9 July 2008
The Money Portal's chief finance officer Peter Coleman has resigned to spend more time with his family. He was previously finance director at Burns-Anderson, acquired by Money Portal in March.
The number of loans made for house purchase rose by 4 per cent to 52,700 in May from April's figure but remortgaging fell by 14 per cent to 71,000 loans, says the Council of Mortgage Lenders. Remortgaging was down by 23 per cent year on year.
Up to 1043 jobs in the UK financial services sector could be lost as the industry consolidates over the next 12 months, according to the 2008 Plimsoll Analysis.
Annie Shaw is a freelance financial journalistMonday was the occasion of one of Jasmine Birtles' famous networking evenings at the Gore Hotel in South Kensington. Finance guru Jasmine founded the website moneymagpie.com and is indeed a magpie herself, collecting stars of TV and business who she assembles at her legendary parties. Present among the crowd on this occasion was Claire Richmond, the founder of findaTVexpert.com, which could prove a useful showcase for IFAs ...
Alliance & Leicester has appointed Alan Gillespie from Royal Bank of Scotland as chairman.
Abbey owner Santander has confirmed today that it has reached an agreement to buy Alliance & Leicester for £1.2bn.
The Association of British Insurers is understood to be considering introducing cigarette-packet-style warnings on pension provider marketing material to encourage more people to exercise their open market option.
An ABI survey has revealed a downturn in consumer confidence over the next 12 months, with 82 per cent of respondents saying the worse is yet to come.
The ABI has updated its consumer guide for gay men regarding HIV and life insurance to reflect changes being made across the industry.
Openwork chief executive Keith Carby says an absolute return offering is likely to be the next port of call for new investment firm Omnis.
An adviser has slammed Nucleus for planning to stop commission payments to him because he left a firm that was a Nucleus partner.
Half of advisers believe life companies will have to change their business models as sales of insurance bonds fall, research by Fidelity FundsNetwork reveals.
Aegon director of pensions development Stewart Ritchie OBE is to retire on 31 July after 36 years with the provider.
Schroders has started an agricultural land fund which invests in private equity companies, farm management businesses and related funds.
Alliance Trust is making three new appointments to its investment team.
The Association of Mortgage Intermediaries has raised concerns over the question of consumer choice following the takeover offer by Santander for Alliance & Leicester.
Arc Capital & Income has introduced a capital-protected bond that allows investors to profit from rises or falls in the UK housing market.
Aviva has sold its offshore operations to outsourcing firm WNS for £115m.
AXA's Elevate wrap platform is now integrated with the 1st The Exchange’s client management system Adviser Office.
The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee has today voted to maintain interest rates at 5 per cent.
Barclays WealthCommodities Select
Barings asset management is making two appointments to its private clients team.
Barratt Homes has confirmed it will be slashing 1,200 jobs as the housing market downturn hits yet another building firm.
Base Commercial has become the latest lender to temporarily suspend new lending due to the difficult market conditions.
Geoff Cheetham is rejoining BlackRock as managing director of the UK account management team.
Bloxham WealthElite Bloxham global Equity Income Fund
Bank of England governor Mervyn King rejected a £100,000 pay rise when he started his second term this month.
Amanda Bowe will step down from her role as head of the retail distribution review after the RDR feedback statement is published in October.
Nucleus chairman Paul Bradshaw has been appointed to the board of Sanlam UK as non-executive director.
Bright Grey has unveiled plans to strengthen its protection propositionby increasing its underwriting limits.
Is it right for Clerical Medical to cancel an adviser's trail commission if it concludes they no longer offer a continued service?
Having spent most of last week with various IFA firms and their clients, I am optimistic about the future of independent financial advice. Zurich estimates that around 27 million people in the UK do not use a financial adviser and it is this huge chunk of the population that may be suited to the proposed money guidance or sales routes to financial security. But two million of this group are deemed high-net-worth and common sense dictates that they should seek independent financial advice ...
Bupa Group has teamed up with life and care corporate Max India to enter the health insurance market in India.
I have placed mortgages with Cheltenham & Gloucester over many years whenever its products have been suitable and competitive. Service standards at branch level were always very good in my experience.
With its excessive highs and severe lows, the mortgage market truly is the financial services equivalent of extreme sports. The latest Bank of England figures show that the number of people arranging a mortgage to buy a home has fallen to its lowest level since official records began but you do not have to look back far to sample significant highs and lows.
With the credit crunch in full flow for the last 12 months you could understand investors looking at the cautious managed sector as a safe haven amid the market volatility.
