20 May 2009
Lloyds Banking Group has warned that the the European Commission could force a restructuring of the business, meaning it could be required to sell Scottish Widows or Clerical Medical, due to its receipt of state aid.
Intrinsic Financial Services made a £3.6m loss in 2008 but adviser numbers rose by 22 per cent and the firm bought Mint network for £1.9m in February last year.
One in five of the top 1000 IFA firms are losing money, according to analysts Plimsoll Publishing.
Abbey has blamed two-thirds of its delayed mortgages on badly packaged applications.
The Association of British Insurers has produced a pensions and annuity leaflet in a bid to help consumers understand the market.
The Association of British Insurers has warned Europe that the proposed Consumer Rights Directive must not inhibit auto-enrolment into workplace pension schemes.
Octopus Investments has warned it may be tougher to manage its multi-manager Omnis funds within their cost caps because irrational markets are likely to increase the need for active managers.
This month saw the spring rebalancing of the Adviser Fund Index, the first of two reviews due in 2009.
The rollout of personal accounts presents huge opportunities for advisers in the corporate sector to guide employers on qualifying schemes, says Scottish Life pension guru Steve Bee.
Advisers have rallied together to demand that providers that have failed to implement or sign up to the Association of British Insurers' pension transfer initiative, get on board as soon as possible.
Advisers have applauded the concept of onsite assessments to test knowledge and competency as an alternative to exams under the retail distribution review.
As the Isa consultation period closed, providers and advisers anxiously await clarity on the temporary rise in allowance for those over the age of 50.
Pensions expert Ros Altmann has attacked Britain's policymakers for blindly betting on equities to consistently deliver quality pensions.
AJ Bell chief executive Andy Bell says he will carry on working for as long as he feels challenged and rewarded by the job but the second he stops enjoying it, he will leave.
The Association of British Insurers’ board has extended the tenure of its current chairman Archie Kane until spring 2010.
Two men have been arrested in an alleged £50m fraud following raids by the City of London Police.
AscentricAscentric Pension Account
Wrap platform Ascentric has introduced the Ascentric pension account, a simple low-cost Sipp.
Aviva has added a clause to its terms of business document for IFAs, specifying that it can directly market to customers it deems to be orphaned by their adviser.
Aviva InvestorsDefined Returns Fund 1
AWD Chase de Vere marketing director Martyn Laverick says the firm is re-evaluate recruitment targets as its sales managers are spending too much time out of the office.
Barclays WealthSuper Tracker May 2009 Edition
Base Commercial Mortgages has resumed lending through a panel of commercial brokers a year after it was forced to cease trading.
AJ Bell is launching a share-dealing platform and will be widening its range to include Isas and a personal dealing account.
Zurich’s protected capital account is linked to the performance of the biggest 15 companies in the FTSE 100 index as at April 8, 2009 over a five-year term. These include BP, HSBC, GlaxoSmithKline, Tesco and Royal Dutch Shell.
BNP Paribas Privalto UKPrivalto Millenium Tracker Fund
Braemar SecuritiesGround Rents Cell
Braemar SecuritiesStudent Accommodation Cell
Bravura has announced that Ironbridge could end up owning a controlling stake in the firm as it is underwriting a capital raising exercise on the Australian Securities Exchange.
The FSCS has admitted to the building society sector that a review is needed into the compensation scheme levies imposed on financial bodies.
The Building Societies Association has warned that any shortfall from the deleveraging of the Bradford & Bingley mortgage book could create be a bigger fiasco than the MP expenses row.
Buy-to-let mortgages have halved as a percentage of the total mortgage market over the past year.
Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Vince Cable has called on the Government to investigate BBC claims that HBOS lending irregularities led to business bankruptcies.
Cavendish Asset ManagementEuropean Fund
Cavendish Asset ManagementTechnology Fund
Cavendish Asset Management is launching five new equity sub funds under its Cavendish Investments Funds Oeic. They include European, Asia Pacific fund, North American, Japan and technology funds.
Independent consultant Ned Cazalet has applauded the FSA for its "pragmatic" approach to helping the life sector through the downturn.
An adviser has had a county court judgment granted against The Mortgage Times Group for unpaid commission.
Advisers have warned there could be a sharp rise in income drawdown misselling complaints, with claim management firms gearing up to target the sector.
The Council of Mortgage Lenders has been criticised for appearing to absolve its own members of blame when it hit out at irresponsible mortgage lending practices.
The Council of Mortgage Lenders says it will review its prediction of 75,000 repossessions for this year as it now believes this may be too pessimistic.
