17 June 2009
IN Partnership made a profit of £303,794 for the year ended December 31, 2008 compared with a profit of £369,591 for the 18 months to the end of 2007.
Fifteen per cent of prime UK mortgages are currently in negative equity, according to Fitch Ratings.
Almost of half of expatriates based in the UK are considering returning home in light of the current financial crisis, according to the latest expat survey from HSBC International.
This week former RBS chief executive Sir Fred Goodwin handed back more than a third of his pension.
Ministerial reshuffles are part of political life so we should not be surprised that both James Purnell and Rosie Winterton left their positions in the recent Government reshuffle. Purnell walked while Winterton was made regional minister in the Business, Innovation and Skills Department.
Absolute return funds and bond portfolios were the big winners among cautious investors in last month's Adviser Fund Index rebalancing session.
Advisers have applauded the appointment of Ken Hogg as the FSA insurance sector director, saying his background in retail financial services will benefit the industry.
Leading long-term care advisers have questioned potential Government proposals to introduce a £12,000 levy, saying it would be unfair and unworkable.
Aegon has hired former UBS Wealth Management executive director Tim O'Connor to sound out a potential launch into the wrap market.
Aegon has hired former UBS Wealth Management executive director Tim O’Connor to sound out a potential launch into the wrap market.
Aegon is looking to add a multi-asset fund to its range.
Aifa has launched its business transition programme to help firms meet the demands of the retail distribution review.
UK investors are often unenthusiastic about continental Europe. This view is misguided as many factors mean Europe is a great investment destination, not least because of the scale and variety of the opportunities available.
Psychometric" - from the Greek "metron", meaning "measure", and "psycho", meaning "insane". OK, so that second bit isn't true but it sometimes feels as if it should be. I've always seen psychometric testing as a bit of a copout - a way to abdicate responsibility for a decision and an excuse not to trust one's own judgement - although no doubt psychologists would find that revealing.
Alliance & LeicesterFour Year Fixed Rate
Alliance & LeicesterFour Year Fixed Rate Feesaver
Arbuthnot Banking Group has announced the appointment of former Keydata consultant Adrian Neave for the firm’s new structured products distribution business.
Annual mortgage arrears were up a third in the first quarter of 2009, according to the FSA.
The Advertising Standards Agency upheld a Lloyds TSB complaint over advertisements by Debt Free UK, a claim company, which suggested credit cards or loans taken out before April 2007 could be unenforceable.
The Advertising Standards Agency has held up a complaint from Lloyds TSB with regard to adverts by Debt Free UK, a claims firm.
Wrap platform Ascentric has teamed up with former managing director and joint founder of 1st Software Mik Cons, to provide an independent business process review to IFA firms.
Platforms have reassured advisers that they are not seeking to target consumers directly.
Aviva executive director and chief financial officer Philip Scott will step down at the end of the year after 36 years with the group.
Aviva has raised £452m through selling off its Australian life business and wealth management platform to National Australia Bank.
Aviva is to revamp its critical-illness insurance by introducing a set of guiding principles to govern and develop the products.
I am proud and grateful to have had the endorsement of the great British public since I started my succesful IFA practice in 1972. Yes, far longer than most current MPs and in many cases long before many of the little beauties were born.
The Bank of England’s latest Monetary Policy Committee minutes have revealed its uncertainty around the success of the quantitative easing strategy.
I have read a few interesting articles recently that set me thinking. The first that caught my eye was an entertaining piece by Steve Bee. He is really into Twitter and particularly likes its central attribute - that posts (or tweets) have to be kept to a maximum of 140 characters (not words). He went further and suggested, somewhat tongue in cheek, that pension legislation should be kept to 140 characters.
BlackRock has received written notice that the Barclays board has accepted its offer to acquire Barclays Global Investors.
Barclays WealthLight Energy Commodity Plan
BlackRock is buying Barclays Global Investors for £8.2bn.
