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Canary channel

I have some rather disturbing news. I have just been to Canary Wharf and met the FSA to discuss the retail distribution review and its potential impact on protection and the role of income protection in the protection hierarchy.

To my surprise, (not really!) we were warmly welcomed, our chairs were not electrified, we were not (knowingly) drugged or poisoned while there and I must report we had a very good hearing which prompted an interesting and constructive discussion.

I am sorry to disappoint those of you who believe dragons lurk within the North Colonnade at Canary Wharf or who think the awkward brigade seek ways of deconstructing everything we try to do as an industry but frankly it just did not happen. We genuinely felt that we engaged with reasonable, well informed people who listened and took our opinions and ideas on board.

One of the ideas we decided to implement was to give the FSA a standing invitation to the IP Task Force meetings and to copy them in on the minutes. It is a bit subversive, I know, seeking to have a dialogue with a regulator but it occurred to Clive Waller and myself that this may be a more constructive stance than seeking confrontation or hurling abuse at where the regulator is trying to take us.

I have probably lost any friends and credibility I have by now but I will press on with expressing my concern that so often nowadays the written media feels that as its job of reportage has been subsumed by the impact of cyber news we need to tackle any issue head-on with an argumentative stance or what is referred to in popular parlance as an “attitude”.

So when we launched the second IPTF white paper this year, the focus was not on what the paper actually said but the fact that the Association of British Insurers (boo! hiss!) did not turn up for the launch notwithstanding that we knew their (perfectly good) reason for non-attendance several days before.

Those who have a real passion for what we are trying to do in extending the volume of protection coverage and I know many in the industry – thankfully – have to do two things. We must work at improving our products and the way we sell them and we must establish an open channel of communication with the regulator so that they understand the nature of their challenges better.

Peter Le Beau is managing director of Le Beau Visage

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