16 July 2008
Consumer price index annual inflation leapt to 3.8 per cent in June from 3.3 per cent in May, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics. Bank of England governor Mervyn King admitted this week that the monetary policy committee can do little to change the path of inflation in the short term.
Thinc Group has appointed David Young as head of group compliance. He has over 30 years experience in compliance and corporate governance and was previously director and principal of The Young Company.
Up to 1,000 jobs in financial services could be lost as the industry consolidates over the next 12 months, claims the 2008 Plimsoll Analysis.
New Star managing director retail business development Stewart Cazier says 130/30 funds are an "evolutionary cul-de-sac".
I remember some years ago one of the major providers - well "major" may be pushing my literary licence somewhat - you know, the one who bought two or three of the traditional Scottish firms in the late 1990s.
Annie Shaw is a freelance financial journalistIf anyone thought that Jason Wyer-Smith would disappear from the social radar when he left Virgin Money to set up 42PR, they were very much mistaken. He is batting about London on behalf of clients such as comparison website GoCompare, so it was good to catch up with him on Wednesday. He was meeting up with Pathom's Phil Thomas who runs the website lse.co.uk - no, not the stock exchange or the university but a handy little ...
With risk management a key focus, it is unsurprising that the industry's trade body should make it a priority.
Advisers have hit out at the Association of British Insurers' head of health and protection Nick Kirwan over the message the ABI is sending to consumers and its support for payment protection insurance.
Aifa believes the FSA is considering bringing in a 15-year long stop for complaints following lobbying by the trade body.
Alliance & LeicesterTwo-Year Base Rate Tracker
The question for investors is whether sliding markets - India's Sensex has fallen by 33 per cent this year while the Hong Kong market is down by 21 per cent - have now fully factored in the potential implications of the harsher economic backdrop.
AXA & Winterthur Wealth Management will launch a new financial services company providing a single point of contact for advisers for both new and old business.
Bradford & Bingley's shareholders have given the bank's proposed £400m rights issue the green light at its Extraordinary General Meeting today.
Baillie Gifford has introduced an emerging markets bond fund that will invest in a range of government, government-related bonds and corporate bonds issued mainly in local currencies.
Many times in the past, I have made reference to the special place that residential property enjoys in the minds of the British. Such is the carnage presently taking place in the housebuilding sector that it is not unreasonable to expect this relationship to break down.
Bestinvest has dropped its ratings on George Luckraft's Axa Framlington monthly income and equity income funds, citing high risk and a failure to reposition his portfolio.
Paternoster has seen a 550 per cent rise in business over the past 12 months. It is now the approved provider for 41 pension schemes, with 50,000 members and over £9m of monthly annuity payments.
This financial crisis is catching everyone out. Housing analysts who a couple of years ago told us that there would not be a crash are looking a tad foolish at the moment as house price falls are recorded each month.
Bridgingloans.com has appointed a new compliance manager to head up its compliance division.
Is the Association of British Insurers doing enough to tackle poor provider marketing material on the open market option for annuities?Yes 25%No 75%
Falling company profits are denting business confidence according to the latest business in Britain index from Lloyds TSB Commercial.
Capita Financial Software has launched the latest version of its client management system Client Care Desktop.
The accelerating oil price and other raw material price increases have created a very difficult investment climate. Inflationary pressures are gathering momentum, yet global economic growth is declining, presenting a tricky dilemma for central banks. Unsurprisingly, most financial markets have struggled over recent months.
Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor Vince Cable has accused Alistair Darling of panicking over his decision to delay the 2p increase in fuel duty.
Charles Stanley stockbrokers has appointed two new investment management teams to its asset management division.
Checkmate Mortgages has secured investment backing which will see the postponed lender launch in early 2009.
I don't want to be too precious about Nic Cicutti's column in last week's issue but I need to make some clarifications. Gareth Fatchett was not the solicitor of record for the Pickerings. They instructed counsel directly.
The Alternative Investment Management Association has called for greater clarity from the Treasury on its proposed overhaul of the offshore fund regime. It says proposed changes do not adequately simplify the current regime and could further burden the investment management industry.
Skandia has produced an innovative and potentially highly profitable new fund called the alternative investment fund.
The Council of Mortgage Lenders has called for the Bank of England to offer a repo facility in its submission to the Crosby review. The facility would use new UK residential mortgage-backed securities or covered bonds as collateral.
Columbus Direct is launching its own MPI product in a bid to bring equality back to the market.
Some advisers have expressed concerns that Schroders is going a little bit commodity-crazy.