Bluefin Financial Advice has defended its decision to move over to the Axa Elevate wrap by 2010, claiming it is still very much independent.
Bluefin Advisory Services is offering its staff and advisers a CII diploma qualification support package.
Bank of England governor Mervyn King has called for the banks and the authorities to work together to plan an exit strategy for state support of the banking system.
Former HBOS mortgage chief Michael Bolton has claimed that up to 80 per cent of mortgages lent by the group before the credit crunch were accep- ted without proof of income.
The independent directors of Australian technology provider Bravura have urged shareholders to approve all five proposals needed to proceed with its recapitalisation proposal.
The FSA has banned South London mortgage broker Guiliano Chianelli of GCM for claiming he earned 70,000 in a self-cert mortgage application when he only earned around 9,000.
It is not hard to form the conclusion that the FSA is increasingly concerned about the financial strength of elements of the wrap and platform market.
Billy Burrows has launched a new specialist retirement planning firm with former MPL Wealth Management director David Cummins.
Cazenove is planning to build on the success of its UK absolute target fund with the launch of an absolute UK dynamic fund.
Henderson New Star head of equities and multi-manager Bill McQuaker says the firm is unlikely to look at any rationalisation of the multi-manager range until 2010.
Advisers were relieved last week to hear that Lloyds Banking Group is to retain most of its intermediary lending brands.
Discounted gift trusts have been a popular tool for tax planning due to the range of potential benefits they offer.
The Council of Mortgage Lenders has reduced its UK repossession forecast figures by 10,000 to 65,000.
The corporate wrap sector looks set to flourish, according to Axa Distribution Services.
The Isle of Man government has questioned Budget changes to the UK tax regime, warning they have destabilised the resident non-domiciled population.
Chancellor Alistair Darling has said that restricting the size of banks is not necessarily the answer to preventing future economic crises.
Former Aviva media boss David Ross is to join the Chartered Insurance Institute as its new head of media relations.
SimplyBiz chairman Ken Davy has championed advisers as being the key driver for increased professionalism in the industry.
The Policy Exchange has proposed replacing gold-plated public sector pensions with a defined-contribution scheme.
West Bromwich Building Society escaped disaster last week after a last-minute debt recovery programme.
Deutsche Bank has launched three quantitatively managed funds fully invested in a portfolio of exchange traded funds.
Norwich & Peterborough's Astra Mortgages has become the first victim of the Moody's building societies' downgrade.
Advisers are concerned that administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers is dragging its heels on the processing of some Keydata income payments due to its tunnel vision on the sale of the business.
Capita is to shut its Enabler platform to new business and instead will focus on its existing customer base.
Former Insight multi-asset co-heads Patrick Armstrong and Dr Ana Cukic Armstrong have launched a new multi-asset business. Armstrong Investment Management, will focus on pensions and wealth management.
Fidelity International is developing a new optional service to be compliant with adviser charging. It will fully launch by the end of 2009 enabling advisers to agree an ongoing fee with clients.
A financial adviser has been sentenced to six years imprisonment after defrauding expatriates in Indonesia over £491,000.
Fifty-seven per cent of financial services firms are reducing graduate recruitment by half or more compared with last year, according to research by the Securities & Investment Institute.
Focus Solutions Group has today launched focus:enterprise, a distribution platform designed for retail banks.
The Financial Ombudsman Service is forecasting an 18 per cent increase in new complaints for the financial year 2009/10 to 150,000 from 127,471 last year.
Friends Provident is urging employers to decrease cuts in pensions and not force employees to search for financial security during retirement.
The FSA has a culture of racism, especially amongst senior staff, according to an internal report leaked to the Observer.
Here's a question for you - is the FSA gradually groping its way towards a new relationship with the IFAs it regulates?
The FSA must crack down on mortgage servicers' outdated computer systems, says mortgage IT provider Phoebus Software.