Jupiter head of independent funds John Chatfeild-Roberts is bullish on gold after adding the metal to the four funds in his range earlier this year.
The Chartered Insurance Institute has launched a series of podcasts for advisers and insurers on treating customers fairly. It has joined with compliance consultant Branko Bjelobaba to produce explanations and interpretations of the FSA's principles-based regime.
The complexity of the UK tax system creates opportunities for tax evasion and is damaging the country's competitiveness, says PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Clerical Medical has performed a U-turn and will now not be cancelling the trail commission of advisers it believed were not offering ongoing service after heavy pressure from the IFA community.
The Council of Mortgage Lenders has called for the Bank of England to offer a repo facility as part of the trade body's action plan to address the funding problems in the mortgage market.
PSigma income fund manager Bill Mott says the market bias towards commodities and natural resources draws similarities to the TMT bubble of the late 1990s.
Conforto Financial Management has bought Hertford IFA The McCroddan Partnership for an undisclosed sum.
The investment of corporate money may not generate a high volume of day-to-day enquiries for most financial advisers but the amounts involved can be significant.
Much has been written about the move that most advisers are taking towards servicing models and passive incomes and the challenges that manufacturers face regarding balance sheet erosion due to distribution cost. The generally accepted solution is a product with less initial and increased trail commission but this is in danger of creating problems as great as those it is designed to serve. I am talking about the cost of providing this solution to the consumer in this new model way of working.
Never before has the mortgage industry been so united in agreeing that these are tough times, and that they are likely to continue through 2009 and probably into early 2010.
Credit Suisse Asset Management has expanded its fund of funds range with the multi-manager multi asset growth fund.
Dalton Strategic Partnership has established what it believes to be the first Luxemburg-based Ucits fund to invest in Pakistan equities.
Chancellor Alistair Darling has criticised the over-reliance on credit rating agencies in European Union regulations. Speaking to fellow European finance ministers in Brussels this week, he called for a review of the role played by agencies.
Deutsche Bankdb x-trackers FTSE 100 Short ETF
Investor pessimism over the performance of equity markets is at its highest level for the past decade, according to a Merrill Lynch survey of global fund managers in June. Negative sentiment towards equities is higher than at any time between March 2000 and March 2003 when the decline in global stocks was steeper. It is likely that the second half of this year will be challenging but there are grounds for that thinking there will be selective opportunities to make healthy returns.
Financial services firm Edward Jones has launched a new cash fund which it claims is unique to the UK market.
The victims of Equitable Life could claim billions of pounds in compensation due to regulatory failings in the run-up to the insurer’s demise, say reports.
The Enterprise Investment Scheme Association has warned that intervention from the EU on investment rules could stifle the risk-taking culture of UK entrepreneurship.
F&C is adding four risk-rated lifestyle multi-manager funds to the Zurich product platform.
Home Funding chief executive Tony Ward warns that the mortgage market is going to quickly fall further if the Treasury's mortgage finance working group does not come up with a solution.
Federal Reserve policy is to blame for the surge in commodity prices rather than market speculators, New Star economist and strategist Simon Ward has argued.
Fidelity International's real estate business has appointed Aymeric de Seresin to support its continued expansion into European markets.
I refer to the bit where I talk about the TV-buying public genuflecting at the altar of society's new god, retail, where it seems people simply expect to have certain consumer goods, whether or not they can afford them or need them. (I have seen some flat-screen TVs set up halfway across a living room with more than enough room behind them for a good old-fashioned cathode ray tube.)
Greystone Financial Services has announced the acquisition of Midlands-based wealth manager Roger Harris & Co.
The board of Fortis is meeting in Brussels today to discuss the future of its chief executive Jean-Paul Votron, according to press reports.
Belgium insurer Fortis has launched its UK life business with two protection plans that it claims will revolutionise the market.
Franklin TempletonTempleton Global Total Return Fund
Friends Provident has decided to retain Pantheon Financial to avoid disruption to its business due to speculation over its sale.
Newton UK higher income fund manager Tineke Frikkee believes her decision to hold defensive FTSE 100 positions is starting to bear fruit.
The FSA and Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators Registrars Group have urged UKlisted companies to send warnings about boiler room operations to shareholders.
The FSA has banned and fined £16,000 a former broker at Square Mile Securities Limited for using unacceptable sales tactics.
The FSA has banned and fined North East-based mortgage broker Robin Knox £17,500 after he exposed 500 of his customers to the risk of receiving unsuitable advice.
A mortgage broker has been banned and fined £129,000 by the FSA for fraudulent mortgage applications.
