7 May 2008
Aberdeen Asset Management is to acquire Goodman Property Investors for £89m, boosting its property assets under management to around £24bn.
Transact A-class shareholders voted against a trade sale or flotation of the platform at a general meeting held last week.
The number of repossession orders issued has jumped 17 per cent in the past year, according to the Ministry of Justice.
Fund of hedge funds manager 3A is confident that its Altin portfolio will end 2008 in positive territory despite expectations that market turbulence will continue.
John Charcol's mortgage monitor has found that 78 per cent of mortgages were arranged on a fixed rate in April, up from 64 per cent of borrowers in March.
Association of British Insurers’ research shows that 85 per cent of single life level annuity customers receive a rate that is at least 95 per cent of the highest rate available.
Sam Shaw is a reporter on Money MarketingBetween the RDR interim report, Money Marketing's retirement summit, Lighthouse and Bates overseas conferences and some other investment conference, we needed to let our hair down a bit this week - just for a change.
There is no longer a clear and present danger to the IFA sector. The retail distribution review interim paper is negotiable and looks like something to implement rather than lament.
Alliance & Leicester has been been hit by a further £192m in write-downs in quarter one this year.
Alliance & Leicester has become the latest lender to introduce loan to value pricing across its whole range of prime residential mortgages.
Aberdeen Asset Managers has picked up the accolade for best website in the Association of Investment Companies 15th annual Best Information to Shareholders Awards.
Entirely predictably, the banking and wealth management community have greeted the FSA’s extraordinary interim report on the RDR with torrents of abuse.
Personal Finance Society chief executive Tim Eadon says advisers should whistleblow on other firms that are not acting in a professional manner.
An adviser has hit out at HSBC for automatically moving clients with smaller discretionary managed portfolios into a pooled manager of managers fund.
Legal & General is seeing a drop in adviser confidence as a direct result of the credit crunch.
Japanese equities remain out of favour with the Adviser Fund Index panellists, according to the latest AFI survey.
Introducing a formal appeals process for Financial Ombudsman Service decisions would slow down the complaints handling process and decrease accessibility to the service, according to Hunt Review project manager Chris Kenny.
The FSA’s proposal to create a sales category without advice is nonsensical and farcical, according to Intelligent Pensions managing director Steve Paterson.
Advisers must address a lack of consumer understanding over balanced managed funds and their high level of equity exposure, warns Royal London head of communications Alasdair Buchanan.
Aegon Scottish Equitable has launched a minimum 21 day guarantee rate period on all annuity quotes.
Aegon UK's operating earnings fell 23 per cent to £34.3m in the first quarter of 2008 from £44m in the first quarter of 2007. However it says the value of new business was £39.8m compared with £38.9m in 2007.
Letter to the director general of the Aifa
The Association of Independent Financial Advisers has announced it will host a seminar on ethical and green investment as part of National Ethical Investment Week.
Alliannz Global InvestorsRCM Global EcoTrends Fund
Open letter to Richard Farr and Chris Cummings of the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries
Last week I wrote that a war had begun between intermediaries and lenders over dual pricing and AMI has responded saying it is determined to rally the industry to ensure fair treatment to brokers and their clients.
The Association of Mortgage Intermediaries is considering complaining to the Office of Fair Trading over lenders' dual-pricing strategies.
Sarasin & PartnersSarasin AgriSar Fund
Aslowing UK economy is leading to an increasingly polarised equity market. At one end of the spectrum, despite valuations becoming more attractive, consumer-related firms are facing an earnings' squeeze over the next 12-18 months as consumer confidence ebbs away.
Unlike many of his peers, Andy Clark says he always had ambitions of going into finance and made his entrance in the early 1990s, having completed his A-levels and deciding against going to university in favour of joining Barclays Stockbrokers.
Asda is to launch a new protection policy with its Over 50s Life Cover which promises to never have customers pay in more than they get out.
AWD Chase de Vere is offloading its telesales and client servicing operations arm Moneyextra as it brings all its business units under a single brand.
AWD Chase De Vere has warned investors seeking to move out of insurance bonds may be worse off after taking tax and charges into account.
Stellar Asset Management's first fund, Baltic States, focuses on Eastern Europe opportunities, looking for annual total returns to investors of 15 per cent. Minimum investment is £25,000.
The British Bankers' Association has slammed the FSA's retail distribution review interim report, claiming the proposals will limit consumer access to advice.
Is the Investment Management Association's decision to introduce a new absolute return sector a welcome move?
