21 January 2009
Fears have arisen that the Government's proposals to buy bank assets could create quantative-easing problems similar to those seen in Japan at the start of the decade.
1st – The Exchange has launched a pay-per hour product research tool for advisers.
As is often the case, January started off with the markets feeling positive and with investors seemingly full of good intentions. After a brief rally, this has proved to be something of a false start.
A J Bell has recorded an 80 per cent increase in the number of new Sipps written during Q4 2008.
The ABI has called for the development of a comprehensive new syllabus under the QCA level four banner to ensure continuity between the various qualification awarding bodies.
SimplyBiz advisers registered with its New Model Business Academy are planning to take more than 2,400 CII exams this year.
Accounting firms with a small number of advisers are likely to be among the small number of firms facing huge rises in capital adequacy, says Reynolds Porter Chamberlain.
No one truly knows what this year might bring.Talk of recession, unemployment, further falls in house values, more bank bailouts and even tighter lending is rife and does not bode well for the economy.
The rise in delayed retirement due to plummeting markets and rising life expectancy is presenting a good advice opportunity.
The Association of Mortgage Intermediaries has predicted that business through the mortgage intermediary sector could be down below 50 per cent if the Government’s latest bailout isn’t enacted fast.
Research by Friends Provident reveals 48 per cent of advisers rate product features as the most influential factor when recommending a provider’s business protection product.
Aegon has appointed Simon Skinner from Equitable Life as customer services director for life and pensions.
Aifa has called for clarification from the FSA on what over-lap will exist between the independent professional standards board and the approved persons regime.
Troubled US insurance giant AIG has ended its shirt sponsorship deal with Premiership champions Manchester United.
Executive directors of venture capital trust investor Close Ventures have launched Albion Ventures to generate long term investment returns by investing in small companies.
Alliance Trust has set up two core funds in UK equity income and North American equities in launching its new asset management arm.
Allianz Global Investors is to launch a European equity income fund targeting high dividend yields.
The Association of Mortgage Intermediaries has revealed Patrick Bunton will take up the role of joint deputy chairman with immediate effect.
The Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association has accused the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries of being too bleak in its forecast of 2009’s mortgage market.
Leading endowment specialist PolicyPlus has appointed Ann Looker as chief executive.
The TCF initiative has been driven forward by the FSA over the past seven years, with the ultimate goal of ensuring that firms are placing customers at the heart of their individual businesses. This in turn is expected to increase consumer confidence in the industry, an aim not too dissimilar to that of the RDR.
The campaign for smaller providers to stop masquerading inferior protection plans as income protection rages on.
HM Revenue & Customs has confirmed that Australian Qrops which pay tax charges that arise through the transfer of funds from a UK-registered pension scheme will not be seen as unauthorised payments.
Capita has won a deal worth £500m to become the outsourcing partner of AXA Sun Life and administer 3.2 million mature life and pensions policies.
Axa has revealed it is reviving the Sun Life brand.
Financial benefits provider B&CE has set up its first graduate training scheme to help develop future managers and boost innovation in the industry.
The Association of Mortgage Intermediaries has warned that Government plans to guarantee securities will damage competition by excluding smaller lenders.
The FTSE 100 climbed over 50 points higher this morning to 4131.40 buoyed by the banking sector after an upbeat trading statement from Barclays.
Baring Asset Management has appointed Matthew Finch as sales director for UK retail distribution.
The BBC's business editor Robert Peston has been called to give evidence to the Treasury select committee on the role of the press in the banking crisis.
2008 was very much a year of mixed fortunes for our industry, filled with initial promise followed by worry and uncertainty in spades. This year sees many media commentators predicting doom and gloom with varying degrees of severity and longevity.
More than 18 months after the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries first called for the Government to guarantee mortgage-backed securities, Gordon Brown has finally decided to act.
MetLife is offering a new investment bond designed to give capital, withdrawal and death benefit guarantees.
IFA firm Bradbury Hamilton is planning to acquire five small adviser firms in 2009, taking its total buys up to 40.
Britannia Building Society has merged with the Co-Operative Bank to create what it is calling a “super mutual”.
Should the Government do more to compensate those who lost out due to the collapse of Equitable Life?Yes 63% No 37%
Cazenove head of multi-manager Marcus Brookes says special situations funds may be the place to be for investors in the next 12 to 18 months.