The FSA has fined a Kilmarnock mortgage firm £11,900 for failing to adequately supervise an adviser, resulting in applications containing false and misleading information being submitted to lenders.
It would seem that the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries is rightly concerned about mortgage brokers trying to diversify in the currently difficult mortgage conditions.
The FSA was forced to co-ordinate the rescue of Bradford & Bingley by its four biggest shareholders after private equity firm Texas Pacific Group withdrew from its £179m cash injection last week.
Skandia Investment Management believes it can add value for investors by including sophisticated funds in its multi-manager portfolios such as the Fulcrum alternative beta plus fund.
Over a third of UK equity income funds are not yet achieving the Investment Management Association's new yield requirement with less than six months to go before the deadline.
GAMGam Star Frontier Opportunities
GE Money Home Lending has appointed former Abbey Business managing director Ian Wilson as its new chief risk officer.
Having had a busy Saturday, I found myself dozing off as the Williams sisters grunted through two sets at Wimbledon. Why is all this noise necessary? But I digress. As I awoke, a new singing competition - Last Choir Standing - was on the go. Choral singing was never usually this engaging for me but some of the choirs were so different that I was completely engaged.
Alliance & Leicester has stated that incoming chairman Alan Gillespie will no longer take the role following Santander's takeover offer of the lender.
The Government is launching a new industry-led group to focus on keeping London globally competitive as a financial centre.
Aima supports HM Treasury’s proposals to simplify the offshore funds regime and provide greater certainty to UK investors and funds.
Baillie Gifford & Co has appointed Mike Gush to co-manage the Pacific Horizon investment trust alongside Gerald Smith.
The cautious managed sector has grown like no other in the past few years.
Route Group, the high net worth wealth management firm today re-launches as The Route City wealth club.
In the context of June's steep market falls, including a 10 per cent drop in the FTSE All Share index, the well-worn adage "sell in May and go away" looked like sound advice.
House prices fell by 2 per cent in June, according to Halifax's latest house price index.
The average number of transactions per surveyor sold over the last three months is now at 15.3, the lowest figure since 1978, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
Further to the article on personal accounts last week, we would like to point out that enforcement with the compliance regime is a matter for The Pensions Regulator.
IFAs are becoming increasingly visible online according to a survey commissioned by Unbiased.co.uk.
IFA groups have been challenged to set an example by refusing to take commission where clients automatically take out an annuity with their pension provider without having received advice.
Consumer Price Index annual inflation soared to 3.8 per cent in June, up from 3.3 per cent in May, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.
Despite changes to the taxation of non-domiciliaries in the 2008 Budget, excluded property trusts remain useful planning tools for non-domiciled people who are concerned about the potential impact of UK inheritance tax on their estate.
International Asset Management has undertaken a management buy out of the firm from Fortis.
Investec Bank has made two senior appointments to its Jersey team.
Investec managing director David Aird says the company is looking to double its present total of £1.5bn of assets under management in the commodities sector within two years.
In response to the continuing economic downturn the Treasury has launched an expert panel to consider the effect of the credit crunch on London as a global financial centre.
James Hay has unveiled its plans to launch a special deposit account for cash in its online Sipp.
John Charcol has launched its own range of large loan two-year tracker mortgages.
Kensington says its tranche of funds available for direct applications on its prime core range is now 50 per cent full for July.
Keydata, the structured product provider is enhancing its extra income plan to help investors hedge against falling markets.
Legal & General has launched a conveyancing service through its mortgage club to help brokers maximise new revenue streams.
The National Landlords Association and National Federation of Residential Landlords are to merge under the NLA brand. It will have 20,000 members.
The Department for Work and Pensions' announcement that protected rights can be held in Sipps from October has sounded the starting gun for a race for control of a staggeringly big pile of assets.
Liberal Democrat shadow chancellor Vince Cable has dubbed Conservative proposals for economic recovery a “dog’s dinner”.
London & Capital has launched a 100 per cent capital protected product with plan manager Keydata investment services.
Premier Mortgage Service managing director John Malone will be attending a meeting at the Bank of England this month in a bid to persuade the BoE to help specialist lenders.
Manor ParkGlobal Growth Fund July 08 Series D - Fund 7
Manor ParkGuaranteed UK Capital Growth Fund July 2008 Series - Fund 2
Manor ParkGuaranteed UK Selected Growth Fund July 2008 Series - Fund 1
With its decision to axe trail for many advisers Clerical Medical has certainly sent shockwaves through the market. It remains to be seen whether advisers send those shockwaves back.
The UK officially dipped into a bear market this week after the FTSE 100 index declined by more than 20 per cent since its peak last autumn.
