12 December 2007
Insight’s monthly income fund has been rewarded with a ‘AA’ rating from Standard & Poor’s following strong performance in the past 12 months.
Adviser firms seem to be raising their profile somewhat, if the Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100 survey is anything to go by.
After months of arguments over the Eaglet Investment Trust it seems that the activists have finally won the war after seizing control of the specialist fledgling companies investor.
The new director-general of Safe Home Income Plans, the trade association for equity-release providers, has no easy ride ahead of her. Andrea Rozario, who began her new job last week, must sell the message to a sceptical public and ambivalent adviser community that equity release is a sophisticated, safe and attractive product.
Two clients have asked me about the use of alternatively secured pensions. They are a married couple who are well into retirement. What are their options?
Recent economic data has pointed to the likelihood of weaker growth levels into next year. The main risk remains credit markets which are experiencing declines in supply and demand amid a general deterioration of loan quality. Credit contraction problems have the potential to tip the economy into recession.
Pensions consultant Ros Altmann has accused the Prime Minister and the Treasury of stalling on compensating 125,000 workers who lost their occupational pensions.
Credit Suisse is looking to follow some of its boutique peers by offering performance bonuses in a bid to motivate its fund managers to outperform.
As we approach the end of the response period for the retail distribution review, it is appropriate to look back on the suggested outcomes and assess how the FSA may be reacting.
The Citizens Advice report ‘Set Up to Fail’ is too simplistic in its criticisms of the lending industry, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.
A poll conducted by Fidelity FundsNetwork has revealed that changes concerning concurrency since A-Day have led to an increase in Sipp business.
Perhaps I have been watching too many Oliver Stone movies. The more I read about what people are saying in favour of the retail distribution review, the more I think there is a conspiracy afoot.
The Chancellor has announced the Government’s final proposals for changes to Capital Gains Tax will now not be published until the New Year.
Consumer debt is at record levels and advisers are regularly seeing clients seeking counsel on debt.
The FSA has banned four individuals for "engaging in dishonest business practices" in the reinsurance market which funnelled very significant losses into Sphere Drake Insurance Limited.
The FSA has banned Flett Sinclair Insurance Brokers Limited sole director David Holland and Petsure Limited for misusing customers' assets.
The FSA has fined Norwich Union Life £1.26m for failing to protect customers' data which resulted in a number of actual and attempted frauds.
Royal London says the FSA needs to develop its thinking further in relation to the rules around CAR, requiring product providers to compete on the basis of product quality and innovation.
The FSA has ordered internal investigations within the four companies involved in the takeover of Resolution amidst concerns over market abuse, according to reports.
Bank of England governor Mervyn King has admitted that the Tripartite Authorities were aware at the end of 2006 that they did not have the tools to deal with a UK bank failing.
I do not often recommend funds which have had below-average performance over the medium term but I think an exception can be made for Scott McGlashan's JO Hambro Capital Management Japan fund.
I am writing this before the FSA publishes its final Icob rules. I believe the rules will require stronger safeguards so that those who buy over the phone are clear on whether or not they are getting advice. They are also likely to require all those who sell without advice to make clear that the customer is responsible for the product being suitable, not the seller.
When home information packs are extended to one-bedroom and two-bedroom properties on December 14, they will be mandatory for all residential properties marketed except newbuild and those sold without vacant possession.
So, after a stalled release, the new Icob sourcebook is in the public domain and, at a quick glance, it does not look like the FSA has veered far from its original proposals set out in June’s consultation paper.
It seems we must not only wait until 2008 to kick-start our detox plans, but will also have to keep holding our breath for the Government’s final proposals for changes to capital gains tax until next year.
The credit crisis has produced a classic Keynesian liquidity crunch. Central banks are leading the banks to liquidity but cannot make them lend. A solution is to reflate the banking system by reducing short-term interest rates and causing the yield curve to steepen to profitable levels for the banking system. In the US, the first stage of this process has been achieved as the US treasury yield curve from two to 30 years has steepened from a low of -6 basis points on January 22 to 150 basis ...
Aifa has hailed last week's retail distribution review speech by FSA director Stephen Bland as showing significant movement by the regulator and evidence that it has listened to IFA arguments against the proposals.
The mortgage and insurance markets should be incorporated into the retail distribution review, according to the Financial Services Consumer Panel.
Old Mutual Asset Managers has recruited Simon Murphy to run its UK select equity fund.
The old injury sustained by Money Marketing in the stakeholder pension wars is giving us gip again as far as personal accounts are concerned.
I have always had a soft spot for surveys and opinion polls. How could I not? After all, my partner's mother makes a living out them, quizzing bored shoppers outside shopping centres all over the south coast of England.
Financial markets have fluctuated wildly in recent weeks. The FTSE 100 has been bouncing between 6,000 and 6,500, with the occasional threat to break out from these boundaries.
The most popular post-retail distribution review business model favoured by advisers in the group pension space is a blend of fees and customer-agreed remuneration but a lot of work needs to be done to create a system that will allow corporate IFAs to continue to thrive.
Interest rates were the main feature last week. In the hours ahead of the Bank of England's announcement, speculation was rife that the cut could be as much as 75 basis points. The minutes of this meeting will make interesting reading.
The pre-Budget report continues to occupy the minds of those at Technical Connection and also those of our clients. One of the certainties to emerge from the report is that the value of informed advice does not look like diminishing. Much has been written about the relative merits of investment bonds and collectives as tax-effective wrappers for investment portfolios. We have hopefully contributed positively to that debate.
My name is Jonathan and I am a Northern Rock borrower.
The Government looks unlikely to hit its target of 20,000 Homebuy completions in the first five years of the scheme after first-year figures of 2,364.
I have just realised that we may have a level playing field but we are on another planet when it comes to compensation systems.
Citizens Advice has released a report that claims dubious advice from brokers, irresponsible lending decisions and aggressive arrears management by sub-prime lenders are driving an increase in mortgage arrears, court action and repossessions.
SVM Asset Management attributes the strong performance of SVM global opportunities, which recently earned an AA rating from S&P, to holdings in emerging markets and low US exposure.
There have been a number of reports in the press stating that will planning using the nil-rate band of the first of a married couple to die will no longer be necessary following the Chancellor's pre-Budget report announcement that there will be a transferable nil-rate band between spouses and civil partners.
It has been a busy year and the pre-Christmas lull does not seem to have happened yet. In my column this time last year, I said the dominant themes for 2007 would include pensions and personal accounts, financial capability and generic advice, distribution and the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive. It is true that all these issues have taken up much of our time but they still appear to be far from complete and are set to dominate 2008 as well. What have we achieved on each of these?
An astonishing amount of money could be spent on inheritance tax unnecessarily this year because many taxpayers are failing to write insurance policies in trust. This is a key area where simple steps could protect clients from future financial woes.
Williams de Broe has added boutique managers Neptune and Cartesian to three of its assetmaster funds because it believes they will outperform in volatile conditions.
Looking back at 2007 most people will say the demise of Northern Rock was the biggest news story of the year, let alone the biggest mortgage story.