27 April 2005
It is little wonder markets were nervous last week as company results and economic statistics poured out of the US. The signs were mixed, to say the least. The prospect of slowing economic growth and rising inflation remains a possibility, even if stagflation of a virulent kind appears unlikely.
It is six months since the vote by members of LIA and Sofa to form the Personal Finance Society. The idea had a long history. In the early 1990s there was much debate about bringing the financial adviser community together into one body which would represent them and set standards which would give added confidence to the public.
A combination of economic factors and improved products will see equity-release business continue to grow.
Prudential UK head of protection Paul Cowman looks at the rates tussle between the new entrants and the established players and how technology will be prove a major factor in sustaining rates
O&M Systems director Graham Miller's warning that advi-sers should cover their backs by reviewing all their with-profits policies with a view to switching has met with gen-eral agreement but it has also raised questions over how to judge what course of action will benefit the client most.
The headline and first para-graph of the article, ABI disappointment as Labour seems to rule out compulsion (Money Marketing, April 14), gives the misleading impression that the Association of British Insurers has undergone some sort of Damascene conversion and is now in favour of compulsion for individual pension savings.
The ABI has launched a scathing attack on the FSA's enforcement procedures, slamming it for sub-standard investigation work, bias and lack of transparency.
Smoking now has a bigger impact on mortality than gender.
The FSA is failing to crack down on firms operating without professional indemnity insurance, leading to concerns that IFAs could slip through the net, says Collegiate managing director Tony Howe.
Bank of Ireland Isle of Man Guaranteed FTSE Bond 7 Year - Issue 17
Lifetime says rival firms have struggled to explain the ben- efits of wrap.
Skandia Life founder Paul Bradshaw has joined Abbey as chief executive, insurance and asset management, and is aiming to turn the firm into "a world-beater."
Datamonitor predicts that mortgage lending will slow down by 10 per cent over the next three years. Is this a fair figure and, if so, what can lenders do to counteract the downturn?
Charcol is to be rebranded under its original name of John Charcol.
Cheshire Building SocietyThree Year Discount Remortgage
Clerical MedicalGroup Stakeholder Pension
Clerical Medical has revamped its group stakeholder pension, making external funds available and overhauling its default lifestyling option.
Collegiate Insurance Brokers is teaming up with Selestia and Old Broad Street Research to offer a risk management tool to help IFAs negotiate better PI terms.
Standard Life group chief executive Sandy Crombie has warned policyholders that voting against demutualisation would result in reduced payouts and a fire sale of assets to shore up its ailing capital position.
Nine out of 10 expatriates do not have offshore savings accounts, a survey by offshore savings bank Alliance & Leicester International has found.
F&C director of fund of funds Richard Philbin has disclosed the low levels of turnover of holdings on the firm's multi-manager distribution fund.
Offshore fund manager Liberty Ermitage has brought out a hedge fund of funds that invests only in hedge funds which are closed to new business or which have limited capacity for new investments.
Friends ProvidentThe Personal Range - Individual Stakeholder Pension
The FSA says it is not in the public interest to disclose discussions or memos exchanged with the Treasury over the 1 per cent stakeholder cap following a Freedom of Information Act challenge by Money Marketing.
Payment protection insurance, child trust funds, mortgage disclosure documents and venture capital trusts have all been included in a new list of emerging retail risks drawn up by the FSA.
Fundsdirect is at the centre of sale speculation, with an announcement due to be made on Wednesday this week.
Compulsory saving in pensions is neither simple nor efficient, says the ABI, after researching pension arrangements around the world.
Hartford LifeHartford Gold Flexible Investment Bond
Well-known industry commentator Graham Hooper is returning to Chase de Vere after leaving the IFA firm over four years ago.
House price rises and the plight of first-time buyers mean that housing has featured more prominently in this general election than in past years.
The departure of two regional sales managers from fund firm Insight has triggered speculation about the direction the company is taking.
Iimia made a 6.3m loss in the second half of 2004 after writing off Exeter Fund Managers.
