2 July 2008
The Mortgage Business managing director Nigel Payne has had his role extended to managing director of BM Solutions. This comes after former MD Tim Hague moved to head savings and investments at Birmingham Midshire.
House prices fell by 0.9 per cent in June, taking them 6.3 per cent lower than at the same time last year, according to Nationwide. Prices are still 4 per cent higher than two years ago.
The FSA has fined IT technician John Shevlin 85,000 for market abuse after he traded in The Body Shop International shares off the back of inside information.
Annie Shaw is a freelance financial journalistThe week started with a quick snifter with the journalists' group my husband calls "the witches' coven", that I have been admonished for calling "the agony aunts" (not all are female) and which is in fact a group of senior freelance journalists, many, but not all, of whom are newspaper consumer champions, who like to chew the fat and put the world to rights once a month.
Panellists continued to show their ruthless streak during the latest Adviser Fund Index rebalancing, as they cut the number of funds in the Cautious index to under 100.
Clerical Medical has stopped paying trail commission to the IFAs of several hundred clients after concluding that the advisers are no longer offering a continued service.
Aegon Scottish Equitable is to add a bare discounted gift trust to its offshore range.
Aegon is calling for the personal accounts delivery authority to implement a charging structure for personal accounts that combines a percentage contribution charge with an annual management charge.
Aegon Scottish Equitable will be adding five more illnesses to its critical illness policy, taking the number of conditions covered to 36.
Aifa has called on the FSA to give more guidance to advisers over treating customers fairly after only 13 per cent of bigger firms met the March deadline.
Andy Milburn has joined Munich Re as its new head of marketing for its UK Life branch business.
Artemis has boosted the number of holdings in its three SmartGarp funds following a six-month review of the quants-driven process.
Australian financial services firm Macquarie hopes to launch a UK platform by the new year. It is targeting financial planners with long-term service-based propositions rather than transactional business models.
Baillie Gifford & Co. has announced the appointment of Mike Gush to co-manage the Pacific Horizon investment trust.
New Star chief economist Simon Ward says UK interbank data reveals the disappointing impact of the 50bn special liquidity scheme. Bank of England figures show interbank lending fell by 23m in April and May.
US investment group Texas Pacific Group has withdrawn its £179 million cash injection for Bradford & Bingley after learning that ratings agency Moody’s is to downgrade the bank once again.
Barclays Wealth has brought out the second issue of the commodities select plan, a capital-protected bond linked to a weighted basket of commodities.
Barclays Wealth has launched a free adviser guide to structured investment products.
BlackRock managing director Alex Hoctor-Duncan says the group could look to its offshore range for new additions to its UK offering.
The Investment Management Association says net retail sales fell markedly in May, with over half going into bond funds.
Former FSA retail markets managing director Clive Briault was given a £528,952 compensation payout after leaving the regulator following the Northern Rock debacle.
The British Chambers of Commerce has warned that its quarterly economic survey shows a serious risk of recession in the UK.
Accord Mortgages has stopped paying retention fees to brokers whose clients have an existing credit repair mortgage but do not improve to prime status by the time they remortgage.
It is more than two months since the deadline for HM Revenue & Customs to decide whether to accept declarations by offshore bank account holders under the offshore disclosure facility.
Bupa International has unveiled plans to launch international medicalcover for people living and working in new EU countries.
Cheltenham & Gloucester has appointed Jon Farley as intermediary sales director. He joins from Barclays where he was regional sales and service director at its premier banking division.
Axa has confirmed the appointment of Casper Rock as deputy chief investment officer of new multi-manager platform Architas.
Despite a reduction in outflows it seems the majority of UK property fund providers are not counting their chickens when it comes to accessing the troubled sector.
Conforto Financial Management has acquired Hertfordshire-based IFA firm, The McCroddan Partnership, for an undisclosed sum.
The Conservative Party has pledged a huge shake-up to the way tax law is made with greater Parliamentary scrutiny and a commitment to publish major technical changes no later than the pre-Budget report.
Clive Cowdery's Resolution will return to the market in September with plans to buy mortgage assets from investment and retail banks after it failed to secure a big shareholding in Bradford & Bingley.
