15 December 2004
HHG, the company holding the former AMP UK businesses, has sold its closed life books to Life Company Investor Group for 1.025bn in cash.
A settlement for the split-capital investment trust debacle is believed to be imminent with some reports putting the package as low as 200m.
The real effects of the Pension Protection Fund will only exacerbate the gathering crisis for scheme members.
So you made it then. 2004 was a tough year but not as nasty as 2003.
As 2004 draws to a close, it's out with the old and in with the new. We now have the final rules for depolarisation, stakeholder pensions and basic advice, not to mention a whole new set for the mortgage and general insurance sector.
BRISTOL & WEST MORTGAGES5.05% Five Year Fixed
HSBC is undergoing a shake-up which will see it get rid of underperforming funds and focus on areas where it can make serious money.
Berkeley Morgan Group has been bought by Aim-listed Personal Group in a cash deal amounting to 12.3m.
Bristol & West International has unveiled the international guaranteed portfolio bond issue 2, a product which aims to provide income and growth through three elements.
This week I am going to interrupt my treatise on the use of property in inheritance tax planning, following the introduction of the pre-owned asset rules, to take a look at the few aspects of the Chancellor's pre-Budget report that are of direct or indirect relevance to the financial services sector.
The sale of Charcol has ignited the imagination of many lenders who remember the heyday of the mortgage intermediary firm before it was sold to Bradford & Bingley in 2000.
Chelsea Building SocietyThree Year Fixed Rate
The collapse of the stakeholder 1 per cent annual charge has once more brought the delicate balancing act between value and price into focus.
Concern is growing that some IFAs will not be able to meet the demands of the Insurance Mediation Directive when it comes into operation on January 14, 2005.
Standard Life chief executive Sandy Crombie has admitted to a panel of MPs that demutualisation is a result of poor management decisions rather than the fault of regulation.
In recent weeks, new entrants have entered the critical-illness insurance market and some old players have returned. This has increased the number of companies offering reviewable and guaranteed rates.
Demutualisation will ensure that Standard Life is a leaner, more efficient business and will not affect its ability to write new business, says UK life and pensions chief executive Trevor Matthews.
John Garfield being back at Charcol will please more than just local tobacconists in London WC2 - for one, the deal's equity providers, who have a CEO with a prodigious record in making corporate silk purses as well as 270-yard golf drives.
Employers need to increase their pension contributions to around 10 per cent if they are to avoid compulsion, according to the Government-sponsored Employer Task Force.
2004 brought depolarisation, a big hike in the compensation scheme levy and the departure of Paul Smee from Aifa. But cheer up, it also saw M-Day pass relatively smoothly and there was even a fall in the number of FSA consultation papers.
Despite gloomy forecasts, indices are up and investors who abandoned the market for buy to let missed out on the rally. But the next few years could be tougher going for Anthony Bolton, as the rerating in smaller companies could be largely over.
First Active is surprising mortgage brokers with the amount of exposure and volumes it is taking in the market.
The political parties are vying for the FTB vote in next year's election.
The FSA's partial victory in a compensation dispute with an IFA has exposed the Financial Ombudsman's procedures as incompatible with European human rights legislation, says the IFA Defence Union.
At least four players are reckoned to be in the bidding for The Exchange technology group Marlborough Stirling.
The FSA has prohibited IFA Redvers Evans from managing the regulatory activity of any authorised person following his misleading actions with regard to the pension review.
The BBC's disclaimer seems to be pointing everyone in the direction of IFAs but what will multi-ties make of it?
The fact that 2004 was not a runaway year could be good news for investors.
I have built up considerable amounts of cash. Where can I get a real return from my investments, as I believe it has become harder to make certain profit due to a considerable level of volatility and unpredictability in stockmarkets?
Former Momentum Financial Services managing director Paul Johnston has joined Chase de Vere as managing director of the company's 60-RI private-client arm.
The introduction of the child trust fund has come at an opportune time for the family of one woodworker.
The Way Inheritor plans are some of the best inheritance tax mitigation plans on the market. They avoid inheritance tax completely over a seven-year period while giving the settlor access to flexible amounts of income should it be required.
Aegon-owned IFA group Origen has recruited former Barclays Financial Planning managing director Alan Keegan as its new operations director.
LiontrustLiontrust Distribution Fund
Homeowners can receive a higher annuity income, pay less tax and avoid IHT liabilities on their property through selling their home to family pension schemes.
Treasury select committee chairman John McFall has praised Prudential for taking action to demystify financial services for consumers by mailing colour-coded reprojection letters.
Millfield is the first IFA group to finalise its multi-tie panel, with a tie-up with Axa, Friends Provident, Norwich Union, Prudential, Scottish Widows and Skandia.
The Association of Mortgage Intermediaries is warning intermediaries to ensure they are prepared for FSA general insurance rules.