The IMA is accusing the FSA of gold-plating for requiring reduction-in-yield calculations as well as total expense ratios to be shown on investment documents.
You know life is not perfect when you go to the bathroom and the plumber has fitted the new WC so that the seat will not stay up.
Intelligent FinanceOffset Discount 90
The number of borrowers with offset mortgages could double in the next two years, says Intelligent Finance.
The magical and consistent performance of George Luckraft, formerly of ABN Amro and for the past two-and-a-half years with Framlington, continues to impress the industry.
Jupiter's global green investment trust is fighting to fend off an attack from arbitrageurs after a shareholder demanded an EGM to wind up the fund.
Thursday, May 5 will see the biggest one-day show for financial intermediaries return to London's Olympia.
Research by Mortgage Brain reveals what introducers look for KFI generation and product selection. Mark Lofthouse, CEO of Mortgage Brain, assesses the survey's findings
Legal & General will offer a best of breed range of funds to its single-tied Bradford & Bingley advisers through Cofunds rather than the fund supermarket's full range.
Legal & General has taken a 25 per cent stake in Cofunds in a move that will make the firm the fund supermarket's biggest single shareholder.
The end of the tax year saw a last-minute surge in Isa business but IMA figures reveal that net Isa business nearly halved over the year to April compared with the previous year.
Legal & GeneralIndex Tracking Isa/Pep
Lifesearch is meeting with the ABI for talks on protection providers publishing critical-illness cover claim statistics.
Man Investments has expanded its Man Global Strategies structured product range with the introduction of the MGS diversified opportunities fund.
The MD of New Star started his working life on a fish farm but then swam against the tide to move into sales before landing a job and Barings and says he is hooked on increasing his firm's market share.
With the general election just a week away, cchm:ping chairman Lucian Camp ponders whether any changes might be forthcoming to genuinely simplify a financial services world which baffles both the public and copywriters.
Sharon Mason, previously marketing director of Momentum and then Origen, has left to set up her own "pay-as-you-go" marketing and PR company, SMUK Marketing.
The BBC is conducting an investigation into IFA commission for a Radio Four special programme to air in May.
Montpelier Group is continuing to expand in the Far East by joining forces with Malaysia-based IFA Expatriate Financial Services.
Blacktower Financial Advisers and Norwich & Peterborough Building Society are offering a commercial mortgage scheme aimed at Sipp investors.
SchrodersSchroder S&P Cautious Managed Distribution Portfolio
In a world where we are all increasingly specialising to survive, someone who is a fund of funds manager and a financial adviser looks out of place. Surely it is a way of doing both things badly? Why not do just one of them properly and have an easier life?
New Star managing director Mark Skinner says the firm would lock in fund managers in a market flotation.
Norwich UnionTerm Assurance and Mortgage Life Insurance products
Norwich Union UK chief executive Gary Withers says improving service levels is his number one priority because the weakness of its admin is losing it business.
The Office of Fair Trading has issued a harsh reminder to mortgage brokers that fail- ure to disclose drink and drug offences can lead to the refusal of a consumer credit licence.
Online enquiries are now as important a source of new business as enquiries made on the phone, says IFA Promotion.
I have all due respect for Harry Katz's prowess as an industry commentator and fellow contributor to these pages but I do wonder whether or not there is any point to what seems to be his ongoing feud with John Ellis over the purpose or relevance of the Personal Finance Society, as the LIA and the Sofa have now become.
Stockbroker Pilling & Co is offering to set up agency agreements for IFA clients who are interested in the fund of funds' stakeholder option on its child trust fund.
Many brokers are still favouring low rates and tracker products continue to have wide appeal so the news that Nationwide is launching even lower rates was well timed.
Prudential is refusing to pay commission to endowment-chaser firms and will only pay settlements directly to customers.
Prudential has overtaken Standard Life to take second place in market share of the life and pension sector after a 11 per cent rise in first quarter new business.
