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Ex-FSA enforcer leads group to develop simple products

The Treasury has created a steering group to develop a range of simple financial products.

The group, chaired by ex-FSA head of enforcement Carol Sergeant and made up of representatives from the Government, the finance industry and trade and consumer bodies, will report to Treasury financial secretary Mark Hoban by July 2012.

It will set out how to bring simple products to market, including how the products should be structured and marketed to ensure consumers get the best deal.

Last week, the Government published responses to its December consultation on simple products, which suggested that a range of simple products would promote personal financial responsibility and allow consumers to better compare financial products.

The responses support the proposal put forward in the consultation paper for the Government to focus first on developing simple savings and protection products.

As a result, the steering group will consider these products as well as simple investment products that will help people save for the long term.

Hoban says: “Simple financial products have the potential to help many consumers make decisions that will help them save for the first time and plan for a secure financial future for them and their families. I am delighted Carol Sergeant has agreed to chair a steering group to develop the thinking on simple products further.”

Sergeant, who was formerly Lloyds Banking Group chief risk officer, says: “Simple, easy-to-understand products need to be a viable commercial proposition for the industry while offering consumers a straightforward benchmark that gives them the confidence to make good decisions in an often bewilderingly complicated marketplace.

“Getting this right will require the involvement of consumer groups, financial regulators and the Money Advice Service as well as the savings, investment and protection industries.”

Association of British Insurers director general Otto Thoresen says: “Appointing someone with the wealth of experience that Carol brings to the role shows the Treasury are taking this issue seriously.”

Financial Escape director Phil Castle says: “Simple products are needed and the industry needs to be able to deliver them. But the Government is talking to the wrong people, it needs to get out and speak to advisers at the coalface to find out how simple products can be brought to consumers.”

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