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FSA&#39s own panel is undecided on trees

The FSA&#39s own consumer panel is withholding its backing for decision trees

over concerns that advice hasbeen ignored, according to industry sources.

The news comes as the FSA admits the decision treeregime may be extended

to other financial products.

Industry concerns have been heightened by FSA proposals to allow Citizens

Advice Bureaux staff, librarians and trade union representativesto guide

the public throughthe maze of decision trees.

Financial Services Consumer Panel vice-chairman Colin Brown said even if

decision trees are successful, consumers will not know where to go for

advice or how to pay for it because there is no “mechanism” for it in the

proposals.

In the draft decision trees, potential stakeholders areprovided with basic

detailsof where to get help.

Brown was speaking at an FSA seminar on stakeholder decision trees last Friday.

The consumer panel remains undecided about whether to advocate the trees,

according to delegates.

But the regulator says it is likely to extend decision trees to other

financial products. The comment was made by FSA investment business policy

group manager Norman Digance at the same forum.

Digance said trees would be issued as a standard item under current

proposals but admitted there would be problems keeping them up to date.

He also said decision trees should deal with state second pensions as well

as Serps.

The FSA says its own research indicates decision trees will go down well

with consumers. The full consultation will start in late July.

FSA spokeswoman Jackie Blyth says: “The draft trees do instruct people to

consider taking advice if appropriate. As for the consumer panel, it must

make up its own mind.”

Clerical Medical pensions strategy manager Nigel Stammers says: “Decision

trees highlight the need for advice but not the mechanism.”

AMP head of government affairs Richard Astle says: “A large number of

people are going to end up finding themselves in the seek advice box.”

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