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Gay IFAs lead assault on insurers&#39 &#39homophobia&#39

The Terrence Higgins Trust, gay rights lobbyist Stonewall and a group of gay IFAs have come together to fight what they claim is homophobia and Aids&#39 discrimination in the life insurance industry.

The group is spearheaded by Compass IFA director Chris Morgan and includes Ruth Whitehead Associates and former IFA Roger Taylor. It is meeting with ABI head of health insurance Richard Walsh this week.

THT says it came across 70 cases last year where HIV was used to discriminate against gay men by refusing insurance or massively increasing premiums. It believes single men are routinely asked intrusive questions that trigger supplementary questionnaires for gay men and compulsory HIV testing. It says this does not apply to other risk groups.

The ABI is reviewing HIV guidelines which were last revised in 1994. The intervening period has seen major strides in the treatment of HIV, which the group believes have not taken been into account.

Morgan says: “With a group that represents a cross-section of the gay and HIV community, we are entering into preliminary discussions with the ABI to achieve an alteration in the way the life industry sees gay people and the issue of HIV.”

ABI spokeswoman Leonie Edwards says: “This is just one of a series of meetings we have with groups interested in this issue.”

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Strong dollar can be a powerful driver of UK dividend growth in 2015

By Robin Geffen, fund manager and CEO 

This year threatens to be a challenging one for UK dividend hunters. Last year saw an all-time record amount paid out in UK dividends — some £97.4bn, according to research from Capita Dividend Monitor. Yet as Capita also pointed out, out the biggest single factor driving the growth in the fourth quarter of last year was easy to identify: the rising US dollar. 

In our view, this trend is much more than simply a one-quarter phenomenon. It is actually the most profound issue to get right as a UK equity income investor in 2015. We believe that the US dollar will continue to strengthen significantly from its current level. This is due more to the US economy’s demonstrable de-coupling from the rest of the world than to a view on the UK. The US has a strong chance of tightening monetary conditions this year without jeopardising growth or de-stabilising its housing market. The same can unfortunately not be said about the UK.

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