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Picturing 2005

David Sherman must surely be Lord Turner’s man of the year. As the Pensions Commission chairman recommended that the retirement age for the state pension should be raised to 67, 68, 69, keep on counting, Close Brothers Investment marketing manager Mr Sherman, at the age of 71 and with 50 years of financial services’ experience behind him, said he was looking forward to the introduction of real estate investment trusts. He told Money Marketing that his career ambition is “to keep going”.

When Fidelity said in September last year that it was it going to split Anthony Bolton’s 5bn special sits fund in 2006, why didn’t it announce who would run the new half of the fund? The rumour mill has been running at full tilt ever since. The other question was posed by Bolton himself, who is retiring in 2007. He asked: “What is one year of Anthony Bolton worth? People will have to make up their minds.” Well, in 2005, one year of Bolton was worth around 26 per cent growth in special sits although at the end of the year Fidelity’s superstar was warning that perhaps this bull market is running out of steam.

Here’s one of the mysteries of last year – why couldn’t Baron Turner of Ecchinswell get his own copy of the eagerly awaited Second Report of the Pension Commission? Lord 0.3 per cent was, after all, the chairman of the commission. Our snapper captured Adair Turner on the day the report was published but closer inspection revealed that he was perusing what appears to be “Sarah’s copy”.

When Gordon Brown knocked property Sipps flat in December, he also stamped out exotica such as antiques, valuable stamps and the like which had been touted extensively as alternative investments. The mystery is perhaps that a Labour Chancellor even considered the idea of property Sipps. Perhaps a bigger mystery is why everyone seemed to believe that he would go ahead with the plan. He has backtracked on schemes before, most notably in bringing in a nil-rate band of corporation tax in 2002, which many IFAs have cause to regret, as it offered an incentive for self-employed sole traders to incorporate and benefit from the new rules by paying themselves in dividends. The plan lasted just about a year before Brown realised the widespread warnings about the plan were right.The mantle passed at Scottish Widows as the company brought in 21-year-old Hayley Hunt (near right) to take over the cloak from Amanda Lamb (far right) in the long-running campaign shot so distinctively by David Bailey

Neil Townley’s plight perhaps summed up the real problem of the year, and most other years for that matter, for IFAs – appalling blunders and poor service from product providers. In just one morning’s post, Pencap director Mr Rownley included an L&G policy document which omitted the trust under which the policy is to be issued, a ScotEq letter about a pension scheme which was renamed six months ago which used the old name, a Clerical Medical apology for failing to collect a client’s premiums for two months, an NPI quotation showing pension entitlement but adding a note that no commission will be paid to the IFA if the client takes the benefits from NPI, although the letter was sent to the IFA, and a Standard Life query asking whether an increment was gross or net of tax relief despite the IFA’s covering letter stating “before tax relief”. Thank God the post office stopped second deliveries

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