4 June 2008
Investment bank Collins Stewart is calling on Bradford & Bingley shareholders in vote against the repriced rights issue. The UK Shareholders' Association has written to the FSA asking it to investigate the firm.
US fund management giant Federated Investors has emerged as one of the frontrunners in the 550m auction of Artemis. It is believed a deal will be announced within weeks.
Lehman Brothers predicts that oil prices will continue to rise until the bubble bursts in 2009.
One of the common objections levelled against guaranteed retirement income products is that they are overpriced. But overpriced compared with what? Annuities? Or simply over-priced for what they offer?
The protection market has been caught in the crunch, according to the latest figures from the Association of British Insurers showing a fall of 2.1 per cent in regular-premium accumulation and protection new business for the first quarter compared with last year.
Annie Shaw is a freelance financial journalistTo the Chelsea Flower Show as a guest of HBOS, where the flowers were fab and I met Jamie Oliver - no, not that one. The one enjoying Halifax's hospitality is the author of sundry books about death and sex (separate titles) and also writes about entrepreneurs and other financial things for the Daily Telegraph.
There is nothing under this particularly regulatory sun that says a mortgage network should not expand to the life, pension and investment side of the fence.
Aberdeen head of property asset management in the UK Glenn Newson has left the firm after just over a year.
The Association of British Insurers argued strongly against the Law Commission's plans to update insurance contract law despite 35 of the 39 insurers and reinsurers who responded supporting the reforms.
The FSA says fee rates for 2008/09 will remain at lar-gely the same level as fees consulted on in February, with three fee blocks seeing a reduction.
Aegon plans to increase its value of UK new business by 35 per cent to £213m by 2010 from the present level of £157m.
Nominations have opened for the election of three positions to the board of the Association of Finance Brokers.
Aifa says some big financial institutions are putting themselves before their customers as they try and reverse the interim proposals of the retail distribution review.
Alexander Forbes has slammed changes to the Pension Protection Fund levy which it warns will hit the industry hard.
Henderson's multi-manager team has invested in the Middle East and North Africa through Algebra Capital's alpha Mena fund.
One of the funds I invest in has been renamed an alpha fund. Can you explain what this means?
Former Downing Street pension adviser Dr Ros Altmann is calling on Lord Adair Turner to stand up to the Government on personal accounts in his new role as FSA chairman.
APC Underwriting has launched APC Alliance, a network that enables mortgage brokers and IFAs to place insurance for commercial clients.
If the EU had not made this exception for the UK, many employers would have closed down contract-based schemes such as group personal pensions, estimated by Mercers to be about two-thirds of employer-offered pension schemes, and moved to a personal account trust-based structure, which would undoubtedly have made people worse off in retirement with the proposed lower contribution rate.
Axa Sun Life chief executive Paul Evans has attacked FSA plans to create a clear differentiation between advice and sales, warning it could shrink the advice sector.
The statement by Bradford & Bingley this week that arrears in its more recently acquired mortgages from GMAC have been higher than anticipated raises some interesting questions.
Bradford & Bingley says arrears in its recently acquired mortgages from GMAC-RFC have been higher than expected.
Bristol & West has reduced the maximum loan to value of its standard variable rate to 90 per cent across all business channels.
Baillie Gifford has had a reshuffle on its European and Asia desks.
The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee has decided to maintain rates at 5 per cent this month.
Bank of England governor Mervyn King has announced it will be putting in place a liquidity facility that works in all seasons, not just under stressed conditions.
Barings Asset Management has appointed Harjeet Heer as the group’s global head of aggregate business.
The British Bankers’ Association is set to strengthen the London Interbank Offered Rate with a package of reforms announced today.
The FSA has banned Belfast mortgage broker Gerard McStravick, trading as Fast Track Mortgage and Finance Consultants, for knowingly submitting false mortgage applications to lenders.
Royal Bank of Scotland is thought to have extended the deadline for bids to buy its insurance business into June at the request of suitors.
Net mortgage lending dived by 40 per cent in April to 666m from 1.1bn in the same month last year, according to figures from the Building Societies Association.
Complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service about banks have rocketed in the past year while advisers have seen a major drop-off in cases.
Equity-release broker Home & Capital Advisers has set up a referral service that pays introducers 50 per cent of the procuration fee for every case.
Should the FSA publish complaints' information about poorly performing banks and financial companies?
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.
Bupa paid 80.8 per cent of critical illness claims last year.
