30 April 2008
Over a quarter of advisers have seen at least a 50 per cent increase in efficiencies since adopting e-services, revealed by 1st - The Exchange.
PruProtect’s decision to boost the commission it pays advisers who sell its severity-based critical illness cover has come under fire this week.
Annie Shaw is a freelance financial journalistTo One Aldwych Hotel for an early-morning briefing about Yorkshire Building Society's e-bond. After PR doyen David Holmes had wiped the dripping egg from our chins as we consumed the fare that the Northerners call "breakfast teacakes", communications cutie Tanya Jackson was anxious to dispel any myth that the new savings product was an "Eeh bah gum" bond although the not ungenerous interest rates did seem to go against ...
Abbey will start offering exclusive deals to its key account partners on Friday after withdrawing from the market in March.
Aberdeen Asset Management is to acquire Goodman Property Investors for an initial cash consideration of £89m.
The Association of British Insurers says life offices need to become "new model insurers" to be successful in the future.
Hargreaves Lansdown has accused the Association of British Insurers of abandoning its commitment to customer service by ditching its 10-day turn-round target for open-market annuity processing.
Sentiment towards commercial property has taken a dramatic downturn among the Adviser Fund Index panellists, according to the latest AFI survey.
The FSA is warning adviser firms that they must have systems and controls in place to protect clients' data from financial crime.
Aifa is claiming victory after the FSA took up many of its recommendations in its retail distribution review interim report.
Alliance & LeicesterBuy-to-Let Two Year Fixed Rate
Alliance & LeicesterFive-Year Fixed Fee Saver
Alliance & LeicesterTwo-Year Fixed Rate
The Association of Mortgage Intermediaries has told members it is considering seeking involvement from the Office of Fair Trading over lenders’ dual pricing strategies.
The Association of Mortgage Intermediaries has stated it has "major reservations" over the recent move by lenders in offering substantially better rates through their direct channels.
My many years of experience in advising individual and corporate clients about annuities and drawdown, advising insurance companies about product development and speaking with the Government and regulators leaves me in no doubt that drawdown will continue to replace annuities as the preferred option for many middle-Britain investors. That is, provided that clients get the correct advice and the industry continues to develop innovative products like variable annuities.
The Association of British Insurers says it has toughened up its standards for processing open market annuities by scrapping its 10-day turn-round rule in favour of insurers paying out funds by a selected retirement date.
Arc Capital & IncomeArc Fixed Income Plan 5
Arc Capital & IncomeStepped Kick-Out Plan 4
Arc Capital & income has introduced its fifth fixed income plan, a capital-protected bond that provides monthly or annual income during a term of five years and three weeks.
Reports from the European Commission, confirmed by the Department for Work and Pensions, say employers will be able to auto-enrol employees into group personal pension plans without offending EU regulations on distance marketing. Although we still await definitive information, this is good news for pension providers and employers which sponsor GPPPs or who intend to set them up in 2012 as an alternative to personal accounts.
AXA WF human capital is a Sicav with an unusual investment strategy based on the belief that people are a company’s most important asset.
Axa Investment ManagementAXA WF Alpha Asian Bonds
Axa Investment ManagementAxa WF Human Capital Fund
Axa is offering its Sipp customers the chance to invest in hotel rooms through specialist investment company GuestInvest.
Checkmate Mortgages executive chairman Stephen Knight believes the UK mortgage market will suffer a £100bn shortfall of gross mortgage lending this year.
The Bank of England has warned that risk premia in some markets has become too high and is likely to contribute to the delay in the return of confidence and risk-taking.
Which? is calling on banks to surrender in their legal battle with the Office of Fair Trading over charges.
Barclays group chief executive John Varley has warned of the danger that risk management could turn to risk aversion as a result of the current confidence crisis.
The future of investment bonds is being questioned again as the capital gains tax changes provoke new debate over their suitability compared with investments in unit trusts and Oeics.
Schroders managing director of UK retail Robin Stoakley believes the climate has changed to favour bigger investment firms as investors look for innovative and niche products.
Mortgage brokers have hit out at Halifax, Nationwide and Cheltenham & Gloucester for offering substantially better rates through direct channels.
Birmingham Midshires has appointed Tim Hague as director of savings and investments.
Old Mutual Asset Management fund manager Ashton Bradbury is to step down from the £507m UK mid-cap select fund at the end of this year.
Bradford & Bingley has cut its in-house mortgage adviser team by around 100 to 40.
Bright Grey's new business levels have fallen by 19 per cent from £47m in the first quarter of 2007 to £38m in the same period this year.
