for the Tories by a former adviser to Alistair Darling, Sir James Sassoon, suggests huge reform at least and wholesale replacement at most.
Fund of hedge funds manager Liongate Capital Management has created a fund of commodity hedge funds on the back of an internal portfolio that has produced positive returns over one year.
Lloyds Banking Group sales director of mortgages Nigel Stockton has warned the FSA of the dangers of extending the retail distribution review into mortgages.
Two British pension funds are to sue Royal Bank of Scotland, Sir Fred Goodwin and the entire RBS board of directors for losses incurred when RBS was bailed out, according to The Times.
City minister Lord Myners has flagged up a number of areas that need greater consideration within Sir David Walker’s review into corporate governance in banking.
LV = Asset ManagementLV= Stockmarket ISA Fund
LV= has unveiled its plans to launch its level and decreasing term assurance product on moneysupermarket.com.
Four M&G funds have been added to Merchant Investors’ pinnacle range.
US financier Bernard Madoff has been jailed after pleading guilty to 11 charges surrounding his $50bn fraud.
The Association of Independent Financial Advisers and the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries are calling on all members to submit responses to the FSA's 2009/10 fee proposals.
New Star managing director for retail Mark Skinner is to join Henderson Global Investors to run the group's UK retail business.
I have built up some reasonable savings in cash. With interest rates being so low and stockmarket values being down, is now a good time to switch this money into shares?
Matrix Money ManagementMatrix Credit Opportunities Fund
Matrix Money ManagementNew Horizon Fund
Matrix Private Equity PartnersMatrix Income & Growth 2 VCT C shares
Blending managers in a multi-manager structure is the task of optimally combining managers that offer complementary characteristics and should enhance performance potential within a more efficient risk framework. It is as important as choosing the managers in the first place.
The mid-cap and small-cap sectors suffered last year in a sharp sell-off as fund managers with the remit to do so switched to large caps in an attempt to defend assets.
Money Portal group chief financial officer Nigel Ward has resigned from the firm only six months after joining.
Advisers will now be able to source overseas mortgage products on Mortgage Brain through a tie-up with Conti Financial.
Treasury select committee member Andy Love, MP, has warned increased regulation must not damage industry innovation.
Banking Minister Lord Myners was warned that former RBS chief executive Sir Fred Goodwin’s pension would be “enormous” before the RBS board signed it off.
Invesco Perpetual income guru Neil Woodford says the economy is in a 'prolonged adjustment' and does not expect it to pick up in the next three to four years.
Adviser Matrix has revealed it is now comparing 17 networks and national IFAs after six months of trading.
The Bank of England's latest 0.5 per cent rate cut has further squeezed the cashflow of many Sipp providers and made it increasingly likely that charges will rise.
LV= has launched three new Isa fund options which are multi-manager funds to retail investors with different needs - income or growth risk profiles.
New Star European growth fund manager Richard Pease believes the close correlation between Europe and the US markets could see the pair lead a bounce-back.
New Star global financials fund manager Guy de Blonay has agreed to join Henderson at the completion of the deal, Money Marketing can reveal.
Numis securities says the UK is set for a depression as it attacks the Government policy, predicting a further house price slump of 55 per cent.
Jupiter income trust manager Tony Nutt believes dividends in the UK are more sustainable than people may think.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has welcomed moves made by a number of offshore financial centres to help fight against tax evasion.
For too long, the Conservatives have been quiet on the subject of FSA regulation but this week's review, headed by former Treasury official James Sassoon, deserves attention.
Compliance and business support provider Paradigm Partners has signed up its 200th member firm, wealth managers Cockburn Lucas IFC Ltd.
Hugh Osmond's Pearl Group is reportedly holding talks with banks in a bid to restructure its £3bn debt pile.
The Bank of England this week entered into its first bout of quantitative easing but it appears UK investors may have failed to take the bait.
The Personal Finance Society is launching its inaugural Chartered Awards to recognise professional achievement in financial advice.
Certain aspects of the retail distribution review, such as adviser charging and prudential requirements, are likely to be phased in over a longer timeframe, according to Money Marketing RDR debate panellists.
Former Prudential sales and marketing director John Cowan and former Thinc Group chief operating officer Roderic Rennison are among the industry names launching an internal taskforce at consultancy firm Polhill.
The City of London Police have arrested nine people in a suspected £40m mortgage fraud probe. The investigation centres on defunct brokerage Eastbourne Financial Services.
Prudential director of investment John Betteridge believes policymakers have not been credited enough for their work during the economic crisis.
The pressure exerted by such things as increased capital adequacy and the retail distribution implementation programme (you have lost touch with the debate if you still refer to it as retail distribution review or RDR) will force change on the intermediary sector like never before. The starting point for that change will be design and implementation of the firm's proposition.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has hinted that increased Isa allowances might be granted in the Budget.
The pension deficit of UK companies has soared by £100bn to a record £390bn due to the Bank of England's quantitative easing programme, according to Hargreaves Lansdown.
Following a meeting between leading retirement advisers and provider representatives at the ABI, we are writing to support and endorse an industry initiative to reduce the time it takes to arrange an open market option annuity.
Norwich Union Life is in discussions with the Chartered Insurance Institute about launching a protection exam for advisers.
Prudential is offering a new income choice with-profits annuity that allows clients to change their level of income every two years.
Seven Investment Management marketing director Justin Urquhart Stewart believes a number of banks should have had their share price suspended during the economic crisis.
