UK investors must view another terrorist attack on the City as a matter of when rather than if, according to a senior police officer quoted in today's Financial Times.
James Hart, commissioner of the City of London Police, has told the FT “hostile reconnaissance” has been carried out several times since late September 2001, adding such activity usually precedes attacks on specific targets.
In the case of the City, it is likely to be buildings or areas which will cause maximum disruption and loss of life, Hart says.
City firms also face flak, however, for not putting in place sufficient contingency plans, although business lobby groups state it is more a question of resources available for small and medium-sized firms, the FT writes.
THE RUSH by pensioners to unlock money from their homes has undergone a sharp slowdown in recent months as new rules on equity release are now beginning to bite, says the Times.
Figures published yesterday by the Council of Mortgage Lenders reveal sales of lifetime mortgages, which account for 95% of all equity release schemes, fell in the first half of this year compared with the second half of 2004.
From January to June, a total of 10,800 people took out lifetime mortgages worth £492m compared with the previous six months when 15,000 people took out loans worth £693m.
Jon King, chairman of trade body Safe Home Income Plans (Ship), told the Times: “The main reason for the slower growth in recent months has been the introduction of regulation. Lifetime mortgages came under the regulation of the Financial Services Authority last October and the effects are still working their way through the system.
The Pensions Action Group, which represents employees who have lost their company pensions, has written to the Office of Fair Trading asking for an inquiry into the "bulk" annuity market, says the Daily Telegraph.
The PAG is concerned with only two providers in bulk buy-out annuities market - Legal & General and Prudential - there is insufficient competition, which is having a detrimental effect on pricing once a final salary scheme winds up to secure member benefits.
It claims members of these wound-up schemes are failing to get as good a deal as those buying annuities in the open market.
AND AROUND A FIFTH of the FTSE 100 has boosted stated profits this year by making optimistic assumptions about equity returns of staff pensions, writes target="_blank">The Times
That said, a review of the way Britain’s biggest listed companies account for their pension funds has found big differences in approaches as consulting actuary Lane Clark & Peacock notes, for example, Compass Group - which provides catering services - has increased its equity return assumption to 8% from 6.5%, while publisher Emap has gone the opposite way, reducing its assumed return to 7.7% from 8.5%.
Diageo added some £20m to its profits by upping its equity return assumption to 8.2% from 7.5%.
The overall FTSE 100 pension fund deficit is estimated to have fallen to £37bn from £42bn over the past year, according to LC&P.
If you have any comments you would like to add to this story or would like to speak to its author about a similar subject, telephone Jonathan Boyd on 020 7484 9769 or email [email protected].IFAonline
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