25 February 2009
Advisers look set to be hit with a bill of up to £15m after another stockbroker, Square Mile Securities, was declared in default by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
1st - The Exchange has recorded its highest monthly new business figures for January, recording 30,806 online applications.
PSigma income manager Bill Mott believes there is now a 20 per cent chance of Armageddon for the UK economy.
2plan Wealth Management has launched its new flexible risk-profiling technology enabling advisers to give client’s multiple risk profiles within a single portfolio.
An assistant bank manager in Edinburgh set up 66 fake accounts.
Repossessions rose by 54 per cent last year to 40,000 from 25,900 in the previous year, according to figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders.
Many years ago, when I was a teenager, my dad bought me an English translation of Franz Kafka's book The Trial as a birthday present. He meant well, bless him, but I only struggled through about half of it before giving up.
Amid an almost unprecedented year of financial crisis, 2008 was all about gilts.
The Association of British Insurers could introduce a new cash fund sector in the wake of its probe into money market funds.
The ABI is to extend its open market option annuity transfer initiative to switching between personal pensions, Sipps and income drawdown in an attempt to speed up transfer times in these areas.
Panellists on the Adviser Fund Index are divided over their next move in property, with one adviser wanting to withdraw exposure and another saying there is always a place for property in the portfolio.
Advisers are supporting Liberal Democrat calls for a "no frills, no fees, safestart mortgage".
Leading advisers are calling for a delay to the retail distribution review due to the economic crisis.
Aegon Asset Management Equity High Alpha Fund
Aegon is running a series of business protection workshops in a bid to help advisers generate new income and enter the market.
Troubled insurance giant AIG has revealed that it lost just over $99bn, or £69.54bn, in 2008.
Guernsey's income tax department has been in recent negotiation with HM Revenue & Customs over the conduct of the arrangements for its offshore pensions plans. Guernsey and the Isle of Man do a considerable amount of business with British companies and individuals wanting to shift pension arrangements away from the UK.
Gartmore has appointed John Anderson as head of credit in the group's fixed-income team.
Eight boutique wealth management firms have joined forces to launch Aurora Group, aiming to offer a more personal alternative to private client banks.
"We have met the enemy and he is us," said the political cartoonist, Walt Kelly. The importance of emotions in financial markets cannot be underestimated, as recent volatility has demonstrated.
Aviva Investors is planning the launch of a UK absolute alpha fund.
National IFA firm AWD Chase de Vere has launched a practice buy-out solution for advisers who wish to bring existing businesses into the group structure.
Axa FramlingtonUK Blue Chip Equity Income Fund
Axa Framlington has launched a UK blue-chip equity income fund.
As the banking crisis rolls on, calls for a UK bad bank to buy up and hold toxic assets from the balance sheets of troubled lenders are becoming louder.
Government aid for Lloyds TSB and RBS has added as much as £1.5 trillion to the national debt.
Lending to individuals increased in January, according to the Bank of England’s latest figures.
The Bank of England has warned that regulation alone will not slow down “exuberant” bank growth in the future.
Britannia building society has revealed strong profits for 2008 in the face of rising FSCS levies, exposure to failed banks and loses due to base rate cuts.
Standard Life chief executive Sandy Crombie says better internet technology could see the company targeting less affluent consumers direct but for now its distribution strategy is focused on wealthy investors through top-end advisers.
Should the FSA change its RDR proposals to allow factoring, whereby providers can pay an up-front sum to advisers that is deducted from the product over time?Yes 50%No 50%
Brokers will have only limited access to Northern Rock's £14bn mortgage lending injection, which is unlikely to benefit existing customers or lead to a big increase in 90 per cent loans.
Gordon Brown is launching a global crackdown on tax havens in the face of the current credit crunch in a bid to close the net on billions of pounds of lost revenues.
Buy-to-let lending fell by 56 per cent year on year in the fourth quarter of 2008 to the lowest figures since 2003.
Isle of Man based Canada Life International Limited has added GHC resilient funds to its internal fund range.
Capita Group has acquired general insurance broker Hero Insurance Services from LV= for £15m.
Cazenove UK absolute target fund manager Tim Russell says it was worth paying a little bit more for financial stocks which have evaded Government intervention.
Identifying how best to adapt their businesses to operate in a post-RDR environment is probably the main strategic challenge taxing anyone running an adviser firm today.
Rockingham Retirement has been awarded the Chartered Insurance Institute's chartered insurance broker title.