Structured product action group Spirit has called on the FSA to set out a timeframe for its investigation into Lehman-backed products.
The FSA is undertaking a thematic review of around 70 small Sipp providers to identify whether they are meeting its regulatory requirements.
The FSA has revealed that it has referred four firms for enforcement for their mortgage arrears handling processes.
Following the administration of Keydata last week, a number of concerns need to be raised regarding the way the news was communicated to advisers and the public.
The FSA has revealed that only two out of five mortgage lenders who have applied for permission over the last 12 months have been successful.
The Financial Services Consumer Panel is urging the FSA to abandon its “unrealistic attempts” to articulate consumer responsibilities in financial services.
The FTSE 100 has climbed almost 2 per cent on Friday, recouping some of the losses made earlier in the week.
The FTSE 100 fell below 4,300 this morning with UK banks under renewed pressure.
The FTSE opened at 4,344 and slipped in morning trades despite strong gains from miners.
Gartmore has unveiled plans to pass on the management of its flagship £1.5bn European select opportunities fund after announcing the appointment of John Bennett as senior portfolio manager European equities.
Gartmore is holding the Ignis Cartesian 130/30 fund across its multi-manager range due to its defensive stance and ability to short using derivatives.
Government funding for selected financial advisers to obtain ISO 22222 through Standards International has been extended for a further year, following the Government’s Train to Gain initiative.
Gravis Capital PartnersGCP Infrastructure Fund
Gross mortgage lending was down 2 per cent in May at £10.3bn compared to the previous month and 58 per cent year on year, Council of Mortgage Lenders data reveals.
The Isle of Man High Court today deferred its decision on the issue of the costs incurred by and on behalf of depositors involved with the Manx treasury's rejected scheme of arrangement.
HIM Capital has announced the appointment of James Du Boulay as head of sales and marketing.
When I last wrote this column in January, things were starting to look a bit bleak. While the recession had not yet been confirmed, we all knew that the economy was slowing and we were seeing the effects this was having on the financial services market. Redundancies had started to happen as well as recruitment freezes and aborted job hirings.
HML has announced the appointment of Martin Frazer as director of client relations.
HML has restructured its executive team as it merges with Baseline Capital and former Scarborough administration subsidiary SMS.
PMS managing director John Malone predicts more broker/lender partnerships mirroring the John Charcol/HSBC deal, especially considering the FSA's clamp-down on building societies.
IFA Promotion has dismissed the Institute of Financial Planning's call for a register of financial planning firms, saying that consumers are more interested in individual adviser credentials than the status of firms.
Eleven people, including some IFAs and Sipp operators, have been arrested and bailed until September following raids in the North West and Midlands linked to £2.5m suspected tax relief fraud involving bogus pensions schemes.
The Institute of Financial Planning has launched an online study tool to help advisers prepare for their CFP assessment.
With much positive sentiment these days, opportunities are presenting themselves on a number of investment fronts. By no means is everyone yet convinced of the current rally and there is debate over the asset class of choice but adding to the plethora of choice for investors are a number of new funds - and not just straightforward equity funds.
Money Marketing is bringing together fund of fund managers in an interactive forum. The Fund of Funds Invitational kicks off in Birmingham on June 23, 2009, followed by events in Glasgow on June 25, Manchester, June 30 and London on July 1. www.fund-offunds-invitational.co.uk
Investec Asset Management has launched a hedged share class for its American fund to help remove currency risk for UK-based investors seeking exposure to US equities.
Like many of my industry colleagues, I strongly suspect the reason the FSA has refused to release details of the legal advice it received over the 15-year long stop is that it did not actually take any. It was just an internal decision presided over by the mandarins at Canary Wharf without reference to anyone else.
Bull market resumption or bear market rally? There are advocates on both sides of the divide. Interestingly, I've counted more in the "Worse to come" camp than the "Get stuck in now before it's too late" brigade. But is there a third way? I believe so.
iShares has appointed Julian Hince as business development officer for the IFA sector.
