5 December 2007
It is a sad state of affairs when consumers are so put off protection that they offer inducements to advisers to avoid buying cover.
This week has been another busy one for the mortgage market with the FSA sending out yet another warning, the battle for Northern Rock continues to be played out and at last, a very welcome base rate cut.
T Bailey says the institutional share classes on its funds of funds are seeing increased take-up among fee-based advisers and intermediaries investing Sipp money for their clients.
In my opinion, Assureweb seriously needs to raise its game to compete with other portals. I have been increasingly concerned about delays to software being launched in partnership with Assureweb.
The Bank of England’s monetary policy committee today voted to reduce interest rates from 5.75 per cent to 5.5 per cent.
Brokers have backed David Cameron’s calls for lenders to help borrowers who are struggling to meet higher repayments.
I cannot say I minded being regulated. Not in the beginning. I had been in the business for 33 years and the little IFA outfit I had formed 10 years before in 1976 was doing quite nicely. It would be worth coughing up 400 to 500 to see the back of a few crooks who lurked in our industry.
Political rows within Government over providing additional help for pension victims and with the Opposition regarding a rather loose-lipped civil servant and European GPP issues have over-shadowed the publication of the Pensions Bill.
Welsh IFA firm Buckles has acquired Jennings Insurance and Investment Services following the retirement of its principals.
The Council of Mortgage Lenders has urged the Conservatives to consider policies to improve the “woefully inadequate level of state support” that currently applies to home owners, compared with tenants.
Collins Stewart has announced the launch of its stand-alone fund management business, Collins Stewart Fund Management.
There was a growing consensus at the start of 2007 that after three years of double-digit returns, the commercial property sector was likely to face a slowdown.
Cavanagh Group became the latest company to raise its profile in the corporate advisory market last week when it acquired employee benefits specialist JRG Financial Consultancy.
When friends from outside financial services ask me about the retail distribution review, I explain that the regulator is trying to raise the standard of financial advice in the UK while giving light-touch regulation to the banks to unleash their mighty brands and flog financial services products over the bank counters.
Since 2002, the dollar has depreciated by 32.8 per cent against sterling. Since August, uncertainty over the credit crisis and falling US interest rates have led to the dollar hitting new lows against many currencies which has threatened to turn an orderly decline into a rout.
F&C has announced the appointment of Standard & Poor’s (S&P) managing director George S. Dallas as the firm’s corporate governance director.
Aclient, Mr Smith, has asked me about the effect that the proposed changes to capital gains tax will have on his investments. He has money invested in property, unit trusts and investment bonds.
Former HSBC pair Chris Taylor and Mark Dickson are launching a new structured products boutique in January 2008.
The FSA has asked if the retail distribution review might apply to mortgages and protection, which makes a great deal of sense on one hand and is nonsense on the other.
The FSA has defended its position in the Northern Rock fiasco, rebuffing suggestions that a false market has been created in Northern Rock share trading.
Few people can match the CV that Credit Suisse's new vice-chairman and head of asset management for EMEA Gary Withers can bring to the table.
It seems that Credit Suisse is looking to follow some of its peers into the boutique culture by introducing performance bonuses into a number of fund manager contracts in a bid to bolster returns at the firm.
The ABI has called on the Government and employers to do more to encourage people to save before personal accounts are introduced highlighting the eight year waiting period before employers have to make full contributions.
The Government's consultation on protected rights in Sipps has disappointed providers because it will not bring protected rights completely into line with non-protected rights funds.
Ned Cazalet is always worthy of a decent quote or two. If ever you need to liven up a dour article about insurers, he will be only too happy to oblige, if you can track him down.
We are living in the information age and the media makes sure we are kept abreast of developments in every field.
Investec Asset Management has announced the launch of its offshore emerging market debt fund.
France has recently been hit by a series of strikes in response to reforms brought in by president Nicolas Sarkozy.
As the days get shorter and the weather can’t quite seem to make up its mind at the moment, things also seem a little, well, up in the air for all things IFA-related.
Liongate Capital has teamed up with Barclays Capital to create a tax-efficient structured product around the Liongate multi-strategy fund of hedge funds.
Life is not getting easier, even if shares are having the odd good day. The sheer size of daily fluctuations is enough to put off all but the most seasoned investor or those who, more through hope than real conviction, believe they can use these swings to their advantage. Although current news is hardly encouraging, there seems sufficient expectation that somehow we will muddle through to bring buyers out on a regular basis.