Jupiter head of independent funds John Chatfeild-Roberts has slammed the IMA's UK equity income sector changes, claiming that it "smacks of fiddling while Rome burns".
The Chartered Insurance Institute has urged the industry to create better products catering for older people.
A Cobalt Capital director has admitted a rift in the senior management of the company and has called for the other senior directors to pull together.
You may recall, that Sir Callum McCarthy's Gleneagles' speech used historical references to make a point about how incentives drive behaviour and how the wrong incentives can have results that are contrary to the public interest.
Interest rates have gone even lower this month as the authorities work hard to dig the UK economy out of its problems. The rapidity of economic changes and forecasts for potential incomes in recent weeks has added to the myriad of different issues and scenarios intermediaries need to assess when trying to advise clients in an already difficult environment.
With cash yields nearing zero investors are looking for somewhere else to park their money. Enter corporate bonds. But with rising default levels and multiple rate cuts forecasted do credit markets really offer such good value on a risk return basis?
Corporate bonds were the most popular sector for the third month running, according to January figures from the Investment Management Association.
Jupiter head of independent funds John Chatfeild-Roberts says 2009 has become a battle between deflationary and reflationary forces.
Tele-underwriting has been hailed as one of the successes in the protection industry in recent years but some advisers say different levels of service from different providers can be problematic.
Britain's defined-contribution pension assets have lost around £140bn, over 25 per cent of their value, since the start of the credit crunch, according to Aon Consulting.
As my fund has fallen way below the A-Day value of 1.7m and is now worth around 1.35m, admittedly through following our agreed aggressive risk strategy, should I pay more into the pension now to benefit from tax relief and build up the funds again?
The Chancellor Alistair Darling has admitted that mistakes were made in the run up to the credit crisis.
For a couple of weeks now, I have been leading up to this detailed look at the tax treatment of premiums paid and sums assured received under keyperson policies. At last, here it is. You can find extensive coverage of this and related subjects in our Techlink service (see www.techlink.co.uk).
Standard Life is the latest life office to slash staff in its IFA distribution division, following Legal & General’s redundancy announcement last month.
Investors face lower retirement income if they move their entire pension pot into income drawdown, says Skandia.
Adviser education and greater product flexibility is key to making insurance more accessible to impaired lives.
Equitable Life chief executive Charles Thomson is stepping down from the company in the autumn.
A European Commission taskforce headed by former French central banker Jacques de Larosiere last week rejected the idea of creating a single, all-powerful EU regulatory body.
I can't say I have been cheered by what I have found since my return to these shores. The deterioration in sentiment in the short time I have been away is alarming and the news continues to be universally bad. Japan is suffering hugely, the global automobile industry seems to be going the way of the banks and Eastern Europe appears to be imploding. No wonder investors are spooked.
Small businesses across the country are struggling in the current economic climate and many adviser firms are no different. Income streams across product lines are down and costs are being cut. The outlook for the economy is bleak and getting bleaker.
Axa UK saw a 44 per cent drop in underlying earnings for life and savings business last year from £174m to £97m.
Former GE Money sales director Mark Harrison is launching a networking facility for financial services workers.
Friends Provident paid out £36m in critical illness claims in 2008, reveals figures released today.
The FSA has banned Wakefield-based mortgage adviser Mohammed Ahmed for submitting mortgage applications that were supported by false payslips.
The FSA is becoming increasingly subservient to European and, in some cases, global policymaking, says leading financial services lawyer Simon Morris.
The FSA says all firms selling singe-premium payment protection insurance with unsecured personal loans have until May 29 at the latest to withdraw the product from the market.
The FSA has floated the idea of introducing a form of product regulation into the market as a way of banning products that are deemed too risky.
The heads of the FSA have promised MPs that banking regulation is set to change “fundamentally” in the wake of the current banking crisis.
FSA chief executive Hector Sants revealed that the new regulatory approach to staff competency would not have allowed former HBOS director of group risk Jo Dawson to be hired by the bank.
The FSA has today published a draft code of practice on remuneration policies which attempts to ensure firms’ policies do not encourage excessive risk-taking.
The FSA will introduce the new disclosure regime for Contracts for Difference on June 1, three months ahead of its original September launch.
The FTSE 100 is set to fall through the 3,500 barrier having closed today at 3512.09.
Overseas domiciled funds under management fell by 11 per cent last year to 16.1bn from £18bn in 2007, according to statistics from the Investment Management Association.
