Tag Archives: business reviews

How RDR Impacts Investors

2 Jan

The Retail Distribution Review (RDR) comes into force from Monday 31 December 2012, but what does this mean for those who are paying for advice?

There has been an overhaul of the disclosure of what you pay, how you pay and the advice (at point of sale and ongoing). The idea being that the advice received is suitable, you are aware of any restrictions i.e. independent or restricted; and the associated costs. 
I am an independent financial adviser (IFA) under the old and new regime. The service provided has always been detailed with an ongoing service as the advice process starts with the purchase of a financial product and on-going advice is paramount (in my opinion). Make sure you receive what you are and have paid for – 
Lord Turner FSA living wills proposals
The Financial Services Authority (FSA) outlines the changes which will directly impact – and hopefully benefit – the everyday investor:
1. Know how much advice costs
“Advice has never been free. You may not have realised but if you received financial advice before our changes came in you probably paid ‘commission’ to your adviser.”
“This generally came from the company providing the product paying your adviser a percentage of the sum you invested.
“Instead of you paying commission on new investments your financial adviser now has to be clear about the cost of advice and together you will agree how you will pay for it.”
“This way you know exactly what you are paying and that the advice you receive is not influenced by how much your adviser could earn from your investment.”
“Your adviser now has to clearly explain how much advice costs and together you will agree how you will pay for it. This could be a set fee paid upfront or you may be able to agree with your adviser that they can take the fee from the sum you invest.”
2.  Know what you are paying for
Is this a transactional item, on-going advice and defined service to be provided.
While many advisers are remaining independent, some have changed their business models so that they only give “restricted” advice.
“Financial advisers that provide ‘independent’ advice can consider all types of investment products that might be suitable for you. They can also consider products from all firms across the market.”
“An adviser that has chosen to offer ‘restricted’ advice can only consider certain products, product providers or both.”
“Your adviser now has to clearly explain to you whether they offer one or the other.”
Get improved professional standards“Some investments can be hard to understand. So the minimum professional standards of qualification have been increased….”
“Financial advisers also have to sign an agreement to treat you fairly.”
3.  What should you do now?

“Next time you see your adviser you should ask how much you have been paying for their advice and how much that same advice now costs.”
“They should also be able to explain how the changes to the way you get and pay for financial advice affect you, and whether they offer independent or restricted advice.”
Happy New Year and good luck investing in 2013

SIFA Slams St James’s Place

6 Apr

St James’s Place (SJP) is a well respected Insurance and Investment Company who still work solely through a self-employed sales force. The down side is they are not independent but have many proficient sales people who will offer the best of the product range they can sell.

The outrage is from the Solicitor IFA trade body Sifa, who have accused St James’s Place of making “distinctly misleading” claims and it raises concerns where an institution who gives financial advice sees it to be acceptable to allow dishonest business practices. SJP has written out to financial advisers in an attempt top attract them to join St James’s Place, while suggesting that they can continue to receive professional introductions through solicitors.

This is not the case as solicitors are governed by a strict code of practice to refer only suitably qualified independent financial advisers and this can’t be a sales person from SJP. SJP’s sales people are called Partners and Senior Partners depending their success and longevity in selling their products.

SIFA has reported SJP (St James’s Place) to the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

The SRA’s code of conduct states solicitors can only refer clients who need investment advice to “independent intermediaries”. It defines an independent intermediary as an IFA who can advise on investment products from across the whole of the market and offers a fee option.

FSA Fined Coutts & Co for Control Failings

26 Mar

There are clearly fundamental flaws within many banking institutions and Coutts is the latest to suffer a reprimand for their tardy and less than suitable attitude.

The FSA has fined Coutts & Co £8.75 Million for anti-money laundering control failings. These failings included taking reasonable care to maintain effective anti-money laundering systems and controls. The Financial Services Authority (FSA) said the failings at Coutts were ‘serious, systemic’, and led to an ‘unacceptable risk’. Tracey McDermott (acting director of enforcement and financial crime) at the FSA, said: ‘Coutts’ failings were significant, widespread and unacceptable. Its conduct fell well below the standards we expect and the size of the financial penalty demonstrates how seriously we view its failures.’

In October 2010, the FSA started an investigation following a routine visit and found a lack of robust controls and consistent monitoring. A sample of 103 files of politically exposed persons were examined and 71% had deficiencies (i.e. in 73 or the 103 files examined).

Payday Loan Companies – Why This is So Wrong

7 Mar

I have been warning people of the unacceptable business practices currently being allowed as I believe this takes advantage of people in financial fifficulty. I am sure you will have seen one of the many television adverts offering loans in minutes at rediculous rates of interest, say 2763% APR. The government needs to improve regulation in the debt and credit industries to protect consumers.