Child trust funds contribution levels are increasing according to the sixth quarterly survey from the Tax incentivised savings association.
Chancellor Alistair Darling has proposed raising the compensation limit for savers with deposits in failed banks from £35,000 to £50,000 but a Treasury consultation paper stops short of recommending pre-funding for the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
SimplyBiz chairman Ken Davy says the company has no plans for a stockmarket flotation.
There is an interesting regulatory juxtaposition between the Competition Commission's review of payment protection insurance and the FSA's retail distribution review interim report.
Origen has lost another trio of staff members, including its head of annuities Nick Flynn.
The new deputy governor of the Bank of England has warned of the economic impact of a correction in oil prices.
Over half of IFAs intend to go into income withdrawal with their entire pension savings, according to Skandia research.
Recent drops in house prices may not be as devastating as commonly believed, says GE Money Home Lending.
European Pensions Management has launched its no annual charge Funds Sipp.
Fidelity International is growing its pan-European real estate fund with the purchase of a French property development for €12.4 million.
After undergoing a period of significant underperformance, Fidelity head of IFA channel Peter Hicks believes that the firm's flagship UK range has seen the light at the end of the tunnel.
An increasing number of companies are looking to link bonuses to ethical behaviour, according to a survey of the largest publicly listed companies in Europe.
While it was probably the protection industry's worst kept secret, Fortis has finally launched its UK life insurance business this week.
Fortis is today launching a UK life insurance business to sit alongside its general insurance proposition.
I have a great deal of my financial wealth with an insurance company, consisting of an investment bond, unit trusts and an Isa, as well as close to £100,000 of my pension fund. However, I am becoming increasingly concerned about the performance of this company. Can I trust it when it tells me that I should take the long view and that my investments are safe with it?
Friends Provident has announced that the firms chief executive officer for life and pensions Ben Gunn is to retire at the end of 2008.
Providers are cautious about re-opening their property funds to redemptions despite lower volatility in the sector.
The FSA and the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators Registrars Group are urging UK listed companies to send warnings about boiler rooms to their shareholders.
The FSA will implement a general disclosure regime for long contracts for difference positions, with a 3 per cent disclosure threshold.
IFAs like to think of themselves as the natural place for a consumer to turn for advice but research from Zurich suggests that the reality is vastly different. In a survey conducted by YouGov, only 16 per cent of consumers said they had an adviser. A further 27 per cent said they had previously had an adviser but not presently and 57 per cent said they had never taken financial advice.
The Government and the FSA have announced plans to provide free support services for people with financial concerns.
The Government has announced it will be providing a further £270m through the Housing Corporation to deliver an additional 3,800 homes for social rent and 1,500 shared ownership homes over the next three years.
It seems the uproar from the hedge fund industry over the FSA's new rules on shorting was somewhat justified, with many struggling to get their disclosures right.
Henderson's multi-manager team are not allowing the wave of enthusiasm over multi-asset to force their hand to use the full range of investments allowed under the non-Ucits retail scheme rules.
Films are attracting increasing investor interest in the economic downturn, says wealth management firm Route Group.
Lending for house purchases has increased by 4 per cent to 52,700 in May but remortgaging has dropped by 14 per cent, according to new statistics from the Council of Mortgage Lenders.
The average UK household is now 15 per cent worse off than it was five years ago, according to Ernst & Young’s Annual Discretionary Income Study.
HSBC Global MarketsEnhanced Commodity Trends Indicator Plan
An ex-Kilminster IFA is issuing a caution to the Land Registry regarding Kilminster founder Malcolm Kil-minster's house over fears that he may not return to the country.
Marlborough Fund Managers expects IFA demand for its fund of exchange traded funds range to increase as ETFs become more sophisticated.
Profitability in the UK financial services industry has declined at a record pace and business volumes have fallen at the fastest rate in 17 years, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey.
MarketGuard has designed an insurance product to protect borrowers from rising interest rates.
Investment boutique Integrity Asset Management believes that yields on equities in the financials sector are better value than convertibles.
UK investors are potentially missing out on growth because they have not allocated enough of their assets to emerging markets, says Fidelity International.
Norwich Union Internat-ional head of marketing Nick Burton says a dash for quality has benefited the leading players in the offshore bond market.
