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Campaign moves ABI to justify gap-filling stance

Money Marketing&#39s Poles Apart campaign has scored its first victory as the ABI issues a full explanation of why it backs gap filling while warning that multi-ties will damage consumers&#39 interests.

The campaign is seeking the answers to 10 questions about why a change is needed to the polarisation regime and how change would affect IFAs and consumers.

Money Marketing highlighted the insurance body&#39s stance on gap filling two weeks ago when it launched the campaign, prompting IFAs to write to ABI director general Mary Francis seeking clarification.

The FSA has also welcomed the Poles Apart campaign&#39s goal of an open debate while assuring IFAs that any decision will take the consumer interest into account, answering one of the campaign questions.

But the regulator has not provided any detailed answers to the nine other questions.

The moves come as a head of steam is building behind gap filling as Zurich Group finally arrives at a single position.

Previously, Allied Dunbar advocated a system known as multi-product ties. Both it and IFA arm Zifa now back gap filling.

In response to a letter from Surrey-based IFA Wentworth Rose managing director Phi-lip Rose and pressure from Money Marketing calling for the ABI to make its position on polarisation known, the trade body claims that, of the four options put forward by the report, gap filling is the most acceptable.

The trade body says multi-ties are not a workable option and would only result in increased customer confusion.

It argues that gap filling represents an adjustment rather than a full rewriting of the polarisation rules.

The ABI says: “Abandonning the clear distinction between IFAs and advisers tied to one provider would confuse customers and could damage their interests.”

In a letter to Money Marketing, FSA director of investment business Michael Folger says: “The FSA very much welcomes your Poles Apart initiative to ensure full debate continues on polarisation. Decisions on its future should not be taken lightly.

“The questions you have raised are clearly pertinent and we are very interested in your readers&#39 views as to the influence the answers to the questions should have on the overall debate.”

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