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Consumers using trees but they still want advice

Consumers have used decision trees when deciding whether to buy a stakeholder pension but most still want access to professional advice, according to FSA research.

The regulator&#39s consumer and provider research into stakeholder and decision trees was published this week, a month after headline results were revealed at an FSA seminar into the sales process for the Sandler suite of products.

The research says 59 per cent of consumers thought decision trees played some role in the sales process but 60 per cent said they would want to seek out additional advice after using trees.

As revealed in Money Marketing in March, the FSA&#39s research into decision trees portrayed them as “being more rosy than they really were”, in the words of one provider.

It is thought that the FSA may use the research to justify an extension of a decision-tree led approach to the suite.

The FSA says 72 per cent of investors said decision trees would be useful in buying further simple products but 73 per cent said they would still want advice on such products after using the trees.

The Consumers&#39 Association says the fact that consumers still want advice after using trees shuts the door on the FSA&#39s preferred approach to a decision tree or a filtered question-led sales process for the Sandler products.

FSA group manager conduct of business standards Norman Digance says: “The good news is that decision trees are liked and understood and can play a useful role in the buying process, provided it is alongside some form of other help.”

CA senior policy adviser Mick McAteer says: “This research makes it clear that the FSA&#39s preferred option for the sales of the Sandler products presents unacceptable risks for consumers and presents the opportunity for providers to missell products either deliberately or recklessly.”

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