It has already taken two years for the Treasury and the FSA to produce a first draft of what the ...
It has already taken two years for the Treasury and the FSA to produce a first draft of what the comparative product tables should look like, but the concept of delivering transparent pricing and charges tables was always going to be a controversial issue.
Contrary to the popular IFA opinion, the tables are not designed to replace advice, in fact they should make the job of an IFA easier because they provide vital information at their fingertips.
If we are honest, very few financial advisers can say they know the pricing structure of every product and investment fund, and it is difficult to believe anyone could possibly hold all that knowledge, yet these tables will.
They will be able to give a simple breakdown of the charges and deductions on a product, how flexible benefits alter that cost as well as list all other funds available to the investor within that product's wrapper, all details which can be simply explained to the client once the information is available.
There are always going to be consumers who think they know better and can use these tables without financial advice, but that is not the intention.
These tables should cut the amount of time the IFA spends researching products, explaining it to the client and as a result cut the amount of compliance required by the FSA.
These are elements that should, in theory, be welcomed by the IFA, given the complaints often heard about the amount of compliance firms have to meet, so it would be a mistake to dismiss them simply because they are issued by the regulator.
If intermediaries want to put the pressure on someone to get these tables right, it should be placed on the life insurance and investment firms. It is the product providers who are reluctant to supply this information. They are the people who need coaxing.
If the IFA sector can persuade them, it should help to make your job easier and move some of the focus back to advice rather than product selection.
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