The Consumers' Association has launched a blistering attack on Financial Services Consumer Panel chairman Colin Brown, branding him “an ivory tower academic” for claiming that a complicated depolarised world will not necessarily be detrimental to consumers.
The spat follows Brown disagreeing with criticisms from the CA that the FSA's draft rules for depolarisation outlined in CP166 will create a “charter for consumer confusion.” He says it is too easy for opponents of the FSA's plans to complain about potential consumer confusion.
Brown says just because the distribution system is complicated does not mean that consumers will automatically suffer as a result. But CA senior policy adviser Mick McAteer says Brown is naive because it is impossible to compare other markets with financial services.
Brown says: “In some respects, it does not matter if consumers are confused about how the market is structured. It is too easy to say if something is complicated in itself then it is by definition confusing to consumers.”
McAteer says: “The fundamental mistake the FSA is making is that you cannot take one distribution system and transplant it on to the financial markets. They are disregarding the fact that consumers in the financial services market are incredibly weak.
“It just demonstrates that these ivory tower academics are dangerous and naive.”