14 May 2008
Alliance & Leicester has appointed Viviane Clement as head of intermediary sales, making her responsible for the intermediary sales division.
Nucleus Financial Group made a 1.4m loss in its first full year of trading to December 31, 2007. The firm says it is still on target to break even by the end of this year and aims to be in profit during 2009.
Over 40 per cent of all mortgage and investment advertising does not comply fully with FSA regulations, according to Financial Services Consumer Panel research.
The number of first time buyers using a mortgage intermediary has increased to 82.5 per cent in Q1 of 2008, up 10 per cent from last year, says the Council of Mortgage Lenders.
Sam Shaw is a reporter on Money MarketingIt took me most of the sunny bank holiday to recover from last week's Headline Money Awards, which many of the attendees seemed to use as an excuse for writing off the rest of Thursday and Friday as well.
Alliance & Leicester is increasing its rate on its two year fixed rate buy to let product from tomorrow.
The Association of British Insurers has restructured its protection committees to separate day-to-day work from long-term strategic thinking.
After months of consultation, the Investment Management Association has started an absolute return sector for funds that target positive returns in all market conditions. It initially comprises 17 funds, of which five are UK-based.
OPM believes its experience in investing directly in asset classes such as UK equities gives it an advantage over multi-managers who invest entirely in investment funds.
On May 1 last year, the rules regarding the use of funds of funds in the AFI changed. Previously, panellists could only include multi-manager funds if they were an integral part of their in-house investment model.
Advisers will stop using protection providers that do not offer tele-underwriting by qualified nurses, warns CBK Colchester principal Peter Chadborn.
Most adviser firms are "stuck in adolescence" and need to move quickly to transform their businesses to take account of the future regulatory landscape, says consultancy The Adviser Gym.
Aegon's new at-retirement solution Income for Life aims to bridge the gap between annuities and income drawdown.
Aegon UK's profits fell by 23 per cent to £34.3m in the first quarter of this year from £44m in the first quarter of 2007.
Three new providers have passed internal audits to gain the Unipass Easy Access Award.
The FSA's interim report on the RDR aims to boost consumer confidence in the retail financial products market by marking a separation between sales and advice. The argument that these changes are necessary to allow customers to tell the difference between advice and selling is spurious. The market has been operating for 20 years with tied and independent advisers distinguishing themselves with mandatory disclosure without evident problems.
Aifa has announced it will not be recruiting a new deputy director general to replace Fay Goddard, but is instead looking for candidates to fill the new role of policy director.
We seem to be seeing a trend for mortgage networks and those purely in the IFA space teaming up together, with Home of Choice having recently forged an introducer arrangement with IN Partnership.
Alliance Trust Savings has added to its business development team including a new Scottish BDM.
The Association of Mortgage Intermediaries has hit out at the FSA over its speech on dual pricing at the mortgage business expo in Manchester last week.
The mortgage intermediary profession is facing its toughest challenge since the introduction of mortgage regulation.
Asda is offering an over-50s life cover protection plan.
Barings Asset Management has put off the launch of its European income fund as it looks to make use of the recent changes to capital gains tax.
Barings Asset Management is to launch a soft-commodities fund under the management of Jonathan Blake.
Barings Asset Management is to defer the launch of its European income fund in a bid to take advantage of the recent capital gains tax changes.
Bestinvest has appointed Stephen Cooke as finance director.
Down the road from me, there is an empty shop. It has been vacant for the best part of two years, probably a while longer. It is hard to see it ever returning to its former role - as a branch of Winsover Howden, a broking firm with a proud tradition in London and the South-east.
Blemain Finance is offering a helping hand to brokers who may not be able to get a decision in principle of complete their second charge cases within Future Mortgage's normal pipeline rules.
BNP Paribas Securities Services is launching a white-label Sipp solution.
Is FSA chief executive Hector Sants right to suggest that the recent dual-pricing strategies of many lenders do not break TCF rules?
A mortgage adviser has bought the internet domain name lendershallofshame. co.uk in a bid to name and shame lenders which undercut brokers.
