5 March 2008
My article a fortnight ago about the variable annuities being offered by Hartford Life,MetLife and Lincoln Financial, and the link I made witha string of cases in the US deferred annuity market, has sparked some debate.
Abbey For IntermediariesFive Year Fixed Rate Mortgage
Aegon's new business increased by 12 per cent last year with individual pensions up 10 per cent to £381m.
The Hunt Review into the Financial Ombudsman Service may recommend that case fees are abolished, according to the Association of Independent Financial Advisers.
Arc Capital & incomeStepped Kick-Out Plan 3
The industry is awash with housing market predictions, with disagreements about how far prices will fall.
IFA groups launching their own fund ranges in white-label ventures are under the spotlight this week following a speech by FSA director of retail policy Dan Waters last Friday.
Stockmarkets have fallen sharply since last summer's peak due to worries about the potential effect on economies from a reduction in credit.
Blue Sky Asset ManagementAsset Allocation Accelerated Growth Plan
The last three weeks have seena lot of bad news for first-time buyers. In one week in February, all the 125 per cent mortgage deals disappeared fromthe market as one by one the lenders decided to withdraw from thissection of the market.
Is the FSA right to be worried about advisers white-labelling their own funds?
It is the week after Aegon UK chief executive Otto Thoresen conceived the embryonic Money Guidance, and the week the much-anticipated Budget hits the desks of worrisome providers, accusatorial politicians and curious reporters.
Forgive me if this column looks at three separate issues this week. One of them concerns some emails from readers of this column in response to my recent comments about Aifa's Manifesto for Advice.
Cazenove head of multi-manager Marcus Brookes believes the group's diversity fund can be a bedrock of investors' portfolios, given it offers an added level of asset exposure other cautious managed funds do not have.
On more than one occasion, I have harped on in this column about the need for better communication skills.
Multi-managers at Collins Stewart are taking a contrarian approach to Japan with a modest overweight position.
Commission raised its head last week at the Cicero Platform 2008 conference which I helped to chair. I found myself asking several questions of Malcolm Kerr - a consultant with Ernst & Young - about commission and its ills. It was Kerr's belief that as many as 10,000 advisers might make it to being the new model variety but that general advisers would wither away by around 2014, trapped between this new elite and the primary category.
I remember one hearty flood victim from Tewksbury interviewed on the evening news last summer. He had retired from the army as an NCO six months before and spent that time doing up his house. “You must be devastated” said the presenter. “Worse things could happen”, he said. "We’ve still got our health”.
Defaqto says it would not be surprised to see mergers between smaller multi-manager groups following the deal between Miton Asset Management and Midas Capital.
When it appears that all the world's markets are either in a slump or about to fall, the importance of holding diverse assets becomes even more vital. As well as traditional portfolio balancing methods, advisers may want to consider some relatively new investment approaches that should provide uncorrelated returns.
ETF SecuritiesETFS Short Cocoa
ETF SecuritiesETFS Short Gold
ETF SecuritiesETFS Short Live Cattle
Five FSA officials who worked in the seven-strong team tasked with directly supervising Northern Rock have quit, it has been revealed.
The FSA has banned mortgage introducer Andrew Talai Kiplimo from carrying out any financial services activity requiring authorisation by the FSA.
The Government has further plans up its sleeve for the mortgage industry after it emerged it wants to create a new ‘gold standard’ for covered bonds and mortgage backed securities.
Half of the IFA community will build on their clients' multi-manager assets at some point in 2008, according to research from Resolution Asset Management.
HSBC Investments says the multi-asset approach of its open global return fund has outperformed during recent volatility in equity markets.
Skandia's global and UK best ideas funds have been on a rollercoaster ride since their launches in June and October 2006.
As Norwich Union and Prudential look at how to unlock the £12bn-£14bn inherited estates in their with-profits funds, it would be useful if the FSA learned the lessons from its failure to protect consumers when Axa divided its inherited estate unfairly between policy-holders and shareholders.
So the spat between Lifesearch and the Association of British Insurers continues. The protection specialist advice firm surveyed 23 insurers and five reinsurers to find only 6 per cent believe the ABI does a good job representing its members. The ABI is unimpressed.
Legal & General says it paid out £110m in critical illness insurance payments in 2007 - up from £92.1m on the previous year.
There seems to be a common theme to the responses to the retail distribution review published by the recognised bodies. Most are calling for the creation of a new professional body to represent financial advisers. It is an idea that Tenet shares.
Conservative Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mark Hoban is a Tory through and through - joining the Young Conservatives aged just 16.
Meteor Asset ManagementGalaxy Protected Commodities Plan 5
Miton Asset Management believes that many investment trusts will outperform relative to their benchmarks this year.
Fears that the US is moving into recession helped round off another torrid week in the markets.
Mortgage fraud cost the industry around £700m in 2007, a report by the Association of Chief Police Officers has revealed.
When stockmarkets are low, it is time to invest in income products with a small downside risk.
In this climate of economic uncertainty, investors are looking for bumper returns on their investments but without taking on the associated risks.
Every now and then,the debate over pricing and the commoditisation of our products comes around and it helps to illustrate how polarised the views held within the industry are.
Ram Capital PartnersElectra Kingsway VCT 2 C shares
Ram Capital PartnersTrident EIS Pub Fund
We are seeing more and more financial services businesses having problems over the way in which staff are engaged and how the working relationship is managed.
The credit crunch means that many people, including those with relatively clean credit records, are being turned down for unsecured personal loans.
Consumers would prefer a single charging structure for personal accounts, according to research published by the Personal Accounts Delivery Authority this week.
There seems to be a different prognosis of the health of the housing market on an almost daily basis. This is perhaps not surprising, seeing as there is so much information to hand and so many column inches for the media to fill. However, there comes a point when analysing everylittle piece of data independently, and at the expense of its position in the bigger picture, begins to create a distorted view of the market.
Commodities occupy a special place in the construction of investment portfolios but many investors have not had adequate exposure to this important asset class. One of Britain's biggest pension consultants, Watson Wyatt, argued that big pension funds should hold only 20 per cent of their portfolios in equities and invest heavily in alternative assets, such as commodities. It could be argued that this theory also makes sense for retail investors.
Sumus, owner of Falcon Group, and Lighthouse Group are to merge creating the largest autonomous IFA firm in the market.
China was the world's worst-performing market in January, losing 21 per cent, while India slumped by 14.5 per cent. China has since rallied, although year to date the MSCI China index is still down by 16.24 per cent while India has fallen by 16.54 per cent.
Will falling property prices affect the popularity of equity-release schemes?
How much money should I pass to my children?
The Mortgage WorksThree-Year Self-Cert Fixed Rate
The Mortgage WorksTwo-Year Fixed Buy-To-Let
Chancellor Alistair Darling's first Budget is looming and the industry is nervously anticipating what he will pull out of his red box.
The fastest-growing fund, in terms of popularity and assets, these days is BlackRock's quasi-retail hedge fund, absolute alpha.
As an industry,we have a problem, potentially a very serious one thatwill probably be around for a long while unless we smarten up and seek to address it quickly. We are suffering from a shortage of skills.
Triodos BankThe Real Food Pub Company
UCB Home LoansBuy-To-Let Rental Cover Two-Year Fixed
UCB Home LoansSelf-Cert Prime Five-Year Fixed
China is suffering rising inflation and where once it exported deflation to the West, it is now contributing to a worldwide rise in the cost of living.
Last week saw the end of Roger Whiteoaks eight-year relationship with Axa Framlington as the much respected UK small-cap guru left the firm under the “to pursue opportunities elsewhere” banner.