The FSA is losing patience with the industry over the open market option and is likely to force change in the next year, says Hargreaves Lansdown head of pension research Tom McPhail.
Meteor Asset Management has launched its second property plan that will link to the performance of the FTSE EPRA Europe index.
Andy Milburn has joined Munich Re as head of marketing for its UK life branch business. He was at Progress from Royal Liver until April when he became head of marketing at Goldsmith Williams.
Providers have been condemned for horrendous administrative delays to transfer pension cash under the open market option, leading to calls for a single discharge form.
Money Portal has partnered with Old Broad Street Research in a move that will provide fund support to the IFA firms research department.
Moneysupermarket.com says Barclays' decision to stop new second-charge business will hit its own sales by around £7m. Barclays says 300 staff will be affected by its decision.
The ABI has published guidance aimed at improving provider marketing material to consumers approaching retirement but advisers and campaigners have questioned whether this is enough.
Bank of England governor Mervyn King has admitted the Monetary Policy Committee can do little to change the path of inflation in the short term.
Nationwide has invested £5m in a 48-strong broker salesforce to show its commitment to the intermediary market.
A new identity verification portal has been launched to support advisers in fighting ID fraud.
New Star is merging its tri-star unit trust into the cautious portfolio unit trust next month.
The Personal Accounts Delivery Authority has revealed there is no clear consensus from the industry on the charging structure that should be adopted for personal accounts.
Norwich Union Healthcare is starting an individual income protection product for the intermediary sales channel. Income protection solutions offers guaranteed and reviewable rates and flexibility of options.
Nucleus Financial Group, the IFA-owned wrap platform is appointing Andrew Smith as chief technology officer.
The Government has admitted that the Personal Accounts Delivery Authority will be given significant state funding, with only a long-term objective to fund itself.
Many online sellers of payment protection insurance have failed to comply with the FSA's new eligibility requirements by the July 6 deadline, says British Insurance.
Policymakers should consider making pensioners have to opt out of the open market option by actively choosing to stay with their provider, says Living Time sales and marketing director Dave Harris.
The May rebalancing saw an increased alignment in the funds selected for the aggressive and balanced portfolios. The panellists' choices suggest that caution caused by volatile market conditions is forcing the risk appetite across all three Adviser Fund Index portfolios to drop.
Paternoster has announced a 550 per cent increase in business growth over the past 12 months.
There are both advantages and disadvantages to being detached from a major investment house when it comes to commenting on the likely outcome of differing market scenarios. You are no longer constrained by the house view and are able to tell it as it is. However, seldom does a distinct line emerge from all the comment, putting the responsibility of coming up with a clear message back on you.
Persimmon is the latest housebuilder to announce it will be cutting 2,000 of its 5,000-strong workforce as a result of the credit crunch.
Personal Touch Financial Services is to buy Clear Mortgage Administration in a bid to create wider distribution and access to markets for its members.
So, the Competition Commission has decided to tackle the problem of payment protection insurance misselling head-on. It is easy to sell and easy to buy, which is why many people are talked into buying it. The trouble is, it is not very good compared with the alternatives.
Last week, the second series of the TV drama Heroes came to an end on BBC2.
Positive Solutions is funding the examination costs for its advisers to reach the Chartered Insurance Institute's diploma level as part of a £5m investment over three years.
I have been told that investment in passive funds can be a great deal cheaper than active funds. However, there is so much terminology used to describe the charges that I am totally confused. What is the difference between the annual management charge and the total expense ratio? Does the total expense ratio actually describe the total costs applicable to a fund?
The mortgage market is set to see a shift in the reward structure for brokers, according to the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association.
The protection industry is well positioned to take advantage of the credit crunch although a number of tough challenges lie ahead, according to speakers at the Protection Review.
Given the concerns by mortgagors about being able to service their mortgage once their special-rate deal has ended, I would challenge advisers, brokers and mortgagees to prove that treating customers fairly applies to mortgagors who have insufficient protection against loss of job or illness and accident.
Most equities do not look particularly attractive at present but there is still a great deal of money to be made out of investing in the international agricultural sector. I particularly recommend the Sarasin Agrisar fund.
Specialist funds that focus on specific themes and investment opportunities are the key to producing positive returns in difficult market conditions, says M&G multi-manager David Jane.
This year is shaping up to be ghastly for stockmarkets. Yet with all falls, opportunities do arise and this is the case with corporate bonds. Indeed, Stephen Snowden of Old Mutual is so confident that he has put a considerable amount of his own money into his fund.
