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Last Updated: Friday, 21 January, 2005, 16:55 GMT
With-profits bonus cuts
A broker using two telephones as he monitors markets
The policies are designed to smooth market peaks and troughs
BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday, 22 January, 2005, at 1204 GMT.

The programme was repeated on Sunday, 23 January, 2005, at 2102 GMT.

The UK's largest life insurer, Norwich Union, has announced bonus cuts for some of its with-profits policyholders, despite the recent stock market recovery.

Explaining the decision, the insurer said its funds were still being affected by poor market performance between 2000 and 2002.

However, it also insisted that over the long term, its investors had enjoyed strong growth.

We spoke to Mike Urmston, Chief Actuary at Norwich Union, about the prospects for investors.

And Patrick Connolly of IFA John Scott and Partners gave his view on the wider industry situation.

Further information:

Tribunal ruling on endowment mis-selling

A 1.1m fine imposed on Legal & General in 2003 is to be cut after a tribunal found the regulator had mis-judged the extent of endowment mis-selling by the insurer.

The Financial Services and Markets Tribunal decided mis-selling could only be proved in eight cases, not the 15,990 that the Financial Services Authority originally claimed.

But it did say that defects in the insurer's procedures "would have caused or contributed to mis-sales".

To discuss the implications of the ruling, we spoke to Janet Walford, Editor of Money Management magazine, and Mick McAteer, Which? Principal Policy Adviser.

Further information:

HSBC increases business charges

Five years ago, the big UK banks were slammed for their poor treatment of small businesses.

There has been surprisingly little change since then. And now, one of these banks, HSBC, has sharply increased some of its charges.

Samantha Washington reported.

Further information:

Anger at BT late payment fine

British Telecom customers have been expressing their anger over a new policy of fining people 5 for late payment.

BT has defended its move, saying it is standard practice across other utilities companies, and prevents customers who pay on time from subsidising those who do not.

We heard from angry customers and put their complaints to Gavin Patterson, Managing Director of BT's Consumer Division.

Further information:

Mature students may get loans

Money Box understands the government is considering scrapping the age limit for student loans as part of its Ageing Society Strategy.

A decision is expected in the next few weeks, but it could mean good news for full-time students over the age of 54.

Presenter: Paul Lewis
Producer: Jessica Dunbar
Reporter: Samantha Washington

Money Box



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