In the past few issues of Money Marketing, there have been some lively discussions around the high cost of multi-manager products.
Neptune Investment ManagementNeptune-Calculus Income and Growth VCT
New Star is renaming three of its portfolios and offering advisers 5 per cent initial commission across its funds of funds range.
Thinc and Destini have unveiled the first three of five providers for their multi-tie panel and confirm their merger will go ahead subject to FSA approval.
We look back at the people who made waves in financial services in 2004.
Shifting the burden of misselling liability from IFAs to product providers will be a top priority for the Personal Finance Society when it launches in the New Year.
Pointon York is setting up a technology platform to support its Sipp wrapper and will sell it into the IFA market as a white-labelled solution.
Portman Building SocietyTwo Year Base Rate Tracker
Stockbroker Rensburg is merging with Investec private-client stockbroking arm Carr Sheppards Crosthwaite in a reverse takeover.
Closed fund administrator Resolution Life has bought the closed book of Swiss Life Group's UK business for 205m.
After five years of fighting the IFA corner for all he was worth, Aifa director general Paul Smee announced he would be leaving in December to join the Association for Payment Clearing Services as chief executive.
What was the biggest headache for IFAs in 2004? With professional indemnity premiums dropping, it has to have been the unprecedented rise in FSCS costs which soared by up to 1,000 per cent for some advisers.
The year has seen the usual moves among fund managers, with one of the highest-profile movers being Clive Beagles, who quit as manager of the Newton higher-income fund in March to join JO Hambro Capital Management's new UK equity income fund.
Fund supermarkets had another strong year but had to come to terms with the fact that they are maybe not quite as important a distribution channel as some of them might think.
Well-known names in the IFA sector abandoned ship in 2004.
Yet another Government savings initiative slipped into freefall as the Chancellor managed to ruin what was a successful product by stripping away some of the reasons for people buying them. Isa sales fell off a cliff, with the first-ever month of net redemptions.
The year kicked off with Standard Life taking its first step down the road to demutualisation after a bruising encounter with the FSA over accounting rules.
As mortgage lenders and intermediaries lick their wounds after M-Day, the industry is still wondering whether regulation has created any tangible consumer benefits.
The base rate rises this summer started the slowdown in transaction levels but the industry is almost unanimous in saying that there will be no crash.
For the first six months of 2004, the offshore market was dominated by allegations of misselling against Towry Law International.
Panto season starts early in the House of Commons. Pensions minister Malcolm Wicks was writer and star turn in the shenanigans that surrounded the pension protection fund. "Will it be retrospective?" - "Oh yes it will", "Oh no it won't".
The year started badly for IFAs struggling to get professional indemnity insurance.
The year in politics saw pensions rocket to the top of the political agenda. The Pensions Bill saw the creation of an industry-funded compensation fund for wind-up victims and a pension regulator.
Protection was a mixed bag, with life cover doing well but little signs of the protection gap being filled by critical-illness cover or income protection policies.
FSA chairman Callum McCarthy and chief executive John Tiner have come to the end of their first full year in office and have certainly managed to shake things up at the FSA.
Since the merger of Sofa and the LIA was proposed in July members and former board members have had a field day finding fault, not least with the name of the new body, the Personal Finance Society.
Skandia Investment Manage-ment has replaced ING with Axa Rosenberg Investment Management on the 60m European equities mandate for its multi-manager range.
Sarasin ChiswellSarasin CI Global Property Portfolio
Three senior Scottish Equitable sales consultants are undergoing disciplinary proceedings after members of a small self-administered pension scheme were introduced to offshore tax-evading plans.
Anthony Bolton, the long-serving superstar manager of Fidelity's flagship special situations fund, is celebrating the silver anniversary of the fund by confirming that he will continue to run the fund until at least 2006.
Multi-ties are top of Standard Life's Christmas list, with the firm set to reveal deals with at least one bank and a number of IFAs in the new year.
Standard Life is set for a tie-up with a bank in the New Year along with a number of IFA multi-tie deals.
There is one particular area of transition to the new pension regime which may be complex for large numbers of ordinary people - the protection of tax-free cash.
Has 2004 been a good year for your business?
Industry relief that Chancellor Gordon Brown is extending consultation from the initial shock of just three working days on his planned raid on life fund policyholders' savings will be short-lived, as the measures are set to come into force this January.
Towry Law says it has no plans for a sell-off under the new Henderson Group structure following the sale of Henderson Life Services business.
This week, I will conclude my short series of articles in which I have examined and discussed the nature and the extent of the main risks involved in pension drawdown.
Wrap providers' ability to take advantage of the natural restructuring of pension investment ahead of A-Day will be limited because many do not offer fully integrated pension facilities, says financial research company Defaqto.
Standard Life will launch a wrap proposition next year built around its existing Sigma and Sipp platforms.
YFM GroupBritish Smaller Companies VCT C Shares