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Give us a two-year break from changes

I have worked as a product delivery consultant in the financial services industry for the last five years. As a contractor, I have worked for most of the major product providers.

It has been my job to deliver new products or developments to existing products for companies which will improve customer service and/or help meet their business plans.

However, the ability to create products that customers actually want is impaired by the enor- mous amount of time spent each year on mandatory changes to life and pension products.

In the last five years, these changes have included RU64, Finance and Welfare Reform, FISMA 1 & 2, DMD, update 139, SP134, CP170, CP166, LPI, civil partnerships and pension simplification to name just a few.

The sheer number of changes we are forced to make by the FSA or the Department for Work and Pensions are relentless and are really stifling the ability of providers to develop and deliver changes which our customers actually want.

I understand that these departments aim to protect the consumers and reinforce confidence in the financial services market.

However, since I have been working in this area, the overall benefits of these changes have been small, especially compared with the huge cost involved in making them.

One gets the impression that these organisations are creating jobs for themselves and that they have no idea of the scale that some of the changes they propose have on product providers.

The latest Government plan is to ask all providers to record and report on whether advice was given on each policy sold.

This information is not readily available within providers. Despite this, the DWP was adamant that this information as required so providers have been forced to divert valuable project resource away from product developments to make sure this data is provided. I cannot help feel that this is political.

The DWP has not exactly been waxing lyrical about the NPSS which is designed to be non-advice.

By proving that more people get advice on pensions, they can show that the NPSS needs rethinking and will help with their analysis. So providers are used for political objectives – hardly worthwhile?

I cannot think of another industry which is so heavily regulated. We have had constant change over the last five years. What we need is at least two years without any changes so that providers can make sure that they are up to date with current mandatory demands.

It will give them all time to get their house in order and let them focus on real customer requirements without the interference of the governing bodies who arguably have, over the last five years, been more of a hindrance than a help.

John R Hubbard
Long Stratton


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