28 May 2008
A total of 38,704 new mortgages were approved in April, up from 35,546 in March, according to statistics released on Tuesday this week by the British Bankers' Association, but down by 39 per cent on total approvals in April last year.
Aegon head of e-commerce David Campbell is leaving after a restructuring of the IT management team.
Julian Fosh is to join Liontrust UK equities team. The former Saracen fund manager will work with Anthony Cross, who runs the UK small-cap process.
The FSA has set out a discussion paper on whether it should publish more firm-specific and broader industry information in a bid to increase transparency.
The Government has committed to extending its 2.7bn 10p tax compensation package to future years.
Annie Shaw is a freelance financial journalistA week that started with root canal treatment and an associated bill of nearly £700 was only going to get better. Midweek saw me at a rather glamorous lunch at the London Capital Club in Abchurch Lane hosted by Pointon York Sipp Solutions.
More than a third of UK adults are expecting to have less spare money over the next six months, research by Alliance & Leicester has found.
More than a third of IFAs plan to advise clients to use products with guarantee, or so-called "third-way" products, as an alternative to traditional annuities, research by MetLife Europe has found.
Alliance & Leicester has become the latest lender to withdraw its Standard Variable Rate for new applications.
Abbey has extended its range of exclusive products to seven more of its Key Account partners.
Aberdeen Asset Management has announced the purchase of Goodman Property Investors for £89m.
Lord Adair Turner will be the first chairman of the FSA to be grilled by the Treasury Select Committee in a pre-commencement hearing, as part of new rules set out in the Governance of Britain Green Paper.
Aegon has unveiled ambitious targets to grow the value of UK new business by 35 per cent to £213m by 2010.
The Association of Independent Financial Advisers has reformed its RDR working party to prepare further feedback ahead of the next FSA paper in October.
The Association of Mortgage Intermediaries is collating evidence of current UK mortgage market practices to create a reference point for any future claims against advisers.
Moneyfacts says annuity rates faltered slightly during the first quarter but average rates have recovered to just above the levels seen in December last year.
Apcims has warned future FSA chairman Adair Turner that less is more when considering regulation in the stockbroking sector.
The average UK worker will retire on £215 per week - less than the current minimum wage, research by Fidelity International has found.
Axa has revised rates for its protection range, cutting 37 per cent of premiums.
Bradford & Bingley says arrears in the more recently acquired mortgages from GMAC have been higher than anticipated.
Bankhall's Portavista platform started trading on Tuesday this week with 60 registered firms.
Annuity Direct managing director Stuart Bayliss has accused the Association of British Insurers of "spinning" its open market option research to favour annuity providers.
Today is understood to be the deadline for bidders to submit offers for Royal Bank of Scotland’s insurance business.
Industry compliance expert Bill Warren has launched a new consultancy firm.
Eight of the nine members of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee voted in favour of maintaining bank base rate at 5 per cent this month.
When considering the new rules for UK-resident non-doms, we must remember that paying the £30,000 charge means that all income and gains arising abroad will avoid tax on the arising basis.
Mortgage lending reached £6.4bn in April, lower than the March figure and the previous six-month average, according to the Bank of England.
The Edinburgh Solicitors Property Centre has linked up with the Bank of Ireland to offer low-cost access to the Bank's 1st Start deal.
Fidelity investment director Anthony Bolton believes this is the worst banking environment he has ever known.
Investment bond business plummeted by nearly 40 per cent to £6.463bn in the first quarter of this year compared with the previous quarter and by almost 30 per cent from the same time last year.
Hargreaves Lansdown has kicked a number of high-profile managers off its Wealth 150 list of favourite funds, including Jupiter's Edward Bonham Carter and Schroders' Andy Brough.
Neptune founder Robin Geffen believes that boutiques have a massive advantage in being owned by their managers.
Do you think multi-ties could easily convert to IFAs?
Over 75 per cent of Pink Home Loans’ brokers expect the Bank of England to keep the base rate at 5 per cent in June.