Almost 80 per cent of mortgage brokers feel their role is becoming more advisory in response to current markets, says Alliance & Leicester.
Recent entrant to the UK market Brown Advisory has launched a fund combining their three US equity strategies.
An adviser has slammed Cheltenham & Gloucester for using the current market conditions to push life and protection products on to his client in exchange for a remortgage.
Cheltenham & Gloucester is to withdraw its entire range of mortgage products at end of play today, increasing rates by 0.25 per cent.
Secret Cabinet briefing notes, accidentally revealed by housing minister Caroline Flint, forecast UK house prices to fall "at best" by 5-10 per cent this year.
Gartmore has confirmed the departure of European fund manager Tim Callaghan.
Money Advice Trust is calling on the Government to review the repossession action taken by sub prime lenders not regulated by the FSA.
The publication of the FSA's interim report on the retail distribution review is good news for those involved in the training and competence debate who see the RDR as an opportunity to raise standards in line with public expectation.
For the patient stock-picker, the current volatility - combined with the rather gloomy prospects for the global market - could offer a wealth of opportunities.
Spending on regulation and compliance for the world's 100 biggest financial institutions could almost double to 50bn by 2010 after a rise of more than 30 per cent over the past three years, according to Deloitte.
Coventry Building Society has been praised by mortgage brokers for being intermediary-friendly.
Money Marketing has launched a Cracking the Crunch section on our website.
The variable annuity market has seen a lot of activity in the last two years and at least two providers, Standard Life and Aegon, have plans to enter the fray this year.
Friends Provident paid out 86.5 per cent of critical-illness claims last year, up from 81.3 per cent tin 2006.
Professional indemnity insurance premiums for mortgage brokers of less than £500 are likely to be a thing of the past, says PI broker PYV.
The CBI's Richard Lambert, HSBC's Douglas Flint and Nicolas Moreau from Axa have been appointed to a new multinational tax forum.
Last week, I looked at the new day counting provisions for determining the matter of UK residence. A number of cases have been heard on this issue recently. The most well publicised has probably been the Gaines-Cooper case but there have also been a couple concerning airline pilots. One was Grace v HMRC and the other was the Shepherd case.
A few weeks ago, pension and benefit consultants Watson Wyatt predicted that the at-retirement market could grow at around 20 per cent a year for the next five years that by 2012 this section of the financial services market would be worth 30bn.
So the FSA moved last week to say that mortgage advisers can charge for advice when recommending that clients take out a mortgage direct from a lender.
FSA chief executive Hector Sants has made it clear the regulator does not believe that dual-pricing on mortgages goes against the principles of treating customers fairly.
Shopping around is a concept that can never be over-emphasised to consumers, especially where annuities are concerned.
Investment flows are undoubtedly polarised at the moment. Some investors are seeking high potential returns through emerging markets, specialist funds and singlecountry funds such as India and Russia. Others are seeking the safe haven of cash or more recently bonds. The latter, as I have mentioned before, look good value.
I recently stumbled upon a piece of paper from Friends Provident which read: "As part of our policy to treat all customers fairly, we are upgrading our contracted-out policies to be more in line with stakeholder. As a result of this, we have capped commission at a maximum level of 2.5 per cent for all rebate contributions received after April 6, 2005."
Seven Investment Management's Justin Urquhart Stewart says investors should stay away from UK commercial property.
New Star founder and chairman John Duffield has wielded the axe on his firm’s range of funds again this week after it was announced that the group is looking to merge two of its struggling single-country funds.
FSA chief executive Hector Sants' comments on mortgage dualpricing at last week's Building Societies Association conference make the FSA's position on the matter clear.
Edeus has launched two savings products with Newcastle Building Society. They are a guaranteed minimum return account and a 50:50 balanced FTSE account. Both saving products, introduced through Edeus, will give intermediaries a procuration fee of up to 2.75 per cent of the deposit.
Equity release should form part of long term care solutions, says Home & Capital.
The European Commission has confirmed automatic enrolment of members into contract-based schemes, such as group personal pensions, from 2012, is consistent with EU law.