MPs have attacked the banking sector and the Bank of England claiming they are using the FSA as a scapegoat for the credit crunch.
Barclays Wealth is offering a new suite of protected investments due to market volatility.
There is no value in using current wraps as spreadsheets can do the same job at a fraction of the cost, says Master Adviser director Doug Brodie.
Are you happy with the new-look RDR?
Persistent media coverage about disgraceful care homes and families being forced to sell up to pay fees have finally prompted Gordon Brown to launch a consultation into the funding of social care. He admits the system needs “radical reform”.
Fannie Mae vice president and chief economist Doug Duncan has warned that it is likely to be three years before the US will see risk spreads come back.
A leading financial commentator has insisted that the chairman of the FSA should always be a former deputy governor of the Bank of England.
FSA chief executive Hector Sants has denied suggestions it has required some firms to increased liquidity ratios to 35 per cent.
Norwich and Peterborough chief executive Matthew Bullock has called on the FSA to introduce a variable capital regime for the broking market as part of its Retail Distribution Review.
Cheltenham & Gloucester has become the latest lender to withdraw its standard variable rate mortgage products from sale for new lending as of 10 May.
Gartmore has confirmed the departure of European fund manager Tim Callaghan from the firm.
John Charcol directors look set to stump up more cash to fund the mortgage firm through current market conditions, with a sale now unlikely.
Claim-chaser CPH has received permission in the High Court in London to bring judicial review proceedings against a Financial Ombudsman Service mortgage endowment complaint decision it believes shows up the organisation's inconsistencies.
The Council of Mortgage Lenders says the Monetary Policy Committee has missed an opportunity to ease problems in the housing market by failing to cut interest rates today.
Cofunds has become an affiliate member of the Association of Independent Financial Advisers.
The cost of regulation for the world’s largest financial institutions could almost double to £50bn by 2010, according to Deloitte.
Despite the colloquial attraction of the alliteration, this is not a credit crunch. UK mortgage collateral is performing quite well. It is a liquidity freeze. Banks will not lend to each other, the securitisation market is frozen, and existing securities and mortgage portfolios are changing hands at deep discounts to par.
Mortgage brokers have slammed leading lenders for offering substantially better rates through direct channels.
The RDR interim report was certainly a departure from the melange of nonsense that permeated the original discussion paper.
Flicking through the financial pages of the newspapers, I can't help but feel thoroughly confused on the outlook for the US and UK economies.
Edeus has launched two savings products with Newcastle Building Society which includes a guaranteed minimum return account.
There are some things an editor would like to know about what readers think about the RDR, given Money Marketing itself has suggested the direction of the interim paper is one readers can work with.
Three quarters of employers say they are experiencing a shortage of technical skills, up 5 per cent on 2007, according to the Chartered Insurance Institute.
Aifa deputy director general Fay Goddard is to take up a senior role at the Chartered Insurance Institute, Money Marketing understands.
The Financial Services Compensation Scheme has declared its first mortgage firm in default.
The average property value being considered by first time buyers fell to £170,559 in April, down 5.75 per cent on March, according to financial website Moneyextra.com.
Fidelity FundsNetwork has launched its Adviser Foundation after two years of development and consultation.
An Abbey employee has been sent to prison for 18 months for his part in a plot to steal more than £800,000 from customer accounts.
Friends Provident paid 86.5 per cent of critical illness claims in 2007, up from 81.3 per cent the previous year.
Friends Provident is planning to close 11 area sales offices in a bid to reduce operating costs by at least £40m.
The FSA has banned South London mortgage broker Isah Attayi Mohammed for submitting fraudulent mortgage applications.
The FSA has more than doubled its insider dealing unit from 12 to 30 criminal prosecutors.
The FSA has issued a call for insurance comparison sites to ensure they are treating users fairly after uncovering a mixed bag of good and bad practice in the market.
The FSA has added yet another scuffle to its growing list of legal battles after it confirmed it will appeal a Financial Services and Markets Tribunal decision.
FSA chief executive Hector Sants has told the Building Societies' Conference in Manchester that dual pricing is not against TCF.
Five or six years go, I attended an Aifa dinner where the main speaker was Sir Howard Davies, then chairman of the FSA.
I have been around the structured products world for over 15 years. There was a period, after precipice bonds, when providers retreated into their short heritage to become not structured product providers but purveyors of guaranteed equity bonds, almost all exclusively based on the FTSE 100 index.
The Government has announced a £10m package to support home owners facing difficulties with their mortgage.