Was the Bank of England wrong not to include specialist lenders in its £50bn rescue package for banks?
A war has begun. After weeks of frustration, watching several big lending players begin to even more aggressively undercut brokers through their direct channels, the intermediaries have decided enough is enough.
As a child, I used to ask my mother what she had meant BY an earlier comment, she would retort with "just what I say" and I was no further forward. In short, no definition equals no clue.
Vincent Cable says mortgage brokers should not be made the scapegoat for borrowers who get in financial trouble.
Cavanagh Group's profits leapt by 50 per cent to £1.5m last year from £1m in 2006.
Cazenove Capital Management is to have the AA ratings on its European Oeic fund range upgraded to AAA by Standard & Poor's.
Royal Liver says its adviser arm Park Row had a "challenging 2007". It lost around 100 advisers and closed 17 branches.
Chelsea will withdraw its intermediary product range from end of play today after receiving a high volume of mortgage applications from brokers.
Cheshire Building Society2-Year Discount
This really cannot go on. Last week, for the third or fourth week in a row, I got a set of emails from readers of this column telling me how much they agreed with my comments.
Clarkson Hill saw profits fall from 11,591 to 6,439 for the six months ending in January.
Cofunds will be listing three Legal & General multi-manager funds on its platform this week, covering income, growth and balanced strategies.
The number of house purchase approvals slumped by nearly 50 per cent in March compared with a year ago, says the British Bankers' Association.
Dalton Strategic Partnership partner Richard Jones believes it can be a competitive advantage to have a local manager in an inefficient market.
Dalton Strategic Partnership has created the Melchior Selected trust Indian opportunities fund by bringing its specialist Melchior Indian opportunities fund into its flagship offshore fund range.
Dalton Strategic PartnershipMelchior Selected Trust Indian Opportunities Fund
Alliance & Leicester chairman Sir Derek Higgs died suddenly on Monday at the age of 64. He was the author of an influential report on corporate governance.
Advisers will probably have to reach diploma or equivalent as the minimum standard, with the potential for higher requirements for specialist advice.
Reduced consumer confidence is having an impact on investment and mortgage sales for advisers at a time when the regulatory burden is increasing.
The majority of emerging markets have not escaped the global liquidity crisis unscathed but there have not been any material changes in the fundamentals of emerging market economies. The factors underpinning growth remain in place.
Last month, Money Marketing ran an open letter from seven of the biggest mortgage distributors, calling on brokers to understand and make allowances for the strain being placed on lenders by current market conditions.
I have received a statement from my personal pension provider that seems to show that my fund at retirement will be worth less than it is today, even if it grows at 5 per cent a year. Can this possibly be right?
Em Financial is looking to snap up three mortgage packaging firms in a bid to take advantage of market conditions.
Bridgewater Equity Release claim the latest figures from Safe Home Income Plans show a resilient market for equity release products despite a 13 per cent fall in the number of plans being sold.
Lord Hunt’s recommendation for the Financial Ombudsman Services to introduce a name and shame system could portray firms in a misleading light, according to law firm Eversheds.
The FSA has appointed former Barclays group finance director Naguib Kheraj to bolster its supervision processes in response to the Northern Rock debacle.
Despite the recent stockmarket turmoil, there are still some very good buying opportunities in the financial sector. Two of the best managers in the industry, Guy de Blonay and Philip Gibbs (no relation), manage excellent funds - New Star global financials and Jupiter financial opportunities respectively.
F&C is blaming uncertainty over its future for assets under management falling from £103.6bn in December 2007 to £101.8bn in March this year.
The FSA has made it clear that it still wants to stop product providers determining adviser remuneration but it is willing to offer greater flexibility on future payment arrangements, including front-loaded remuneration.
A senior Bank of England director has warned that action must be taken by banks and regulators to strengthen the financial system's defences to liquidity risk.
The FSA has banned South London mortgage broker Isah Attayi Mohammed for entering false information on mortgage application forms and submitting false mortgage applications to lenders.
The FSA has dropped its suggestion that advisers could face risk-based assessments to decide how much professional indemnity cover they should hold, with a flat rate now looking the likeliest option.
The FSA has more than doubled its insider dealing unit as part of its crackdown on illegal market activity.
The FSA's senior management received the same amount as bonuses in the year 07/08 as the previous year, despite the regulator admitting to “deeply worrying” mistakes in its handling of Northern Rock.
I am speaking on behalf of annuities which I confess to being passionate about but I also believe there is a role for drawdown and variable annuities for the right consumers at the right time.
