Simple products steering group starts work

Carol Sergeant

A steering group to help with the development of simple products has been launched by the Treasury.

According to its terms of reference, the simple financial products steering group is tasked with devising a suit of simple financial products which will help consumers benchmark and compare other products on the market and are understood by the mass market. The products will need to meet individual clients’ needs and offer them a fair deal as well as being commercially viable. The group is expected to report by the end of July 2012.

Treasury financial secretary Mark Hoban said: “We want products that provide consumers with confidence that a simple product will meet their basic needs and offer them a fair deal. They may not necessarily be the “best” option for all consumers, but they should be a good enough option for consumers who have identified their key needs.”

The group will consider where suitable products exist already, how new products can be developed, how they should be branded and how they should be approved.

Building Societies Association chairman Adrian Coles says: “The very wide range of products available can be off-putting for some consumers.  If the task force can find a straight-forward way of sign-posting straight-forward, good-value-for-money, products, it will have performed a very valuable task.”

The group is led by Lloyds Banking Group chief risk officer Carol Sergeant (pictured). The Association of British Insurers, the British Bankers’ Association, the Building Societies Association, Money Advice Service, Consumer Focus and Which? are also members and the Treasury and the FSA will have observers within the group.

Hoban said: “I am delighted that Carol is chairing the Simple financial Products steering group, bringing her wealth of experience to the task. But we need your ideas, innovation and engagement if we are going to succeed.”