They say timing is everything. Those canny investors who bought the Aberdeen (now New Star) technology fund in the mid to late 1980s would have seen stellar returns rather than those that simply jumped on the bandwagon in early 2000 just before the bubble burst.
Advanced and standard advisers scored identical pass rates in an online test on with-profits.
Chelsea Building Society and the Catholic Building Society have confirmed plans to merge.
Partnership Assurance has been bought out by private equity firm Cinven.
Last week, I started to look at the alienation rules in connection with long-term resident non-domiciliaries.
Close Ventures has made a 6.4m profit after disposing of its 49 per cent stake in occupational health service provider Grosvenor Health Group.
The Council of Mortgage Lenders has written to the Chancellor calling for a “clear statement” of its views on the potential reform of the safety net for borrowers.
Wealth manager HFM Columbus has acquired independent financial adviser firm Orchard Lane.
Stephen Knight is certainly right when he suggest that what we are living with is not a credit crunch as much as a liquidity freeze. The real problem is that the real credit crunch is just beginning. And through a combination of lack of Government intervention and a market acting with more emotion than analysis we are on the verge of a self-fulfilling downward spiral.
The Association of Mortgage Intermediaries believes the market has lost the power to heal itself. Market participants have insufficient ability to address the underlying fault lines – and running through the sub-strata is a thread of commercial advantage being played out as some institutions seek to remodel the market for their own benefit. What the market cannot solve, public policy must, if consumers are not to be the main losers.
Twenty-seven per cent of trustees with defined-benefit pension schemes in deficit believe the schemes will still be in deficit in 10 years time, according to a survey by Aon Consulting.
The Adviser Fund Index questionnaire for April shows that the panellists believe the UK is going to do relatively better than the US and Japan over the next 12 months.
Falling house prices mean that would-be equity-release clients could be well advised to make their move sooner rather than later.
In a competitive market, how far should your business go to gain advantage? Should you pursue opportunities for growth and increased market share, even if it compromises your corporate principles, values and vision? How long can you persist in positioning your business as a good corporate citizen when you are seeking to put your rivals out of business?
Datamonitor predicts the intermediary share of the mortgage market will only shrink by 2 per cent this year despite the concerns over dual-pricing.
Credit providers making a killing from the sale of PPI were dealt a potentially show-stopping blow last week with the announcement that point of sale PPI may be banned.
The Edinburgh Solicitors Property Centre has linked up with the Bank of Ireland to offer low-cost access to the bank's 1st Start guarantor deal.
Fidelity heads a host of financial services industry names donating to a resurgent Conservative party.
Fidelity has picked Michael Clark and Matt Siddle to take over the income plus and growth and income funds from John Stavis, who is taking a six-month sabbatical.
Network Data is offering an exclusive five-year fixed-rate mortgage deal from Abbey up to 60 per cent loan to value. Maximum loan is 550,000 and there is a 1,499 fee.
Aifa says the Financial Ombudsman Service's annual review is a "clear endorsement" that customers are satisfied with IFAs.
Friends Provident is thought to be nearing an announcement on the sale of Pantheon to a private equity buyer.
The FSA has appointed Jeremy Bennett, David Smith and Simon Stockwell as senior advisers in the wholesale and institutional business unit, with immediate effect.
The FSA has banned three South London brokers for submitting false mortgage applications to lenders backed by faked documents.
The FSA has launched a new website, www.whatabout money.info, offering information for young adults as part of its National Strategy for Financial Capability.
The FSA has published a consultation paper proposing to stop insurance companies from using the inherited estates of with-profits funds to pay compensation for mis-selling.
The FSA held talks with the UK’s largest banks to formulate a contingency plan in case the Bradford & Bingley rights issue had fallen through, according to press reports.
The Financial Services and Markets Tribunal has partially rebuffed the FSA over its application to appeal against a tribunal decision concerning solicitor firm Fox Hayes.
The FSA's Smaller Businesses Practitioner Panel has warned that the RDR may force some small firms out of business and as a result could push regulatory fees for remaining firms even higher.
Advisers have welcomed an FSA proposal to ban insurers from using with-profits inherited estates to pay misselling claims.
The FSA has asked the High Court to wind up a large UK ‘landbanking’ company for operating as an illegal collective investment scheme.
Law firm Goldsmith Williams is offering a free fee service to give brokers an alternative to lenders’ own free fee legal schemes.
Lord Adair Turner has been praised for improving the state pension structure as Pensions Committee chairman but there is a long way to go yet for personal accounts.
