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Personal Finance

News from the PFS from December 2005 »
News from the PFS Conference from December 2005.
Progressing to professionalism »
It's been a long hard road, but recongition of financial planning as a profession is finally within reach.  John Ellis says the struggle has been well worthwhile.  The concept of 'professional body' in financial services seems to date from around the mid-1990s.  This is not to say that we did not discuss professional bodies before then, but largely that discussion was inclined to give a specifc meaning to the term 'professional body'...
TCF: advice for small firms »
Joanne Smith gets to the heart of Treating Customers Fairly.  The July paper from the FSA "Treating Customers Fairly - what it means for small firms", was the FSA's attempt at putting flesh on the bones of the principle of TCF.  It was aimed at small to medium-sized firms who may have failed to appreciate the relevance of TCF, and is designed to support these firms in the development and implementation of their TCF approach...
A-Day pensions and property »
Much has already been written about the new investment opportunities for pensions savings post A-Day.  A lot of the attention has focused on residential property opportunities.  However, there has also been a lot of hype.  For advisers this is likely to become one of the key areas where a well-informed view and understanding of the key issues - including some of the practicalities - will be all important...
Conference sees 'dawn of new era' for financial planning profession »
Brian Steeples, President of the Personal Finance Society, opened the inaugural Conference of the Society at the ICC in Birmingham last month with a bullish assessment of how professionalism is spreading throughout the financial advice community.  Talking to a packed hall - some 800 delegates attended the event - Steeples said we are witnessing the dawn of a new era for financial planning and advice...
VCT and IHT »
The latest twist in the IHT market is the addition of IHT benefits.
Long assets and small returns from long-dated gilts »
At current levels of yield on 50-year bonds (under 4% nominal for conventional and under 1% real for index-linked) it is hard to see the attraction. Pension funds seem to be buying simply to match their liabilities without regard for the returns, while aggressive investors are making short-term speculative purchases and forcing up prices in a tight market.
Basic state pensions 2006/07 »
The single person's basic state pension rises to £84.25 a week and the married BSP will be £134.75. The lower capital limit for income related benefits will be £6,000 and the upper limit will remain £16,000.
Fading appeal of alternatively secured pensions (ASP) »
The benefits of ASP are starting to look pretty marginal - especially if the aim is saving IHT. If a member nominates someone other than his or her spouse to receive the lump sum death benefit under ASP, there will almost certainly be an IHT charge when the member dies. This will probably be about 20% of the fund, based on the current way HMRC uses for drawdown. If the beneficiary is relatively young, for example, well under 50, there might be no obvious source from which they could pay the tax. This might suggest a need for life assurance on the member's life, where this is feasible.
Coming back to life »
Peter Hales is using his Presidency of the CII to reinvigorate its commitment to life and pensions.  He tells Kevin Pratt that the Institute has much to offer this side of the industry.  The financial services industry has always been a broad parish.  Firms deal variously in life insurance, individual and corporate pensions, mortgages, investments and assorted hybrid plans and policies...
TCF: what it means for you »
Clive Briault explains current FSA thinking on Treating Customers Fairly.  Treating Customers Fairly is a key element in the FSA's retail agenda.  We want retail markets to work more efficiently and effectively, and thereby to deliver through these markets a fair deal for consumers.  Our emphasis is on outcomes and thus on changing the behaviours of firms and consumers...
There's nothing civil about public/private pension split »
Years ago, as the realisation took hold that I was never going to play for Stockport County or cut it as lead vocalist of a prog rock band, I took an entry exam for the civil service.  Today, as the realisation sinks in that my pension plans are in a similar parlous position in my home-town football club, I wish I'd passed.  If I had a public sector pension, I'd be able to retire at 60, with none of the threats of the fund going the same way as Gentle Giant or ELP...
A fair crack of the whip? »
Ian Patterson assesses the impact of Treating Customers Fairly on T&C regimes.  I'm sure it won't have escaped your attention that the Financial Services Authority is currently placing great emphasis on Treating Customers Fairly.  TCF has been firnly located at the heart of the regulatory framework.  There is, of course, nothing new in the principle that firms must treat their customers fairly...
Maximising website marketing »
John Harrison explains how web analytics can help you squeeze more value out of your online marketing efforts.  Web analystics may sound like something you can leave your IT department to deal with, but it is in fact a key part of online marketing.  Its primary function is measuring how well a web site is doing in its job.  The finance services industry, from product providers to advisers, is spending millions of pounds on great-looking web sites...
Hot property? »
The inexperienced, the unregulated and the unqualified are rushing to persuade clients to use their pension to buy property abroad.  Robin Ali sounds warning bells.  Most people reading this will be aware that, under the pension regime commencing in April 2006, residential property will vecome an acceptable investment for a pension fund.  In the UK there has been much talk about the opportunities this may present...

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