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Political promises and suitable advice: week in news

Political promises and suitable advice: week in news

Hopefully we all got through the week without having our computer systems hacked, so let us celebrate with FTAdviser's round-up of the headlines that caught your attention in the last seven days.

1) The best laid plans…

After weeks of telling us to wait for their manifestos, they are finally here: glossy booklets which nobody will read and will be largely forgotten in a year’s time.

The Labour Party went first – and maybe earlier than it intended following last week’s leak – but it promised to guarantee the state pension ‘triple lock’ through the next Parliament, pledged not to implement planned increases in the state pension age beyond 66 and promised yet another review of the state pension age.

In total it was estimated these promises would cost £300bn.

Next came the Liberal Democrats, who also guaranteed the triple lock and to review the case for introducing a single rate of tax relief for pensions, a proposal lifted straight from their 2015 manifesto.

Finally the Conservatives said they would scrap the triple lock, give The Pensions Regulator more powers over companies and increase the threshold for free social care to £100,000 but include the value of a property in the calculation.

Whose policies do you like best? Come 8 June you can decide.

2) Full disclosure (sort of)

The Financial Conduct Authority gives with one hand and takes with the other.

This week it published the findings of its year-long review into suitability in the advice sector.

Over the past year the regulator reviewed 1,142 individual pieces of advice given by 656 firms as part of its suitability review.

While it found that firms on the whole provided suitable advice – in fact 93.1 per cent of you have been behaving yourselves – things haven’t been going so well when it comes to disclosure.

While 52.9 per cent of firms were providing an acceptable level of disclosure, the regulator stated 41.7 per cent were "unacceptable" when it came to spelling out how much they charge and what services they provide.

Small, independent and directly authorised firms were those which were also singled out as needing to up their game, the FCA found.

3) Bargain basement

Are you not entertained? Would you like the industry’s price war to get more brutal?

Well the gloves are off now that Vanguard has launched its direct-to-consumer online investment service.

It charges a measly 0.15 per cent in an annual account fee while its funds charge an average ongoing fee of 0.14 per cent.

There will be no account fee above the first £250,000 invested, meaning this fee is effectively capped at £375 a year.

As the launch was announced Hargreaves Lansdown's share price found itself falling by nearly 8 per cent.

Vanguard has gone as far as to suggest that its prices could fall even further if it achieves sufficient scale.

In the US Vanguard does not charge a platform fee, meaning investors only pay for the funds, so it looks like things are going to get messy.