26 November 2008
The FSA says that a staggered implementation of some of the RDR proposals could be appropriate and says certain measures could be implemented as early as mid-2009. It says advisers should put in place "at least the ethical and behavioural professional standards" required as early as possible, even if it takes longer for the qualifications to be attained.
PYV managing director Neil Pointon says the impact of FSA proposals for capital adequacy and professional indemnity insurance will only become clear when the PI market hardens. He says few advisers have exclusions on policies for any classes of business because of the soft market. He says: "If the market hardens, we will see exclusions for classes of business reappearing and then the FSA's calculation, if it is in force, will come to the fore."
One-fifth of asset managers in the US and UK are likely to disappear, according to forecasts from the IMF.
IFAs, multi-ties and single-tied advisers will all have to achieve a minimum of QCA level four or equivalent by the end of 2012.
Research by UK insurer Norwich Union found 57 per cent of people support the Government’s decision to lift the ban on healthcare top-ups.
Panellists upped the allocation of bonds in the Balanced Adviser Fund Index during the November rebalancing. Cazenove UK Corporate Bond, L&G All Stocks IL Gilt Index, M&G Strategic Corporate Bond and Standard Life Global Index Linked Bond joined the benchmark, as the fixed-income weighting grew by 4 per cent.
For those who wanted a political choice, you have it. The Government has opted for borrowing, tax cuts now, particularly for the less well-off and tax increases after the next election for the rich.
It seems that hardly a week goes by without the media reporting another case of computer records going missing from businesses or Government departments. It is a reminder to us of our obligations for data security.
We believe the RDR is now workable, given the disaster it might have been for financial advice as we know it.A massive and difficult programme of work would have been just about the worst thing the FSA could have done.
In advance of tomorrow's Queen's Speech, the Association of British Insurers has again urged the Government to allow auto-enrollment into workplace pension schemes before 2012.
The Association of British Insurers' 30-day target for transferring pension fund has been criticised by advisers.The Retirement Adviser director of retirement planning Nick Flynn said it was ridiculous that while some firms would guarantee a quote for an annuity for two or three weeks, the failure of other firms to transfer funds on time left those quotes redundant. "On one hand, you are offering 30 days to move the money and on the other, most insurers are promising people two or ...
The Association of Consulting Actuaries has said the Government should consider a cap on high rate pensions tax relief and invest the money in better promotion of pension saving for everyone.
The Pensions Act 2008 received royal assent yesterday although many in the industry are still worried about flaws in the Government's plans.
The RDR paper has clarified that the new style of adviser charge will not carry VAT.
Advisers have hit out at the FSA for ruling out a 15-year long stop for misselling complaints.
Unum is calling on all advisers to inform their clients about the effect last month’s pension changes will have on their income protection policies.
Aegon Scottish Equitable chief executive Otto Thoresen has warned the retail distribution review reform timetable is too fast and could drive good advisers out of the industry.
Each month we bring you the opinions of the managers of the funds most likely to be selected for pension portfolios either through external fund links or Sipps. This month - C F RUFFER TOTAL RETURN FUND
Level annuity rates have continued to decline over the past month, with the top rate coming down £48, according to Alexander Forbes Annuity Bureau.
If we ask ourselves whether we want to be liked or respected by our customers we’ll usually reply both. But if we had to choose only one, as business people the answer should probably be respected first and liked second.
Last week, I took an initial look at employee benefit trusts and the latest version of these, the family benefit trust.
A few weeks ago, in the wake of my column on the issue of whether Skandia ought to be allowed to join Aifa, I got two emails. One was from the redoubtable Harry Katz, at Norwest Consultants, who took me to task for my negative comment and said Skandia has merely joined Aifa an "associate member".
The Government says it will allow employers to self-certify that their pension schemes are good enough to exempt them from running personal accounts.
Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor Vince Cable says one of the UK’s top bank chiefs admitted to him two years ago that his bank’s lending practices were “foolish and dangerous”.
A Barclays Bank employee who set up a sophisticated system to defraud customers out of more than £100,000 has been jailed for two years and eight months.
Banks could face the threat of nationalisation if they refuse to start lending Bank of England governor Mervyn King admitted yesterday.