It is about this time of the year that superstitious investors start getting nervous. Should we sell into this rally, they will be saying to each other? And we have had a decent rally. As we flirted with 6,100 on the FTSE 100 Share index last week, the market had recovered by around 13 per cent in just six weeks. The recovery took the market to within 10 per cent of the peak attained in June last year.
Product providers are split over the FSA's plans for guided sales, with Skandia and Aegon warning they could be detrimental to the consumer but Fidelity positive about the channel.
Halifax will no longer accept mortgage applications for its standard variable rate from new customers. Its SVR will still be available for existing clients at the end of their product term and for existing customers seeking additional lending.
The Hartford has added seven new funds and two new asset classes, international property and commodities, to its personal pension product and its bond.
HBOS says it is not planning any further cuts to procuration fees after the reductions coming into effect from June.
Investec Asset Management has become the latest firm to answer the product innovation call this week by launching a natural resources fund with full Ucits III capabilities.
The Liberal Democrats have proposed a banking system whereby risk-taking banks are barred from using the Bank of England as lender of last resort if their gambles do not pay off.
Home of Choice has formed a partnership with IFA network and support service provider IN Partnership which will see the mortgage network enter the pension and investment market.
House prices have fallen for the ninth month in succession in April, according to RICS' house price survey.
Consumers considering investing in stamp collections are being warned to be wary of misleading guarantees from sellers.
A leading Bates adviser has used the firm's annual conference in Alicante to question the business strategy of parent company Money Portal.
The Government's proposed money guidance service could put a strain on advisers who do not have the time or resources to deal with large numbers of clients needing full advice, warns pension expert Steve Bee.
Retail sales in tracker funds have seen a marked turnaround in the first quarter of 2008 after a net inflow of £64.8m.
Impax IFSL Impax Environmental Leaders Fund
As well as being worried about a slowdown in economic growth, investors are increasingly uneasy about rising prices. Strong growth in the world's developing economies has created huge demand for building materials and agricultural and energy commodities, pushing their prices higher.
Ingenious Asset Management has opened up its multi-manager UK equity fund to retail investors.
Invesco Perpetual has set up a European high-income fund.
Even the most conservative of UK balanced pooled pension funds lost money in the opening quarter of this year.
Adopting a low-risk strategy when constructing multi-manager portfolios does not excuse the performance of funds that rank low in their sectors, claims M&G's David Jane.
Skipton Building Society chief executive John Goodfellow has been elected chairman of the Building Societies Association for 2008/09.
Jupiter has appointed Paula Moore as joint managing director.
Jupiter will be launching its strategic bond fund on June 2, 2008.
Advisers must continue to lobby the FSA in support of the RDR's advice/sales split to prevent banks and multi-ties from pressurising the regulator into switching course, says Aifa.
The turbulence in the mortgage market has been very much about the known unknowns - what is the real liability of the banks to debt instruments?, how many mortgage holders are finding difficulty servicing their debts?, how many will find their repayment commitments a strain? Until we know the truth on these issues, much of the rest remains speculation.
Here we go again.
The Bank of England has warned that many lenders have overstated their exposure to risky mortgage securities which could delay confidence returning to the market.
LGV Capital has appointed Ivan Heywood as chief executive to succeed Adrian Johnson.
Lighthouse Group will be offering a range of four Oeics after agreeing a distribution partnership with LV= Asset Management.
Lowes Financial Management has merged with another Newcastle firm, Premium Independent Financial Management.
Dear Evan, In my view, no IFA should be unincorporated. As you rightly say, the risks of this mean open-ended liability and that cannot be sensible. However, many were unincorporated in the past and so we must address that problem.
FSA chairman Callum McCarthy told the Treasury select committee this week that he is "very confident" that small societies will indirectly benefit from the Bank of England's £50bn liquidity injection.
Treasury select committee chairman John McFall welcomes the change in direction by the retail distribution review and reveals that the select committee is likely to hold an inquiry into the RDR this summer.
Merrill Lynch has temporarily suspended new lending at its two UK subsidiaries, Mortgages Plc and Wave.
Mint compliance director Steve Chadwick has been made redundant following the network's merger into Intrinsic Financial Services.
Oil hit a record high today, pushing through the $125 a barrel mark, increasing concerns about inflation and its likely impact on economic growth.
Morgan Stanley is offering four new structured products.
Simply Biz saw mortgage business rise by 20 per cent in the first quarter of this year despite adverse market conditions.
FSA staff received their full bonuses this year despite the regulator admitting to a catalogue of mistakes in its supervision of Northern Rock.
