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Recent developments in the Brexit saga and an inevitable snap general election led the Government to put the Sajid Javid’s Autumn Budget on hold last week to focus on getting Brexit done.

I joined the industry at the start of 2005, when A-day was approaching and a whole new world of simplified pensions was on the horizon.
The FCA has started proceedings against Park First Limited, its senior managers, including its chief executive officer and a number of other companies connected to the Park First group. 
The Embark Group has appointed of Lawrence Churchill CBE as its newest member of the company’s board of directors.
The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has approved the Carey Workplace Pension Trust as an approved Master Trust for the continuing acceptance of auto-enrolment contributions from the UK market.

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) is now open to claims against Berkeley Burke SIPP Administration Limited (BBSAL).

AJ Bell has launched a retirement income solution to help financial advisers manage clients taking income in retirement. 

As everyone makes their way back to work following a glorious, if politically fuelled summer, it feels that the push has started towards the end of the year.

The responses from readers taking part in the latest Financial Planning Today survey demonstrated the wide variety of business areas that Financial Planners advise on and transact.


This is an edited section of the feature which can be read in full and for free here.

Predictably, the vast majority both advised and transacted Financial Planning services, close to 95%, but a number of other areas were handled by planning firms. Some 40% advised on or transacted auto-enrolment, equity release or corporate Financial Planning. Close to 95% said they transacted and advised on wraps/platforms and over nearly 95% did tax planning.

Some 91% transacted and advised on SIPPs and SSAS. Investment/portfolio management (91%) and pension transfers (88%) were also strongly represented.

However, some planners were unhappy with provider service in some areas.

One area of unrest appears to be in the service from platforms with more than one in five planners looking to change provider.

Some 6.7% of planners considered service levels to be “very poor” and said they were “actively seeking a new platform.”

The vast majority (65%) said platforms could do better.

Just 13% said the service they received was “excellent.”

Surprisingly, one area where planners appear to be taking a potential hurdle in their stride was regulation.

Despite the FCA’s recently announced major review of financial advice many viewed the review as positive.

Close to 70% said it was the right thing to do with 30% harbouring reservations.

This was despite more than 54% of respondents stating that financial regulation costs, including the FSCS and Financial Ombudsman, were a key challenge.

The main issue for many was the rising cost of professional indemnity insurance (58%).

This was followed by the FCA’s review of financial advice, competition from new and existing competitors (17.7%), competition from robo-advisers (10.8%) and sale or exit from business (9.5%).

Other answers included Brexit, MiFID II, increased market volatility and competing with unethical rivals.

The survey also showed the wide variation in the size of firms.

Many are still small with just one or two staff but there is growth among bigger firms, likely driven by a recent wave of mergers and acquisitions.

Marginally the second most popular answer (after one or two employees on 18%) was six to 10 employees at 17% of respondents, but this was closely followed by larger firms of more than 100 employees on 14.5%, tied with firms employing 11 to 25 staff.

The typical size of client portfolios varied greatly, with a range of less than £100,000 (9.5%) to £10m+ (1.3%).

The most popular answers were £350,001 to £500,000 and £500,001 to £1m (both 26%).

The next most popular answer was £250,001 to £350,000 (17.6%)

The vast majority expressed satisfaction with professional bodies like the PFS and CISI.

The full feature and survey results can be read for free here.

SIPP provider Curtis Banks Group has revealed increased profits and assets in its interim results for the six months to 30 June.


The firm increased pre-tax profits by 14% from £4.8m in 2018 to £5.4m.

Meanwhile assets under administration rose by 9.6% from £25.1bn to £27.5bn.

 

Other highlights included:

Operating Revenue increased by 6.7% to £24.5m (2018: £23.0m)

Interim dividend of 2.5p per share (2018: 2.0p)
 
Will Self, chief executive of Curtis Banks, said: “This is a solid set of results for the first six months of 2019 with the period under review showing an increase in our key financial metrics.

“Once again, the Group has continued to grow profitably and maintains a high proportion of quality recurring earnings which demonstrates the resilience of our business against some current headwinds in the SIPP industry and wider marketplace.

“Through initiatives to stimulate both organic and inorganic growth, as well as successfully diversifying revenues by broadening our capability to commercial property clients, we have navigated the first half of 2019 extremely well.

“I am confident and excited about our prospects for further growth.”

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