Pre-Budget report changes mean women with an incomplete National Insurance record could get a return on investment of up to 7,200 per cent if they buy back extra years.
Brewin Dolphin has reported a £5.5m pre-tax profit loss in its preliminary final results but remains focused on expansion in its investment management business.
Do you agree with the Competition Commission's decision to ban point of sale PPI?
Buckles has acquired Cheshire-based Highgrove Investments for an undisclosed cash-sum.
William Burrows Annuities director Billy Burrows has suggested that clients should consider taking out new-style variable annuity products in the pre-retirement phase.
Caledonia Investments chairman Peter Buckley has died following a short period of illness.
The Association of Independent Financial Advisers has warned that the FSA’s expenditure based capital requirements could push firms to abandon compliance spending in order to reduce their fixed costs.
Cazenove Capital Management has added a structured product to its multi-manager diversity plan as it looks to capitalise on the alternatives' sector in the coming year.
Strong long-term opportunities can be found by investors looking East, says CF Miton global portfolio fund manager Sam Liddle.
Although mention was made of the future benefit of the Crosby report, there was no up-front stimulus for the housing market or the provision of mortgages in the pre-Budget report.
The FSA's decision to introduce independent advice and sales advice channels could lead to an increase in the number of cases referred to the Financial Ombudsman Service, warns principal ombudsman David Thomas.
The Chartered Insurance Institute has today awarded Bank of Scotland Investment Service the Chartered Financial Planners title for firms.
It is common that clients facing retirement may consider consolidating their pension rights before taking benefits. However, if the client's arrangements include a protected pre-A-Day pension commencement lump sum, there is a danger that by consolidating the funds before benefit crystallisation, the client could reduce the amount available.
Annuities are widely acknowledged as potential nightmares to arrange.
Advisers' clients are not asking questions about turbulent markets but about the financial strength of product providers, with some refusing recommendations to use smaller firms.
Council of Mortgage Lenders director general Michael Coogan has attacked the Government’s call for base rate cuts to be passed on as “short-sighted and counter productive”.
One of the UK’s top economists has blamed the Bank of England for the HBOS share price crash in September.
Once the risk-averse investment climate subsides, the convertible bond space could witness a revival, says Credit Suisse multi-manager co-head Aidan Kearney.
What a depressing time - falling markets, layoffs everywhere and a continuous diet of gloomy news. All this will lead to further falls in interest rates and I expect another cut in December with more to come later. I would not be surprised to see rates below 2 per cent by February.
The RDR feedback statement has postponed any decision on how the proposals will affect the corporate pension market until 2009. Pension commentators have expressed concern that if RDR proposals on remuneration are not applied to the corporate market, then product providers could sidestep the proposals by writing individual pension business under group schemes.
The Government is poised to increase the cost of buying back missing National Insurance contributions by 45 per cent next year.
The cost of professional indemnity cover for advisers may rise as the value of the pound against the euro drops, according to PYV.
Concerns over inadequate retirement savings are causing one in eight people to consider equity release to help pay for their retirement.
The qualifying recognised overseas pension schemes party looks well and truly over after HM Revenue & Customs confirmed it will hit those misusing the rules with a 55 per cent tax charge.
Credit Suisse has announced plans to cut 650 jobs from its investment banking division in the UK as it looks to stave off the effects of the credit crunch.
Industry experts say the Crosby report's recommendation for the Government to guarantee mortgage-backed securities will do nothing to bring first-time-buyer mortgages and sub-prime mortgages back into the market.
Cru Investment Management has teamed up with Arch Financial Products to set up a fund offering retail investors low-risk exposure to private markets.
An imagined conversation at Whitehall: Alistair Darling and Sir James Crosby sit in a plush office at the Treasury.
New Star economist Simon Ward has attacked Chancellor Alistair Darling’s impending Budget as “pregnant with dangers” and will “impose major costs on future taxpayers”.
Money Marketing broke the news last week that the former founders of Webline, Park Row and Quay software are teaming up to launch a direct-to-consumer wrap platform.
Whitechurch network managing director Ian McIver says the QCA level four benchmark set for all investment advisers regardless of whether they fall under independent or sales advice is disappointing. He says: "If they are saying that the starting point for both those circles is the same, then that is disappointing because what 'independent' needs is something to distinguish itself."
