The Savings and Long-Term Risk (Saltr) initiative is to be launched on 17 October, writes Mohamed Al...
The Savings and Long-Term Risk (Saltr) initiative is to be launched on 17 October, writes Mohamed Ali Bernat.
The scheme, which has been led by the ABI and leading providers, is based around three consumer promises covering clarity and comparability of information, product appropriateness and customer service.
To reach accreditation status life offices cannot have a bid/offer spread on their funds or initial charges.
Charges will not have to be put into one overall figure but life offices will be required to classify different charges in a clear and simple manner to be known as "carrier" charges.
Life offices with more than one customer-facing brands, such as Abbey National or Prudential, will have to seek separate accreditation of each of the brands.
The Saltr scheme also aims to repair the image of the financial services industry which has suffered from the pension mis-selling fall-out and recent endowment scares, according to ABI spokesman Malcolm Tarling.
Tarling said the one year gap between registration and accreditation would give companies sufficient time to get themselves in order and providers had been very enthusiastic about the scheme on the whole.
He added that Saltr was a market-led initiative but placed no requirement on providers to join.
"Market forces will play a role in how many providers choose to join but, as Saltr continues to develop as a recognised mark of quality the investor can trusts, it will raise consumer questions if a life office is not accredited," he said.
"It is a massive project which has been backed by a number of major providers and aided by an IFA taskforce to ensure the standards were developed with their needs and practices in mind."
The IFA taskforce was chaired by Paul Smee, director-general of Aifa, who said the new 30-day cooling off period would not affect the administration of IFAs nor their commission pay-out.
He said: "One of the main reasons for Aifa being involved in the shaping of Saltr was to ensure the IFA would not lose out."
The Saltr acronym will change to 'Raising Standards' after the launch with a quality mark that indicates the product meets the various standards set. Life offices and providers will be able to register for Saltr accreditation from 17 October, when the new accreditation mark is unveiled. Successful applicants will receive their accreditation in 2001.
Accreditation research into brands with less than one million clients will be based on a sample of 750 while those with over one million would be assessed by the results of a 1,500 sample.
An independent body, the Pensions, Protection and Investment Accreditation Board (PPIAB) will be responsible for accrediting and monitoring brands that wish to become accredited under the new regime.
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