Mortgage commentators have welcomed the completion of HBOS's 500m residential mortgage-backed securitisation recently but many are sceptical on whether it will have any impact on the market.
Home Funding chief executive Tony Ward says banks and hedge funds are beginning to look at distressed sales from mortgage lenders.
House prices fell by 2.4 per cent in May, with prices 3.8 per cent lower on an annual basis according to the Halifax house price survey.
HSBC group chairman Stephen Green has told the banking industry it needs to go back to basics and realise the importance of retail deposits.
Mike Hughes has resigned as Burns-Anderson chief executive less than three months after Money Portal acquired the business.
An IFA has been sent for trial at Shrewsbury Crown Court on a series of deception charges.
A North-east IFA has been jailed for four and a half years after he stole more than £360,000 from investors.
The latest ombudsman report allows IFAs a wry smile as complaints against IFAs have plummeted while complaints against banks have rocketed.
A wealth manager forecasts that IFAs will increasingly look to develop their own platforms rather than adopting ready-made solutions.
It comes as little surprise to read that, now the FSA-orchestrated hindsight review of mortgage-related endowments is finally fading into history, we are seeing a dramatic increase in the proportion of complaints against banks and other big financial services organisations.
Nearly two out of five IFAs say they will advise clients to use guaranteed third-way products as an alternative to traditional annuities in the next year, says MetLife Europe.
The question of the open market option and pension investors' failure to use it has received widespread publicity in recent weeks.
After a fall of around 23 per cent in the first three months of this year, the Indian stockmarket now looks to be highly attractive. Over the past 10 years, the Indian economy has grown at an average annual rate of more than 7 per cent and is forecast to grow by 8.7 per cent in 2008/09.
Economic turbulence is nipping at the heels of UK plc like a determined Jack Russell. Coming as it does during a period of regulatory upheaval, members may ask what is being done to ensure that the voice of independent advice is heard above the hullabaloo.
Ingenious Asset Management says it decided against a fund of funds structure for its UK equity fund because it wanted to create a fund that was precision engineered.
Just last month I read that someone has launched a campaign for wet signatures for electronically submitted protection business.
Investment company managers believe the energy, online retail, tobacco and infrastructure sectors are best positioned to weather an economic slowdown, according to an AIC report.
My local paper has a regular column entitled Is it only me...? and each time I read it, I dwell on the financial services industry.
Just Retirement has appointed former Sesame chief executive Patrick Gale to the role of chief operating officer.
Prestbury co-founder and chief operating officer Stephen Keenan has resigned as director to launch a bridging lender.
Kensington is to offer parent company Investec's structured retail products through its distribution channel as it looks to widen its business.
Keydata Investment Services is launching a new range of structured product plans in a bid to help financial advisers beat the credit crunch.
Legg Mason has launched an emerging markets equity fund for its Dublin-domiciled global funds range.
Linda Will is to join Stroud & Swindon as sales and marketing director.
LV= has launched its enhanced with profit pension annuity on The Exchange’s Exweb portal.
ProtectionBy Helen PowLV= has launched a new income protection product which is designed to replace mortgage payment protection insurance.
Living Time has launched a campaign to rebrand the annuity open market option to make retirees more aware that they are not just limited to lifetime annuities.
Mortgages for more than £1m are becoming increasingly scarce as lenders look to curb volumes by restricting lending, says wealth manager HFM Columbus.
One of the advantages - perhaps it is a disadvantage - of becoming old is that you begin to realise that life has a tendency of repeating itself. Although all of us are, potentially at least, free agents and able to determine how we behave, most people tend to assume the roles that have been prescribed for them, most of the time.
IFA Life is running a six-month internet marketing mentoring programme to help firms build their presence on the web.
Meteor Asset Management is offering a commodity-linked investment plan with a choice of capital protection.
Online mortgage firm mform.co.uk is offering a service allowing borrowers to compare their deal with products from lenders across the whole market.
Northern Rock mortgage customers coming off fixed rate contracts remain at risk despite a remortgaging deal with Lloyds TSB and should shop around for the best deal, according to mform.co.uk.
Midas Capital Partners has unveiled its seven-strong UK fund range following the acquisition of iimiaMitonOptimal in March.
Mirae Asset Global Investments is launching nine emerging markets SICAV funds focused on the Asia Pacific region.
The FTSE slipped below the 6,000 barrier this week for the first time in seven weeks with the oil price continuing to drive much of the movement in the market.