As part of a radical shift in FSA thinking, multi-ties could be stripped of their right to be called advisers to create a clear separation between whole-of-market advice and sales.
Old Mutual has attracted another top fund manager, Simon Murphy, ex-M&G, who has recently taken over the management of the Old Mutual UK select equity fund.
National Savings & Investments is expanding its distribution partnership with WH Smith to include the retailer's travel outlets.
Nationwide Building Society has cut the price of some of its fixed rate mortgage deals by up to 0.30 per cent, with effect from May 16.
Investec Asset Management is setting up a UK-domiciled natural resources fund, claiming to be the first of its kind.
National IFA firms Investors Planning Associates has chosen Intelligent Office to provide front and back office technology.
New Star Asset Management is to merge two of its struggling single country funds after poor uptake of the offerings.
In a previous IFA View, I related my experience of the financial services marketplace in Singa-pore. In particular, I enthused about how product innovation was flourishing there, including from the likes of Prudential, while UK insurers have pretty much given up the right to call themselves insurance companies.
Northern Rock has launched a new mortgage range from today which sees residential short term flexible fixed rate mortgages available from 6.49 per cent.
Northern Rock says more difficult economic and market conditions, combined with a shrinking mortgage book, have caused arrears levels to increase.
National Savings & Investments has launched a new website, You And Your Money, to help people better understand financial terminology.
Advisers have hit out at Norwich Union for suspending the transfer of 380,000 pension policies because it is updating its systems.
Wrap platform Nucleus has signed its 50th member firm with the addition of Westminster Financial Planning.
Openwork and Octopus are set to launch a new investment management joint venture to be called Omnis Investments in the second half of this year.
OPM has highlighted fixed interest and property shares as sectors that are likely to benefit from improvements in the economy over the next 12 months to two years.
Origen has suffered the resignation of a handful of senior managers in the last six weeks.
Seven Investment Management7IM Asset Allocated Passive Balanced
Personal Touch Financial Services has set up a rogues' gallery to name and shame lenders which aggressively undercut the broker market.
Former Standard Life head of media relations Peter Timberlake has joined Friends Provident as head of public relations.
Pink Home Loans has had a record number of Appointed Representative applications in April.
Skandia says the link between advisers' recurring income levels and their use of platforms is becoming increasingly apparent.
Surmising on what the "new normal" for the mortgage industry might look like , it is distinctly clear that it is abnormal. Announcements from MPLC , Inside Track, Edeus and Wave, among others demonstrate that we may still not be nearer the tunnel's end than its entrance.
Positive Solutions has appointed former Origen Financial Services risk management and compliance director Greg Carter as chief operating officer.
Positive Solutions has praised the FSA for recognising the importance of independent financial advice compared with other advice models.
A whistleblowing ex-Financial Ombudsman Service adjudicator says the “immense pressure” being placed on FOS staff to hit targets is resulting in wrong decisions being made.
I am a private investor about to start a new portfolio. My golf club pals have told me that there are many pitfalls to watch out for. What in particular should I be aware of?
MPs are launching an inquiry into offshore financial centres to investigate issues over transparency and financial stability.
It has been six months since the launch of Cobs, our simplified sourcebook for investment business, which halved the financial promotion rules.
Advisers are outraged by the news that Scottish Widows and Axa do not allow the partial transfer or surrender of pensions if a client has any money invested in restricted commercial property funds.
Providers are calling for variable annuities to be renamed to prevent consumer confusion.
Prudential will introduce a consumer application by financial planning and sales technology provider Distribution Technology as part of its online retirement planning service.
Cheshire Building SocietyTwo-Year Discount
Bankhall says that the revised version of the retail distribution review demonstrates the FSA's ability to listen to the experienced voices of the IFA community.
A pension education advisory service modelled on Weight Watchers could help the public to save properly for retirement, says Syndaxi Financial Planning managing director Robert Reid.
Average rents have risen by 4 per cent over the past quarter to reach a new record of more than £1,000 per month.
Investors in US funds may have been tempted to cut their losses and run recently but those funds which can diversify into Canada have fared well.
Royal Liver admits that 2007 was a challenging year for adviser arm Park Row which lost around 100 advisers and closed 17 branches.
Salt Commercial has suspended new lending and will be reviewing pipeline cases which have yet to complete. Both Base Commercial Mortgages and Lancashire Mortgage Corporation have offered to help brokers hit by the move.
SchrodersSchroder UK Defensive Income Fund
Scottish Life International says it has evaluated its draft trust range and is confident they remain appropriate in the post-Budget environment.