Capita Financial Software and Perception Support are hosting a series of seminars to help advisers use their time more effectively when changing to a post-RDR model.
If you had asked me ahead of the retail distribution feedback statement what I expected to be the biggest body blow for adviser firms in 2009, I would have said the move to the diploma as the minimum qualification standard. But now we are into the retail distribution implementation stage, without a shadow of a doubt, I would have to say that the new capital adequacy requirements will prove to be decisive for a great many firms.
Falling interest rates may benefit some borrowers but they are having a damaging effect on savers and this is a particular problem for pensioners who rely on interest on savings to supplement their income.
The average 40 year-old civil servant will receive a public sector pension for 29 years - two years longer than previously expected, according to new Government accounts.
Cofunds’ new chief executive Brett Williams has forecast that life companies will see huge outflows.
The Competition Commission has appointed David Saunders as its new chief executive.
Conti Financial Services has revealed that its founder, Simon Conn, is leaving the company.
Norwich Union head of annuities Darren Dicks says standard annuities will begin to encroach on the enhanced annuity market as product providers introduce increasingly sophisticated pricing strategies.
SimplyBiz chairman Ken Davy is calling for the Chartered Insurance Institute to slash the cost of exam and study fees for advisers.
All financial advisers aim to have regular reviews with their important clients although there is not normally an explicit regulatory requirement to do this. However, one situation where the FSA has made it clear that it expects formal reviews at least once a year is where a client draws income from unsecured pension or income drawdown.
Last week, I looked generally at the issue of directors' personal guarantees for corporate borrowing and specifically at a recent case reminding us of the potential longevity of the guarantor's responsibility beyond the connection of the director with the company.
As we enter audit season many of the UK’s larger financial establishments will be sweating as they finally reveal how bad it really is, and more importantly, how stupid they were.
Norwich Union has cut final bonus rates on its with-profits funds by up to 15 per cent due to market conditions.
Every fund manager will tell you that alongside Japan, the US has been the toughest sell in recent years. All that could be about to change, with Barack Obama in the White House and the dollar looking strong against the pound after struggling for so long.
Safe Homes Income Plans has revealed figures for equity release were only slightly down in the face of a huge residential mortgage slump.
Veteran fund manager Patrick Evershed is taking legal action against his former employer New Star. He is reported to be taking the firm to a tribunal, alleging constructive dismissal, after leaving the firm in September last year.
A former adviser has been jailed for nearly five years after a £1m mortgage fraud.
We refer to the article by Kim North, headlined, Cash limits in the January 8 issue of Money Marketing.
Ex-smokers are missing out on thousands of pounds by not updating their life assurance policy, reveals Cavendish Online.
Specialist funds were all the rage last year, be they infrastructure, commodities or country-specific portfolios such as Africa. Along with equity funds in general, they have been hit badly by the market activity of the latter half of the year.
Family budgeting has forced 23 per cent of parents to cancel or review their existing protection policies, according to research by LV=.
Alliance & Leicester, Barclays, Co-operative Bank, Lloyds Banking Group and RBS/Natwest will stop selling single-premium payment protection insurance with unsecured personal loans by the end of January.
Fitch has downgraded Clerical Medical, citing concerns over its strategic importance to the merged Lloyds Banking Group. It says the move reflects "a reduced ability by the parent bank to provide support to its insurance subsidiary".
Cazenove head of multi-manager Marcus Brookes says his team's defensive view has helped them avoid many of the big losses experienced by rivals last year.
Multi-nationalised bank Fortis has predicted a loss of up to £4.7bn during Q4 2008
The Financial Ombudsman Service is increasing case fees to £500 from £450 in the 2009/10 financial year, amid predictions that complaints will skyrocket by 44 per cent.
Putting aside for a moment the weekend developments regarding the banks, why did the FSA allow uncovered short selling to resume last week and then, having seen the inevitable consequences, stop it once it could see, yet again, that it would lead to more undermining of confidence in the banks?
Friends Provident's UK life and pensions sales have dropped 27 per cent to £549m for the full year, from £751m in 2007.
The FSA has extended its waiver on complaints handling rules regarding unauthorised overdraft charges for up to six months.
The FSA has fined Legacy Financial Planning Limited £28,000 for failing to adequately advise investors on risk.