Goldsmith Williams, the direct conveyancing firm is launching a home information cashback scheme which will enable homeowners to cut the cost of HIPs by up to £100.
This week building societies revealed their 2008 profits have taken major hits thanks to their proportionately huge FSCS levies.
Intelligent Pensions has slammed the Government as well as the trustees of the RBS pension scheme for allowing Sir Fred Goodwin to walk away with a £16m pension pot despite his "abject failure".
Up to 20 per cent of people who have five years or less until they reach retirement age have no pension provision, according to MetLife research.
Hargreaves Lansdown has removed the Templeton global emerging markets fund from its Wealth 150 list and advised investors to switch to Aberdeen's emerging markets fund.
James Hay has scrapped charges on new private-client Sipp and eSipp contracts until the end of April.
HBOS whistleblower Paul Moore has revealed he had concerns that retail savers may have been pushed into corporate bond funds without understanding the additional risk.
Henderson Group has taken a £97.3m hit to profits after writing down a bank stake and making a loss in one of its structured products.
Residential mortgages that have been used as "hidden" buy-to-let loans could bring a new wave of repossessions.
It has never been more important for mortgage advisers to be able to convert every enquiry they receive into business.
HSBC is calling on shareholders to help it raise £12.5bn as it reveals 2008 profit drop of 62 per cent.
Alpha Financial Consultants director Hugh Doxat-Pratt is feeling upbeat about the future, having just been awarded certified and chartered financial planner status.
At our last Meeting of Minds event, which brings together the chiefs of all the top distribution firms, a key conversation was the trend towards offering defined service solutions to the client.
Barclays Wealth says its IFA sales increased by 250 per cent last year.
Insight Investment managing director Abdallah Nauphal has been appointed to head up the Scottish Widows Investment Partnership business.
Investec Asset Management has launched a recession buster campaign which spotlights a range of five funds ahead of the close of this year’s Isa season.
2008 was an annus horribilis for equity investors as the credit crunch intensified and western economies slipped inexorably into recession.
JP Morgan Asset Management head of UK sales Jasper Berens believes the group's offshore sterling liquidity fund could double to £16bn in the next year.
JPMorgan European fledgeling investment trust has doubled its weighting in micro caps in February.
Jubilee Financial Products has expanded its structured product range with the launch of an early redemption plan.
Jupiter chief executive Edward Bonham Carter is to step down as manager of the undervalued assets fund.
Key Retirement Solutions is urging more pensioners to consider equity release to fund long-term care.
Bank of England governor Mervyn King has called on the Government to allow the Bank to demand information from the UK banks.
Bank of England governor Mervyn King says he is keen to create a national ‘bad bank’ to clean up the balance sheets of the troubled UK lenders.
Robin Geffen founded Neptune in 2002 as what he calls a boutique with a difference - running with a team environment rather than focusing on a few star managers.
A Halifax client claims she was told she should take out payment protection insurance on a loan when she went into a branch on crutches while off work.
The Mortgage Times Group has created a trading partnership with Legal & General mortgage club to create one of the largest mortgage distribution groups in the UK.
Legal & General has appointed 11 protection development managers to support its newly-created IFA protection field sales team.
Legal & General is calling for the Personal Accounts Delivery Authority to offer a default annuity for investors or risk having hundreds of millions of pounds of unclaimed benefits build up.
IFA firm LEBC Group has renewed its membership with Sesame for at least three years.
Legal & General has set up a direct annuity service, primarily for people nearing retirement with small pension pots and those who feel confident to shop around themselves.
Business Lending Ltd is urging the Government to offer its SME funding guarantees to smaller commercial lenders rather than just the bigger players.
Life Trust has closed its insurance arm to new business as a result of difficult market conditions.
Lloyds Banking Group has revealed losses of £10.8bn after its acquisition of HBOS.
The mortgage industry has warned that any regulatory moves to cap homeloans could lead to future inflexibility in the higher loan-to-value area.
With regard to last weeks front-page story, headlined, Pension pledge lasts just one day, I thought I would make an observation. One of the reasons I believe providers allow a period of, say, 10 to 14 days on external transfers under Omo is it can take a little while for the paperwork to get from one provider to another (often more than the 10-14 working days), not to give the clients excessive time to deliberate.
AIG Life says it may not be able to make early distributions to investors who chose to move their assets from its enhanced fund into its protected recovery fund.