The government should compensate the victims of Equitable Life after more than a decade of regulatory failings, parliamentary ombudsman Ann Abraham has found.
Adviser firms must treat their clients as individuals while providing a uniform service to meet the FSA's treating customers fairly requirements, says BDO Stoy Hayward.
The Consulting Consortium has designed an online tool to help advisers assess and manage how they applying the treating customers fairly principles within their business.
The Bank of England's monetary policy committee held base rate at 5 per cent last week amid conflicting pressures of inflation and a struggling house market.
The popularity of multi-asset multi-manager funds has helped the RWC global convertibles fund reach assets of over £250m since its launch 18 months ago.
Insurance network Countrywide has appointed Nick Haycock as its managing director.
Credit Suisse Asset ManagementMulti-Manager Multi-Asset Growth Portfolio
Dalton Strategic PartnershipMelchior Selected Trust - Pakistan Opportunities Fund
Danny Lovey came to mortgage broking late in his career. The sole trader of The Mortgage Practitioner spent many successful years working in the City, first as a stockbroker and latterly as a investment bank trader before circumstance and a shift in lifestyle led him to the world of mortgages.
Legendary fund manager and philanthropist Sir John Templeton has died aged 95.
In recent months, it has become almost de rigueur to chastise some media commentators for their downbeat reporting of the economy. But I am afraid that we are now at a point where the quicker it is universally accepted that using terminology such as the dreaded R - recession and redundancy is quite simply being in tune with another R word - reality.
What defines someone you can trust when you need help? You believe they will act in your best interests. If their best interests conflict with yours, you believe they will tell you this and let you decide what to do.
The initial cause of the credit crunch was the collapse of the US sub-prime market and its knock-on effect has brought an end to cheap and available credit in the UK and raised the spectre of recession.
Self-investment of protected rights from October 1 presents the biggest pension opportunity since A-Day. In the last 10 years, personal pensions have received over £25bn in contracted-out rebates. Allow also for the first 10 years of rebates from 1988 plus investment growth and it is a fair guess that these funds now add up to between £75bn and £100bn.
An elitist attitude towards protection sales is being adopted by a number of IFAs, according to Highclere Financial Services partner Alan Lakey.
The CF Octopus dynamic fund aims for growth by investing long in UK equities and taking synthetic short positions using derivatives.
Equitable Life chief executive Charles Thomson has claimed light touch regulation may be more effective than heavy in preventing companies failing.
Ship equity release providers have seen business volumes in the second quarter of this year increase by 14 per cent from quarter one.
European policyholders should also be compensated for Equitable Life losses, say MEPs.
F&C has announced plans to acquire property asset manager Reit.
Federal Reserve policy rather than market speculation is to blame for surging commodity prices, says New Star economist and strategist Simon Ward.
Fidelity has brought out a new fund designed to take advantage of market anomalies from the credit crunch.
First State Investments is the latest firm to look at launching an agricultural fund, Money Marketing understands.
Fitch Ratings says it will be watching Friends Provident's interim results closely to decide whether there will be any further downgrades to its rating.
Foreign banks have swooped in to take advantage of the current market conditions and are dominating at the higher end of the buy to let market.
Fortis chief executive Jean-Paul Votron has been ousted from the Belgian bank. A statement said the board of directors of Fortis, along with Votron, have decided to terminate his contract "by mutual agreement" and in the interest of the group.
Life expectancy has increased. Millions are not saving enough for retirement. Unless we work together to tackle these challenges, we face a pension crisis in decades to come.
The European Central Bank may have to raise interest rates to combat rising inflation, says Franklin Templeton.
Friends Provident is reducing final bonuses on its with profits fund following a gross investment return of -7.25 per cent for the first half of 2008.
Friends Provident is reportedly considering scrapping plans to sell off wealth management business Lombard and its 52 per cent stake in F&C.
Friends Provident is adding IP to its online underwriting system in a bid to give advisers better access to new business processing.
The FSA has banned two Wakefield mortgage brokers for competence and capability failures.
The FSA is holding a conference for key figures from the Government, the financial services industry and voluntary organisations to finalise its Money Guidance pathfinder program.
The FSA has imposed a public censure on Mandrake Associates Limited for serious failings in the way it handled mortgage endowment complaints.
The FSA has issued a new six-month waiver from its complaints handling rules on unauthorised overdraft charges.
The Financial Services Authority will consult on a proposal that financial institutions who receive liquidity support from a central bank will have a legitimate interest for delaying the public disclosure of such support.
