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&#39Lenders ignored 1998 warning over shortfalls&#39

DWS Investments aims to top the brand awareness league by striking a sevenfigure deal to become the official sponsor of Premiership football club Aston Villa.

The agreement will put DWS&#39s logo on players&#39 shirts and Villa&#39s stadium during the 2004/05 season, after which the group will decide whether to extend its association with the club, which is currently pushing for a Uefa Cup place.

The move is part of DWS&#39s strategy to boost its brand awareness in the UK retail market, in which it has ambitions to be a top-five player. As football is popular with IFAs and their clients, DWS says it was a logical decision to sponsor a major club, particularly one outside the South-east, to counter the perception that fund management is too centralised.

Head of UK retail distribution Andy Clark says: “Spreading our message outside London and across the country is key to our business strategy.”

Modelling the new shirts are (from left) players Thomas Hitzlsberger, Thomas Sorensen and Olof Mellberg.

The Financial Ombudsman Service claims it warned lenders in 1998 over potential endowment shortfalls but the warning went unheeded.

At the Building Societies Association annual conference in Manchester last week, principal ombudsman (banking and loans) David Thomas said former PIA principal ombudsman Tony Holland told the CML in 1998 that shortfalls were on the horizon but the industry ignored the warning.

Thomas fears another wave of complaints is about to hit the industry, pointing to significant numbers of consumers who are facing shortfalls but have done nothing about it.

He warned it could end up being similar to the first endowment problem, where shortfalls were often not the industry&#39s fault but it was blamed anyway.

Thomas says: “In 1998, the ombudsman met with the CML and said the problem of endowments was coming. The industry ignored this warning.”

CML spokesman Bernard Clarke says: “We would dispute the fact that we ignored a warning. It is clear the onus is on the borrower to ensure their plan is going to meet the target but we have launched various initiatives and passed suggestions on to members on ways in which borrowers can address the problems.”


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