Business Lending has slammed Lloyds Banking Group for cutting staff from its business lending division.
FSA director of small firms and contact Lesley Titcomb has warned that it would be difficult for the regulator to develop powers to tackle network commission problems.
Nobody likes waiting, particularly for money. It is for this reason that advisers and pension customers had a reason to be cheerful recently following the publication of performance data on the pension and annuity industry's Options transfers initiative.
Coventry Building SocietyFirst Time Buyer 5.99% Five Year Fixed
Cyprus is considering making substantial changes to its tax regime to make funds registered there more attractive to offshore investors.
Smith & Williamson Investment Management has recruited former New Star fund manager Charles Deptford.
A new financial order is starting to emerge, both globally and at national level. Let's quickly deal with our place in the global pecking order. The West Brom of the First World, G12 or broadly the "rich" countries.
Threesixty has warned that failing to disclose the cost of white-labelling a platform could put advisers in breach of treating customers fairly.
The FSA has raised concerns over unregulated firms trying to buy up distressed UK mortgage books.
Ever since the FSA embarked on a mission to turn itself into the UK's biggest public sector employer a few years ago and single-handedly turn the tide in the battle against unemployment, I have been wondering how it can afford to pay for its massive recruitment drive.
Could income drawdown be the next sector to be hit by misselling claims?
When not immersed in personal financial planning, I am a keen amateur photographer.
The Equitable Members' Action Group has been granted a High Court hearing in its bid to challenge the Government's response to Parliamentary Ombudsman's findings.
Deflation has officially hit the UK, with the -0.4 per cent March retail price index level the lowest since 1960.
Fifty-five per cent of financial services executives think that higher professional standards for IFAs will attract more graduates and talented new entrants to the sector.
F&C is proposing to merge eight of its funds into other portfolios. They include emerging markets ex Pacific Asian equity, European dynamic, FTSE 100 tracker, Japan growth, Latin America equity, managed balanced, managed distribution and UK dynamic funds.
Fee-based mortgage advice is the only way of advising clients fairly when cheaper direct deals are on offer, according to Create Wealth Management.
Fidelity UK special situations manager Sanjeev Shah believes that the market is likely to see a correction in the next few weeks.
FinQS, in conjunction with consultancy firm Suuqea, has developed a client segmentation service that enables firms to manage their client base and transform their business for the post-RDR environment.
First State Investments has brought out a Latin America fund with the same bottom-up stock-picking approach as its Asia Pacific and global emerging market ranges.
Fitch has downgraded Chelsea, West Bromwich, Yorkshire, Principality and Newcastle building societies.
The FSA has banned and fined former Morgan Stanley trader Nilesh Shroff £140,000 for “deliberately disadvantaging” his customers by pre-hedging trades without their consent.
Franklin Templeton’s Ed Lugo is eyeing up the industrials sector in Europe and is planning to scale back exposure to the UK to capitalise on opportunities.
Friends Provident chief executive Trevor Matthews disputes Aviva's forecast that IFA numbers will halve due the RDR.
Friends Provident is looking at launching an employee benefits wrap proposition.
The Financial Services Authority has banned Morgan Stanley trader David Connor Redmond for seeking to conceal a short position taken out after a boozy lunch.
The FSA has clarified how advisers should handle portfolio rebalancing when they do not have discretionary powers.
The FSA has heavily criticised the building society sector for its failings in the run up to and during the credit crunch.
The FTSE100 has seen early falls on Tuesday after the long-weekend in the UK and tension in the US over North Korea’s nuclear tests.
The FTSE 100 fell by more than 2 per cent this morning on the back of negative data from the likes of the IMF and Standard and Poor’s.
Gross mortgage lending plunged an 60 per cent in April to £10.4bn compared to £26.1bn the same month last year.
The IPS Partnership is to enter group Sipps in the summer.
HDC Limited is offering training courses for advisers studying for Chartered Insurance Institute exams in the July and October sittings.
Heath Lambert has been criticised for refusing to search the open market for annuity clients with pension pots worth £50,000 or less.
Rensburg has a long stockbroking legacy stretching back to the 1800s, with the firm servicing wealthy clients in the rapidly industrialising areas of Yorkshire and Liverpool.
The ifs School of Finance is holding its third Skills Exchange Day, with rugby players, lifeboat crew and airline staff sharing transferable skills with the financial services industry.
The Investment Management Association says the UK corporate bond market is impeding direct retail participation and has called for reform.