Over a third of brokers have seen an increase in the number of mortgages they arrange over £500,000 in the past few years, according to Bank of Scotland.
The Information Tribunal has ruled that the Government must disclose whether Prime Minister Gordon Brown sought legal opinion to see if the Financial Services and Markets Bill was compatible with the Human Rights Act.
Public sector employees should give up some of their benefits to pay for proper state pensions, says Pointon York chairman Geoffrey Pointon.
Last week, Money Marketing said Chris Willford, the recently appointed Personal Accounts Delivery Authority non-executive director, was formerly Bradford & Bingley group financial director. Willford is, in fact, still in the role. We apologise for any confusion caused.
The CII Group has launched a series of three opinion papers, Thinkpiece, covering different aspects of the financial services sector.
The Council of Mortgage Lenders is forecasting that house prices will drop by 7 per cent by the end of this year despite the fact that lending was up 5 per cent in April.
Cofunds has reached £15bn of assets under administration on its platform.
Commercial First has arranged a 40m three-year working capital facility from Lloyds TSB, adding to the 12m in shareholder equity raised in December and May. The firm says it does not mean an immediate return to new lending but does ensure it is well funded to continue to manage its existing 1.6bn portfolio effectively.
Barclays have been accused by compliance consultant Adam Samuel of sending out misleading information on payment protection insurance after applying for a credit card with the bank.
Conti Financial Services has signed an exclusive partnership with John Charcol to provide overseas mortgages.
An actuarial firm is bringing a High Court action against Scottish Widows, alleging it gave negligent advice to around 100 company pension schemes by recommending a move out of funds with guaranteed annuities to its managed fund.
I would like to make a suggestion as to how the problems of the outstanding MBS and their illiquidity, could be accomplished sooner, rather than later. If the timetable drags out till the next budget, in a Chancellor of the Exchequer style, it will be too late for many market participants and ultimately the consumer and the economy will suffer deeper and longer.
Norwich Union and policyholder advocate Clare Spottiswoode are reckoned to be close to submitting a proposal to the FSA over the insurer's 5bn inherited estate.
Financial services research group Defaqto has analysed the performance implications of selecting funds based on comparative tables in its multi-manager guide, Blending Talents.
Dual pricing has landed borrowers not only with the research but all the administration involved in arranging their mortgage if they choose to apply for a direct deal. Brokers across the country will be asking themselves whether to offer a service to advise on and administer direct applications for an extra fee. In the current climate, it would make business sense to adapt to whatever service we can charge for and providing a choice would certainly be treating customers more fairly than ...
The days of dual-pricing are numbered as key mortgage lenders reconsider their pricing strategies in response to broker outrage, says Positive Solutions.
The Government's own projections show pension personal accounts will not reduce the number of households on state benefits.
Volatility and periods of pronounced weakness have marked European equity markets following four years of strong gains. Banks were initially at the epicentre of these market moves but concerns about the economic outlook have begun to affect the wider market. We think that the root causes of this volatility - a higher risk premium and softer growth - are here to stay for the foreseeable future.
Goldsmith Williams is a familiar name in the mortgage broking market. The law firm is one of the biggest providers of conveyancing services to brokers but joint founder and senior partner Eddie Goldsmith says the move into conveyancing came more by accident than design.
The National Association of Estate Agents says members are seeing signs of stability in some areas of the housing market, including sales agreed, the number of viewings before a sale is secured and the average difference between asking and sales price.
Financial services advertising, including online marketing, will face even tougher restrictions under the new consumer protection regulations introduced this week, according to law firm Herbert Smith.
The Association of Independent Financial Advisers says the Financial Ombudsman Service's annual review is a "clear endorsement" that customers are satisfied with IFAs.
Friendly societies paid out an average of 95 per cent of income protection claims last year, according to the Association of Friendly Societies.
The FSA has launched a new website offering financial information for young adults as part of its National Strategy for Financial Capability.
The FSA has announced it is considering using league tables of poor service and publishing the number of complaints banks and financial services companies receive.
An FSA consultation paper is proposing insurance companies no longer be allowed to charge compensation for misselling to the inherited estates of with-profits funds.
