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Canary spies came in from Cold War, says Treasury official

Industry speculation over the FSA&#39s attitude to polarisation reform is akin to Cold War experts&#39 attempts to interpret the mood of the Soviet leadership, says a senior Treasury official.

Treasury savings and investment products team member Keith Davis damped down talk of a U-turn on CP121 and likened FSA-watchers to the Kremlinologists of the 1960s at a conference in London last week.

Speaking at the conference, Depolarisation: Changing Business Relationships, Davis said the FSA had received over 700 formal responses to CP121 and that no report was expected until autumn. He also reiterated the Treasury&#39s support for a “benchmark standard for a mass-market advice service”.

Davis said: “They were known as Kremlinologists and their expertise lay in seeking to divine the mood in Moscow. Today we have a skilled band of FSA watchers. Some of these Canary-ologists might be among those who, after the FSA&#39s open meeting last year, pooh-poohed the prospects of radical proposals. Now, when the FSA state a consultation process means they are consulting, these FSA watchers see a U-turn.”

LIA public affairs director John Ellis says: “People are fretting over their livelihoods. There is a lot of stake in this consultation, whether it be share prices of big companies or the future of the one-man band. It is not surprising that people are hanging on every word and looking for any sign.”

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