16 April 2008
GMAC-RFC is cutting up to 280 jobs, 40 per cent of its workforce.
An 18-month investigation by fraud squad officers in Scotland uncovered a massive mortgage fraud against banks and building societies.
Seven Investment Management has introduced a range of risk-graded funds of funds that use passive investments such as exchange-traded funds rather than actively managed funds.
Record numbers of chartered surveyors are seeing falls in house prices, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors' March survey.
Annie Shaw is a freelance financial journalistThe last day of everyone else's week and the start of mine - because of the way the financial news publishing cycle works - began with me sitting on a judging panel for the Headline Money awards.
Abbey has withdrawn its buy-to-let products temporarily in order to focus on its residential mortgage business.
An overwhelming 94 per cent of product providers believe the industry and FSA must do more to differentiate pay- ment protection insurance and income protection in the eyes of consumers.
The FSA has imposed a fine of £525,000 on third-party life and pension admin firm Liberata Financial Services for exposing policyholders to unacceptable risks through systems and control failures.
The increasing desire for investment choices outside traditional asset classes to protect against falls in the market has put investor focus on alternatives.
Adviser firm Heather Moor & Edgecomb has started a fighting fund to raise money for its court battle against the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Over two-thirds of advisers could be breaching treating customers fairly principles when they transfer clients on to a wrap platform, claims pension software provider Dunstan Thomas.
Origo says it plans to add agency administration capabilities to its Adviserwise agency registration service by the final quarter of 2008.
Aegon is launching a variable annuity next month called Income for Life which is a pensionable version of its current 5 for Life offering.
Aifa has criticised Lord Hunt's review of the Financial Ombudsman Service, claiming it should have recommended oral hearings and a fee for consumers who submit vexatious claims.
Fidelity has added to its multi-manager team with the appointment of Ayesha Akbar.
Fidelity has added to its multi-manager team with the appointment of Ayesha Akbar.
Schroders' multi-manager team says its holdings in alternative asset classes, including property, private equity and hedge funds, have achieved the best returns in recent weeks.
The Association of Mortgage Intermediaries believes the mortgage market should look closer at new areas of funding such as Sovereign Wealth Funds.
Coventry Building SocietyFirst Time Buyer 6.99% Fixed
Former Progress from Royal Liver IFA marketing manager has moved to law firm Goldsmith Williams as head of marketing.
Bradford & Bingley has denied reports that it is planning to raise equity through an emergency rights issue.
The Bank of England has agreed to bolster the UK mortgage market by swapping £50bn of government bonds for banks' mortgage-backed securities.
The Bank of England’s auction of three month money yesterday was only met with bids totalling £15.2bn.
Bankhall has launched a new guidance service aimed at helping appointed representatives move to a directly authorised status.
Barclays WealthDefined Returns Plan
Mortgage industry figures believe the Bank of England monetary policy committee's decision last week to cut interest rates by just 0.25 per cent to 5 per cent will have little impact on the market.
Former BBC journalist Jenny Scott has been appointed director of communication at the Bank of England.
BlackRock has appointed Nick Osborne to co-manage its UK absolute alpha fund.
Bradford & Bingley has confirmed that arrears levels have continued to rise in the first quarter.
Bright Grey paid out on 85 per cent of life claims and 82 per cent of critical illness claims last year.
Do you think you will lose business because of the HSBC rate-matcher deal?
Mortgage brokers are asking why the Government is not seeking their views on the liquidity crisis.
Brown Shipley has announced the appointment of Peter Botham as chief investment officer.
Liberal Democrats Shadow Chancellor Vince Cable has attacked Conservative Shadow Chancellor George Osborne's support for a collateral swap programme and called on him to explain in detail how taxpayers will be protected.
Specialist funding experts, such as HBOS mortgages chief operating officer Phil Jenks, are needed to help the Government's credit crunch working party, says Hamptons managing director Jonathan Cornell.
The correct target for the mortgage industry's ire should be the Chancellor and the Governor of the Bank of England, not HBOS, Nationwide or even HSBC, whether their short-term actions are good or bad, fair or unfair.
When I wrote last week's column criticising mortgage distributors for their open letter to brokers, asking them to "under-stand and make allowances for the huge strain the credit crunch is placing on lenders", I was fully prepared for a flood of responses.