The FSA has written to mortgage trade bodies outlining its plans to toughen the industry’s defences against mortgage fraud, including targeted visits to 200 firms.
Jersey and Germany have signed a bilateral tax information exchange agreement as pressure mounts on authorities to crack down on secrecy in offshore jurisdictions.
Ever since trail commission was mooted, I thought it would end in disaster.
Godiva MortgagesBuy To Let 1.8% Tracker For Term
The Government is reportedly considering relaxing its fiscal rules to avoid it breaching the principle of not borrowing more than 40 per cent of national income.
The Government has launched a new Rent to Home Buy scheme in a bid to help first time buyers onto the housing ladder.
HM Revenue & Customs is investigating the offshore dealings of hundreds of Britons who are suspected of evading more than £1bn in tax on investments held in Liechtenstein.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has launched a consultation on the 'special resolution regime' which is designed to reduce the impact of a failing bank.
Gross mortgage lending has fallen 3 per cent in June to an estimated £23.8bn, says the CML.
Halbis, the active management specialist of HSBC global asset management has appointed Ed Conroy to its global emerging markets team.
Halifax is cutting mortgage rates for the second time this week alongside reductions by other HBOS brands.
The FSA did not know what form management information should take as part of its TCF initiative by its March deadline, claims HBOS.
HBOS has seen a disappointing take-up of its £4bn rights issue with only 8.29 per cent of the total of new shares having been bought.
HBOS is to axe 650 jobs over the next eighteen months as it combines two of its operations.
The average number of transactions per surveyor over the last three months was 15.3, the lowest figure since 1978, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Surveyors reporting a fall in house prices rather than a rise fell to 88 per cent from 92.2 per cent in April.
HSBC Global MarketsProtected Emerging Europe Plan
A number of IFA firms are supporting Fortis' entry into the UK life insurance market by offering its Real Life Cover product and Your Life Plan.
The smoking ban may be having a positive effect, with research by University College London, funded by Cancer Research, showing that the last year has seen the biggestever drop in the number of smokers.
The ifs School of Finance is launching a new qualification in advanced financial advice benchmarked to QCA level 4.
The Investment Management Association supports the European Commission’s proposals for an improved legislative framework for Undertakings for collective investment in transferable securities funds.
The number of mortgage products has increased for the first time in over 12 months in June, according to Trigold.
James Hay has added two Standard Life Investment funds to its wrap and Sipp platform bringing total funds to 1,358.
M&G's cautious multi-asset fund has been investing in overseas government bonds at the short-dated end of the spectrum rather than long-dated bonds and UK gilts.
In this new column, I will be analysing the information that IFAs download from the Old Broad Street Research website to see what trends emerge.
Money Marketing reported last week that Jupiter's income trust has not been meeting the Investment Management Association's yield standard. However, recently updated figures from the firm show it is above IMA requirements.
Jupiter European special situations manager Cedric de Fonclare believes we have reached an inflection point on the continent.
My wife and I want to buy and move into my parents' home so that it frees up some capital for them to build a smaller house in the garden. We do not presently have a mortgage and do not know if we could get one in the current climate. How much would it cost and could we afford the repayments?
Bank of England governor Mervyn King has admitted he would have preferred that the Bank had been granted the power to pull the trigger for the special resolution regime as well as the FSA.
Legal & General has unveiled its plans to launch a medical underwriting service for group income protection schemes.
Legal & General has unveiled its plans to launch a sales tool to help advisers sell more protection.
Legal & General has unveiled plans to reduce its rates for its whole of life protection plan by up to 6 per cent.
Legal & General Property has appointed Andy Banks as its new finance director.
The decline in the number of advisers selling protection products could halt product development and market progression, warns Tenet.
Leading pension campaigners and advisers are calling for annuity sales to be regulated to increase income for pensioners.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has vowed to cut wasteful Government spending and reduce taxes for poor families.
Life insurance has been branded "outdated" by Lifesearch head of protection strategy Kevin Carr.
The FSA has made clear that there is no certainty that any of the retail distribution review proposals will carry over into the mortgage market but it would be foolish not to listen to the main features of the discussion and consider if there are any pointers as to how they might relate to our situations.
It would be difficult to overestimate the contribution of Stewart Ritchie to the debate over pensions in the last four decades as he announces his retirement from Aegon.
What on earth is wrong with the financial services business (never mistake it for a profession)?
Simplifying the submission process for IFAs is top of the agenda this week as Royal Liver becomes the latest protection provider to boost its online system.