The FSA has calculated that, by the end of Q3 2008, 340,000 mortgages were in arrears.
The FSA has instructed the Association of British Insurers and the Association of Member Directed Pensions Schemes to produce guidance to standardise Sipp charging terminology.
Britain’s FTSE 100 has fallen below 4000 today after Government confirmation that the economy is officially in recession.
Every year, we discuss the so-called UK protection gap. We beat ourselves up over the fact that the UK working population is massively underinsured.
UK and global regulators must undergo widespread reform after failing to identify the “market wide, systemic risk” that permeated international financial systems, according to the FSA.
Key Retirement Solutions says it is surprised by the lack of lifetime mortgages with no early repayment charges.
Research by financial analyst Plimsoll claims 12 per cent of IFA firms are in serious financial trouble but it adds: "There are 684 terrific companies who can compete fiercely on price and are largely debt-free while holding their margins."
The National Association of Pension Funds has urged the Government to guarantee the Pension Protection Fund.
Hargreaves Lansdown chief executive Peter Hargreaves says he expects a strong Isa season due to falling interest rates, with corporate bonds and income set to lead the way.
Matterley is among the newest players in the boutique world, taking shape in the middle of last year.
Helm Godfrey managing director Bruce Wilson is one of four presenters to speak at a UK life planning conference for advisers in London on February 4.
Fund management group Henderson has confirmed that it is in discussions over a possible offer for New Star Asset Management.
Henderson Global Investors UK opportunities fund manager Mileen Rash has been replaced on the fund by Stephen Peak.
Hodge Lifetime is to run a series of free one-day revision workshops to help advisers get ready for their equity release exams.
Various stories and statistics paint as bleak a picture of the world economy as I have seen for some time. How cheering, therefore, to hear some upbeat comment from a couple of investment trust managers at G&N's first seminar of 2009.
Recruitment firms are urging more advisers to diversify and focus on specialist areas such as corporate business if they want to survive the financial crisis.
The Institute of Financial Planning says there are now 900 certified financial planners while the Personal Finance Society saw a 31 per cent increase in chartered financial planners this year to reach 1,578.
The ifs School of Finance is launching a series of executive and professional courses from January.
Aberdeen Asset Management has seen £7.6bn of assets withdrawn from its clients in the final quarter of 2008, with fixed income bearing the brunt of outflows.
Investors should selectively embrace UK insurers' “scary balance sheets”, analysts at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods have urged.
Many years ago, I worked with Yvette Cooper when we were both journalists on the same newspaper. Initially, she worked in our business team, later moving to writing editorials.
Alexander Beard Group has announced the immediate appointment of Jeremy Thomason as chief operating officer.
L&G called for Royal Bank of Scotland's chairman and chief executive to leave after its rights issue in May but was rebuffed by the bank's board, MPs were told yesterday.
Legal & General has cut its IFA salesforce by nearly one-third, with around 35 jobs axed.
Labour MP and Treasury select committee chairman John McFall has called on the Government to fully nationalise Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland.
Lenders are likely to become landlords by buying up distressed properties in an attempt to halt repossessions and stop house prices falling, according to leading valuations firm eSurv.
I recently received a letter from Norwich Union which I think makes interesting reading: 1: They do not tell us which policies have been affected. 2: They do not tell us which clients have been affected but they do tell us that mistakes have been made and they are writing to us to tell us what has happened and what they are doing to put it right.
Former FSA chief executive John Tiner may have left the regulator before the official onset of the credit crunch, but today he was named one of the 25 individuals most responsible.
London & Colonial has launched a self-invested offshore investment bond.
Private equity offers an opportunity for brave investors in 2009, says T Bailey Asset Management.
M&G is setting up a global emerging markets fund under the management of Michael Godfrey and Matthew Vaight.
The Conservatives have appointed Theresa May as Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, replacing Chris Grayling who becomes Shadow Home Secretary. Ken Clarke returns as Shadow Business Secretary.
Treasury Select Committee chairman John McFall has written to the FSA to call for a rethink on the short selling ban lift.
The Government has admitted maladministration over Equitable Life but only the hardest-hit victims are likely to receive compensation.
Midas Capital says it is in discussions with a number of interested parties regarding "possible strategic options" following heavy falls in the firm's share price.