The pre-Budget report in October announced changes to the taxation of life polic-ies which have or accrue a surrender value and are held by companies. They will cease to be subject to the special regime for life policies and will be subject to the corporate loan relationship legislation.
Claim-chaser Brunel Franklin has started a service for whole-of-life misselling complaints, claiming that a majority of the five million people with policies may be affected.
Lord Hunt has called for a crackdown on claim-chasers, including a case fee for vexatious claims and moves to force them to use more transparent advertising.
Closed life offices provide the worst delays on pension transfers when a consumer buys an annuity on the open market.
The Council of Mortgage Lenders and the Finance and Leasing Association have agreed to review their voluntary arrangements on arrears and repossessions following a meeting with the Government at No 11 Downing Street today.
Council of Mortgage Lenders chairman Steven Crawshaw has urged Bank of England governor Mervyn King to show leadership in response to the credit crunch.
Sell-offs in the corporate bond market are offering investment opportunities in the financials sector, according to PSigma Investment Management.
I am, I think, finally coming to the end of a protracted round of correspondence with Prudential, started in September last year, regard-ing their failure to send us copies of correspondence for an investment bond on which we were appointed agents by a client in 2001.
Coventry Building Society+1.10% BBR Tracker for term
Credit Suisse has repositioned its UK growth and income fund to adopt a more thematic approach.
Investors are wondering where to turn as bad news plagues almost every major asset class. The Fed has worked to try and restore confidence but its actions are now focused more on trying to prevent a depression as we believe the US is probably already in recession - and the UK as well. The erosion in economic conditions means investors are facing some of the toughest landscapes for many years. Against such a backdrop, where should we look to invest?
The Treasury has appointed FSA deputy chairman and former HBOS chief executive Sir James Crosby to chair a working group looking at the credit crunch.
Chancellor Alistair Darling has been accused of misunderstanding the liquidity crunch after his call for lenders to pass on last week's bank base rate cut.
Dawnay Day QuantumProtected Agricultural Dynamo
The recent G7 meeting in Washington appears to have achieved very little, if anything, unless you consider Alistair Darling telling us that he now believes that the current financial crisis is the biggest economic shock since the Great Depression is progress.
Sesame has called on the FSA and the Financial Ombudsman Service to ensure brokers are not made the scapegoat for borr- owers who get into difficulties.
Edeus chief executive Michael Bolton says the Government has acted too late to bring liquidity back into the market and claims the liquidity squeeze is now set to turn into a "full blown" credit crunch.
Edeus chief executive Michael Bolton has revealed it has reengineered itself into an “asset management” service business for the UK mortgage market.
Hartford Life marketing and distribution managing director John Enos is leaving the company.
ETF SecuritiesETFS Leveraged Corn
Software provider Focus Solutions has appointed former Tata Consultancy Services consultant Chris Pitt to the position of lead business consultant.
Former Gartmore head of distribution Paul Feeney has joined BNY Mellon Asset Management in the same role.
Fidelity has launched an emerging markets Asia fund under the management of Teera Chanpongsang.
Fidelity is warning compan- ies that they should not be seduced by platforms offering wide fund choices for their defined-contribution pension schemes because the quality of choice is more important.
I have been talking to an adviser about my investment portfolio and he has mentioned a multi-asset fund. Can you explain what this is, how it differs from a traditional investment portfolio and how it might be of benefit to me?
Fortune Group, the fund of hedge funds subsidiary of Close Brothers, has received an A rating from Standard & Poor's for its multi-strategy horizon fund of hedge funds.
The Financial Ombudsman Service has welcomed Lord Hunt's report but warns that some of the recommendations have "significant implications" for its budget and resources.
The FSA has approved the £5bn acquisition of Resolution Life by Pearl Assurance.
The FSA has banned Derry-based mortgage broker John Paul Keay for failing to have in place adequate systems and controls to detect and prevent mortgage fraud.
The FSA has for the first time applied to appeal against a Financial Services and Markets Tribunal decision in relation to a case against Leeds solicitor firm Fox Hayes.
The industry faces a smaller than expected bill for the Financial Services Compensation Scheme this year after its refined its claims and compensation projections.
Godiva MortgagesSelf Cert 6.19% Fixed
Alistair Darling and the Bank of England have provisionally agreed to a collateral swap programme where Government bonds could be exchanged for banks' mortgage-backed securities.