The only way for many graduates to get into the property market is to pool resources with a partner, family member or friend.
Grant Thornton says the Government's consultation on residence and domicile has ignored the cost of the changes to the UK economy.
New Star has reduced the value of its £2.1bn UK Property Unit Trust by 8.2 per cent, reflecting increasingly negative sentiment about the commercial property sector.
Olivant Group, led by ex-Abbey boss Luqman Arnold, has revealed the details of its proposed bid which has already received the backing of Northern Rock's small shareholders group.
Most insurers are set to publish their contracting-out guidelines for 2007/08 within the next couple of months. Expect this year's guidance to differ significantly from what you have seen in recent times. The reason for the change is that this tax year marks the start of a new five-yearly rebate period.
The Pensions Bill is due to come out later today which has prompted calls from providers for clarity over the position of group personal pensions.
The long-awaited Pensions Bill containing details of personal accounts came out yesterday and with it a flurry of commentators by turns outraged or encouraged by various aspects of the proposed reforms.
Aifa director general Chris Cummings says the trade body is supportive of the introduction of Personal Accounts as part of the Pensions Bill but says there are certain issues that still need to be tackled.
The Pensions Bill will remove the requirement for employers to designate a stakeholder pension scheme marking the final nail in the coffin for stakeholder schemes.
A potential conflict of interest exists in the role of the Personal Accounts Delivery Authority if it can set the test by which good schemes become exempt, says Standard Life.
The Conservatives have branded the position of Personal Accounts Delivery Authority chairman Paul Myners “cleary untenable” after he launched a personal attack on the Tories.
Figures from Key Retirement Solutions paint a regional picture of the popularity of equity release, comparing sales from January to September 2006 with the same period this year.
The FSA has been flexing its muscle in the mortgage market by taking action against over 70 firms.
Conflict of interest is good copy for the press and some of it isn't too complimentary. Product and service providers are accused of disregarding their customers and the professional standards of advisers are questioned. This is leading to misgivings about the quality and appropriateness of products and services.
In a recent column, I gently probed the lack of accountability at the Financial Ombudsman Service, something best demonstrated by its appetite for "unashamedly making new law", as chief ombudsman Walter Merricks once confessed to the Financial Regulation Industry Group.
Asia might capture the headlines but investors should not overlook the attractions of Eastern Europe. Exposure to commodities demand and ongoing convergence with developed Europe underpin the case for exposure to these markets in a well diversified portfolio. Add in the rich opportunities to be found around the region on an opportunistic basis and we believe it offers the potential for superior risk-adjusted returns.
I am always wary of emerging markets which have had a good run but I think an exception can be made where an investment manager has consistently outperformed the benchmark.
If I write my wish list this Christmas, what should I include to ensure that next year brings the opportunities I hope for?
Arecent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers reminds us of the importance of the small business market to financial advisers. It is hard to deny the importance of family businesses, which account for more than two-thirds of companies registered in the UK and that is without taking account of businesses constituted as partnerships and sole traders.
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Chris Grayling has written to the Prime Minister demanding he activates a pensions package immediately to compensate the victims of occupational scheme collapses.
Towry Law has announced its acquisition of Analysis, a financial advisory firm based in Londonderry, Northern Ireland.
New rules proposed by HM Revenue & Customs could overturn a famous defeat for the Government in the House of Lords that allowed a husband and wife business to take an income in the form of dividends to minimise their tax payments.
Estate planning is a growing market and one of the essential tools is the trust, wrapped around various investments including investment bonds.
Russia is sitting on a huge fiscal surplus and investors wanting exposure to emerging economies should take stock. This is the message from portfolio managers and advisers after the Russian government unveiled its extravagant spending plans following announcements that the 2014 Winter Olympics will be held at Sochi on the Black Sea.
Whenever I get really depressed about the capacity of financial services industry regulators to prove to customers how effective they are at protecting their interests, I look at other sectors where levels of protection are still virtually non-existent.
Paragon and Kensington are the latest lenders to have had their troubles seized upon and reported widely. Part of the problem is that both are specialist lenders identified with a particular market. Paragon, the third-biggest buy-to-let lender, is one of the most innovative suppliers of loans to landlords. Managing director John Heron is one of the most respected experts on buy to let. If Paragon is in trouble, many journalists have concluded that the buy-to-let sector as a whole must ...