At last, some good news to emerge from the credit crunch - anyone lucky enough to be thinking about buying an annuity now will benefit from the highest rates on offer for some time.
Former Scottish Re International chief executive officer David Huntley has been appointed the new managing director of Pearl Life.
The CII Group has officially announced the appointment of Fay Goddard as chief executive of the Personal Finance Society.
Former Aifa deputy director general Fay Goddard is tipped to take over from Tim Eadon as chief executive of the Personal Finance Society, following the announcement of Eadon’s resignation yesterday.
Are lenders in danger of becoming too cautious? Despite the Bank of England's £50bn rescue package, we have seen further evidence of lenders tightening criteria by cutting maximum loan to values (Abbey and Nationwide), introducing higher rates for those borrowing more than 75 per cent LTV (Alliance & Leicester) and hiking rates (too many lenders to mention by name).
First Direct has resumed offering mortgages to borrowers today after withdrawing from the market in April.
The Finance Industry Standards Association has relaunched its website with new information on secured loans regulation and compliance.
JP Morgan Asset Management wants the Government to sponsor an awareness campaign supporting the work of IFAs including a "five a day" plan to boost financial wellbeing.
Eclectica Asset Management is to launch a second agriculture fund under the management of former Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Espen Baardsen.
The FSA is investigating how it can remove regulatory barriers to make it easier for mortgage brokers to charge a fee for advising a client to go for a direct deal.
The FSA has moved to clarify its rules around mortgage disclosure to enable mortgage brokers to charge for advice when recommending that clients take out a mortgage direct from a lender.
The FSA has hit out at the Government for dragging its feet in sanctioning the new plea-bargaining powers the regulator will be given to help curb market abuse.
The FSA has fined Thinc Group £900,000 for sub-prime record keeping failings.
The FSA is seeking permission to appeal after the Financial Services and Markets Tribunal overruled the regulator's decision to cancel general insurance intermediary Salman Khan's permission to undertake regulated activities.
The FSA says firms need to improve and regularly review their stress-tests to avoid future vulnerability, as proven by the state of overall financial climate of the last nine months.
The FSA has at long last woken up to the fact that while it still has some issues to deal with in the IFA sector, most of the problems in the retail financial services sector have been created by the banks.
The FSA has called on insurance comparison sites to ensure they are treating users fairly after uncovering a mixed bag of good and bad practice in the market.
The Financial Services Compensation Scheme has declared mortgage firm Kingsfield and its adviser Gordon Benville in default and has started paying claims against the advisor.
Citi Bank subsidiary Future Mortgages has become the latest lender to close its doors to new lending.
The job of FSA chairman should go to someone with high-level Bank of England experience, says a financial services thinktank.
Aifa deputy director-general Fay Goddard is to take a senior role at the Chartered Insurance Institute.
Skipton Building Society chief executive John Goodfellow has been elected chairman of the Building Societies Association for 2008/09.
Credit Suisse global head of equities Kim Goodwin has left the firm after less than two years.
Conservative leader David Cameron has attacked the Government for "breaking its bargain" with the people to deliver quality services in return for taxes.
The Association of Independent Financial Advisers is to host a seminar on ethical and green investment as part of National Ethical Investment Week.
From time to time, I am afforded the opportunity to share my views on what is happening in world markets with a wider audience through radio or TV. Last week provided just such an opportunity when news was thin on the ground and a wider trawling of the stories circulating on investment topics was necessary. The news that the Indian government was considering banning futures trading in agricultural commodities caught my eye and led to deeper research in the following days.
Halifax is cutting some mortgage rates by an average of 15 basis points.
HBOS has completed the first public UK residential mortgage backed securitisation deal completely placed to investors since July last year.
HBOS has sold its entire stake in property website Rightmove for £59.2 million.
Henderson's multi-manager team is increasing its exposure to investment-grade corporate bonds as prices already reflect a major recession and higher default rates, particularly in the banking sector.
Borrowers regarded as high risk may only be offered standard variable rate deals by their existing lender under new "customer profiling" rules when their current mortgage offers run out.
Fannie Mae vice-president and chief economist Doug Duncan has warned it is likely to be three years before the US will see risk spreads come back.
