I am writing to clarify certain statements attributed to me in the
article headlined, Angry CA attack on panel's “ivory tower” Brown
(Money Marketing, February 6). To make it clear, any criticism was
not aimed at Colin Brown personally for his views on depolarisation.
I am unfamiliar with Colin Brown's opinion on the CA's polarisation
policy so would not comment on his views.
However, my criticisms and those phrases were definitely directed at
what we believe is the FSA's academic approach to polarisation, which
we believe is fundamentally flawed and a major distraction from the
job in hand of making markets work in the consumer interest.
Any form of market control may be anathema to academic theories of competition.
However, it is not enough to assert, as the FSA does in CP121 and
elsewhere, that the free for all or liberalisation which works well
in other retail sectors such as high-street retail goods or
supermarkets can be transplanted into the pension and investment
world. A real life, not a theoretical, case has to be made for
reform (to be fair, the FSA's Canary Wharf headquarters are neither
ivory nor quite a tower, so perhaps the ivory tower quip wasn't
Polarisation is not perfect but it didn't cause the problems in the
market. Any system is worth retaining unless a reasoned argument to
the contrary can be made and if the proposed reform leads to even
worse detriment for consumers, as we believe depolarisation will do
without robust counter measures.
Pensions are not commodities like high-street goods. Very different
dynamics operate in the pension and investment world. The risks and
consequences of consumers making the wrong decisions are huge for the
consumer and society in general. We believe depolarisation will only
serve to reinforce competition for distribution and anything that
introduces yet further complexity must weaken further consumer
Anyone who does believe that the supermarket model can be applied to
pensions and investments will continue to attract CA's robust
criticism, especially if they do not make a case based on real-life
Senior policy adviser,