LV = Asset Management LV= Diversified Income ISA Fund
LV = Asset Management LV= Balanced Managed ISA Fund
LV= Asset Management has opened up three new multi-manager funds in a bid to boost business for the Isa season.
Money Portal has announced the appointment of Mark Tennant as the new chairman of the firm.
After another week or so of Government ineptitude, it is far too easy to focus on the authorities so let us turn our attention to the emerging market themes.
Neptune has launched a UK mid-cap fund under the management of Mark Martin.
Moneysupermarket.com has revealed its intermediary business plummeted 41 per cent in 2008.
The liquidation of Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander Isle of Man has been adjourned until April 9 to allow the Isle of Man treasury more time to work up a scheme of arrangement to improve returns for depositors.
Rating agency Standard & Poor’s has witnessed a “clear deterioration” in the performance of U.K. nonconforming mortgage loans throughout 2008.
The Council of Mortgage Lenders sees no sign of a mortgage revival with January lending figures slipping to the lowest levels since April 2001.
Both the Skipton and Norwich & Peterborough have revealed that their group profits are almost half what they would have been due to the large increase in their FSCS levies.
City minister Lord Myners has defended his role in the ongoing scandal over former RBS chief executive Sir Fred Goodwin’s £650,000 a year pension.
Northern Rock has revealed a full year loss before tax of £1.36bn as it deleveraged a quarter of its mortgage book.
Nucleus is asking its IFA shareholders for permission to lower the capital threshold to access the platform from £15,000 to £10,000 or less.
The Office of Fair Trading has revealed it will be investigating the current relationship between mortgage brokers and estate agents.
At last we have momentum and a will to clarify wrap platforms charges.
Origen is planning to launch a new investment arm for its 150,000 less affluent clients.
Over half the population do not intend to take advantage of Isa tax breaks, according to research from Scottish Widows.
The Personal Accounts Delivery Authority has announced the appointment of Helen Dean to its board as policy and product development director.
Personal Touch Financial Services has launched Personal Touch Debt Solutions, a debt management service for its ARs and DA members.
Included in Gordon Brown's article for last week's Observer was the following comment: "We have got to get the balance right between serving homeowners better and encouraging responsibility in the housing market. We have also asked the Financial Services Authority to look at how in the future we should control new mortgages for more than 100 per cent of house value."
Thames River Capital's Gary Potter has warned that recent investor moves into corporate bonds have all the hallmarks of the commercial property and commodity bubbles.
St James's Place Wealth Management Group saw a fall of 19.7 per cent in operating profits in 2008 to £204.3m from £244.7m in 2007 on an European embedded value basis.
New Star head of global property Stuart Webster believes this year could see property prices bottom out in those countries that are furthest through the downturn.
Prudential has cut annual bonus rates from 3.5 per cent to 3 per cent on with-profits bonds and personal pensions and from 2.75 per cent to 2 per cent for Prudential-sold annuity customers. Investors will see their WP policy values drop by 6-10 per cent, with the firm pouring in £2.8bn to smooth the fund.
Over a fifth of assets held in Prudential's two cash funds, which total £222m, are invested in mortgage-backed securities and corporate debt.
There have been various theories attached to the recession but my recent favourite is the lipstick effect.
A resurgence of interest in protection insurance is one of a few positive outcomes of the present economic disaster. One other instance being an increased scrutiny of those who normally scrutinise us.
A quarter of advisers say that they will cut their client numbers due to the retail distribution review.
Royal Bank of Scotland and Northern Rock are to move their toxic assets into so-called "bad banks" in an attempt to clean up their balance sheets.
RBS has appointed Gordon Pell as its new deputy chief executive and Nathan Bostock as head of restructuring and risk.
RBS is the first bank to sign up to the Government's new asset protection scheme, with a deal to hand over £325bn worth of risky assets to be "ring-fenced".
Royal Bank of Scotland says it has no record of any specific questions posed by City minister Lord Myners over the terms of Sir Fred Goodwin’s pension.
RBS has revealed a UK record corporate loss of £24.1bn and announced it is to put £325bn of toxic assets into the Government's Asset Guarantee Scheme.
The FSA has amended its proposals banning providers from using with-profits inherited estates to pay misselling costs so that it now only applies to future misselling.
Clive Cowdery's Resolution has reportedly approached Prudential about a potential deal to buy its UK insurance business.
Montfort International says self-policing of Qrops in offshore jurisdictions is on the increase as HM Revenue & Customs continues to clamp down on overseas pension schemes.