Chancellor Alistair Darling made his second Budget speech against a background of global recession, rising unemployment and interest rates at historically low levels so it was pretty certain that we were not going to be in for a laugh-a-minute give-away Budget.
Alot has already been written in the trade media about last week's FSA conference, particularly about some of the inflam-matory comments about brokers in the Council of Mortgage Lenders' speech, but Association of Mortgage Intermediaries director general Chris Cummings responded with a very effective put-down.
The life sector was slammed by Friends Provident chief executive Trevor Matthews for its "insatiable" appetite for new business.
Has the stockmarket had it when it comes to pensions savings? Is it just too much of a gamble?
Bank of England governor Mervyn King warns that the green shoots in the UK economy may not signal the end of the economic downturn and predicts a slower recovery than the bank had previously forecast.
As the dust settles on the bombshell Budget pension changes, what should advisers do now? The detail of the changes has thrown up some areas where clients will need urgent advice.
Creditors that have lost money through the collapse of Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander Isle of Man have voted down a proposed scheme of arrangement put forward by the Manx authorities.
Legal & General has struck a partnership with Knight Frank to distribute its protection products.
As a recruiter in a specialised professional services industry, you have to keep a keen eye on the changing face of the workplace and regulated financial services gives you plenty to think about.
Legal & GeneralCapital Protected Triple Index Plan 2
Liontrust is looking to add an absolute return fund managed by its new fixed-income team.
Lloyds Banking Group chairman Sir Victor Blank is stepping down from his role within the next year.
Lloyds Banking Group is axing 625 jobs after the merging of its corporate and small-business lending divisions. Jobs will go from sites in Scotland, England and Wales. The group says it will create 300 positions in its new wholesale banking department and try to redeploy some staff.
M&G and Invesco Perpetual continue to dominate fund sales, according to the latest figures from Cofunds.
PMS managing director John Malone forecasts a new housing market landscape with the decline of owner-occupation and life offices buying up huge property portfolios.
Metlife has made its UK chief executive officer Ed Gardner redundant and promoted Dominic Grinstead to UK managing director.
Midas Capital expects its new distribution link with FundsNetwork to drum up further IFA interest in the Miton special situations, Miton strategic and Miton global portfolio funds.
Former New Star chief investment officer Alan Miller has unveiled his new business venture with two initial exchange traded fund offerings.
Adopting a model-based investment framework will help wealth management firms become independent wealth advisers, SEI has claimed.
Fiducia Commercial Solutions is partnering with Mortgage Brain to give intermediaries access to commercial mortgage sourcing system.
LV= group chief executive Mike Rogers has called on the life sector to relaunch a form of mortgage repayment product despite the tainted history of endowments.
The period of mourning is beginning - if you believe economist Edwin Coppock who said that market downturns were like bereavements and take around a year to get over.
Providers must look at more cost-effective distribution models to survive, says Axa Winterthur.
Monetary Policy Committee members considered pumping an extra £75bn into the economy via its quantitative easing programme at its May meeting, but instead decided on £50bn.
MPs have criticised the FSA's Turner review for downplaying the role of banker remuneration in the financial crisis.
One of the most striking aspects of this year's Building Societies Association Conference was the amount of time dedicated to the discussions of inequality and unfairness.
Six out of ten building societies have warned that they will have to increase mortgage rates to offset the £1bn FSCS bill imposed on the sector.
The recent article, Red tape register, echoes our fears that any national register could become a bureaucratic nightmare for landlords up and down the country.
Nationwide has revealed that it has had to pay the FSCS more than £250m in levies.
Nationwide chief executive officer Graham Beale has been elected chairman of the Building Societies Association, meaning the building society now has chairmanship of both the BSA and the CML.
Network Data Holdings has announced to the London Stock Exchange that it has gone into administration
Origo is launching a new agency administration service for IFAs.
Last week the FSA suggested it could scrap mortgage procuration fees in favour of adviser charging in an attempt to stamp out product bias.
Complaints about poor service by pension providers have increased by 10 per cent in the past year, according to The Pensions Advisory Service. TPAS handled almost 8,000 complaints about personal and occupational pension policies in the year to the end of March, despite industry initiatives such as Options, to speed up pension transfers.
Research by Key Retirement Solutions has revealed that pensioners today have debts of more than £183bn.
Graham Cross has joined Helm Godfrey as head of operations. Cross will be responsible for overseeing companywide systems and processes as well as staff training and development. He was manager of an IFA firm and was involved in developing computer-based training software.
