The FSA should crack down on the "money for nothing" culture of financial advisers who receive ongoing commissions on with-profits investments, according to Which?, the consumer organisation.
Many investors who bought with-profits policies - long-term investments in a variety of assets that are intended to smooth out fluctuations in returns and are often used as a means of paying off an endowment mortgage - did not know that they paid commission to their financial adviser, said Dominic Lindley of Which?, in an interview with The Telegraph.
The commissions could be one-off amounts, often as much as 7pc, or continuing payments every month.
"If you are paying an ongoing commission, you should be getting ongoing advice in return. The FSA must stop this money for nothing culture," said Mr Lindley.
Many with-profits investments have performed poorly in recent years and policyholders who want to do something about it face a complex series of choices, such as surrendering the policy back to the insurer, selling it on the open market or stopping further contributions. But there are many factors to consider, so they would usually need expert advice.
Tom McPhail of Hargreaves Lansdown, the financial adviser, said: "This is complex stuff - you need to consider the financial strength of the insurer, exit penalties, performance and any guarantees, among other factors. Getting advice on this could cost more than the amounts at stake."
ALISTAIR DARLING HAS ACCEPTED that a second emergency package of tax and spending measures may be needed in this spring's budget to claw the economy out of a deepening recession, The Guardian has learned.
Despite the deterioration in the public finances, the chancellor is willing if necessary to borrow more money to help strategically important industries and to help lay the foundations for economic recovery. He will start work this week on plans for a British answer to Barack Obama's green jobs agenda.
Short-term help is likely for the stricken car industry, but Darling has signalled to his officials that he is also prepared to use his second budget to improve Britain's infrastructure and boost sectors such as environmental technology, pharmaceuticals and the creative industries. Tougher regulation of the banks will also be unveiled.
ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND is preparing a boardroom clearout to purge the company of directors linked with the reign of Sir Fred Goodwin, its former chief executive.
BP chairman Peter Sutherland along with former civil servants Sir Steve Robson and Jim Currie are all thought to be preparing to step down.
Bob Scott, the senior independent director, and Colin Buchan, who has been on the board since 2002, are also expected to go but they may delay their exit until replacement candidates are found.
A final decision on the timing of these departures will be made when Sir Philip Hampton takes over as chairman. The company has already drawn up a list of names from which it will pick three non-executives.
DAVID "DANNY" BLANCHFLOWER, the member of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee (MPC) who consistently warned of the danger of recession, believes UK interest rates should "obviously" head down to America's near-zero level.
Blanchflower, in an interview with The Sunday Times, also said that unemployment, now standing at 1.92m, would rise to 3m in a year's time and could go higher.
The economy, he said, would continue to shrink until at least the third quarter of this year, after which it was impossible to forecast with precision.
HBOS'S TAKEOVER BY LLOYDS TSB has released more than £1m of shares for the top two executives at a property fund spun off from HBOS at the top of the market, The Independent reports.
Invista Real Estate Investment Man-agement, the country's biggest listed property fund manager, revealed late last week that the takeover of HBOS, which owned 55 per cent of the AIM-listed company, had triggered a change-of-control clause causing Invista share options to vest.
At Friday's closing price of 34.5p, the payout in April will be worth £664,321 to Duncan Owen, the chief executive, and £531,456 to his deputy, Philip Gadsden. Guy Eastaugh, the finance director, would receive shares valued at £328,532, with Mark Lawson, the comp-any secretary, getting almost £50,000.
The company's two-person remuneration committee, comprising non-executives Robin Broadhurst and Oliv-ia Dickson, decided that the takeover of HBOS was a change of control for Invista. The committee has offered to award the directors a 50 per cent bonus in shares, valued at a total of £1m at Friday's closing price, if they defer taking some of the stock until the original vesting dates in 2010 and 2011.IFAonline
Caring for children and elderly relatives
Similar to June 2007
Square Mile’s series of informal interviews
Fine reduced to £60,000
Two roles created