Northern Rock has revealed the full extent of the problems facing its Together mortgage borrowers with as many as 8,500 slipping into arrears and almost 3000 being repossessed in 2008.
The FSA is continuing with its crackdown on rogue mortgage brokers with rising levels of fines and criminal action in some cases.
Given the number of new entrants into the offshore market last year, Royal London can be said to have bucked the trend by merging its two international businesses into one. The mutual acquired Scottish Provident's protection and offshore arms from Resolution during the first quarter of 2008 in a deal that was completed by June.
Royal London 360° has expanded its sales team with two new appointments in Europe and the Middle East.
Scottish Widows' intermediary sales dropped 8 per cent in 2008 to £5.36bn, while business on its bancassuarance side increased 4 per cent to £4.24bn.
Scottish Life is to strengthen its support for advisers with extra staff offering pension marketing and technical information at seminars across the UK.
SEI, the wealth manager outsourcing firm has added a new range of services for UK wealth managers to its global wealth platform.
Guernsey's decision to introduce a foundations law during 2009 is the latest example of the rapid growth of foundations. The structures are increasingly popular with family offices, high-net-worth individuals and company managers. Foundations provide a series of particular benefits for asset protection, succession planning and estate management particularly for wealthy families with diverse interests. Beyond this, advisers say foundations are also useful as a part of a package of fiduciary ...
Fidelity special situations made its first foray into the UK market in 1979 with Anthony Bolton at the helm. Until his retirement almost 30 years later, Bolton built a reputation as one of the UK's best fund managers and investors in his fund reaped handsome benefits.
Skandia is to give free access to the healthcare service roadtohealth for new Skandia Protect and The Skandia Plan policyholders.
Skandia International has warned offshore advisers that their clients could risk being hit by higher tax charges than necessary by not using a trust.
The Financial Services Skills Council says it is powerless to begin developing QCA level four standards until the FSA clarifies scope and warns the RDR timetable could slip unless clarification comes soon.
Fund firms are doing their utmost to cut costs to improve efficiency.
Jubilee Financial Products says the credit rating of a structured product issuer should be less of a consideration for advisers than the government that backs the bank.
The article on Standard Life annuities in the February 19 issue of Money Marketing is decep tive on a number of points.
Standard Life has slashed its distribution team by a fifth in a strategic review aimed at streamlining operations.
Tenet has unveiled an operating profit of £1.74m for 2008, a fall of 52 per cent from £3.61m in 2007. This is largely due to the £1.75m start-up costs for Sinfonia Asset Management and its PI arm Paragon Insurance Services Guernsey.
Tim Steer is one of the few fund managers to come out of New Star's troubles with his reputation fully intact.
And the 2009 award for 'the most misleading fund name' goes to… Standard Life, for its sterling pension fund."
2008 was the year in which "protected investments" - as I believe structured products have earned the right to be called - stepped out of the shadow of the conventional fund market and became mainstream investments in their own right.
Thames River Capital has narrowed its underweight exposure to UK equities, predicting that foreign investors may look to snap up UK-domiciled global businesses at bargain prices.
Bank of England bank rate is now at a historic low of 1 per cent. How low can it go? What do you think the monetary policy committee will do to bank rate at its next meeting?
Tax and wealth management adviser The Fry Group has joined forces with financial planning firm Fulcra to provide a full-time local office to clients in Brussels.
The reason that I prefer the wonderful world of investment ahead of any other area of personal finance is that it is the place where, after a punter has shelled out on their mortgage, pension and whatever elements of protection float their and their adviser's respective boats, they can go and try and make some money rather than spend it. I am aware that this may be a minority view at present.
Tilney Private Wealth Management has rebranded as Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management.
Shadow Chancellor George Osborne has hinted that a Conservative Government could formally separate retail deposit-taking and investment banking.
Advisers have hit out at Woolwich's new mortgage tranche management system, claiming it is "pot luck".
FSA chairman Lord Adair Turner has hit out at “complex” off-balance sheet instruments used by securitising banks.
A platform? A wrap? A back- office system? Is this just background noise? The debate will always continue.
The recession and financial market turmoil is having unforeseen effects that providers and advisers need to consider when advising customers.
Zurich has entered the group risk market in the UK, initially focusing on group life and group income protection.
Zurich has used around £18m of shareholder cash to plug a 4 per cent hole in its fixed-interest deposit funds, which have a 15 per cent holding in mortgage-backed securities.