A cross-party MP committee has attacked poorly regulated payday loan and debt management companies for causing people unmanageable debt problems. The news comes as the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) launches an investigation into these practices. The Committee is also asking the government to act swiftly should the OFT investigation reveals any evidence of non-compliance within the market. The idea being if self-regulation cannot deliver enough protection the government must intervene with statutory regulation.

I believe the practice to borrow money this week and pay back next week causes spiralling debt, which quickly becomes un affordable. If there isn’t sufficient income to pay bills, it is pretty clear that borrowing from Peter to pay Paul leads to more borrowing next week? Next week comes and you borrow more to payback both the loan and the interest running up larger and larger debts.

Research by Consumer Focus showed that customers had on average over three loans, while insolvency experts R3 claimed that a third of people who take out a payday loan have to get another one because they can’t afford to pay it off.

Please make comments as this practice is wrong.

Financial Ombudsman Service Top Ten Business Groups Complaints List

28 Feb

Someitmes, as the adviser, you forget the quality of service offered in the “advice” world and so it is healthy to review the stats just to remind oneself.

I am a financial adviser (IFA) who has specialised in Investment & Tax Planning. I spend my working life trying to do the best for my clients. It is clear to me that each and every one who I advise, support and guide have placed their trust, wealth and financial well-being in my hands. I will always do my very best fopr them, wherever I can.

In comparison, the volume and type of complaints clearly identify that there are moany out there whos’ role is simply to sell whatever they can and without due care and consideration for the end user – there clients.

I think the figures speak for themselves.

The Financial Ombudsman Service deals with complaints about financial products, sales and associated issues. The majority of these complaints were upheld i.e. 93% against RBS, 87% against Lloyds TSB, 84% against Barclays Bank, 80% against HSBC, and 55% against Santander.

Payment Protection Insurance claims – 11% upheld against Capital One, 98% against Black Horse, 99% against Lloyds TSB, and 87% against HSBC.

 

Lloyds takes back £2m of bonuses paid to executives (Article in BBC Business News on 20.02.2012)

20 Feb
Lloyds Banking Group is taking back bonuses worth £2m from 10 executives, including the former chief executive Eric Daniels, the BBC has learned.

Four of those affected were board directors.

Mr Daniels is expected to lose between 40% and 50% of a £1.45m bonus, or between £600,000 and £700,000.

BBC business editor Robert Peston says they are being penalised over their role in the mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI).

This involved the sale of insurance that, in theory, covered repayments if borrowers were unable to continue repayments through illness or unemployment, but in many cases those taking out the policies would not have been eligible to claim on them.

Our business editor says three other board directors are expected to see about £250,000 of their bonus taken from them.

About six other executives, below board level, would lose around £100,000 each.

This is the first time a British bank has taken back bonuses from executives, following a financial performance that was worse than expected.

“The clawback of bonuses is important for its deterrent effect”

The return of some of the bonuses, which were demanded by regulators after the banking crisis of 2008, are being made after pressure from politicians and the Financial Services Authority.

Results

Lloyds Banking Group is the UK’s biggest lender and owns the Halifax, the Bank of Scotland and the Cheltenham and Gloucester.

It has been forced to set aside £3.2bn to cover compensation for those customers who were mis-sold PPI.

The bank will publish its results this Friday and is expected to announce a loss of about £3.5bn.

The bank has not yet formally announced its plans for the return of some of the bonus money.

Its current chief executive, Antonio Horta-Osorio, said in January he would not take an annual bonus for 2011.

Our business editor says the move may have a deterrent effect in future, making bankers more likely to consider the consequences when they launch new products or do assorted deals.

Unemployment Rises to 2.67m (Article by Vicky Hartley in Mortgage Solutions on 15.02.2012)

15 Feb

The number of jobless adults in the UK rose by 48,000 over the quarter to 2.67m, the highest rate since 1995, according to the Office of National Statistics.

The rise in employment figures is largely the result of the increasing numbers of part-time employees, which saw an increase of 90,000 to 6.61m.

The ONS confirmed the number of employees and self-employed people working part-time because they could not find a full-time job increased by 83,000 on the quarter to reach 1.35m, the highest figure since comparable records in 1992.

Full-time jobs fell 26,000 over the quarter to just over 18m and the number of self-employed also fell 10,000 on the quarter to just over 4m.

Employment also rose 60,000 on the quarter, which meant the percentage of unemployed people in the UK is still at 8.4% of the population.

Meanwhile, total pay, including bonuses, rose by 2% on a year earlier, unchanged on the three months to November 2011.

The number of unemployed people aged from 16 to 24 rose again, this time by 22,000 over the quarter to reach 1.04m, including 307,000 people in
full-time education looking for work.

David Birne, an insolvency partner at HW Fisher & Company chartered accountants, said: “Unemployment rose less than many had expected during the fourth quarter but it continues to climb. The slow but sure rise in the unemployment rate reflects the slow but sure decline of the economy. 2012 will see the unemployment rate continue to rise, as the public sector job cuts feed through.”