Schroders has appointed Thomas See as the new head of its income maximiser fund following the departure of John Teahan.
Virgin Money UK managing director Rob Clifford has left the business due to the burden on his family life of travelling between the firm's nationwide offices.
Equitable Life chairman Vanni Treves has decided to retire later this year after eight years in the role. He will be succeeded by current non-executive director Ian Brimecome. Brimecome was appointed to the board in January 2007 and is chairman of the investment committee.
Do you want a wrap to define or power your client proposition? Do you even want a wrap or just an investment platform to power your own vision of the future? When setting out on the journey towards a platform-centric approach to business, we took a great deal of care to ensure that it was the latter outcome that we achieved.
The debate around the appropriateness of qualifications and the need for ongoing development has never been so actively debated. From the Chartered Insurance Institute's calls to end the "alphabet soup" of qualifications to the latest proposals put forward by the FSA in its feedback statement on retail distribution review.
Pi Financial says its membership numbers have increased 20 per cent since the start of the year, with an additional 14 advisers joining in 2009.
Premier Network Group owes an estimated £132,000 to creditors including former appointed representatives, providers and HMRC, but has just £5,000 in assets with no funds set aside for liquidation costs.
Positive Solutions is offering IFAs an open invitation to its Synergy programme throughout June.
There is an ongoing misconception that the consumer media are less supportive of IFAs than they might be. In fact, it is fair to say that IFAs enjoy unrivaled support in the consumer personal finance arena. A quick look at Unbiased.co.uk's Blue Book goes some way to underline just how supportive both groups are for each other.
With valuations in equity and corporate bond markets at compelling levels and more positive economic data emerging from the wreckage of the credit crunch, are we starting to see signs of markets reaching a bottom and the beginnings of a recovery?
Life insurers are increasingly looking at ways of targeting clients that have been orphaned by their advisers.
There has been much debate in recent weeks about how providers are revving up to deal with the retail distribution review and the distribution landscape they will be working in after 2012.
Advisers must be careful not to get "tunnel vision" over the retail distribution review, warns Prudential.
PrudentialPruProtect Income Protection
Economic historians conversant with currency vicissitudes over the past couple of hundred years will doubtless be able to seamlessly link Assignats - the paper money issued by the National Constituent Assembly in France during the French Revolution - Confederate dollars in the American Civil War, German Reichsmarks in the immediate aftermath of World War I and Russian roubles following the collapse of communism in the late 1990s. Not to mention the recent hyper-inflation in Zimbabwe.
Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell has been accused of dodging capital gains tax on the sale of his London home, fuelling speculation that he could be forced to resign over the revelations.
A friend of mine has thrown in the IFA towel and joined St James's Place. Apparently, SJP offer all sorts of financial support, a great concept for selling their own investment funds in preference to those of all the mainstream providers that the rest of us use and SJP take responsibility for all sales undertaken by their "partners".
Adviser charging could work for IFAs for some investment business but it certainly does not work for mortgages. Standardisation of proc fees among all lenders would be a much fairer way to ensure there is no product bias. Not to mention the survival of the independent mortgage brokers, which is vital for customers' access to the whole of market.P Maskey
My portfolio has lost 30 per cent in the last 12 months. I am concerned that the market still has further to fall and would like to switch some of my funds into cash to enable me to sleep at night. What do you think I should do?
Mortgage experts have attacked the FSA for failing to heed warnings on self-cert and other risky mortgage products from as early as 2002.
Surely, I am not alone in believing these companies really think they can just do anything they want. They seem to be totally unfazed by complaints however many people are involved and they seem to feel that justice is whatever they decide it should be.
Advisers are moving away from spreading client assets across multiple platforms in favour of one or two propositions, says Adnitor.
Legal & General says the UK mortgage securitisation market has to change if it wants to attract institutional investors.
Coventry Building Society1% Discount to 30.06.12
Some pensioners with Standard Life or Prudential retail price index-linked annuities will see their incomes drop by 1.2 per cent after the Bank of England revealed yesterday that inflation has sunk further.
Sarasin & Partners is to launch a sterling hedged version of both its Equisar global thematic and equity income funds.
Over the last few years, I have become increasingly confused when people in our industry refer to the "opportunity" from personal accounts.
Individual scheme pensions are not viable long-term products and they do not integrate well with Sipps, according to AJ Bell chief executive Andy Bell.
The chairman of the curiously named Betelgeuse Investment Funds sighed as put down the latest batch of trade journals.
In January, the ascribable capital value of UK financial services product providers was around 85bn while the estimated capital value of IFAs was only around 6bn to 8bn at best.