Fidelity FundsNetwork is the first platform provider to sponsor corporate communications tool Marketing-Hub.
Aifa deputy director general Fay Goddard is to step down after working for over 10 years at the trade body and its predecessor.
The Government has signaled a review of the HMRC pension system, which it admitted could be resulting in thousands of women missing out on a full state pension.
Halifax has said it will no longer be offering SVR mortgages to new customers.
Hartford Life has added seven new funds and two new asset classes to its personal pension product.
House prices fell for the sixth consecutive month in April and prices now sit 1 per cent lower than this time last year, according to Nationwide.
House prices fell by 1.3 per cent in April, according to the Halifax house price survey.
HSBC InvestmentsCapital Protected Isa
Having just listened to Lord Hunt interviewed on BBC Radio Moneybox, I was immediately incensed when he referred to financial services participants as "players".
The Institute of Financial Planning has slammed the FSA for dropping proposals to separate advisers into general advisers and financial planners.
The Investment Management Association has called for the compensation limit for bank depositors to be increased from 35,000 to 50,000.
Property investment firm Inside Track Seminars has been put into administration. Vantis managing director Jeremy French and director Glyn Mummery are joint administrators.
Insight's multi-manager team is taking advantage of the fallout from the credit crunch by buying into bonds issued by banks.
Invesco Perpetual has launched a European High Income Fund.
Investec Asset Management is launching what it claims is the first-ever UK-domiciled natural resources fund.
Hasley Investment Management is adding to the investment trusts of hedge funds holdings in its recently launched diversifier fund of funds.
M&G multi-manager David Jane is boosting returns for investors in his multi-asset cautious fund by investing in parts of the market that other multi-managers are writing off.
Entrepreneurs' relief is on the face of it a very simple relief. Most people who have considered it will tell you that it delivers an effective rate of 10 per cent on chargeable gains of up to £1m made on the disposal of a qualifying business asset. Most will also probably know that the £1m limit is a cumulative lifetime limit.
JPMorgan Asset ManagementGlobal Consumer Trends Fund
Keydata has produced an educational guide to structured products as a tools advisers can use with their clients to demonstrate the benefits of the investment vehicle.
Since Living Time was launched in November 2006, chief executive Kim Lerche-Thomsen has been keen to get the word out about a new way of pension planning.
Legal & GeneralInternational Index Trust
Amid widespread speculation that mortgage complaints could skyrocket due to the credit crisis, mortgage brokers will be relieved to hear that the vast majority are expected to involve lenders.
Sifa has appointed Lester Killipas as commercial director, effective immediately.
In the midst of the Retail Distribution Review Interim Report hyper-activity that was last week Lifesearch said it was relaxed about the FSA extending the RDR to protection business, as long as proposals to distinguish advice from sales go ahead.
The merger of Sumus Group into Lighthouse becomes effective today, resulting in the de-listing of Sumus shares.
Lloyds TSB has moved to reassure the market that it has robust capital ratios and a strong liquidity and funding position in its Interim Management Statement issued today.
The Bank of England monetary policy committee voted 6-2 to cut base rate this month, with one member wanting an immediate 0.5 per cent reduction rather than the 0.25 per cent cut that took placeMervyn King, Rachel Lomax, John Gieve, Kate Barker, Charles Bean and Paul Tucker voted for the 0.25 per cent cut to 5 per cent while Tim Besley and Andrew Sentence wanted rates to remain at 5.25 per cent and David Blanchflower wanted a 0.5 per cent cut.
Newcastle-based Lowes Financial Management has merged with another local IFA firm, Premium Independent Financial Management and says more acquisitions will take place.
LV= Asset Management and Lighthouse have agreed a distribution deal for four proposed OEIC sub-funds.
Lyxor Asset ManagementLyxor ETF Eastern Europe
Lyxor Asset ManagementLyxor ETF Hong Kong
Lyxor Asset ManagementLyxor ETF MSCI Korea
Lyxor Asset ManagementLyxor ETF Turkey
Treasury Select Committee chairman John McFall has questioned why anyone would buy a with-profits policy when shareholders can "raid" the inherited estates created from the funds at any time.
Given the extreme volatility witnessed since the start of the year, the past week must have come as something of a relief for many investors.
Mortgages Plc and Wave have temporarily stopped new lending, after months of speculation about the future of the two firms.
The FSA has ruled out implementing the RDR in the mortgage market in light of current conditions but is keeping an open mind for the future.