HSBC managing director of UK wholesale Andy Clark believes the company's trio of open funds will break through the £1bn barrier before the end of 2009.
Introducing a formal appeal process for the Financial Ombudsman Service would slow down complaint handling and worsen accessibility to the service, claims Hunt review project manager Chris Kenny.
IFAs should look to outsourcing in order to increase their profits, says threesixty.
Paraphrasing the line from that great film Jaws: "Just when you thought it was safe to go into the water" seems very appropriate on hearing the news that you have to be working for the client to be an adviser.
Swiss Re paints a dismal picture in its latest Term & Health Watch report, which shows income protection sales were down 14.3 per cent last year compared with 2006.
Increased longevity and inflation can cut people’s spending power in retirement by as much as 40 per cent over 25 years, according to Ernst & Young.
The FSA pulled no punches this week with its stark warning to life companies that open market option standards for annuities had to dramatically improve after discovering shocking numbers of consumer correspondence failings.
The Investment Management Association's launch of an absolute return sector begs the question as to what exactly constitutes absolute return? And how exactly does it differ from total return? Or targeted returns for that matter.
Legal & General is seeing a drop in adviser confidence as a direct result of the credit crunch. The mortgage division of L&G saw a 50 per cent drop in the number of advisers predicting better sales and protection sales are also expected to decline.
Legg Mason is to bolster its offshore range with a European fixed income fund and a 130/30 fund.
Senior technical manager at John Charcol Ray Boulger has called on lenders not to dress up bad news about product withdrawals.
The FSA has warned life companies that Open Market Option standards for annuities must dramatically improve after uncovering shocking evidence that nearly 40 per cent of their consumer correspondence fails to meet regulatory requirements.
The FSA has warned life companies that open market option standards for annuities must improve dramatically after uncovering shocking evidence that almost 40 per cent of their consumer correspondence fails to meet regulatory requirements.
Liontrust Asset Management has announced the appointment of ex-New Star marketing director Rob Page.
The FSA has clearly moved on. Its interim RDR report notes that "the market called for a simpler marketplace and a clear separation between advice and sales".
Lloyds TSB has announced that its information technology division will be exporting up to 450 UK-based jobs to India over the next nine months.
LV= paid 86 per cent of income protection and critical illness claims in 2007.
New Star is to merge two single-country funds. The 5.5m Japan fund will merge into the 105m Pacific growth and the 7.7m North America fund merges with the 12.6m North America Fof portfolio.
The Midas funds have suffered a setback in performance because their overseas prop-erty holdings have continued to trade at a discount to net asset value. High volatility has also affected the quoted value of some structured holdings and a preference for value stocks has hurt as these have been hit by the credit crunch.
Mirae Asset Global Investors has announced the appointment Hendrik Cosijn von Ripperda and Andrew Lawley as senior executives.
Living Time chief executive Kim Lerche-Thomsen has branded lifetime annuities as "Dickensian" products and claims they could become the next misselling scandal.
AWD Chase de Vere is offloading telesales and client servicing operations arm Moneyextra as it brings its business units under a single brand.
Any hopes that the credit crunch is close to an end were dashed this week with cash calls and writedowns once again battering the banking sector.
Mortgage advisers have hit out at self-certification and fast-track mortgages today at the Mortgage Business Expo declaring they are rife with fraud.
The FSA has warned that the number of mortgage fraud cases will increase following several years of lenders focusing on volume of business rather than quality.
Mortgage guru John Wriglesworth has called on the Government to pump £350bn into the UK mortgage market through its Special Liquidity Scheme.
MPs have attacked the banking sector for using the FSA as a scapegoat for the credit crunch.
Norwich & Peterborough chief executive Matthew Bullock has called on the FSA to introduce a variable capital regime for brokers as part of its retail distribution review.
Nationwide is cutting some of its fixed-rate loans by up to 0.3 per cent from May 16, including two-year fixed, two-year fixed without fee and two-year remortgage.
Mortgage network Home of Choice has set up a strategic partnership with IFA network IN Partnership to offer a full financial planning service.