Fidelity FundsNetwork has published a white paper aimed at helping advisers choose between funds and insurance bonds.
Neptune founder Robin Geffen says he is disappointed that the regulators have failed to create a single European market for investment funds.
Online compliance consultant Joanne Roberts has released TCF guidance notes for advisers at www.ComplianceIT.com
Nearly half of advisers are confused about the evidence the FSA expects them to produce by the December treating customers fairly deadline.
Halifax is to cut its tracker rates and fees from June 2.
Barings is the latest firm to respond to growing investor interest in the agriculture sector, with a fund planned for the third quarter of this year.
This week former Fidelity special situations manager Anthony Bolton delivered his view on the current state of the economy, claiming that in his experience the bear market still has further to go.
HBOS has ruled out taking part in the Government's new shared equity scheme until market conditions improve.
Neptune founder Robin Geffen says he can see the attractions for firms to run hedge funds because of the high fees they can charge but performance for investors has been poor.
Wealth manager HFM Columbus has acquired independent financial adviser firm Orchard Lane Ltd.
It nearly always pays to invest in a stockmarket which has performed badly for a couple of years, despite the likelihood of corporate profits continuing to increase. The North American market is a case in point.
House prices fell by 2.5 per cent in May, the largest recorded monthly fall in the history of Nationwide Building Society's house price monthly index.
House prices have fallen for the eighth month in a row according to new figures from the Land Registry.
Complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service about IFAs have plummeted from 12 per cent of total cases in 2006/07 to just 4 per cent in 2007/08 while bank complaints rocketed.
Complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service about IFAs have plummeted from 12 per cent of total cases in 2006/07 to just 4 per cent in 2007/08 while bank complaints rocketed.
The IMA stats saw an upturn in April with net retail sales at £1.5bn.
SVM Asset Mangement global opportunities co-fund manager Colin McLean says investors should rebase divdend expectations and recognise the merits of slow but steady dividend growth in sectors such as tobacco and utilities.
LV= launched a new protection product this week, which may, for once, be truly innovative.
John Charcol has confirmed it has closed its Birmingham branch as part of a restructuring of the firm.
John Charcol has confirmed it is currently in negotiations with chief executive Ian Kennedy about his future role at the firm.
Fidelity fund manager John Stavis is to go on a six-month sabbatical from July 1, 2008.
Jupiter has revealed its new strategic bond fund will focus on investment grade bonds issued by large European/US banks, with around a third of the portfolio held in financials.
Leadpoint is to launch corporate health insurance leads after trading private medical insurance leads for over a year.
Nationwide non-retail executive director Matthew Wyles has admitted that the lender is underweight in the buy to let market.
It's not very often that good news grabs the headlines, especially in regulation, but this week has seen a string of coups for advisers.
Lexicon Surveying Services ceased trading as of last Friday.
Former PIA director Lord Lipsey, who controversially claimed that some pension and endowment policyholders only received misselling payouts after being untruthful about their policies, is to chair the Financial Services Consumer Panel.
Millicent Lai has quit as manager of Schroders' £190m Pacific fund.
London Scottish Bank has secured an £85m credit facility to grow its Robinson Way debt purchase business.
London Scottish Bank has sold its subsidiary LSIF to Hitachi Capital for £28.5m.
LV= has launched a new income protection product designed to replace mortgage payment protection insurance.
M2 Financial has unveiled a three-year plan to double assets under management to £800m and treble its number of advisers to 75.
The product price in any industry is a key part of the buying decision but it is only one part of the decision-making process and people are sometimes prepared to pay more for a product because it exactly matches their individual requirement and the value on offer.
The UK finds itself in a most peculiar situation where a state-owned bank is treating its customers probably as unfairly as it is possible to treat them short of defrauding them of their money.
Over the past few years, the FSA and the Treasury have been trying to improve the annuity position for those retiring with a money-purchase pension. It is important that they get this right. The at-retirement market is set to explode in size, with Watson Wyatt predicting that it could rise from £13bn today to £49bn by 2017. Most people in this market will buy an annuity with their pension pot.