Munich Re is recruiting a head of marketing for its UK life business in a bid to boost its profile in the market.
NDFARegular Fixed Income Plan April 08
'The Platforum' is a new web portal that launched today by Cicero Consulting and strategic advisers HM Consulting.
Northern Rock has confirmed that the majority of the proposed 2,000 job cuts will happen this year.
Norwich UnionIncome Drawdown Plan
The Norwich Union brand name is to be phased out in the next two years in favour of Aviva.
Norwich Union's investment sales fell by 34 per cent to 436m in the first three months of the year from 657m last year.
Paul Scaff's letter about investment bonds is interesting but, as so many people do, he only seems to be interested in capital gains tax.
The corporate bond market looks set for recovery, with attractive valuations, says Old Mutual fund manager Stephen Snowden.
Conti Financial Services is setting up an overseas remortgaging service on residential property across 15 countries.
Deficits on final-salary schemes are being given an increasing profile by analysts when valuing their sponsoring employers, yet profiting from reducing deficits is burdened with increasing regulation.
Jupiter Unit Trust Managers has announced the appointment of Paula Moore as joint managing director, after Jane Petkovic stepped down from the role.
Pearl Group has appointed Resolution Asset Management chief executive Gavin Stewart to manage the firm's combined asset management business.
Housebuilder Persimmon has postponed starting work on its scheduled new sites after it revealed a slump of 18 per cent in sales volumes this year.
Personal Touch Financial Services has launched a "name and shame" gallery on its website to criticise those lenders that are directly undercutting the broking market.
Hot off the press is the news that F&C Asset Management is to lose half its multi-manager duo, Richard Philbin, with our own Chris Salih breaking the news before he headed off on holiday last night.
F&C multi-manager co-head Richard Philbin is leaving the company after seven years to join Axa.
Pink Home Loans has confirmed it will be making up to 40 jobs cut.
Platform has restructured its sales division in a bid to take advantage of opportunities once stability returns to the market.
International income funds continue to attract more traction in terms of new launches. This is a result of a real sea-change in so far as international markets are paying an income at all.
Let's get over those gloomy winter nights and open our eyes to look at spring which is doing its best to raise spirits. Birdsong is waking us all and, on my morning walk with my dog Max, I have been interested to see daffodils, tulips and now bluebells popping up in gardens and riverbanks. The golf clubs have even had an airing (on the driving range, of course) before seeing the green grass of a proper golf course when the sun gets higher in the sky.
Twenty-nine per cent of advisers expect clients to save less into their pensions this year due to market conditions, according to MetLife's adviser survey.
The concept underlying Aegon Scottish Equitable's investment control product is not unreasonable - it is an investment plan that provides some guarantees and certainty.
Most mortgage brokers believe novice landlords will stop buying new properties this year, according to research by The Mortgage Works.
Suffolk Life saw a record number of new Sipp applications in the first quarter of this year.
Lifesearch says it is relaxed about the FSA extending the RDR to protection business as long as proposals to distinguish advice from sales go ahead.
Today's self-doubt and procrastination in the mortgage market can be directly traced back to the "jam today" ethos of mortgage firms, happy to ride the gravy train even though they knew it would come to a sudden and abrupt halt.
Insurers - why do insurers call themselves manufacturers when they don't make anything? Why do providers keep on adding illnesses covered by their criticalillness policies they know will not result in a claim?
A rate war is raging in the annuity market with rates reaching a five-year high and an unprecedented 39 rate changes already this year.
Royal Bank of Scotland Group is to stop paying a share of lending fees to intermediaries for business lending introductions.
Sifa has hailed the FSA’s RDR Interim Report claiming its proposals are very much in line with its response to the discussion paper.
St James’s Place is confident its hand will not be forced into changing business model because it says the RDR Interim Report will not progress in its current form.
It is a natural reaction to be bearish amid current uncertainty over the depth and duration of the economic slowdown and investors have mostly flocked to defensive sectors. It is interesting that the normally cyclical commodities sector is trading at elevated prices despite recessionary concerns. Conversely, banks, retailers and housebuilders have been punished.
Mortgage commentators have hit out at the Bank of England's decision to exclude specialist lenders from its £50bn liquidity rescue package.
Royal London is breathing a sigh of relief over the final stage completion over Pearl's acquisition of Resolution.
Just Retirement sales rose by 12 per cent for its third quarter ending March 31 to 184.7m from 164.8m in the previous year.
Salt Commercial has become the latest lender to suspend new lending.