Midas Capital has reported a £0.8bn increase in funds under management and advice in a trading update for the year ending December 31, 2008.
Money Portal executive vice chairman Richard Craven and managing director Chris Edge are leaving the group.
Mortgageforce will be the only broker with access to West Bromwich mortgages after the society temporarily withdrew from the rest of the intermediary market.
MPs on the Treasury select committee have expressed concern that only 34 out of more than 1,000 hedge funds have so far signed up to the Hedge Fund Standards Board.
MPs on the Treasury select committee have called on the Government to be more transparent about taxpayers' exposure to the nationalised banks and their ongoing performance.
NatWest's MoneySense advisers promoted the bank's own mortgages on two out of five occasions when mystery-shopped by Money Marketing despite the bank advertising the service as "impartial" non-sales advice.
New Star Asset Management has released a circular to its shareholders seeking permission for the proposed de-listing from the Official List and London Stock Exchange.
As Johnny Vegas and Monkey perform their pastiche of the Morecambe and Wise sketch it reminded me of other commercials particularly the one with the bank manager in the cupboard.
Novia will soon offer advisers the ability to trade directly in foreign shares on its platform.
Norwich Union has temporarily deferred settlements on its £2.9bn unit-linked life and pensions property fund for a period of up to six months.
Norwich Union is considering removing the inflation-proof guarantee option on its with-profits bond due to soaring costs.
Octopus Investments has announced a £72m per cent increase in inflows to just over £94m for its inheritance tax service in 2008.
The National Association of Pensions Funds has predicted that 52 per cent of defined benefit pension schemes currently open to new members could close as a result of the current economic crisis.
The Personal Accounts Delivery Authority has launched a tender process to find a supplier to administer personal accounts.
Perfect Day Consulting has gone into administration owing more than £879,000 to Money Portal, the parent company of its network Sage.
Perspective Financial Group has laid out plans to acquire a further 24 adviser firms by 2011.
The Personal Finance Society are piloting a series of study groups to help its members prepare for the CII’s diploma in financial planning exams.
The Serious Fraud Office has uncovered an 80m buy-to-let fraud in the North-east.
To paraphrase that renowned investment commentator Lady Bracknell, to lose one fund manager may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose two looks like carelessness. Similarly, allowing two of your five main managers to run £3.076bn out of your £3.381bn of total funds under management could be seen as a touch on the bullish side. Yet how could Liontrust have played this one differently?
Private equity firm HIG Europe has acquired Axa and Standard Life's wrap technology provider FNZ in partnership with its existing management.
Online protection provider Progress is enhancing its income protection proposition.
Protection sales have weathered the economic downturn with 23 per cent of advisers experiencing a boost in sales, according to a Legal & General adviser confidence index.
There has been a shift in attitude in the personal finance media in the last couple of weeks. The plight of savers is finally being highlighted and there is less of an obsession with mortgage rates. So it should be. In the UK, there are seven savers to every borrower and it is one of the ironies of this recession that the prudent are suffering alongside the imprudent.
The number of independent financial advisers in the UK could fall by more than a quarter as a direct result of the retail distribution review, according to Watson Wyatt.
Advisers are concentrating on client reviews and diversifying their offerings to weather the economic downturn.
In 2008, I saw my investment and pension portfolio fall by over 25 per cent. I lost sleep some nights worrying about the cash I had deposited with my banks and watched the economy slide into recession. Please do tell me why 2009 might be better.
The RDR should have a fourth version but this time it should stand for the Regulatory Disasters Review. The FSA should be reformed, its transient civil servant culture abolished, its payscales and perks cut immediately, as have been those whom it regulates.
The FSA has banned and fined Dynamic Mortgage Brokers of East London director Richard Kennedy 101,106 for submitting false mortgage applications.
Aifa has warned the FSA against introducing a principle-based disclosure regime.
Industry experts are predicting a surge in online mortgage broking as firms look to take advantage of imminent technological advances to counteract the downturn.
The Retirement Adviser, the specialist firm set up Nick Flynn, says it is defying the credit crunch and is negotiating a flurry of acquisitions, joint ventures and investments in start-up companies.
RGA has appointed Deloitte's David Gulland as assistant general manager of finance and Dr Nick Boon as a medical director.
Santander Asset Management has launched a range of multi-manager funds as part of a new investment range for the UK bancassurance market.
