Advice network suspends fund switching as markets tumble

Advice network suspends fund switching as markets tumble

An Essex-based advice network has temporarily suspended pension and investment transfers amid concerns over coronavirus and market falls.  

New Leaf emailed advisers this week (March 11) warning it had suspended all business involving the switching or transferring of funds held in pensions, investment bonds, general investment accounts and stocks and shares Isas. 

The temporary suspension applies to all business yet to be completed and will remain in place until March 20. 

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The network pointed to the "continuing uncertainty" surrounding the coronavirus and falls in share prices as cause for the move. 

Advisers have been told not to submit any new business in relation to pension or investment switching, but the move does not apply to pension and investment business which is being funded by cash lump sums.

FTAdviser understands business submitted for end of year tax planning, such as maximising pension and Isa contributions, will also be processed as usual. 

Mark Hobbs, principal at New Leaf Group, said it was the first time the network had suspended switches, with the measure to remain in place for seven working days. 

Mr Hobbs said: "Switching now would mean funds being held in cash out of the market for up to 14 days. And if there were an upturn in equity markets, however insignificant, in that period the switch would crystallise losses.

"We are not attempting to time the market but we are determined to protect our clients' funds by being cautious and reviewing switches every seven working days.

"Our primary concern is to sustain the best position for our clients and we are spending a great deal of time reassuring clients that their investments are medium to long term and they should remain invested."

The FTSE 100 fell almost 11 per cent on Thursday alone, the second-worst daily drop in its history and the worst since 1987, as investors across the globe attempted to price in the growing impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

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