It might be the cynicism of my middle age but there comes a time when it is necessary to step back and examine what is going on in life, what it is all about and what you are doing as an individual.
Being a Business Development Manager, one would expect that a fair proportion of my role involves the concept of marketing, the sale of a product or service.
Whilst I make no excuses for the headlining of the primary or salient features of any product, increasingly, I see within the industry the use of 'spin' in the promoting of certain information over and above or often at the expense of other factual information. Whether or not this is intended to deceive or mislead the client, in the vast majority of cases it certainly does.
At Dentons, when launching new products, we focus very much on their specific key features and concentrate on producing marketing or promotional literature that simply helps potential clients understand the products' benefits.
Why then, does the Financial Service Authority (FSA) continue to allow this within the key marketing literature or a number of product providers? By allowing it it, could it be construed that the FSA is endorsing the promotion, as an example, of non-transparent SIPP products?
I refer specifically to the receipt of interest rate trails by the provider or the administrator, the requirement to use nominated management agents, insurers, lenders and solicitors or additional charges for use of alternatives, the receipt of rebates from annual management charges from investment vehicles where no apparent service is being provided for such remuneration and purporting to allow certain investments within headline literature and then the imposition conditions or of high charges as a barrier to entry when actually required.
Why this non-transparency and indeed product design? It is for the purpose of securing favourable ratings from the rating tools and agencies that research the products and on whom Independent Financial Advisors (IFAs), some of whom may not have the resources, to do the in depth research themselves, rely? Are these IFAs s aware of the shortcomings of some ratings tools, which fail to take into account such material subsidises, rebates and such like that inflate the true cost of a product well above a headline fee which is often as far as their research and due diligence goes? Why are these IFAs allowed to rely on these ratings agencies when these type of services can be fundamentally flawed?
The fact that these agencies continue to rate products against each other when they know that the products are substantially different, but give no apparent categorisation, must surely be challenged. The industry's marketing hierarchy needs to stop trying to package products, which have been designed to pander towards these flawed research tools and to actually listen to what its clients, the ultimate market really require: real and clear information that can enable them to understand fully a product and its true cost to them. Surely, this is treating customers fairly?
Martin Tilley is business development manager at Dentons Pensions ManagementIFAonline
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