The FSA has urged advisers to change their attitude to data security and do more to help prevent their customers falling victim to identity fraud and other types of financial crime. Individuals who negligently disclose personal data could be jailed for up to two years under legislation voted through by the House of Lords recently.
Sesame has become the latest distributor to limit its General Insurance panel in an attempt to help its members during the downturn.
Sesame is launching a new web-based tranche management system that will enable mortgage lenders to control the volume and risk of their mortgage lending with the network.
Skandia says it expects the principles behind the FSA's pension switching review to be extended to the wrap market.
Ever get the feeling the IFA sector is being sliced and diced, and you are being examined upside down and back to front to see if you are going to survive?
When I reflect on my career, I suppose, like many, I spent my first few years working out what I might be any good at. Working in the City as an 18-year-old way back in 1976, my main interest was quite simple - payday. At that time, Midland Bank provided the opportunity to buy beer, clothes and holidays. I certainly had no concept of a "career" which was set to build and last the next 33 years in financial services and if some had suggested in the year 2009 that I would be CEO of Email ...
Twelve months ago, I wrote a Consultant View article for Money Marketing. I have just looked back at at the article to see if there was anything that pointed towards the situation we find ourselves in today.
The UK economy continues to falter. Mortgage approvals are in freefall, house prices are dropping at their fastest-ever rate, the UK saw the worst November for new car sales since 1980 and unemployment is rising at the fastest pace since 1991.
Standard Life is planning to launch an unconstrained bond fund, Money Marketing understands.
Standard Life has reduced some with-profits annual bonus rates, citing difficult market conditions.
Standard Life has introduced a queuing system for those investors looking to transfer out of its UK unit-linked life and pension property funds.
Standard Life has effectively ruled out extending remediation to people approaching retirement who have been hit by its shock sterling fund revaluation.
SVM managing director Colin McLean says it has become impossible for fund managers to call the bottom of the market given that individual stocks and sectors have their own cycles.
T. Rowe Price Global Investment Services has opened an office in Zurich, Switzerland.
It will probably take some time for confidence in the mortgage market to return to the levels of 2007 and before and many brokers are turning their attention to protection sales.
Climate change funds were the words on everybody's lips in 2007 but global financial events have somewhat overshadowed the buzz around them.
With the Bank of England bank rate at an all-time low, and possibly heading lower, anyone looking to generate an income on their assets is having to work considerably harder than they were last year.
With the retail distribution review requiring new skills for some advisers and possibly a complete change of culture for others, firms should now begin to review their training and competence scheme to ensure that the skills and standards required are in place before the RDR changes come into effect.
The term Web 2.0 was first coined by technology guru Tim O'Reilly in 2004 and was principally used to describe the shift towards new ways of using the web as a platform for tools and services, where the emphasis was on user collaboration and the sharing of information.
Bidders for embattled asset manager New Star are believed to have narrowed this week with Schroders, Aberdeen and Henderson thought to be in pole position to win the race.
Tory MP for the Cities of London and Westminster Mark Field has called on MPs to lead by example and take a one third reduction in pension contributions.
Trainee IFAs will be allowed to advise clients while still studying for the QCA level four qualification, the FSA has confirmed.
The Treasury select committee is set to scrutinise the role of financial advisers in the banking crisis.
Who would be the trustee of a final- salary pension scheme? The recent machinations over the covenant of the HBOS final- salary scheme are a lesson in what trustees can and cannot do when faced with a corporate restructure they think may be bad for their members.
Consolidating giant Towergate Financial has made its 10th acquisition in buying IFA and general insurance broker Smith Blamires, bringing its total advisers to around 100.
The big UK banks are continuing to take a battering in the markets this morning, the third day of falling share prices.
The life and pension sector is poised for a "huge amount" of corporate restructuring this year, according to insurance analyst Ned Cazalet.
We are all sometimes guilty of impatience. For me, 2013 cannot come soon enough. A Utopian world post-RDR, personal accounts and the Olympics, where my sleep will no longer be interrupted by worries over qualifications and transfer bans, interspersed with stadium construction workers outside my window. In some cases, we just need to capitalise on that activist streak in us and "get on with it".
Woolwich is set to limit most of its mortgage lending to a select key number of networks.
Zurich has increased the number of critical illness claims paid in 2008 by 6 per cent, according to recent research.