John Charcol has axed 69 of its 276-strong workforce and closed three UK offices as part of a restructure which has seen its directors pump further money into the firm.
The chairman of SimplyBiz has done a great deal to influence the shape of financial services over the past few decades, despite being a late entrant to the industry.
The National Landlords Association and the National Federation of Residential Landlords have announced they will be merging.
That meant, broadly, that gains made under UK and offshore investment life insurance contracts will be taxed as non-trading credits under the loan rela-tionship rules. The original position has changed in a number of important areas. Perhaps the most important is that before the changes, all life policies effected by a company before March 14, 1989 (and which had not been subsequently enhanced) were outside the chargeable events legislation and would, in effect, produce a tax-free return ...
Leadpoint has launched a protection leads service, including personal life cover and mortgage protection, to add to its mortgage, loan, PMI and debt management offerings.
Lenders are failing to approve interest-only mortgage applications, according to analysis from mform.co.uk
Lifesearch is to launch a new income protection product in the coming weeks, raising speculation that it signals Fortis's long anticipated entry into the UK market.
The FSA is "too shy" of giving advisers clear instructions on what it wants to see them doing, say Lighthouse chiefs Malcolm Streatfield and Allan Rosengren.
Living Time has appointed former Prudential marketing director of intermediated businesses Steve Lowe as marketing director.
Mortgage brokers are in denial about the retail distribution review and its likely extension to the sector, according to Tenet group distribution and development director Keith Richards.
Loanmakers has said it will be undertaking an immediate review of the business to see how it can alleviate the impact of today's announcement by Barclays that it will be ceasing accepting new business through First Plus.
In another life, this column could have been called My Disastrous Insurance Company Admin Hell or My Ugly Bank Relationship but it is called My Beautiful Wrap and with good reason.
The new chairman of the Financial Services Authority Adair Turner has pledged to scrutinise how effective the Treating Customers Fairly initiative has been.
LV=Mortgage & Lifestyle Protection
Leading UK banks have signed deals to train their advisers and sales staff to diploma or chartered status as they look to reposition themselves as part of the RDR.
The Government has unveiled the £12m roll out of the Money Guidance pathfinder programme in the North of England as part of its Financial Capability Action Plan.
Moneysupermarket.com has warned that the decision by Barclays to cease new second charge business will hit its own sales by around £7m.
Mortgage approvals fell by 28 per cent in May, according to the Bank of England. Only 42,000 approvals were recorded, down by 64 per cent from 12 months ago. It is the lowest figure since the Bank began reporting the data in 1993.
A mortgage broker has been banned and fined £129,000 by the FSA for submitting numerous fraudulent mortgage applications.
Mortgage NextKensington Mortgages Two-Year Tracker
Mortgage NextThree Year Fixed Rate
We may be in the midst of a phoney war as far as regulation is concerned.
Nationwide Building Society is cutting the price of some of its fixed rate and tracker mortgage deals by up to 0.27 per cent.
Nationwide has launched a 48-strong broker sales force in a bid to show its commitment to the intermediary market.
James Hay is introducing new charges on its private client Sipp for clients holding assets outside the fund range available on its fund supermarket.
New Star has announced the appointment of Donald Pepper as head of alternative investment.
NFU Mutual, the rural insurer has hired Beverley Hodson as a non-executive director.
Wealthy non-doms are fleeing the country for better tax benefits, says a leading worldwide tax planner.
Northern Rock has appointed Rick Hunkin as its new chief risk officer with effect from September 1.
Northern Rock has launched a new mortgage range in a bid to retain its presence in the UK mortgage market.
May's mortgage approvals figures from the Bank of England were absolutely dire. The figures from the BBA the previous week were bad enough, a 20 per cent fall on the previous month and a 56 per cent fall on May last year, but the figures for total mortgage lending, including the building societies and specialist lenders, are even worse, with a 28 per cent fall on April and a 64 per cent fall on May last year.
Novia has poached Selestia national sales manager Paul Boston to be its director of sales.
Norwich Union Healthcare has unveiled its plans to launch an individual income protection product for the intermediary sales channel.
