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Year to Year: 1985

On Friday, September 20, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was threatened with a strike from rebel council workers in Liverpool over her rate capping policy.

The SDP/Liberal Alliance had a 9 per cent lead over the two major parties in the polls and Dixons was advertising the 48k Sinclair Spectrum. Desperately Seeking Susan, staring newcomer Madonna was in the cinemas. And the BBC launched TV soap East Enders four months earlier.

Some of these topics may have been on IFAs’ minds when they arrived at work that morning to find a new weekly newspaper in their mail. Until now, the industry had only been served by monthlies. What was certain, was that IF As were not thinking about the regulatory changes that would affect them. No one had heard of Fimbra, Lautro or SIB – let alone the PIA. And the term “independent financial adviser” had yet to be invented.

Money Marketing’s first lead story showed that only one in five insurance brokers knew the licensing plans, then being floated by the Marketing of Investment Board Organising Committee (Miboc), would affect them. Yet these laid the foundations of what would become the Financial Services Act. Meanwhile, the industry was still reeling from Chancellor Nigel Lawson’s abolition of Life Assurance Premium Relief, and the prospect of coping with regulatory change was grim.

The first issue saw stockbroker Quilter Goodison open a share shop in Debenhams’ Oxford Street store and there was news of Scottish Amicable’s first TV ad. TV was still fresh ground for life offices. CU had a ground-breaking commercial for its Living Assurance contract, and soon every major life office had a campaign. Editor Roger Anderson warned the Government’s plans to abolish Serps would cause administrative chaos. And new products in the issue included Eagle Star’s Rainbow unit trust range and Tunbridge Wells Friendly Society’s baby Bond.

The third issue of Money Marketing saw the Diary page move from the back page to an inside one to run news on the back but this left a hole on the Diary page. Anderson and Deputy Editor Simon Jones decided to make it a quote of the week column but did not what to call it. They were also worried about people complaining that their quotes had been taken out of context, and so Out of Context was born and is one of the paper’s most popular features. This issue also saw the launch of a computer service, Micropal, to analyse unit trusts and investment fund performance, while the unit trust industry was preparing to launch the unit portfolio managed fund – what we now call a funds of funds trust.

The lead story in October 18 saw Scottish Mutual in a deal with Halifax which allowed it to sell Scottish Mutual pensions through the Halifax network. This was short-lived but it was clear that the powers soon to be enjoyed by the building societies would be a threat to IFAs.

Social security secretary Norman Fowler’s White Paper on the contracting-out of Serps was published in December. While regulation dominated the rest of the year with Miboc publishing its consultative paper laying the ground for polarisation, and the Financial Services Bill looked set to become law the following year.

IFAs were in no doubt that the coming changes would affect them, but at least they now had a weekly newspaper of their own to help them through the regulatory minefield.


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