Monday, October 24, 2005

Ever Wondered?

Ever Wondered?

Those of you who are sitting on an unhealthy endowment shortfall, there are estimated to be around 8 million of you, may be wondering why more has not been done by the Financial services Authority (FSA) to bring those who manage these useless polices (ie the life assurance companies) to book.

Well the answer can be found in a speech made, a month ago in Washington, by Sir Howard Davies.

Sir Howard Davies is the director of the London School of Economics, and the former chairman of the FSA.

When he was head of the FSA, Davies decided against playing hard ball with the life assurance industry in respect of their mis-sold and mismanaged endowment mortgages.

In his speech he noted that a more aggressive approach "could perhaps be justified in consumer protection terms". However, it "could well have generated a systemic crisis", because "the amount of compensation politically payable would have threatened the viability of many insurance companies".

In other words he was afraid of the consequences of doing the right thing, because it would hurt the life assurance companies.

A cynic might argue that he was protecting the powerful life assurance lobby, because he was more afraid of them than he was of the hapless consumers who bought these underperforming and useless endowment policies.

Regrettably, it seems, the "old boys network" is still alive and flourishing in Britain.

I assume that Sir Howard, and the life assurance industry did not buy any of these products themselves?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Scottish Endowment Diary

Scottish Endowment Diary

We are not alone, Gail McEwan has just launched the Scottish Endowment Diary.

She is campaigning for fresh legislation which will give consumers who were mis-sold endowment policies by solicitors in 1990's, the same rights of redress as customers of financial services firms.

Quote from her site:

"This is a brand new website and is dedicated to all of you who have been 'ripped off' by Scottish Solicitors. (A Legal Profession who have abdicated all responsibility for the devastating consequences for thousands of Scottish people who have been left in financial distress because of shortfalls in their policies)."

The site can be accessed via this link Scottish Endowment Diary.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

A Day

A Day

A Day, when a new set of pension rules will be introduced, may well have implications for those expecting a shortfall in their endowment policy.

The A Day regulations will replace much of the existing pension legislation, which has been built up over previous decades.

The BBC website has a summary about A Day, and is worthwhile visiting.

I must emphasise that any decisions regarding money should only be made after taking legal and financial advice from suitably qualified, competent and independent legal/financial experts.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Standard Life Says It Is On Course

Standard Life Says It Is On Course

Following on from the previous article about the possibility of Standard Life delaying its planned flotation, because of unresolved issues with the FSA, Standard Life has stated that its plans are on track.

The FSA was reported to have been scrutinising Standard Life's liabilities for its mortgage endowment promise and its endowment complaints, and would need to be satisfied "by the end of this month" if the flotation timetable was to be met.

Standard Life have stated:

"The FSA and Standard Life are in continual dialogue, and that will take place up until the company's IPO (initial public offering.

Any changes that the company has put in place over the last year, the FSA must continuously be satisfied that it can meet its obligations

They then went on to note that the endowment complaint issue was "a red herring".

They hold a provision for meeting their endowment promise of £393m.

The mortgage endowment promise was introduced in September 2000.

It promised that for the 770,000 customers who faced a shortfall at that time, the deficit would be made up by the insurer, providing underlying assets grew by at least 6% a year after tax.

Those whose policies went into the "amber" or "red" zone after September 2000 were never covered, but the 65,000 whose policies mature before the end of this year will still be topped up in full.

However, Standard Life reneged on its promise; top-ups will still be applied to the remainder, but limited to between 40% and 60% of what was promised.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Standard Life Float Delayed

Standard Life Float Delayed

It is reported that Standard Life's flotation might be delayed until 2007, due to outstanding issues with the Financial Services Authority (FSA) over endowment mortgages.

The float was originally planned to happen in 2006. However, the FSA is reported to be seeking assurances from the company over a number of issues; including allocation of capital and how much new money they want to raise.

Specifically the FSA want clarification over assurances that Standard Life gave last year, when it announced that it was unable to fulfill its mortgage promise to 600,000 holders of endowment policies.

Standard Life also set a deadline of May 2006 for considering mis-selling complaints over endowment policies, this hits 350,000 endowment policy holders.

Standard Life has set aside £393m to pay top-ups to policyholders facing shortfalls.

However, customers whose endowment policies mature after the end of this year will receive only 40%-60% of the top-ups.

You will recall that the FSA and Standard Life had something of a run in earlier last year; the dispute, over the measurement of its solvency, forced Standard Life to change its chief executive and reverse its long-standing opposition to demutualisation and sell £7.5bn of equities.

What goes around comes around!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

MP Acts

MP Acts

Sandra Osborne, a Scottish MP, has promised to act and to try to help thousands of house owners who have been mis-sold mortgage endowment policies.

Sandra Osborne helped bring in new rules governing the sale of endowment policies by banks and building societies.

She said that she intended to lobby the government to help the thousands of people who have been mis-sold the same policies by their solicitor.

She was prompted to act after listening to BBC Radio Scotland's series, The Investigation.

The show explained how many people, who were mis-sold these policies in the 1980's and 90's by banks, building societies and other financial institutions, have successfully claimed compensation for performance shortfalls.

However, it seems that Scots who were sold identical policies by their solicitor when buying their homes have virtually no hope of being compensated for their losses.

The programme featured Gail McEwan, who is running a campaign to win compensation for people in Scotland.

If you think you have been mis-sold an endowment policy by your solicitor and want to join Gail McEwan's campaign to get parliament to act, you can contact her at PO Box 19582, Johnstone.

I wish her every success.