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Conversion charge fear on property vehicles

The Consumers&#39 Association is considering tailoring its new code of ethics to fit IFAs.

Last week, the CA started consulting with the industry on its code which it hopes will improve corporate governance and business ethics by moving the industry away from commission towards more performance-related bonuses.

The code is aimed at product providers but senior policy adviser Mick McAteer believes there are elements of the code that can be adapted for the IFA market and says some of the bigger networks could sign up to the code now.

McAteer is proposing a model where a fee is agreed up front with the consumer who then has the option to pay the fee in instalments.

He says this would break IFAs&#39 links with providers and avoid the perception that advisers are influenced by commission.

McAteer also believes that IFAs should provide more evidence that they add value and wants to see more explicit performance-related information provided by IFAs.

McAteer says: “We want the code to work both ways, with providers ensuring that their standards are up to scratch and IFAs abiding by the code and putting pressure on firms to treat customers fairly. We are focusing on pro-viders for now but some of the bigger networks could sign up to the code at this stage.”

A lobby group from the commercial property sector has warned the Government that its proposed tax-efficient property vehicles will fail if the conversion charge is set too high.

The British Property Federation, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Investment Property Forum have handed a 130-page submission to the Treasury exp-laining why they believe the vehicles need to be as flexible as possible.

The groups believe that if the Government imposes too much red tape on the vehicles, they will fail to attract investors.

Reit-type vehicles are used in the US and are typically capital gains tax exempt and tax-free on property rental income. In return for the tax breaks, the vehicles distribute most of their income as dividends.

The Treasury consultation document implies that the Government wants to see the vehicles listed and may dictate the types of property they invest in.

IPG research steering group chairman John Gellatly says: “If the conversion charge is too high and the investment structure and criteria is too restricting, it will not be in shareholders&#39 interest to convert and the Government will not achieve its objective.”


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