Meteor Asset Management has announced the launch of its latest commodities plan.
Online mortgage firm mform.co.uk has launched what it says is the UK’s first service to compare new and existing mortgage deals.
Mike Hughes has resigned from his role as CEO of Burns-Anderson less than three months after Money Portal acquired the business.
Banks and commodity companies were once again the main focus of attention this week.
Mortgage Advice Bureau is developing an IFA business to offer pension and investment advice to mortgage clients.
PSigma income manager Bill Mott believes that an inflection point is becoming more likely as the Government looks to stave off a possible recession.
Towers Perrin Tillinghast suggests that the FSA has got it wrong in what it is suggesting for multi-ties. Indeed, it argues that multi-tied advice is often better than that provided by IFAs.
At the start of depolarisation, firms could choose to recommend products from the whole of market, from a limited range of providers or from one provider only.
Net lending was down 40 per cent in April at £666m compared to £1.1bn the same month last year, the latest figures by the Building Societies Association reveal.
New Star has proposed a new share-based plan that will keep the core of its senior management, fund managers and sales team at the firm until the end of 2012.
New Star's Indian equity fund launches on June 9 and will invest in around 40 stocks and have a minimum investment of £3,500.
The FSA’s finalised fee rates for 2008/09 have remained largely at the same level as those consulted on in February, with three fee-blocks seeing a reduction.
Standard & Poor's has seen an increase in non-conforming borrowers struggling to meet their mortgage payments in the first quarter of this year.
Northern Rock is to double its debt management staff in the coming year due to a worsening economic situation.
The Office of Fair Trading has raided the offices of Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays over allegations of price fixing.
Almost one in two Britons are putting their life on hold as they are unable to afford to pay for big costs like mortgages and further education without the aid of inheritance.
Money Marketing does not believe the status quo is an option when discussing reform of the annuity market.
The Personal Accounts Delivery Authority is to consider including ethical investment among the options for personal accounts.
The Pensions Corporation is offering an insurance product to protect companies' defined-benefit pension funds against longevity risk.
Pink Home Loans is looking to add bridging loans, equity release and home reversion plans to expand its proposition over the coming months.
Pink Home Loans has provided its appointed representatives with a guide to interest only mortgages at recent seminars held across the country.
A policyholder is waiting for a verdict after taking Claims Services International, a subsidiary of Unum Provident and Phoenix Life, to an employment tribunal for allegedly breaching the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
It has to be good for consumers that the FSA is finally getting its teeth into the annuity market. The regulator's leaked report into the open market option has used empirical evidence to show what many of us have suspected for years - that life insurers are profiting through an annuity purchase process based on consumer apathy fostered through complexity and poor practice.
Prestbury’s chief operating officer and co-founder Stephen Keenan resigned as director of the company yesterday.
This month's rebalancing brought a cut in the number of individual funds and fund providers in the AFI, a drop in UK equities' exposure and a cautious re-entry into property funds.
The FSA has fined three mortgage brokers for their inability to demonstrate they had recommended affordable mortgage contracts that met their clients' needs.
Restrictions which intend to protect businesses after an employee leaves or an agency agreement ends feature heavily in the financial services world. However, there is a lot of disagreement and misunderstanding about how enforceable these restrictions are.
It is perhaps unwise to look back to last year to deliver any thoughts on the current state of the mortgage market but there is one sector that has been fundamentally changed by events which took place a little over a year ago that are not related to the credit crunch.
The latest industry thinking on the FSA's retail distribution review interim report suggests that if the proposals are unchanged, multi-tie companies will need to overhaul their business models.
Bank of Ireland personal lending managing director Richard Brown has replaced Bradford & Bingley chief executive Steven Crawshaw as chairman of the Council of Mortgage Lenders, in an acting capacity.
Professional services firm RSM Bentley Jennison has bought the audit, accounting and tax compliance arm of accounting firm Wenham Major.