Private medical insurance could face a shift echoing the move from defined-benefit to defined-contribution pensions, warns Mercer.
Meteor Asset ManagementPrima Growth Plan 8
Meteor Asset ManagementPrima Plus Plan 3
MGM Advantage has supported its enhanced annuity product with an fast application and administration process aimed at reducing the time IFAs spend in an area where tight margins impact on commission levels.
Last week, I gave an overview of the recent changes to the taxation of company-owned investment life insurance policies.
Money Portal is partnering with Old Broad Street Research in a move that will provide fund support to the IFA's advisers.
JP Morgan Asset Management aims to double the amount of business it does through IFAs from £3.5bn to £7bn by 2012.
The FSA has banned Plaistow-based mortgage broker John Akinduro, trading as Highflyer Business Services, for submitting false mortgage applications to lenders.
Premier Mortgage Service is conducting a business review over concerns that procuration fees will fall away over the next two years to be replaced by advice fees.
Nationwide Building Society has cut the price of some of its fixed rate and tracker mortgage deals by up to 0.46 per cent.
Network Data Holdings has issued a profit warning to the stockmarket this morning ahead of its results due to be published on September 26.
Financial services firm Edward Jones is offering a new cash fund, premier cash fund shares, with easy access for investors.
New entrants to the platform sector are “going to get killed” in the current market, Cofunds chief executive Charlie Eppinger has warned.
The latest step in the rationalisation of New Star's fund management range was made last week as chairman John Duffield announced the firms intention to merge its underperforming Tri-Star product.
New Star is to streamline its fund range in the cautious managed sector and plans to merge its struggling £28.2m Tri-star fund into Craig Heron's £47.6m cautious portfolio.
88 per cent of financial advisers consider rebalancing client portfolios once a year but only 11 per cent have the relevant discretionary management experience to do so without client approval, according to a survey commissioned by Skandia.
The Personal Accounts Delivery Authority admits there is no clear consensus from the industry on a suitable charging structure for personal accounts in a consultation response document this week.
Private medical insurance is an archaic way of managing healthcare products, says Norwich Union Healthcare head of clinical governance Dr Doug Wright.
Nucleus has agreed to pay trail commission to an adviser for a temporary period after he left one of its member firms.
Octopus Investments has launched a new portfolio service that will look to offer a total return of over 10 per cent per annum.
Over one million homes will be built in the East Midlands and the South West region by 2026 if government plans to tackle housing shortages are given the green light.
The industry can take some positive lessons from the problems over payment protection Insurance, says Pacific Life Re.
Buy-to-let lender Paragon has confirmed it has entered discussions with several parties over potential offers for the firm.
Pension guru Stewart Ritchie has fired a parting shot to the Government over the danger of means-testing to personal accounts as he announces his retirement after 36 years in the industry.
Personal Touch Financial Services is to buy packaging firm Clear Mortgage Administration to widen its distribution and access to markets for its members.
Peter Webb has resigned as chief executive and director of Unicorn Asset Management.
I don't often make a point of coming back to discuss the same subject in consecutive weeks so I confess to feeling slightly uncomfortable this week as I write this column.
Pink Home LoansRBS Intermediary Partners Three-Year Fixed
Michael Portillo and Jo Brand are to host this year’s ABI Financial Media Awards.
Premier Asset Management has converted two of its funds of funds to multi-asset funds.
IFA Premier Wealth Management is targeting financial services firms in the North West of England over the next twelve months as part of its short-term expansion strategy.
Prestbury Holdings has been hit with a £1m loss for the year ending 31 December 2007, down from a £245,778 profit in 2006.
The majority of protection products are driven by price rather than features, according to delegates at the Money Marketing protection round table.
Friends Provident has called off plans to sell IFA firm Pantheon Financial after failing to get a deal at the right price.
Higher qualifications are now widely regarded as an inevitable outcome of the RDR and the focus has shifted to what will be introduced and how.
The savings ratio is based on the latter - it is the difference between what we earn and what we spend, so it is effectively the net increase in savings held minus the net increase in debt owed.
New retail distribution review rules must apply to the entire financial services industry to avoid consumer confusion over advice and service according to Skandia.
IFAs see increasing value in fee based advice and trail commission according to an IFA performance benchmark survey.
Aifa believes the FSA will struggle to persuade MPs about the costs and benefits of its treating customers fairly initiative.
Kent Reliance Building Society has written to the FSA to express concern that it is asking for more information on the business than its own directors would normally have.
