Buy-to-let boom and FCA questioned: week in news

Buy-to-let boom and FCA questioned: week in news

This week’s news was dominated by comings and goings at various firms, along with more trouble for the regulator.

If you were stuck under a rock during the last five days, then here is a quick catch-up:

1) Time to forget buy-to-let

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Buy-to-let investment is expensive and inconvenient and does not compare favourably with investing in funds, according to the chief executive of Hargreaves Lansdown.

Ian Gorham said while £100,000 worth of shares might cost about £300 a year to manage, the cost of maintaining a property would be more like £3,000.

The comments of Mr Gorham, a qualified accountant, joined Hargreaves Lansdown in 2009 as chief operating officer, before becoming chief executive in September 2010, certainly got you talking about the merits of pensions versus property.

Some pointed out the 44-year-old, who earned £1.9m in salary and bonuses last year and £10.6m the previous year, would favour investment over buy-to-let given the investment focus of his firm.

Others backed him pointing out the 3 per cent tax on stamp duty for buy-to-let investors, due to come into force from 1 April, could be the end of the buy-to-let boom.

Chancellor George Osborne announced the measures during his Autumn Statement in November in order to cool the market and tackle the issue of second homes bought by those who live overseas.

2) Sanlam changes and Tenet for sale talk

After announcing the loss of its UK chief executive Lukas van der Walt earlier in the week, Sanlam kept on restructuring.

Ex-Ashcourt Rowan men Steven Haines and Alfio Tagliabue, joined the board as group chief operating officer and group chief financial officer respectively.

Jeremy Gibson also got a promotion to chief executive of Sanlam Investments & Pensions.

The latest in the Tenet sale saga also hit on Thursday, with Intrinsic chief executive Andy Thompson stating he was in high level discussions with several distribution businesses as he bids to grow his company’s advice arm.

“I am currently talking at a high level to several distribution businesses and I have met Martin Greenwood, chief executive of Tenet, on many occasions,” he commented.

3) Storms brewing at the FCA

The Financial Conduct Authority has had a fairly turbulent start to the year, bringing ignominy upon themselves by sneaking out the cancellation of a banking culture review on New Year’s Eve.

The Treasury select committee had some questions for its bosses this week, with its chairman Andrew Tyrie asking the regulator’s chairman John Griffiths-Jones whether this was the consequence of a planned pre-briefing, or whether it was leaked.

He denied any leak, but pointed out the letters sent to the banks were not secret, adding that the thematic review was abandoned in order to narrow down the investigation by “putting the work on culture back onto individual firm supervision”.

Separately, back bench MPs have secured a House of Commons debate on the motion the FCA is no longer fit for purpose - no doubt delighting many in the advisory community.