We were puzzled to read Mick McAteer's article (Money Marketing, December 4).
As he knows, the proposal for standardised savings products, with a simpler sales regime and low charges, was put forward by Ron Sandler in his report of July 2002. Since then, the insurance industry has been working closely with the Government and the FSA to try to ensure that this idea is implemented in a practical way that realises all the potential benefits for consumers. This is hardly “posturing”, still less “protectionism”. We are simply looking for a proposition that makes savings attractive to consumers and sensible for companies.
The industry is also heavily involved in the provision of collective pension schemes, which do have some of the advantages of scale to which Mr McAteer refers.
Like Mr McAteer, we would like to see an expansion of employer-based pension provision and we have put forward specific, costed proposals to that end.
If the Consumers' Association has any further ideas, then they should certainly put them forward but this will not remove the need for an expansion of individual savings along the lines that Sandler proposed.
The UK benefits enormously from its retail savings industry. There is always room for improvement and a great deal of change is under way, leading to keener competition and enhanced customer service. This is something that the Consumers' Association can surely welcome.
Head of life insurance,
Association of British Insurers,