The Latest Headlines From Across The Wealth & Asset Management Sector - August

2023-08-31 |  Prince Naruka & Natalija Reeves

Welcome to our latest newsletter, we'll be exploring the top headlines impacting the world of wealth and asset management.

In this month's newsletter, we dive deep into advisers' real thoughts on Consumer Duty, explore recent industry movements such as acquisitions and the launch of outsourced investment solutions and we analyse the investment decisions made by different managers in the current market conditions.

Here are our top stories…

Exclusive: Benchmark snaps up one of Openwork’s biggest advice firms

Schroders-owned advice group Benchmark Capital has acquired Unique Financial Planning, based in Swindon, and affiliated with Openwork, with assets under advice totalling £755 million. The acquisition, whose specifics remain undisclosed, is a setback for Openwork as Unique is one of its prominent advice firms. Benchmark's ongoing acquisitions in 2023 have elevated its Fusion platform to £17 billion.

Following the takeover, Unique will maintain independent operations while benefiting from Benchmark's technology, training, development, and compliance services.

Are advisers worried by consumer duty? Not really, Aviva finds

A recent survey conducted by Aviva revealed that despite prior warnings from the FCA, consultants, and providers, most advisers remained unconcerned about the consumer duty regulations. At the time of the survey over 90% of advisers were actively preparing evidence to meet consumer duty outcomes in areas such as price, value, consumer support, and understanding. This reflected a significant shift from a prior survey where 59% were unprepared, still fewer than half had comprehensive plans in place as the deadline was approaching at the end of July.

WH Ireland seeks £5m to avert collapse after FCA talks

WH Ireland has secured £5 million through an emergency share placement. WH Ireland experienced a pre-tax loss of £1.1 million in the second quarter due to low transactional activity in capital markets and decreased assets under management in its wealth business. The firm's regulatory capital position has fallen below the FCA's requirement, and it had formulated a solvent wind-down plan (SWDP) as a contingency. The successful placement and cost-cutting measures aim to enhance the company's financial standing and avert the need for the SWDP.

Discretionary Fund Managers bank £90m from interest on client cash

Given the UK’s recent surge in the interest rates, the interest Discretionary Fund Managers can earn on client cash has come into focus. Larger DFMs like Brooks Macdonald and Rathbones, have seen increased interest income due to higher bank rates. While some DFMs have increased the interest passed on to clients, questions of transparency and fairness arise, as advisers and clients demand clarity on this practice.

‘Actives getting no money’: Inside Q2 platform fund flows data

An analysis from seven adviser platforms found that passive funds took in the bulk of advised money in Q2, as advisers looked to profit from gains made by the US stock market rather than the UK Equities. The combined data offers a snapshot of the strategic and tactical asset allocation from advisers’, as well as discretionary model portfolio managers’, at a time when investors remained bearish, as inflation and interest rate patterns split global markets.

Exclusive: Scottish Widows to launch MPS

In response to the increasing demand for outsourced investment solutions from advisers following the implementation of consumer duty regulations, Scottish Widows is developing its first in-house model portfolio service (MPS). The MPS will be integrated into the Scottish Widows Platform, and discussions are ongoing with external portfolio managers to provide the underlying funds. The launch is anticipated to occur later this year. 

Revealed: Capita demands £1m DB transfer money back from members

An investigation by Citywire New Model Adviser has revealed that several defined benefit (DB) pension scheme administrators have discovered errors in transfer value calculations and are now demanding the return of tens of thousands of pounds from former members years after their transfers. Capita’s overpayments are among the highest, whereas other administrators, including Aon, Mercer, Willis Towers Watson, and TPT Retirement Solutions are affected to a lesser extent. The overpayments are substantial in some cases and whilst the demands to repay the monies are legal, the potential financial strain on scheme members could be severe, impacting tax returns and income tax rates and disrupting retirement plans.

Thanks for reading. If you’d like to discuss any issues relating to the newsletter that are specific to you or your company, do get in touch.

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