The ABI is to conduct its first-ever mystery shopping exercise of IFAs, focusing on how commission affects the way in which long-term savings are sold.
Consultancy Charles River Associates will be working with polling organisation NOP to conduct the research, which is part of a drive by the ABI to promote greater public confidence in the long-term savings industry. CRA will be looking at how the sales process will develop in the light of regulatory and commercial changes, and its alternatives.
The announcement has led IFAs, who are generally not opposed to mystery shopping, to question whether the trade body rep- resenting life insurance companies, guilty of some of the worst incidents of misselling historically, is the right body to carry it out.
They are keen that the exercise should not be used to portray IFAs in a poor light and that it should consider how IFAs fare as compared with their direct-selling rivals.
The ABI has also asked consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton to consider whether there is scope for a new generation of initiatives on customer service by individual firms or the industry collectively, looking at best practice in other sectors. Both projects will report to the ABI in the autumn.
Michael Philips proprietor Michael Both says: “If the ABI is trying to use this to sully our name further then I do not think they should do it. If they find we are angels, I hope they will shout it from the rooftops but I suspect it will be somewhere in between.”
Informed Choice managing director and Sofa chairman Nick Bamford says: “I would question whether the ABI is the right organisation to do this.”
Pearson Jones director Nick Conyers says: “The ABI must have woken up to the fact that the IFA community has voted with its feet and is using more suitable savings alternatives than those provided by insurance companies.”