People who set up or increased income from drawdown plans after A-Day may be faced with a difficult choice between cutting income or seeing their pot diminish rapidly.
I am drawing down income from my pension fund and I am seeing its value fall dramatically due to the current conditions. Can you tell me how this all might affect my income today and in the future?
Mortgageforce chief operating officer Kevin Duffy is set to replace Rob Clifford as managing director.
Axa and Standard Life are to stop paying commission on default annuities where they assess that no advice has been given.
Equitable Life has announced that it has put its sales process on 'hold' after the Board decided that proposals would not improve prospects for customers.
Equity release lenders need to provide more flexible options to release consumer demand, according to IFA HFM Columbus.
The FSA has set out plans to remove commission bias by stopping providers from determining adviser remuneration, but says Europe has stopped it going as far as it wanted.
Stepping down as PFS president was bitter-sweet but I look forward to supporting Paul Lothian during his term for what will be a defining year for our profession.
Skandia believes changes in taxation of family trusts will make them much less attractive.
With the FSA’s plans to make some firms hold three months of expenditure as capital adequacy and using an educated guess, may I suggest that the following groups will be unhappy.
Fidelity FundsNetwork has launched the IntelliFlo bulk valuation facility on its platform.
The Financial Advice Academy, a new recruitment and training service, has been launched this week by former Zurich Financial Services directors Bob Gill and Peter Jewitt.
This pre-Budget report was all about temporary tax giveaways to entice people to spend our way out of recession. But there is no such thing as a free lunch, so it was always going to be the case that the Government would raise taxes for some.
The decision to freeze the pension lifetime allowance at £1.8m from 2010 to 2015/16 looks set to damage pension saving.
Friends Provident has agreed a deal to acquire a 30 per cent stake in a Malaysian life business for £30m.
Friends Provident International has added two new investments plans to its product range.
Friends Provident life and pensions chairman and company executive director Ben Gunn has retired.
Lord Lipsey has resigned as chairman of the FSA’s Financial Services Consumer Panel in a disagreement over his remit.
The FSA says advisers may be required to set up trusts to pay for any potential claims that arise after they have left the industry.
The FSA has issued further clarification on the Icob requirement around total premium disclosure for mortgage payment protection insurance after research found many firms disclosing only monthly premiums.
The FSA has confirmed that it will double the minimum capital adequacy requirement for firms to £20,000, with the calculation based on firms’ three-month expenditure costs.
FSA head of the RDR Amanda Bowe says the FSA’s new capital adequacy rules have been misunderstood and that capital will not have to be held as cash.
FSA managing director of retail markets Jon Pain has said that the number of mortgage intermediaries in business during the boom years was as unsustainable as the lending levels.
The FSA has warned mortgage lenders and administrators yet again that they must be treating customers fairly if they are in arrears.
The FSA has warned it will crack down on advisers and providers who try and take advantage of the retail distribution review transition period to sell high-commission products.
The FTSE 100 has slipped below the 4,000 level after opening 46 points lower at 4,019.18 on Monday’s close of 4,065.49.
GHC Fund Management has added three new risk graded funds to its product range.
Bank of England deputy governor Sir John Gieve considers that capital requirement changes should be central in reforms of the banking sector.
UK office of promontory financial group chairman Michael Foot will lead the independent review of British offshore financial centres announced in last week’s pre-Budget report.
To Pall Mall last Tuesday, lured by the chance to hear actuarial guru and show-stopping speaker Ned Cazalet give his updated lambasting of the life insurers courtesy of the top-end and often rather beautiful headhunters Horton International. It was noted that outsourcers might be more in demand than headhunters through 2009 but that there was little point now in us trying to stop the gravy train because the buffers are already in sight and the brake handle is in the hands of Accelerating ...
Longbow Capital is tipping healthcare as a defensive investment sector which is likely to better weather the economic storm.
The rise in income tax to 45 per cent for people earning over £150,000 has been hailed as a positive move for pensions.
Year-on year house prices fell by 13.9% in November according to the Nationwide House Price Index.
Some IFA firms are to be hit with capital adequacy requirements of 30 times their current levels as part of the retail distribution review, according to Aifa.
IFAs and their back-office systems are prime targets for fraudsters, warns 1st-The Exchange delivery director Howard Goodman.