There has been considerable emotion shown over the last 12 months over the subject of dual-pricing and while some in their naivety suggest it is no longer a concern, it remains one of the biggest threats to advisers' ability to give best advice.
Once again, the action of the FSA has come under scrutiny, following the collapse of Keydata.
Legal & General has stopped paying additional commission when an existing protection policy is topped up.
Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor Vince Cable has criticised Royal Bank of Scotland for agreeing to pay a £9.6m package to its new chief executive Stephen Hester.
Lincoln has moved to reassure advisers over concerns that Sun Life Financial's acquisition of the firm's UK operations will see service levels deteriorate.
Liontrust chief executive Nigel Legge says the group is now well placed to grow despite massive outflows in its funds under management.
Liontrust Asset Management has appointed GAM investment director Ross Hollyman as global equity fund manager.
Advisers have warned that the size of the liquidity problems faced by some UK property funds means it may take longer for them to start performing again.
Over the last year, there has been little escape from two key issues - the retail distribution review and the impact of the credit crunch.
The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee says the Government was wrong to introduce anti-forestalling measures to limit pension contributions in the Budget.
The House of Lords EU Committee warned the UK government may have insufficiently set out its ideas to the EU on the reform of supervisory bodies and says it is "behind the ball game" on some EU proposals.
M&G's cautious multi-asset offering is investing a small part of its portfolio in a Guernsey-based fund which focuses on minor emerging markets.
M&G managing director global sales Jonathan Willcocks has questioned the demand for absolute return funds.
As a family lawyer, all the talk these days is about pension sharing. Are there any circumstances where an attachment order might be more appropriate?
When I look back at my career, it can be viewed as opportunistic and full of learning.
Isle of Man finance director John Spellman is disappointed that the IoM treasury's prop- osed scheme of arrangement was rejected by Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander Isle of Man depositors.
Net UK mortgage lending in May of £2.3bn was the weakest monthly rise since early 2001, according to the British Bankers Association.
Le Beau Visage managing director Peter Le Beau has been awarded an MBE in the Queen's birthday honours list for service to charity and the insurance industry.
Honister Capital has today acquired the principal advisory and direct businesses of The Money Portal Limited including Burns-Anderson, Sage Financial Services, Willis Owen and the principal assets of Bates Investment Services.
Moody's has downgraded the Bank Financial Strength Rating of Lloyds TSB and placed the bank on a negative outlook.
Morgan Stanley has expanded its structured product range with the launch of four structured products.
Jonathan Cornell, newly appointed head of communications for First Action Finance, is looking to train mortgage brokers as IFAs as part of the firm's plans to buy IFA client banks.
The Treasury Select Committee has called on the mortgage industry to give evidence for an upcoming enquiry into the problems facing the UK mortgage market.
Pump Court barrister Peter Hamilton has hit out at City minister Lord Myners, claiming his response to the joint committee on human rights over the long stop lacks justification.
The National Association of Pension Funds has criticised proposed rules for auto-enrolment as "inflexible, bureaucratic and costly" and is calling for radical changes.
NDFAFixed Growth Deposit Plan June 09
Nucleus business development director Philip Martin is stepping down from his role having worked for the platform since it launched three years ago.
Wrap provider Nucleus is seeking to raise over £3m in a rights issue to pay back some of the company’s debt to South African insurer Sanlam.
US president Barack Obama yesterday unveiled plans to give the Federal Reserve the power to oversee banks and other large companies whose failure could threaten the financial system.
A new OECD report states that reforms by governments are needed in order to provide socially and financially sustainable public and private retirement income provisions.
The FSA's latest update on the retail distribution review is due later this month but few people are anticipating a dramatic change from what has already been set out by the regulator.
