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The Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities ("UCITS") IV Directive, which becomes effective on 1 July 2011, is designed both to facilitate the sale of funds across Europe and to support greater rationalization of the asset management industry. Bluerock Consulting, in conjunction with Eurogroup Consulting, has published a study on market trends in European fund management and the impact of the new UCITS IV directive. More...
The unintended consequences of the RDR, an interview with Michelle Cracknell of Bluerock. Click here
Michelle Cracknell of Bluerock was a guest on BBC Radio 4's programme Moneybox.
Presented by Vincent Duggleby and Paul Lewis, Michelle discussed the impact of the budget. Click here to listen.
The Cards Awards 2011
This year's Cards Awards saw over 1370 people gather at The Grosvenor House in London to recognise success in the Industry. We were delighted to see Bluerock's client Barclaycard receive the Best Technology Initiative award for their loyalty scheme, Freedom. Read more here.
The Risk of Financial Planning Tools
The FSA reviewed 11 risk-profiling tools and found that 9 of these had weaknesses "which could, in certain circumstances, lead to flawed outputs". Whilst similar weaknesses were identifiable in non-tool approaches, these results and the guidance issued last week are a significant wake-up call. More...
In the News: Focus Solutions; eValue
Given Bluerock's specialist focus on financial planning tools, news of eValue being sold by Towers Watson to Financial Express following Focus Solutions sale to Standard Life was of particular interest. Rumours of eValue being sold had been circulating for some time - it had always been an unusual service line back in Tillinghast-Towers Perrin days. More...
Bluerock is delighted to announce the appointment of Michelle Cracknell as Associate Director.
Michelle has over 24 years experience in Financial Services and joins Bluerock's Life and Pensions sector.
Francesco Scarnera, MD of Bluerock spoke at the Vrl Prepaid Cards Summit in October 2010.
Click here to download Bluerock's summary article.
We are delighted to announce the launch of Bluerock Resourcing, a new division of Bluerock Consulting Ltd, and the result of the merger of Aldermans Ltd. with Bluerock Consulting, Ltd.
This change reflects increasing recognition from our clients of the calibre and quality of our Associates, working alongside Bluerock Consultants. It also allows us to further leverage the Bluerock brand in the marketplace, and increase the level of service to our clients, whilst providing increased brand consistency across the Bluerock Group. In the same way as Aldermans, Bluerock Resourcing will be responsible for managing all Associates and placing them on a range of project and programme management assignments across the financial services industry.
Bluerock's response to recent card regulation
Following last year's announcement of the Government's commitment to regulate credit and store cards (mentioned here on this site), the planned legislation, unveiled in March, is due to come into effect in January 2011. More...
Is Customer Experience being compromised?
In the US, financial services firms have been highlighted as lagging behind other sectors when it comes to customer service, writes USbanker in the article In doing more with less, is service getting lost?. This was based on the finding of Forrester Research's annual customer experience index, in which only 3 financial services firms were featured in the top 20, whilst banks and credit card issuers were some of the lowest ranked from a total of 133 companies. These statistics are starkly inconsistent with our perception of US companies giving exemplary customer service. More
New Hire for Bluerock - Neil Whittaker
Bluerock are pleased to announce the new hire of our Head of Retail Banking - Neil Whittaker. Neil joins from Hitachi Consulting and has a wealth of experience from time in both industry and consultancy.
"Retail Banking has been hard hit by the recent and ongoing turmoil associated with the global credit crises and economic downturn. In the months and years ahead clients in this market will face both interesting challenges and multiple opportunities. I am excited about my new role at Bluerock and working with our clients to tackle these challenges head on. Bluerock, with its distinctive track record, innovative solutions and real world experience is well placed to help its clients face and negotiate change, capitalise on opportunities and emerge from the downturn in a better position."
Bluerock Chairman Mark Tennant was named as the new chairman of industry body Scottish Financial Enterprise (SFE).
The senior adviser to investment bank JP Morgan can boast a 36-year career spanning several areas of financial services, including investment banking, fund management and pensions. His international experience includes time working in Edinburgh, Lonon, the US and Hong Kong.
Tennant succeeds John Campbell, the managing director of Edinburgh-based State Street Investment Manager Services Europe. Last year, Campbell announced he was stepping down from the unpaid role, which he has held since mid-2003.
The appointment was widely welcomed by the industry, which has experienced unprecedented change and upset in the past 18 months. More...