Financial experts question whether printing £75bn in Treasury bills will improve lending in the UK.
Rathbones is merging its high income fund into its UK blue chip and growth fund, with current manager Hugh Yarrow set to leave the firm.
The FSA is investigating Resolution founder Clive Cowdery and four former Resolution plc directors for "certain actions" undertaken between October 2007 and May 2008 during the completion of the firm's sale to Pearl.
Skandia says advisers should consider repackaging client portfolios for optimum tax-efficiency in the present ultra-low-interest-rate environment.
Alexander Hall says Concordia will be looking for replacements after three of its five members went into administration in recent weeks.
The fundamentals of asset allocation in relation to risk as a result of the credit crunch were debated by panellists at last week's Money Marketing RDR & Economic Update.
The Bank of England has admitted that an increased lack of confidence in the markets will leave the mortgage bond market closed in 2009.
FSA chief executive Hector Sants has warned that he is determined to ensure people are frightened of the regulator.
Savills PLC has revealed profits before tax of £33.2m with its private finance arm also making a modest profit.
eMoneyfacts has launched what it says is the first intermediary specialist savings distributor allowing advisers to earn commission on exclusive savings products.
Scottish Widows has launched a new six-year capital protected fund designed for savers seeking growth as well as capital security.
Share-saving schemes have been a very successful initiative to encourage greater employee engagement with companies they work for and to boost equity ownership. They have been a well received employee benefit at many companies and financially beneficial for many people.
Pointon York Sipp Solutions chief executive Christine Hallett has left after 12 years with the firm.
Hornbuckle Mitchell director Mary Stewart predicts some Sipp providers will be forced to raise charges to try to recoup income losses caused by interest rate cuts.
Old Mutual is combining its long-term savings businesses under a single operating structure but is keeping Skandia and other brands.
Skandia is launching a national TV sponsorship campaign linked to Sky Sport’s coverage of golf and sailing to promote the benefits of financial advice.
Leading retirement advisers have written an open letter praising the ABI's open market options' initiative but urging those who have not gone live to get a move on.
Standard Life has reduced the surrender and transfer values of many of its with-profits plans by up to 8 per cent to allow for poor investment returns experienced since the beginning of the year.
Standard Life Investment has seen its profit before tax wiped out after bailing out one of its institutional global liquidity funds.
Standard Life has posted pre-tax operating profits of £933m for the full year, up 6 per cent from £881m.
Alex Stanic, Newton’s global opportunities fund manager has resigned from the firm and is to join River & Mercantile as a partner and head of global equities.
Stellar Asset ManagementThe Stellar Income Fund
Standard Life InvestmentsStrategic Bond Fund
SVM Asset Management has brought out a UK equity fund that will use shorting techniques through derivatives to benefit from falling share prices.
A recent report from Barclays Stockbrokers shows that investors trading in exchange traded funds increased by 162 per cent from October to December 2008, compared with the previous three months.The number of accounts holding ETFs increased by nearly a quarter (23 per cent) and today half of investors hold ETFs within stocks and shares IsasThis is an extraordinary growth story, particularly as it has been achieved in the face of growing economic uncertainty and equity market declines. However, ..
The FSA's director of treating customers fairly Sarah Wilson has resigned but will continue until a replacement has been found.
Investing in technology applications has helped Standard Life Corporate Pensions more than double its assets under management in five years.
All I can say is it was lucky the headmaster stepped in, otherwise there could have been blood all over the playground. In terms of gang warfare, it's not exactly up there with the Bloods and the Crips or even the Jets and the Sharks but, still, there was real scope for some badly grazed knees if the IMA hadn't acted so decisively.
I don't know about you, but I really, really hate jobsworths. You know the type - one of the wheels of your car is 1mm over the official line, so you end up with a parking ticket.
Who would have thought anybody could describe a £75bn cash injection "a leap in the dark", as it was described by Conservative Shadow Chancellor George Osborne or unfortunately as it will also be described, too little too late.
The Conservatives are urging the Government not to forget the plight of IFAs in any review of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme levy structure.
The FSA needs to be completely overhauled and may have to be disbanded and replaced, according to a review commissioned by the Conservative party.
All software companies talk about making life easier for users but in the IFA market all too often the reality seldom lives up to the promises.
The Treasury has appointed Jean-Christophe Gray as head of press.
At last, progress appears to have been made. The FSA is now looking at a pragmatic solution to the QCA level 4 dilemma. Time is being spent evaluating the core functions of the role of an adviser and ensuring that there are appropriate qualifications to meet these standards.
Most politicians are notoriously busy people and Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor Vince Cable admits he struggles to get his work/life balance right.
Walker Crips has launched its first three-year fixed income structured product.
Walker Crips Structured Investments Three-year Fixed Income Plan
Advisers are about to be hit by a "tidal wave of reforms" from Europe that will influence the direction of the RDR, according to the Financial Inclusion Centre.
The collapse of Lehman Brothers has forever altered the industry's view of risk, according to Prudential director of investment John Betteridge.
Nucleus says the IFA sector can profit from the current weakness in the life sector.
HBOS whistleblower Paul Moore has hit back at FSA claims made to the Treasury select committee.
Any new business needs to differentiate itself from the crowd to win market share in the increasingly crowded and homogeneous investment world. The involvement of Dragons' Den panellist James Caan certainly helped Insynergy do that on launch last year but the firm also champions a different kind of business model to mark itself out from competitors.