Reform of the tax system for trusts has been under consideration since the pre-Budget report of 2003. Progress is slow but the good news is that the Government continues to work with various representative bodies to secure consensus on the best way to simplify trust taxation still further to help people manage their affairs while ensuring that trusts are not used to achieve an unfair tax advantage.
Royal Bank of Scotland is understood to be considering how its two brands - The One Account and First Active - are positioned within the group.
Regulatory costs typically eat up 20 per cent of commission and are so high that they should be disclosed under the payment menu, says Informed Choice managing director Nick Bamford.
Increasing professionalism in the buy-to-let market supp- orts lenders offering rental calculations using low payment rates, says Pink Home Loans associate director Dev Malle
The FSA has assured product providers that its new process for assessing the risks posed to consumers by financial products will not stifle innovation.
With regard to Graham Carver's letter (Money Mark- eting, April 14 ) concerning risk profile and the FSA and FOS's latest dictum, I think current policies are far too general (numbers do not mean anything) and loose (expressions mean different things to different people ).
Tax increases are on the cards whether Labour or the Conservatives win the general election, says Schroders.
The Schroder US small and mid cap fund, formerly the Schroder American fund, aims for growth by investing in under-researched elements of the US small and mid cap market.
Misys has received an "underperform" rating from Credit Suisse First Boston which is questioning the saleability of Assureweb and Sesame.
I would like to add my voice to those of David Barnett and Alan Parkinson (Money Marketing, last week) in expressing my dissatisfaction with the way that the Personal Finance Society is shaping up.
The Financial Services Skills Council is consulting on compliance standards for staff working in compliance and money- laundering prevention.
Fund Distribution has begun sending application forms to investors who may be eligible for compensation over the split-cap debacle.
Isn't it funny how quickly things change in our industry? After four years of using uneconomic commission to establish a false market for stake- holder pensions, many product providers have suddenly gone cold on the idea.
Standard Life is introducing a series of seven free booklets called The Easy Technology Guides which aim to educate IFAs on the advantages of online tools.
Andrea Tryphonides finds that Accord puts a high priority on broker relationships.
Scottish Widows Investment Partnership has appointed Simon Wombwell as head of UK distribution and Chris Walker as managing director of international.
Philip Scott finds that although there may be forecasts of a market decline on the way, brokers are well placed to continue to thrive.
Threadneedle is losing three of the five members of its high-yield bond team.
I am what many would describe as very comfortably off and have recently married for the second time. While I love my wife very much, she is younger than I am and is likely to survive me. Following my death, I would want my wife to be comfortable and continue to live in our house, which is in my sole name. However, I am conscious that should she inherit my estate and subsequently remarry, my estate could be diverted away from my two grown-up children, who I would like to be my ultimate ...
Insurance and investment firms are seemingly most helpful in providing lo-call 0845 and 0870 phone numbers with which to contact them. But is this as altruistic as it first appears to be? Some of these numbers allow for a structure whereby the company being called ret-ains part of the cost of each call.
It is possible to learn quite a bit about the advice that consumers get if one samples the advice being given to around 2,000 of them a week.
The Conservatives have a commanding lead among IFAs in a Money Marketing/Cicero Consulting general election poll, getting more votes than the other two main parties combined.
The Times' economic editor Anatole Kaletsky easily wins my accolade for the most thoughtful and far-reaching piece on the general election campaign.
The critical-illness market is once again the subject of debate, with providers and distributors discussing its future and position in the sales process.
Following FSA warnings over the potential misselling of VCTs, Amanda Newman looks at developments in the market, including the rise in popularity of the dual VCT structure
Last week came one of those moments which the financial services industry has been building up to for years - the start of compensation payouts for investors in split-capital investment trusts.
Virgin chief Richard Branson's strategy of attacking intermediaries over comm- ission is rearing its head again in Aus- tralia with the company launching a pension product.
Do you as an IFA feel spoilt for choice when you survey the parties and policies that have been presented to you in the last few weeks?
Woolwich Plan ManagersCapital Growth Plan 8
World Golf Systems is an enterprise investment scheme investing in a company which develops golf games based on patented golf ball tracking technology.