It was interesting to read a news story not too long ago in which a study found that around 15 per cent of financial advisers are continuing to shun technology by running paper-only practices. More than 120 of the 800 intermediaries surveyed by 1st-The Exchange admitted to "just using paper" to store and manage client data, to which the software provider says the results may be indicative of the sector as a whole.
OPM Fund Management's multi-manager team has increased its fixed-interest fund's exposure to financial bonds because bank debt looks attractive.
Regarding the article, FSA fines up 514 per cent, which reports on the FSA's get tough stance, it is worth remembering the advice marketplace is constantly changing.
Does the Personal Accounts Delivery Authority realise it wields the power to revolutionise the decumulation market in the UK as well as the pension savings world?
Personal Accounts Delivery Authority chief executive Tim Jones has revealed Pada is considering making open market the default option for the decumulation of personal accounts.
The Adam Smith Institute has slammed the FSA’s response to the financial crisis, saying its failure to recognise the extent of its own failings compromises its ability to improve regulation.
During the last few years, there has been a gradual dawning that the life insurance industry's business model is broke in more ways than one.
F&C has appointed former Henderson chief executive Roger Yates as an independent non-executive director. Yates takes on the role alongside former chairman and senior partner of Pricewaterhouse- Coopers Kieran Poynter with immediate effect. He recently retired as chief executive of Henderson Group, a post he had held since 1999.
The Personal Finance Society is calling for its members to volunteer for the Citizens Advice Bureau's MoneyPlan initiative, which provides free generic financial advice to consumers.
An adviser has hit out at Pearl owned-Phoenix, claiming the firm has stopped paying renewal commission on a client's Scottish Mutual policy and tried to deal with them direct.
The Institute of Financial Planning has hit out at the structure of current financial services degrees suggesting many do not offer students what they need to fulfil future financial planning roles.
Grant Thornton has warned the FSA is taking a tougher line on pension transfer business, with firms having to prove their advice was “positively suitable”, rather than just not unsuitable.
Finance and Technology Research Centre director Ian McKenna is calling on the platform industry to create a "lifeboat service" to help with an orderly wind-down if a platform fails.
A new study by analysts Plimsoll Publishing has awarded 621 of the UK’s biggest 1000 IFA companies a strong financial rating for outstanding financial performance.
Last week, I looked at the provisions determining how trading losses incurred by UK companies could be used to bring tax relief to the companies incurring them.
Outflows, liquidity and lock-ins have been the three buzzwords that have summed up the troubled property sector over the past two years.
The Isle of Man is moving into the alternative investment sector to attract fund business.
Lenders are currently turning down almost one in four mortgage applications, according to data from the Bank of England.
RAM Capital Partners/BMS FinanceSunstone Outsourcing
Smaller companies specialist Acuity Capital is marketing its CF Acuity real active management fund to IFAs now the fund has built up a track record since it was soft launched last September.
The FSA had concerns that Keydata's sales contact with IFAs was "at arm's length" on complex products prior to its insolvency, Money Marketing understands.
The new regulations allow mutual investors to convert tier-2 subordinated debt into "profit-participating deferred shares", which will award them with 25 per cent of all future profits. The FSA has deemed these PPDS shares as core tier-1 capital.
Clive Cowdery's Resolution is targeting an initial acquisition worth up to £7bn, according to reports.
When markets behave erratically, it is easy to cling to familiar territory but managing money is about taking a long-term view - of the future, not the past.
SchrodersISF Global Managed Currency Fund
Ninety-seven per cent of clients are happy with their IFA and would recommend them to family and friends, according to Sesame research.
Loan trusts are an excellent tool for lump sum inheritance tax planning for clients who need ongoing access to their initial investment.
Simply Biz Mortgages has reduced its fees to 1 per cent turnover for mortgage brokers for life.
Former Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Sir Fred Goodwin has offered to reduce his controversial pension by £200,000 a year, according to the BBC.