Bankers' bonuses will come under scrutiny as part of the FSA's assessment of financial institutions' exposure to risk.
The first Financial Services Act was passed 20 years ago. Few people will remember the early fumblings of the various bodies appointed to self-regulate their various financial sectors. They were too cosy and did not really know what was required but, by hell, they would now.
Many homeowners are choosing to rent out their properties after struggling to sell in the current market, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
Property fund manager Seven Dials is planning a fund of Asian property funds that may be a springboard for a global offering.
The majority of respondents to the FSA's discussion paper on liquidity requirements for banks and building societies say quantitative requirements are a necessary component and want a single quantitative regime to replace the existing three.
John Charcol, one of the most well known mortgage broking brands in the UK, has had a tough time of it lately and this looks set to continue.
I would like to invest more ethically. What advice can you give me?
Standard Life wants the Department for Work and Pensions to auto-enrol employees into group personal pensions on a voluntary basis before 2012.
Mortgage brokers are calling on the FSA to clarify its definitions of adviser status after it signalled a rule change on mandatory disclosure of status during a speech on dual pricing.
It is perhaps because we are a fund house that specialises only in funds of funds that we get so evangelical in promoting the concept.
I have started to wonder whether the FSA is truly obligated to treating customers fairly.
The Money Centre is to cut up to 35 jobs across a number of departments within the next two months.
The FSA has reappointed three non-executive directors to the board of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, effective from 1 June 2008.
A few weeks ago, after a column in which I criticised Aifa's Manifesto for Advice as offering little more than a recipe for "motherhood and apple pie", I received an email from Norwest Consultants' redoubtable Harry Katz.
Tisa has joined Standard Life in calling for the Government to allow auto-enrollment into group personal pensions before 2012.
Conservative Shadow pensions minister Nigel Waterson has rejected introducing Australian-style compulsory pension contributions.
Listening to Jupiter's Edward Bonham-Carter giving his views on the state of the stockmarket on BBC Radio 4's Today programme reminded me how misleading indices can be. The FTSE 100's recovery to within a few percentage points of last year's highs masks the fact that some sectors have suffered greatly. The good performance of mining and oil shares has helped boost the overall level of the index.
Towers Perrin claims the retail distribution review has failed to recognise that tied or multi-tied advisers can in many cases deliver a better service than whole of market advisers.
There still seems to be a great deal of confusion among advisers as to what customer-agreed remuneration is.
True Potential is now giving its 3,100 users clear guidance on treating customers fairly as a new TCF module forms part of its finalised first stage of development.
A top regulatory consultant has warned that if Adair Turner - a front-runner for the post of chairman of the FSA - gets the job, he may be less swayed by industry feedback than current chairman Sir Callum McCarthy.
UBS is to launch a 7.8bn rights issue. The fully underwritten rights issue will be offered to shareholders at a discount of more than 30 per cent.
In the wake of the publication of the RDR interim report, I headed to the US for a conference where all the attendees take zero commission and yet continue to prosper, possibly because they have a specification or protocol of the type of client that they can service in the most profitable and optimum fashion.
US investor Texas Pacific Group has taken a 23 per cent stake in Bradford & Bingley.
Treasury Economic Secretary Kitty Ussher will be the keynote speaker at the Aifa AGM and annual dinner on Wednesday, November 19.
Every time you hear the word sabbatical in connection with a fund manager, the first thing that springs to mind is that the manager will not be returning.
With-profits fund allocation is getting increasingly difficult and complicated considering the current market environment.
Pointon York global economist Roger Nightingale says it is inevitable that the retirement age will have to rise to cope with the aging population.
A few weeks ago, you ran an article in which certain industry commentators suggested that most of the IFA market is unjustly biased against lifetime annuities and is failing to wave the flag for them as enthusiastically as it ought to. The lifetime annuity, they claimed, is really a great product, the virtues of which IFAs ought to be doing far more to promote to their clients.
The overall aim is to allow investors to compare fund yields on a like-for-like basis, helping them understand what yields show and how they are calculated and giving information about the dist-ributions they might receive from funds.