I guess it's that time of year when one reflects on the past and casts an eye to the future. I'm going to dispense with the former and focus on the latter as it's much more the Nucleus way!! I don't know why these lists often run to seven entries but here goes:
1. At least one top five insurer will close to new business The current commission-fuelled crazy business model will start to shudder to a halt and at least one firm will come under increasing shareholder pressure to put up the closed sign. If I was a betting man my money would not be on L&G.
2. (True) wrap providers will have more than £6bn under management by next Christmas Given that the only true wrap provider with any serious money under management at present is Transact with c£3.2bn I think the market will almost double on the back of new entrants such as ourselves, Friends Provident and Standard Life – there has been talk for years of the wrap market finally kicking off but we are now definitely at the starting line.
3. Outrageous bid/offer spread and TER practices will be exposed and asset management groups will stop taking the high moral ground on pricing transparency We have been stunned by some of the charging practices in the asset management community and it really is time that the FSA got their heads around the lack of real disclosure by some groups. Fund managers have long taken a robust stance against life office charging opacity but I think time has now caught up with them. The first trade on the Nucleus wrap was into a fund with a declared spread of 5 per cent yet the true spread was just shy of 6.5 per cent. Remarkable!
4. SWIFT will be beginning to make inroads into EMX's market dominance - it's a whole lot better value after all Despite the new owners’ insistence that EMX’s pricing will become more reasonable it is currently a fact that messages on SWIFT cost about one hundredth of the price of messages on EMX so there is a long way for EMX to go. If the industry is to truly embrace electronic trading there has to be some serious tightening of belts.
5. The UK life industry will continue on a sales-led strategy that will perpetuate the recent spiral of value destruction They just can’t help themselves!!
6. Bancassurers will finally start to get it very right at the expense of low quality IFAs There is no doubt that the large banking organisations are heavily focused on re-engineering their bancassurance operations to try and leverage their client relationships across a broader product suite. This time having learnt all the lessons of the past they’ll get it right, even if that’s only as they have to.
7. Quality IFAs will increasingly seek to exercise greater control over their client proposition and will eschew the provider-led control-freakery of the past. The revolution has started and will gather pace throughout the months ahead.
David Ferguson is chief executive of Nucleus Financial.
The views expressed are those of the author and not those of the company he representsIFAonline
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