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Catmark Isas clawed out of depolarisation

The FSA has excluded Catmarked Isas from phase one of its changes to polarisation.

The FSA this week decided to push ahead with depolarisation of stakeholder and direct-offer products but not Catmarked Isas.

It made the decision after listening to arguments from the Financial Services Consumer Panel and the industry which claimed the proposals could lead to increased consumer confusion and distortion of the Isa market because investors would not have the same access to all Isas.

But some industry pundits claim they have depolarised the wrong product, saying Catmarked Isas are a lot less complicated than stakeholder.

The phase one changes will allow providers to import other providers&#39 stakeholder pensions as “adopted packaged products” with the distributor responsible for any advice provided while the product provider is responsible for the administration.

Phase two of the review is scheduled to go ahead this year. The FSA maintains everything is still up for grabs.

Head of investment business policy David Severn says: “We have listened carefully to everyone&#39s views and the FSA board has decided to maintain its cautious approach in this first stage of changes.”

Skandia pensions marketing manager Peter Jordan says: “It is obvious the Government are really desperate to make it appear that stakeholder is seen to be successful.”

Aifa director general Paul Smee says: “The FSA board has looked over the precipice and decided weakening polarisation in a competitive marketplace is not in the interests of the consumer. The questions about stakeholder pensions still remain, however.”

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