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Personal Finance

Employer contributions »
HMRC says that it "will be publishing guidance for inspectors in advance of 6 April 2006 which will say that inspectors who want to query the allowability of an employer deduction should first seek guidance from Audit & Pension Scheme Services (APSS)". It does not say what the APSS guidance will be. HMRC has confirmed that an employer contribution made within an accounting period ending after 5 April 2006 will be subject to the new allowability rules, even if the payment is made before A-day. This means companies with year-ends of 31 December have under three months of the old allowability regime left. Note, however, that contrary to some reports, the annual allowance only applies from A-day.
Enhanced protection and life cover »
Any post-A-day contributions made in respect of an individual to a money purchase arrangement (other than a "cash balance" arrangement) will invalidate enhanced protection. HMRC say this restriction includes any life cover contributions, whether funded within the arrangement or by means of a policy with an insurance company. However, if the scheme uses any pre-A-day funds to provide or increase life cover within an existing arrangement, enhanced protection will remain.
Hansard goes »
The Hansard procedure for dealing with tax fraud is no more. The new HMRC process, set out in a revised code of practice 9 (COP 9) explicitly removes the threat of prosecution unless "materially false" information is provided. Thus someone who becomes subject to COP 9 can refuse to co-operate with HMRC, safe in the knowledge that if they say nothing, they will not be prosecuted.
News from the PFS from October 2005 »
News from the PFS from October 2005.
CII details new exams structure »
The Chartered Insurance Institute is introducing a new framework for financial planning examinations.  Bob Bullivant explains the impact of the changes.  In my July article in 'Financial Solutions' I outlined the apporach that the CII is taking in relation to the new suite of financial planning examinations, with effect from this autumn onwards...
Employers and the new simplified pension regime »
Pension simplification must have beaten even depolarisation for column inches in the last six months, but in most cases the articles have been dominated by figures and run-downs of what will happen and when.  Robert Reid offers a more discursive analysis the biggest change to affect the market for years.  The aim of this article is to give context to some of the more important issues surrounding simplification...
Get to grips with the Handbook »
John Ellis examines the proposed changes to the FSA Handbook and suggests how these will impact on the working lives of the financial advice community.  CP05/10, which appeared from the FSA in July, reviews the Handbook provisions on money laundering, approved persons, training and competence and conduct of business.  The approach to the Handbook now increasingly emphasises high level principles...
Financial sanctions: legal update »
The Bank of England reminds Society members of details of compliance requirements regarding financial sanctions-related legislation in the UK.  The Financial Sanctions Unit of the Bank of England sent the following letter to the Personal Finance Society, and to other organisations such as the ABI, Investment Managers Association and AIFA.  It is important all members read and digest its contents...
Any cure for 'black hole' blues? »
David Davison explains the 'moral hazard' provisions of the Pensions Act.  How often we hear of corporate takeovers danger of collapse because of concerns over the "black hole" in the pension fund.  Clearly, fears over pension scheme liabilities are curbing M&A activity.  Last year saw the collapse of deals involving WH Smith and Marks & Spencer...
Gill Cardy meets Walter Merricks »
When Personal Finance Society member director Gill Cardy met the Financial Ombudsman, she found him to be sympathetic to the Society's ambitions to spread professionalism through the advice community.  "The process of professionalising advice will help improve the advice process," says Walter Merricks.  "There is a clear need for advisers to exhibit professionalism as a way to improve consumer confidence...
Maximise your motivation »
Has your get-up-and-go got up and left?  Motivation is essential for success, but even for the best of us it can sometimes be in short supply.  Karl Hartey suggests how you can find the desire and commitment to achieve your targets.  We all need motivation.  We need something to get us out of bed in the morning, to get us into the car or onto the train, something to force us to pick up the telephone or take the book down from the shelf...
Developing assessment skills »
In the first of a two-part series, Ian Patterson suggests how supervise can get to grips with the key skills the FSA expects them to demonstrate.  Do you supervise someone who provides investment advice to individual clients?  If so, do you know that the FSA specifically expects you to be able to demonstrate four things?...
Valuing your business process »
Austyn Smith continues his series on re-engineering adviser businesses.  Many clients have been badly educated by our industry and by personal finance press over the years.  For too long our profession has delegated responsbility for too many important issues, and it's time we reclaimed our reputation and marketed ourselves in a positive fashion...
Pensions term assurance »
The FSA has proposed that pensions term assurance should move from the COB (investment business) to ICOB (general insurance) framework from 6 April 2006. This would give non-investment firms the opportunity to rebroke life term cover from A-day. Pension term rates will normally be higher than life term because expenses are not tax-relieved, but tax relief on premiums should tip the scales in favour of the pension route.
Empty shops »
Commercial property funds are still delivering attractive returns. The average life fund is up 13.5% in the last 12 months to 1 September, while the average pension fund has risen 15.8%. Nevertheless, the retail sector has clouds gathering around it. According to one leading agent, vacant shop space has increased by 45% in the past year.

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