The Investment Management Association has revealed an 11 per cent fall in assets under management for October 2008.
The retail distribution review could create a two-tier mortgage advice market due to the different remuneration requirements of brokers and advisers, says the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association.
The arguments for equity release are well thought out and hard to refute. But while the equity release market has been growing quickly in recent years, the surge in demand anticipated by many people, including the many mortgage lenders that have moved into this market in the last year or so, has yet to materialise.
Kent Reliance building society has revealed profits rises of 121 per cent in its end of year figures.
With regards to Michael Nichols' plea for a balanced debate regarding structured products, from what I have seen in Money Marketing, I have had two articles casting doubt on the product but there have been nine letters and articles, etc in their defence. None has anything of substance which would change my mind. There have been no facts to demonstrate transparency or anything to prove me wrong. Do I have seven more chances to make the debate balanced?
New Star Asset Management took another blow this week after it was forced to suspend trades on its £470m international property fund as money haemorrhaged away through increased investor redemptions.
The Liberal Democrats are calling for an independent commission to review public sector pensions.
Libor rates fell once again today, according to the British Bankers' Association.
Three-month Libor has dropped down to just 3.88 per cent.
The Government has announced that life offices must “renew their efforts” to ensure that people reaching annuitisation shop around for the best deal.
In the most important speech of his life, the Chancellor has ignited significant political debate on the UK economy.
If markets get back to the 5,000 level, then a large number of people should get buying an annuity "over and done with" William Burrows Annuities director Billy Burrows has urged.Speaking at Money Marketing's annuity round table, Burrows said that his company is investigating a number of exit strategies for people who may have seen investments suffer by as much as 15 to 20 per cent.
LV= has sealed a partnership with Standard Life that will see its income protection and whole-of-life plans sold through Standard's direct telesales division.
Investment in traded life policies by retail and institutional investors has risen by more than 50 per cent over the last year as a result of recent market turmoil, according to a report from the Bristol Business School.
It Pays To Watch host Martin Lewis has hit back at mortgage brokers after personal tirades online and over the phone.
Monies in merged building societies will continue to be seen as separate entities by the FSCS.
Conservative Shadow Treasury Chief Secretary Philip Hammond claims if Government ministers were subject to FSA regulation they would be jailed for some of the promises they have made on pension personal accounts.
Moody’s has downgraded several mortgage-backed securities owned by Lehman Brothers.
Suffolk Life director of sales and marketing John Moret has called on the FSA to regulate specialist and basic Sipps separately.
Mortgage lending dropped once again in October, with approvals down almost three-quarters.
MPs have hit out at "gob-smacking" City bonuses which they say helped to create the economic crisis.
Neptune Investment Management is looking at the possibility of acquiring certain New Star assets.
New Star attempted to temporarily suspend its ordinary shares this morning following news that it is in "advanced and constructive" discussions with its bank syndicate.
At Cameron Chase, our business philosophy seeks to provide a truly holistic, financial plan in line with our clients' life goals.
Chancellor Alistair Darling has blasted overseas territories for "attracting banking customers with lower tax rates without contributing to the UK Exchequer" and has called for a review of their regulatory arrangements.
Oil's rise and fall is quite spectacular. In two years, it gained almost 150 per cent, only to slide back to the same level in just four months since July. As it rose, it carried inflation across the world to stifling levels but the forces driving the price up one side of the peak pushed it down the other as demand was destroyed by the high price.
Old Mutual Asset Managers (UK) has announced the appointment of Nick Williamson and Stephen Message as UK analysts.
More than 300 guests gathered for the ninth Aifa annual dinner last week to reflect on the year gone by - and what a tumultuous year it has been.
Warren Buffett says: "Be fearful when others are greedy and be greedy when others are fearful". In October, he put this into practice, buying US equities for his personal account and predicting that "the market will move higher, perhaps substantially so, well before either sentiment or the economy turns up". There are several reasons why now might be a good time to revisit the equity market.
Conservative Shadow Chancellor George Osborne has branded Chancellor Alastair Darling's pre-Budget report as "the greatest failure of public policy in a generation".
Pada chief executive Tim Jones has said there may be a basic pay option within personal accounts rather than forcing companies to use total earnings to calculate contributions.
