Weekly wrap: IOOF restructures

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IOOF is restructuring its distribution team to align to the changing independent financial adviser market and post-FOFA growth. It will hire a head of specialist sales responsible for investment, self-managed and tax-effective products. The platform product sales team will still be headed by Geoff Kellet, while the group’s self-licensed offer, IOOF Alliances, will be managed by Craig Joscelyne.

MGA Insurance Brokers and accounting and advisory firm Bell Partners are launching Bell Partners Insurance this month. Andrew Faber will head the new joint venture.

Zurich Financial Services has appointed two new life risk underwriters to collaborate with financial advisers and insurance customers. Former financial planner Tran Rogers is now part of Zurich’s life risk team in Adelaide as senior underwriter. Ian McGregor, formerly with Platinum advisers at Aviva and MLC, has been hired as a senior underwriter in Sydney.

The Financial Planning Association ran a week-long initiative from 3 to 9 February called Ask an Expert Week, to give Australians the opportunity to have all their financial questions answered for free by a qualified financial planner. FPA CEO Mark Rantall said only one in three Australians say they know where to find a financial planner they can trust, so the association set up the initiative to provide a bridge between consumers and financial planners who are professionally certified and bound by a Code of Professional Conduct.

The Australian exchange traded fund market contracted during January after a remarkable 20 consecutive months of growth as assets under management dropped slightly to $9.8 billion, according to BetaShares’ ETF Review for January. This drop was wholly attributed to negative market movements, however, the industry received positive new money inflows for the month of approximately $150 million.

Centrepoint Alliance has made four appointments across its marketing, research, practice development and risk areas, following ASIC’s announcement last year that PIS would be monitored on compliance for nine months. Neil Rogan is the new head of distribution strategy and marketing, and Theodore Hatsis has been appointed as head of research. David Spiteri rejoined the group as national manager, and Simon Backman has been appointed as PIS regional manager for Queensland and northern New South Wales.
ASX has received regulatory clearance to launch a new managed funds settlements solution – mFund Settlement Service. It will be launched sometime in the first half of this year

Global indexing firm Vanguard has appointed Rodney Comegy as the new Asia-Pacific head of investments, to be based in Melbourne. He was previously head of index analysis and ETF trading in Vanguard’s Pennsylvania office.The previous head of investments Gregory Davis will return to the US to serve as global head of Vanguard’s fixed income group.

Independent stockbroking company, OpenMarkets Australia, has appointed Leo Lopez as head of sales, to drive growth in adviser and wholesale markets. He comes from five years at E*Trade, with his most recent role as senior business development manager of its wholesale stockbroking and margin lending division.

Antares Capital has launched its new Antares Income Fund, to provide investors with a low risk, income-paying alternative to traditional cash investments. It is available directly through Antares or on MLC Wrap and Navigator products.  It will also be added to other major platforms in early 2014.

Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos has released draft regulations for better consumer protection for Australians who may need to borrow 'payday' loans. From 1 July 2013 there has been a cap on costs for small amount credit contracts, which are loans of less than $2,000 cash in hand to the consumer, with a maximum term of 12 months. Draft regulations are available on the Treasury website.

The government is calling for feedback on a discussion paper to do with tax compliance and third party reporting and data matching. The tax change is scheduled to start 1 July. Opinions are being sought on the compliance cost impacts of the proposed reporting regimes and any law design issues.

Equity Trustees has had a 16.3% lift in half year revenue and a 21.6% increase in net profit after tax for the six months ended 31 December 2013, compared with the prior corresponding period. The full year profit is predicted to be 10 to 15% above the previous year, the company says.