Scottish WidowsRetirement Account: Retirement Income
Treasury select committee chairman John McFall has backed the FSA's call for a clear separation between advice and sales.
Unsurprisingly, recent data releases are generally indicating a deteriorating global economy. We believe the environment is likely to remain challenging for risk assets (equities, corporate bonds and property, for example) as the tightening of credit conditions feeds through to consumer spending and economic growth prospects.
Sesame says it will not commit to reviewing its multi-tie offering until the FSA publishes more details on the RDR.
Sifa has appointed Lester Killipas as commercial director to explore business opportunities offered to advisers by the Legal Services Act and the RDR.
Bright Grey recently revealed that 27 per cent of its online life insurance applications are returned with amendments when customers are asked to check a hard copy of the application form.
The Bank of England must slash rates to stop the UK from moving into a recession, a monetary policy committee member has warned.
Since the FSA laid down its retail distribution review proposals last June, the debate has gathered pace. We have had the credit crunch, the Northern Rock debacle and tales of a housing market crash, yet these have not kept the RDR off the front pages of the industry papers.
Senior Treasury select committee member Andy Love is confident that smaller building societies will survive the cre-dit crunch without the Bank of England's £50bn liquidity injection.
The RDR is no longer a poisoned chalice. It is a challenge and one that Money Marketing recommends IFAs meet.
It would be remiss of me not to voice my views on the FSA's 41-page interim retail distribution review paper in this column. After all, the RDR will dictate whether we move forward into the 21st century offering professional financial advice to consumers that is unbiased, transparent and available through all delivery channels.
The FSA must stand firm and ensure that only whole-of-market advisers can use the advice tag, says Sifa.
Standard Life Investments is making its global absolute return strategies fund available to retail investors.
The insurance buyout market for defined benefit schemes has seen a strong second quarter, according to Aon Consulting.
Credit Suisse is looking to add to its multi-manager range with the launch of a multi-asset growth fund, Money Marketing understands.
New Star chief economist Simon Ward says a recent surge in inflation could put paid to hopes of early further interest rate cuts.
Tenet Group is revamping its training and development programme as market conditions have seen a growing number of its mortgage brokers want to become IFAs.
Tesco is launching a life insurance plan for the over 50s.
The proposals concerning nonUK domiciled and non-UK ordinarily resident individuals made in the pre-Budget report last October generated considerable antagonism, debate and publicity. All that response has had some impact on the Finance Bill provisions reflecting these changes.
Although today working with a computer interface with icons, so-called graphical user interfaces, is instinctive for most people but it was not always that way.
Brunning Newman Houghton is a directly regulated IFA which advises a broad range of private and corporate clients. Most new and inherited cases involve lump sums. Whatever the tax wrapper - onshore or offshore bond, Isa or pension - success depends on how the investment performs.
Towergate has bought Glasgow insurance broker and financial advice firm MacDonald Reid Scott Group.
The Financial Services and Markets Tribunal has overruled an FSA decision to cancel an adviser’s permission to undertake regulated activities for failing to submit his RMAR in time.
Lifesearch has registered three record weeks in a row, with 643 policies being put on risk last week. Head of protection strategy Kevin Carr says: "Protection has seen bumper times when other markets have suffered in the past."
Almost 2 million women are failing to make pension contributions because they believe they are ineligible according to research from HSBC.
Alliance & Leicester has announced the internal appointment of Viviane Clement to the new role of head of intermediary sales.
Conservative Shadow pension minister Nigel Waterson is warning that personal accounts could be a Terminal 5-style disaster if means-testing is not addressed.
Wesleyan Assurance Society has become the first firm to go live with Vertex Financial Services' new Adviser Evolution technology.
Treasury select committee chairman John McFall, MP, has questioned why anyone would want to buy a with-profits policy when shareholders can raid the inherited estates.
Advisers have slammed Scottish Widows and Axa for not allowing pension customers who are partially invested in commercial property funds with restrictions to transfer any of their pension to another provider.
Advisers are split over the move by Aviva to axe the Norwich Union brand.
Winterthur has appointed Martin Moore as head of investment distribution, leading the development of its Tailored Selection, Elite managed funds and Elite sector funds investment propositions.
Hundreds of thousands of women in or approaching retirement could be in for £1bn in unpaid state pension benefits after the Government announced a review into the HMRC pension system.
The Government has set out plans to form a business tax working group.
Advisers have been put on alert over losing clients to other firms as the wrap mar-ket becomes commoditised.