The ABI wants to see bid/offer spreads scrapped by its members, including their unit trust subsidiar...
The ABI wants to see bid/offer spreads scrapped by its members, including their unit trust subsidiaries, as part of its plans to improve the image of the life industry.
After consultation with life offices, intermediaries and other trade bodies, including Autif, the ABI has released an updated version of its proposals. These are part of the Savings and Long Term Risk (SALTR) project, first revealed by Investment Week last year.
Scottish Amicable's chief executive Roy Nicholson, a member of the industry standards group which is driving SALTR forward, said many groups were already moving towards Oeics which would help to eliminate the bid/offer spread.
He said he hoped other unit trust groups, including those without life office parents, would look to move to single pricing.
The overall SALTR project aims not only to simplify charging structures but also provide clearer information to consumers and reward companies which live up to these standards with an accreditation mark.
As yet it is not clear where the SALTR accreditation mark will fit in with the FSA league tables.
Nicholson said: "We have had discussions with them and we do not want to overlap or duplicate what the FSA is doing. It is not about regulation it is about educating the consumer about standards on companies."
The latest SALTR document, entitled Raising Standards, Version 2, states the consultation process will be finished this spring, with the accreditation process ready to start rolling out from the middle of next year.
Nicholson said the consultation with the industry including IFAs was ongoing and the process did not represent the wishes of a cabal of large life offices.
He pointed out that there was an IFA taskforce, of which he was a member, contributing to the debate and said the industry standards group contained representatives from AIFA, CIS and Scottish Life as well as larger groups such as Scottish Widows, Halifax and CGU.
Nicholson said the aim of SALTR was to provide accreditation for life offices and was not meant to interfere with the relationship between intermediaries and their clients.
He said: "We are trying to make sure the quality of information that life offices provide to IFAs and their clients is of a high enough standard."
The document contains no information relating to how much the SALTR project would cost and Nicholson did not come up with any figures.
One cost to life offices taking part will be a fee for being accredited.
A second cost, which Nicholson said would be higher, is the cost of altering office literature and systems so a life office can achieve accreditation.
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