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Year to Year: 1989

The year started with yet another Fimbra funding crisis with Lautro coughing up £1.4m – and ended with the ritual sacrifice of Fimbra chairman Lord Elton in December.

The year also saw the arrival of one of the IFA sector’s most tenacious spokesmen – a former furniture manufacturer named Garry Heath. Another industry heavyweight arrived in April, with Mick Newmarch taking over from Brian Corby as chief executive at the Pru. And January saw the 14 life offices backing Camifa, which had refused to take on tied agents, broken, at first by NU and then by FS, lAS, Scottish Amicable, Scottish Equitable and Scottish Mutual. Two months later, Standard Life and Halifax launched their tied-agent deal, and sawall the other top societies tie the knot with their chosen life offices.

In February came, perhaps, the most bizarre news story of Money Marketing’s first decade.

A Suffolk IFA called Jim Dowsett was in the dock at Norwich Crown Court on charges of hiring a hitman to kill Chris Nugent, his partner in running Walkers Insurance & Financial Services. Meanwhile, Chris Leach, still the target of criticism for her role in the Barlow Clowes affair, stood down from the Fimbra council in February.

In April, PIMS organiser Mark Rayber announced the 1990 exhibition would move from Birmingham’s NEC to on board the cruise ship Canberra, re-igniting interest in the event once again. And Nigel Lawson raised the annual limit on Personal Equity Plan investment from £3,000 to £4,800.

In May, investment intermediary Noble Warren was the target of criticism from SIB. The firm had gone to the SIB for authorisation, rather than taking the more obvious Fimbra path, and so found itself facing an SRO’s Financial Services Tribunal barring it from taking new business.

Fimbra laid the seed of a turbulent six months in July as it planned to introduce a compulsory professional indemnity scheme for members. IFAs supported the idea of compulsory PI cover but felt they should be free to choose their own scheme, rather than being forced into the single central scheme. Fimbra did nothing to smooth ruffled feathers when it revealed plans to push the single scheme through by November 1. By the time of Fimbra’s August council meeting, the PI row was heating up. The debate led to a vote of 15 to six in favour of a single scheme. Pointon York Vos was voted in as administrators of the scheme. The deadline for applications was set for early October – a deadline which 1,200 of Fimbra’s 8,000-0dd members chose to ignore.

On October 16, the stockmarket looked to stage a replay of the 1987 crash, with the FTSE 100 plunging more than 200 points. Luckily, Wall Street’s positive opening calmed City nerves, and the FTSE closed a mere 70 points down. Meanwhile, just four days before the November 1 start date, Fimbra called an emergency meeting to investigate exactly what cover the Pointon York Vos scheme was offering. This led to Fimbra dropping plans for the compulsory scheme. IFA trade bodies said they would put a vote of no confidence in Elton at December’s Fimbra AGM.

Then, Nigel Lawson resigned as Chancellor over a row with Prime Ministerial adviser Alan Walters. And the year ended with the formation of three new IFA trade bodies – the Institute of Insurance Consultants, the Institute of Insurance Brokers and Nfifa – agreeing to pitch their 2,500 proxy votes against the no-confidence motion. In return, they wanted Elton’s resignation.

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