The Government looks likely to issue tens of billions of pounds worth of bonds to finance the Bank of England’s plan to ease funding strains on bank, according to press reports.
My weekend included a trip north to watch my beloved Partick Thistle take on the might of Rangers in a Scottish Cup quarter final replay.
Gross mortgage lending has increased by 5 per cent to £26.3bn in March, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.
Guinness Asset ManagementAlternative Energy Fund
Hamptons International has appointed Phil Tennant as regional director for central and north London.
The most important thing that protection providers can do to win more business is to improve their underwriting decisions.
HBOS has begun pulling its products for repricing across nearly all of its brands, following yesterday's increase in rates from Halifax.
HM Revenue and Customs is appealing against the decision of the Special Commissioner in the test case involving the executors of the late Mrs Bower.
Hornbuckle Mitchell managing director Neil Marsh has died after a two and a half year battle with cancer.
Is equity release still only used by homeowners who need to supplement their income in retirement rather than as a planned release of lump sums for planned expenditure?
The Hunt review of the Financial Ombudsman Service has dismissed widespread demands for advisers to pay a case fee only if a complaint against them is upheld.
Sesame, Money Portal, Openwork and Bankhall have reclassified Living Time's ann- uity product to allow all their advisers to sell it.
Encouraging the uptake of existing qualifications before the outcome of the RDR is known is “foolish”, according to the ifs School of Finance.
One of the surprise hits in the fund world in the last six months has been the BlackRock UK absolute alpha fund. It has seemingly come from nowhere to take the market by storm and I am sure all the BlackRock salespeople are rubbing their hands with glee.
ImpaxIFSL Impax Environmental Leaders Fund
ImpaxIFSL Impax Environmental Leaders Fund
The Indian stockmarket has had a torrid start to the year but the region continues to curry favour with investors.
Invesco Perpertual is to merge its underperforming £20m US smaller companies and £8m aggressive fund into its US equity vehicle, Money Marketing understands.
Having been hit by the retail distribution review, treating customers fairly, the credit crunch and Budget tax changes, IFAs face a host of challenges. This is especially true if you are an investment specialist.
JC Flowers has formally withdrawn its proposal to acquire Friends Provident after the insurer refused to engage in discussions with the private equity firm.
Jupiter has appointed Juliette Home as product development director.
Just Retirement is entering the impaired annuity market offering customers with the most serious health problems the ability to get an annuity quote within 24 hours.
Hargreaves Lansdown's Sipp business leapt by 53 per cent from £760m to £1.2bn in the year ending March 31.
Legal & General is calling on lenders to change the way they release mortgage funds to stop frantic rushes for the most attractive deals, followed by repricing.
Legal & General has made its dynamic bond trust available to the retail market almost a year since it was launched for institutional investors.
Gartmore head of multi-manager Bambos Hambi has been replaced by his deputy Tony Lanning in a restructure.
The Association of British Insurers director of corporate affairs Alan Leaman is set to leave the trade body in the summer to head up the Management Consultancies Association.
If Polygon means that the parrot is out squawking MVA, MVA, MVA, then perhaps it would draw attention to the fact that with-profits bonds are not the only environment that has to protect itself.
Legal & General has reported a slight fall in new UK business in Q1 2008, down from £338m in 2007 to £335m.
Lehman BrothersEnhanced Deposit Plan Issue One
Over-55-year-olds could be better off moving to a lifetime mortgage as a drying up in the number of conventional mortgages and mortgage products, and increasing lenders' margins, threaten homeowners' financial stability.
The Life Trust has set up a independent foundation to raise awareness and understanding of the financial issues associated with increasing longevity.
UK shares took a dive in the immediate aftermath of the Bank of England's decision to cut rates. It did not help that the decision was announced on the same day that the International Monetary Fund warned of a 25 per cent chance of an impending global recession.
LV= was hit by the credit squeeze last year, producing an investment return of 5.7 per cent for 2007, halved from 11.2 per cent in 2006.
Lyxor Asset ManagementLyxor ETF New Energy
Lyxor Asset ManagementLyxor ETF World Water
EEA Fund Management says multi-managers such as Lawrence House are turning to alternative assets classes such as the EEA life settlements fund to diversify their portfolios as market volatility continues.