The personal accounts delivery authority has proposed forming a panel of providers to offer low-cost annuities to members of the personal accounts scheme.
Hargreaves Lansdown has praised the personal accounts delivery authority's proposal to create a panel of providers to offer annuities to personal accounts investors but is concerned about the focus on conventional annuities.
Perspective Financial Group has acquired Rutherford Wilkinson making it the sixth IFA firm to date.
Firms with business lines excluded under their professional indemnity insurance policy will now have to hold a minimum level of additional capital resources, according to the FSA.
The FSA is to require IFAs using a portal or sourcing system to put in extra checks to ensure that they are considering the whole of the market.
Positive Solutions has launched an extranet service to allow IFA partners to create personalised websites for their firms.
The upper level of professional financial planner from the RDR proposals. The Institute of Financial Planning lobbied for the recognition of a higher level of qualification and experience but the FSA has only distinguished between sales, advised sales and independent advice.
Protection providers have failed to get the message out to consumers about the importance of protection, according to the protection panel at Sesame’s second annual Symposium conference in London yesterday.
The FSA says it did not find enough evidence of provider bias to prevent them taking stakes in advisory businesses but will keep this under review and will monitor the situation closely.
IFA quote activity and applications for Pru Protect's life cover, serious illness cover and income protection has trebled since it announced product enhancements last week.
The UK recession will be “dramatic” but value being seen in equities and credit offer investors a “once in a generation” opportunity, says Prudential Portfolio Management Group director Martin Brookes.
A round table debate discussed whether clients will trust the guarantees from US providers after recent market problems.The Retirement Adviser director of retirement planning Nick Flynn said: "The theory behind these products is fantastic but is there is a question whether the guarantees will be met? I would rather spend money on a guarantee to have it but my question is whether a consumer will believe these guarantees will be paid?"
Royal Bank of Scotland has revealed it will now wait for six months before those with mortgage arrears are repossessed.
The Financial Services Consumer Panel has hit out at the FSA for its U-Turn on the advice/sales split and says the term sales advice is “devoid of meaning”.
The FSA’s RDR has come up short by setting the minimum qualification level for advisers at QCA level four, according to the Institute of Financial Planning.
The Personal Finance Society has praised the FSA’s intention to establish an independent professional standards board in a drive for consistency across the sector.
Skipton Financial Services says the FSA’s decision to implement a QCA level four benchmark for all investment advisers by 2012 will trigger an adviser exodus.
HSBC chief economist Dennis Turner has forecast the recession will be shallower and shorter than predicted, with a recovery starting in the second half of next year.
The FSA has backtracked on its interim report statement over the sales/advice split and will now allow single and multi-ties to use the adviser label.
The Government has tightened up the criteria on gaining real estate investment trust status to stop property-rich businesses that are not property rental firms from becoming Reits.
So, the authorities have acted at last. The Bank of England has itself now been renation-alised and is firmly back under the control of the politicians at the Treasury. By the way, am I the only person who thinks that the "independence" of the Bank of England has been an unmitigated disaster - more of this another time.
More than half in the financial services industry believe it will take more than two years for the sector to recover trust following the credit crunch, according to research from law firm Eversheds.
As the retail distribution review wrestles with the issue of IFA remuneration, many in the mortgage market believe changes are on the horizon to the way that brokers are paid.
The FSA's move towards principle-based regulation has made standardised compliance solutions redundant, according to Birmingham law firm Shakespeare Putsman.
For an ex-Chancellor who claims to have solved the global banking crises "that started in America", Gordon Brown appears rather naive about the balance sheet of Mr & Mrs Average Britain.
The number of people using salary sacrifice to fund a pension is expected to leap after Chancellor Alistair Darling set out changes to income tax personal allowances and a National Insurance rate hike.
The FSA has banned London Scottish Bank plc from accepting further deposits and the bank has been placed into administration.
Sesame executive chairman Ivan Martin has attacked the “Frankenstein” sales advice category in the FSA’s retail distribution review feedback.
One of the people with whom I work closely in an investment firm with which I have an association monitors a number of esoteric indicators that he believes give a good steer on economic activity. Included among these are the price of scrap metal and tanker demolition rates. These give, he feels, the best early signals of what is really going on in the global economy. After a prolonged weak period, they are both starting to tick up - volume of ships seeking demolition exceeds yard capacity ...