The number of new housing starts in the first quarter of 2008 have dropped 21 per cent to 32,100 compared to the previous quarter, official figures from the Government have revealed.
The equity-release market has seen a fall in recent demand but remains fairly stable in comparison with the mortgage market.
New Star chief economist Simon Ward says inflation could reach 4 per cent this year if energy prices continue to rise, ending hopes of early base rate cuts.
Heartwood Wealth Management has appointed former Barclays and Rothschild Private Bank CIO Noland Carter to be its chief investment officer and head of the investment management division.
Norwich Union has reverted back to monthly valuations for its property funds after seeing a rise in cash levels and sharp falls in redemptions.
Openwork is teaming up with alternative investment specialist Octopus in an investment joint venture called Omnis Investments.
The Office of Fair Trading has made a prohibition order against an estate agent in Scotland banning him from estate agency work.
The RDR, as described in interim form, looks just like it should. There is a treaty or two to negotiate but we will all be home by Christmas. The brave and fair Amanda Bowe has sent the complexifiers packing.
Openwork has made 15 staff redundant after a shake-up that sees members of its sales and marketing team leave the firm.
Four senior managers and around 14 advisers have left Origen in the last six weeks.
The Council of Mortgage Lenders says it is disappointed the Bank of England's monetary policy committee did not cut base rate last week, failing to anticipate worsening economic conditions.
Ex-Charcol managing director Peter Barrett has joined Genworth Financial as senior vice president.
The Personal Finance Society has created a new member support package Promoting Excellence in Equity Release.
The reporting on the Bates' conference in last week's issue surprised me. Andrew's presentation, which we thank him for and which was arguably the highlight of the week, was indeed critical in some areas of the way that Money Portal manages its regulatory businesses. However, the article was unbalanced and missed two very important points.
Positive Solutions has appointed former Origen Financial Services risk management and compliance director Greg Carter as chief operating officer.
Thames River co-head of multi-manager Gary Potter says he is sceptical of the current market rally and warns that the UK and US are moving from a credit crisis to a solvency crisis.
HBOS is preparing for a £4bn rights issue only a month after declaring that it had no liquidity problems. It will also apparently be one of the biggest participants in the Bank of England's £50bn scheme exchanging mortgages for bonds.
The retail distribution review interim report is the most positive thing to come out of the FSA for years, says Informed Choice joint managing director Nick Bamford.
The Prime Minister says "radical reform" is needed to address the £6bn shortfall in funding for long-term care.
Pagan Osborne is a firm of legal, financial and property specialists. Providing holistic professional services advice that meets all our clients' needs has always been central to our business philosophy.
Prudential has launched FundSipp, a flexible self-invested personal pension in partnership with Cofunds.
Product providers and banks need to convince the FSA that there is a real need for tied and multi-tied advice ahead of the next RDR report in October, according to Ernst & Young.
The FSA's proposal to separate advice and sales is "impossibly flimsy" and unlikely to see the light of day in its present form, claims Beachcroft Regulatory Consulting.
As part of Lord Hunt's independent review of the Financial Ombudsman Service, he was asked to consider whether the FOS should do more to increase its visibility and accessibility to those it is designed to serve.
I have just come across another pension scandal that is almost as corrosive for the people involved as many of those that have grabbed the headlines over the last decade. It is not a case of fraud, underfunding or bad actuarial calculations. I am talking about the hundreds of thousands of high-earners in private workplace pensions who are missing out on a fifth of their pension contributions because they are failing to claim higher-rate tax relief.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has insisted the property market will not face a rerun of the early 1990s despite predicting that transactions will fall by at least 40 per cent this year.
There are very few products which pay a tax-free income of 8 per cent a year without a great deal of risk.
Northern Rock has seen the number of borrowers in arrears soar in the first quarter as its mortgage book shrinks.
My husband and I are approaching retirement age in three years time and he has been offered a two-year contract abroad. We have 101 questions that need answering before we make a decision but perhaps most important are the different financial implications that present themselves if: a: My husband goes abroad but I stay in the UK. b: I go for only part of the time. c: I go for the whole duration of the contract. d: He turns down the offer.