Reinsurer RGA has recorded a 30 per cent rise in profits during the second quarter of this year.
National IFA 2plan is offering a risk-profiling tool to help advisers determine a client's risk appetite and appropriate asset allocation.
Online protection provider Royal Liver has implemented phase one of its enhancement programme into its adviser extranet facility.
Royal SkandiaProtected Portfolio Investment - Global Vista Fund
Santander's £1.2bn takeover of Alliance & Leicester has been welcomed as positive news for the bealeaguered mortgage industry.
The talk of the mortgage town this week has been all about Santander's £1.26bn swoop for Alliance & Leicester on Monday.
The retail distribution review could kill off up to 20 per cent of the intermediary market, predicts Whitechurch chief executive Kean Seager.
Advisers planning to retire in the next 10 years should not be forced to achieve a diploma equivalent qualification as part of the retail distribution review, says Sesame.
Advisers planning to retire in the next 10 years should not be forced to achieve a diploma equivalent qualification as part of the retail distribution review, says Sesame.
The past seven months has seen the FSA clamp down on mortgage fraud with 14 enforcement actions taken against brokers.
Royal Skandia, part of Skandia International, has opened a branch in Singapore.
Skandia MultifundsProtected Portfolio Investment
Skandia is passing its Small self-administered schemes book to Rowanmoor Pensions, after deciding that the market is not core to the its business.
Nucleus Financial Group has appointed Andrew Smith as chief technology officer. He will be responsible for infrastructure and proposition delivery and process design of the platform.
Wave chief executive Colin Snowdon says it will re-enter the UK mortgage market when capital markets reopen.
In November 2002, Standard Life quietly started something of a revolution in the financial services market when it became the first UK life office to give free access to stochastic modelling tools. This started a trend that has seen increasing numbers of firms put such tools at the heart of their advice process.
Schroders managing director of UK retail Robin Stoakley has defended the firm from advisers who question its recent raft of specialist fund launches into fashionable areas.
The FSA looks set to come down hard on the non-conforming mortgage market in its thematic review on arrears due this month.
The damage done over the past few weeks in the equity markets heralds a difficult phase for the investment industry.
Do you know the thing I am finding most difficult about this business?" asked the managing director of Huxley Epsilon, the self-proclaimed future of financial advice.
The Equitable Life fiasco still presents a huge dilemma for advisers with clients that are still invested in the closed with-profits fund.
We know that a week is a long time in politics so there are no surprises that a generation brings about enormous political changes.
Aegon UK chief executive Otto Thoresen has branded the retail distribution review too complex for the industry to deal with.
The Tax Incentivised Savings Association has appointed Tony Solway as a non-executive board director.
Towergate Financial, the financial advisory arm of Towergate, has raised over £100m as part of its plan to continue to acquire regional IFAs.
Axa is working with the Association of British Insurers to address problems over total permanent disability insurance.
Looking back over my year as president of the Chartered Insurance Institute, Winston Churchill's words ring in my ears: "Give us the tools and we will finish the job."
Hargreaves Lansdown has warned that transferring out of the Equitable Life fund could be better for some investors than waiting for compensation that may never materialise.
Trevor Matthews has been elected the new president of the Chartered Insurance Institute for 2008-09, following the end of Lord Hunt of Wirral’s tenure.
The average two year fixed rate is now below 7 per cent after a number of lenders including Halifax and Nationwide Building Society have cut rates.
Montfort International has designed a Qrops financial planning service to help UK and New Zealand savers transfer their pension savings to respective countries.
The UK life sales are the “next domino to fall” in the global credit crunch, analysts Keefe Bruyette & Woods have forecast.
Greystone Financial Services has bought Midlands IFA Roger Harris & Co as part of the acquisition plans of American parent Focus Financial.
Life offices that are early entrants to the variable annuity market could be the big winners,m with late entrants losing out, says Fitch Ratings.
Wesleyan Assurance Society has appointed Andrew D’Arcy as director of general insurance.
Swiss Re technical manager Ron Wheatcroft has won the outstanding achievement award at the Protection Review awards.
Stockbroker firm Winterflood is appealing a record FSA fine of £4m for alleged market abuse.
Woolwich is to cut its fixed rate mortgages by as much as 0.32 per cent as a result of lower swap rates.
As I write this from my home in Leeds, I am struck by the unpredictability of the British weather. In Yorkshire today, there have been hailstones, incredibly heavy rain showers and spells of glorious sunshine. There is no guarantee what the weather will bring tomorrow.