Sir Keith Mills has initiated legal action against Coutts & Co over advice that saw him invest £65m of his savings in AIG Life premier bonds.
A number of building societies have not ruled out following West Bromwich in using new FSA regulations to improve their capital adequacy.
Jupiter is setting up a Japan select Sicav next month to be managed by Simon Somerville.
I was very interested in Paul Beard's problems in doing a switch within the Pru and then it taking a long time.
As both the Government and the FSA trundle the winding paths towards their very own elephant graveyards, one has to wonder at the bare-faced cheek of an organisation which seeks to defend the indefensible and continues to prop up the rotting struts supporting the disintegrating edifice.
FSA chairman Lord Turner says that taxing the biggest banks by imposing higher capital requirements on them could be the best way to limit their size.
What does the collapse of Keydata mean for investor confidence in structured products?Hall: I am not sure that retail investors will pick up on this unless they are already invested in Keydata products or products where Keydata acted as the administrator.
Stockmarkets have rallied strongly since the beginning of March. This is certainly a welcome change after a dire year in 2008 but I would not be surprised if markets paused for breath at this stage. Whether or not this rally can be sustained is the big question in investment at the moment.
I have never heard anyone argue with the often stated truth that arranging a a proper protection package must surely come first in anyone's affairs.
It is just like old times, 500 words, little inspiration and a fast-approaching deadline. It is more difficult for a retread like me. Can't use the word "polarisation" or I'll lose half the younger audience.
It seems like tax is back on the political agenda, with the Government and the Conservatives spending much of last week trying to score points off each over their respective public spending plans.
Conservative Shadow Chancellor George Osborne has voiced "grave concerns" about personal accounts, claiming that the means-testing issue could see the scheme becoming the "next scandal" if left unresolved.
Towergate Financial Services was forced into administration last Thursday with Grant Thornton appointed to wind up the company.
Towergate Financial Services has scaled back its plans to rapidly build a national network of IFAs and has been folded into a division of Towergate Partnership Limited.
HM Treasury has defended its response to the collapse of the Icelandic banking system last year saying it was right to take urgent action to protect financial stability in the UK.
Treasury Minister Kitty Ussher resigned last night after it emerged that she may have avoided paying capital gains tax by flipping her designated primary residence.
Those seeking financial advice as they approach retirement will generally have a substantial pension provision built up and the challenge is to find the best way of using it to provide an income. However, advisers will occasionally come across clients with very little invested in a pension, perhaps because their assets have come largely from an inheritance or they have been a non-working spouse for many years.
Few fund houses can claim to be named after a horse but Troy Asset Management's inspiration boasts a victory in the 1979 Epsom Derby.
FSA chairman Lord Turner has warned MPs he is worried the FSA, Government and international regulators could fail to be radical enough in overhauling the financial regulatory and supervisory system.
The new non-domicile tax regime is almost a year old now and it is approaching decision time for many UK- resident but non-domiciled individuals as to whether they should elect to pay the remittance charge of £30,000 or to pay tax like other UK taxpayers.
The US Treasury has written to Jersey's chief minister saying it is important to share tax information on tax avoidance and offshore accounts.
Vanguard Investments UK has announced plans to launch eleven index-tracking funds later this month.
While it is too early to say whether or not the markets are on their way up in the long term, there is some good news for the fund industry.
Walker Crips Structured InvestmentsThree Year Annual Growth Plan
Windsor Life and seven days - seven months more like. If Standard Life can do everything via one telephone call (that is for an internal annuity) and no forms, why can't everybody else? If it is that easy for an internal process it cannot be that much more difficult for an external transfer.
WHEB Asset Management has launched a sustainability fund focusing on the three megatrends of water, climate change and demographics.
Alternative work-based assessments for advisers are not going to be an easy option and will involve comprehensive testing of QCF level four knowledge and skills, according to the Institute of Financial Planning.
Zurich has set up a pension help-point to assist advisers changing their clients' plans.