Norwich Union has come top for level annuities in Alexander Forbes Annuity Bureau’s table of the most competitive rates.
Occupational pension scheme membership has plunged by one million, according to data published by the Office for National Statistics.
Omnis Investments has opened for business with the launch of three multi-manager funds.
Many online sellers of payment protection insurance have failed to comply with the FSA’s new eligibility requirements by the 6 July deadline, according to British Insurance.
Every investor aiming for growth in the longer term should have an exposure to emerging markets because many of these economies are growing at a faster rate than those of the developed world.
Sanlam UK has announced the appointment of Paul Bradshaw to its board as non-executive director.
Pensioners have seen inflation of 36 per cent over the past ten years which is faster thatn the increase in retail price inflation.
Personal Touch Packaging is recruiting seven new business development managers over the next six months.
The wheels of legislation grind slowly on the Pensions Bill. This proposed legislation - setting out employer pension responsibilities - has reached the committee stage in the House of Lords.
An advantage of working from home is that no one is looking at you as you work away, an advantage when you end up spilling a bowl of muesli all over your keyboard and trousers as I did when I read that Prudential would not be returning any of its £8.7bn inherited estate to policyholders and shareholders.
Polar Capital has posted a 42.2 per cent rise in full year pre-tax profits to £14.5 million from £10.2 million despite reporting a challenging period on the investment markets.
I remember real problems such as fuel prices increasing by 300 per cent overnight in the early Seventies, the three-day week, the Winter of Discontent, the very real and more serious terrorist threat of the IRA, negative equity, house price falls of 40 per cent, etc, etc. By comparison, today's "problems" are very minor.
Positive Solutions is opening a new office in Plymouth as part of its expansion drive in the South West.
Positive Solutions has pledged to foot the bill for its advisers to reach the Chartered Insurance Institute’s Diploma level.
Prestbury has suspended trading on Aim as it was unable to publish its results by the deadline imposed by the exchange.
Intermediary remuneration may become more based on fees for advice than procuration fees in the future, the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association has said.
UK real estate faces short-term volatility but should bottom out in the next 12 to 18 months, says Franklin Templeton.
Rule changes allowing protected rights' cash to be invested in Sipps may push insurers on to the acquisition trail, says Hargreaves Lansdown.
Prudential's decision not to carry out a reattribution of its £8.7bn with-profits fund surplus could make it easier for Norwich Union to follow suit, say advisers.
RBS Intermediary PartnersFirst Active Five Year Fixed Remortgage
RBS Intermediary PartnersFirst Active Two Year Fixed Remortgage
RBS Intermediary PartnersRBS Five-Year Fixed
Consolidation is set to accelerate in the intermediary sector this year as the retail distribution review shakes out the weaker performers, predicts Cavanagh group director Simon Redgrove.
A little while back, I wrote about the new entrepreneurs' relief for capital gains tax. Most people will by now be aware that entrepreneurs' relief is the replacement for business assets taper relief.
The cost of retirement is £413,000 for a typical household and £326,700 for an individual, according to research from Life Trust.
What value does a life insur-ance company bring? This is a question I find myself being asked increasingly by advisers, especially those that are moving their business model towards wrap.
At times like this, we believe investors need to stand back from the market noise and focus on the long-term growth prospects of the regions in which they invest and, on this basis, Russia scores exceptionally highly.
Scottish Widows says a cloud of pessimism is hanging over savers after a survey found that many believe they cannot afford to increase the amount of money they put aside.
Schroders has appointed Maha Soueissy as Middle East equity analyst. Soueissy joins from SHUAA Capital and will be based in the Dubai office.
Schroders has launched a new agricultural land fund which will open for investment in September.
Equity release trade body Safe Home Income Plans has issued a statement in order to clarify statistics published by the Bank of England last week.
Skandia International has launched a new protected portfolio investment fund.
Skandia is to axe the Selestia brand and develop the platform into a full wealth management wrap under the banner Skandia Investment Solutions.
Sub-funds in Standard Life Investments Luxembourg-domiciled Sicav fund range are now available through Frankfurter Fondsbank’s broker platform.
We all make mistakes in fund selection. One of my worst was putting Tim Steer's New Star UK Alpha fund on hold a few years ago.