It is interesting to ponder consumer behaviour in troubled times. What do they want from financial services in a turbulent market?
Lenders have started to cut mortgage rates after two-year swap rates fell by 0.5 per cent to under 6 per cent this week.
Royal Bank of Scotland Intermediary Partners has appointed two new corporate account managers.
IFAs are more likely to recommend pension income withdrawal as a viable alternative to annuities over the next year, according to research by Skandia.
Wealth management firm Route Group is being rebranded as Route City Wealth Club and will offer an integrated service to clients for a £2,400 annual fee.
Former Financial Ombudsman Service adjudicator Jane Sanders is setting up an alternative dispute resolution service for firms wanting to bypass the ombudsman when dealing with complaints.
Legendary fund manager Sir John Templeton has died from pneumonia aged 95.
Skandia Investment ManagementAlternative Investments Fund
The Building Societies Association has written to the European Commission expressing concern that Northern Rock has an unfair competitive advantage due to its Government guarantee.
We hear much these days about compliance responsibilities, the need for constant documentation, record-keeping, transparency and so on, but we should not forget that the core of adviser/client interaction is about building a relationship. This is what training experts often refer to as soft skills and relationship selling - the building of trust, the understanding of client needs and using that information to advise and recommend the best solution. The client buys, rather than being sold, ...
America celebrated Independence Day last week but should UK investors still be wary of its market?
Standard Life is enhancing its estate planning offering with the appointment of Ian Mobley as senior technical consultant.
Stroud & Swindon Building Society has launched a three year fixed rate mortgage exclusively through intermediaries.
Swiss Re technical manager Ron Wheatcroft won the outstanding achievement award at last night's Protection Review awards.
There was some tough talking from FSA speakers at its recent enforcement conference on the theme of credible deterrence: changing behaviour through enforcement action.
The FSA's feedback statement on the retail distribution review, due in October, could bring about significant changes to the industry and advisers should ensure they understand the implications of the RDR for their existing clients and for themselves as individuals, not just the firms they work for.
National IFA Thinc Group has appointed David Young as head of group compliance.
Barclays WealthEmerging Markets Optimiser
Last Friday, America may have celebrated Independence Day but the performance of the US economy in the last two years, combined with the weakness of the dollar, has left many UK investors with little to smile about.
The Conservatives have pledged to reform the way that tax law is made, including publishing major changes no later than the pre-Budget report before the next year's Finance Bill.
Personal Touch Financial Services is in discussions with three major high-street lenders over launching a procuration fee-free product.
Lord Adair Turner has promised to be more aggressive in tackling market abuse.
Towry Law has announced the addition of the Six Sigma business management strategy to its masters program.
Advisers have hit out at Clerical Medical's controversial decision to stop paying trail commission to IFAs that it considers are no longer offering an ongoing service to clients.
The Treasury select committee has launched an inquiry into banking reform with oral evidence sessions from across the tripartite authorities.
New FSA chairman Adair Turner may look to change the course of the retail distribution review when he takes on the role at the regulator in September, says Cicero Consulting.
Incoming FSA chairman Lord Adair Turner has pledged to scrutinise the effectiveness of treating customers fairly.
The US Government has moved to provide support to troubled mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac after concerns over their solvency.
Aegon has hit out at Government claims that personal accounts may need extra state subsidies to ensure the scheme is not competitively disadvantaged by serving lower-earners.
Fortis’ chief executive Jean-Paul Votron has been ousted from the Belgian bank.
The credit crunch could bring more US banking casualties, says Martin Currie North America and North America alpha fund manager Tom Walker.
The new Bank of England deputy governor has sounded a warning on the economic impact of a correction in oil prices.
Williams de Broe has added Felix Wintle's Neptune Latin American fund to all four funds in its assetmaster range.
I am confused," said the managing director of Huxley Epsilon, the self-proclaimed future of financial advice, as I wandered into his office for our weekly update on the firm's ambitions.
Marketing group Golley Slater has developed a web-based tool, Kaleidaview, which measure firms' success in implementing the FSA's treating customers fairly initiative.
"The first thing you will need is a wrap service," an IFA friend told me. So I typed wrap into Google and was offered a choice of accessories from Monsoon or a Mexican wrap with spicy sausage.
Woolwich is cutting rates on its most popular lifetime tracker products by up to 30 basis points.
Zurich Financial Services has pulled out of the bidding for Royal Bank of Scotland’s insurance assets and has instead made a move on the Spanish insurance sector.
Zurich Financial Services has announced today that it has signed a £600m agreement to acquire a 50 per cent stake in Banco Sabadell’s insurance operations.