Credit Card Regulation
The Government recently outlined a new approach to consumer credit, altering the way Card companies can operate. The white paper, entitled, ‘A Better Deal for Consumers', aims to improve the credit card market as part of move back to financial stability. Amongst the reforms, lenders will need to offer more information to users and set higher minimum monthly repayments. They also face restrictions on raising interest rates, and a near-ban on credit cheques.
Although focused on protecting providers' customers, the paper acknowledged the importance of ‘allowing firms the freedom to innovate in response to changing customer needs', - recognising the value of maintaining access to credit.
Workplace Distribution Event
Vaughan Jenkins has been invited to chair and deliver the keynote address of Infoline's conference on Workplace Distribution in London. The half-day event, to be held on November 12, recognises the renewed interest in marketing to employees ahead of the impact of the RDR and Personal Accounts. New opportunities are also being created by Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 technology as workplace marketing looks to harness new media opportunities. The event is expected to include speakers from Friends Provident, Hewitt's, Legal and General and Scottish Widows.
Latest RDR update released
The FSA has published the latest paper on the RDR today - see paper.
The regulator says the annualised costs of implementing its reforms amount to £140 million over five years. This represents around 0.3% of annual gross new business premiums or 1% of industry profits. It says there may also be 'short-term costs' as IFAs leave the business and higher costs for smaller investors as IFAs unwind cross subsidies. There will be a new dividing line between independent and restricted advice which will encompass a wide range of collective investment products, including investment trusts and structured products. Restricted advice It appears, however, that the term independent can be maintained by advisers operating in specialist areas such as retirement planning rather than for all products. The Basic Advice regime and execution-only sales are unaffected by the proposals.
Bluerock invited to be EuroGroup Consulting Associate
The EuroGroup Consulting brings together consulting practices across Europe with a wide range of sectors and skills. Bluerock has been invited to be a Correspondent for the UK market.
e-Business in Life & Pensions
Kevin Webb, Consulting Director of Bluerock speaks on eBusiness within Life & Pensions.
Bluerock partners with Award winning web technology company
Bluerock and Vuture are collaborating to take their unique marketing tool to the financial services market. This innovative web based platform allows users to create and manage all of their marketing materials online at dramatically reduced cost and increased speed to market.
Click here for more information...
Ways to narrow the Pensions Gap - Mark Tennant
Mark Tennant, Chairman of Bluerock talks to Pauline Skpala on FTfm about the outlook for Ucits in the wake of events like the Madoff affair and possible solutions for pensions savings in the UK
e-Business in Life & Pensions
Kevin Webb, Consulting Director of Bluerock speaks on eBusiness within Life & Pensions. For a copy of the presentation please register for articles and put "eBusiness " in the area of interest box.
Depreciating Assets - A Key SME Problem?
Simon Woolcott of Marchwood Associates explores the issue of small businesses trying to borrow against decreasing assets, are there alternatives? Register for the full article. Quote "SME".
Bluerock celebrates 10 years in business!
Ten years ago this May Bluerock was formed, with its first job being with the Woolwich. Since then we have worked with many top tier clients and often on a regular basis. We would like to thank all of our clients past and present for helping us to make it to this landmark. We are looking forward to the next 10 years.
2009 Budget Impact on Insurers
The reduction in higher rate tax relief for those earning in excess of £150,000 p.a. from April 2011, tapering to basic rate level for those earning £180,000, has had an immediate and damaging effect on UK insurance company shares. More...
The announcement of plans to merge Watson Wyatt and Towers Perrin, with significant planned cost reductions, is an indicator of the problems faced by investment and benefit consultants in the current market. In the UK, Watson Wyatt has a held a dominant position amongst FTSE 100 firms, particularly in the golden era of defined benefit schemes. Towers Perrin has a smaller footprint in the UK, but has been a thought-leader in some areas of employee benefits and reward. In 2005, TP entered into a JV with EDS to create a new HR Outsourcing entity, recognising the sub-scale nature of TP operations globally.
The "new" focus on 3 segments - Benefits, Talent and Rewards, and Risk and Financial Services - will continue to see downward pressure on revenues and margins as corporate clients disintermediate benefit consultants and reduce their dependency on actuarial service providers. After the recent Mercer-Callan coupling was called off, the investment consulting market remains fragmented and individualistic as ever. Competition in other areas comes from the advisory arms of audit firms, providers (such as Fidelity) as well as specialist HR and recruitment players. Attempts to build added-value services such as employee communications and general management consultancy have proved difficult and remain insubstantial relative to the whole.
How the market reacts to the prospects arising from this deal will be interesting, even if the partners of the two firms stand to gain financially.