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Focus on Offshore

Friends Provident International (FPI) have announced plans to extend their offshore life and pensions business into three new territories. They have been granted a licence for a branch office in Singapore, which will open in September 2006. FPI hope to repeat the success they have had in North Asia with business via Hong Kong in the South Asian market. They plan to launch a portfolio bond for high net worth clients and will be the first provider to do so in Singapore.

FPI also announced that they will be launching personal pensions in the German market for the first time. This follows a change in legislation in Germany where the government have chosen to resolve the pensions crisis by reducing the state pension and making provisions for individuals to save for their own pensions. FPI plan to target high net worth clients with their products which will be rolled out with a limited product launch during Summer 2006 before a marketing campaign for the forth quarter sales season.

Lombard, the life company acquired by FPI in 2004, has applied to open a branch in Switzerland ‘in order to be geographically and culturally close to the world’s largest private banking market.’

Canada Life has undertaken a three part review of their offshore trust and estate planning product range as a result of the 2006 Budget outlineing changes to trusts. The legislation was drafted in order to crack down on inheritance tax avoidance using trusts but has unintentionally caught a wide range of other financial services, such as family protection.

The firm say they are offering the new strategies and support to make sure that IFAs are not adversely affected by changes to trusts. Phase one of the review has just been completed and included a set of comprehensive tax notes, so advisers are fully aware of all the Budget changes.

Phase two will be completed on 16th June 2006 and includes the reliance of lump sum products which will offer absolute and discretionary trusts. Phase three will take place after the 2006 Finance Act and will include several new schemes which Canada Life hope will give people a choice of how to deal with their estate.

Guernsey Finance have issued a report of a Committee who are responsible for insuring the continuing success of the investment sector. The Committee recommended that a ‘registered’ fund sector should be created alongside the existing ‘regulated’ sector. The registered funds would not need prior approval from GFSC.

The report also suggests that the same framework should apply to both open and closed end funds, which should be subject to a dedicated Funds Law. This would leave the existing Protection of Investors Law to deal with other aspects of investment business. It recommends public offers should be made subject to specific prospectus legislation and that provision of services to certain funds domiciled outside Guernsey should also be liberalised.

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