FCA action and Lisa lacks love: week in news

FCA action and Lisa lacks love: week in news

We’re a week into Donald Trump’s presidency and we’re all still here, so why not celebrate by reading the week in news?

1) A little less conversation, a little more action

It has been all action at the Financial Conduct Authority this week, with two warning shots about pensions.

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First, the FCA warned advisers not to cut corners on defined benefit transfers, after it found substandard advice was being given on critical yield.

For advisers with insistent clients (that is, clients who wish to transfer out against their adviser's recommendation), the FCA set out three boxes that must be ticked.

They were that the advice is clear and suitable, that the risks were clearly communicated, and the client is made fully aware his or her action is against the adviser's recommendation.

Meanwhile the FCA also warned advisers to look out for dodgy investments dressed up as standard assets, a phenomenon it has said is on the increase.

The most sophisticated generation of scam, the regulator said, was the use of a discretionary fund manager to create an investment portfolio that does not require the direct input of the investor.

2) Not a very new Lisa life

After much anticipation, investors hoping to take out a Lifetime Isa when it launches in April will be able to choose between Hargreaves Lansdown and The Share Centre.

These two companies look set to be the only providers that will have a Lisa ready by the April launch date, with the vast majority yet to decide whether they will even offer the savings vehicle.

Even firms like Zurich and Fidelity - which have previously been more bullish about the controversial new Isa than others - signalled an April launch date for their proposition was now unlikely.

The Share Centre confirmed it will have a Lisa ready for April.

3) Taxing times

HM Revenue & Customs has been accused of talking the talk but not walking the walk.

The public accounts committee has said HMRC’s failings to fairly tax the super-rich undermine confidence in the system.

The claims are based on figures that show since 2009 tax paid by multi-millionaires fell by a fifth, or £1bn, during the five-year period while state contributions from the ordinary tax payer leaped by £23bn.

HMRC has defended itself against these claims, stating the top 1 per cent of earners pay more than a quarter of all income tax.

Meanwhile HMRC is apparently busy making the UK a better place for non-doms to invest in by making business investment relief more attractive.

4) Pointless Ponzi

A Charles Stanley broker who duped friends out of £1.2m in a Ponzi scheme when he got “out of his depth” has been jailed for six years.

Stephen Greig, 73, persuaded victims to hand over sums of up to £500,000 for fictional investments, supposedly offering a 7.5 per cent return.

But from 2006 the married father of two was using money entrusted to him by old friends saving for their retirement to pay back earlier investors, while helping himself to some of the cash.