The Mortgage Partnership has rebranded to become the Modus Mortgage Network, comprised of 25 appointed representative firms and over 40 registered individuals.
Multi-manager firms are raising their Japanese equity exposure, believing the market is due for a bounce back.
Nationwide has confirmed it will be taking part in the Government’s new shared equity scheme.
NDFA is offering another issue of its regular fixed-income plan which takes advantage of the new tax treatment of non-UK dividends announced in the Budget.
New Star has designed a new share-based incentive scheme to keep the core of its senior managers locked into the firm until the end of 2012.
Newcastle Building Society has made a soft-launch of a range of savings and investment products for intermediaries under the new brand of Newcastle IS.
Northern Rock has entered into a three-year commercial agreement with Lloyds TSB Bank to provide mortgages to Northern Rock customers approaching the end of fixed rate periods.
Norwich Union Insurance will make up to 1800 redundancies by the end of 2010 as part of a cost-cutting transformation programme.
The Nottingham Friendly Society is launching a new stocks and shares Isa with ethical, UK and global investment options.
The Office of Fair Trading has raided the offices of Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays in an investigation into alleged anti-competitive conduct over loan pricing.
The Office of Fair Trading has issued warnings to 12 businesses over sending unsolicited mailings which advise consumers to cancel existing individual voluntary arrangements.
Old Mutual extra income fund manager Leonard Klahr is to retire.
Cambridge University folklore tells of a student who, trawling through ancient legislation, found he could sit his exam while supping a beer. When he turned up to the exam and produced the proof, the astonished adjudicator brought him a pint. The next day, he was summoned to the don's office and fined for sitting an exam without wearing his sword.
OPM Fund Management sees greater value in the investment-grade area of the fixed-interest market compared with sub-investment-grade securities over the next two years.
Imagine a world where every meal is baked beans, every holiday a fortnight in Bognor Regis, every car a silver hatchback and every retirement income product a lifetime annuity.
Scottish Re's international arm has been sold to Pacific Life for £36m.
LibDem Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Danny Alexander is to leave the role to be chief of staff and chairman of the party's manifesto-writing committee. Cardiff Central MP Jenny Willott takes over.
The FSA says the transition period it gives IFAs to conform to the new definition of advice set out in the Retail Distribution Review will depend on what shape the final regulations take.
Pink Home Loans has become the latest network to expand its business range as a result of market conditions.
The Competition Commission is considering banning the sale of Payment Protection Insurance at the point of sale of a credit product in order to improve competition and lower prices.
Resolution Asset Management director Jonathan Polin says he would like to move further into the global equity and alternatives sectors and is not ruling out a joint venture in the future.
October 1, 2007 was a momentous day. Did you notice? For anyone involved in managing and investing assets for adults who lack, or may lack, capacity to make decisions for themselves because of a mental disorder or mental illness, it will go down in history as the day when a revolution took place.
Midlands-based IFA The Premier Group plans to recruit 15-20 extra consultants by the end of the year to diversify its business and raise the level of support and services.
Prestbury has appointed group compliance officer Maggie Cresswell to its board.
Cofunds has passed the £15bn mark in assets under administration on its platform.
Property-related investments hit Bradford & Bingley as it suffered an 8m loss in the first four months of this year.
House prices fell by 2.5 per cent in May, the biggest monthly fall in the history of Nationwide Building Society's house price survey.
Axa is offering an estate planning account with an opt-ional guarantee to protect either the settlor's income or the beneficiary's inheritance from stockmarket volatility.
PruHealth and PruProtect policyholders could get return travel to Paris for as little as £10 in a new partnership with Eurostar.
Bestinvest has dropped its ratings on three Artemis funds, citing issues with fund size and investment process SmartGarp.
The Royal Bank of Scotland Group says it has placed a rights issue rump at 230p a share for the remaining 299,375m new shares.
The Royal Bank of Scotland has received a 95 per cent take up of its £12bn rights issue.
Aifa believes the FSA must continue to be on its guard against toxic products although its plans will help to stop spikes of misselling.
The thorny question of platform to platform re-registration, or rather the lack of it, is again attracting widespread commentary from many wrap providers.
ResolutionAsset Japan fund manager Natasha Chetwynd believes the return of inflation in the country after 15 years could trigger an overdue shift into equities.
Steven Crawshaw, Bradford & Bingley chief executive officer, has quit due to cardiac health problems as US private equity firm Texas Pacific Group takes a 23 per cent stake in the firm for £179m.