New Star chief economist Simon Ward has warned there could be a huge potential mortgage funding gap of £81bn this year.
HSBC's rate matcher deal will help ease pressure from rival lenders by taking away some of the vast number of remortgages hitting the market.
HSBC's five-week rate matcher offer to all UK homeowners could see the bank suffer- ing huge service problems.
The FTSE 100 looks set to end the week above the landmark 6,000 barrier despite the wealth of evidence pointing to an economic slowdown.
Skandia is launching a range of six funds that will offer risk-targeted investment.
The Bank of England’s special liquidity scheme may prove ineffective because of its unattractive fee structure, according to New Star.
New Star chief economist Simon Ward has called for co-ordin- ated action by the Bank of England and the Government to extend up to £40bn of longer-term funding to help banks.
The bonds versus collectives debate continues to rage. Understandable focus is on the capital gains tax changes, including the abolition of indexation allowance, the abolition of taper relief and, of course, the introduction of the 18 per cent flat rate.
As we celebrate the third birthday of the child trust fund, it is time to reflect on how much this baby of the savings world has grown up.
Norwich Union is looking for a director of marketing for its protection business, indicating a renewed focus on the sector.
Portsmouth based packager Chase UK is in the process of appointing an administrator this week after becoming the latest packager firm to shut up shop.
Childcare is an expensive business and the 250 handed out by the Government to be invested in each child trust fund is no doubt welcomed by most parents. However, with more and more investment options specially designed to take care of the little darlings' Government bonus, the cheques can just add further concern to an already heavy frown. So how can a CTF be invested and what is the best way to do so?
Paternoster's buy-out sales have grown by over 35 per cent in quarter one of 2008 to £520m compared with £131m in quarter four last year.
Pension Corporation has agreed to appoint only indepen- dent trustees to oversee thee Telent pension scheme after a six-month battle with The Pensions Regulator.
RGA head of UK business Perry Thomas has left the reinsurer with immediate effect.
Pioneer paid out on 96 per cent of income protection claims last year, slightly down from 96.8 per cent in 2006.
The Private Health Partnership, owned by Skipton Building Society, has bought Medical Care Direct.
Lenders could be stuck with huge amounts of mortgage business that they cannot handle if remortgage rates move above standard variable rates in the near future, according to Hamptons managing director Jonathan Cornell.
News broke last week of plans for a collateral swap programme where Government bonds could be exchanged for banks' mortgage-backed securities.
Helm Godfrey saw net profit growth of over 13 per cent last year to £744,000 from £660,000 in 2006.
PruProtect is offering an extra 20 per cent commission on its severity-based critical-illness cover product.
Prudential recorded a 4 per cent increase in UK business in the first quarter 2008, clocking £189m.
PruProtect boosted the commission on its severity-based critical illness cover product by 20 per cent last week to reward advisers for taking the time to study it.
These are tough times for mortgage brokers. There is plenty of custom but not so much lending money to broke.
Pensioners who rent during retirement are £133,117 worse off than those who own their own home, according to Friends Provident.
The Investment Management Association has dropped its call for fund firms to adopt an international standard for electronic messaging this year.
The Hunt review of the Financial Ombudsman Service does not go far enough. It is right to call for a clampdown on claim- chasers when they pursue vexatious claims but this needs to apply to the public as well.
Rooftop Mortgages is set to close.
Rowanmoor Pensions has appointed former Clerical Medical senior account manager Mark Randell as senior consultant.
Royal Bank of Scotland is understood to be considering a rights issue, with an announcement due next week.
Royal Bank of Scotland Group has confirmed today it will be launching a £12bn rights issue in a bid to reposition its capital ratios and strengthen its capital base.
South African financial ser- vices group Sanlam has bought a 60 per cent stake in adviser firm Buckles.
Sarasin & partners has established the Sarasin AgriSar fund, which aims for growth by investing in a global multi-asset portfolio of investments in agriculture and associated sectors.
SchrodersSchroder UK Defensive Income Fund
Schroders co-head of structured investments Richard Lloyd is leaving after 11 years.
Scottish WidowsRetirement Account: Retirement Income
April will bring us the updated views from the FSA on feedback to the discussion paper on the retail distribution review.
One issue coming out of the Northern Rock debacle that should serve as a warning to advisers and employers is the risks inherent within employee share plans.
