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Confidence tricksters

I refer to John McFall&#39s piece on March 25. I shall leave making comments on his main points to others, nor will I query his qualification, suitability or experience in financial matters, but will take issue with two particular words – restoring confidence.

He refers to this principle no less than five times in his short piece and is by no means the only perpetrator using this particular phrase. More than any other, it is these two words that drive me frantic and to distraction. Without wishing to be a semanticist – and before any reader suddenly jumps to the conclusion that poor old Harry has lost it completely – I would just ask you to consider the implication of these words.

It must obviously and logically mean that there was at one time confidence, for it now to be restored. When was this? Before regulation? Before Fimbra? Before the PIA? Before the FSA? At a time when the milkman could sell insurance policies? When there were no professional qualifications? When there was no redress? When huge up-front charges and initial units were the norm? When whole-of-life policies were sold as savings vehicles? When Barlow Clowes was running rampant? Or do we have to go back to the South Sea Bubble?

Even the FSA in its core principles states the restoring of public confidence as one of its main objectives. Who is kidding who? Or have I really lost the plot?

Mr McFall says there is a fundamental need for reform in the way the long-term savings industry conducts its business. Pardon me? I thought that is exactly what we were going through over the past 20 years or do I inhabit a different planet?

Before the meddling and self-appointed experts and rampant consumerism and compensation, we had a savings ratio that was well over 10 per cent. In the years since, the savings ratio has steadily declined until now it is below 5 per cent. Do I misunderstand the position?

I admit to being a very confused IFA and hope that this new breed of undoubtedly highly qualified experts will enlighten me.

Harry Katz Norwest Consultants,

Stanmore, Middlesex


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