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Polar bears need to cool the climate for a clear view

The continuing bear market must be the biggest risk facing financial services firms but political and regulatory risk comes a close second and this supposedly under a business-friendly Government.

To make matters worse, the bull market – fading into folk lore – provided a false comfort zone which has masked some of the problems faced by fund managers, life offices and advisers. The first risk makes the second all the more serious.

Some of the gloomier commentators believe buy to let, admittedly to the glee of specialists in that market, is fast becoming the default investment of choice and that Ron Sandler, abetted by the FSA, could be the man to turn the lights out on the fund industry if he is not careful.

The mortgage industry, buy to let aside, is facing its fair share of problems, not least the one caused either by the ombud-sman&#39s decision or by lenders&#39 application of dual rates, depending on your view.

Finally, the courts do not look set to ride to the rescue either as witnessed by the recent windfall decision.

This newspaper believes it is possible to reconcile industry, consumer and Govern-ment interests but it requires everyone to calm down a bit and call a halt to some of the more inflammatory comments and for more listening from the powers that be.

The industry may need to change the way it thinks about such challenges. The Government and regulator should come to terms with the need and demand for advice and stop trying to replace it.

To bear markets we have no solution but there is no reason why sense should not prevail and reduce at least one risk to this vital section of the economy.


F&C modifies with-profits concept

Foreign & Colonial is introducing a new breed of with-profits fund promising no cross-subsidy and a clear and transparent charging structure. The F&C with-prospects fund, which is set for launch next month subject to FSA approval, will be contained within an Oeic structure and will invest 60 per cent in global equities and 40 per […]

Gartmore in packed VCT market

Gartmore is to relaunch into the venture capital trust market this autumn despite warnings from industry pundits that the market is saturated. Details of the new Gartmore fund are yet to be finalised although it is expected to be managed by UK & Irish smaller companies fund manager Gervais Williams. The fund manager originally entered […]

Liz Walkington

Direct mailing is an activity many IFAs may shy away from. It seems to contradict the ethos of personal, face-to-face advice which is the essence of the IFA&#39s role. In an organisation such as ours, where there is considerable direct-mail activity as well as a big fieldforce of advisers, the two may seem to be […]

Sandler only needs to read the news

If Ron Sandler needs any proof that recommendations of advisers may be influenced by commission he only needs to read your pages. The coverage of Scottish Amicable&#39s decision to halt initial commission included the assertion that they had been “aggressively chasing market share by paying among the highest rates of commission”. Andrew Bedford of Misys […]

Simon Fletcher

Auto-enrolment: pay attention or pay the price

By Simon Fletcher

As a chief executive officer of a business in the financial services sector, I have been dealing with the introduction of auto-enrolment for our clients for some time, but I can also speak from an employer’s point of view, having to go through the process ourselves.


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