Transact and Skandia have clashed over comparisons between the pricing structures of their wrap platforms.
Skandia is to stop accepting paper new business to its Selestia Investment Solutions Platform from January.
Struggling small businesses are being supported with a package of measures, including a 1bn fund and an offer for SMEs to take "as long as they need" to pay taxes.
New rules allowing small businesses to carry back losses for three years rather than one year are a good opportunity for firms to boost their group pension schemes.
The Building Societies Association is worried that the Government may use National Savings & Investments to raise further funding and funnel much-needed investor deposits away from mutuals.
Money Marketing reported on November 6 that the FSA had lost an appeal to the Information Tribunal regarding a disclosure order by the Information Commissioner. This order required the FSA to disclose the names of seven firms it had criticised concerning the quality of their advice about equity-release schemes and follow-on investments.
The pre-Budget report identifies the crown dependencies as a thorn in the side of the UK's "world-leading financial centre".
Hargreaves Lansdown needs to understand structured products - differentiation is not just key but also the raison d'etre for wealth managers.
UK adverse Residential Mortgage Backed Securities arrears figures have hit record highs of 25 per cent.
High-profile companies continue to announce job cuts, while small to medium businesses are dropping like flies. The Government's unemployment statistics show an increase to well over two million is likely, so its initiatives are focusing on keeping these rises under control.
The issue of sale and rent back has hit the headlines once again, as Britons facing the economic downturn cast about for ways to ease their financial suffering.
It appears that our economic future relies on the less well-off spending us out of recession.
The MSCI emerging markets benchmark has fallen by over 60 per cent this year as the sector shows it is not immune to the economic storm.
Concerning the letter in the November 13 issue, headlined, How we were forced out of business, there is one flaw in the argument.
Three-month Libor has continued to fall again as overnight Libor moved up.
Mortgage lenders have been ordered to give borrowers in arrears three months before considering repossession.
Threesixty has launched a standalone company called IFA Marketplace to help firms find buyers as it predicts 30 per cent will merge over the next five years.
Conservative Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Chris Grayling has said the Tories would consider scrapping personal accounts in favour of auto-enroling employees to existing stakeholder schemes.
Conservative Shadow Chancellor George Osborne says credit default spreads show the markets feel there is a high risk of the UK defaulting on its national debts.
Conservative shadow pensions minister Nigel Waterson has suggested the Tories would close the gap between means-testing and the basic state pension if the party came to power.
Tory Shadow health minister Stephen O'Brien has hit out at the insurance industry for failing to provide "sustainable and attractive" long-term care products.
The Conservative shadow pension minister Nigel Waterson has backed the ABI’s call for auto-enrolment to existing pension schemes to be implemented before 2012.
Aifa director general Chris Cummings says advisers will feel "let down and trampled on" by the FSA's RDR U-turn and accused the regulator of caving in to heavy pressure from the banks.
The Financial Services and Markets Tribunal has overruled the FSA’s decision to dismiss an application made by a mortgage broker for authorisation.
To continue the structured product debate following Peter Hargreaves' article, the first thing I will say is all that investments are different.
As macro economics dominates, it is no wonder that many clients will fail to see the benefits for them. It is clear that the Chancellor, if not the Prime Minister, hopes the proximity of Christmas will mean the main beneficiaries - those on lower incomes - will feel they can again spend and this infusion of cash into the retail sector will help the country get going.
This manifesto calls for a national savings strategy. If British society is to be financially self-sufficient and confident of its future, the attitudes and savings habits of the nation must change.
New Star joint chief investment officer and UK growth fund manager Stephen Whittaker has left the firm following a sustained period of underperformance.
William Russell has launched discounted corporate life insurance and income protection plans for small expat employers.
Investing in wine has proved very profitable over the years. The main index recognised by the trade is the Liv-ex 100 Fine Wine Index. It was started in September 2004 and since then, this wine index has risen by 253 per cent.
The formidable equity income sector is soon to shrink as the IMA looks to tackle funds not conforming to its yield requirements - a measurement that has been difficult to do in the current climate. In recent weeks, the IMA has sent questionnaires to groups asking about the yield on their income funds and whether or not they believe them to be sustainable.