The FSA has cancelled the permission of seven firms, many for failing to submit Retail Mediation Activities Returns.
While out the other evening with some of the good, good people of Lazard Asset Management, a fund manager told me that he was no long feeling as optimistic about the outlook for the global economy as he had been.
Skandia has attacked rival UK platforms by reeling off what it claims are their strategic flaws.
Skandia has launched an enhanced dividend seeker product which will offer income based on the dividend payments of the FTSE 100 companies, rather than their share price valuations.
Smith & Williamson Investment ManagementShort Dated Corporate Bond Fund
The Society of Mortgage Professionals has called for an industry drive to make QCF level 4 the minimum standard for mortgage brokers.
Industry experts are heralding the possible growth of split-caps in the investment trust space following the sting on higher income tax rates announced in this year's Budget.
Smaller providers may struggle with the admin costs associated with the Isa allowance increase, warn industry experts.
Standard & Poor’s has downgraded the outlook on the United Kingdom economy from stable to negative.
Over 4,000 Standard Life unit-linked pension policyholders have seen the value of their pension funds drop, with some down by as much as £30,000, after a pricing error seven years ago. The firm admits 6,800 customers were affected in a reprice in 2001 and 2002, with 4,200 policies overstated and 2,600 understated.
Standard Life InvestmentsUK Equity Recovery Fund
Standard Life has cut the rebates it pays to Sipp investors on its platform as part of its recent reprice.
Standard Life group chief executive Sir Sandy Crombie is joining the board of Royal Bank of Scotland as senior independent director on June 1.
ABI director general Stephen Haddrill is to quit the insurance trade body in November to join the Financial Reporting Council.
Legal & General has underlined its commitment to the investment philosophy that helped its three multi-manager funds outperform in a challenging first year.
Advisers have welcomed news that Aberdeen is to acquire Credit's Suisse multi-manager arm.
Scottish Life head of pensions strategy Steve Bee is calling for pension savers to have access to tax free-cash at any age to increase interest in pensions.
Emerging markets have rebounded strongly, well ahead of their developed market counterparts.
During the first quarter of this year there were many gloomy predictions as to the speed and size of the "inevitable" decline in annuity rates.
TThe announcement that the Financial Services Skills Council might not have its licence renewed provides additional concerns to an already confused marketplace.
I always find it interesting to meet promising fund management houses not yet on the radar of the average investor or even some brokers. A good recent example is Troy Asset Management, which has quietly been building a good reputation with its fund range and in particular the equity income fund.
Treasury Select Committee member Sir Peter Viggers has been forced to stand down at the next general election after it emerged that he claimed £1,645 for a "duck island" for his garden pond.
The introduction (from the next tax year) of a 50 per cent top rate of income tax (and a rate of 42.5 per cent on dividends for these taxpayers), the removal (subject to tapering) of higher-rate relief on pension contributions for those with income of £150,000 or more and an effective rate of tax of 60 per cent (as a result of the withdrawal of the personal allowance from next year) for those with an income over £100,000 will all combine to make tax planning more in demand. And not just ...
The Government successfully issued £5bn of gilts this morning in the face of Standard & Poor's negative outlook on the UK.
The UK platform market has a higher potential for growth than the more established Australian market, even in the current market conditions, according to new entrant Macquarie.
A Ukip MEP has called for the abolition of the FSA and for an end to regulation for IFAs.
2plan Wealth Management has warned that greater employment of paraplanners will only increase the burden of costs for many adviser firms.
If children are asked: "What do you want to do when you grow up?" not many would say "I want to work in insurance." I certainly didn't - my childhood dream was to play professional cricket for Surrey. Later I thought about flying in the RAF or possibly some kind of career in physics.
Nobody would doubt that the Association of British Insurers and the Institute of Financial Planning, among others, are doing a great job in terms of helping IFAs bring some key issues to the fore.
The Financial Ombudsman Service expects to report a threefold increase in the number of payment protection insurance complaints in the 2008-09 financial year when its releases its annual review next week. The FOS expects to report more than 300,000 complaints, accounting for a quarter of its work- load inflow.
West Bromwich has hit back at Which? after the consumer title labelled the building society's latest bond a risk to investors.
West Bromwich Building Society has denied any knowledge of FSA merger talks after press reports claimed the regulator was seeking a rescuer for the mutual.
Money Marketing research, in conjunction with Aegon, has revealed that 82 per cent of advisers are still putting price before anything else when recommending an individual protection provider.