The Association of Mortgage Intermediaries has warned mortgage brokers who decide to sell structured investment products that there are a number of potential risks that must be avoided.
Offshore insurance bonds offer a number of potential tax advantages. These include the fact that capital growth within offshore bonds is virtually free of tax, policyholders can switch between funds within bonds without triggering a capital gains tax liability, bonds can be assigned to lower-rate taxpayers and the policyholder can decide when to cash them in and thus when they face their tax liability.
Taylor Wimpey has seen its shares halve in value after it announced today that it had been unable to secure its planned capital injection due to current market conditions.
Treating customers fairly are three little words that may leave some advisers perfectly relaxed while others grind their teeth.
The last two weeks has seen the saga of Bradford & Bingley reach new heights. News emerged today that US investment group Texas Pacific Group has withdrawn its £179m cash injection for the firm after learning that ratings agency Moody’s is to downgrade the bank once again.
The CII has launched a series of podcasts on treating customers fairly aiming to offer a simple guide to the regulation for advisers and insurers.
Conferences seem to be playing an increasingly important role in my life. Perhaps it is the pervasive uncertainty that is persuading fund groups to maintain a highly visible presence in the IFA market. The good news, from my perspective, is that fund managers appear just as confused as me. Even more important is the degree of disagreement that exists over likely outcomes. It reinforces my view that this market is as hard to second guess as it has ever been. Inflation, the credit crunch ...
The Money Portal’s chief finance officer Peter Coleman has resigned with immediate effect to spend more time with his family.
The Pensions Regulator has announced that head of corporate risk management Martine Trouard-Riolle will be leaving the organisation after three years at the firm.
The FSA's original retail distribution review discussion paper was a step in the right direction. The FSA focused, rightly, on adviser remuneration and raising professional standards.
After a confusing start a year ago, the RDR now appears to be moving in a very positive direction which sho-uld prove of benefit to consumers. Indeed, if consumers understood the argu-ments, they would be writing to the FSA in droves urging them to hold their nerve in the current "advice versus sales" debate.
Every time a New Year tipster suggests Japan as their favourite market for recovery, it is with the accompanying rationale: "Because it has been so bad for so long, surely this year is its turn?"
Thinc Group has announced a deal with multi-asset man-ager Tactica to offer its advisers a range of three actively managed funds.
With inflation at a 10year high, pundits are wondering where people should invest so we can outpace inflation over the longer term.
The Treasury is appealing to the High Court over the Information Tribunal's decision to force it to disclose if it sought legal opinion on whether the Financial Services and Markets Bill complied with human rights law.
As Adair Turner takes over as chairman of the FSA, is he fully aware of the extent of the role he has taken on? Most of the outstanding jobs are only halfway through and a great deal more needs to be done, otherwise the FSA's effectiveness will diminish.
UBS says it has no need to raise new equity as it stated today that its results for the second quarter ending June 30 will be at or slightly below break even.
The UK is officially in a bear market according to F&C UK growth & income fund manager Ted Scott.
UK Protection and Indemnity Club has unveiled its plans to launch its first hybrid capital calling of £50m.
Investment Management Association chief executive Richard Saunders is urging the Treasury to introduce more tax reforms to allow UK funds to compete on a level playing field with their European counterparts.
Speaking at the Investment Management Association's annual dinner last month, IMA Chairman Robert Jenkins told the investment management industry and its guests that even though the credit crunch was not | yet over, it was not too soon for all those caught up in it to learn a few lessons.
Within the June 2007 RDR vision, we were exhorted to learn from the past. I therefore find it instructive to recall what did go on in the 1980s.
Hargreaves Lansdown investment manager Ben Yearsley claims a number of venture capital trusts are reducing the levels at which performance fees kick in to make them more achievable.
Skandia's Brett Williams is to join Cofunds as chief executive by the end of the year.
Woolwich is warning that it will take action against mortgage intermediaries who abuse its fast-track process. The lender says it will not hesitate to provide details to the FSA for investigation where necessary.
The Treasury select committee's report into inherited estates has varying potential repercussions for the market, according to IFAs.
Online lending exchange Zopa now has over 200,000 members and has achieved £23m in lending over the last three years.