Alliance Trust Savings has revealed the top 20 investment trusts used by its investors for Isa saving for 2007/08.
Royal London is merging its international businesses, Scottish Provident International Life Assurance and Scottish Life International.
Salaries for mid and toplevel financial services workers are set to fall by at least 10 per cent this year, says a survey of 20 top City and Wall Street recruiting firms by Smart Cube.
Sanlam has brought the reporting of its different UK business interests under a single entity - Sanlam UK.
Schroders is to close its three existing multi-manager portfolios and open new versions to convert from Ucits III to non-Ucits retail schemes.
Scottish Provident Inter-national has transferred to become part of the Royal London Group.
Scottish Life has reported an increase in demand for customer agreed remuneration models.
Outgoing FSA chairman Sir Callum McCarthy may be responsible for shaking up financial services regulation, but will be remembered most for the regulator's failings over Northern Rock.
Skandia Investment Group has appointed Treasury Asia Asset Management to run its £30 million Asian mandate for its global best ideas fund.
Skipton Building Society is withdrawing its buy to let standard variable rate for new business.
The market is in danger of becoming almost as much of a washout as last week's bank holiday. The week before the bank holiday weekend saw equity markets worldwide suffer their worst fall for a quarter and the more shares had recovered, the more ground they gave back.
Having seen a strong bull run in the first half of the decade, stocks in the UK smaller companies sector have recently been overshadowed by their bigger count-erparts following a marked slow down in the economy.
Stephen Flood and his business partner Mark O'Bryne have quietly and quickly become among the top gold traders and investors in the world.
Emerging Europe governments are pushing forward with much needed investment initiatives to boost the long-term development of their economies. Much of Eastern Europe, and to a lesser extent Turkey, has suffered from under-financing for more than 20 years and poor infrastructure is one of the main obstacles to improving economic growth.
How often do you open your mobile phone bill and groan in disbelief? Or when the bank statement drops on the doormat, do you wonder whether the three gym visits you have made over the last month justify the 40 membership you are paying?
Thames River multi-manager heads Gary Potter and Robert Burdett have bolstered their Japan exposure across the group’s five-strong fund range.
FSA chairman in waiting Adair Turner is widely credited with building a friendly relationship between the Confederation of British Industry and New Labour during his time as CBI director general.
Politicians, lorry drivers, brewers and some fund managers are as one. The price of commodities is ridiculous and someone had better do something soon before everyone gets very angry. It is worth remembering that a much smaller group comprising farmers, oil sheikhs and another bunch of fund managers thinks high and rising commodity prices are a blessing. "Bring it on," they cry.
I still believe that some of the key themes in the future of world markets are commodities and infrastructure. In the short term, they could be somewhat overcooked, especially oil. I would not be surprised to see it fall back to $100 or so, given that world demand has not picked up in the last few months. Indeed, if anything, it has fallen.
Fidelity has revealed further changes to its floundering UK range this week following the announcement that John Stavis is to take a six-month sabbatical from the firm.
The Tax Incentivised Savings Association has joined Standard Life in calling for the Government to allow auto-enrolment into group personal pensions before 2012.
The Treasury is advertising for an independent valuer to assess any compensation that may be due to Northern Rock shareholders following its nationalisation in February.
The FSA is considering compiling a league table based on banks' complaint-handling procedures and publishing the number of complaints that banks and financial services companies receive.
Compliance expert Bill Warren has started a new consultancy providing compliance support for financial services companies.
The FSA has fined Andrew Jeffreys, trading as Chepstow Financial Services, £10,500 for failures in the sales process for self-certification mortgages.
The securitisation industry has started a website giving information on thousands of mortgage-backed bonds and similar deals. Independent data provider Lewtan Technologies launched the service following demands from regulators to open up the world of complex bonds.
Julian Stevens asks why anybody should want a annuity, as if no adviser has ever asked this question before.
It would seem that the expanding fund universe should offer plenty of choice for advisers. However, the fund universe isn't really growing, at least not as much as one would expect, considering that there have been nearly 500 launches in the past five years. Numerous closures have kept the overall number of funds fairly consistent for much of the past decade.
It is widely assumed that the UK mortgage crisis is part of a worldwide situation but the reality is that the problem has been brewing up in the UK for five years or longer and is much more deep rooted. The Treasury and the Government have known about it and have failed to act.
Legal & General Investment Management has appointed Mark Zinkula as chief executive officer of L&G Investment Management America.