Professional services firm RSM Bentley Jennison has acquired the audit, accounting and tax compliance arm of accounting firm Wenham Major.
Building Societies Association outgoing chairman Iain Cornish warns it could take between 18 months and two years for confidence to return to the mortgage market.
Northern Rock executive chairman Ron Sandler has admitted a serious fall in house prices could significantly dent the bank's plan to pay back its £27bn Bank of England loan by 2010.
Former Scottish Provident national account director Phil Alibone has passed away after suffering liver cancer.
John Charcol senior technical manager Ray Boulger has warned economists that too much weight is being given to seasonally adjusted house price figures.
Octopus Investments is one of the UK's fastest-growing alternative investment specialists. The company's revenue and customer base has more than doubled every year for the last five years and it now manages funds of over £500m.
There are six candidates in the running to replace Sir Callum McCarthy as FSA chairman, including Lloyds TSB deputy chief executive Michael Fairey, Money Marketing understands.Fairey, 59, is retiring from the bank in the summer and is a member of the FSA's retail financial services group.
Skandia has added BlackRock's UK absolute alpha fund to its platforms.
Skipton Building Society is withdrawing its standard variable rate for new business with immediate effect.
A group of 150,000 of Northern Rock's small private shareholders have filed an application for a judicial review of the compensation terms being offered by the Government.
Tora Partnership principal Brian Tora believes the diversity in yields has made fixed interest one of the most exciting areas of the market.
Standard Life Investments is making its global absolute return strategies fund available to retail investors.
Standard Life has rectified an error on its FundZone platform which was preventing income being paid into a number of client accounts.
Threadneedle is urging investors to retain a cautious approach to UK equities, despite recent upturn.
Swiss Re has had a pop at protection providers after its latest Term & Health Watch, put out last week, painted a depressingly gloomy picture of the state of the protection market.
Following the changes to the inheritance tax treatment of trusts contained in the Finance Act 2006, the Association of British Insurers asked HM Revenue & Customs to increase the IHT reporting limits for chargeable transfers to reduce the number of returns made where no tax will be payable.
The FSA has done the right thing by oversimplifying the RDR interim report, rather than working backwards from a complicated structure, according to Tenet Group.
TFC Homeloans says it is surviving beyond many of its competitors in the packaging market as a result of the credit crunch with a 30 per cent rise in new applications this month.
Whether you are a private investor, an IFA or a fund manager, there appear to be few, if any, obvious investment choices at present.
Ethical investing has become part of the mainstream market over the last few years as financial institutions have competed to launch products designed to invest in socially responsible or ethical companies.
Sales of enhanced annuities passed 1bn for the first time last year but they still account for only 10 per cent of annuities sold. Consultant Watson Wyatt suggests that this is a fraction of the potential market and that up to 40 per cent of annuitants could be entitled to an enhanced annuity.
Personal Finance Society chief executive Tim Eadon has resigned from his post in order to pursue “other interests in the financial services sector”.
From today, all packagers and brokers will be able to access their clients' offer documents online, through a new system offered by TMB.
Fund business saw a massive fall in the first quarter of this year compared with the previous year.
Money Marketing won a hat-trick of awards at the prestigious Headline Money awards. Chris Salih won trade investment reporter of the year, Tanya Powley won trade mortgage reporter of the year and Paul McMillan is trade journalist of the year.
"The overall retirement income market is going to grow significantly, not least because there are more defined-contribution schemes as people reach maturity," says Burrows.
Vertex Financial Services and HSBC Life have launched a new life insurance straight-through-processing system for first direct.
Personal Finance Society chief executive Tim Eadon says advisers should whistleblow on firms that are not acting in a professional manner.
The retail distribution review interim report is polarisation reinstated.
A former economic adviser to Tony Blair has suggested that the world economy has been functioning as a pyramid scam in the style of 1920s' crook Charles Ponzi.
Intrinsic chief executive Kevin Ronaldson says it is nonsense to suggest that people can only give good professional advice if they offer products from the whole of the market.