Schroders has expanded its range of equity income products with a fund that boosts income though a more defensive derivative-based strategy than used in the Schroder income maximiser product.
Aegon Scottish Equitable is offering a guaranteed onshore bond product to protect consumers against stockmarket volatility.
Professional services firm RSM Bentley Jennison has bought Northampton IFA Chancery Group which has six advisers.
NDFA has brought out a FTSE 100-linked structured product that provides a choice of annual or monthly income over a term of five years and six months.
Simply Biz's mortgage lending is up 20 per cent in the first quarter of the year compared to the same period last year, despite a 50 per cent fall in the total mortgage market.
Neil Loney and Neil Beer, of PA Consulting Group, set out how to draw up a model to achieve a fundamental shift in rethinking customer retention.
Skandia head of marketing Billy Mackay is leaving to join self-invested personal pension provider AJ Bell.
Spicerhaart has confirmed it is in final negotiations for the purchase of Tesco's estate agency business, Tesco Property Market.
Standard Life’s UK life and pensions net inflows were up 42 per cent to £826m in the three months to 31 March 2008.
Stellar Asset Management's first launch is its Stellar Baltic States fund that will allow investors to exploit opportunities emerging from Eastern Europe.
Standard Life Investments has appointed Guy Stern as head of multi-asset management.
Stress in the workplace is one of those increasingly problematic areas which is taking up more and more pages in the press as each year goes on.
We take treating customers fairly very seriously and two years ago we realised that we had to change the way we operate.
With the smattering of IFA conferences held this week, plus Money Marketing’s own Retirement Summit, the adviser community was somewhat difficult to pin down to garner responses to the RDR Interim Report.
Scottish Widows Investment Partnership has made the first manager change on its fund of funds range by bringing in JOHCM Capital Management's UK opportunities fund to its select boutiques Fof.
The financial services industry must make group life, income protection and critical-illness cover more attractive to employers and employees, says Swiss Re.
Call me contra-cyclical if you will but the gloomier the news becomes, the more comfortable I feel. I was put in mind of how I have reacted to news in the past by appearing on the panel at the Association of Investment Companies' roadshow in Leeds last week. The trouble with doing repeat performances is that you often repeat yourself. And I had, according to at least one member of the audience.
I have just been in Monte Carlo debating many issues surrounding retirement planning. There is always a debate about how to get people saving for retirement but the real business involves "at retirement" options or inheritance tax, effectively a discussion of how people lucky enough to already have a big pot of money will plan for the years anywhere from 50 to over 70.
Investors from the UK put more money into the Luxemburg-based funds of Franklin Templeton Investments and HSBC Investments than their onshore ranges which suggests that offshore funds are becoming an increasingly important part of the UK market.
Barrister Peter Hamilton of Pump Chambers makes some powerful observations in his recent Money Marketing article.
After a volatile first quarter, investors could be forgiven for thinking that the R-word spells recession.
Personal accounts are aimed at ensuring that more people enjoy a comfortable retirement but the current mechanics of how means-tested benefits might interplay with the proposed scheme threaten to leave many worse off.
Multi-ties could be stripped of their right to be called advisers as part of a radical shift in FSA thinking which sees the regulator acknowledge the value of whole of market advice.
Towergate has bought Glasgow-based insurance broker and financial advice firm MacDonald Reid Scott Group.
The heads of Transact have written to shareholders recommending that they vote against a potential trade sale or flotation due to the current market conditions.
The Treasury select committee is launching an inquiry into offshore financial centres, inviting written evidence of fitness for purpose.
Turkish property has increased in popularity with UK investors more than threefold over the past year, says Moneycorp.
Aviva shook things up this week by announcing that the Norwich Union brand name is to be phased out in the next two years.
The Intermediary Mortgage Lenders’ Association’s latest member survey reveals that lenders believe the UK will avoid a full-scale recession.
Wave LendingAlmost Prime Three-Year Fixed
This week, we published a White Paper on the credit crisis. It has been produced to set out the work that we have been doing behind the scenes, the latest state of the market and where we see the sector heading. As well as providing an economic analysis of the mortgage market, it also sets out the real value added by intermediaries in the mortgage market.
Whitechurch has sent a dossier of evidence to the FSA to complain about Windsor Life's poor service levels.
Skandia's new wealth management unit is to be headed by the chief executive of its UK business unit, Brett Williams.
Helm Godfrey managing director Bruce Wilson has called on advisers to stop using wraps until providers allow in specie re-registration.
We have already seen many false dawns for the age of wrap and we really are at the very beginning still.