Shares in F&C Managed Portfolio Trust have begun trading on the London Stock Exchange this morning.
The time is fast approaching when mortgage firms are making the final call as to whether they should sink or swim.
Nearly £13bn could be held in Sipps in cash at present and investors could be missing out on over £480m in interest per year.
Skandia is calling for explicit disclosure and warnings to consumers about what the proposed money guidance service provides.
Skandia has launched a new business consultancy service for advisers looking to move their business model towards holistic financial planning.
Skandia has become the first provider to receive 'accredited associate’ trainer status with 1st's Adviser Office software.
Skipton Building Society has cut its maximum loan to value on its buy to let products from 85 per cent to 75 per cent with immediate effect.
Standard Life has launched a Sipp zone on its adviser extranet service which includes a new fund trading service.
Standard Life is set to bring out a variable annuity product this summer for new and existing self-invested personal pension customers.
Standard Life is lobbying the House of Lords in an attempt to pressurise the Government to change the exemption test for pension personal accounts.
Fund supermarkets are acting as an obstacle to increased offshore product sales, according to an HSBC survey.
A benchmark survey is aiming to set standards in adviser efficiency and profitability.
Swap rates have increased by around 20 ticks over the course of the day with a broker warning this may see lenders pulling their fixed rates by the end of today.
Lord Hunt's proposal to introduce case fees for vexatious complaints brought by claim-chasers could fall foul of human rights law, warns solicitor Reynolds Porter Chamberlain.
I wonder if the ombudsman service has ever considered in any detail the behaviour of consumers, what turns them into complainers and whether some of them should ever have been complaining in the first place.
BT has drawn up plans to launch a telecom-munications and technology insurance hub aimed at saving advisers time and money.
First and foremost, we are a firm of financial planners, not a manager of funds or experts in asset custody, investment dealing or investment administration.
There is now a huge increase in demand for nearly all commodities, especially oil, base metals, gold and soft commodities.
One year into the UK Reits regime, many of the property companies which converted to Reits in January 2007 are publishing annual results or quarterly updates.
Environmental issues have finally achieved some amount of political prominence and can only accelerate from here, led in many respects by corporates and the demands of their customers.
The news that both Aegon and Standard Life are entering the variable annuity market was greeted with relief and interest in equal measures by advisers.
Aegon chief executive Otto Thoresen has joined the ABI's customer impact panel.
Standard Life has become affiliated platform provider to support services provider Threesixty.
Gartmore fund manager Tim Callaghan looks set to leave the firm as the group plans to restructure its European desk.
Invesco Perpetual reached a significant landmark last year when it dethroned Fidelity as the UK's biggest fund manager, with £30.56bn under management.
The Treasury and the FSA have launched a consultation on the UK's proposals to reduce the administrative burden on insurance firms operating in the EU.
Despite historical growth in housing wealth, an aging population and potential pension shortfalls, the equity release sector has only experienced steady growth and many lenders continue to steer clear.
Richard Lloyd's decision to call time on his 11-year tenure at Schroders was one of a number of strange moves for fund managers this week.
The recent rescue of Bear Stearns brought a renewed sense of confidence to equity markets both in the UK and elsewhere, with shares boosted further by the realisation that the US Federal Reserve is prepared to intervene forcibly when big financial institutions get into trouble.
I cannot believe the universal support that the Edinburgh declaration has received from the financial press.
West Bromwich Building Society, Principality Building Society and the Co-operative Bank have accounted for more than half of all applications in the past month, according to mform.co.uk.
Which? has attacked the FSA for allowing companies to use inherited estates to fund misselling costs, shareholder tax and unprofitable new business.
The Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 provided for the FSA to establish an ombudsman scheme under which disputes relating to financial services would "be resolved quickly and with minimum of formality by an independent person". The Financial Ombudsman Service was established to operate that scheme.
The Hunt review calls on the FOS to award a "wooden spoon" for the worst-performing firms in terms of uphold rates.
Woolwich has introduced a minimum application fee of £1,000 to all buy to let borrowers applying for its Standard Variable Rate.
Zurich has appointed former Winterthur Life defined contribution account manager Melvin Hanks to the position of senior corporate distribution manager.
Zurich has unveiled a new comparison tool which it says will help advisers assess the comparative returns from UK onshore investment bonds and unit trusts or Oeics.